Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obama's Speech As Seen Through FLG's Time Horizons Theory

FLG watched Obama's speech last night. As far as FLG can tell, Obama presented two justifications for intervening in Libya.

First, there was going to be a horrible massacre. This is the standard, clear, strong short-time horizon case for intervention that many people find appealing. Bad things are happening or are going to happen very shortly; we must intervene to stop it. The medium-to-long-term goals or potential consequences of the intervention are ignored.

Second, that allowing Qaddafi to put down the revolution using force and violence sets a bad precedent for subsequent revolutions. Given that several regimes have decided not to use force, at least on a large scale, have failed. Letting Qaddafi succeed in crushing opposition using force, particularly when there's also the Tienanmen Square precedent, would only encourage other despots to do the same. This, obviously, is the longer term case.

But here's the problem with that longer term case. If FLG was a despot, the lesson he would learn is that if he was violently putting down a revolution, then the West and the US when led by Obama will only get involved if my country is within easy flying distance of Western Europe.

The precedent being set is not that the West won't tolerate brutal suppression of revolution at all, but only when it is convenient. Therefore, the long-term case is pretty fucking weak if you ask FLG. The short-term case does make sense. There's still an argument that even if we won't get involved in every brutalization of a people by their government, then at least we can do the relatively easy ones. But it really deflates Obama's soaring rhetoric about principles over interests.

1 comment:

George Pal said...

“America could intervene with our power and our resources in many other areas.” - Sarah Palin

Fixation aggravated by impulse runs rampant through the halls of power – fixers run amok.

When Greek patriots sought America's assistance (note we have not been asked but prigs that we are...) , Daniel Webster took up their cause but was admonished by John Randolph. Intervention would breach every "bulwark and barrier of the Constitution."

"Let us say to those 7 million of Greeks: We defended ourselves when we were but 3 million, against a power in comparison to which the Turk is but as a lamb. Go and do thou likewise.”

Let us say as much to the rest of the world.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.