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March 22, 2011


Yashoda Sampath

Making that sort of judgment seems more like a 'game of opportunity cost' than actual basis for political decision making.

I would still disagree that humanitarian intervention has become more tenable than anti-malaria. After all, how difficult was it to genuinely intervene in Rwanda and in Bosnia before it was almost too late (in Rwanda of course it was too late). It stops being humanitarian intervention when you enter only to protect some self-interested objective and then leave when that objective is complete.

In the past 20+ years, I'd argue the only intervention that HAS become politically acceptable is the horrifying religious human rights practices as sanctified by George W. Bush (abstinence education instead of condoms in Africa!).

I'm still working to figure out my thoughts on Libya, but you can find some of them here: http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-it-all-about-in-libya.html


Damn fucking straight.


I think the "malaria" argument is flawed principally because it takes Obama at his word that the only goal is to protect civilian lives. Ezra is right that countering malaria would be a more direct and effective way of doing that. That's not Obama's goal, though. It's clearly something more along the lines of "prevent Ghaddafi from crushing rebel forces, thus keeping alive the revolutionary momentum in the region and improve American standing in the Middle East." Now, there are plenty of flaws with this mission, but you can see why "funding anti-malaria programs" is really a silly straw man argument.


The point is that your and Ezra's argument is IN NO WAY an argument against humanitarian intervention. All it is saying is that their are priorities where the COST/BENEFIT is higher. Ezra asks the question, "Why this?" There are a million different answers: Because we tend to intervene in issues that are visual, recent, and rare. Because we place a large value on democratization in the region (yes, the democratization of tens of millions of people for the next 30 years and the lives of tens-of-thousands REALLY DOES TRUMP the lives of millions). Because we are completely random when it comes to humanitarian intervention.

You can give ANY reason for, "Why this?" Even if you are inconstant or even illogical this STILL doesn't detract from the necessity of intervention in Lybia. Of course the proper response is, "Of course we should be doing both!" So I'll tell you what, the TNR will start pushing hard for all these higher C/B ratio efforts. Given that, would you support tipping the scale ever-so-slightly in favor of the fundamental rights of the Lybian people?


Where do you come by your statement (and your certainty) that Libya "isn't experiencing mass slaughter or anything close to it"? I've only heard the exact opposite. Gaddafi was shelling Misurata with tanks and artillery for five days, for example, and Ban Ki-Moon protested Gaddafi's indiscriminate slaughter and deliberate targeting of civilians two weeks ago (a period of time in which Gaddafi's assault only increased). If you only consider the number of confirmed deaths that are reported, the total has got to be in the thousands, with the actual number higher (Since there are no journalists in western Libya). Do you dispute the sum or do you not consider that to be "close" to "mass slaughter"?

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