A Mass Grave in the Mediterranean

 

LAMPEDUSA-COFFINS_3039419bLate on Saturday night, as many as 950 men, women, and children perished in the Mediterranean 60 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa in the greatest sea disaster since the Second World War. Last week, two separate shipwrecks off the coast of Libya claimed an estimated 400 lives. The Italian coastguard has rescued nearly 10,000 people this month. In Sicily and Lampedusa, medical teams regularly treat migrants who have been tortured by their smugglers.

Postwar Europe has never confronted a population movement like this. A human wave from the failed states of the Middle East and Africa has resulted in a 50-fold increase in migrant and refugee deaths since last year. There will be many more. The state apparatus has collapsed in Libya. There is no Libyan coast guard. Last fall, Italy ended the “Mare Nostrum” search-and-rescue operation, which had saved 100,000 lives in 2014; Italian naval units have instead been deployed off Libya’s eastern coast to guard against sea-borne attacks from the ISIS-occupied ports at Derna and Sirte. ISIS, meanwhile, is beheading Christians on Libya’s beaches, and Italian police have just arrested 15 Muslims on charges of throwing 12 Christians from a migrant boat.

To say these refugees are unwanted in Europe is an understatement. EU governments have until now refused to fund search-and-rescue operations on the grounds that the prospect of being rescued only encouraged more to venture the journey. Overland routes are impenetrable: Greece has fenced off its border with Turkey, and Spain has sealed off Ceuta and Melilla.

In the wake of Saturday’s shipwreck, there are calls for “something to be done.” Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat said, “What is happening now is of epic proportions. If Europe, if the global community continues to turn a blind eye… we will all be judged in the same way that history has judged Europe when it turned a blind eye to the genocide of this century and last century.” Pope Francis has appealed for “much broader involvement.” “Illegal immigration is about to reach the top of the scale of the multiple crises Europe is facing,” wrote Le Monde’s editorial board this morning. “It is a crisis … of catastrophic proportions … a challenge not only to the dignity of man, but to the values and economic rationality on which the European Union is based.”

But there is no rational solution. Europe has only two options: let migrants drown in the hundreds or thousands, or open the gates to hundreds of thousands of immiserated refugees–along with an indeterminate number of refugees who throw Christians overboard en route. The latter will not happen.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is correct to say that the problem lies in Libya, which is now a failed state. Italy is contemplating a military mission there, possibly under a United Nations mandate. “If we cannot remove the problem in Libya, we will never succeed in solving this terrible problem,” he said, and he is correct.

When Obama explained the US intervention in Libya, these were the words he used:

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

And here is Hillary Clinton:

I was in complete agreement with Adam Garfinkle when he wrote this in February:

Personally, I’m not enthusiastic about the prospect of Mrs. Clinton as President; nor do I think she was such a good Secretary of State. But it is a fantasy, and a lurid fantasy at that, to try to hold her personally accountable for what happened during and after September 11, 2012, in Libya.

More than that, it is a distraction from the key policy lesson we should by now have learned from that whole unfortunate episode. Whatever the real mix of reasons that went into it, the Libya war was a mistake. It has touched off a cascade of completely predictable misanthropies (if I predicted them, which I did, I take it for granted that others, not least then-Defense Secretary Gates, did too). It has, to take just one example, ensnarled the French in a real mess in Mali, probably made things worse in increasingly ghoulish northern Nigeria, and it is already washing back into Libya, threatening to alienate the southwestern, Tuareg chunk of Fezzan permanently from the Libyan state (such as it is). The sin that Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton (and others) committed was starting this stupid war in the first place, and then having no plan whatsoever for a post-Qaddafi “Phase IV” (remember Iraq?). That is the decision that began the sequence of events that got Ambassador Stevens and three other American officials killed.

Why aren’t Republicans on the make making this argument?

It should also be noted that Garfinkle opposed the intervention. He predicted this outcome in lucid detail:

Of course, if democracy breaks out in a post-Qaddafi Libya, everything will be sunshine and roses—except that is about as likely to happen as a hookah-smoking caterpillar offering you a tuna on rye, with a pickle. Or about as likely as a clean and clear endpoint to the battle in Iraq ever was. Whenever there is a conflict in a far-off land between some protesting horde and some morally unaesthetic incumbent government, the Manichean American mind rushes ineluctably to the conclusion that the throng in the street has to be a democracy movement. It’s the Children of the Sons of Light against the Children of the Sons of Darkness over, and over, and over again, except of course that it’s  never that clear-cut. This amounts to a pre-adolescent understanding of any region, and the Arab world isn’t just any region.

