Libya: another neocon war

Liberal supporters of this 'humanitarian intervention' have merely become useful idiots of the same old nefarious purposes

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Muammar Gaddafi's deals with the west may have helped him tighten his grip on the Libyan people. Photograph: Louafi Larbi/Reuters

The US department of justice (DOJ) has submitted a written defence of the US role in this new war in Libya to the US Congress. The DOJ claims the war serves the US national interest in regional stability and in maintaining the credibility of the United Nations. Who knew?

The regional stability line would be a stretch for the UK but is downright nuts for the US. Who, outside of US strategic command types working on weapons in space, thinks Libya and America are in the same region? (In fact, the US is in Northcom and Libya in Africom, in the lingo of the Pentagon's structure of global domination. Europe is in Eucom.) And what has done more good this year for the region that Libya is actually in than instability (think Tunisia, Egypt)?

The bit about the credibility of the United Nations is really cute coming from a government that invaded Iraq in 2003 – despite UN opposition and for the express purpose (among others) of proving the UN irrelevant. This also comes from the same government that just this month refused to allow the UN special rapporteur to visit a US prisoner named Bradley Manning to verify that he is not being tortured. How does that maintain UN credibility? And how exactly does authorising the CIA to violate the UN arms embargo in Libya maintain UN credibility? How does violating the UN ban on "a foreign occupation force of any form" in Libya maintain UN credibility?

So, one of the main justifications offered to the first branch of the US government is that the war in Libya is justified by a UNresolution, the credibility of which must be maintained even while violating it. But the DOJ memo also stresses that such a justification is not needed. A US president, according to this memo, albeit in violation of the US Constitution, simply has the power to launch wars. Any explanations offered to Congress are, just like the wars, acts of pure benevolence.

The DOJ memo also argues that this war doesn't really measure up to the name "war", given how quick, easy and cheap it's going to be. In fact, President Obama has already announced the handover of the war to Nato. I think we're supposed to imagine Nato as separate from the US, just as Congress does when it conducts no investigations of any atrocities in Afghanistan that the US attributes to Nato. Do the other Nato nations know that this is the purpose Nato serves in US politics?

But how quick and easy will this war really be? One expert predicts it will last 20 years, with the US eventually pulling out and allowing the European Union to inherit the illness of empire it had earlier shared with us. Certainly, the promise of a quick and easy war in Iraq in 2003 was based on the same baseless idea as this one, namely that killing a president will hand a country over to outside control (excuse me, I mean, flourishing democracy). The blossoming democracy in Iraq has just banned public demonstrations. The fact is that Gaddafi has a great deal of support, and making him a martyr would not change that.

Popular "progressive" US radio host Ed Schultz argues, with vicious hatred in every word he spits out on the subject, that bombing Libya is justified by the need for vengeance against that Satan on earth, that beast arisen suddenly from the grave of Adolf Hitler, that monster beyond all description: Muammar Gaddafi. But you can't really fight a war against one person. The last time we did that to Gaddafi, we killed his little daughter, while he survived.

Even if you had the legal or moral right to assassinate foreign leaders, and even if you independently and rationally worked up your passion to kill a particular dictator by sheer coincidence in the same moment in which your government wanted to bomb him, you couldn't do it without killing innocent people and shredding the fabric of international law (with or without UN complicity). Hatred of a single individual is great propaganda – until people begin to question what killing him will involve and what will come next.

Popular US commentator Juan Cole supports the very same war that Ed Schultz does, but supports it as a gentle act of humanitarian generosity. The Libya war has become less popular more quickly in the US than any previous US war, but it has its supporters. And to them, it doesn't matter that half their fellow war supporters have a different or even opposing motive. For years, Americans cheered the slaughter of the hated Iraqi people while other Americans praised the Iraq war as a great act of philanthropy for the benefit of the Iraqi people (whether they wanted it or not).

