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A brief summary, with snark. (Via Althouse, who has another relevant link.)

From the comments:

Why are rightwingers so opposed to the intervention in Libya? It’s far more justified than the Iraq debacle…

It’s not so much that we “wingers” are opposed to the intervention as it is that we think it’s amusing that leftoids can characterize it as “far more justified” without breaking into guffaws. Pick any justification, any at all, for Libya, and you can easily find the same one used for Iraq, often with greater force; just as an instance, we have one (1), count ’em, ONE Security Council resolution as legal background, where Iraq had seventeen (17) of them.

Beyond that, though… after WWII there were a group of influential thinkers who imagined war in the future as a matter of remote, push-button activity; their most public exemplar was Gen. Curtis LeMay, who saw mass air raids and the atomic bomb as means by which wars could be won by people visiting death and destruction upon the enemy from the safety and security of air-conditioned control rooms far from the noise and strife. When it started to become evident that that wasn’t going to be the case then or in any foreseeable future, the Whiz Kidz, exemplified by Robert McNamara, came up with the doctrine of “proportional response”, where the idea is to hit just hard enough to get The Other Guys to yield while not doing excessive damage.

Now here we are, lobbing cruise missiles at Libya while the other members of the Coalition zoom around dropping bombs on nice anonymous “targets”. I was in the Navy, once upon a time, and while living on a ship is less pleasant and more stressful than a nice Georgetown apartment, it’s still four walls around, three squares a day, clean sheets, and air conditioning. Missiles go out with a mighty noise, trailing flame and smoke, and down below decks sailors register hits on targets and jump in jubilation; airplanes laden with ominous ovoids launch with a roar of engines and a clank of catapults, and return later with a little less noise, a scree of arresting wires, and bare wings, and their pilots go below for “debriefing” and “bomb damage assessment”. The shades of LeMay and McNamara look on, smiling in benign approval.

It’s push-button war and proportional response combined into one glorious evolution. Nobody on Our Side need get hurt, or even get sand in his (or her) boots; we mean to do just enough damage to Muammar Qaddafi and those who sail in her to get them to refrain from further provocations. We’re “bombing tanks” and “busting bunkers” and “destroying formations”, and looking at the pictures sent back by robots to see how well we did. All that’s left, really, is to plaster Xbox and Wii logos on the gear in CIC and on board AWACs.

The problem with both push-button war and proportional response is that they aren’t conclusive. Wars aren’t over until one side or the other is helpless and accepts the futility of continuing; push-button war can’t accomplish that without generating broad swathes of pale-green trinitite, and that isn’t “proportional”; the whole point of proportional response is to avoid doing so much damage that the Other Guys can’t recover from it. Both procedures drag it out, extend it into long-duration conflict that will inevitably cause more net suffering simply from going on so long. Bombs always leave pockets of resistance, the more so when important targets can’t be hit because collateral damage is “excessive force”; failure to fully suppress the opposition encourages those pockets to regroup and come at you again.

It’s war as a slapping contest between drunks at a bar — hit him hard enough to make him yield, but don’t break his jaw ’cause somebody’ll call the cops. Obama and the Coalition expect to sit out there in the Med, tossing explosive robots until Muammar cries “uncle”. Hey, guys, those “targets” have people in; those “tanks” and “bunkers” and “formations” contain blood, guts, and personal aspirations, and blowing them away by remote control — with animated explosions on LCD screens and “reward tones” from the speakers, no doubt — at the very least denies the humanity of Brown People, reducing them to impersonal ciphers and statistics. We thought you were against that; you’ve certainly shrieked about it loudly enough in the past. Care to define just what’s different this time, what it is that keeps the papier-mache puppets and chanting demonstrators off the streets? We “wingers” aren’t against war, when and if necessary; we’re just dubious about the contrast between your justifications now and ours in the past, not to mention the facts on the ground. Care to explicate? Note: quoting Donald Rumsfeld, even in paraphrase, gets you no points, OK?

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March 2011