What Qaddafi has done to his people is morally reprehensible, but why is it any different than events in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, or Bahrain? More importantly, how does intervention in the conflict meet vital American interests?
On the contrary, it appears more likely that intervention will harm America’s interests and strengthen those of its regional archenemy, Iran. Here are four reasons why:
Read more over at Big Peace.
Reading your post over on Big Peace and watching the comments. Great post, entertaining comments!
Yeah. It is a bit surreal for me, actually.
I’ve always been surrounded by people who’ve disagreed with me since I began college (except my five year stint in the Army).
Now, this is the first time I have been able to “preach to the choir.”
Iran’s got the same internal problems the Arab states have, and in fact their opposition has more legitimacy and openness due to the semi-Democracy Iran already has. The hard liners in Iran are as concerned about holding on to power as any others.
I have to say I’m not impressed with the article you link to. Not only were the arguments indirect and weak, but they also ignore the dynamics of a region where there are real pressures for change. Moreover, the same arguments could have been much more strongly made against US intervention in Iraq, a war that helped Iran’s hardliners come to power (the reformists had won every election before 2004) and brought Iraq a government with connections to Iranian leaders.
Iran does not want to see protest movements succeed. If they do in Libya — and success there may make it easier to put pressure on Syria — then that will embolden Iran’s youth. Iran’s regime is going to fall sooner or later; what’s happening in Libya may make it sooner.
But here is the classic problem on the left: Iran has a monopoly of force. You can encourage democracy all you want, but it won’t translate into anything if there is no armed opposition. Non-violent protest movements may work against Western oppressors, but the Iranians have fewer qualms about shooting and torturing their own people. In Libya, the opposition was armed. Hence it could fight back. Scott, your arguments are simply too idealistic. However, the realities on the ground are simply not so optimistic.
Every Arab entity that has transitioned to a democracy on its own has resulted in a more radicalized nation. When the Palestinians had a chance to vote, they elected Hamas. Lebanon started as a democracy but quickly dissolved into a Hizbullah protectorate. History is simply not on your side.
I am not trying to impress anyone. I am trying to look at this thing logically and make a rational argument. You can assert that my arguments are weak and indirect, but you never support this assertion. I also am not ignoring the dynamics of the situation at all. The region certainly wants change, just not the sort of change that is in America’s vital interests. A democratic Saudi Arabia for instance will quickly revert to a radical one against American interests.
I disagree. It would greatly serve Iranian interests for protest movements to succeed in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (especially among the Shia in those countries) because it would undermine the U.S. position in the region (Bahrain is the home of the U.S. 5th Fleet and Saudi Arabia controls 20% of the world’s oil reserves) and increase Iranian influence. It also works in Libya since the movement is led by a region known for its religiousity and connections to al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Now Iran has an ally no matter what happens in the Magrheb, when it didn’t have one before. Now Jordan, another U.S. ally, is in the throes of a protest movement. Given how these things have fared before (i.e., Lebanon and Palestine), I fail to see how this can be a positive development.