Libya, Egypt and Tunisia as seen from New Jersey
Why not set them at war with each other?
… The point of calling in an army would be to overthrow the dictator and help move Libya toward a democratic transformation. And that is just the kind of intervention that [John Stuart] Mill opposed and that international law rules out….
What if it looks as if Qaddafi is going to win? Would we be willing to go all the way with Mill and say that if the rebels lose, it’s because the country isn’t ready, isn’t “fit,” for democratic government? I don’t think I am tough enough for that. But if there is to be, somewhere down the road, a military intervention, let it not be an American intervention. Ideally, I suppose, it should be an Italian intervention. According to post-colonial theory, the Italians are responsible for everything bad that has happened in Libya since they left. But if they tried to fix things, it wouldn’t be a post-post-colonial effort; it would look very much like the old colonialism. In any case, they could act effectively only as part of a NATO force, and NATO is second-worst to the United States as a potential intervener. United Nations auspices would provide a little cover, but it would almost certainly be vetoed in the Security Council. So why not call in the Egyptian and Tunisian armies? A high-tech force isn’t necessary here; with logistical help, these two armies could do the job. And who knows? Promoting democracy in Libya might push them to do the same thing, a bit more eagerly than they are doing now, in their own countries.
When intervention is necessary, neighbors are the best substitute for insiders. But when does “necessity” kick in—when the rebels have been utterly defeated, or when they are on the brink of defeat, or when too many of them are being killed? I would like to say, we will know necessity when we see it—except that so many people see it too soon, and so many never see it. We should begin that argument right now.
Michael Walzer is co-editor of Dissent. A professor emeritus at Princeton University in New Jersey, he is the author of many articles and books–including Just and Unjust Wars, Spheres of Justice, and On Toleration. He is also a contributing editor to the New Republic.
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“No ambition to oppress them”?
By Leftist Critic | Dissident Voice | December 2, 2016
Recently, I’ve been reading Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, a book by veteran New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer, which focuses on US-backed coups from 1893 (Hawaii) to Iraq (2003). In the book, Kinzer devotes only fourteen pages to Puerto Rico, a small island nation controlled by the murderous empire of the United States. On page 94, he declares that “most Puerto Ricans” understand that the US, despite colonial “misdeeds,” harbors “no ambition to oppress them.” He goes on to say that most want to continue ties with the US and that colonial rule has been “relatively benign,” meaning it was partially beneficial to islanders. In his view, this hasn’t led to a “violent backlash” because of US efforts to take “direct political responsibility” to govern the island, and even floats the idea that there could be a reasonable case that US control over the island has made it “better off”! Kinzer ends optimistically, saying that “a happy end to the long story” would not only take away stigma of US citizens from “ruling another people” but would tell them that “toppling of foreign regimes need not end badly.” Such words, like this, reek of apologism for imperialism and existing US colonialism in Puerto Rico. In this article, using quotes from Kinzer’s own book, I plan to prove that US rule in the island nation has not been “relatively benign,” but that the US imperialists should not be seen as engaging in “nice” oppression, with “no ambition,” of Puerto Rico’s citizens. … continue
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