As noted, there is a regional and tribal element to the fight in Libya. It is unlikely that the Benghazi-based rebels could by themselves establish stable control over the whole country. It is almost as unlikely that the Tripolitanian tribes could re-establish firm control over Cyrenaica. Qaddafi managed the feat through a combination of patronage, terror and cooptation. That will be a very hard act to follow in the wake of so much bloodletting. We are therefore looking into the maw of a Libya that may well be divided, in the throes of some kind of protracted, at least low-level civil war, and that could very easily produce an insurgency spilling over the Egyptian and Tunisian borders—complete with refugees, the usual dysfunctional NGO triage operations and all the rest. And in due course, if the fractious mess lasts long enough, there is a reasonable prospect that al-Qaeda will find a way to establish a foothold amid the mayhem.

Who will want to send in peacekeepers to baby-sit a Libya that looks like that? Who’ll want to go to the UN to get the job authorized? The African Union?

Now, given that this sort of problem is foreseeable, and that it was also foreseeable before the cruise missiles started flying on Saturday, it stands to reason that a responsible, serious government will have thought about all this in advance, and come up with some plan for the post-combat “Phase IV” of the Libyan War, right? Not on your life; the President and his war council almost certainly have not even begun to think about this sort of thing, because they’re still in denial that it could happen. This is, after all, just a limited, humanitarian mission as far as they’re concerned. They don’t realize it yet, but these guys are on a path to make even Donny Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks look good—and you thought that was impossible.

So if anyone says this outcome was unlikely or unpredictable, they are wrong. As Garfinkle continued:

These three observations do not, of course, exhaust the madness of what the Administration has done. This Libya caper will constitute a huge, compound distraction. Not only will it distract us from longer-term challenges, mainly in Asia, that will determine the success or failure of America’s grand strategy of forward presence on the flanks of Eurasia, it will also distract us from even more portentous Middle Eastern dangers. Just yesterday the head of the Yemeni army withdrew his support for President Ali Abdullah Saleh. This portends a major, multifaceted tribe-and-clan based civil war with a potential to put core U.S. security interests at risk—for an anarchic Yemen, a mountainous country with four times the population of Libya, can host a sanctuary for al-Qaeda that will make their Taliban-era digs pale by comparison. And in Yemen, al-Qaeda already has a kind of defense-in-depth across the Bab al-Mandeb in what’s left of Somalia.

He wrote those words on March 22, 2011.

Perhaps this latest news will inspire someone, somewhere, to connect the dots. The scandal isn’t Bengazigate. It is Libya itself.

Update: Three more boats are reported to be sinking right now, one with 300 people on board.

There are 75 comments.

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  1. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I see no reason they can’t both be scandals.

    • #1
  2. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    European countries asked for the intervention to stop a migrant wave from Libya as a result of the Arab Spring. They got what they wanted, an intervention. It was up to them to capitalize on it to prevent a migrant wave. They failed to do so. P. Obama and Madam Secretary are complicit in both decisions. Let them wallow in the outcome, but the problem is Europe’s to solve.

    • #2
  3. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    The question of what Obama and Clinton did the night of September 12, 2011 has only two possible conclusions: incompetence or inaction. Either one should make it obvious that Mrs. Clinton is unfit for any office, as Senator Paul told her to her face. Unfortunately this will not make a whits difference in the 2016 election.

    • #3
  4. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    To question the assumptions behind Libya is to question the assumptions behind Iraq.  They’re the same set of assumptions – about the US and its place in the world (Big America, as someone has described it) – I think they should be questioned, especially given the outcomes, but I don’t think there’s any political will in either party to do this rigorously or consistently, because the Republicans and now the Democrats both have a reputation to defend against all facts.  And there’s a presidential election looming.

    • #4
  5. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Zafar:To question the assumptions behind Libya is to question the assumptions behind Iraq. They’re the same set of assumptions – about the US and its place in the world (Big America, as someone has described it) – I think they should be questioned, especially given the outcomes, but I don’t think there’s any political will in either party to do this rigorously or consistently, because the Republicans and now the Democrats both have a reputation to defend against all facts. And there’s a presidential election looming.

    I suppose you’re right. No point in having a serious and rigorous national debate about anything consequential with an election looming.

    • #5
  6. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Claire Berlinski:

    I suppose you’re right. No point in having a serious and rigorous national debate about anything consequential with an election looming.

    Well not unless it unambiguously serves one side or the other, which in this case it wouldn’t.

