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Samantha Power and the Obama Campaign February 26, 2008

Posted by smiffy in Books, Democrats, International Politics, Iraq, United States, US Politics.
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Via Normblog, a rather disappointing Sunday Times interview with the very intriguing Samantha Power.Power’s an interesting character. She’s a strong human rights advocate who doesn’t fall into any easy ideological categories. Her opposition to the invasion of Iraq distinguishes her from both the hawkish elements within the current US administration who use the language of human rights to cloak a rather more base military adventurism and the Nick Cohen-ite ‘muscular liberals’ so comprehensively ridiculed in the always brilliant Encyclopedia of Decency. However, she’s by no means a pacifist and her support for military intervention in certain cases puts her at odds with much of what might loosely be described as the broad-left anti-war movement.

Power’s 2002 book A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide is a compelling and illuminating piece of work which analyses the evolution of the international community’s understanding of genocide as a distinct crime, and the responses of various US administrations to it throughout the 20th century. The material on the Kurds is particularly good, specifically in detailing the internal politics driving the State Department’s response to the Anfal campaign.

Her new book, Chasing the Flame, is a biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the senior UN diplomat most notable for overseeing the transition of the then East Timor to independence and for his death at the hands of jihadists in a car bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003. Even prior to his death Vieira de Mello was a fascinating figure and was profiled in Paul Berman’s Power and the Idealists as one of a number of soixante-huitards (the others including Joshka Fischer and Bernard Kouchner) who came to a difficult accomodation with the defence of human rights and the need for humanitarian interventionism in the 40 years since the riots of the summer of ’68. Berman’s review of Power’s book can be found here:  ironically, his main criticism of the work

But the biggest difficulty, or so my reading of Chasing the Flame leads me to suppose, is a problem of the imagination. A philosophical issue. It’s the same problem that keeps popping up in Power’s earlier book as well: an inability to imagine why some people might set out to destroy whole populations. Vieira de Mello participated in U.N. missions that followed any of several logics—the logic of peacekeeping, or of establishing safe havens for the persecuted, or of providing humanitarian aid. But each of those logics presumes that if horrific conflicts have broken out, it is because otherwise reasonable people have fallen into misunderstandings and a neutral broker like the U.N. might usefully intercede. Yet conflicts sometimes break out because one or another popular political movement has arrived at a sincere belief in the virtue of exterminating its enemies, and horrific ideologies lie at the origin. Neutral mediations in a case like that are bound only to obscure the reality—which has happened several times over, as Power usefully demonstrates.

is precisely the aspect of Berman’s own writing which is the weakest. Particularly in Terror and Liberalism, but also elsewhere, he has a tendency to move from relatively well-considered fact-based arguments to vague theorising about ideology – in particular about the ‘irrationality’ of certain ‘death-cults’ – which isn’t really supported by convincing evidence and which one suspects is only thrown in to allow Berman to make spurious analogies between Fascism, Stalinism and (for want of a more accurate term) Jihadism.

While Chasing the Flame isn’t published (this side of the Atlantic) until next week, I hope it will examine in some detail how possible the post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq was at the time of Vieria de Mello’s death. Recent books like Imperial Life in the Emerald City and The Occupation suggest that the reconstruction efforts were always doomed to failure, due to the, at best, incompetence and, at worst, criminal and deliberate negligence of the Coalition Provisional Authority. However, what the argument that the current morass in Iraq was the inevitable and unavoidable outcome of the invasion doesn’t consider is what might have happened had the initial reconstruction effort been headed up by the United Nations rather than Paul Bremer and co. It’s something of a pointless debate, of course: we have no real way of knowing what might have happened had things been otherwise, and it certainly doesn’t assist in considering a possible solution to the present situation. However, it’s an argument worth having, to inform future questions of military intervention (however unlikely these may be in the short term).

What’s so disappointing about the Sunday Times piece, though, is that there’s so little in it. Power’s close involvement with the Obama campaign certainly cause me to pay closer attention to his campaign (although her somewhat star-struck descriptions of him in the interview do tend to grate). However, nowhere in the article is the question of what US foreign policy under an Obama administration might look like, particularly in the area of human rights and humanitarian intervention. That said, her presence is still something to keep an eye on in the course of the campaign and certainly if Obama manages to win the Democratic nomination and becomes an actual Presidential candidate.

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1. rawdawgbuffalo - February 26, 2008

maybe we can urge the shite & sunni to join the Kurds and declare war against Turkey, that would unify the government more tha we can, just a though on Iraq LOL

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2. WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2008

I think she’s fascinating because she charts a course back to broadly what might be termed a culture of international law without falling prey to ideological drives of either the neo-cons/muscular left or aspirational leftism. I’ll go and read the ST piece now – oddly heartening to hear she might have some input on his thinking. Incidentally, what is it with the Obama effect? Scary.

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3. Tom Griffin - February 26, 2008

Interesting pointer for Obama’s foreign policy here:
Obama Distinguishes Between “pro-Israel” and pro-Likud

http://www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/?p=109

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4. WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2008

That too is heartening to hear. It’s long past time it was said…

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5. mickhall - February 26, 2008

To my mind Joshka Fischer, Bernard Kouchner and the rest of this bunch have simply joined the class enemy, for it is no job of socialists or progressives to export multi national capitalism on the end of a bayonet, nor deceive the masses in the process by tying it in a neat powder puff, mockney democratic bow. Surly there is already enough arseholes willing to do that job.

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6. WorldbyStorm - February 26, 2008

Fischer, mick? I wouldn’t have thought he fitted into that category, and he was extremely strong in his critique of the Iraq War and arguably was pivotal to preventing German participation.

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7. Eamonn - February 26, 2008

“for it is no job of socialists or progressives to export multi national capitalism on the end of a bayonet, nor deceive the masses in the process by tying it in a neat powder puff, mockney democratic bow.”

no doubt the iraqi kurds were much happier when saddam was running the show, the kosovans when nice mr. milosovic was running things in pristina, the people of sierra leone when the limb choppers were on the point of taking over the country, etc etc.

I opposed the attack on Iraq but the stuff quoted above is hard to take seriously when it leaves out other relevant arguments completely

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8. mickhall - February 26, 2008

Eamonn,

So you think it is the task of socialists to help export neo liberal capitalism on the end of a bayonet, very progressive and heartless. I just watched a TV program in which the US multi nationals pay 8 cents a kilo for African coffee which they sell in the US for 2.90 dollars a cup, no exploitation there then, hell those African farm workers just love uncle sam ripping them off, primitives that they are.

