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Foreign Affairs

A Global Role Call on Libya

USA Today has published an article of mine today on the shifting global roles demonstrated during the Libyan crisis.

On the eve of a possible war in Libya, the major players on the world stage have taken their turns and staked out their positions. Yet many players have postured themselves in ways that seem to be reversals of their usual roles. This shift in global strategy is largely the domino effect of a shift in American self-identity under President Obama, and an omen of the future under his new foreign policy for America.

I hope you'll RTWT.

P.S. Just in case you're looking for my post on USA Today's opinion page, you'll find it just above the article by President Obama. He's in good company.

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Discussions - 5 Comments

I support the U.S. plus allies enforcement of a no-fly and no-drive zone. To be categorically opposed to this sort of action is to say that:

a) Sovereignty gives the ruler the right to slaughter his subjects if they revolt. The world must only watch, because sovereignty is sacrosanct, unless one nation attacks another.

b) There is no moral issue for those nations whose forces likely could stop such slaughters who choose to do nothing.

c) Clinton and the French had nothing, absolutely nothing to apologize for about the Rwandan genocide.

With respect to the particulars of Libya:

1) it is in our interest, and it does fit our morals.

2) we do not have to get in for any long haul.

3) the Benghazi rebels may not be good liberal democrat guys...but that does not mean we should stand by and let them be slaughtered.

We don't yet know the details, but I think the fair criticism of Obama is that a) he did not put pressure on the Arab League and the UN to come to votes faster, and b) he kept repeating his usual mush-talk about violence being intolerable when stern laying out of options and liklihoods was what was needed. And c) to this day he has not said a serious word to his own citizens about the decisions being taken. And it may emerge d) that the Clinton leaks are correct that for a number of key days Obama simply could not decide.

Any obvious moves towards intervention in the first week of the revolt, before our citizens were evacuated and before Libyan rebel opinion had become somewhat clearer would have been a mistake...but afterwards, every hour of apparent hesitation fit the (deserved) indecisive wimp stereotype and thus emboldened Quadaffi and disheartened his potential enemies in Tripoli.

P.S. Regarding the article, which tells us that Germany and Russia are calling for "sanctions" and opposing all intervention: does the German foreign policy establishment have absolutely no shame?

Regarding Carl's first point b) above, this is the great similarity b/t U.S. military power and Roman military power in the republican period: whenever stuff went down, people looked to you for an answer.

That is an unavoidable dynamic: if you acquire great power initially for the sake of your defense, you will be called upon to use it for the sake of outsiders' protection.

And sometimes the calls will be morally compelling ones. A price that cannot but be paid for being strong.

The result for republican Rome (a much more brutal state than the U.S. ever was or will be) was it acquired an empire without exactly intending too. There are solid reasons to hope, however, that the U.S. can avoid many of the dynamics of Rome, including the ones that made its imperialism far more actually imperial than whatever name we want to give to U.S. preeminence.

That is certainly spirited Justin! Megalothymic even!

Allow me the pleasure of a more sobber isothymic German response:

DUMB ASS ITALIANS, SPANISH and FRENCH and the foolish English(who are also serious weapons manufacturers) who probably re-insured it, will never learn to invest wisely if we keep bailling out investments in Dictatorships that inevitably go south. Don't chase the Alpha if you can't take the Beta. Plus from the German perspective the worse thing that could happen to the EU would be for the world to be flat. Then German Labor would really be under pressure. From the German perspective the world is spiky and you should invest accordingly. Which means buy German, and enough Chineese so they turn around and buy more German.

Germany's Goal, be an export economy with a sound currency+ social democratic welfare state, that specializes in selling engineering solutions to the BRIC, and teaches the rest of Europe how to be a grown up state in the end of history. High speed rail in China, the germans are loving it.

The Germans are in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Notice that Brazil, Russia, India and China also oppose. They like the German bargain, because high perceived geo-political risk in the outside world means more investment in the BRIC. The Germans get oil from Brazil and Russia, they invest in India and China.

Now you have I think the wrong idea about the UN and the Arab League. All this crazy talk about Islamicism, well that is just because a legal system is really expensive, and the Mosques want to run it, and well if you don't have social infrastructure, you let Mosques run the law and folks are happy with ideological purity if they can't have material riches.

Hey but hold on the Rich Arab sheiks that run the Arab league are really just interested in Capital and business. Like the Egyptian Military that is practically the corporation in Egypt if the figure head who says the crazy religious nonsense for the masses gets in the way, or can be blammed for high grain prices then he is gone. Now the Arab league is worried about lack of (or a higher price for) foreign capital from middle east contagion. Hell you practically have Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Jordan acting like Law Schools trying to game the US. News and World Reports Number with regards to Heritage/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom.

Kadafi insane philosopher king or not was at least smart enough to keep total control over the military, and starve the more unloyal folks in the east of good weapons. Kadafi knows Machiavelli, and he knows how to speak to Italian Greed.

Look I was in Iraq, my real view of Muslims, Hungry more than anything else for business and capitalism. Not the damn spoiled Kuwaiti's but everyone else. All they want to talk about is trade and selling pirated american goods produced in Iran and Syria. Economics, finance, trade, some strange pride in Arab mathmatics and thinking logically.

I drove HETT's, I escorted whites. The whites that we picked up from KBR were underpaid, I was overpaid, or rather my pay simply reflected geo-political turmoil and war. In terms of technical skill the arabs in whites could drive a truck as well as I could, in fact the whites took on more risks as I had an uparmored truck and body armor. Who really did run run logistics in Iraq? KBR, Osh-Kosh, Cummins, and thousands of other contracts too many to count.

Geopolitics is all business, it is all corporatism/capitalism. I suppose I will study some international law, but I am tempted to just focus on business associations and administrative law. I don't have any real desire to get caught up in "internationalism" or "neo-con" debates. If I want smart thinking I will read Keynes, as far as I am concerned it seems they are both simply trying to rewrite facts to fit a sort of theory.

As far as I am concerned you will never ballance a budget or reduce the deficit with neo-con corporate welfare, we can get rid of unions when the danger of corporate grip has slipped and the world doesn't have an industrial reserve of 1.3 billion people greedily looking to earn an honest living. I believe in Marx, and what I saw as the optimism and thirst for democracy enough to conclude that the entire american middle class is both lazy and doomed. And I don't buy fed projections or empty political promises of ever getting unemployment much lower.

I think what Obama is trying to do is clear. Make us more like Germany. He wants to pound the swords of the economy into plowshares and shell out money to the war machine (GE, KBR, FLUOR) towards building high speed rail, clean energy(via DOD procurement contracts on JP-8) and anything else regardless of technical economic efficiency, but more as a transition/substitute away from the economic inefficiency of war.

Pride wants to believe in some higher rationality, and productivity that we aren't crazy religious idiots like "them". But everywhere I look I see replaceable human capital, and a system designed to pay the older workers more regardless of true value.

The world will get flat Justin, it might even get flat quicker without militarism. Something like Liberal Democracy wins, it is only a question of perhaps substituting cheap and present religious infrastructure for a legal system.

This post was mis-filed. Belongs under "Shameless Self-Promotion."

No, Craig, Justin's doing precisely what he should be as a NLT blogger, especially one writing fine stuff for a major publication.

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