Another War of Jenkins' Ear

Resist The Pointless

Andrew Sullivan Can’t Read

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Deciding that calling Samantha Power the new version of Bill Kristol (I eagerly await Kristol’s version of this article) and glossing over all the differences between the two (Power opposed the war in Iraq and wanted to get out quickly)

Juan Cole gets at the silliness of this sort of comparison:

Allowing the Neoconservatives to brand humanitarian intervention as always their sort of project does a grave disservice to international law and institutions, and gives them credit that they do not deserve, for things in which they do not actually believe.

Sullivan quotes two objections from OTB: first that there is inconsistency in when responsibility to protect is applied (well no shit, Sherlock); secondly, that “there is an absolute sense of certainty that causes people to ignore the facts on the ground.” Regarding Libya, this is because “it’s absolutely certainty that merely being guided by the desire to “help” people is sufficient to accomplish their goals, meaning that there’s no need to worry about the fact that the rebels you’re protecting are allied with a terrorist group.”

Well of course both those facts are true. No one says that they are not.

There is not a single person in the world claiming the United States is being perfectly consistent. Not one. But there are other facts: that Gaddafi’s actions were reasonably threatening to be worse than just about anywhere; that there was a regional buy in for action, and third that it was easy to do. There’s certainly terrorist elements among the rebels. And there’s terrorist elements among Gaddafi’s forces too (I think the history speaks for itself, or maybe his behavior at least does). But we can quantify who that is, not just speculate wildly.

Secondly, there’s people out there saying (re: this) that this might fail, but it’s a worthwhile chance to take. Obama wants to give the rebels a chance to take Gaddafi down, not to guarantee he will. To quote Tom Ricks from Sunday’s Meet the Press: Give war a chance. There are real costs to inaction on Libya. Sullivan ignores them all.

What Sullivan is doing is trolling for any anti-intervention article, no matter how poorly written, excerpting whatever he first sees that he emotionally agrees with, and then running it along side outrageous accusations in headlines; he augments that with poorly researched screeds calling supporters glib when he doesn’t even mention the rationales for this intervention. If someone had made this poor a case against the Iraq war, 2003 Andrew Sullivan would take it apart instead of resorting to cheap parlor tricks of calling the writer a fifth columnist.


Written by John Whitehouse

March 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm

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