Sunday, March 1, 2015

Quiet on the anti-interventionist front

[Originally posted at NOW]

Is it just me, or have America’s latest killings of jihadists in Iraq generated less resentment – not to say rage – than similar efforts typically did in the previous decade?

A glance at the reaction – or, rather, lack thereof – from anti-interventionist circles over the past few days suggests that is indeed the case. Barring the sheer crackpottery of such outfits as Britain’s Stop The War, which said it was “vital that we oppose” the operation that rescued over 20,000 Iraqis from certain death at ISIS’ hands (and which, when it’s Russia rather than America doing the invading, turns out to be remarkably flexible on the principle), there simply has not been much noise made about it. Even so cacophonous a demagogue as George Galloway hasn’t been able to denounce the strikes per se, grumbling instead (on Russian state TV) that they’ll be ineffective because the Americans “sat on their hands” the whole time ISIS was growing – a criticism that, he apparently doesn’t see, works at the expense of the anti-interventionist position.

Why, then, this quiet? A generous reading might point to the highly idiosyncratic circumstances of the Mount Sinjar case – easily identifiable militant locations, clearly segregated from a purely civilian populace facing unambiguous and imminent genocide. It’s a moral philosopher’s hypothetical example brought to life – if ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doesn’t apply here, it doesn’t apply anywhere.

Yet there is likely a second reason, plainly (if inadvertently) detectable in Galloway, which is that many anti-interventionists have for three years now energetically premised their case precisely on their enmity toward ISIS and its predecessors, who (having been the “resistance” in Iraq back in the 2000s) then became the Zionist-imperialist traitors against the “fortress of Arab dignity” that is the Assad regime. That’s why neither Lebanon’s Hezbollah nor Tehran have made any public condemnations of the operations – call someone a “takfiri” or “terrorist” once, and it’s not easy to complain when someone starts killing them. How embarrassing it must be for the “anti-imperialists” to suddenly find Empire fighting on their side.

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