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June 18, 2016

Comments

Try as I might, I can never make sense of the US electoral system. Fortunately you don't seem to have exported it.

the problem is that there isn't just one system. every state does things differently, every party can do things differently on top of that, and even different offices can have different rules - most are partisan but some are non-partisan, most are direct but some are indirect (you're voting for an anonymous person who will vote for the person you think you're voting for at some later date).

it is confusing even for people who work in it.

If the US electoral system seems nonsensical, what is one to make of this ?
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/27/eu-democratic-bandwagon-juncker-president-wanted

More mildly impenetrable detail here:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_the_European_Commission

(you're voting for an anonymous person who will vote for the person you think you're voting for at some later date)

Well, just to make sure that this doesn't make things too clear for those playing along at home and abroad, remember that the anonymous person cannot be legally bound to vote for the person you think you're voting for (though in 29 states they can be legally punished for voting for someone other than who they're pledged to vote for).

You hear about the guy on reddit who wrote his own name in for every ballot paper for years, and has finally been elected as a central committee member...? Shows how low turnout can be for those things.

I'm of the opinion that one has to be marinated in the US system from a very young age to have any chance of really 'understanding' it. A chance, not a certainty.

Which is why UK-born pundits like Sully try, but just don't quite "get it".

So, rather like a childhood prion infection.

sanbikinoraion: you shouldn't write in your own name. Write in "Mommy".

I'm more concerned about the voter suppression laws being passed in Republican states. That seems to me to be a direct attack on representative government.

Wonkie, to get fewer of those laws being passed, you need to change the kinds of people running for (and winning) state legislative office as Republicans. Which means, you need some changes in the folks who recruit those people as candidates.

But you can't get those changes unless you have some way to find out what those running for positions like county central committee membership actually believe and want to work towards. Which was my point.

what wj said, plus:
more people need to vote in midterm and off-year elections.

In some history I was reading, it was mentioned that 'in the early days' the frequent elections were considered part of public entertainment. Yeah, there just weren't as many options back then, so you make do: speeches, debates, town hall meetings, all that stuff.

Not sure how to recapture that, or update for modern times. Internet elections are just likely to install "Hank, the Angry Drunken Dwarf" in office.

Nigel,

I don't really understand the point of the Guardian article. Juncker was elected to be the president if the EU commission by democratic mandate: nominated by the democratically elected governments assembled in the Council, confirmed by the European Parliament.

He might not have been an ideal candidate but he was an acceptable compromise. That is what democracy is about.

I really don't understand. First people are complaining that EU has a democracy gap, as it was governed by the Council. Now that the Parliament actually has full legislative powers and cannot be overruled, that seems to be a problem, too.

Your not voting "Leave" Nigel, right?

Otherwise I'm happy to have a chat, I'll bring the biscuits :)

Changing the subject a bit, my feelings about the possibility of a Trump presidency, once it became clear he was the likely GOP nominee, started off with confidence that the general election would be an entirely different ballgame. I was sure he would get killed, based mostly on the differences in voting patterns and participation between primaries/caucuses and the general.

A month or two ago I started feeling a little nervous, that maybe this was actually going to be a close fight - that he might have some shot at becoming the President of the United States of America.

Now I'm back to thinking he's going to get killed, but with a clearer vision of how utterly unprepared I think he is for what's going to happen. He has no organization. He has no plan. He's up against experienced, savvy and well-funded people - lots of them - who are going to grind him into the dirt.

Thoughts?

i think he'll get an organization or, more likely, one will coalesce around him. the RNC and the greater GOP machine isn't about to sit back and let him wing it. too much is at stake.

but if he really can't cut back on the offensive/racist comments no amount of organization will help him because they'll have to spend all their time defending him.

i think he'll get an organization or, more likely, one will coalesce around him.

I don't doubt that, but it's a little late. And even putting aside his offensive comments, he's generally message-less, unless being an incoherent blowhard is a message.

What sort of magic lipstick can this late-to-the-game organization put on this mutant pig? What research have they done? What's going to be their strategy?

I have to think Clinton's campaign is already beginning the execution of their plan, rather than just beginning to formulate it. And it's probably pretty f*cking good.

I just don't see something coalescing around Trump that's going to have a prayer of being the least bit effective.

i think he'll get an organization or, more likely, one will coalesce around him.

I'm beginning to doubt that. He certainly shows no signs of that happening.

As for the RNC digging in and doing it for him, that's looking increasingly less likely. Oh, I expect they will try to do something. But when he can't even be bothered to make a couple dozen phone calls to potential donors for them? There just isn't going to be the money.

I think part of his problem is that what he is doing worked for him. He might have figured out on his own that he needed to change for the general election. But too many people tried to tell him that he needed to do so. And he doesn't take well to others appearing to give him instruction. So he's dug in his heels and is refusing to change.

He's had lots of practice trash-talking his opponents. And it appears that he intends to continue in that vein. But the only folks that will convince are those who already have such a negative opinion of Clinton that they would never vote for her anyway. The combination of nastiness and lack of substance isn't going to win over anyone else.

Meanwhile, Clinton doesn't even need to respond in kind . . . and her campaign appears to have figured that out. All they really need to do is keep running ads featuring Trump saying what he has been saying. No other negative campaigning needed.

looks like there's more shakeup to come. he's having a planning meeting today.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-huddle-top-aides-lewandowski

and, he's bringing in the big guns:

Trump has also hired GOP strategist Keith Nahigian, who ran former Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) insurgent presidential campaign in 2012.

wtf.

Meanwhile, Clinton doesn't even need to respond in kind . . . and her campaign appears to have figured that out. All they really need to do is keep running ads featuring Trump saying what he has been saying.