Why you would bring Saddam into the equation is beyond me, the Kurds ran their own show in Iraq ever since gulf war one, that is just over 12 years before the US invaded and occupied Iraq, so perhaps a little less talk about the invasion was about freeing the poor oppressed Iraqi people.

What your accepting here is there was no other way to help liberate people from their own oppressors but support US and UK aggression and occupation. I do not accept that.

Eamonn, the reason the Iraqi people remained under Saddam long after his sell by date was the USA and its minions in the UK refused to support the Iraqis when they rose up against Saddam after Gulf war one, as the Iraqi resistance was not to the USAs liking. [the US supported the Kurds with the no fly Zone because Barzani and co were far more pliable and willing to sell their peoples assets to the highest bidder amongst US capital.

Just as today they are prepared to sit back and watch their brother Kurds be massacred by the Turkish armed forces because that is what their US masters have ordered them to do..

The job of European socialists is to get into the same trench as the third world workers and peasants, not stand on the edge cheering the Americans on whilst they rob them blind [recent oil deals in Iraq]

WBS-
Fischer-Afghanistan, what a free open and liberal society that poor oppressed nation has become, as far as I can see the only different from the days of the talaban is people get executed behind close doors for being gay and not in the local square and the supply of heroin has increased ten fold, progress, progress, progress. Ahhha

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9. eamonnmcdonagh - February 27, 2008

“Why you would bring Saddam into the equation is beyond me, the Kurds ran their own show in Iraq ever since gulf war one, that is just over 12 years before the US invaded and occupied Iraq”

thanks to the USAF and RAF keeping the Iraqi armed forces out of the Kurdish area.

“What your accepting here is there was no other way to help liberate people from their own oppressors but support US and UK aggression and occupation. I do not accept that”

I didn’t say it was the only way, best way or most desireable way. it might be *a* way, sometimes

“Eamonn, the reason the Iraqi people remained under Saddam long after his sell by date was the USA and its minions in the UK refused to support the Iraqis when they rose up against Saddam after Gulf war one, as the Iraqi resistance was not to the USAs liking. [the US supported the Kurds with the no fly Zone because Barzani and co were far more pliable and willing to sell their peoples assets to the highest bidder amongst US capital.”

so the problem isn’t that the US invaded Iraq but that they did it too late and you don’t find Barzani quite windswept and primitive enough…

“Just as today they are prepared to sit back and watch their brother Kurds be massacred by the Turkish armed forces because that is what their US masters have ordered them to do..”

Perhaps they might be happy to see the back of the hellish death cult which is the PKK. perhaps the government of Kurdistan might have a mind of its own. And massacres, come one…..

etc etc

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10. eamonnmcdonagh - February 27, 2008

” come one” should be “come on”. There hasn’t been a massacre by the Turkish military worth the name in years.

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11. Wednesday - February 27, 2008

Samantha Power takes quite a selective approach to her “genocides” – see what Chomsky had to say about her here. Also, the portrayal in her book of the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina – at that point the single largest episode of ethnc cleansing in the Balkan wars – amounted to half a paragraph and was framed as a positive development. Pretty shocking, really.

Also see what Obama has to say about Israel on his own website. How does that differ from any other establishment American politician? Does he even know there are Palestinians there?

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12. Wednesday - February 27, 2008

Is that Spam Filter acting up again :(

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13. smiffy - February 27, 2008

Sorry Wednesday; it’s there now.

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14. WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2008

mick, the problem with say your point about Afghanistan is that it presumes that all actions are taken with the absolute worst of intentions or that if a situation results in a worsening of the situation or even just a retention of the status quo that automatically invalidates it. I don’t really consider that to be a left wing position, although I understand how people on the left have arrived at it. In any case since your real argument is with imperialism surely even if Afghanistan was a shining beacon of tolerance you’d still find it unacceptable that there had been interventions to arrive at that point.

Wednesday, Chomsky is quite generous about her actually. And while critical of her I note he doesn’t dismiss her approach at all.

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15. WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2008

I see that on Amazon.com a reviewer makes an identical point about only a single paragraph on Krajina and framing it in a positive light. Is this something of a trope?

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16. eamonnmcdonagh - February 27, 2008
17. mickhall - February 27, 2008

WBS

In my experience most, although not all of these type of decisions are taken from what is from my political perspective the worst, most base and selfish of intentions. That these days they are dressed in a democratic coat is simply politics and neither here nor there.

Take Afghanistan, what motivated the USA to attack Afghanistan was mainly revenge; and on the periphery wiser heads amongst Capital saw the value in the attack as it would help protect a certain pipeline. Im sure WBS you would not consider revenge as a worthwhile reason to bomb the living daylights out of an already impoverished place.

Eamonn,

I am no fan of the PKK, although I understand perfectly why young Kurds who live in Turkey go into the mountains. Although it has to be said it was the leadership of the PKKs crass stupidity and provocative behavior that gave the Turkish military a pretext to go into northern Iraq once again.

However that was yesterday, I am one of those old fashioned leftists who believe two wrongs do not make a right; and when a government takes an action that makes a bad situation worse my place is in the same trench as the victims of there action, not the government who perpetrated it.

I am even less of a fan of the Barzani clan, although I can see they are in a difficult position politically, but that is what happens to all who tie themselves up to the great satan when geo politics come into play.

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18. Pax - February 27, 2008

“So you think it is the task of socialists to help export neo liberal capitalism on the end of a bayonet, very progressive and heartless. I just watched a TV program in which the US multi nationals pay 8 cents a kilo for African coffee which they sell in the US for 2.90 dollars a cup, no exploitation there then, hell those African farm workers just love uncle sam ripping them off, primitives that they are.”

Saw the same doc. Quiet in its approach and it let the pictures speak for themselves. I particularly liked the switching between scenes of Ethiopians earning half-a-dollar a day sorting through beans and wealthy Americans and Europeans enjoying the high-priced end product. Also, the fact that of how they couldn’t afford to send their children to school or keep local schools open led to thoughts of an extract from Palast’s “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” and generally on how African’s encomies are not theirs’ to run.

A pattern emerges. There are lots of losers in this system but one clear winner: the Western banks and US Treasury, making the big bucks off this crazy new international capital churn. Stiglitz told me about his unhappy meeting, early in his World Bank tenure, with Ethopia’s new president in the nation’s first democratic election. The World Bank and IMF had ordered Ethiopia to divert aid money to its reserve account at the US Treasury, which pays a pitiful 4% return, while the nation borrowed US dollars at 12% to feed its population. The new president begged Stiglitz to let him use the aid money to rebuild the nation. But no, the loot went straight off to the US Treasury’s vault in Washington.

