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Friday, April 15, 2016

We're all consequentialists now

For John, BLUFThis could make life harder.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Brookings Institution and the pen of Shadi Hamid, Brookings Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, we have "Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure.  They're wrong."

I am not sure I am convinced, and not just because it is a bell to hang around the neck of Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.  For one thing, Colonel Mummer Qaddafi had given up his nuclear weapons program and then we whopped him up side the head.  Other maniacal dictators are in the future going to think more than twice about giving up their nuclear weapons programs.

And, there is the slide to chaos.  However, Mr Hamid makes a solid case for the idea it was already sliding and our intervention just kept the numbers of civilians killed and wounded lower than they might have been.

But, the interesting part is where he talks about "consequentialism" .

The near reverse holds true for Libya.  The justness of military intervention in March 2011 cannot be undone or negated retroactively.  This is not the way choice or morality operates (imagine applying this standard to your personal life).  This may suggest a broader philosophical divergence:  Obama,according to one of his aides, is a "consequentialist."

I suspect that this, perhaps more than narrower questions of military intervention, drives at least some of the revisionism over Libya's legacy.  If we were consequentialists, it would be nearly impossible to act anywhere without some sort of preordained guarantee that a conflict area—which likely hadn't been "stable" for years or decades—could all of a sudden stabilize.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow in the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy and the author of the new book "Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World" (St. Martin's Press).
  That is to say, the virtue of your action isn't from your intent to do good, but if good is the actual outcome.  There are (no pun intended) consequences to your views of this.  It could impact our foreign policy.

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