    • #6
  7. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Whatever the ultimate cause, the waves of refugees have to be stopped.  Send the refugees back and sink their boats to prevent another try.  Sooner or later the traffickers will run out of boats.

    • #7
  8. Ross C Member
    Ross C
    @RossC

    Looking back 10 years I can remember dozens of articles in the media like this one from the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus:

    The Bush administration’s failure to plan adequately for the postwar period has been well documented. The Pentagon, for example, ignored extensive State Department studies of how to achieve stability after an invasion, administer a postwar government and rebuild the country. And administration officials have acknowledged the mistake of dismantling the Iraqi army and canceling pensions to its veteran officers — which many say hindered security, enhanced anti-U.S. feeling and aided what would later become a violent insurgency.

    Well, Bush was the Gary Kasparov of planning compared to what we have now.

    Hearken back to 2011 and you get Hillary’s 3rd or 4th most famous quote:

    We came, we saw, he died!

    Couple that to the fawning and blatant misreporting of the Arab Spring and I wonder what Mr. Pincus thinks now?

    • #8
  9. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Zafar:

    Claire Berlinski:

    I suppose you’re right. No point in having a serious and rigorous national debate about anything consequential with an election looming.

    Well not unless it unambiguously serves one side or the other, which in this case it wouldn’t.

    Well, no one is reluctant to debate it here. Mind you, Marine Le Pen is looking at this like a gift from heaven–anything to get the attention off her father.

    • #9
  10. Ross C Member
    Ross C
    @RossC

    Back to the point of the post however.  What can be done, Libya has disintegrated and we helped it along.  That is not to say it would not have disintegrated anyway.  The Arab spring was a massive up-welling of popular discontent with the Arab way of governance and I wonder if Qaddafi would have survived it?

    I think, at least as of now, that I would have preferred that he were still in power there.

    With respect to Iraq (not in the post but Zafar brought it up) the Bush plan for nation building a stable Iraq was pretty much working, a division strength American presence probably could have quelled the worst sectarian atrocities in Iraq (i.e. Malaki’s shia killing Sunni’s in the north) which might well have prevented ISIS gaining ground in Iraq at least (Syria is different).  America’s appetite for keeping a division in Iraq however is quite limited, especially among Democrats, so a Democratic president folded the tent walked away and here we are.

    • #10
  11. Capt. Aubrey Inactive
    Capt. Aubrey
    @CaptAubrey

    We should also remember that the European bank crisis was in full swing in ,10 and ’11. Italy’s electric utility got nearly all its oil from Libya the Italian banks are far more important to the EU than Greece. None of which excuses our half hearted and ineffective support but explains why BHO and HRC couldn’t do what they wanted which was full head in the sand.

    • #11
  12. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Ross C:Back to the point of the post however. What can be done, Libya has disintegrated and we helped it along. That is not to say it would not have disintegrated anyway.

    No, it isn’t, and Syria is hardly an inspiring counter-example. But the overwhelming lessons here are that nothing self-organizes after an Arab autocrat is deposed, and chaos is the petri dish in which ISIS and al Qaeda thrive. If anyone is thinking about how this applies to Yemen, I see no sign of it. 

    • #12
  13. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Zafar:To question the assumptions behind Libya is to question the assumptions behind Iraq. They’re the same set of assumptions – about the US and its place in the world (Big America, as someone has described it) – I think they should be questioned, especially given the outcomes, but I don’t think there’s any political will in either party to do this rigorously or consistently, because the Republicans and now the Democrats both have a reputation to defend against all facts. And there’s a presidential election looming.

    If you are going to raise questions Z – this is an interesting case study.

    Iraq was US planned, led, executed – then dismantled by President Obama.

    Libya, on the other hand, was Europe-Planned, led, executed (with support during the opening days of the US – Operation Odyessy Dawn) – The US took a back seat to Europe.

    So your point is – the world is better off without a US entirely? – cause otherwise I don’t see it.

    • #13
  14. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Claire Berlinski:

    Ross C:Back to the point of the post however. What can be done, Libya has disintegrated and we helped it along. That is not to say it would not have disintegrated anyway.

    No, it isn’t, and Syria is hardly an inspiring counter-example. But the overwhelming lessons here are that nothing self-organizes after an Arab autocrat is deposed, and chaos is the petri dish in which ISIS and al Qaeda thrive. If anyone is thinking about how this applies to Yemen, I see no sign of it.

    The anti-anarcho-libertarian (in the areas of foreign involvement and self organizing) argument.

