Monthly Archives: March 2011

Gee, I'm shocked: "The Muslim…

Gee, I'm shocked: "The Muslim Brotherhood, once banned by the Egyptian state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.… It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force." Ah, but wasn't Tahrir romantic? Arab Woodstock.

Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt by Michael Slackman | NYT
"The young people have no control of the revolution anymore," said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. "It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone."

Meet the Libyan Resistance: "Rather…

Meet the Libyan Resistance: "Rather than press home their advantage and retake Ajdabiya, the rebel fighters—known as the Shabaab—were too busy having their pictures taken with the wreckage or looting anything left intact from the supply trucks... They have wasted at least three times the ordnance than they have fired in anger by shooting into the air in celebration of often non-existent victories."

The resistance has foundered on its own farcical ineptitude by Kim Sengupta | Independent
"Time and again they have failed to take advantage of weaknesses among Muammar Gaddafi's troops and, just as frequently, they have fled in the face of fire."

The Harvard Gazette is Pravda,…

The Harvard Gazette is Pravda, stacks of it everywhere. Flash on Arab revolt! "Harvard analysts have been working overtime to parse the resultant economic, religious, political, and social changes. Their insights offer a fresh glimpse into the Arab world's future." Overtime! Who's quoted? Steve Walt and usual suspects saying the usual. Only Niall Ferguson has a fresh take at Harvard, and he's not even mentioned.

The tipping point | Harvard Gazette
"We are witnessing a fundamental shift in the social and political conditions in much of the Arab world," Walt said. "The clock is not going to be turned back."

Before you convulse in laughter,…

Before you convulse in laughter, consider the confusion in the English spelling of the name of Libya's leader. In 2009, ABC reported ( that "the Library of Congress lists 72 alternate spellings, and the New York Times, Associated Press and Xinhua news sources used 40 additional spellings between 1998 and 2008." (ABC lists all 112 of them.) More on the dilemma here:

What Libyans want...
Photograph presumably taken in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Here's another round of penetrating…

Here's another round of penetrating critiques of the Libya intervention:
• 3d place: More bombs bursting in Libya. What for? by Michael Kinsley
• 2d place: The most shortlived alliance in human history by Brendan O'Neill

• 1st place: The road to hell by David Rieff | TNR
"The odds of this war, so grandiose in terms of the moral claims made for its necessity and so incoherent in its tactics, turning out in the way its advocates are promising seem remarkably small."

Ouch: "Cameron has an utterly…

Ouch: "Cameron has an utterly dysfunctional relationship with international diplomacy. Two-bob philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy played a key role in coaxing Sarkozy to take action. Former author of turgid tomes on genocide Samantha Power was a key agitator for an attack. Never in the history of mankind has such a collection of know-nothings and narcissists led a military excursion into a sovereign state's affairs."

West's vain Libyan venture must end by Brendan O'Neill | The Australian
"The changeability of Western governments' attitude to Libya reveals the emergence of an interests-lite, unpredictable foreign policy that increasingly mirrors the flightiness and shallow PR sensibilities of the domestic realm—only with more dire consequences."

Lee Smith: "Warming to violent…

Lee Smith: "Warming to violent rulers is the rule for Western intellectuals—and here the character type was made irresistible by Qaddafi's eccentric tastes: his Euro-Bedouin couture, the Amazon bodyguards, the bogus philosophical-political ramblings with third-world pedigree. But whichever way you cut it, this Pierrot of the Sahara is a murderer. If intellectuals can embrace Qaddafi, they will embrace anyone."

Committed by Lee Smith | Tablet
Western public intellectuals have a bad habit of supporting unsavory regimes like Muammar Qaddafi's not for money or intellectual rigor but because of vanity.

Nick Burns tells a good-news…

Nick Burns tells a good-news bad-news joke: "The rebels have been revived and may soon retake the initiative. This is good news for the Libyan people and for US policy." Then the bad news: "We have to recognize this situation for what it really is—the first time in American history when we have used our military power to prop up and possibly put in power a group of people we literally do not know." Ha-ha.

The gamble in Libya by Nicholas Burns | Boston Globe
"I doubted in weeks past whether a US military intervention in Libya made sense. But, we are surely committed in Libya now and we have no choice now but to lead in order to save Libya from its dictator and to redeem US power, credibility, and purpose in the Middle East."

Les Gelb has never been more…

Les Gelb has never been more derisive of his own clan of experts: "No foreign states have vital interests at stake in Libya. Events there have little bearing on the rest of the Mideast region. There are far, far worse humanitarian horrors elsewhere. Yet, US neoconservatives and liberal humanitarian interventionists have trapped another US president into acting as if the opposite were true." Must-read.

The Horrible Libya Hypocrisies by Leslie H. Gelb | Daily Beast
"There's nothing like a foreign-policy crisis, real or imagined, to ignite the worst among world leaders and foreign-policy experts. Out pop the nuclear weapons of the trade: phony analogies and unabashed hypocrisy. The manufactured crisis in Libya is a prime case in point."

The best criticisms of the Libya…

The best criticisms of the Libya intervention by sane people (i.e., who aren't right-wing isolationists or far-leftists congenitally opposed to the use of force):
• 3d place: Libya, a Seventh-Tier Problem for America by Jeffrey Goldberg
• 2d place: Libya: It's not our fight by Edward N. Luttwak

• 1st place: The Case Against Our Attack on Libya by Michael Walzer | TNR
"A military attack of the sort now in progress is defensible only in the most extreme cases. Rwanda and Darfur, where we didn't intervene, would have qualified. Libya doesn't."