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19. eamonnmcdonagh - February 27, 2008

This isn’t a sarcastic or ironic question. How do the IMF and World Bank *order* a country to do something it doesn’t want it to? I mean I can see that they could say “If you don’t do X we will do Y” but that’s not quite the same.

Argentina told the IMF to shag off after the 2001 crisis and made a deal with a big write down with its creditors. So I don’t get this “ordering” business.

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20. WorldbyStorm - February 27, 2008

Mick, I’m not sure about your first contention. I think it is too much of the ‘mee haw haw’ school of evil. People who take different ideological positions may indeed act from selfishness and so on, but generally they are able to point to the complexity of the world as a means of justifying their points. They may well be wrong, and often are ( :) ). I consider invading Iraq to have been wrong. But I’m a lot less certain about Afghanistan.

And I’m dubious that it was mainly ‘revenge’. No doubt that was a component, but only one amongst many. On any rational level one could argue that attacking Afghanistan and disrupting AQ made compete sense. They had provided a threat which they had then carried through, on numerous occasions. They had the assistance of a state player in the shape of the Afghan government at the time. These weren’t minor or inconsequential aspects of the matter. Like the US or loathe it the world is better off with AQ diminished, if only to demonstrate that they were not invulnerable. It is true that some events subsequent to that have had grievous impacts upon Afghanistan but I’m genuinely unable to work out a single response to the whole issue.

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21. mickhall - February 28, 2008

WBS

AQ diminished? if you leave aside the twin towers attack, AQ is as, if not more active in the world that it has ever been and most of its leading figures are still at large. [funny that]

You say you are less certain about the occupation of Afghanistan, well I ask you to ask yourself whether you would feel the same if you were an Afghani.

Forgive me for saying this but what you tend to do is compartmentalize your political likes and dislikes. You mentioned the sheer awfulness of the Talaban, yet outside of the main urban areas they with the odd warlord thrown in control much if not most of Afghanistan and have since they first came into power with US support. The reason being after the US and John Simpson invasion they just went back to their villages and started over again.

It is impossible to look at Afghanistan without cursing the US governments, for what they are doing today and have done to that countries people in the past. For all its faults the communist governments in Afghanistan were at last trying to build a half decent society. East meets West in a turban with democratic centralism thrown in for bad measure. For their own geo political self interest, the USA destroyed all that and allowed who to eventually gain power? need I go one.

You would not ask nor expect a murderer to help build the lives of his victims family, but you seem perfectly willing to trust uncle sam to do good by the Afghanis.

Do you really believe the Afghani people are that stupid and forgiving, let me ask you a simple question, would you welcome into Ireland as your liberator, those who murdered your mother, father and siblings, wife or children, or would you look for the nearest gun to take your revenge and protect your nations children from them.

All the best.

International politics is not complex, in reality it is very similar to street life, the only question that needs to be asked is who gained, who are the victims and who perpetrated the crime and last but not least, who is local.

I know you do not mean this, but what you are almost saying is that due to 9/11 the Afghani people brought all this on to themselves because the government, which they had less say that the USA in placing into power, allowed Bin Laden to remain in their country. If you follow that logic through not only must the US invade Saudi Arabia but the British government should have invaded the RoI. Which would have been wrong, ridiculous and counterproductive just as the war on Afghanistan was.

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22. Pax - February 28, 2008

@eamonn “I mean I can see that they could say “If you don’t do X we will do Y” but that’s not quite the same.”

Well actually it is if the country requires foreign exchange and the Y is loans not offered – loans the country needs for its very survival. If it doesn’t accept then it can be rubbished in the eyes of the capital markets. Of course in Latin America (and elsewhere, Asia after the east asia crash) there’s a trend towards telling the IMF to shag off.

But critically backed up by the use of regional alternative sources of capital,”Bank of the South, and trade agreements such as the, Bolivian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which are more conducive to such nations at their stage of development.

In other words there’s no contraindicative to development, or contractionary, structural adjustment programmes tagged on to such loans.

Botswana is also an interesting example, of local development as mentioned in Palast’s article, and book, and in Stiglitz’s “Globalization and its discontents” – pg37 of same “it averaged a growth rate of more than 7.5 percent from 1961 to 1997″ and this by bucking the market fundementalist enforced policies. Although Botswana was helped by having diamonds other African nations have rich resources which should be used for development and held by the public instead of MNCs.

But it seems the IMF/WB is now feasting only on those in the aftermath of serious crises, ongoing crises and client states such as Turkey.

To paraphrase from the end of “The Shock Doctrine” –

Latin America’s Shock Resistance (the nation),

“As former IMF deputy managing director Stanley Fischer explained during the Asian financial crisis, the lender can help only if it is asked, “but when [a country is] out of money, it hasn’t got many places to turn.” That is no longer the case. ”

[...]

” In his 2007 State of the Union address, President Néstor Kirchner (since succeeded by his wife, Christina) said that the country’s foreign creditors had told him, “‘You must have an agreement with the International Fund to be able to pay the debt.’ We say to them, ‘Sirs, we are sovereign. We want to pay the debt, but no way in hell are we going to make an agreement again with the IMF.'” As a result, the IMF, supremely powerful in the 1980s and ’90s, is no longer a force on the continent. In 2005 Latin America made up 80 percent of the IMF’s total lending portfolio; the continent now represents just 1 percent–a sea change in only two years.

The transformation reaches beyond Latin America. In just three years, the IMF’s worldwide lending portfolio had shrunk from $81 billion to $11.8 billion, with almost all of that going to Turkey. The IMF, a pariah in countries where it has treated crises as profit-making opportunities, is withering away.”…

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23. eamonnmcdonagh - February 28, 2008

I think Kirchner was right to tell the IMF to shag off but there is where is achievments begins and, pretty much, ends. The country is turning into a monument to crony capitalism of the worst sort

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24. Wednesday - February 28, 2008

Wednesday, Chomsky is quite generous about her actually. And while critical of her I note he doesn’t dismiss her approach at all.

I’m not sure what you mean about not dismissing her approach. He points out that she effectively endorses the Republican doctrine of regime change in states that ‘harbour terrorists’, unless they’re friendly terrorists, and that she ignores crimes in which the US is complicit. His generosity towards her amounts to saying at the end that she probably doesn’t realise how hypocritical her approach is. It’s still very much a criticism.

That’s my review on Amazon btw.

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25. WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2008

Ahah Wednesday! I wondered…

Mick, no time now to address your points, will get back later this evening.

