PDA

View Full Version : Which dictators to interfere with?


Dr. Drake
08-24-2011, 01:20 PM
A couple of questions prompted by the Libya news.

A CNN article mentions Libya's mustard gas and "weapons of mass destruction." Now, as I recall, that was one of the biggest justifications for invading Iraq, and it turns out Libya had them, too; it doesn't seem like anyone in the know was surprised. Why did we invade Iraq rather than Libya? (Hold off a minute before answering "the oil," please.) Plus, Khgqaddaphffieey has been antagonistic to the US for far longer than Hussein was.

Syria's dictator is sounding pretty horrifically brutal, and taking direct action against citizens who are not actually rebelling, merely protesting. The Libyans were actively revolting, and the government's military response is thus more understandable. Why is the international community bombing Libya and not Syria?

It's pretty clear that there is some behind-the-scenes decision making that affects who gets diplomatic or economic sanctions, and who gets military intervention. The justification released to the public, though, doesn't seem to square with what the news reports about conditions on the ground. I don't think short-term economic interests explain our intervention in Libya, and certainly we've turned a blind eye to humanitarian crises before.

What are the circumstances that prompt military intervention / invasion abroad, and what should they be? I'm thinking US military matters but I'd be interested in UN, Nato, and other individual countries, too.

gonzomax
08-24-2011, 01:33 PM
Do we include Kings and royal leaders as dictators?

Dr. Drake
08-24-2011, 01:42 PM
Do we include Kings and royal leaders as dictators?If the shoe fits, sure. I wouldn't call Elizabeth II a dictator, but I think King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia qualifies. I'd consider someone a "dictator" based on wielding a ton of power in their country and being largely above the law in practical terms, not whether they are good or bad rulers.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
08-24-2011, 01:54 PM
How close they are from the coast / mainland Europe / the US.

Dr. Drake
08-24-2011, 01:58 PM
How close they are from the coast / mainland Europe / the US.But that doesn't make sense. In that sense, Iraq is farther than both Libya and Syria, and Cuba and Venezuela much closer.

Candyman74
08-24-2011, 02:04 PM
I imagine there's a massive amount of risk and cost/benefit analysis. Much as it might seem so sometimes, I doubt the process is arbitrary or impulsive.

Dick Dastardly
08-24-2011, 02:43 PM
We intervene in countries where we have interests and the government isn't one we like, like Libya. When it's a government we're OK with like the Syrian one (nasty regime but better than the possible alternatives) our actions are limited to rhetoric. Saudi is also a horrible repressive regime but we're best of buddies with them, same as Bahrain where the government is killing and torturing Shiites but we're saying exactly nothing. We don't give a shit about human rights or democracy or anything like that, all we care about are our national interests and they're governed by which countries our corporations can make money in/have natural resources we want.

AndyLee
08-24-2011, 04:05 PM
There's a big difference in terms of geography for one. Libya is one big desert. It limits the area of fighting to the coastal areas.

You have to remember NATO was supposed to do a "no fly zone," that means just keep Kadafi's planes from going into the air. They weren't supposed to contribute the the battle. Look what happend in Iraq, the US and allies had a no-fly zone, but it didn't stop Saddam from simply wiping the floor with them.

The Arab states were upset at first, clearly when they voted with the UN for the no-fly zone, this was not what they wanted. But it was too late.

Why not Syria? For starters, location. Syria is too close to Israel and effectively controls Lebanon. This would be a mess if NATO got involved. Remember France and Britian were occupying colonial powers and the thought of them returning isn't going to go over big with any of the area states. Syrian authorities could easily try to bring Israel into the fighting and that would be a mess.

Yemen? Not worth the effort. As long as the oil can move past it through Suez, there's no point to it. Bahrain? That's Saudi's sphere of influence. Iran and the rest of the Mideast are going to get pretty upset to see more Western powers interfere.

So Libya had a guy who was universally hated, it was pretty close to Europe, and the rebels had a good chance of winning. Plus oil which does make a difference.

The problem is the lesson. Kaddafi, was a mean bastard, but he cleaned up his act. He didn't atone for any of his past sins, but he did quit mucking around. So what did the West do? They outsted him. Without NATO, the rebels didn't have a hope.

So the lesson for other dictators became, don't let any protests even start. With the peaceful transfers in Egypt and Tunisia, the West assumed Libya would fall in line too. It didn't.

So dictators are not going to let rebels get any sympathy. Remember Kaddafi was only days away from entering Bengahzi and destroying the rebels. It could've gone either way.