I'm not there, so is this really the case? John Oliver pointed out that she has stooped to Trump's level in one case. I'd be very happy to hear it otherwise, but that call to be cool to young kids is probably too hard to resist.

If Clinton really wants to be cool to young kids, or at least as cool as possible, she should make fun of herself for being uncool. She really shouldn't even attempt to seem like she's in on today's youth culture. It's a recipe for failure.

John Oliver pointed out that she has stooped to Trump's level in one case.

The "Delete your account" tweet was a descent to Trump's level? I beg to differ.

The only thing I have to add to "don't interrupt your enemy when they're making a mistake", is that there still has to be a solid platform of what one is FOR, not just what one is against.

Which is what 'positive' campaign ads are supposed to do, and I'm sure that Clinton won't neglect them.

Trump might.

Trump is for chewing bubble gum and kicking ass, and he's all out of bubble gum.

Unfortunately for him it seems the people whose ass he is attempting to kick appear to constitute a substantial majority of the population.

Trump's positive message is "Make America Great Again"

i get the feeling that that's some pretty deep stuff, for some.

Trump's plan:

Korematsu + Berlin Wall = America Great Again!

Except substitute Mexicans and Muslims for Japanese and East Germans.

This was Trump's level--

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/06/19/flashback_2011_hillary_clinton_laughs_about_killing_moammar_gaddafi_we_came_we_saw_he_died.html

Lesser evil and all that-- Trump is always on that level.

For those of you who know and love The Producers, we now have:
The Political Consultants! Except the idea of a musical called "Springtime for Hitler" was far enough from reality to be funny.

Chris Christie could probably do a reasonable job of playing Zero Mostel...And Rand Paul has that 'Gene Wilder' hair going for him... hmmm.

Sapient, I think the point Oliver was making that if you want to engage Trump, engaging him in a medium that limits your arguments to 140 characters is kind of giving the game away.

Wherever we are going, we'd better get there faster:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/zika-virus-hell-us-isnt-191130045.html#

We have two death vectors spreading this virus in our midst and both must be destroyed.

We could well have a growing population of infants with severe birth defects in the near future as a result of this virus at the same time their families have their health insurance taken away from them and/or are denied access to the care they need.

I would be willing to spray concentrated DDT directly into the Cleveland Quicken Loans Event Center HVAC system in July as a first line of defense against one of the vectors responsible for the quickening of the virus in this country.

Yes, I agree Clinton should leave the insult repartee to the professionals like Donald Rickles Trump.

You don't sit in the first few rows of a Rickles show, unless you are a glutton for punishment. You send a surrogate like Elizabeth Warren who knows how to work the crowd.

You send people like the AIDS activists who disrupted Limbaugh first and only foray into a live TV studio audience years ago and watch pigs like him suffer the flop sweat of all flop sweats as he got off stage as quickly as possible, the murderer.

Clinton doesn't do "hooray, the wicked witch Gaddafi is dead" humor well either. Her timing is off, her laughter is hollow and the joke falls flat.

In my perfect international world arrangement, I would run a highly trained and secretive international crew of paramilitary assassins with the most advanced technology available to them, accountable to no national governments in the world, that would hunt down and take out leaders like Gaddafi, Putin, Tom Delay, any guerilla leaders, private sector actors, the list is uncountable, who kill their own people either via terrorism, warfare, or public policy.

U.S. leaders would not be exempt by a long shot.

In fact, if you promise to kill your own people as you run for office, you and your entire campaign won't make it to election day with a pulse.

Yeah, my biases would rule, but I would never take over a government.

Governments and national leaders may practice diplomacy and that's it.

You kill your own people or anyone else, bang, you are dead, and you won't know who carried out the hit.

No announcements, no blame borne by governments, and no gloating by idiots afterwards.

Leaders of all stripes, public and private, would walk on eggshells their entire time in office.

Save lives, don't end them or cause suffering and privation, or we kill you.

When all governments unite to hunt my agents down, we'll know the world is on its way to being a better place.


No announcements, no blame borne by governments, and no gloating by idiots afterwards.

Won't work, Count. Even thoughthey didn't do it, some group or other would claim "credit" for your actions. Even though they had nothing to do with it.

Yeah, but they would not long survive against The Count's quiet assassins.
--TP

Point taken.

Sure, there aren't ninja any more. That's what they WANT you to think.

No one would suspect them to be based in Colorado now. The stuff in Iga City is just a distraction.

Lesser evil and all that

what is the proper response to having finally rid the world of one of its most awful dictators?

I'll just be glad to see the last, hopefully, presidential election of the 20th century over with.

My satellites and laser zappers are moving into position. I think we'll use the family package on this target:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/iowa-congressman-plans-hogtie-us-111500090.html

Steve King is a murderer, a nasty piece of sadistic work.

He may believe he can hide in a culvert or a hidey hole like his fellows Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, but that just means the crater will have to be larger.

I won't begrudge a cackle from Hillary when she gets the news.

" What is the proper response to having finally rid the world of one of its most awful dictators?"

I actually had to pause a second to figure out you were responding to me. First, Gaddafi was a run of the mill thug, certainly no worse than the Saudis we are currently helping as they kill children in Yemen. But normally liberals are disgusted when Republicans engage in that sort of cheerful gloating about death no matter whose death it was. She is obviously incredibly pleased with the exercise of American military power, though on a smaller scale it was about as well thought out as the toppling of a vastly worse thug named Saddam. And who is this " we" in her statement? It's reminiscent of Commander Codpiece on the aircraft carrier with a mission accomplished sign in the background. She didn't fly any missions.

