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Wednesday, March 30, 2011 

On arguing for war.

It's sad to note that unless I've missed it (one honourable exception is this piece by Sean Matgamna on Shiraz, rather different to the usual posts there on the Guardian's soft Stalinism and how anyone sceptical about the intervention in Libya is a scab) there hasn't really been a substantial debate even within the left in this country over our in action in Libya, not helped by the leadership of all three main political parties supporting it without equivocation.

While I wouldn't go so far as saying the opposite has been the case in the States, there certainly has been far more disquiet, with Juan Cole attempting to answer some of it in this open letter posted at the weekend. It doesn't answer convincingly those of us who have argued that the main lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan haven't been learned, i.e. that we need to know who we're intervening on the behalf of, we need a plan to either already be in place or to quickly emerge for what comes afterwards, and also that we have to be certain that we're not setting the bar too low for future possible interventions. One further thing is that it's already looking as if we're treating UNSC resolution 1973 as justifying whatever we say it does, with Clinton and Hague deciding that an almost explicit prohibition on arming either side in Libya means we can in fact give weapons to the rebels, which bodes ill for the similar ban on sending in ground forces, even if arming the rebels would be a positive thing.

The responses to Cole's piece, this one especially, have been excellent. Glenn Greenwald has gone one further though, and dragged out a past statement from Cole with which to challenge him:

If you are arguing for war, you don't have to ask all these fancy questions. There are really only two questions you have to answer. The first is, would you yourself be willing to die fighting for this cause you have espoused? The second is, would you be willing to see your 18-year-old son or daughter killed for this cause? (I do not ask if you would be glad or satisfied; I ask if you would be willing).

As it is, I don't really agree with the premise: you don't need to be personally prepared to fight in a war in order to advocate one; you should however be absolutely certain that there is no other option before you do so, which in the case of Libya in my view was not satisfied. Cole nonetheless has answered Greenwald's question in the affirmative. Perhaps it isn't too late to form a 21st century International Brigades after all.

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Cole nonetheless has answered Greenwald's question in the affirmative

Thereby proving once and for all that he's a tool who should be ignored.

'International Brigade' Why not ? It would expand from UN and NATO outreach augmenting US militarism's reach. I'm more interested to see if the deal isn't to poison Libya's vast underground water storage project with depleted uranium. Anyone who knows the score in Bosnia,Kuwait,Iraq ( especially Fallujah and Basra ) and Afghanistan knows that the dust makes a replacement for Agent Orange that can't be beaten...if you are totally out of your mind. I don't even know if Curtis LeMay would go to such extremes...and he's the one who had WMD aloft 24-7 365 days a year with regular incursions into Soviet airspace..

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