But let's examine Cole's claims about Libya, because they are quite popular and central to the idea of a "good war". One claim is that the Nato countries are motivated by humanitarian concern. Another is that this war might have humanitarian results. These have to be separated because the former is laughably absurd and the latter worthy of being examined. Of course, many people in Nato countries are motivated by humanitarian concern; that's why wars are sold as acts of philanthropy. Generosity sells. But the US government, which has become a wing of the Pentagon, does not typically intervene in other nations in order to benefit humanity. In fact, it's not capable of intervening anywhere, because it is already intervened everywhere.

The United States was in the business of supplying weapons to Gaddafi up until the moment it got into the business of supplying weapons to his opponents. In 2009, Britain, France and other European states sold Libya over $470m-worth of weapons. Our wars tend to be fought against our own weapons, and yet we go on arming everyone. The United States can no more intervene in Yemen or Bahrain or Saudi Arabia than in Libya. We are arming those dictatorships. In fact, to win the support of Saudi Arabia for its "intervention" in Libya, the US gave its approval for Saudi Arabia to send troops into Bahrain to attack civilians, a policy that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly defended.

The "humanitarian intervention" in Libya, meanwhile, whatever civilians it may have begun by protecting, immediately killed other civilians with its bombs and immediately shifted from its defensive justification to attacking retreating troops and participating in a civil war. The United States has very likely used depleted uranium weapons in Libya, leading American journalist Dave Lindorff to remark:

"It would be a tragic irony if rebels in Libya, after calling for assistance from the US and other Nato countries, succeeded in overthrowing the country's long-time tyrant Gaddafi, only to have their country contaminated by uranium dust – the fate already suffered by the peoples of Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo."

Irony is one word for it. Another is hypocrisy. Clearly, the military power of the west is not driven by humanitarian concerns. But that still leaves the question of whether, in this particular case, such power could accidentally have humanitarian results. The claim that a massive massacre of civilians was about to occur, on careful review, turns out to have been massively inflated. This doesn't mean that Gaddafi is a nice guy, that his military wasn't already killing civilians, or that it isn't still killing civilians. Another irony, in fact, is that Gaddafi is reportedly using horrible weapons, including landmines and cluster bombs, that much of the world has renounced – but that the United States has refused to.

But warfare tends to breed more warfare; and cycles of violence usually, not just occasionally, spiral out of control. That the United States is engaging in or supporting the killing of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere, while ignoring the killing of civilians in various other countries, is not a reason to tolerate it in Libya. But escalating a war and doing nothing are, contrary to Pentagon propaganda, not the only two choices. The United States and Europe could have stopped arming and supporting Gaddafi and – in what would have been a powerful message to Libya – stopped arming and supporting dictators around the region. We could have provided purely humanitarian aid. We could have pulled out the CIA and the special forces and sent in nonviolent activist trainers of the sort that accomplished so much this year in the nations to Libya's east and west. Risking the deaths of innocents while employing nonviolent tools is commonly viewed as horrific, but isn't responding with violence that will likely cause more deaths in the end even more so?

Washington imported a leader for the people's rebellion in Libya who has spent the past 20 years living with no known source of income a couple of miles from the CIA's headquarters in Virginia. Another man lives even closer to CIA headquarters: former US Vice President Dick Cheney. He expressed great concern in a speech in 1999 that foreign governments were controlling oil. "Oil remains fundamentally a government business," he said. "While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East, with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies."

Former supreme allied commander Europe of Nato, from 1997 to 2000, Wesley Clark claims that in 2001, a general in the Pentagon showed him a piece of paper and said:

"I just got this memo today or yesterday from the office of the secretary of defence upstairs. It's a, it's a five-year plan. We're going to take down seven countries in five years. We're going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, we're going to come back and get Iran in five years."

That agenda fit perfectly with the plans of Washington insiders, such as those who famously spelled out their intentions in the reports of the thinktank called the Project for the New American Century. The fierce Iraqi and Afghan resistance didn't fit at all. Neither did the nonviolent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. But taking over Libya still makes perfect sense in the neoconservative worldview. And it makes sense in explaining war games used by Britain and France to simulate the invasion of a similar country.

