From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’

Full piece here.

This seems worthy of note, given the current American foreign policy regime:

‘And yet Libya—so far the most aggressive humanitarian intervention of the 21st century—depended not on any broad public movement nor any urgent security threat. There was instead a chain of private conversations: Hillary Clinton moving Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy moving Dmitri Medvedev, and at the chain’s inception this romantic propagandist, Bernard-Henri Lévy. “I think this war was probably launched by two statesmen,” Lévy told me. “Hillary Clinton and Sarkozy. More modestly, me.”*

and:

“No, no, no, no,” Lévy says. “My country, our country, for the first time since the American Revolution, has come to a foreign country to help a revolution, to help a war of liberation, and this is good, this is beautiful, this is noble …”

and:

“Pascal Bruckner, another French philosopher and often an ally of Lévy’s, notes that this is Lévy’s natural mode. “Elections, discussions with the unions, economic problems—all these problems do not interest him,” he says. What Lévy has instead is “a will to turn politics into an epic, and to abandon everything that is prosaic.”

Well, I’ve heard the approach unaffectionately termed “neo-neo-colonialism.”  Is it working?

Is victory defined as freedom from the injustices of the tyrant?  Was this the “wise” course as opposed to the invasion of Iraq (which is flaring into sectarian violence after withdrawal)…by properly distancing ourselves and by respecting the will of  the Libyan people (or leaving them to their mess and alligning with Europe)?  Or is that just because some folks agree with the principles and the less violent outcome is a bonus?

Are the architects of any war responsible for those outcomes?

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Here’s a Leo Strauss quote on Edmund Burke posted earlier.  It’s a strange place to find ourselves with a Frenchman (of the Left) potentially at the helm of our foreign policy:

“What ever might have to be said about the propriety of Burke’s usage, it is here sufficient to note that, in judging the political leaders whom he opposed in the two most important actions of his life, he [sic Burke] traced their lack of prudence less to passion than to the intrusion of the spirit of theory into the field of politics.”

Addition:  Of course, if he is actually at the helm of our foreign policy…

Related On This Site:…Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And OthersFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Problem With Obama’s Decision To Leave Iraq’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’

Full post here.

Henri-Levy has been on the ground working with the Libyans for some time, during a relatively dangerous time.  Agree with him or not, he’s placed himself at risk and helped others to understand some of what could be at stake for themselves and the West in Libya (The New York Observer has a review of his recent book “Left In Dark Times: A Stand Against The New Barbarism”).   He frames the murder and parading of Gadhafi’s corpse thusly:

‘Either this collective crime will be, like the beheading of the last king of France in Albert Camus’s account, the founding act of the coming era, which would be a terrible sign. Or it will be the swan song of a barbarous age, the end of the Libyan night, the death rattle of Gaddafi’s system, which, before expiring, must turn against its founder and inject him with his own venom, making way for a new era that will fulfill the promises of the Arab Spring.’

As I write, the latter is my ardent wish. More than that, it is my conviction’

There is a bit of the romantic, war-correspondent at work here, and a more sober eye could be cast upon American interests (and how far can we really trust a Frenchman with those?).  If we look at it with a Burkean lens, that tradition is still carrying the flame of a more radical, Rousseauian, highly individualized, post-Enlightenment liberty and its dangers.  Henri-Levy is part of a tradition that defines liberty much more broadly than many Americans are comfortable with and which poses great risk to the efficacy of our institutions and our freedoms.  He has stood up against anti-semitism and anti-Americanism and other dangerous strains of the French and European Left, but…still.

We may come to reap the benefits of closer cooperation with Britain and France in protecting their interests, and helping them in their backyard, spreading some of the anti-Western sentiment and reasonable suspicion around that America has brought upon itself after Iraq and post 09/11.  We also may bind ourselves to decisions and decision-making that improperly define our responsibilities that can lead to greater conflict in seen and unforeseen ways.  It is a confusing time.

I’m skeptical it hasn’t been a mistake to put these ideas at the center of American foreign policy, just as I think it would be a mistake to exclude them entirely and exclude what many people may have learned on the ground in times of crisis as either intellectuals, war-correspondents, observers, aid-workers and other defenders and definers of liberty, especially in the Arab world right now.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: One of the major policy goals of the current administration seems to be siding with it sees as the interests of the people of the Middle-East, not necessarily the autocrats and dictators, and this Wilsonian direction as the path toward moral legitimacy.

Another addition: Just how far Left is this administration anyways?

Related On This Site: Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others……Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’

For anyone, but especially Leftists and recovering Leftists, it takes moral courage to stand up to the messianism, Islamic moral absolutism, and dark theocratic tendencies of the Middle East…liberty is key as well as moral responsibility to think in terms of the legitimacy of rule here at home: …From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

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