Brilliant Blog by Adam Curtis Casts Doubt on Our Libyan Intervention

In his amazing blog posting a few days ago, Adam Curtis recounts humanitarian interventions since Biafra in 1968, and shows how our assumption of moral clarity is an illusion … is always an illusion.

Here’s a piece of his blog entry that gives you a sense of the problem. It describes the aftermath of the West’s humanitarian intervention in Kosovo:

Kouchner quickly discovered that victims could be very bad. There was an extraordinary range of ethnic groups in Kosovo.

There were:
Muslim Albanians
Orthodox Serbs
Roman Catholic Serbs
Serbian-speaking Muslim Egyptians
Albanian-speaking Muslim Gypsies – Ashkalis
Albanian-speaking Christian Gypsies – Goranis
And even – Pro-Serbian Turkish-speaking Turks

They all had vendettas with each other – which meant that they were both victims and horrible victimizers at the same time.

It began to be obvious that getting rid of evil didn’t always lead to the simple triumph of goodness.

Which became horribly clear in Iraq in 2003.

Curtis’ posting includes more than a half dozen archival videos, the most searing of which shows the failure of the UN Dutch mission at Srebrenica to protect Muslim refugees:

At Srebrenica thousands of civilians gathered together in the enclave – believing they were under international protection. But when the Serbian troops led by General Mladic marched in, the UN troops did nothing. The promise of protection had simply made it easier for the Serbs to kill over 8,000 people.

Curtis concludes:

… there is a general wariness and nervousness about the return of the old dream of armed intervention. Above all because we realise that humanitarian interventionism offers us no political way to judge who it is we are helping in Libya – and thus what the real consequences of our actions might be.

Even if one’s instincts are to help those fighting Gadaffi, it is no longer enough just to see it as a struggle of goodies against baddies. For it is precisely that simplification that has led to unreal fantasies about who we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fantasies that persist today, and which our leaders still cling to – because they give the illusion that we are in control.

One of Curtis’ readers makes this remark: “This blog is brilliant. Throw away your tv.”

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