The Libyan government controls more of its oil than any other nation on earth, and it is the type of oil that Europe finds easiest to refine. Libya also controls its own finances, leading American author Ellen Brown to point out an interesting fact about those seven countries named by Clark:

"What do these seven countries have in common? In the context of banking, one that sticks out is that none of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers' central bank in Switzerland. The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked. Kenneth Schortgen Jr, writing on Examiner.com, noted that '[s]ix months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, the oil nation had made the move to accept euros instead of dollars for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the dollar as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar.' According to a Russian article titled 'Bombing of Libya – Punishment for Gaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar', Gaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Gaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency. During the past year, the idea was approved by many Arab countries and most African countries. The only opponents were the Republic of South Africa and the head of the League of Arab States. The initiative was viewed negatively by the US and the European Union, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling Libya a threat to the financial security of mankind; but Gaddafi was not swayed and continued his push for the creation of a united Africa. […] If the Gaddafi government goes down, it will be interesting to watch whether the new central bank [created by the rebels in March] joins the BIS, whether the nationalised oil industry gets sold off to investors, and whether education and healthcare continue to be free."

It will also be interesting to see whether Africom, the Pentagon's Africa Command, now based in Europe, establishes its headquarters on the continent for which it is named. We don't know what other motivations are at work: concerns over immigration to Europe? Desires to test weapons? War profiteering? Political calculations? Irrational lust for power? Overcompensation for having failed to turn against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak until after he'd been unseated? But what about this one: actual fear of another Rwanda? That last one seems, frankly, the least likely. But what is certain is that such humanitarian concern alone did not launch this war, and that the continued use of war in this way will not benefit humanity.

The United Nations, far from being made credible, is being made the servant of wealthy nations making war on poor ones. And within the United States, where the United Nations is alternatively held up as a justification or mocked as irrelevant, the power to make war and to make law has been decisively placed in the hands of a series of single individuals who will carry the title "president" – precisely the outcome American revolutionaries broke with Britain in order to avoid.


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  • Strummered

    21 April 2011 7:08PM

    It's amazing how humanitarian governments can be when multibillion £/$ contracts are at stake, and when there's the whiff of oil in the air............Hypocritical bastards in the pay of corporations.

  • Benulek

    21 April 2011 7:08PM

    And the rebels who begged for assistance when Gadaffi's troops were about to move into Benghazi - where do they fit into your account? They do fit into your account, don't they?

  • HansChristian

    21 April 2011 7:12PM

    You have a website called warisacrime.com. I feel you are coming at this from a rather prejudiced viewpoint.

    Oh and whatever your views on this issue, to not mention the 2005 Responsibility to Protect UN document and the subsequent 2009 report by Ban Ki Moon (that famed warmonger) seems curious.

    Although I guess Obama is indeed doing a good neo-con impression, with stepping up drone attacks, Bradley Manning, not kicking out the private contractrors etc...

  • Tweebuffelsmeteen

    21 April 2011 7:12PM

    Well done, I couldn't agree more.

    When Gadaffi's troops start the genocide we can stand on the side lines wringing our hands and crying "why didn't anybody do anything".

  • Pier39

    21 April 2011 7:14PM

    When Gadaffi's troops start the genocide we can stand on the side lines wringing our hands and crying "why didn't anybody do anything".

    Don't you mean why didn't the US do something?

  • Benulek

    21 April 2011 7:16PM

    When Gadaffi's troops start the genocide we can stand on the side lines wringing our hands and crying "why didn't anybody do anything".

    But you don't understand - for people like this author, as long as their hands are clean, it doesn't matter how dirty anyone else's are.

  • MarkB35

    21 April 2011 7:17PM

    Gadaffi staying in power might well have been in the best interests of the USA & UK. Obama and Cameron should maybe have taken a more cynical view and left well enough alone.

  • FarEasterner

    21 April 2011 7:19PM

    i am glad CIF is putting such article. it's time to say to American elites that wars bring only misery and suffering.

    a-ha, this war is cheap. one hour of this war costs more than 5 years of funding to NPR.

