Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ignoring Democracy in Order to Establish It

Two great western democracies, France and the United States, went to war yesterday without the slightest democratic debate. The fateful decision was taken by the executive acting alone. In a third democracy, the UK, David Cameron at least took the precaution of seeking a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. Forms were respected. Perhaps the executives in France and the US felt that there was no need to respect the forms because a favorable vote was certain. Perhaps, but a terrible precedent has been set. In this case, unlike in Iraq in 2003, Afghanistan in 2001, and the Gulf in 1991, there was not even a pretext--however flimsy--of imminent danger to the homeland. The immediate justification was "humanitarian intervention," as in Bosnia and Kosovo. I share the emotional response to the threat of civilian slaughter in Benghazi, but I note that there are also threats, already realized, to civilian lives in Yemen and Bahrain, yet there is no talk of intervention in these places. The difference is easily explained in terms of Realpolitik, and Piero Garau does an admirable job here. I also share James Fallows' misgivings about the circumvention of Congress, as well as the failure to think through the question of what happens next.

This is a difficult issue, a very hard case to decide. I do not want to say that humanitarian intervention should never be a reason to go to war, but I think that we--France and the US for starters--need to develop a more reasoned doctrine, a set of criteria to decide when the risks of non-action outweigh the risks of action. And that decision should not be left to heads of state alone. It is ironic that democratic procedures should be most consistently flouted when the objective is ostensibly to establish democracy in places where the likelihood of success in such a mission seems open to question.


Won, Philippe et Raphael said...

"2 poids, 2 mesures" as usual!
As you said, what about Bahrain? Saudi Arabia sending troops to help his neighbor to stop in a bloodshed the riots?....

Cincinna said...

Art has basically said it all. I might add that missile strikes cannot be construed as 'humanitarian aid' .
The Arab Leage opposes the attacks.
An important Constitutional point:
 Obams taking  military action in Libya, and committing American forces without a Congressional resolution and/or Declaration of War  violates the 'separation of powers' doctrine of the US. CONSTITUTION. Dennis Kucinich is calling for Obama's impeachment for this abuse of Executive power.

And who are these 'rebels' we are supporting? In fact, they are Islamists, noT pro-democracy forces. In fact, connected to al Qaida.

ARTICLE I SECTION 8 of the US CONSTITUTION in the enumerated powers clause, grants to CONGRESS the power to declare war. The Executive DOES NOT have this power. 

Anonymous said...

I apologize for this comment, unrelated to the topic: it's about the Cantonales. As I've mentioned several times, I live in a working class area that tends to vote solidly on the left. And even here the FN is ahead of UMP by as much as 15% in several places (sms from small towns where people are floored).
Which means that in the Vaucluse, Alpes Maritimes Gard, Alsace, Moselle... the FN must be super high, even ahead of UMP.
At 9:30pm tonight all the parties on the left are making a common statement - my bet is that they're going to call for a "front républicain".
In many - perhaps a majority of- towns, the 2nd round would be either UMP/FN or PS/FN.

Ellie said...

Mixed feelings indeed. Substitute "Christianity" for "democracy," and this could be Charles X in 1830:

"Des peuples arabes ont choisi de se libérer de la servitude dans laquelle ils se sentaient depuis trop longtemps enfermés. Ces révolutions ont fait naître une immense espérance dans le cœur de tous ceux qui partagent les valeurs de la démocratie et des droits de l'homme."

tcheni said...

Hi Cincinna,

The Arab Leage opposes the attacks.

It's more complicated than that. They agree to enforce a no-fly zone, but not to the bombings. The coalition argues that the bombings are necessary to enforce a no-fly zone. Some in the arab league disagree. A contrario, Qatar, a member of the arab league, has sent four planes to participate. The ones who all disagree are the African Union.

And who are these 'rebels' we are supporting? In fact, they are Islamists, noT pro-democracy forces. In fact, connected to al Qaida.

We know surprisingly little about them for sure, but that means your "in-facts" are wild assumptions rather than facts. Connected to Al Quaeda? Islamists? What are your sources? We don't even know their names.

Anonymous said...

It's unlikely they are connected to al-Qaida because Qaddaffi wouldn't have left room for potential competition. But tcheni is right: we know nothing about them.

Yemen, Bahrain - but also the Ivory Coast.

Yet I can't regret the UN resolution, since it saved thousands of people who were promised a merciless death.

Cincinna said...

Hi Right back at you!
reLIBYA 'Rebels'
I can't believe you would give any credence to what Khadafi would allow. There are opposition forces throughout the Umma & the strongest forces are Islamist and anti-democratic like Moslem Brotherhood & al-Qaida.

For the record, I am opposed to American military intervention in Libya on Constitutional grounds. The Executive does not have the power to commit American forces without a Congressional resolution . 
There is no danger
to American National Security. It is a violation of 
the Constitution. Many on the Left, including Ralph Nader & Dennis Kucinich are calling for Obama's impeachment for violation of the US Constitution.
  Has anyone stopped to ask just who  these 'Rebels' are? Who 
is supporting them? Who benefits from getting rid of 
 More and more evidence shows that these “rebels”, the 
strongest opposition group in Libya, are ISLAMISTS & are 
connected to al-QAIDA.

Aaron Klein a great source for accurate info on the Middle East documents it in  this article. He has sources & contacts throughout the PA Hamas & Hezbollah, & has actual interviews with them on his radio show.
'Rebels are linked to al-Qaida'
March 21, 2011 6:52 PM