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26. Pax - February 28, 2008

Wrt the Afghan comments. I see Chomsky was already mentioned. Chomsky’s “Hegemony or Survival” is instructive in how the UN has been used to promote the hegemony of the powerful. ( “Hegemony or Survival” pdf of entire book (2.98 MB) ).
Chomsky highlights how world public opinion was very much against the war in Afghanistan even with UN approval (from a Gallup International survey) and the opposition to the Taliban there were also against it. (1) Finding the perpetrators of 9/11 and extraditing them is one thing (something Afghanistan agreed to) but bombing the bejasus out of Afghanistan, leading to 20,000 deaths and now 2.2million excess deaths,(a UN-derived estimate see (2)) and strengthening fundamentalist Islam is not something the left should be in favour off! I’d respectfully say that this is not a good example of intervention – even if Garton-Ash and co, says it is!
And that the economic model foisted upon Afghanistan is similar to Kosovo (only worse) and Iraq (pretty much the same), leading to disaster, is, well, unsurprising.

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27. mickhall - February 28, 2008

Pax

Very interesting points, do you know on what type of terms China lends money etc to third world nations, for example in Africa?

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28. WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2008

Mick, you’re raising some really important issues here to my mind. Anyhow, let me give you my tentative thoughts on them. AQ is diminished without a state actor. The US get’s lots and lots wrong, but on that score they’re right.

No disrespect, but I’m no more compartmentalising political likes and dislikes than you. For example, you have given some support to Turkey. Yet this is the same Turkey which stifles Kurdish self-determination and does it by force of arms. I know you criticise that, but your criticism is rather less strident compared to your criticism of the US and UK. And yet Turkey is arguably a part of the west, the AK is essentially a rightwing conservative pro-business party with a religious tinge, the Kurds have a right to self-determination, etc, etc. That is compartmentalisation too on your part. You (and I) make a choice between one or the other (and as it happens I’m broadly with you as regards Turkey). But I’m trying my best to address these issue by issue which is the only rational approach (for example, Wednesday in her Amazon piece on the Power book asks why isn’t the US involved in all actions which may be genocideal which W see’s as the logic of Powers approach – I don’t think it is Powers logic, but more importantly I don’t think the US can, that each has to be weighed carefully, the actual logic is light touch, very critical approach to intervention by force, framed within international law, etc, etc.). My broader point is that a) Power is not the neo-con interventionist that we’re reading here, that her argument is a lot more nuanced b) that conflicts around the world actually do demand a response of leftists above and beyond the rhetorical c) not all things are reducible to US influence. Vast tracts of the world continue blissfully untouched by it on their own individual roads to hell or heaven d) not every action of the US is simply because the US is involved wrong either.

You clearly disagree on points c and d and that’s fine. But I take a different view.

Re Afghanistan, that’s a fair question, albeit reductionist, but I’m not a pacifist and I tend to think that in certain instances force has to be used. Beyond that are you suggesting that no interventions are right?

As regards international politics being simple Mick, that’s where we definitely diverge. I really doubt that international politics isn’t complex. I suspect it’s like contemporary society, about as complex as it gets because we’re dealing with many different people, groups, institutions, etc. And each brings something different to the situation. To reduce that down is – to my mind – too simplistic. We may intensely dislike or loathe neo-cons, but they had/have a vision of the world. So do democrats, socialists, etc. All want to remake it in some form or fashion. That’s what it’s about. And for everyone who wants to remake the world there are people who don’t. Which means people encounter resistance. Both good and bad. Part of the problem is determining which is which and how to deal with it. For example today Seamus Milne in the Guardian seems to argue that in a civil war because there are two sides one shouldn’t support either. It’s a nice little absolutist statement until one thinks it through. I could see why – for example – the international community should have supported Allende, or taken sides in Rwanda. There was some case for intervention (although probably not in the way it happened) in Kosovo. But note I say the international community.

As for your second paragraph. I’m not in any sense ‘blaming’ the Afghani’s. They’re hostage to their local and international history and geography. And again, each issue has to be judged on its own merits.

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29. Pax - February 29, 2008

I think there’s a limit on the number of links per post on this wordpress system? Just to point out that, my previous post’s point (1) is to links from the notes at the end of “Hegemony or Survival” (“notes to chapter8″ number 24 for the gallup poll in a .doc document) and number 27 for an article on “US Bombs Are Boosting the Taliban,” in the Guardian etc) and (2) was to a link on the Afghan excess death figures. http://www.countercurrents.org/iraq-polya070207.htm
“The post-invasion excess deaths in Occupied Afghanistan now total 2.2 million and Afghan refugees total about 3.7 million”

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30. Wednesday - February 29, 2008

the actual logic is light touch, very critical approach to intervention by force, framed within international law, etc

Whose ‘actual logic’ is that? Not the US’s. Not Samantha Power’s.

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31. WorldbyStorm - February 29, 2008

The logic of those of us who don’t believe in the neo-con approach but also don’t believe that intervention is incorrect in every case. Power is closer to that position that her detractors make out.

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32. Wednesday - March 1, 2008

I’m sorry WBS but the inclusion of the phrase “very critical approach to intervention by force” in any description of Power is a nonsense. She doesn’t seem too interested in international law either if her approach to Kosovo is any guide.

I don’t really see how she differs from John O’Shea, another humanitarian imperialist, except that O’Shea (and I have no time for him whatsoever) at least doesn’t seem to differentiate between pro- and anti- US regimes.

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33. WorldbyStorm - March 1, 2008

But I’m not arguing that there is no recourse to intervention by force. Quite the opposite. I believe there are quite a few instances where such force is necessary (and not just force, for example I’d like to see a proper international force engagement in Israel Palestine). And one way or another there is no denying Power didn’t argue for blanket interventions, and was entirely critical of the US approach in Iraq. indeed if anything her whole thesis is premised on how the US refuses to sincerely engage in preventing actions which it actually could.

As for international law, let’s not reify it beyond reason or critique – whatever our views on Kosovo. Splintered Sunrise made the point the other day about the Irish participation in Chad arguing that was arguably in breach of neutrality. I don’t agree with him on that but it’s worth noting that its entirely within international law, yet people pick and choose what bits they like and they don’t.

Needless to say I have entirely opposite problems with the term humanitarian imperialism than yours. :)

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34. Wednesday - March 2, 2008

one way or another there is no denying Power didn’t argue for blanket interventions, and was entirely critical of the US approach in Iraq. indeed if anything her whole thesis is premised on how the US refuses to sincerely engage in preventing actions which it actually could.

Yeah, but who does argue for blanket interventions? All imperialists, humanitarian or otherwise, pick and choose their battles. And it’s simply not the case to say that her basis is which actions the US could prevent as the examples of Croatia and those mentioned in the Chomsky article demonstrate. Even Iraq – her criticism is that the invasion didn’t happen in 1988 instead of 2003.