  • WeAreSoFucked

    21 April 2011 7:21PM

    When Gadaffi's troops start the genocide we can stand on the side lines wringing our hands and crying "why didn't anybody do anything"

    Surely that should read: ...crying "why did we support this guy, buy his oil and sell him £Billions of arms for all those years, while ignoring his human rights abuses"

    Oh hang on, I just answered my own question.

  • olching

    21 April 2011 7:23PM

    Agree with much of the article, but would like to point out that the US gov't that invaded Iraq was a different one, and that whole brand of liberal interventionism started in Kosovo under Blair's leadership.

    When Gadaffi's troops start the genocide we can stand on the side lines wringing our hands and crying "why didn't anybody do anything".

    What genocide? Could you please point to the genocide you are referring to? As the author above says, Gaddafi is a pretty horrendous guy, but what genocide are you talking about? (Incidentally, this is why he and others such as myself wouldn't sell weapons to him in the first place, rather than supplying him with the kit only then to cry crocodile tears when he uses them.)

  • Benulek

    21 April 2011 7:27PM

    Surely that should read: ...crying "why did we support this guy, buy his oil and sell him £Billions of arms for all those years, while ignoring his human rights abuses"

    Hardly the actions of countries whose aim, as the author suggests, was 'the taking over of Libya'.

  • Benulek

    21 April 2011 7:31PM

    Would you be happier if, when the next one kicks off, no one does anything ?

    I rather imagine he would. Doing nothing is the easiest way to keep your hands pristine. These people just don't inhabit a world where the consequences of doing something have to be weighed against the consequences of doing nothing. This guy did press for Kucinich, for christ's sake! When is he ever going to be in the position where he has to take a decision on anything?

  • prebender

    21 April 2011 7:32PM

    These neocons - they must find us such soft touch. spread a few vile rumours about a ruthless leader, arm some rebels and misinform those ignorant masses as much as you can and bingo - youi can invade another country, strip it off its most prized assets, kill a few people along the way and then once the dust settles after the mayhem - help them rebuild the country that you bombed into oblivion - in the neocon world this is what is called an investment

  • republicantraveller

    21 April 2011 7:32PM

    Libya must have a load of untapped and unstated oil reserves for Britain and France to go head to head in another 'scramble for africa'.

    Which country is going to be first to put real boots on the ground, not just advisers? Whose special forces team will have the 'honour' of taking Gadaffi? Will it be Sarkozy, Hague or Cameron who enters Tripoli first. It is no longer 'speak softly and carry a big stick'.

  • poppy23

    21 April 2011 7:32PM

    @David Swanson

    So you don't like the USA and you are a pacifist, that is great, but I imagine that applied before Libya and will apply in the next conflict that arises, whatever the circumstances.

  • bailliegillies

    21 April 2011 7:35PM

    We aren't doing this for humanitarian reasons, the maths just don't add up. Britain is drastically cutting back health, education, social services, benefits and pensions that is going to effect millions and lead to hardship for many because the coalition government say their is no money for these service anymore. Yet it can find, quite possibly a few billion of pounds to attack another country that isn't a threat to the UK. Broke Britain is now fighting two wars outwith it's borders that is costing the treasury money it's not supposed to have, it would be understandable if the UK was, or had been in immediate danger, but it's not.

  • AuntDowager

    21 April 2011 7:37PM

    @ David Swanson
    The United Nations, far from being made credible, is being made the servant of wealthy nations making war on poor ones. And within the United States, where the United Nations is alternatively held up as a justification or mocked as irrelevant, the power to make war and to make law has been decisively placed in the hands of a series of single individuals who will carry the title "president" – precisely the outcome American revolutionaries broke with Britain in order to avoid.