I don't doubt that if it had been a Republican every liberal blogger would have linked to it.

I want Clinton to win, or more precisely, the Republicans to lose and I am going to keep my mouth shut for most of the next several months.

First, Gaddafi was a run of the mill thug,

you must hang out at different mills than i do.

http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.570727

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-12552587

She is obviously incredibly pleased with the exercise of American military power

or maybe she is pleased with the fact that American military power (yes yes, the worst power ever) got rid of a guy who kept sex slaves.

"I want Clinton to win, or more precisely, the Republicans to lose and I am going to keep my mouth shut for most of the next several months."

Speak.

It's too bad America has f*cked up every other intervention in the Mideast, especially Iraq. Between the fact that the entire region is a den of treachery, usually armed by us, no matter which way we turn, and the sorry fact that cosseted Americans have stirred foreign policy with their dicks all these decades and are full of sh*t to boot, here we are:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/06/27/syrias-war-on-doctors

Trump is here to chew ass and kick gum, and he's all out of ass.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWs3eh5u7Ic&feature=youtu.be

or maybe she is pleased with the fact that American military power (yes yes, the worst power ever) got rid of a guy who kept sex slaves.

Recognizing that Libya was previously fairly bad on this score, it's still very strange you'd choose that particular point to cheerlead given what the effect of getting rid of Gaddafi was on the rest of the country.

http://millaproject.org/trafficking-of-persons-in-libya/

http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/region/middle-east-north-africa/

(And yes, predictably so.)

the aftermath of the Libyan civil war turned out to be a disaster for the country.

but when NATO got involved, it seemed chance that things would work out for the best. and for a while it did look like it would.

and the action was, after all, requested by a Libyan UN ambassador who wanted the world to help prevent a genocide.

i don't recall anyone predicting, at the time, that the replacement government would end up in a shambles. so, i don't put much stock in hindsight here.

i guess one could take the position that the US shouldn't do anything to help civilians when their government turns on them, if only because it can turn out badly if the replacement government is worse. but i can't take that position.

Soooo... we should laugh and joke about military interventions, and make light of the death and destabilization that they cause? Because that's what you were defending Clinton doing, all your accusations of excessive hindsight not withstanding.

Although on that note, I'm surprised you didn't hear people suggesting Libya would go from bad to worse. There were certainly plenty of people pointing to exactly how much of a mess the opposition was, and as usual, we had suggestions flying that we should find a nice strongman to make order. There was nothing about this that made it look like it was going to end well, nor be something other than a typical intervention in the region (with all the implications of displacement, death, disorder, and unintended and predictable yet somehow unforeseen consequences that go along with that). Libya is a perfect example of the vaunted FP experience Clinton is bringing to the table, so it's a good thing you like it; there'll be more of the same to come.

we should laugh and joke about military interventions, and make light of the death and destabilization that they cause?

was Clinton laughing and joking? i've never heard the actual audio, but that's definitely not what those words suggest to me. got a link to the audio?

I'm surprised you didn't hear people suggesting Libya would go from bad to worse.

oh, i heard a lot of people saying stuff like that, because there are always people who will say that about anything. i didn't hear "the government will form, hold elections, look like it's going to work out and then... split itself in two and remain dysfunctional while the country
falls apart around them."

they had a good shot at coming out of the civil war that they started before NATO got involved, but they couldn't pull it off.

Libya is a perfect example of the vaunted FP experience Clinton is bringing to the table, so it's a good thing you like it; there'll be more of the same to come.

the primary is over. your choice is Trump or Clinton. winner takes all.

ex italico.

Here's the Hillary clip. It might need more context.

No, novakant.
There are very good arguments for voting leave (not involving immigration, and with whose general thrust I agree), fairly well outlined here -
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/12/brexit-vote-is-about-the-supremacy-of-parliament-and-nothing-els/
- but I will be (slightly reluctantly) voting remain.

The whole debate is likely to rather fundamentally shake up UK politics though, to an extent which I don't think has been fully appreciated. And that's if 'remain' wins.
Not least is the manner in which Labour no longer represents the views of a large proportion of its voters:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/17/britain-working-class-revolt-eu-referendum
(The Conservative party split is already apparent.)

Should 'leave' win, it's tabula rasa.

Military intervention plus "good intentions" are not sufficient to ensure successful outcomes. Seriously, cleek, it was extremely foreseeable, and it was foreseen.

"... no one has ever written a revolutionary ballad romanticizing the heroism of a lawyers association's participation in a series of meetings..."

Here's the Hillary clip.

okay. that sucks.

i still don't think Libya was destined to be a failure or that we were wrong to help stop that lunatic from killing even more of his people. we didn't start their civil war. we didn't start the call to stop Gaddaffi in the international community. we didn't lead the attack. and afterwards, we didn't go in and try to set up a new government. what we did, along with many other countries, is we stopped Gaddaffi from attacking his own people.

(i was in the Netherlands over Christmas break in 1988. and i flew back to the US the same week the Libyans under Gadaffi's direct order blew up Pan Am 103. so i have never had much sympathy for the guy.)

Military intervention plus "good intentions" are not sufficient to ensure successful outcomes.

entirely true.

standing by and doing nothing comes with costs, too.


and it was foreseen.

not by that article, which was written five months ago and has nothing to say but "Gaddaffi was bad and ruined his country". yeah, no shit. and he was still at it when we stopped him from doing even more damage.

maybe i've been mistaken all this time. but i've always thought that standing up for the people, when they're under the boot of tyranny, was a natural fit for the left. am i wrong?