    • #14
  15. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Bush gets more criticism for post-war Iraq than he deserves. He made many mistakes, and he failed to foresee the insurgency or to fight it aggressively. But don’t forget Jay Garner and Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, which, with all its problems, ended up leaving Iraq with a functioning government with elections and, post-surge, a modicum of stability.

    Compare that to Obama’s and Clinton’s Libya. Chaos from the get-go. No apologies. No responsibility. No media criticism. No recognition of their unbelievable hypocrisy. It’s been four years since Gaddafi was killed. What has Obama done to improve conditions there? Where is Libya’s Paul Bremer? What does Obama intend to do about the mess he has made? Who will even ask him the question?

    • #15
  16. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Man With the Axe:Bush gets more criticism for post-war Iraq than he deserves. He made many mistakes, and he failed to foresee the insurgency or to fight it aggressively. But don’t forget Jay Garner and Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, which, with all its problems, ended up leaving Iraq with a functioning government with elections and, post-surge, a modicum of stability.

    Compare that to Obama’s and Clinton’s Libya. Chaos from the get-go. No apologies. No responsibility. No media criticism. No recognition of their unbelievable hypocrisy. It’s been four years since Gaddafi was killed. What has Obama done to improve conditions there? Where is Libya’s Paul Bremer? What does Obama intend to do about the mess he has made? Who will even ask him the question?

    Apart from rushing to return sovereignty to Iraq (my take on the problems you mention) right on.

    Here is a useful video. (Ricochet won’t let me embed a .pdf but helpfully MK Hamm made it into a video). With prayers and thanks to Capt Travis Patriquin – Died 6 December 2006.

    • #16
  17. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    We’re all talking what ought to be done. ?How about some lessons from WWII, when we as a nation were willing to fight to a conclusion. And did.

    We defeated two seriously autocratic nations with serious power and ability – politically and economically. ?How did we treat the losers. NOT by installing a quickie fake government, then withdrawing. Instead, we put real combat power into BOTH nations, ran the government, TOLD them how they would be behaving (?anyone think democracy was natural to Japan) and then oversaw that it went as planned for a long time! The result is that we have a Germany and Japan that are democratic, functional, economically viable, and generally all-around good guys.

    But note what it took. We had real combat power present EVERYWHERE in those nations, and we repressed ALL “un-American” thinking. The emporer was a big deal in Japan; now not so much. Nazis and the Aryan concept were strong in Germany – OK, we won’t argue that too much, but at least the Nazis are no longer (generally) acceptable.

    This is what it would take. Don’t do that at your peril.

    • #17
  18. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    What Devereaux said.

    • #18
  19. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I know that it’s off topic, but I can’t help noting Claire’s comment that overland routes are impenetrable because “Greece has fenced off its border with Turkey, and Spain has sealed off Ceuta and Melilla.”

    Greece and Spain can make their land borders impenetrable, but the US can’t do anything about its own southern border?

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @FrontSeatCat

    I am not a political expert nor a historian, just an average American who observes. I don’t remember who or how the Arab Spring started, but people everywhere were cheering. I remember small voices in the background questioning the unusual circumstances – when Glenn Beck was on Fox, he did his little chalkboard analysis – like in grade school with the pointer.  He pointed to Libya, on fire, he said it will spread to this region, then this, and on and on until the entire region is aflame. He had footage of people holding up signs at the uprisings, with communist messages, union messages (??) – clearly there were thugs stirring the pots of rebellion that were obviously not from the Middle East. Who was behind this push to “liberate the Middle East and North Africa”, he asked – he predicted the attacks on Jews and Christians would greatly increase  – funny how through social media, an idea can spread like a wildfire, the flames get out of control in an instant.   In Egypt, I remember rioting and the rape of the Journalist Laura Logan, people fighting, yelling, and I thought “This is not going well……this doesn’t look like the fall of the Berlin Wall, when families long separated, embraced, there was music, dancing, joy and hope.

    Now Muslims and others are trying to escape the mayhem in droves, risking life and limb to get to the West. There is no putting the genie back and no easy answers. It makes sense to get these countries stable so they can bear their own population – where is the money, resources and voices from Muslim leaders to help their own? They have allowed the scourge of hate to rise up and spread, destroying their own history, countries, their citizens, their own “leadership”.

    So so sad – it also does not make sense that unaccompanied children are coming in droves to our shores – who sends off their children?? – unless it is truly another Holocaust and they have no choice, just like the Jews who had to flee quickly in the 1930’s and 1940’s, to survive the wave of hatred coming towards them.  I don’t think its coincidental, just like I don’t think the Arab Spring was a random, sporadic event.