    My point exactly!. Anybody who thought that this would be over in a few weeks (like Eygpt or Tunisia) doesn't understand Gaddafi. Gaddafi is very different from the other former dictators in northern Africa. Gaddafi is more like the dictators of sub-saharan Africa and he and his supporters (he has many) sees this intervention by the West as an example of former imperialist attacking an African country. While Gaddifi is middle eastern by ethnicity, he sees himself more as a black African and aligns himself with that other nutter Mugabe.

    I don't know how long this 'interventionist war' will take, but I can assure you that Gaddifi will still be there long after Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy have left the political arena. Just like he outwitted, Regan, Thatcher and others. Good luck!

  • sambeckett2

    21 April 2011 7:37PM

    It's amazing how humanitarian governments can be when multibillion £/$ contracts are at stake, and when there's the whiff of oil in the air............Hypocritical bastards in the pay of corporations.

    "It's amazing how uninterested in humanitarian concerns governments can be when multibillion £/$ contracts are at stake, and when there's the whiff of oil in the air............Hypocritical bastards in the pay of corporations"

    What you'd be writing if the US did nothing.

  • Benulek

    21 April 2011 7:40PM

    "It's amazing how uninterested in humanitarian concerns governments can be when multibillion £/$ contracts are at stake, and when there's the whiff of oil in the air............Hypocritical bastards in the pay of corporations"

    What you'd be writing if the US did nothing.

    And rather akin to what they were writing when they wanted Obama to stick his oar into the Nile.

  • RudyNurovore

    21 April 2011 7:41PM

    bailliegillies
    21 April 2011 7:35PM
    We aren't doing this for humanitarian reasons, the maths just don't add up. Britain is drastically cutting back health, education, social services, benefits and pensions that is going to effect millions and lead to hardship for many because the coalition government say their is no money for these service anymore. Yet it can find, quite possibly a few billion of pounds to attack another country that isn't a threat to the UK. Broke Britain is now fighting two wars outwith it's borders that is costing the treasury money it's not supposed to have, it would be understandable if the UK was, or had been in immediate danger, but it's not.

    True, but simplify.

    Do we have a legal and moral right to fight this war? I say no.

  • Benulek

    21 April 2011 7:42PM

    Which country is going to be first to put real boots on the ground, not just advisers? Whose special forces team will have the 'honour' of taking Gadaffi? Will it be Sarkozy, Hague or Cameron who enters Tripoli first. It is no longer 'speak softly and carry a big stick'.

    If there was the slightest chance that the US wanted to take over Libya, do you think that it would allow Sarkozy and Cameron to get even within sniffing distance?

  • LakerFan

    21 April 2011 7:43PM

    Washington imported a leader for the people's rebellion in Libya who has spent the past 20 years living with no known source of income a couple of miles from the CIA's headquarters in Virginia. Another man lives even closer to CIA headquarters: former US Vice President Dick Cheney. He expressed great concern in a speech in 1999 that foreign governments were controlling oil. "Oil remains fundamentally a government business," he said. "While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East, with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies."


    The late 20th and 21st Centuries have seen the most unimaginable atrocities committed for OIL. it seems all those associated with OIL are, like Dick Cheney, Saddam Hussein, and Moammar Ghadafi, mindless, soulless, inhuman monsters.

    Pathologic monsters like Dick Cheney have justified Third-Reich insanity, hostility, and inhumanity for the control of OIL. Put Dick Cheney in a cell with Jeffery Dahmer and Jeffery would get eaten.

  • fripouille

    21 April 2011 7:45PM

    O do not agree with a lot of what David Swanson has written here, but he has explained it how he sees it. Fair enough.

    That said, why did someone put this byline at the top?

    Liberal supporters of this 'humanitarian intervention' have merely become useful idiots of the same old nefarious purposes

    Swanson does not call pro-interventionists "useful idiots" in his article, and if he had I would have stopped reading it the moment I came across it. After all, calling those you disagree with useful idiots is more akin to juvenile comment thread writing than serious journalism, and Swanson is a quality writer. Maybe this byline should be changed?

  • LakerFan

    21 April 2011 7:48PM

    Tweebuffelsmeteen
    21 April 2011 7:12PM

    When Gadaffi's troops start the genocide we can stand on the side lines wringing our hands and crying "why didn't anybody do anything".

