Tuesday, March 22, 2011


And so we are bombing Libya. Again we are put in the position—or we put ourselves in the position—of having to "have an opinion" on some indefensible action the United States takes overseas (but, oh, yes, I forgot: this time it's a UN-sanctioned affair; Madeline Albright: "If possible we will act in the world multilaterally, but if necessary, we will act unilaterally."). Again we are asked to accept the notion of "humanitarian intervention". Again we are told that, in fact, such "intervention" can only be carried out via a bombing campaign. We are blandly assured that everything is above board. You know, just like the last time, and the time before that. Besides, they say, we were invited; how could we refuse? Indeed how?

We are admonished that it is important to listen to the claims or desires of actual Libyans. No doubt this is true, to the extent that we can know what those are. Nevertheless, it remains up to us to recognize and remember the character of our own putative leaders. We know damn well that they are neither trustworthy nor reliable, though too many of us still seem to need to believe otherwise. As ever, history is collapsed into a moment, context is obliterated, and we are presented with an urgent fait accompli.

Bombs kill people, and are meant to, and they destroy cultures and property. All are necessary, from the perspective of empire. We must not continue to forget this whenever another disaster flits across our television or computer screens. No post-World War II American military action has been either morally defensible or justifiable (and don't pretend that World War II was as simple as all that). No such action is possible, given the current configurations of capital and power. A knee-jerk anti-war response is the only acceptable answer.

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