One of the enduring facts about the American media is that there is a group of influential members of the media and intellectuals who like to think of themselves as liberal but are reliable advocates for the use of military force and especially bombing the hell out of other countries in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’. These people can be relied upon to cheer wars as long as it can be wrapped up in a gauze, however flimsy, that it will magically result in the emergence of a nation that is democratic and respects human rights and the rights of minorities. Of course, once the whole exercise goes sour as it almost always does, they studiously avert their gaze from the havoc they caused and look longingly for the next war for which they can advocate action.
Ben Norton writes that the same dreary crew that gushed over US intervention in Libya are now advocating the same kind of thing in Syria, when Libya is now in a horrendously chaotic state. regressing to practices like slavery.
The 2011 war in Libya was justified in the name of supposed humanitarian intervention, but it was a war for regime change, plain and simple. A report released by the British House of Commons’ bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee in 2016 acknowledged that the intervention was sold on lies — but by the time it was published, the damage was already done.
Today, Libya is in complete ruins. There is no functioning central authority for swaths of the country; multiple governments compete for control. The genocidal extremist group ISIS has, in Libya, carved out its largest so-called caliphate outside of Iraq and Syria.
Perhaps most striking of all is the fact there are now open slave markets in Libya, where black African migrants are bought and sold. Moreover, women have been banned from traveling on their own in the eastern part of the country, which is under the control of a warlord with longtime ties to the CIA.
Far from “freeing” Libyans, NATO regime change pulled them back centuries. And, in the meantime, thousands of refugees and migrants have lost their lives, sinking into the murky water off the coast.
A coalition of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists helped sell NATO’s war to the public, in the lead-up to and during the intervention in 2011. Since then, many of the NATO war’s most vociferous advocates have fallen silent, avoiding any accountability for their colossal errors of judgment and imperial zeal. Virtually no one has expressed contrition.
Norton names names and they are familiar ones. Among the so-called liberals are Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristoff, and Anne-Marie Slaughter. They always seem to find common cause with neoconservatives like Bret Stephens, Max Boot, and William Kristol who are also named by Norton. Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power were also strong advocates for the Libyan intervention. When the bugle call for war sounds, these liberals march in unison with the neoconservative warmongers, and they of course praised Trump’s bombing of Syria.
This morning I heard Boot on the radio briefly advocating for action in Syria and, as the tension with North Korea ratchets up, these same people will probably find reasons for an attack on that country too.
It doesn’t seem to matter how wrong these people have been in the past and the immense misery their recommended actions have caused, they are still given platforms to blithely advocate for new wars.