    And we would be doing EXACTLY that, were it not for OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL!

    How much is human blood going for on the spot market? Has it reached 107USD a bbl?

  • Pier39

    21 April 2011 7:49PM

    We aren't doing this for humanitarian reasons, the maths just don't add up. Britain is drastically cutting back health, education, social services, benefits and pensions that is going to effect millions and lead to hardship for many because the coalition government say their is no money for these service anymore. Yet it can find, quite possibly a few billion of pounds to attack another country that isn't a threat to the UK. Broke Britain is now fighting two wars outwith it's borders that is costing the treasury money it's not supposed to have, it would be understandable if the UK was, or had been in immediate danger, but it's not.

    Wish you'd have felt that way rather than demanding the US donate 300,000 lives when the US itself was not in immediate danger.

  • WorldLocal

    21 April 2011 7:50PM

    So finally we see how fundamental US world domination doctrine is merging with British and French elite’s latent neocolonial dreams.

    I have never understand from day one how Obama will deliver his ‘peace’ promise and will live up to the Nobel Peace Prize Winner with the command like Bsezhinsky, Clinton, Albright, Holbrook and some other proven warmongers.

    Sad to understand that no election is going change that in these countries. All these ‘elite’ (as CNN/BBC war promoters) got educated from same universities had same type of job, which had nothing to do with real life and now seem to be completely alienated from own people.

    Unfortunately there is no difference between Blair and Cameron and now between Obama, Bush or Clinton?

    PMs and Presidents starting new wars just after being elected… and nobody quite know how to fix that? Especially when media is not on the public side.

    This is called NEOCON democracy.

  • moretheylie

    21 April 2011 7:51PM

    obama's a neocon?


    eh you mean you really didnt know?

    And the rebels who begged for assistance when Gadaffi's troops were about to move into Benghazi - where do they fit into your account? They do fit into your account, don't they?


    and babies in incubators too ..

    What you'd be writing if the US did nothing.


    nothing. since without sarkozys intervention some 12 months ago in the planning of this rebellion it wouldnt have happened. just was around the time obama was claiming usa-france special relationship.

    If there was the slightest chance that the US wanted to take over Libya, do you think that it would allow Sarkozy and Cameron to get even within sniffing distance?


    its all about image and how to sell the war.

  • moretheylie

    21 April 2011 7:54PM

    This article spits out personalized venom, half-truths and downright fabrications - and it's crystal clear that you are a cynical, empathy-denying ideologue. In fact, one could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that you are yet another bosom-buddy of the treacherous, sociopathic Gaddafi regime.

    One point to start with:

    The fact is that Gaddafi has a great deal of support, and making him a martyr would not change that.

    Now, I'm not going to make the mistake of claiming he hasn't - I have no way of providing the evidence - but you tell us exactly how you know that Gaddafi has a great deal of support amongst the Libyan people. Come on, Mr. Swanson- back up your claim - how do you know this? I mean, apart from information which the Gaddafi clan may have whispered in your ear.


    you do make me laugh .. as a propagandist for the rebels ...

  • dannyhopley

    21 April 2011 7:56PM

    Okay, the resolution says that none of the member states can send in ground troops, right?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but would setting up International Brigades be breaking the resolution? I'm sure there are many people willing to fight for the cause.

  • geof24

    21 April 2011 7:56PM

    Here in Egypt there's genuine anger at Gaddafi and his repression of the popular revolt and this in circles that would never have supported the invasion of Iraq.

    I think this is a situation that took most by surprise, both in the west and in the region. Most of my acquaintances in Cairo see the Libyan ruler as just as much a dictator as Mubarak, but definitely madder and since the rebellion a lot badder.

    It is getting harder to predict which side people will be on in the region. This does not mean that the west is wrong to support the rebellion. The neo-cons were anti-soviet. This does not mean they were wrong.

