22 Mar 2011

Daily Show Explains the Libyan No-Fly Zone

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This is great. (HT2 LRC)

26 Responses to “Daily Show Explains the Libyan No-Fly Zone”

  1. Dan says:

    That is such a great quote to have from Obama.

  2. Silas Barta says:

    Awesome. These guys do what the MSM won’t, and make it funny too! Hats off to them!

  3. Daniel Kuehn says:

    This was good, and the constitutional case against Obama is spot on.

    One thing that bugs me a little was what Stewart went over in the next segment w.r.t. oil and the likelihood of winning. He and John Oliver were making fun of the fact that we were in Libya because it had oil, whereas the Sudan “didn’t” (they actually do have oil, but the Daily Show neglected to mention it). They were also making fun of the fact that we didn’t go into Iran because it would be very hard to win that war.

    These don’t seem like crazy reasons to make military decisions to me, though.

    Should we go to war over oil alone? Of course not. But we have limited military resources. If we have a string of dictators oppressing their population, and their population revolts and turns it into a civil war we can’t intervene everywhere. I’m not even sure we should intervene anywhere in these cases, but assuming the position that it is right to intervene, it doesn’t seem wrong to make the decision on the basis of national interest. Lots of Arab countries are witnessing democratic revolts, but we intervene in Libya to stabilize oil markets. That’s not why we went in, it’s why we chose Libya over others. Lots of places had cases of genocide in the mid-90s but we went into Yugoslavia because it was close to NATO allies. Putting aside the question of whether intervention is right for a moment (let’s assume it is) we still have to decide where – of all the places in the world where terrible things are going on – we should expend our scarce military resources. If we can’t win in Iran but can win in Libya that seems to be a good reason to choose Libya. If there isn’t all that much oil in Tunisia but a lot of oil in Libya that seems to be a good reason to choose Libya.

  4. Daniel Kuehn says:

    The comparison with the Iraq War is also a little bothersome. The Iraq War was done on the basis of a lie that everyone knew to be a lie (WMD), there was no international agreement, there was no security threat, and there was no precipitating act. I don’t know what to think of Libya at this point, but it’s clearly not based on a lie (what they say they are going in for is really, actually happening and nobody questions that it is happening), there is international agreement, and there is a clear precipitating act on Gadaffi’s part.

    So Libya, to me, is somewhere between Afghanistan and Iraq. It is certainly “justified”, but it seems unnecessary and unwise (not to mention, at this point at least, unconstitutional) – although it may pay strategic dividends. What to think of it? I really don’t know.

    • RS says:

      “Justified”?!? on what grounds? There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for the US to be in Libya and zero possibility that such actions could have any positive outcomes for us or them. a total waste of time and money imo, par for the course as far as our foreign policy is concerned.

      read more obout this here…


      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Note I put “justified” in quotes, and go on to say it seems both unnecessary and unwise. I think both my comments suggest I think the case is pretty weak, and certainly unconstitutional. What gets a little annoying is when they compare it to Iraq or complain about the oil thing.

    • RFN says:

      There were 30 coalition partners for the Iraq war. There are 16 for the Libyan bombing. So, unless you just don’t “like” the countries that were part of the coalition to invade Iraq, your comment is factually incorrect. As for the big “lie”, actually the Iraq war resolution listed around 18 to 20 reasons (off the top of my head) to go to war. The media and the left chose to make WMD the story, though none of them were legitimate reasons. Now with those corrections made, both of these actions were/are unconstitutional, unwarranted and fantastic examples of why our interventionist foreign policy is a huge mistake.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        The media and the left chose to make WMD the story?

        Really? The way I remember it that was what the administration put the spotlight on and “the media and the left” variously went along or pointed out what was wrong with that justification.

        As for this: “There were 30 coalition partners for the Iraq war. There are 16 for the Libyan bombing. So, unless you just don’t “like” the countries that were part of the coalition to invade Iraq, your comment is factually incorrect.”

        My claim was not incorrect – you just changed the subject from “international agreement” to whether we had other nations go in on it with us. Of course we can always find other nations to participate in a war with us. Who cares? The UN did not authorize the invasion. Kofi Annan said it was against the UN Charter and illegal, only the UK of all the major powers was behind it – the others were vocally against it. The guy in charge of checking on Iraq’s WMDs was against it. You may care if a war-maker can get other nations to make war with it. I don’t care. As far as I can tell there was NOT international agreement on the Iraq War. Compare that to Libya where the UN Security Council and all the major powers DID authorize the use of force. I’m sorry, but you’re the one that is having the issue with facts here.

