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Fri Dec 7, 2012, 12:54 AM

 

Why Humanitarian Interventionism is a Dead End: Beware the Anti-Anti-War Left

Ever since the 1990s, and especially since the Kosovo war in 1999, anyone who opposes armed interventions by Western powers and NATO has to confront what may be called an anti-anti-war left... The anti-anti-war left does not come out openly in favor of Western military interventions and even criticizes them at times.... But most of its energy is spent issuing “warnings” against the supposed dangerous drift of that part of the left that remains firmly opposed to such interventions. It calls upon us to show solidarity with the “victims” against “dictators who kill their own people....”

It cannot be denied that the anti-anti-war left has been extremely effective. The Iraq war... did indeed arouse a fleeting opposition, but there has been very little opposition on the left to interventions presented as “humanitarian”, such as the bombing of Yugoslavia... The fundamental ambiguity of the anti-anti-war left lies in the question as to who are the “we” who are supposed to intervene and protect... Intervening means intervening militarily and for that, one needs the appropriate military means. It is perfectly obvious that the Western left does not possess those means... So in reality the actual message of the anti-anti-war left is... nothing other than asking the U.S. Air Force to go bomb countries where human rights violations are reported to be taking place...

A favorite theme of the anti-anti-war left is to accuse those who reject military intervention of “supporting the dictator”, meaning the leader of the currently targeted country. The problem is that every war is justified by a massive propaganda effort which is based on demonizing the enemy, especially the enemy leader... The anti-anti-war left loves to denounce the “double standards” of coherent pacifists who criticize the crimes of their own side more sharply than those attributed to the enemy of the moment..., but this is only the necessary result of a deliberate and legitimate choice: to counter the war propaganda of our own media and political leaders...propaganda which is based on constant demonization of the enemy under attack accompanied by idealization of the attacker...

The anti-anti-war left has no influence on American policy, but that doesn’t mean that it has no effect. Its insidious rhetoric has served to neutralize any peace or anti-war movement. It has also made it impossible for any European country to take such an independent position as France took under De Gaulle, or even Chirac, or as Sweden did with Olof Palme... to eliminate any independent left position concerning war and imperialism... Once the anti-anti-war left abandoned any alternative program, it in fact gave up the possibility of having the slightest influence over world affairs. It does not in reality “help the victims” as it claims. Except for destroying all resistance here to imperialism and war, it does nothing... Interventionism and European construction are both right-wing policies. One of them is linked to the American drive for world hegemony. The other is the framework supporting neoliberal economic policies and destruction of social protection. Paradoxically, both have been largely justified by “left-wing” ideas : human rights, internationalism, anti-racism and anti-nationalism... With such a left, the right hardly needs any ideology of its own; it can make do with human rights...

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/04/beware-the-anti-anti-war-left/

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 01:11 AM

1. This issue is going to come to the fore if Assad does indeed gas his own people.

You should see the distinction on the left between the pro- and anti- intervention segment here at DU crystallize.

My feeling is that if the cause is worthy, I'd rather emulate the model left behind by people who joined the Lincoln Brigade and the George Washington Brigade in their fight against fascism in Spain pushed by Francisco Franco. Neither Churchill nor Roosevelt saw fit to intervene militarily in a brutal civil war launched by the extreme right against Republican Spain. Those who did view the fight as worthy volunteered and traveled on their own volition to Europe and then into Spain to fight. They served just as honorably as any draftee during the Second World War.

The idea of the United States getting involved in another major conflict in the Middle East is--I find--unpalatable at best, destructive at worst.

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Response to Selatius (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 01:16 AM

2. yeah, he's going to gas his own people with sarin, no doubt about it. i'm just sure that will

 

happen --at least in the us media.

the reason no great powers intervened in spain is because the great powers *love* right wing governments that cooperate with the great powers.

they don't like left-wing governments; they don't like governments of any stripe that don't cooperate with the west.

don't even try comparing this situation with republican spain.

western 'humanitarianism' is 9/10 fraud.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #2)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 01:25 AM

3. We're in agreement about the comparison.

The issue at hand, though, is that if Assad does gas his own people, there will be a strong push for the United States to get involved, and I think such a push is treacherous at best. Ideally, cooler heads will prevail.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #2)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 01:28 AM

4. It's humanitarian bombing!

 

western 'humanitarianism' is 9/10 fraud.


yup

KosovO was the first PNAC war.

http://newamericancentury.org/balkans.htm

and Camp Bondsteel is not going away

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Response to green for victory (Reply #4)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 02:34 AM

10. and the dominoes have fallen according to that playbook ever since.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 01:55 AM

5. ...“left-wing” ideas : human rights, internationalism, anti-racism and anti-nationalism ...

I'm not sure why the author uses "left-wing" instead of left-wing.

"human rights, internationalism, anti-racism and anti-nationalism" are certainly not right wing concepts. The right wing in the US is anti-internationalism. It wants us out of the UN, WTO and every other international organization it can think of. The right wants out of these international commitments because they believe they infringe on our national sovereign right to do whatever we perceive is in our interests without international consultation or constraint.

The right-wing parties in Europe are the ones who use racism, nationalism and euroscepticism in their platforms. They certainly don't push human rights, internationalism or anti-racism.

Dictators and other right-wingers are the ones always harping about the importance of their country's national sovereignty. Conveniently that coincides with their desire to retain power by doing whatever they want to their own people. According to their theory, they are abusing "their own" people not "our" people so why should 'we' care about 'them'.

How liberal are we if we are only interested in protecting 'our' people but not 'their' people? Are we to believe that we should not care if repressive regimes are targeting people as long as these people are of the same nationality? What is the repression is based on race, gender, sexual orientation rather than nationality? We should not have cared about apartheid South Africa? The repression happened within national borders so "non-interference in internal affairs" should have applied? At the time that was the conservative point of view. Now it has become a liberal one?

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Response to pampango (Reply #5)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 02:04 AM

6. I believe the reason is: though those ideas are left ideas, the author believes they are being used

 

in service of a right agenda.

You say "dictators" as though a dictator's identity is obvious to all. But to me, it's obvious that *our* dictators get a pass, while dictators (or less than dictators) with ties to russia, china, & other official enemies -- don't.

The hypocrisy is vomit-making, as is all the lofty rights rhetoric.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #6)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 02:17 AM

7. The hypocrisy is 'vomit-making'. All 'dictators' (Assad, Mubarak, etc.) should be held to the same

standard to eliminate the hypocrisy. The pursuit of human rights and freedoms has not room for 'our' dictators or 'their' dictators. None of them should be able to hide their repression behind 'national sovereignty' which should never trump human rights.

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Response to pampango (Reply #7)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 02:23 AM

8. Vomit-inducing is those who oppose killing only when a Repug does it.

Some of us know that military intervention is a terrible idea about 99% of the time and do not change our opinions when the White House is occupied by a Democrat.

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Response to pampango (Reply #7)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 02:25 AM

9. When that happens I might support these policies. But it's never going to happen. We are actively

 

funding and supporting dictators all over the globe, most a hell of a lot worse the dictators of iraq, libya & syria.

We all know why these particular dictators are being targeted, while others aren't even under discussion.

Meanwhile, Europe and the US are also "killing their own people" by imposing austerity policies and allowing speculators to jack up food prices around the world.

The blood-soaked sanctimony is disgusting.

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