For situations like Libya, we need...

Killer Robots: Protectors of Human Rights?: Why a ban on the development of lethal autonomous weapons is premature

:)

cleek:

No $#|+ it wasn't foreseen by a retrospective article, but thanks for pointing that out.

Half-@$$ self-congratulatory military intervention may or may not have a positive outcome, but whether it does or not pretty much entirely depends on what other, more invested parties to the conflict are doing. Our part in such affairs is whacking the hornets' nest, and patting ourselves on the back for a job well done regardless of who gets stung. The only thing that is certain about this kind of intervention (which we do so love) is that so long as we don't recognize that they're destabilizing and destructive while being nothing resembling constructive... is that we're going to do more of them.

This seems like a bit of a stuck point between you and me. I'm not berating Clinton because I "can't accept the primary is over", but because supporting her now will have consequences going forward. Same with our intervention in the Libyan civil war. Nothing good was going to come of it. You argue that doing nothing would have been evil... but intervening - and particularly perpetuating that habit and the narrative that top-down intervention on the cheap is effective and a moral good, or even obligation - ensures that we'll keep doing this, over and over and over. It's well and good to say it would have been wrong to stand by and do nothing, but if standing by and doing nothing then prevents another Iraq in a few years, would it still be wrong? Everything about our intervention in Libya fit the pattern of past potstirring. There was no reason to think it was going to magically have a better outcome than our other adventurist outings over the past couple of decades. Did we get a warm, fuzzy feeling for having galloped around doing good? Sure. Did we stand up for people under the boot of tyranny? I'm not seeing that; we just dumped some munitions onto the forces of a regime we despised because at the time it was politically convenient, and then gave ourselves a high five for having done the right thing. Our intervention lacked a political element, and didn't have a coherent end goal; strategically, it was punitive, not protective. Business as usual, and claiming that no one could have known that that this time hope wouldn't triumph over experience for no foreseeable reason just washes our hands and sets us up for next time.

Platitudinous as it is to say it, our actions today have an effect on what will happen tomorrow just as much as they do on what happens today.

Oh, and to whether or not it would have been morally wrong to sit on our hands, level heads aren't of one mind on this.

An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for these human rights violations and in many cases has discredited or cast doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence.

[...]

The Amnesty findings confirm a recent report by the authoritative International Crisis Group, which found that while the Gaddafi regime had a history of brutally repressing opponents, there was no question of "genocide".

Did we get played with a convenient, comfortable narrative? That, too, would hardly be the first time. I suppose we can disagree as to whether we should be reluctant to strive to make it the last one.

No $#|+ it wasn't foreseen by a retrospective article, but thanks for pointing that out.

it was your claim and your link. yell at yourself if you don't like the way it worked out for you.

Did we stand up for people under the boot of tyranny? I'm not seeing that;

of course not.

nothing the US ever does is good. you've made that perfectly clear.

Our intervention lacked a political element, and didn't have a coherent end goal; strategically, it was punitive, not protective.

it was perfectly coherent, and protective: stop Gaddaffi from launching strikes against Libyans who were protesting his rule (including people who were trying to overthrow him).

maybe i've been mistaken all this time. but i've always thought that standing up for the people, when they're under the boot of tyranny, was a natural fit for the left. am i wrong?

We do. But we have never been allowed anywhere near the control panel of our foreign policy (no jokes, please!).

If the "humanitarian pragmatists" want a ramped up and muscular interventionist foreign policy that is privileged to conveniently ignore the national sovereignty of others, why don't they just f*cking say so?

And what's with the 'picking and chosing' of which outrages to intervene? Tyranny is tyranny, right?

The fact that we tolerate Saudi Arabia, Israel, North Korea....(need I go on?) mocks this whole concept. It is either incoherent or a cloak for the pursuit of national interests using a convenient rationale.

Please advise which one. Thanks.

If you are going to argue the merits of intervention, it would help to distinguish between
- the impact on those living where we are intervening
- the impact on those living under similar regimes (because of the impact on their leaders of the prospect that they could be next)
- the impact on us, as the intervening party.

It's entirely possible for some of those to be positive and others negative. So both sides get to point with pride and view with alarm over the same specific intervention (or lack of intervention).

need I go on?

and list more countries that are not in anything like the Libya situation? no, what would be the point?

Libya was in the middle of a civil war that NATO didn't start. and the government was happily killing protestors and rebels and innocents. none of that is happening in those countries, shitty as they are.

in Libya NATO actually stopped a tyrant from killing more of his people. but the revolution was already happening and it might have succeeded in taking him out even if we didn't help it along. but if we hadn't stepped in, the result would have been far bloodier than it was when NATO stopped.

how could it have possibly turned out better than they did if NATO didn't get involved. the people were fed up with him and were protesting nationwide.
but Gaddaffi's official policy, since the 70's, was to execute protesters.

If the "humanitarian pragmatists" want a ramped up and muscular interventionist foreign policy that is privileged to conveniently ignore the national sovereignty of others, why don't they just f*cking say so?

it's been a long time since national sovereignty was an acceptable excuse to murder your own civilians. and arguing that intervention should be off the table in such cases ranks right up there with "hey, she's not my wife, what do i care if you beat her?" among the shittiest and most in-humane attitudes people can express.

but, if you think an imaginary line in the sand is good enough reason to let people die at the hands of a tyrant, just fuckign say so.

And what's with the 'picking and chosing' of which outrages to intervene? Tyranny is tyranny, right?

well, on one hand you have some stable countries that are pretty shitty compared to western standards but which aren't in the middle of civil wars and actively shelling their populations. on the other hand, there's a lunatic tyrant who was.

