Saturday, March 12, 2011

Americans: Singes Mangeurs De Fromage (Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys).

How soon we have forgotten all the fun the Yanks had at the expense of the French, the maitre d'Axis Des Weasels. And this time around nobody is asking for anything even remotely like an Iraq-scale invasion, or an Afghanistan-like reconstruction and counterinsurgency effort. Nobody is asking for a rerun of the Punic Wars, or even American "boots on the ground," or shock, or awe, or blood, or treasure. Still the Handsome President cringes, even as the French say allons-y.

Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the rebel National Libyan Council: "We asked for a no-fly zone to be imposed from day one. We also want a sea embargo and we urgently need some arms and we also need humanitarian assistance and medicines to be sent to the cities besieged by Gaddafi troops.'' Like the French and the British and the Libyan rebels, the Arab League supports a no-fly zone. The Arab Gulf States back a no-fly zone. Even the reactionary old Organization of the Islamic Congress wants a no-fly zone. So what's the hold-up?

Leon Wieseltier puts it succinctly: "Barack Obama’s policy toward the Libyan struggle for freedom is no longer a muddle. It is now a disgrace." Obama is acting like the world needs his permission before it sides with the Libyan freedom struggle even as he insists that America needs the permission of Russia and China at the UN Security Council to pull its weight on the Libyan front. American air-power and military weight still exceed the rest of the world's combined, and America's heft at the Security Council, hard-earned in earlier times, is now just as necessary to freedom's advance. This is the Arabs' greatest misfortune. Just at that historic moment when so much of the world is again poised at the exilharating and terrifying advent of emancipation's possibilities, America is exceptionally and unambiguously an impediment, an obstacle, and a barricade.

To be fair, it is not as though Obama is without company. Among those who would appear to concur with him are Moammar Gaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Hugo Chavez, the usual dead planets in the twin-sun solar system of Yankee paleoconservatives and bourgeois-leftish Californian "anti-imperialists," the British Workers Revolutionary Party, and the chairman of the anti-interventionist African Union, that genocidal, testicle-eating multi-billionaire and slave-master of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang. Still, one has to concede that unlike his predecessor the current American president is splendidly photogenic. Oh look, here's a new portrait of Barack and Michelle Obama, posing with President Obiang and his missus Constancia Mangue, at the White House:

See how handsome he is?


Blogger dmurrell said...

Spendid short essay, and I agree with every word of it. A few points:
1. Note how quickly Obama sent two aircraft battle groups to help stricken Japan. On one-day's notice. Yet he dithers with the battle group in the Red Sea, too timid and cowardly to send it into the Mediterranian. What he did send into the Med is too small a force to do anything;

2. I think the reason why he has been so timid (it took him two weeks to dare to say Gadhafi's name) is his ideology. He is opposed to starting any type of conflict, no matter how small or manageable. As you rightly state, attacking the Libyan air force and tanks is not that difficult. US airpower, together with the French and British, could easily do this. But Obama is a peacenik, and is is not all that bothered by dictator types like Gadhafi (a little like Chretien).

3. I believe that the Obama-led West will indeed let the freedom fighters down, and I predict the Gadhafi forces will wih this short war, and fairly quickly. And think about what this means! First, it will destroy the momentum for the remaining Arab states: the other reactionary dictators will take Gadhafi's lead and simply murder their respective opponents. Second, China and Russia will get their way. The defeat of the Arab freedom forces is indeed epochal: it marks the first time freedom loses. The forces of authoritarianism (Russia and China, and the other smaller dictators) will win their first international victory.

4. Your last paragraph is very true. This is ephochal in another way. The hard anti-democracy left (Obama and his allies) are joining forces with the isolationist right (Glen Beck, some in the Tea Party movement), to oppose freedom fighters overseas. This is truly a bad develpment.

1:28 PM  
Blogger JAC said...

Hasn't America taken enough criticism for interfering in foreign countries? Shouldn't we be encouraging Arab involvement - they are much closer to the situation both physically and culturally so can't they come up with an Arab solution?

2:31 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Jac: America needs to get over its willies about "interfering in foreign countries," and nobody is asking Obama to "interfere" anyway; more like "stop interfering on Gaddafi's behalf." As for an "Arab" solution, the damage has already been done; the Arab police states are now backing a solution to the Gaddafi problem. The implications for the onward march of the Arab revolution are probably fatal. In all likelihood, with the momentum bogged down in Benghazi for weeks now, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing stops at Tripoli, with everyone else, from Sana'a to Tehran, settling for the hope of licing to fight another day.

And I wouldn't be surprised if that's exactly how the White House wanted things to end.

Dave: Does Obama even have an "ideology"? It seems to consist of "Vote for me, yes you can". Other than that, and while I hesitate to look as far ahead as you, you can see fron this we're on the same page. A deliberate sabotage is pretty well the only sensible explanation of the American "policy" so far. It could always be clumsiness, idiocy and the vapid politics of the pseudo-left, but so far the Americans could not have been more effective saboteurs if they'd tried.

As for "the hard anti-democracy left (Obama and his allies) joining forces with the isolationist right," this is not new. This is what the 'anti-war' movement has been about since the first few days after 911. Where it isn't in alliance with the religious right (Islamist variety), it has been in league with the paleoconservative right (Eric Margolis, Ron Paul variety).

