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On the Possibility of Imperial Humanitarianism

March 29, 2011

THE PRESIDENT last night, (via IOZ)

[G]iven the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. [Obama]

To elaborate just a little, here is what Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough said on the same topic earlier in the day:

[W]e don’t get very hung up on this question of precedent. What we do — because we don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We make them based on how we can best advance our interests in the region. [McDonough]

Though I think McDonough sells empire short on the consistency charge. Entrenched power consistently makes decisions based on furthering its interests. And, really, can a one trick pony be anything but consistent? US power is an ordinance.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2011 12:30 PM

    Rest assured, there is no such thing as “humanitarian intervention” by states. But remember to follow Pascal, like Ranciere did.

  2. Jack Crow permalink
    March 29, 2011 12:55 PM

    Perhaps instead of serving gnomic references to French gnostic heretics, those of us on the left should decide that we are actually leftists, and stop pretending that we can word our way through this conflict.

    • March 29, 2011 1:39 PM

      i thought the Ranciere quote posted here the other day was illustrative of the effects of a power that doesn’t ask for my approval.

      wasn’t trying to word my way through anything.

      what is it IOZ says? “descriptive, not prescriptive.”

      • Jack Crow permalink
        March 29, 2011 2:18 PM


        Comment wasn’t addressed to you. I was not clear. My embarrassed apologies.

      • March 29, 2011 2:40 PM

        oh. well, still, it serves to acknowledge that it was i who initially brought French gnostic heretical gnomes into it. ;-)

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