It is either incoherent or a cloak for the pursuit of national interests using a convenient rationale.

that's a fairly insanely false dilemma.

Libya was a case where very limited action on NATO's part gave the Libyan people a chance to make things better. and they were on that path but things far out of our control or influence derailed the progress. NATO didn't cause the new Libyan government to fall into dysfunction. they managed that all by themselves.

How do you know it would have been far bloodier if we hadn't intervened? Did you read NV's Amnesty International link? I get the impression people are imagining a mass genocide was in progress-- not true.

On a related topic, Syria is sometimes laughably presented as an example of the costs of non intervention, when it's anything but that. Everyone intervenes in Syria. The war has dragged on this long because of the intervention. Our pals fight alongside Al Qaeda and this is often glossed over. Maybe if we intervene still more, in just the right fashion, we will get things right. But the odds are against it.


Did you read NV's Amnesty International link?

Did you? Because it wasn't an "Amnesty International link". It was a link to a newspaper (The Independent) article reporting (very cherry-pickingly) on certain aspects of what Amnesty International found. Here is a link from Amnesty International. Also, although I don't have time to find (again, since I posted some at the time) Guardian and other newspaper articles explaining how aid organizations were being blocked from bringing food and medical aid to certain besieged parts of Libya. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Docto

The term "genocide" is very specific when used by international lawyers, and isn't synonymous with intentional targeting of civilians on a large scale, which is what was happening in Libya. So just because Amnesty didn't find "genocide" doesn't mean that horrific human rights violations weren't taking place. The fact that the UN Security Council gave its go-ahead to intervention means something, doesn't it? It means, to me, that Libya was an international outlaw, not just an enemy of western imperialists.

On the issue of whether we "fixed" Libya, no, we didn't. We made the odds for Libya being able to "fix" itself greater, and we did so by taking a second seat to other countries who were working with the imprimatur of the international community (not just a "coalition of the willing") to enforce international standards of human rights.

I understand that NV and Donald think that the best course is to watch and pray. That's not any more "moral" than trying to do something about ongoing atrocities, even though your pure hands won't be sullied.

Libya is a case where I think talking about what Gaddaffi did or did not do doesn't really help clear anything up. We were going to get pulled in by France (then led by Sarkozy), regardless how bad Gaddaffi was. I do think that the video of Gaddaffi's final moments (specifically him being sodomized by a bayonet) is suggestive of his crimes (though obviously, I'm not claiming that it is evidence, and people can easily whip themselves up to treat any victim in a way that they imagine the person deserves).

One could ask if we'd run sorties against Liechtenstein if Sarkozy had been pissed at them while others would suggest that some folks want to allow child molesters to run countries, neither of which I think is very instructive. I don't mean for this to be a pox on both your houses comment, but I feel that trying to argue the Libya intervention in terms of what was happening on the ground is not really going to get at why it happened.

I have read this whole Libya thing now and I must say, the excuses for not having a plan for after we killed him ensured his demise should have been forwarded to Bush. Not that they would have made sense for him either but at least we would be saying the same thing about the incompetence with which we oust dictators. The upside is we learned not to pretend to fix the country, just bomb the crap out of it and go home so they can fight their civil war without us getting blamed.

Consistency is a struggle for the true partisan, well except for "my side is always in the right".

On the other hand, in a different thread, only Republicans are tribal. What?

And the House is shut down due to a sit-in, did we just notice this? They been sitting there doing nothing since the ACA passed.

IIRC, what lj said; that a significant amount of the pressure to get involved in Libya was coming from Europe. And the US involvement was fairly minor.

I wasn't in favor of getting involved, but it wasn't so clear that non-involvement would be good either. There really did seem to be a split on the Dem side. The Republicans, on the other hand, spoke out strongly against Obama, first on one side of the issue, then the other.

And I strongly suspect that both the EU and US push to get involved in Libya wouldn't have happened if Libya didn't have any oil. Cf. Zimbabwe.

Paul Ryan (member of the Ayn Rand tribe and ostentatiously reluctant supporter of He, Trump) briefly convened the House tonight in order for his fellow-tribesmen to vote in favor of allowing "financial advisors" to continue fleecing widows and orphans. Don't tell me we have a do-nothing Congress.

--TP

"And the House is shut down due to a sit-in, did we just notice this? They been sitting there doing nothing since the ACA passed."

Why NOT sit when doing nothing, malignly and with racist intent, was the stinking, f*cking Republican agenda:

http://swampland.time.com/2012/08/23/the-party-of-no-new-details-on-the-gop-plot-to-obstruct-obama/

Why NOT sit when there are no Supreme Court nominations pending?

http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/secret-meeting-to-take-down-obama-exposed-44120643779

There's not much to do.

Why NOT sit when all immigration reform legislation is sequestered up Marco Rubio's shit heel Cuban ass.

I don't like the twiddling of thumbs while they sit, however. They should be firing semiautomatic and automatic weapons into the ceiling of the Capital to warm the cockles of murderous Republican hearts.

The Mideast is a hopeless treacherous piece of sh*t. And all full of shit Americans seem able to do, like an American character in a Graham Greene novel, is throw money up in the air while we smuggle weaponry to EVERYONE, and invoke our dumb God, who seems to rival their dumb Gods for the body counts.


On the other hand, in a different thread, only Republicans are tribal. What?

You may want to re-read the whole thread, not just the parts that support your viewpoint...