As for international law, let’s not reify it beyond reason or critique

Actually if you go back to the p.ie debate over Kosovo you might recall that I expressed the view that international law shouldn’t be above criticism, for the reason that international law is made by the great powers. My point in this case is simply that it’s incorrect to suggest it’s a standard Samantha Power insists on.

And Irish participation in Chad is a breach of neutrality, and is another imperialist exercise besides.

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35. WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2008

One might counter argue that there was at least some justification under pesky international law for an invasion of Iraq in 1988 or almost certainly during the Gulf War unlike 2003.

I don’t get the breach of neutrality/imperialism thing at all re Chad. It’s UN mandated, it has an explicit terms of reference for the protection of civilians and indeed UN personnel working there. With UN cover how precisely is it in breach of neutrality? (I’m not unaware of the issue as regards France, but I’d suggest that it is better to lock the French into an EU, UN mandated mission, with international oversight than have it operating alone within Chad. I’m much much happier to have Irish Rangers on site to assist in that process than to let the French operate as they have previously. Nor am I unaware of the anti-war argument, but to be honest when one looks at the remit of EUFOR their claims seem utterly alarmist and evade the point there is a crisis as regards displacement from Darfur and the CAR). I know we can tip back to the philosophical basis of neutrality, but… I await the confrontation in the Supreme Court on this matter.

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36. eamonnmcdonagh - March 2, 2008

I would remind fans of our nuetrality that it has always been of a distinctly palid variety. We’ve neglected the armed forces since the foundation of the state and enjoyed the de facto protection of NATO while having to pay none of the various costs associated with actually being a member.

The only two fully neutral countries in Europe are Switzerland and Sweden; both have obligatory military service and both, especially Sweden, have considerable defence industries.

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37. WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2008

Well, eamonn, that’s an interesting last point you make there. Sovereignty (and neutrality) is largely meaningless without the ability to defend it. I’m dubious that outside of the US, Russia and China that any state is truly in a position to defend themselves so therefore the reality of their sovereignty is always contingent (perhaps France too now I think about it… a pattern is emerging here). That there are no threats to most states sovereignty – on a functional level – is a different matter entirely. The point is that they have to operate in a world where there are fairly predictable processes etc.

Therefore, as you say our own neutrality was always contingent on our effective geographic isolation, the benevolence or otherwise of our nearest neighbour, etc, etc. As an aside I’d probably thrown a couple more ‘neutral’ countries into the mix above and beyond Sweden and Switzerland… but again, as you say neutrality is limited.

And to be honest it’s completely overblown to my mind. Not to speak of knotty questions as to whether we mean political neutrality or military neutrality. Arguably a serious political neutrality would see us eschew all international organisations, committments, etc… Now that’s not a very convincing approach, but it does seem to accord with a view that neutrality means we don’t engage and that any engagement per se cuts against our neutrality. By contrast I believe it means that we can choose whether or not to dependent upon our own decisions – history – circumstance etc.

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38. eamonnmcdonagh - March 2, 2008

WBS: of course no country has an unlimited ability to defend itself and if, say, the United Sates was ever to take it into its head to invade Sweden then of course it would prevail. the point is that the Swedes could make them pay a price in blood and money before being defeated.

Any of our neigbours with decent sized armed forces could put an end to our soverignty without breaking sweat.

I’d be all for neurtrality on Swedish lines rather than Swiss ones; active participation in international affairs, generally for progressive ends combined with keeping out of military alliances while having the means to defend the national territory. It’ll never happen in Ireland though because it costs a fortune and would involve some sort of compulsory military surface.

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39. eamonnmcdonagh - March 2, 2008

“service” ha!

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40. Garibaldy - March 2, 2008

Surely the 1919-21 war proved that to hold Ireland was too costly in terms of blood, money – and most importantly – internal and international credibility for Britain to consider invading the free state again? The same applies to any other potential invader. Occupation, no problem. But sustaining it, much more difficult.

Not that there ever was a threat to the sovereignty of the 26 from military invasion. Just from things like the failure to abolish foreign ownership of natural resources, the EU, MNCs etc :)

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41. WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2008

It’s not wrong what you’re proposing re Ireland Garibaldy (although I’d suggest that eamonn might not be far wrong in saying we might have to upgrade our defences etc before we’d quite get to a point where any occupier wasn’t able to act more or less at will – not that I think we’re on anyones list), but, I’m not sure that all invasions or occupations are doomed to failure. I think we need only look at the history of Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1991ish to see that it depends on the nature of the occupation, the coercion or cooption of significant groups of people and indeed the ideological basis for same. It also is very dependent upon there being external players who can support/sustain oppositional forces within a polity. Which really is simply another way of (mostly) agreeing with your second paragraph.

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42. Garibaldy - March 2, 2008

I think the last war in Lebanon proved that if a resistance force has access to anti-tank weapons then it can make life very difficult for a far better armed invader. In Ireland, this might boil down to fertiliser. But as you say, lots of occupations succeed, especially if there is a significant proportion of the population in favour of them. And again, I’d be more in favour of looking at the history of central and eastern Europe 1945-91 on a case-by-case and chronological basis.

Just out of curiosity, how come none of the contributors has put up a post on AKEL’s victory in the presidential election? I’m too busy to sort one out myself, but I think that the electoral victory of a communist party – even in very unique circumstances – is worth marking.

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43. smiffy - March 2, 2008

Worth noting, as an aside, that despite its ‘neutrality’ Sweden participates in the Nordic EU Battlegroup. The definition of ‘neutrality’ is, and always will be, a contested issue, particularly in the context of participation in a multilateral organisation with military capabilities like the EU (if, indeed, one can stay that the EU – as opposed to the Member States – has any such capability).

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44. WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2008

Garibaldy, very good point. I was thinking of doing something, but life/work/events etc got in the way. You want to do something – even just a couple of hundred words?

smiffy, I couldn’t agree more. I find all definitions of the term contestable on one level or another.

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45. eamonnmcdonagh - March 2, 2008

“Surely the 1919-21 war proved that to hold Ireland was too costly in terms of blood, money – and most importantly – internal and international credibility for Britain to consider invading the free state again?”

I find this kind of statement hard to understand to put it mildly. The general idea of national soverignty/independence is that it is a very precious thing, that a lot of people sacrificed a lot to achieve it and you do your best not to let someone just take it away. Should you fail in this endeavour, then and only then do you start thinking about the horrors of guerrilla warfare to get it back.

