I recently used the escalating situation in the Cote d’Ivoire (nearly 500 killed, 1 million refugees, advancing rebel army…) as a case similar to that of Libya, i.e. why intervene in Libya and not in Cote d’Ivoire. The US does not have strategic interests in either country and if, as Obama says, American intervention in Libya is purely humanitarian, why choose Libya? I have also pointed out the hypocrisy of America intervening in Libya while supporting the regime in Bahrain and Yemen, but focus my last piece on the African country. Lynch tells me to get out:
The centrality of Libya to the Arab narrative about regional transformation is the main reason why I am unmoved by the “double standards” argument that we are not intervening in Cote D’Ivoire. It did matter more to core U.S. national interests because the outcome would affect the entire Middle East. Thanks to al-Jazeera’s intense focus on Libya, literally the whole Arab world was watching, dictators and publics alike. Not acting would have been a powerful action which would have haunted America’s standing in the region for a decade. And many of the same people now denouncing the intervention would have been up in arms at America’s indifference to Arab life — it is all too easy to imagine denunciations such as “the dream of the Cairo speech died in the streets of Benghazi as Barack Obama proved that he does not care about Muslim lives.”
Why Libya and not the Ivory Coast? Because in Libya, we had the ability, the opportunity, and the interests — a critical triumverate that made it both logistically feasible and politically palatable to intervene. In the Ivory Coast, almost none of these things are true. This is not a case in which our urge to “do something” is matched by a clear answer for what “something” is.
I suppose from now on I’ll stick with pointing to Bahrain…
Photo from FP