Monday, April 11, 2011

Liberal interventionism and the realities of war

Damir Marusic in The Blindness of Interventionism The American Interest 03/22/2011 makes a brief analysis of the foreign policy viewpoint of Anne-Marie Slaughter, one of the most prominent of the so-called humanitarian hawks. Citing an article she wrote defending the Libyan War, he observes:

She wrote: "To all who represent Libyan opposition. Pics of slapping terrified prisoners on [Anderson Cooper’s AC360 program on CNN] does not reflect values you are fighting for."

I was struck by more than just the tone (though the thought of one of our doyens of foreign policy presuming to lecture members of a beleaguered militia on how to properly behave is galling enough). It's that this brief late-night missive captured precisely how liberal interventionists misunderstand reality. I'm not alluding here to the oft-repeated criticism of this intervention which states that we don't really know anything about these Libyan rebels we’re supporting. Though that argument is indeed valid and should give us pause as we pick our course in this unfortunate war, I'm getting at something more fundamental. Liberal interventionists tragically misunderstand the nature of politics and war, and the consequences of this misunderstanding could be grave and costly. [my emphasis]
Marusic's piece doesn't give me the impression that he's suggesting we should be indifferent to atrocities committed by Our Side (though he might have been more clear on the matter). His real point is that wars are exceptionally messy and waged by mean that, even when they strictly follow the laws of war, are anything but humanitarian.

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