I've read summaries of what happened in Libya, sapient--civilians were murdered by both sides. The usual justification that I've seen is that if we hadn't gone in, tens of thousands would have been slaughtered. Well, nothing like that had happened. The civilian death toll was similar to or smaller than when the Egyptian military overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood and murdered about 1000 civilian protestors. Are we supposed to bomb every time something on this scale happens? Is there anything in our history that suggests we'd do a good job most of the time?

The fundamental dishonesty behind the pseudo-liberal humanitarian impulse is that there is no consistency in it whatsoever. We are actively helping the Saudis bomb civilians in Yemen and two years ago the Israelis were killing about 1500 civilians, again many with US-supplied weapons, and most of the fracking liberal humanitarians are nowhere to be found, except sometimes making excuses for the US government or its allies. If there was anything resembling a sincere impulse behind the liberal humanitarian impulse then you'd find the same people urging intervention in Libya also demanding that we stop supporting the Saudis and the Israelis. Or maybe take further steps. No, I don't mean violent ones. As it happens, I know a handful of people were consistent on this, but not our politicians. I don't expect much from politicians. What I do expect (well, not really) is moral consistency from their supporters. People who think Clinton was right about Libya should be asking where she is on Yemen. They should be disgusted by her speech to AIPAC and should say so loudly. For the most part, this doesn't happen, because the liberal humanitarian impulse miraculously raises its head only when convenient. Amazingly, it seems we can't intervene in some purely political way when our allies kill civilians with the weapons we supply, but we have to "do something" when doing something means bombing or supporting some dubious group of freedom fighters. The political incentives seem exactly backwards--our politicians seem to think they can and should do something when it involves us using violence and it might very well make things worse, but they feel incentivized to help our noble allies kill civilians. If liberal humanitarians carried about the humanitarian angle, they might want to think about why it works this way and how the incentives could be changed. I have one suggestion. Stop coming to the defense of politicians you vote for every time they intervene, and start criticizing them when they lie on behalf of allies who kill civilians.

Now could some liberal humanitarian interventions actually be justifiable? Yeah, maybe. In extreme cases. Rwanda, for instance. Most of the time we have shown over and over again that we really stink when it comes to identifying "good guys" and arming them and winding up with a happy ending. That's hardly surprising--armed revolutions have a rotten track record. But maybe most of these interventions aren't really about the humanitarian angle anyway.

Donald Johnson, seriously, that was your most eloquent statement on the subject in my memory.

Meanwhile, Trump's foreign policy agenda begins to take shape:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-checks-scotland-golf-courses

He plans on making an asshole-in-one:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/06/22/wednesday-evening-open-thread-trumps-oot/

We can look forward to an armed drone program against the Scottish locals.

WDJS.

WDJS.

Seconded.

It is indeed tough being a humanitarian liberal interventionist dealing with all that complexity in the world. It's complex! I guess this case is too insignificant, and this one, well...just too overwhelming. But rest assured, we know where to draw the line, and there is no comfort like the moral certitude that those who disagree with you just want to "wash their hands", engage in "moral purism" or just don't understand that "the world is complex".

Again, the concept is, at its base, incoherent, and fraught with unintended consequences. It is not a wise foreign policy approach.

NV and Donald Johnson: I think I am just the sort of woolly, liberal, humanitarian, (sometime) interventionist you despise, with only the one possible extenuating factor: that I only rarely take the interventionist line when I really think (often wrongly, cf Afghanistan, but that was before going into Iraq became inevitable) it will help the eventual outcome for the population, not for hawkish reasons. But I want to ask you both this: DJ, you allow that intervention may just have been OK in Rwanda, but if NV agrees, do you think Bosnia was permissible? And what about WWII? Did fighting fascism make that OK? I ask because a friend of mine, of impeccable hard-left intellectual credentials, thinks all armed interventions of any kind impermissible, including WWII. I just want to understand where you stand.

WWII was the most extreme of all cases, so of course it was legitimate. But we didn't intervene for humanitarian reasons-- we were attacked. Also, we had to side with one of the greatest mass murderers of all time to stop another of history's greatest mass murderers. WWII is a bad example precisely because it was so extreme. It's really reall hard to make things worse than Hitler would have made them.

I never felt like I knew enough about what was going on in Yugoslavia to have a strong opinion. It sounds like a cop out, but it's true. I read both pro and con views and just felt muddled. Srebrenica was definitely bordering on genocide though, so intervening then might have been an obligation. Kosovo later on I am less sure about.

I have liberal bombing impulses myself sometimes-- nearly all armed factions in Syria probably deserve to be bombed, but the burden should be on those who want to bomb to justify why they are sure it will help. We do have a track record of intervention and it isn't very good.

Anyway, you are sort of missing my point. It always seems to go this way. Notice we are talking about which countries we should have bombed and not about places where the noble humanitarians of the West are actively helping the people who are killing civilians. That's happening now, in Yemen, and maybe over in Britain you haven't noticed what a complete non- issue it is over here. This is why I don't really believe in these humanitarian impulses. I could imagine an alternate universe where we pressured the Saudis to stop killing civilians and cut off arms to Israel and in an expression of well- meaning zeal we also intervened in Libya, but that isn't remotely the sort of liberal humanitarian politician we actually have.

Where I differ from your friend is that I do get a little uneasy with hard line lefties who know intervention is under all circumstances the worst thing that could happen to a country. Most of the time that's probably right and it's true that the liberal humanitarian types see Hitlers everywhere-- grant them one exception and they want to bomb every tinpot dictator who we aren't currently arming. But you can have extreme cases.

If I might comment on that GftNC, IMO.

WWII is quite a different thing, in kind, than any of the other examples discussed here. There was a clear international aggressor attacking other countries. It was not a civil war or a rebellion. By whatever measure that intervention in WWII is judged, it should be different.

