It’s a strange thing, being a hater. It becomes increasingly hard to distinguish one’s visceral reactions to pseudo-analytical drivel from reasoned disagreement. Such is the situation in which I found myself this morning when this came down the pipe.
BLUF: Friedman wishes the President best of luck in the West’s latest military intervention. Solid.
Here’s the catch. Friedman paints with such broad strokes that any historical nuance fades away under sweeping narratives that somehow allow a delineation between the ‘old’ Middle East up to, I dunno, 2010? and the ‘new’ Middle East that has after ”half a century suddenly, from the bottom up, decide[d] to join history.” To be fair, that paragraph deserves to be quoted in full:
When an entire region that has been living outside the biggest global trends of free politics and free markets for half a century suddenly, from the bottom up, decides to join history — and each one of these states has a different ethnic, tribal, sectarian and political orientation and a loose coalition of Western and Arab states with mixed motives trying to figure out how to help them — well, folks, you’re going to end up with some very strange-looking policy animals. And Libya is just the first of many hard choices we’re going to face in the “new” Middle East.
Really? All those weird entanglements of tribes and ethnicities and coalitions and political cultures are going to define our ‘hard choices’ now? What about that other stuff Friedman championed?
At any rate, now that we know how complex the region is as a whole — “fraught with moral and political ambiguities”, as it were – the outcome of the conflict in Libya is all the more significant. Indeed, now that external forces, led by the U.S., France, and Britain, continue to escalate their role in the country, it is essential that the specifics of this endeavor are not divorced from general issues at stake in Africa and the Middle East.
Notwithstanding strategic complexities and confounding regional/sub-regional/supra-regional dynamics, as well as the ‘problematic’ track record of Western intervention in the Orient, it has apparently become acceptable to reduce our conflicts to simple formulas and a dash of luck:
I hope Qaddafi’s regime collapses like a sand castle, that the Libyan opposition turns out to be decent and united and that they require just a bare minimum of international help to get on their feet. Then U.S. prestige will be enhanced and this humanitarian mission will have both saved lives and helped to lock another Arab state into the democratic camp.
Dear Lord, please make President Obama lucky.
I also wish for great things to come about with a “bare minimum” of effort. Usually, things don’t work out that way.