Furthermore, I don’t notice many other countries keen to imitate this “feel free to invade us but it’ll cost ye in the long run policy”

“I think the last war in Lebanon proved that if a resistance force has access to anti-tank weapons then it can make life very difficult for a far better armed invader.”

no amount of fertiliser substitutes for modern technology. Hezbullah were lucky enough to have antitank weapons a generation ahead of the Israeli tanks. It could easily be the other way around the next time.

You’ll note that the rebels in Iraq have no problems with access to high explosives but that they haven’t been able to destroy more than a handful of Yank or Brit main battle tanks

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46. Garibaldy - March 2, 2008

The south has never been in any real danger of invasion (WWII maybe, but measures were taken to beef up defence), and has the amount of military force it needs. I think it’s a good thing that society is not highly militarised.

You’re totally right on the technology. That was mainly a joke. But then again, if you’re using jeeps or trucks, you’re vulnerable. As has been shown in Armagh, never mind Iraq.

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47. eamonnmcdonagh - March 2, 2008

“The south has never been in any real danger of invasion (WWII maybe, but measures were taken to beef up defence), and has the amount of military force it needs. I think it’s a good thing that society is not highly militarised.”

And I’d like to be a citizen of a country that didn’t entirely depend on the UK and USA to guarantee its soverignty

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48. Garibaldy - March 2, 2008

The amount of high-tech weaponry needed to ensure that for a population of 4 million (or later nearly 6 if we want to talk about national sovereignty) is enormous. I’d rather be a citizens of a country that had a decent health and education service than one with loads of needless missles.

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49. eamonnmcdonagh - March 2, 2008

I’d be interested in others’ views about whether it’s worth the trouble being independent or not

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50. WorldbyStorm - March 2, 2008

To be honest I think the necessity, for example for a comprehensive coast guard service (if we want to make this a tad less militaristic) makes the choice between say education/health and national sovereignty supported by security moot. There is, quite frankly, more than sufficient tax revenues for both. And using the security model it’s possible to address some aspects of sovereignty without going down the militaristic route, although in fairness I’ve always thought we (in the South at least) were fortunate with the relatively depoliticised Defence Forces (in the sense they never sought a central part in the political process, not in the sense that they support the broad societal status quo for better or worse), so depoliticised that they have endured cut after cut for decades with nary a complaint.

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51. Ed Hayes - March 3, 2008

Differing positions on the use of guns for hire in Iraq from Clinton and Obama campaigns….

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080317/scahill

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52. Pax - March 7, 2008

Anyone hear Pat Kenny’s interview with Power earlier? One instructive point, was when Kenny mentioned Kosovo and how it had led to a debate here about whether to intervene or not. Kenny quickly furthered the point, by stating the ‘fact’ that, “in the end, the ‘intervention’ was over in no time and it all worked out without too much problems”…..Power, ever the decent interventionist, preferred not to argue…

The more I check out Power the more I think she’s a dangerously slimy operator. As is Obama – but that goes without saying of course. He’s better than Bush (who isn’t?) but it’ll only be people power (disappointed by expectations perhaps) that will prevent things from getting only marginally less worse.

Check out the blog post below for a link to a democracynow
debate between Samantha Power and Jeremy Scahill

Watching a humanitarian imperialist squirm

..”This debate between Samantha Power and Jeremy Scahill is instructive. Power wriggles and squirms, skewered on her own moralisms and legalisms, utterly incapable of facing well-known facts, and winds up with a rat-a-tat bluster of personal impressions (“I supported … I didn’t see it that way … I haven’t heard”) in which she poses as a complete ignoramus.”…

Finally, wrt to the intervention debate, I don’t think there’s anyone here (or broadly on the left) against a hypothetical intervention. Or that there should be a broad sweep generalisation in that regard. But its a fact that intervention is generally used against the weak. We won’t see intervention against Russia on behalf of Chechens, the US on behalf of countless nations, or China on behalf of Tibetans etc. And sure a flawed intervention by a flawed power in Rwanda would have helped things. But unfortunately, as soon as we enter a doctrine of accepting attacks by the strong against the weak, we open the door to a multitude of acts of conquest masquerading as humanitarian action. So therefore the problem is with international law and the UN, specifically the UN charter and the lack of democracy at such a level. Only then could we see armed intervention against a powerful despotic state by the oppressed, and a separation of humanitarianism from imperialism.

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53. Damian O'Broin - March 7, 2008

It seems Power has resigned after calling Hillary a monster

Huffington Post report

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54. WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2008

Indeed she did. Which is interesting. I really don’t see her as slimy. In fact I think that sort of discourse is destructive. Pax, I take your points re intervention, but it seems to me that you first load the dice against intervention, and then load them again. You are right that international law is a problem, but that does not mean that all actions are strong against the weak, and in specific instances, Vietnam against Cambodia is one example that springs to mind, I think we see better rather than worse outcomes. As for imperialism. I’m so tired of that term in discussions. I fear it is a gross simplification.

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55. WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2008

I’d also add that I’m not surprised by Power’s self-immolation as adviser. She reminds me of no-one so much as Mansergh, enormously competent (whatever one thinks of her arguments) in her chosen field but fish out of water in the cut and thrust of political debate. I think smiffy rightly pointed to warning sign number one when he noted the ‘star struck’ aspect of her descriptions…

Mind you, one would think that she’d have been a bit more circumspect and that she’d have been told to be as well. It’s always tempting to read into these things but does this indicate a broader rattled Obama campaign?

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56. Pax - March 9, 2008

RE: slimy being destructive discourse. I couldn’t disagree more. Watching (or reading the transcribe of) the Scahill/Power democracynow debate I think the term ‘slimy’ is what comes across, particularly wrt her responses to the Iraq sanctions and Clinton’s “longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam against Iraq” and her support for Albright’s position, her support for Rambouillet etc but just the more I hear her or read her stuff.

It’s all obfuscating hand-wringing that ends up being so much apologia, so yeah slimy – I can’t really put it in a less appropriate way. I think sometimes you need to be plain in your language. Surely the liberal ‘decent’ interventionists have more than enough blood on their hands to accept such mild honesty?

(And I’d use the same argument with the term imperialism. If it walks like a duck and…)

wbs you say that I “load the dice against intervention, and then load them again”
I set the stage for an ideally acceptable form of intervention but without disallowing support for intervention by flawed powers in a minority of cases (e.g Rwanda). The latter stopping of a clear genocide, is a view shared in the anti-war movement. Remember it was the US that insisted that the security council voted to withdraw all but a remnant of the UN mission in Rwanda in ’94. ( http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/index.html
) But again most of those would disagree with Power’s policy of ‘humanitarian’ interventions, which must match her requirement to “meet U.S. security and economic interests”. Through this prism it could be argued that a 3 trillion dollar war for access to 30 trillion dollars in oil, various lucrative contracts etc, fulfills this requirement – at least if not the international agreement bit. Power’s views are part of the acceptable spectrum on the intervention issue. A generally better hidden ‘liberal’, end of the spectrum but part of it all the same.