        Anyway – I agree with your last statement, although I’d want to be careful that point doesn’t devolve into isolationism or the idea that intervention is never worth doing.

        • RFN says:

          No, I think we both have the “facts”. You, however seem to put considerable weight on the importance of the United Nations, whereas I don’t. The same United Nations with numerous scandals raging the world over. The same United Nations who wrote 17 resolutions “threatening” Saddam while he laughed and didn’t heed a single one. The same United Nations who put Iran and Libya on the Human Rights Council. The same Libya we are now bombing and murdering it’s people. No, the UN is a joke. The problem with continually appealing to a higher authority (of which I note the UN is not) is that eventually you run out of higher authorities So, if the UN is wrong in a statist’s eye, where does the statist go next? The starship federation? However, at least Bush had one feckless organization’s prior approval to his war and that is the United States Congress. The newest Ceasar didn’t even bother to get their ok after just a couple years prior complaining about just that.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            I’m not sure what else “international agreement” means other than agreement at the place where everybody gets together internationally to agree or disagree on things.

            Why do you care if there are other countries out there that want to invade countries with us? Isn’t it safe to assume there will always be countries willing to do that? Isn’t a more reasonable understanding of “international agreement” based on a broader, more legally constrained, more deliberative arrival at agreement?

            re: “The newest Ceasar didn’t even bother to get their ok after just a couple years prior complaining about just that”

            “Ceasar” [sic] is a little melodramatic, but yes – the first sentence I wrote on here noted Obama was acting unconstitutionally.

    • Andrew says:

      While I understand your logic, I read your argument as this:

      Putting aside the question of whether or not we should murder people, destroy lives and property, we should at least prioritize who exactly we should murder, and whose lives and property need to be destroyed.

      Also, Sudan does have oil, but produces less than 1/3 of what Libya does. According to the CIA, they are 31st in the world in oil production, just above Ecuador, and just below Australia – two countries I don’t generally associate as being major oil producers. So maybe there is a barrel minimum on the different freedom packages?


      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        I can’t argue with someone who thinks that all military interventions are murder. I’m not sure if that characterizes you or not, but obviously there’s no arguing with someone like that.

        Some people think it’s worth putting down dictators. I don’t unconditionally agree, but I’m willing to agree the view isn’t totally loopy. So yes – my point is simply that given the appropriateness of this class of military intervention I don’t see why everybody gets worked up about differentiating between multiple interventions of this class on the basis of national interest.

        Put it this way – let’s say two nations both unilaterally invaded the United States (do you support military action in this case?!?!?!) but for some reason we could only meet one of them in battle. I say go after the one whose defeat is the most strategically advantageous and/or likely.

        • Andrew says:

          Well, I’m not a pacifist, so yes, if someone or something violates my person or property, I would have no issue retaliating. And developing the best action plan possible to best protect myself and property from further aggression is obvious.

          That, however, is a long jump from dropping bombs on people on the other side of the earth who pose absolutely no threat to me. Personally, I don’t “get all worked up about differentiating between multiple interventions.” I disagree with them all. The example you give of the US responding to a military invasion is not an intervention, and thus is irrelevant to the conversation at hand.

          I realize that many people are in favor of knocking off dictators, and wouldn’t refer to these interventions as acts of murder. However, I can see why those who actually have the bombs falling on their heads, and the heads of their family and friends, fail to see the bigger picture.

          Out of curiosity, which military interventions of the past or present do you think were justified?

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            You have a “right” to property and are OK with an outside entity doing violence on your behalf if that is threatened.

            Libyans have a “right” to life and some would say that an ouside entity is simply doing violence on their behalf now that that is threatened.

            As I’ve said, I’m not gung-ho about this Libya thing but you don’t seem to have a very good case against it.

            Why can a third party step in and help you protect your property (I assume you’re OK with arresting thieves??) but a third party can’t step in and help the Libyans? I don’t see any deep principle behind your distinction.

            Again – this isn’t to say I think Libya is A-OK. It’s just to say that I think a lot of people who shroud themselves in principle on questions like this are deluding themselves.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            This is what bugs me about non-anarchist non-pragmatic libertarians (ie – Greg Mankiw may be described as a non-anarchist pragmatic libertarian, but I’m refering to the libertarians who cling to “principle” – unlike Mankiw – but are nevertheless not anarchists… minarchists, if you will).