Bosnia is less complex a UN mission expanded over time based, mostly, on UN reaction to horrific events on the ground. As NATO's role increased at the urging and authorization of the UN the US took a larger role.

The Libyan intervention was also in support of UN resolutions, although the only authorized military action was enforcement of the no fly zone. It is unclear that actively bombing Qaddafi led forces was ever authorized by the UN. But NATO clearly supported and authorized the intervention.

Iraq was neither authorized by the UN or NATO. The UN specifically stated it was unauthorized by Charter. There was a coalition of countries but none of the mutual defense treaty organizations supported the invasion.

All that to say that while we often see these activities as equivalent, they are not. We haven't intervened under simply US authority in any cases outside Iraq and, perhaps, Afghanistan. None of that changes our responsibility for the results of the interventions, it does mean that those places we haven't intervened may be places that the international bodies that we should be working with haven't agreed to intervene, and we have rarely intervened on our own based on a humanitarian justification.

I'm actually completely with you on the Saudis in general, and Israel and Yemen in particular. Huge amounts of self-serving hypocrisy going round, for sure. But I have been shaken by the number of seemingly-respectable (i.e. with no apparent self-servingness) voices who seem agonised about why we (the US and the UK) did not intervene in Syria, and their conviction (it's never certainty) that it would have helped the Syrians.

nearly all armed factions in Syria probably deserve to be bombed, but the burden should be on those who want to bomb to justify why they are sure it will help. We do have a track record of intervention and it isn't very good.

Yes, a good example. If we bomb and take Al Assad out, what will the interventionists say we should do if the folks we helped turn around and initiate a genocidal elimination of the Alawis?

I have no doubt that humanitarian intervention is well intentioned. Woodrow Wilson was well intentioned, too. But, it has been commonly argued, he lit a firecracker in Europe, and we are just now (maybe) beginning to get over the aftermath.

But it is a woolly concept that has too much malleability. The question is not, "should we bomb Assad because that will reduce the death toll". We have no clue if this is true or not.

Then is the question, "We should bomb Assad because he is evil". That, too, can be a slippery concept....and we, as Donald so eloquently points out, have a rather high threshold of living with similar evils.

It is "lesser evilism"? I'd rather not go there :)

The first question should be, "What are our national interests, and how best can they be served?"

This is not being an isolationist, or asking for a high moral judgment.

And it most definitely acknowledges that the world is indeed a complex place.

I ask because a friend of mine, of impeccable hard-left intellectual credentials, thinks all armed interventions of any kind impermissible, including WWII.

Absolute pacifism (which is what this amounts to) can be really attractive to some on the far left. Right up there with railing against the police. But they never seem to consider that the police are all the stands between them and the nut-case militias who are armed and would just love to take over and establish a real (as opposed to imaginary) absolute dictatorship.

The pacificsts, IMHO, are in the same category. They feel morally superior in refusing to fight. But rarely if ever consider that what they have (including the right to not fight) is there only because someone else is willing to fight for it. (If someone will impress child soldiers, do they really think they would be exempt under the rule of people like that?)

They feel morally superior in refusing to fight.

Sorry, wj. That strikes me as mindreading. Pretty much everybody will invoke morality to justify a political position at some point. So does that mean everybody feels "morally superior"? Can we, in return, say that you are simply expressing your feelings of moral superiority in this instance?

Age old question for sure....when is it right to break a moral sanction to enforce another moral sanction.

I just want to understand where you stand.

Bosnia could have been justifiable, but how we did what we did wasn't. The bulk of what we did was project strategic air power; boots on the ground were crippled by mandates that rendered them ineffectual sops until the actual war was over. Clinton I alleged the handling of the conflict by intervening powers reflected in no small part Christian European hostility to the notion of an independent Muslim Bosniak state, and that's rather credible from where I stand. Our eventual intervention likely [but not certainly!] prevented further serious bloodshed and ethnic cleansing, but it was very poorly executed for very political reasons.

[Having written all this and refreshed, I'll also echo DJ's semi-cop-out about not having as great an understanding of this conflict as I do some others. And I'll emphatically underscore the point that speculation is speculation no matter who does it; the only thing we know for sure is our past track record, and that doesn't encourage optimism about intervention unless it's 1939 and they're Hitler - which conveniently is almost always the case...]

That's very possibly the worst thing about the liberal interventionist position aside from its selectivity; it pays a great deal of attention to jus ad bellum, but tends to have little interest in reflecting over jus in bello - or at least jus in bello as it applies to our actions. The important thing was that something needed done, and we did something, dammit! Liberal interventionists seem to like the idea of having done something, but not so much the idea of actually doing it. Hence their love of "clean" intervention via air power or even just missile strikes. Likewise support for plans that don't extend much further than "blow up the bad people".

I'm okay with WWII in broad terms because of principles of self-defense [DJ/bp/Marty all made statements largely in keeping with my view (unsurprisingly, DJ the most so)]. Let me be clear: I am not a pacifist. I don't have that kind of moral strength; I mistrust military intervention, but I'm absolutely not willing to renounce it wholesale. Indeed, I did active service in the US Army from '10-'13 despite my reservations on this score; this is a topic that gets kinda muddled for me and it's not overly easy for me to lay out clearly where my bright lines fall. If I had to put my opinion into a single sentence, I'd say we either need to intervene a whole lot more on a much larger scale, or far less frequently (but still on a larger scale, as half-assing it stirs the pot, reinforces our militaristic "problemsolving" habits, and invites blowback while destabilizing the recipients of our laser-guided largess).

Bobby, is it mndreading when they say, loudly, that their position is morally superior?