At the moment, I think it’s hard to see any positive outcome of such military interventions by those flawed powers, which is why people need to be so wary of arguments from Power. Scahill summaries it well in the democracynow debate

“And I think that what we have to understand here is that this is where the sort of liberals, like Hillary Clinton, come together with the neocons, because there are a lot of similarities between what happened in Yugoslavia and what happened in Iraq, with the lead-up to the war, the disregard for international law or international consensus, and then the outright killing of civilians under the auspices of a humanitarian intervention.”

And with regard to the UN, Edward Luck’s (director of the Center on International Organization at Columbia University) comments on page 24 of the Hegemony and Survival pdf are instructive.* As are the effects of UN rule in Kosovo.

*
“if lesser powers contrive to turn the council into a forum for counterbalancing American power with votes, words and public appeals, they will further erode its legitimacy and credibility.”

( Hegemony or Survival pdf of entire book (2.98 MB) ).

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57. WorldbyStorm - March 9, 2008

RE: slimy being destructive discourse. I couldn’t disagree more. Watching (or reading the transcribe of) the Scahill/Power democracynow debate I think the term ’slimy’ is what comes across, particularly wrt her responses to the Iraq sanctions and Clinton’s “longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam against Iraq” and her support for Albright’s position, her support for Rambouillet etc but just the more I hear her or read her stuff.

It’s all obfuscating hand-wringing that ends up being so much apologia, so yeah slimy – I can’t really put it in a less appropriate way. I think sometimes you need to be plain in your language. Surely the liberal ‘decent’ interventionists have more than enough blood on their hands to accept such mild honesty?

(And I’d use the same argument with the term imperialism. If it walks like a duck and…)

A couple of thoughts. Firstly, she didn’t support the war in Iraq. There’s no gainsaying that. What her position was on other conflicts is a different matter.

Why it is somehow ‘slimy’ to see the world as complex enough that interventions will occur, and those involved in them will be flawed still escapes me. Take Rambouillet. I’m no fan of Appendix B, but the talks didn’t happen in a vacuum, they were at the end of a process and at the start of another. And I think it’s telling that she actually adopts a position some way distant from US unilateralism. Or as she’s says…

If I may—Kofi Annan was hugely torn about the Kosovo intervention. He didn’t want to see the UN Security Council trampled, you’re right. There wasn’t adequate international legal authorization for that, by any means. But he also didn’t want to live in a situation where the Serbs could massacre the ethnic Albanians at will.

Sergio Vieria de Mello, who at some point we will maybe talk about, was also somebody totally loyal to the UN Charter, totally loyal to the idea of civilian protection. He also supported the war in Kosovo. So, yes, in fact, I did support the Rambouillet negotiations. I don’t see it at all the way that you did. And, again, I haven’t heard a scenario by which ethnic Albanians would actually have been free of massacres and free of fear in the scenario which would have left the province alone in a way that you suggest.

This is far from uncritical or unthinking. It suggests that she too was torn over the issue. And here’s the problem. Sometimes it is impossible to arrive at a position where all parties will agree. The basic problem of Kosovo was that the Albanian majority simply didn’t believe any guarantees that Belgrade could give. In that context Belgrade could only operate by diktat. That the countervailing response from the Kosovans was in many respects not much better doesn’t alter that either. If we are looking at the objective benefits to Kosovo, then it seems to me to be dubious in the extreme that non-intervention would have arrived at a better position.

As for imperialism, well, that’s part of a broader problem I have with the term which I hope to tackle sometime.

wbs you say that I “load the dice against intervention, and then load them again”
I set the stage for an ideally acceptable form of intervention but without disallowing support for intervention by flawed powers in a minority of cases (e.g Rwanda). The latter stopping of a clear genocide, is a view shared in the anti-war movement. Remember it was the US that insisted that the security council voted to withdraw all but a remnant of the UN mission in Rwanda in ‘94. ( http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/index.html
) But again most of those would disagree with Power’s policy of ‘humanitarian’ interventions, which must match her requirement to “meet U.S. security and economic interests”. Through this prism it could be argued that a 3 trillion dollar war for access to 30 trillion dollars in oil, various lucrative contracts etc, fulfills this requirement – at least if not the international agreement bit. Power’s views are part of the acceptable spectrum on the intervention issue. A generally better hidden ‘liberal’, end of the spectrum but part of it all the same.

The problem is that there are no powers on the planet which aren’t flawed. All of them, from the democracies out to the totalitarians. We can, and do, and often rightly, criticise them. And therefore to posit that we cannot intervene because of the nature of the national structures that do exist is essentially to say we cannot intervene at all. Worse again, I think, and the Bosnian case is instructive here, it is to effectively cede support to the strongest military presence on the ground, in that case the former JNA/Serbian one, followed closely by the Croats. That also effectively leaves those who are most marginalised within a conflict without any cover whatsoever…

(as for the US and Rwanda, I think any reading of that would point to a certain EU power as much more directly implicated in the situation there).

At the moment, I think it’s hard to see any positive outcome of such military interventions by those flawed powers, which is why people need to be so wary of arguments from Power. Scahill summaries it well in the democracynow debate

“And I think that what we have to understand here is that this is where the sort of liberals, like Hillary Clinton, come together with the neocons, because there are a lot of similarities between what happened in Yugoslavia and what happened in Iraq, with the lead-up to the war, the disregard for international law or international consensus, and then the outright killing of civilians under the auspices of a humanitarian intervention.”

But that’s near suggesting that killing of civilians is something almost close to a goal of interventions. It may well be impossible in certain circumstances not to cause deaths. And the events that are already happening on the ground where humanitarian interventions occur are also seeing deaths happening. Now this isn’t in any sense meant to be an apologia, again say for Iraq, and it’s far far from an apologia for massive military operations. But it is to suggest that the view that Scahill takes is at least as open to a charge of obfuscating hand-wringing as that of Power because it seems to ignore the situations that give rise to interventions.

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58. Pax - March 12, 2008

Snowed under so bit of a late response this…

wbs wrote:”As for imperialism, well, that’s part of a broader problem I have with the term which I hope to tackle sometime.”

Is that a problem with the term historically or with its usage today? As in it doesn’t really exist today therefore there’s no need for anti-imperialism?

