Tuesday, March 29, 2011


One thing that's irked me a bit of late is the unselfconsciously positive coverage of the rebels.

The same images that are taken to be "negative" in other contexts (I'm thinking especially of Palestine), such as young men shouldering missile launchers and even younger boys playing on wrecked tanks and flashing victory signs---are suddenly "good" in Libya. On NPR a few nights ago, they interviewed someone whose brother had driven a truck of propane tanks through the gate to a Libyan army base, killing himself but blasting an opening for others to use to attack. The brother was treated as an unqualified hero.

I want to be clear. My problem isn't so much that the rebels are treated as heroes---I find them heroic myself, on the whole. Or that Palestinian violence is treated with skepticism. Violence should always be treated with skepticism. Rather, I find it disturbing that the news media's sympathies, it's circle of what it treats as heroic and what it treats as deserving of suspicion or, worse, as pathological, is so determined by prevailing foreign policy opinion in the U.S.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I'm conflicted about the prospect of a no fly zone over Libya. Leaving aside the hypocrisy of the U.S. pursuing such a policy while it tacitly supports Saudi Arabia's suppression of protesters in Bahrain---which is irrelevant as far as Libyans are concerned---what does it mean to take sides in a Civil War? A "no fly zone," after all, requires at least the destruction of air bases and anti-aircraft installations before it can commence. It's war.

But.. that said, it is immensely gratifying to see that this U.S. administration takes it for granted that any decision to enforce a no fly zone must be preceded by Chapter VII resolution from the UN Security Council and that key regional players, importantly the Arab League, not NATO, need to be on board first. This is an important step toward getting basic norms of multilateralism and obedience of international law back into the bloodstream of U.S. foreign policy.