I’m currently in an Austin hotel room, watching FOX News. Interestingly, the TV turns on to FOX automatically, regardless of what station it’s on when I turn it off. I’ve been wondering if this simply reflects the preference of Homestead Suites management, or if there’s a kickback somewhere down the corporate line. Either way, it’s given me an opportunity to experience FOX’s reporting on Libya firsthand.
Unsurprisingly, it’s self-contradictory and utterly hypocritical.
FOX has been hauling out the Reagan-Bush I + II enablers and apologists, from good ol’ military criminal Ollie North to famed UN-bashing “diplomat” John Bolton. You’d think that the US had never attempted to build an international coalition to take military action against a sovereign Arab state.
But Iraq was different! We thought Saddam Hussein had WMD! He was a threat to America! Neither assertion turned out to be correct, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Yet I seem to recall an earlier FOX line that Saddam needed to be taken out because he committed violence against his own people. You, know, like Quadafi?
That reasoning is no longer good enough for the Fair & Balanced brigade, who are quick to list — much like liberals did in 2003 — the many other countries in which human rights abuses occur without US intervention. They also invoke the tremendous expense of engagement, going as far as to itemize the cost of a single Tomahawk missile. What is this, MSNBC?
Some FOX pundits seem to be supportive of military action against Libya, but don’t like the idea of the US ceding operational control to a UN coalition. Especially not one including those stinking, traitorous French. Then there’s the complaint that Obama waited too long to get in the game. Bush didn’t need a legitimate coalition of nations to sanction his quagmire, he stepped in that shitpile all by hisself!
FOX is also quick to jump on the fact that the president has bypassed Congress on the road to Libyan engagement. They even had Dennis Kucinich on to talk about it. So different from a decade ago, when Congress was seen as a minor — if whiny — hindrance to executive war-making powers.
Lastly, the FOX punditry complains of vagueness of purpose and a lack of an exit strategy. This is perhaps the most ridiculous claim, because the mission, as outlined by the UN resolution, is clear: to prevent Quadafi from murdering his own people, which he has promised to do.
Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to know that regime change is the ultimate goal, which Hillary Clinton herself let slip. She’s a hawk, and has never seemed to have a problem with the Bush Doctrine. The president, on the other hand, has to take a softer tone for fear of alienating those nations whose support he quickly assembled. That’s also the reason you’re hearing so much propaganda from the Pentagon about switching to coalition command and control. If they say it enough times, maybe it’ll seem more true.
Here’s what’s really happening: The UN mandate is the subterfuge for getting the oil out of the hands of a notorious petro-dictator. The global market demands that the spigots get turned back on, which is why there are few international objections to no-fly enforcement and targeted air strikes. And if these actions prevent genocide while loosely aligning with US blue-sky rhetoric about the spread of democracy, all the better.
I do not believe this will be an Iraq/Afghanistan-style quagmire. There are too many other countries implicated, and Quadafi’s army will likely fold quickly. Of course, we don’t completely know about potential factional/tribal differences that could emerge post-Quadafi. There are also fewer civic and political institutions in Libya than in Iraq, and the populace is generally less educated. So at some point, we may be looking at doing business with an Islamist warlord of one stripe or another. But at least he’ll be our Islamist warlord.
Say it with me, FOX. It’s about oil. It’s always about oil. Everything else is secondary.