    The only thing I can offer here is to be a light to others wherever you see the opportunity – don’t despair – anything you can do, even small (everyone is busy), matters a great deal – support your churches – they are on the front lines bringing humanitarian support and compassion around the world, and counteracting the misery.  Pray – especially for the children caught up in this hell and are suffering the most. We are beyond arguing that politics won’t save us – spend time with your families, work out your problems, support local charities if you can, volunteer to make food for a soup kitchen, visit the sick, check on your neighbors – you will feel more human for it – just write down one thing a day that you are grateful for – I need to take my own advice……and vote.

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Instugator:

    So your point is – the world is better off without a US entirely? – cause otherwise I don’t see it.

    Nothing so simple, Instugator.  Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes the US itself (certainly most of its people) would be far better off if it wasn’t enmeshed and compromised in some of these places.

    If anything, I tend to think Devereaux is making an important point: it is absolutely possible to substantially re-make another country in your own image but it’s very expensive, in terms of blood and treasure.  And time and commitment.  (And even then – who knows if it will really take, or if you’ll like the result?  There’s no guarantees.)

    The US in Germany and Japan are examples of the US doing this, and it looks like it’s permanent.  Otoh theRussians did something similar in Central Asia and the Caucasus, over an even longer period of time – which were without a doubt transformed and which remain deeply Russified – but suddenly it’s less certain if the transformation is as permanent as it looked fifty years ago.

    The thing is, countries make this kind of effort either in the throes of an ideology which has made the country itself a little out of control (say the Russian Revolution expanding into Turkestan) or if their continued existence depends on it (the US in Germany and Japan was the aftermath of WWII, an existential struggle for the US, which morphed into the Cold War).

    Interventions in Iraq or Libya don’t meet that standard of urgency – so of course the US is unwilling to pay that cost.  But one gets what one pays for, right?  Is it an existential issue for the US that Jeffersonian Democracy take root in Iraq or Afghanistan?  It would be great if it did, but if it didn’t, I think the US would survive it.  What I think is important is to be realistic about the possible outcomes of what one is actually willing to do, and then to choose rationally.

    For example this – what did we think would happen? People, and their will to power, don’t just disappear if we decide we don’t like them.

    • #21
  22. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Front Seat Cat: I don’t think its coincidental, just like I don’t think the Arab Spring was a random, sporadic event.

    So you think someone um, influenced, Mohamed Buazizi to immolate himself to be the catalyst of the Arab Spring.

    • #22
  23. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Zafar:

    Instugator:

    So your point is – the world is better off without a US entirely? – cause otherwise I don’t see it.

    Nothing so simple, Instugator. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes the US itself (certainly most of its people) would be far better off if it wasn’t enmeshed and compromised in some of these places.

    So the lessons of the first half of the 20th Century when compared to the Pax Americana of the 2nd half – is the US shouldn’t be involved in the world?

    Please acknowledge that the Libya invention started with Europe, for the benefit of Europe and is Europe’s responsibility.

    • #23
  24. Claire Berlinski Editor
    Claire Berlinski
    @Claire

    Front Seat Cat:Now Muslims and others are trying to escape the mayhem in droves, risking life and limb to get to the West.

    I keep thinking of my grandparents, fleeing the Nazis by boat from Marseille to America. My grandmother was pregnant with my father. They thought she was seasick, but it was morning sickness.

    • #24
  25. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Zafar:

    Instugator:

    So your point is – the world is better off without a US entirely? – cause otherwise I don’t see it.

    Nothing so simple, Instugator. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes the US itself (certainly most of its people) would be far better off if it wasn’t enmeshed and compromised in some of these places.

    If anything, I tend to think Devereaux is making an important point: it is absolutely possible to substantially re-make another country in your own image but it’s very expensive, in terms of blood and treasure. And time and commitment. (And even then – who knows if it will really take, or if you’ll like the result? There’s no guarantees.)

    The US in Germany and Japan are examples of the US doing this, and it looks like it’s permanent. Otoh theRussians did something similar in Central Asia and the Caucasus, over an even longer period of time – which were without a doubt transformed and which remain deeply Russified – but suddenly it’s less certain if the transformation is as permanent as it looked fifty years ago.

    The thing is, countries make this kind of effort either in the throes of an ideology which has made the country itself a little out of control (say the Russian Revolution expanding into Turkestan) or if their continued existence depends on it (the US in Germany and Japan was the aftermath of WWII, an existential struggle for the US, which morphed into the Cold War).