In the case of Afghanistan, the "troops-out / peace talks" posture of the western left is the opposite of the broad sweep of the Afghan liberal/reformist/secularist left, and a mirror image of the Afghan extreme religious right. You can almsot set your watch by it now. If the crypto-fasscist and Islamist far right in Afghanistan says something, the next thing you know the west's "anti-war" establishment will be saying the same thing within the hour.

The one good thing that may come of this for those of us who mostly live in the "west" is that this sordid confluence of reactionary, anti-democratic political currents is becoming more grotesquely obvious as the days pass. It's the one thing that makes me happy these days. I have never seen my enemies so fatally exposed for what they really are.

3:42 PM  
Blogger James O'Hearn said...

"Cheese eating surrender monkeys?"

Well, what else can you expect when the President is widely hailed as America's "most European" President. (And by that, they don't mean "German").

7:28 PM  
Blogger JAC said...

Concerning "interfering in foreign countries" and America "getting over its willies"

It's awfully difficult to argue against the points Terry and the other commentators make - I'd really like to see Gadhafi and the other dictators overthrown but I also want to see a plan to withdraw from Libya once the current regime is defeated. For example, I supported the invasion of Iraq but as that started I was concerned about the ultimate goal and the plan to get out of that country. I think you'd agree that Bush & Co. didn't have a clear mission in mind beyond overthrowing Hussein nor did they have an understanding of how to reshape Iraq once the initial invasion was done. The same is true of Libya - crushing Ghadafi's forces is one thing. Shaping the next regime is another, especially with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood standing by to take advantage of the situation.

6:38 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

I liked Terry's column but dmurrell is rather over the top as usual. I took particular issue with this remark: "The defeat of the Arab freedom forces is indeed epochal: it marks the first time freedom loses." Not at all. What about Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968; tiananmien square 1989. Freedom has lost before.

As for this, calling Obama an "anti-democracy hard leftist," that is just nonsense. He is centre-left at best, if not simply centrist. Nor is he anti-democratic, or, for that matter, the only democrat (small and large D) supporting a go-slow approach in Libya. I don't agree with it, but that hardly makes him anti-democratic. He's getting a lot of advice from Conservatives and Liberals in the U.S. to go slow.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"I also want to see a plan to withdraw from Libya. . ."

For that, you'd first want to see a plan to invade Libya. There isn't one. None is necessary. Nobody is calling for one, no boots on th ground, nada.

A no-fly zone or something very much like it would have been nice.

Note I'm speaking in the past tense now. It appears to be too late. While everybody was havng these interesing conversations, Gaddafi rallied, the rebels were scattered, and 1,000 Saudi troops just entered Bahrain. Looks like it's all over but the crying.

6:16 PM  
Blogger JAC said...

TG re: "see a plan to invade Libya"

Gee - would that have been something like a real reaction to Germany's invasion of Austria in the 30s? That bit of appeasement ended badly as I recall. I agree - it's all over but the crying.

vildechay re: "getting a lot of advice"

Yes Obama will get a lot of advice - most of if selfserving foolishness from the folks that think that war is always wrong or that Hamas, al Fatah, etc. will negotiate in good faith. Obama would be better to grow up and deal with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood as they should be dealt with: opponents who will lie, cheat and pull humanity back to the 7th century.

3:57 PM  
Blogger dmurrell said...

I concede your point about other historical losses, where democratic nations lost to the forces of tyrany and authoritarianism -- and one can add Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia to your list.

I am talking about the modern era from the first George Bush onwards. The two big countries in the Security Council -- Russia and China -- oppose U.S. or NATO intervention into Libya. They do so since they themselves run authoritarian countries -- so they oppose democratization in Libyia and elsewhere. And this pending defeat in Libya is ephocal, since it represents the first defeat of Arabic pro-democracy forces in this recent profreedom movement. I stand by this statement. It is truly bad news for pro-democracy voices.

Terry: you are right, that Obama is not overtly anti-democratic in his foreign policy. His foreign policy is inept in many ways, and it is hard to read what he is doing (or more appropriately, what he is not doing -- since essentially he doesn't do much).

But I agree with the thesis that Obama sees himself as representing change from George W. Bush. And since Bush was a proponent of democracy and freedom in the Arabic world, Obama wants to change that vision. He does not speak strongly for democratization of Arab lands -- and he certainly does not act overtly to achieve this.
-- David Murrell
Economics, UNB

7:49 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

RE: And this pending defeat in Libya is ephocal, since it represents the first defeat of Arabic pro-democracy forces in this recent profreedom movement. I stand by this statement. It is truly bad news for pro-democracy voices.

No argument there, sir. On the other hand, Egypt doesn't exactly seem to be playing out the way pro-democrats expected. Hopefully Tunisia -- the original standard bearer -- will be a different story. I am, however, surprised to hear you say the "modern era" started under Bush I, given that one of the anti-democratic victories i mentioned -- i.e. Tiananmien Square, occurred under his watch a year earlier than your year zero (1990).

JAC: Plenty of liberals AND conservatives advocate a go-slow approach. It isn't only the "war is wrong" crowd.

1:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home