  • zapthecrap

    21 April 2011 7:58PM

    War is very expensive and so has become a vital aspect of neocon ideology.

    The profits of war have outstripped the "illegal" trade in narcotics.

    There seems amoral hazard in that fact completely ignored by the neocons.

  • spectreoverlibya

    21 April 2011 8:00PM

    fripouille

    O do not agree with a lot of what David Swanson has written here, but he has explained it how he sees it. Fair enough.

    That said, why did someone put this byline at the top?

    Liberal supporters of this 'humanitarian intervention' have merely become useful idiots of the same old nefarious purposes

    Swanson does not call pro-interventionists "useful idiots" in his article, and if he had I would have stopped reading it the moment I came across it. After all, calling those you disagree with useful idiots is more akin to juvenile comment thread writing than serious journalism, and Swanson is a quality writer. Maybe this byline should be changed?

    Yes, the phrase "useful idiots" has some political side-swiping origins (don't ask me where) and refers to those who unwittingly facilitate an undesirable action - but it is pretty fucking offensive if you ask me. I would guess that the Guardian staffer who wrote it, did so to draw in the punters to the article. Yes, I agree - the wording of the sub-header should be changed.

  • WurzelGummidge

    21 April 2011 8:01PM

    I find the use of the Necon label a bit silly in this article.The Libyan intervention is very different from others because many commenatators and normal people of the left and right side of politics are split on whether we should be involved in Libya.

  • Benulek

    21 April 2011 8:02PM

    I think it's probably pretty likely that the author considers liberal supporters of the war to be useful idiots, though. Perhaps also the rebels, although he seems to have forgotten that they exist. Perhaps 'transparent idiots' in their case.

  • TheDeuce

    21 April 2011 8:02PM

    So it was nothing to do with an impending massacre in Benghazi or the hundred thousand who may have taken to the Mediterranean in dinghys then?

    How much oil was there in Bosnia or Kosovo or Afghanistan?

  • usini

    21 April 2011 8:02PM

    Of course our governments are hypocites, as are those of other countries, but sometimes they may just be right.
    And in the case of Ghadaffi I think that they are.

  • crinklyoldgit

    21 April 2011 8:05PM

    @HansChristian

    You have a website called warisacrime.com. I feel you are coming at this from a rather prejudiced viewpoint.

    I, too, hold up my hands and plead guilty to that 'prejudice' that 'war is a crime'.
    I take it you think ' war is just fine'.

  • borleg

    21 April 2011 8:07PM

    Those Cluster Bombs that Ghaddafi is alleged to be using.
    Are they ones that NATO tried to flog him before the war?
    Or are they like the ones used by the US airforce that failed to detonate?

  • LakerFan

    21 April 2011 8:07PM

    zapthecrap
    21 April 2011 7:58PM
    War is very expensive and so has become a vital aspect of neocon ideology.

    The profits of war have outstripped the "illegal" trade in narcotics.

    There seems amoral hazard in that fact completely ignored by the neocons.

    Not a problem for psychopaths. RW psychopathy is unburdened by morality, remorse, or vestiges of humanity.

  • Bangorstu

    21 April 2011 8:07PM

    The big problem with this neo-con rubbish is that a lot of Republicans are criticising Obama for getting involved...

    The author is simply another middle class white man living in a liberal democracy who doesn't think everyone should be given the chances and freedoms he himself enjoys.

  • Grubler

    21 April 2011 8:08PM

    But warfare tends to breed more warfare; and cycles of violence usually, not just occasionally, spiral out of control.


    Yeah. Look at Germany today.

  • davidswanson

    21 April 2011 8:09PM

    Very interesting responses.

    Yes, I am prejudiced against wars, slavery, rape, torture and all kinds of things.

    You have to prove to me that using such things in a given instance do more good than harm.

    I'm open to any facts demonstrating such a thing.

    I'm open to the possibility that an illegal unconstitutional dishonest war might nonetheless do more good than harm.

    But I haven't seen it yet and don't see it here.

    And I've explained why and don't see you challenging any of the information I've presented.

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