Juan Cole of Informed Consent has an open letter to liberals as to why Libya in 2011 is not like Iraq in 2003 in any way. He concludes:
I would like to urge the Left to learn to chew gum and walk at the same time. It is possible to reason our way through, on a case-by-case basis, to an ethical progressive position that supports the ordinary folk in their travails in places like Libya. If we just don’t care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we aren’t people of the Left. We should avoid making ‘foreign intervention’ an absolute taboo the way the Right makes abortion an absolute taboo if doing so makes us heartless (inflexible a priori positions often lead to heartlessness).
BooMan responds that Mr. Cole’s portrait of a lot of liberals is off the mark.
I’d be the first to admit that there are some dumb people on the left who take some really awful positions on certain issues, but most people that I know who oppose this intervention oppose it because it’s stupid. Obama promised us no stupid wars, and then he gave us one.
But, you know, that’s bygones. I thought it wasn’t in our national interests; the president disagrees. So, now I say that we need to go get Gaddafi and not waste time trying to placate an alliance of self-doubters. Do not try to topple him using a rag-tag group of bored teenagers. We don’t need to turn Libya into Somalia in order to save it.
And if anyone wants us to do regime change in some other country, my response is most likely going to be the same. It’s not our job or our responsibility. If someone else wants to do it, I don’t necessarily object and might even be willing to play a part. But we must stop looking to America to be the cop on the beat. John Boehner says we’re broke and that we need to take away granny’s pension. The Myanmar freedom fighters can call me when granny’s got her money back.