by Jeff Huber
Apr. 5, 2011
Between 800 and a thousand people were slaughtered in the Ivory Coast on March 29 as the town of Duekoue became caught up in the post-electoral violence devouring that country. Progressive icon Juan Cole hasn’t called for support of the rebels in the Ivory Coast through U.S. military action.
Thousands gathered in Damascus, Syria on Sunday Apr. 3 to mourn the deaths of those killed protesting against the rule of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. Juan Cole has not called for liberals to demand a U.S. military intervention in support of Syrian rebels.
|What, me know what I'm|
Fred Bridgeland of Scotland’s Sunday Herald posits that the Ivory Coast is the next Rwanda. In 1944, the civil war in Rwanda led to the murder of between half-a-million and a million people. President Bill Clinton did not did not intervene militarily in that war, and as best as I can tell Juan Cole did not criticize him for it. Juan Cole also hasn’t called for use of armed force in the ongoing civil war in Darfur. The most visible lefty to push for U.S. action in Darfur has been actor George Clooney, and I never got the impression he was expecting us to go in and kick the door down there. I think Clooney was looking for something along the lines of Yo, Danny Ocean wants we should help out the Watusis or whatever the hell they are. What say we knock over another casino and give them half the take?
Juan Cole didn’t call for military intervention to help rebels oust dictator Hosni Mubarak in Egypt’s erupting civil war, he’s not calling for a bombardment in support of Jordan’s germinating civil war, nor did he ask for a blockade of the terror of the civil war in Tunisia. And, of course, Cole didn’t call for U.S. invasions in reaction to the civil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's largely because Cole was protesting the U.S. invasions that caused those civil wars in the first place.
Cole has, however and famously, exhorted the liberals of our nation to back young Mr. Obama's insertion of force into the civil war in Libya. In Cole's March 27 “An Open Letter to the Left on Libya,” an all-time low-water mark in liberal intellectualism, he presents arguments for war in Libya that make Bill Kristol’s asylum of neoconservative New American Centurions (think Dan Quayle) sound positively lucid.
The UN sanctioned Obama’s war in Libya, Cole argues, and although the neocons love war they hate the UN, plus they didn’t vote for Obama, so if you back Obama’s UN endorsed war in Libya that will show the neocons, huh? Oh, yeah, and the Neocons are always using humanitarian intervention as an excuse to go to war, and we liberals can’t let them be the only ones who do that, so let’s get behind Obama’s UN endorsed humanitarian intervention and, boy, that’ll really steal those old neocons’ thunder, won’t it? That’ll grind glass in their eye, all right.
|It's okay if the Israelis do it.|
Cole kinda-sorta argues that the humanitarian crisis in Libya is worse than it is (or was) in the Ivory Coast or Syria or Rwanda or Syria or Egypt or wherever, but he kinda-sorta doesn’t make his case. And in any case, Cole kinda-sorta never explains why he didn’t call for U.S. military intervention when the Israelis were firebombing mommies and babies in Gaza City with white phosphorous shells.
In a March 30 rebuttal to Glen Greenwald’s rebuttal of his cockamamie Open Letter, Cole opens with “Iraq was an illegal war, for no pressing national interest and with no [United Nations Security Council] authorization,” an authorization Cole defends with the lysergic assertion that “a UN Security Council resolution is the gold standard for military intervention.” What despicable Tommyrot.
Nations have been going to war—legally or otherwise—since long before there was a UN or anything remotely like it. The very fabric of international relations recognizes that political leaders have the right and responsibility to employ policies and strategies, including wars, that are in the best interests of their nations, and even the UN charter recognizes that member countries have the right to exercise the right of self-defense through use of armed force.
What makes a war illegal or illegal, especially when we’re talking about the United States, really has nothing to do with international agreements like the UN charter that member nations can back out of whenever they please. What matters in the U.S. is that we enter into war in accord with our own laws. Messrs. Bush and Cheney and their neocon supporters exploited the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to get themselves a pair of Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) from Congress that allowed a president to Invade Iraq and pretty much any place else he cared to as long as he did so in the name of fighting a terror-related ism. So the Iraq war is as legal as wars get in the post-World War II undeclared war era.
A pretty sound argument says that when you get right down to it, an AUMF is a perfectly legit substitute for a formal declaration of war. But Obama can't slip his little Libya war under the umbrella of the existing AUMFs because Libya doesn't present a terror connection. In fact, military intervention in Libya doesn't even pass the national self-defense test. Hence, it is Obama’s little field trip to Libya, and not the lamentable quagmire in Iraq, that is the brazenly illegal conflict.
This is foreign policy 101 stuff that ivory tower twits like Juan Cole (who is a history professor at the University of Michigan) ought to have down cold before they go shooting their mouths off about armed conflicts and the fates of nations.
The piece of resistance in Juan’s Open Letter was his boldface assertion that “Libya 2011 is not like Iraq 2003 in any way.” Oh, really? Let’s run a quick comparison. U.S. intervenes militarily against ruthless dictator. Check. Said ruthless dictator is conducting military operations against his people to suppress insurrection. Check. After having been previously spanked by U.S. armed force, said ruthless dictator is now a toothless tiger who poses no threat to his neighbors or to the Unites States. Check. Said ruthless dictator has no weapons of mass destruction or ties to al Qaeda. Check. The list goes on.
Picking on Cole is fun and easy, partly because he’s such an intellectual phony and partly because he’s inflated himself into a Biden-esque gasbag. But Cole is merely a symptom of a larger malignancy growing in political left. The progressives’ moral high ground in matters of war and peace began eroding when young Mr. Obama invited young Mr. Bush’s top five-sided funny farmers—Uncle Bob Gates, Moon Mullen, King David, Desert Ox Odierno, etc.—to stick around. Things continued rolling downhill with the addition of liberal warmongers like Cruella Clinton and Susan Rice to the team. Then Obama let King David and the rest of the general assembly bully him into escalating the bungle in the Bananastans. The promise of withdrawal from Iraq is vanishing like ethics in the banking industry, and oh, lo and behold, we’ve reversed our position in Yemen now. It seems our boy, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, just got himself put on our spit list, and now he’s the same kind of totalitarian dictator that Saddam Hussein was and Muamar Kadhafi still is (for the time being, anyway). Nothing good is going to come of this, believe you me.
I hate to be the one to spring this on the left on the occasion of Obama officially launching his re-election campaign, but if the Democrats want to hold on to their claim of being the party of the Great Enlightenment movement that founders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin espoused, they need to change their top leadership by Nov. 2012.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.