Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Another Wednesday

with 4 comments

This term, Wednesday is my sort of worst day of the week–worst because I have to be up really early and I don’t end until late; sort of because the day that really kicks my ass is Thursday, when, in order to stay on some kind of schedule, I get up at my usual time and then spend the next several hours walking into walls.

This Thursday is going to be worse because Greg has his pre-op doctor’s appointment, and then we’re on the long countdown to the two surgeries.  

It might be a little better if the rest of my life were sane–but this is me, and that’s not how I do things.

Anyway, I thought I’d just sort of check in on a few things, and then go off and listen to why “Bartleby the Scrivener” sucks.

The thing that’s suddenly impinged on my consciousness, somehow, is whatever the hell is going on in Lybia, and I don’t mean the insurrection against Ghadaffi. 

If that’s how we’re spelling it these days.

I have never been a supporter of the Iraq war, but I do understand the rationale for our being there, both the actual one (credible threat) and the one given out for public consumption (WMDs). 

I never found those rationales compelling, but they were rationales and I could see them.

In this case, we seem to be intent on overthrowing Ghadaffi all of a sudden because–because why?   Because he’s a bad man?  Because it turns out we can now more or less prove he was complicit in the Lockerbie bombing?  What, exactly?

I keep coming in on speeches and sound bites that amount to “of course we need to remove Ghadaffi” without giving me a “why,” and to the extent that there seems to be any kind of why, it seems to amount to “because he’s a really bad man.”

What we–and most of Western Europe–seem to be doing is taking the opportunity afforded to us by the rebellion in Lybia to do a little quick regime change.

And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad idea.  It’s just that I need some kind of rationale for it that I can see makes at least internal sense. 

I am also, I admit, made generally uncomfortable by idealistic rationales for war.

I understand war, both preemptive and reactive, as a way to pursue national interests.   That seems to me to be what war is for, and always has been for.  That’s what war is for even if it is defensive, since it is certainly in the national interest not to be overrun and conquered by an invader.

Right now, though, what I’m getting sounds like incoherent mush–we must intervene because…I don’t know. 

And I really don’t know why everybody seems to be so enthusiastically in favor of it, including a lot of people who were violently opposed to the war in Iraq.

I may, of course, simply be missing something here.  I really haven’t had time to pay attention to the news the last few weeks. 

But, you know, if somebody could explain this to me, I’d appreciate it.

And now I have to go do something sensible about the day.

Which makes me tired even thinking about it.

Written by janeh

March 30th, 2011 at 5:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to 'Another Wednesday'

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  1. I can’t help you. It baffles me. It’s hardly news that Gaddafi enthusiastically sponsored terrorism, including the Lockerbie bombing, and there was certainly a lot of speculation that his oil reserves were the reasons for certain governments putting such pressure on to get the ‘terminally ill’ Lockerbie bomber back to Libya, where I believe he is still alive. So everything was business as usual until very recently.

    It seems that every so often, people from outside the country in question decide that some vicious dictator has to go, and shout down any questions with claims of the desire to save the lives of the dictator’s victims while supporting the proud liberation fighters of some faction no one ever heard of before which supposedly really represents all the country’s citizens. Meanwhile, all around the world, equally or ever more viciously, other dictators continue business as usual.
    I can see why conspiracy theorists blame the CIA or empire-building on the part of the US or even Christian crusaders, who’ve gone from heroic protectors of embattled Christians to defeated would-be empire builders to modern-day all-purpose villains. It’s really puzzling as to why various Western powers are starting up a war in Libya now.

    Maybe it is the oil, this time. Maybe someone somewhere is pointing out to political leaders that this would be a great chance to stabilize the supply of a crucial substance by removing one of the crazier controllers of said substance, and hey, there are revolutions breaking out all over the Middle East; it would look like a natural progression if there was another one in Libya. And they might have gotten away with it if they’d had a well-organized bunch of Libyan rebels they could fund and arm, but Gaddafi is very well-armed, appears to have a strong core of support, and, like most dictators has made a career out of destroying any would-be rebels.


    30 Mar 11 at 7:10 am

  2. Hmmm. I could give some “positive” reasons. It had gotten to the point where Gaddafi probably really would have carried out some serious atrocities. He’s always been a rich nutcase, and hence at least a potential threat, and if we waited for him to die of old age or become senile, the ensuing troubles might come at a worse time for us.

    It gives the anti-Bush element a chance to prove they aren’t reflexive isolationists, the forces involved are small, and intervention promotes the UNSC, which seems to be something some people want to do.

    And of course there’s the oil. Surely our interventions in Lebanon, Grenada, Kuwait, Somalia, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan–Oops! Wrong list–our interventions in Kuwait, Iraq and now Libya show how oil drives US foreign policy.

    What the “real” reason is, I have no way of telling, and of course there’s no special reason to believe that it’s the same for all the advocates of intervention.

    I’m very much afraid, though, that one bad reason predominates. None of these people have studied history much, or military history at all. If they had, they’d know that war is an uncertain, messy and expensive proposition, rarely working out as expected and almost always “taking longer and costing more.”

    This is why one overprepares for war, if one is sensible, having more forces, better trained and equipped than one really expects to need. Unexpected things happen in war, and if one doesn’t have reserves governments, dynasties and entire nations can be lost.

    It is also why one does not enter into a war lightly. The history books are full of ghastly slaughters begun for minor political advantage by rulers confident that everyone would be home before the leaves fall.

    And of course, it’s why, if a war MUST be entered into, it must be prosecuted vigorously, especially by the stronger power. Opponents learn, recruit and gain allies. A successful war can be costly enough, but an inconclusive war is devastating–and for nothing.

    This is a war which might or might not be justifiable, but there can be no excuse for our lackadaisicle prosecution of it. Once you’re in, you’re in.


    30 Mar 11 at 4:12 pm

  3. I’m a cynic. Iraq was wrong because Devil Bush was President. Libya is right because Saint Obama is President.


    30 Mar 11 at 4:14 pm

  4. I agree entirely with John. Include me among those who think the whole thing is beyond ridiculous.

    I was having trouble posting to this group earlier so I emailed something like this to Jane.

    As for your bemusement about the Libya thing, join the club. I must not be reading or hearing what you are reading/hearing, because far from seeing any support for the intervention, all my favourite columnists from the left, right and centre are unanimous (perhaps for
    the first time ever) that the western intervention in Libya is a terrible mistake.

    While I have every sympathy for the desire of the
    ordinary Arab people, and the other Muslim people in the Middle East, to overthrow their dictators, I have absolutely no confidence that even a superficially successful revolt such as occurred in Egypt will result in any better outcome for the subject peoples or for us in the west.

    Thomas Sowell sums it up beautifully here:
    as does James Delingpole here:
    As a fan of VDH, you will know that he, Bruce S. Thornton and Raymond Ibrahim have also been railing against the naivete and confusion of the western response to the various crises.

    The air attacks in Libya are simply inexplicable by any rational arguments I’ve ever seen. In case these examples of objections are seen as merely a typical right wing response from the usual suspects, views from the Marxist left at Spiked, here:
    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/10314/ and here:
    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/10345/ make essentially the same points.

    God help us all, because I suspect that nothing else will.



    30 Mar 11 at 7:02 pm

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