Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Libya, Rwanda and Intervention

The joint forces intervention in Libya, and the subsequent comparisons to Rwanda, seem a good subject with which to reintroduce my international commentary. What follows is my opinion, with whatever weight that may hold.

And so NATO has intervened in Libya under the guise of R2P, which means the military force currently being used is to (nominally) protect civilians from violence, though it is difficult to separate intervention meant to assist civilians from intervention that inevitably assists the rebels. Military intervention based upon moral convictions strives to be impartial but it is (almost) impossible to be so; more on that later.

With the intervention comes comparisons to past atrocities that either benefited from military force (Bosnia) or suffered from the lack of foreign concern (Rwanda). While I do not agree with comparisons in general - as each situation is unique and comparisons always gloss over, or ignore, certain truths - I understand why they are made: to justify foreign military intervention through examples of success and failure. Concerning Bosnia, NATO acted independently of the UN and the military strikes which ensued quickly brought an end to the civil war and genocide against Bosnian Muslims. Concerning Rwanda, the world failed to take action and over 800,000 Rwandans (mainly Tutsis) were slaughtered; genocide could have been averted but was not. Therefore, we (the US, Britain, France, so on) must act to stop similar atrocities from occurring in Libya.

While I understand the reasons for comparisons, I do not agree with them, specifically comparisons to Rwanda, because Libya today is not Rwanda circa 1994. As I wrote above, each situation is unique. In 1994 Rwanda the UN was already in the country and had been for months, attempting to broker a peace agreement between the RPF and current Rwandan government, thus ending the civil war that had been going on since October 1990. No intervention occurred because the intervention force was already there - UN forces only needed to authority to use force (in case you are not familiar with the history, they never got it). Furthermore, the time when military force would have been most effective in Rwanda - the first week following the death of president Habyarimana - was the time when the situation was most confusing, with the RPF and Rwandan forces battling each other in the streets of Kigali and mass murders of civilians only beginning to spread in the countryside. After that week 100,000 were already dead and the UN forces on the ground only beginning to comprehend what was happening. Gaddafi has openly called for attacks on civilians - there is nothing confusing about it. By ordering attacks on his own people Gaddafi has defied UN statutes of the protection of civilians during war and, with his own words, justified foreign intervention.

Despite what seems as obvious justification, I can also understand the hesitancy over Libya: how much force is enough? How long will an intervention force stay in the country? Until Gaddafi is ousted? How can the intervention remain impartial to the civil war while protecting civilians, as rebels happen to be where civilians are? Will that make the force "pro-rebel", whether intentionally or not? And when does this military intervention stop being a force to protect civilians and becomes a foreign military action for regime change? These are valid questions that become increasingly pertinent with each passing day as Libyan rebels lose ground to Gaddafi's forces. If the rebels continue to falter will the joint forces simply leave the country to its fate? Will those forces remain the ensure the safety of civilians from the potential aftermath of Gaddafi's rage? Or will the joint forces fully step in to militarily assist the rebels win the war? (Unfortunately, it seems the last question is what is more likely to occur.) What are the limits to humanitarian intervention and what happens when they are reached?

Rather than making unnecessary and incorrect comparisons to the past our leaders - Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy - need to decide just what it is we are doing in Libya. Otherwise you do not need to look in the past to know what happens when intervention, liberation and war become one and the same, but rather slightly to the east.

And for the record: what is happening in Libya is not genocide. Crimes against humanity, yes, but civilian deaths as a casualty of civil war is not genocide. Gaddafi targeting civilians is not genocide. Unless we are saying that civil wars are genocidal in nature . . . but that is another post.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Catching Up

The close-call heart attack I had this morning was quickly remedied: Blogger kindly restored my cooking blog after I wrote to them that I had no idea why it would have been removed (because I didn't, though I suspected it was somehow related to the hacking of my gmail account) and shortly thereafter Cooking The Globe was back online with additional site moderation. Yay!

In other news, I have been unfortunately slack in keeping up-to-date with the news, be it international, local or personal. I blame it on the stresses of moving and relocating (which is legitimate enough: last weekend was the first time in two months Seth and I didn't have to go anywhere. I felt guilty not doing anything.) I also have no idea how to comment on the plethora of shit going on in the world currently so I will do what so many Americans do and simply ignore it. Weee, now life is simple!

Oh, except I am still writhing in pity and self-doubt as I attempt to write cover letters for potential jobs. I have finally written two sentences describing that I am, indeed, awesome; now I just two paragraphs detailing that assertion (nay: fact.) My lack of faith in my abilities amazes not only me, but my husband as well. Woe is me, I know.

On a positive note I have been learning Austin streets through the age-old tactic of driving around and getting lost; my kitty is adorable and will stick his face in mine in the morning, meowing, until I pet him - yes, that is adorable rather than annoying; and my friend Kerry and I solidified our undying devotion to the movie Showgirls with tattoos. Our love is eternal.

Pretty good silhouette on our legs, eh?

And there it is. Damn, I currently miss Uganda (and Africa in general) something fierce right now, though unsurprisingly, not Kuwait. Hopefully Seth and I will be able to make enough money to be able to travel a bit (albeit not at frequently as before.) Of course, I also hope I will get a job in the (near) future that will pay me to travel around the globe. How can I cover it without visiting it? There, I just gave myself a third excuse. I should add that talent to my list of awesomeness in those cover letters.


Oh My God, I am Freaking Out

Because my cooking blog,, seems to have been removed. WTF and what the hell? Was it hacked along with email account? Probably, but does that mean something inappropriate (i.e., pornagraphy) was posted? Why were no warnings sent to my email account associated with the blog? I seriously hope blogger will listen to my plea and restore it. Or should I just delete my email account and start over?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything and even longer since I've posted something worth reading, but before I go into posts about Showgirls (teaser!) I want to say "Happy Anniversary" to my wonderful, handsome husband Seth. Two years ago we married in a circuit court in Austin; one year ago we celebrated our anniversary with a wedding ceremony on the Nile (see above); and this year we celebrate our marriage where it began: in Austin. It's been fantastic so far, Seth, and I can't wait for more!