Friday, October 21, 2011

Topple-Gate: Who's Next?

As I lay awake last night, thinking about the events of the day, namely the brutal murder of Libya’s President, and the role that the U.S. played in his death, I couldn't help but compare it with the events of the past decade in Iraq.

Then this thought came to mind, 'What if Russia, China, etc. decide that the U.S. is no longer trustworthy or predictable?'

First, it appears that Bush went to war without just cause. That said, he seems to have tried to abide by the law once he began his engagement. Yes, Saddam was executed, but only after a prolonged trial where all the evidence was presented. In a strained sense, justice was served according to due process.

But now, Obama goes to war (or should I say 'has the audacity to assassinate the President of another country in broad daylight'), without just cause, at no cost to the U.S., and without any plan to restore law and order after the death of Gaddafi.

Once upon a time Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, etc could expect America to play hardball, but at least we played by the rules and tried to be good boy scouts afterwards by leaving the campsite better than how we found it. Now, there are no reliable rules, and therefore our enemies don’t really know what to expect. 

Neither men nor nations act rationally when they are afraid and don’t know what to expect.

I hope I'm just naive and uninformed, but I wonder if this will prove to be a significant turning point in international relations.


Mary Anne said...

This is interesting. We've been talking a lot about interventions in the class I'm teaching this fall, Intro to International Relations.

From an international legal perspective, the US intervention in Libya is completely justified because it was done under the auspices of multilateralism. The UN approved an intervention and authorized NATO to implement it.

Also in terms of whether or not we had "just cause", do you believe that the international community has a moral obligation to intervene to stop egregious human rights abuses? In the case of Libya, many in the int'l community believed that Qaddafi was about to begin a campaign of mass slaughter.

So... for some people, these facts constitute just cause. Others may disagree (and there are also good grounds for that).

I'm going to send you a really well-written article about this that we read in my class... just in case you're interested!

Christopher said...

Hey Mary Anne,

If I'm not mistaken, the UN authorized enforcing a no-fly zone and providing humanitarian support. It seems to me that what we actually did was bomb troops and convoys on the ground. In fact, it appears that we even bombed Qaddafi as he was trying to flee. What has that got to do with a no-fly zone? Did I miss something, or did the UN actually approve such a ground war?

As for Qaddafi's 'about to begin a campaign of mass slaughter,' if that is the criteria, then why haven't we looked in other places where governments are actually engaging in such campaigns.

To me this all just strikes me as an opportunistic kinetic exercise over oil.

Thanks for the article, still reading it.

Mary Anne said...

Yes, the UN approved all of that action, including the air strikes/bombing, which were carried out by NATO as well as the US, France, and the UK. This was actually a completely multilateral, "legal" intervention from an international perspective. Somehow enforcing the no-fly zone also included bombing Qaddafi's forces all over the place, but the US wasn't the only one doing that.

I'm sure you are right about self-interested motivations, and yes hypocrisy is the name of the day in terms of where we intervene, and where we don't. My point was just that this is actually a case where the US acted in concert with multilateral organizations, rather than on its own.

Hope you like that article!