It's one thing to feel like what you are doing is morally superior / right. It's another to ignore the fact that you are only able to do it because of others who do the opposite. Everybody, as you say, does at least some of the former. The latter? Not so much.

That strikes me as mindreading. Pretty much everybody will invoke morality to justify a political position at some point.

WBPS. Every stance that is based on a moral judgement can be dismissed as seeking to "feel morally superior". I know many, many ardent interventionists who display staggering amounts of moral superiority owing to their hawkishness. Pure pacifism can be the result of any number of reasons, but it's more than a little problematic to dismiss it out of hand as a naive/lazy/cowardly/selfish desire to look down on those who "have the integrity to do what needs done".

wj, you seem to be assuming sight and circumstances unseen that pacifists are not willing to suffer or make sacrifices to adhere to their convictions. Without that underlying assumption, your argument loses most if not all of its force.

Syria - another place and situation that is not Libya.

if Syria wasn't right next to Iraq, things might be different. but taking out Assad (directly or indirectly) would probably be a net benefit to ISIS. and as terrible as Assad is, he is less terrible than the apocalyptic death cult that is ISIS. instead, we should be taking in more Syrian refugees.

Bobby, is it mndreading when they say, loudly, that their position is morally superior?

Absent a further inquiry as to whether or not they are fully cognizant of the possible consequences and accept them....absolutely yes.

But generally, it doesn't get to that extreme. Did Ghandi or MLK "feel morally superior"? Inquiring minds want to know.

Both "pacifism ALWAYS" and "war hawkery ALWAYS" are consistent positions with zero nuance, hence their attraction.

We don't live on the planet where those make sense.

"we should be taking in more Syrian refugees."

Absolutely. See. We agree. ;)

Syria - another place and situation that is not Libya.

Insofar as humanitarian liberal intervention is commonly invoked as a vital and/or overriding foreign policy principle, this statement pretty much demonstrates that it is not really a principle.

Thanks DJ, NV, and in fact everybody else - most interesting. I'm now fixating on possible Brexit, so over to the other thread...

it is not really a principle.

of course it is.

but i don't know if anyone actually thinks humanitarian intervention always overrides everything else in every situation, damn the consequences. all principles have to be weighed against reality - even vegans treat their homes for termites.

all situations are different. our military power is immense (especially as a coalition) but can't solve everything. and obviously military actions have all kinds of consequences. i don't know anyone who doesn't realize all that. some are certainly more willing than others to gamble on the consequences, and some overestimate our capabilities. but one can think the US and allies can use (and have used) their military force for good without thinking it must be the answer to every situation out there.

all situations are different.

This. Trying to judge the potential benefit of intervention is always going to vary. In Libya, it was widely reported that government troops were committing atrocities, and putting many civilians in rebel cities under siege. People may dispute the extent of the atrocities, but our very limited intervention was based on a desire to mitigate the slaughter. Considering that the international community was in agreement that an intervention was warranted, our participation was completely justified.

Syria has a different set of circumstances, and very different risks for an escalation of conflict.

Syria has a different set of circumstances, and very different risks for an escalation of conflict.

Syria is different? Who knew? But I reiterate, when these cheap and easy "interventions" are undertaken, we are bombarded with invocations of this "principle" as justification.

The "principle" would seem to mandate we do something about the Congo.

But. We. Don't.

Some principle.

Well, the principle does (generally) include a caveat that our intervention can accomplish something. Of course, opinions may differ in each case about whether we can accomplish anything.

But then there are cases, the Congo being one, where almost nobody believes that our intervention would achieve anything useful. It's hard for some to accept that our ability to do anything we set out to do is limited. But most of us recognize the possibility that something is a lost cause.

perhaps there's something about the Congo that makes Obama et al think a military intervention isn't the right way to respond. should we go after Rwanda and Uganda for their part in the Congo situation, too ?

or maybe it's a conspiracy of some kind. usually is.

I always thought the idea was that liberal humanitarianism should be on the list of justifications for "intervening," even if it isn't always and everywhere a necessary and sufficient reason.

IOW, that a humanitarian crisis can be a sufficient threat to US national security to warrant invasion, bombing, some kind of military thing, whatever; just like terrorism, invading your neighbors, controlling-too-much-oil-and-threatening-not-to-sell-it-to-us-at-market-prices, threats of communist world domination (real or imagined), whatever it is that Noriega did, etc.

Not that we really need to add an extra reason to the list.

IOW, that a humanitarian crisis can be a sufficient threat to US national security to.....etc.

There's the rub. What constitutes 'sufficient'? And how is a civil war in Libya in any way a threat to national security? Or is it just one of several tools that can be pulled from the box to justify state violence?

They say a good craftsman doesn't blame their tools. But they don't abuse them either.

But then there are cases, the Congo being one, where almost nobody believes that our intervention would achieve anything useful.

But taking sides in the Libyan civil war would? I can see somebody believing this. What I object to is the invocation of "humanitarian crisis" on such an obviously selective bases. There seems to be no criteria other than some felt need to "do something" based on .....what? That the probability of success is high? That the cost will be low?

What are the criteria? A threat to our vital national interests obviously is not one of them.

So state them.

We could do a great deal more in the Congo than we do now. It might not even cost overly much, depending on how you judge "costs".

But we don't even discuss it.

So I continue to have the opinion that there's more to this than "humanitarianism", because that impulse, noble as it may be, is constrained by the consensus (we have one more or less) of what constitutes our national interests.

"or maybe it's a conspiracy of some kind. usually is."

Whatever floats your boat.

Hmm, do I still remember how to close those?

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