            I don’t see how you can support things like public police forces and wars to repel invasion but not other military interventions doing the same things in other countries. In both cases you have a third party, living off of involuntarily collected tax dollars, doing violence on someone else’s behalf to maintain “rights”. What is the difference in principle between these two things?

          • Andrew says:

            Daniel – I agree. I’m an anarchist. I never said anything about an outside entity, just that I would defend myself. Now I realize that this most likely would be done by an outside entity (I don’t think that I could hold off more than a handful of people myself, let alone an army). But it doesn’t have to be an entity “living off of involuntarily collected tax dollars”. I’m sure you’ve read Chaos Theory by our host here, and know that there are other ways in which a completely voluntary defense system could operate.

            Now, I will admit, I am very new to anarchism, and still have many questions myself, but every time I come upon another question, I find an answer.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            I haven’t read Chaos Theory, but I’m aware of the host’s anarchism as well.

            Even voluntary defense, though, is third-party defense. Are you saying that your opposition to these sorts of military interventions boils down to a question of financing?

            • bobmurphy says:

              Are you saying that your opposition to these sorts of military interventions boils down to a question of financing?

              What is so hard for people to understand about being opposed to theft? Suppose I rob a convenience store to pay for my son’s education. You object. “What, are you against education? No? Oh, it was a mere dispute over the way I financed it?”

            • bobmurphy says:

              I haven’t read Chaos Theory…

              I’m not saying it’s worth your time to read it. I’m saying, if your time is worth so little that you think it wise to argue on this blog, then you should definitely read it. (That’s the link in e-pub. There are PDFs etc. if you prefer.)

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            Good to hear on the anarchism, by the way. I personally am usually receptive to pragmatic arguments so I usually don’t explicitly fault minarchists who pragmatically depart from the more consistent anarchism… but it is frustrating when minarchists turn around and accuse me of logical inconsistency.

            Two cheers for anarchists!

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            bob –
            First, nothing is hard to understand about being opposed to theft. what’s hard to understand is the equation of taxes with theft.

            That’s a different argument, though. What I was surprised at is that it seemed like there was nothing more than the financing question that was left for Andrew to oppose it on. I had always thought opposition to foreign intervention was based on more than just that point. In other words, I would have guessed there would be issues with soldiers of fortune doing the same work in Libya. I don’t mean to downplay your concerns about the financing – I just was not under the impression it was the only concern.

            By the way – I’ve never accused (that I know of) libertarians of being against education, against homeless people, against child nutrition, against economic prosperity, against human liberty, etc. I don’t usually question libertarian sincerity on these things, I don’t think.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            As for Chaos Theory – I’m familiar with the argument and am not suggesting that private security can’t work. Private security is like private roads for me – my advocacy of public roads is not a denigration or denial of the value of private action.

            Have you read Dixit’s “Lawlessness and Economics”? I’m most familiar with these sorts of arguments through him. You’d probably be interested in his book.

          • crossofcrimson says:

            Bob: “Suppose I rob a convenience store to pay for my son’s education. You object. “What, are you against education?”

            I think one of my favorite quotes from Bastiat illustrates that this frustration isn’t new and it probably will be around a while yet:

            “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

            We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

  5. Douglas Pickett says:

    National interest, I suppose, equals the government’s interest. Bombing Libya is not in my best interest. Assuming that meddling in others’ affairs is in the American government’s best interests, it seems that they’ll never be wrong in “their position” that it is right to intervene. Perhaps for the sake of argument, or simply conversation, some can entertain the idea that intervention is right, even in this case, I find it hard to stomach. To say that this strike wasn’t based on lies sets off my bullshit detector. After all, how can we be truthful to the mantra of protecting the innocent civilians of a nation while committing military strikes directed at their country?

    I try to be careful when expressing whether or not an action is constitutional, or otherwise. Who’s constitution? Does it matter? This is how my mind turns simply because any constitution, especially a “living” constitution, can be written and rewritten to accomodate any leader’s impulse(s) that may have been previously marked as “faux pas” Perhaps, with enough in-house lawyers and judges, pending an Axis victory, Hitler could have absolved himself and his government of any wrong doings concerning the holocaust.

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      re: ” To say that this strike wasn’t based on lies sets off my bullshit detector”

      Then name the lie.

      I haven’t been following it super-closely and I’m likely to have missed it. I’m sure there was deception – there’s always some sort of deception – but I’m not aware that there was anything like the WMD thing or the Gulf of Tonkin.