As Kissinger said, "Don't confuse foreign policy with missionary work"

Chronos
08-24-2011, 04:37 PM
We're intervening in Libya right now because it's a high return on investment. All we're doing is providing air support, which is relatively cheap (at least, compared to boots on the ground). But circumstances are such that that relatively cheap investment is likely to result in a basically democratic government that's friendly to the West, which is a pretty good payoff. We're not interfering in Syria because someone decided that either it'd cost more than just air support, the rebels would be less likely to succeed, or what the rebels would come up with if they succeed wouldn't be favorable to us (or, likely, a combination of these).

Der Trihs
08-24-2011, 05:49 PM
A CNN article mentions Libya's mustard gas and "weapons of mass destruction." Now, as I recall, that was one of the biggest justifications for invading Iraq, and it turns out Libya had them, too; it doesn't seem like anyone in the know was surprised. Why did we invade Iraq rather than Libya? In part, because we knew that Iraq didn't have WMD; we'd never have done so if we thought they could actually hurt us. America is a nation of cowards & bullies; we only attack someone when we think they can't seriously fight back.

As for the other reasons, attacking Iraq was the start of the Project For a New American Century's plan for the general conquest of the Middle East, and Bush was following their proposals. It failed because the Iraqis acted like human beings instead of how PNAC's & Bush's fantasies said they would act. With anger and resistance, and with the total failure of the attempt to forcibly remake Iraq into a Libertarian Free Market paradise.

What are the circumstances that prompt military intervention / invasion abroad, and what should they be? What they are: Perceived weakness, bloodthirstiness, greed, vengeance.

What they should be: Humanitarian issues, supporting democracy, winnability.

Marley23
08-24-2011, 05:57 PM
For better or worse, it's a complicated calculation that includes a lot of geopolitical and humanitarian concerns and also takes into account the amount of effort required to win.

Look what happend in Iraq, the US and allies had a no-fly zone, but it didn't stop Saddam from simply wiping the floor with them.
I think I must be misreading this. You're referring to Saddam crushing the uprisings after the war, right?

The Arab states were upset at first, clearly when they voted with the UN for the no-fly zone, this was not what they wanted. But it was too late.
I'm not sure about that. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/22/arab-league-libya-no-fly)

MrDibble
08-25-2011, 02:19 AM
What are the circumstances that prompt military intervention / invasion abroad, and what should they be? I'm thinking US military matters but I'd be interested in UN, Nato, and other individual countries, too.One thing is that, IIRC correctly, the Libyan rebels asked for international assistance. I'm not sure if the Syrian protesters have done that.

Walther Ego
08-25-2011, 03:26 AM
There was an earier thread.

1. Libya is close to France while Syria is not.
2. Libya was there first. The planes were committed and still are for a while. Sending troops everywhere at the same time would be a stretch politically, too.
3. Syria would try to turn that into a conflict with Israel to avoid unpopularity among Arabs.
4. Libya had rebels within army from the start. Syria has rumours of defection. The typical problem of the armies in Arab countries in external conflicts is that most units need to be weak exactly because of this kinds of events. Syria has done better: strong troops are loyal, weak units may whine but go along with it.
5. Syria has a stronger army.
6. Syria is a neighbour of Iraq and has a lot of refugees from Iraq. This is why the demonstrations have stayed peacefull despite utmost brutality: the people fear the Iraq-style conflict. This is why they are expected to be less wellcoming towards Western bombs.

Some of these things have grown weaker over time but some remain. Trkey's reaction is what everybody's looking at, it is a powerful NATO country with a border with Syria.

Grumman
08-25-2011, 03:31 AM
We're intervening in Libya right now because it's a high return on investment. All we're doing is providing air support, which is relatively cheap (at least, compared to boots on the ground). But circumstances are such that that relatively cheap investment is likely to result in a basically democratic government that's friendly to the West, which is a pretty good payoff.
One thing is that, IIRC correctly, the Libyan rebels asked for international assistance.
This is it for me. Circumstances in Libya mean that we don't really have to do the heavy lifting and we aren't going to have to fight the people we're supposedly helping.

Wesley Clark
08-25-2011, 09:02 AM
Syria has WMD too. Chemical and biological weapons are not that hard to make.

http://cns.miis.edu/wmdme/index.htm

Libya seemed to be more of a pariah in my view. They actually bombed and attacked NATO and US targets in the past, I don't know if Syria has. Libya seemed like more of a headache to NATO than Syria, so maybe that is why Libya got attacked.

Plus you can criticize the oil issue, but Libya produces about 1.6 million barrels of oil a day (out of a world market of 80 million barrels a day). High oil prices will drive the global economy back into recession. So a civil war that lasts for years in Libya (rather than one that lasts for months with NATO help) could damage the global economy.

But Iran produces far more oil, is a bigger enemy of NATO, has WMD and is abusing its people. But they aren't being bombed. So no idea. All the reasons for invading Libya apply to Iran as well, but moreso.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-march-21-2011/america-s-freedom-packages