Instructive article and quote by one Robert Cooper, Tony Blair’s foreign policy guru,

Why we still need empires
“What is needed is a new kind of imperialism, one compatible with human rights and cosmopolitan values: an imperialism which aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle.”

wbs wrote: “A couple of thoughts. Firstly, she didn’t support the war in Iraq. There’s no gainsaying that. What her position was on other conflicts is a different matter. ”

I never said she did, I said she supported the Iraqi sanctions and the ongoing bombing campaign in Iraq.

wbs wrote:”If we are looking at the objective benefits to Kosovo, then it seems to me to be dubious in the extreme that non-intervention would have arrived at a better position.”

Well we are at a disadvantage here as Power merely mentions her disagreement with Scahill’s points on Kosovo and Rambouillet, without going into any detail of her argument. Scahill back’s his side up with empirical evidence, facts, first-hand experience – that kind of complex stuff- to show quite clearly how intervention made the situation worse, and how this was aided and abetted by Rambouillet. How she deals with this is by ducking and diving, but that’s not unusual for liberal interventionists when confronted with reality.

Power responds with “I don’t see it at all the way that you did.” with followed by a larey irrelevant reference to the safety of ethnic Albanians without intervention.

As is shown on pages 38-40 of Hegemony and Survival (pdf pages), (and elsewhere of course) the US knew full well that the Albanians would be attacked after a bombing campaign.
Wesley Clark informed the press three days after the bombings that the Serbian reaction was “entirely predicable” and had been “fully anticipated” and was “not in any way” a concern of the political leadership. In his memoirs Clark reports that on March 6 he had informed Albright that if NATO proceeded to bomb Serbia, “almost certainly” the Serbs would “attack the civilian population” and NATO would be able to do nothing to prevent that action on the ground.

And besides the point that, (as Chomsky writes: (from from pg39))

On March 24, as the bombing began , British defense minister
George Robertson (later NATO secretary general) testified before the
house of commons that until mid January 1999

“the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Serbian Authorities had been”

He was referring to the Albanian guerrillas, by then CIA backed- who had explained frankly that their goal was to kill Serbs so as to elicit harsh reaction that would lead to public support in the west for Nato intervention.

A subsequent parliamentary enquiry revealed that the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had told the House on January 18 that the KLA had “committed more breaches of the ceasefire and until this weekend was responsible for more deaths than the Yugoslav security force

also from pg39

“Serious scholarship reaches similar conclusions. Nicholas Wheeler, who does not invert the chronology, estimates that Serbs had killed 500 Albanians before the Nato bombing, implying that 1,500 had been killed by the KLA.

wbs wrote: “Why it is somehow ’slimy’ to see the world as complex enough that interventions will occur, and those involved in them will be flawed still escapes me. Take Rambouillet. I’m no fan ofendix B, but the talks didn’t happen in a vacuum, they were at the end of a process and at the start of another. And I think it’s telling that she actually adopts a position some way distant from US unilateralism. Or as she’s says…”

Fist of all, she supports such military interventions and sanctions and is in a position to influence those policies, she’s not just pontificating on the reality of what is happening, nor is her position ‘complex’ its actually a very simplistic position, albeit poorly obfuscated. So that’s not the reason for the general ‘slimyness’ emanating from her arguments (that’s mainly her overt interview style).

But wrt your Annexe B, point, -Annexe B of which you are admittedly not a fan,- and how “talks didn’t happen in a vacuum, they were at the end of a process and at the start of another.” (I’m not sure what you mean by that btw or how relevant it is to the point made or Annexe B’s importance) but this is instructive too, particularly in the way its dealt with.

For instance the Foreign Office minister Lord Gilbert conceded to a Commons’ defence select committee, that Appendix B was planted deliberately to provoke rejection by the government in Belgrade. Even as the first bombs fell, the elected parliament in Belgrade, which included some of Milosevic’s fiercest opponents, voted overwhelmingly to reject it.

What is equally revealing was a chapter dealing exclusively with the Kosovo economy. This called for a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets.

Yugoslavia was the last economy in south-eastern Europe to be uncolonised by western capital. ‘Socially owned enterprises,’ the form of worker self-management pioneered under Tito, still predominated. It was a very dangerous example (a potentially highly succesful one for an alternative route to development) as Yugoslavia had publicly owned petroleum, mining, car and tobacco industries, and 75 per cent of industry was state or socially owned.

wbs wrote: “But that’s near suggesting that killing of civilians is something almost close to a goal of interventions. It may well be impossible in certain circumstances not to cause deaths. And the events that are already happening on the ground where humanitarian interventions occur are also seeing deaths happening.”

It is clear from the transcript, if not other his writings on the issue, that Scahill is clearly not saying its a goal. What the killing of civilians is, is a current concomitant to intervention. Which means a logical risk benefit analysis is required, something Power and Co are incapable off.

wbs wrote: “Now this isn’t in any sense meant to be an apologia, again say for Iraq, and it’s far far from an apologia for massive military operations. But it is to suggest that the view that Scahill takes is at least as open to a charge of obfuscating hand-wringing as that of Power because it seems to ignore the situations that give rise to interventions.”

I don’t see how it ignores such situations when it recounts them in detail in contrast to the opposing side! That side being Power in this occasion. I think the hypothetical objective ‘alien’ would see Power’s analysis as one of a being from a different planet than this one. Which is why her position +relies+ upon such, largely, un-empirical, simplistic tactics of obfuscation, of ducking and diving and of, well, sliminess.

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59. Wednesday - June 14, 2008

Just thought I’d pass this on…

New York Post [Page Six] – June 12, 2008
MCCAIN SQUAD OUT-TALKS O’S
IF only John McCain could use surrogates instead of having to debate
Barack Obama in person. The other day in Toronto, McCain’s team, his foreign-policy adviser Niall Ferguson and conservative columnist
Charles Krauthammer, crushed the Obama squad – Samantha Power, who had to step down from his campaign after calling Hillary Clinton “a monster,” and Richard Holbrooke, who was Bill Clinton’s UN ambassador. Before the debate, only 21 percent of the audience agreed with the motion that “the world is a safer place with a Republican in the White House.” Two hours later, the mostly liberal, anti-George Bush crowd had a profound change of heart: 43 percent ended up voting for the motion. “Was it simply that Power was the weakest of the speakers on the stage?” columnist Shinan Govani wondered. “Or did it point to a weakness in the Obama brand?” Power, a Pulitzer-winning Harvard professor, left “shocked and visibly downbeat,” Govani reports. “What happened?” she was heard asking.

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60. WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2008

Ouch…. ! Nice one Wednesday… :)

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