    Interventions in Iraq or Libya don’t meet that standard of urgency – so of course the US is unwilling to pay that cost. But one gets what one pays for, right? Is it an existential issue for the US that Jeffersonian Democracy take root in Iraq or Afghanistan? It would be great if it did, but if it didn’t, I think the US would survive it. What I think is important is to be realistic about the possible outcomes of what one is actually willing to do, and then to choose rationally.

    It’s not that we’re unwilling to pay the cost, it’s that we no longer have the civilizational confidence to assert that our values are superior to theirs and impose them on a primitive backwards culture (and I used those two words purposely).

    • #25
  26. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Instugator:

    So the lessons of the first half of the 20th Century when compared to the Pax Americana of the 2nd half – is the US shouldn’t be involved in the world?

    Please acknowledge that the Libya invention started with Europe, for the benefit of Europe and is Europe’s responsibility.

    Sure.  It is in Europe’s vital interest that the Southern shore of the Mediterranean is governed by stable polities which can control their borders.

    Can any long term stability be based on dictatorship, as it was in the half century after WWII?  For a number of reasons I don’t think it’s possible any more. More and more that stability, the consent of the governed, hinges on societies where people have reasonable rights and reasonable economic opportunities.  When enough people and groups in a society have a buy in.

    Is Europe capable, as a whole, of achieving this in North Africa post-Arab Spring?  I am not sure that it is.  Europe is good as some stuff, like economic engagement and perhaps institutional build up, but to date it hasn’t been so great at things like military intervention or stabilisation when it’s acting as a unit. (Individual countries, like France or the UK do well, though Algeria strikes me as brittle.)

    Is Europe’s stability a vital interest of the US?  Absolutely.  As is a stable North Africa.

    I don’t think the US should retire from the world at all.  But the current breakdown of stability across the ME is in part a result of how peace was maintained there since WWII, not least under the leadership of the US.  So, like any rational actor, the US should adjust its approaches based on how they worked out in the past.  That’s jmho.

    • #26
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Miffed White Male:

    It’s not that we’re unwilling to pay the cost, it’s that we no longer have the civilizational confidence to assert that our values are superior to theirs and impose them on a primitive backwards culture (and I used those two words purposely).

    Germany and Japan were not primitive backwards cultures but you did whatever you had to beat them because you had to.  In fact beating them may have given you some of that civilisational confidence in the first place, don’t you think?

    • #27
  28. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Zafar:

    Miffed White Male:

    It’s not that we’re unwilling to pay the cost, it’s that we no longer have the civilizational confidence to assert that our values are superior to theirs and impose them on a primitive backwards culture (and I used those two words purposely).

    Germany and Japan were not primitive backwards cultures but you did whatever you had to beat them because you had to. In fact beating them may have given you some of that civilisational confidence in the first place, don’t you think?

    No – the confidence in civilization pre-dates the defeat of Germany and Japan.

    The erosion of civilizational confidence occurred as part of the Left’s rise starting in the 1960’s and is included in the baby-boomer rejection of the greatest generation.

    Multiculturalism and liberalism teach all cultures are equal.

    In the words of the American President, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

    • #28
  29. Michael Collins Member
    Michael Collins
    @MichaelCollins

    Merina Smith:I see no reason they can’t both be scandals.

    Because of the short attention span of the electorate, silly!   You can’t expect the average American to hold two ideas in their head at the same time.   It would leave no room for the Kardashians.

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  30. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Claire,

    Of course, the scandal is Libya itself. Especially for an administration/political party that relentlessly pursued GWB for Iraq. In fact Libya was far worse than Iraq as Qaddafi wasn’t the threat of Sadam Hussein or even close.

    However, Benghazi was the fig leaf that protected the administration/political party from having to face their complete Libyan foreign policy failure in time for the 2012 election. Hillary’s little dance about Benghazi gave BHO and the dems a second term. Just as her stand by her man act covered her husband’s multi-decade history of sexual abuse. Without it he would have been impeached and convicted. Lady Macbeth strikes twice.

    The video is especially revealing as far as the full blown Obama illusion. Jihadists are not young people yearning for Freedom. The Green Party protesting in Tehran, that was the young hoping their country could move forward and throw off the yoke. Jihadists are the people murdering and proudly displaying their handy work on the internet. Jihadists aren’t hope of any kind. They are a nightmare that must be destroyed by force.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30

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