Informed Imperialism is still Imperialism

Slate’s Anne Applebaum tries to present more thoughtful analysis than that of Charles Krauthammer on intervention in Libya. Applebaum attempts to represent the so-called peaceful alternative to the more hawkish Krauthammer. Her reasoning on why Arabs aren’t welcoming US intervention in Libya:

Why the Arab anxiety about American and Western help? Why the reluctance among our allies? The answer can be summed up in a single word: Iraq. Far from setting “an example for the entire region,” as Krauthammer puts it, Iraq serves as a dire warning: Beware, for this could be the fate of your country. When the U.S. military entered Iraq, we knew nothing about the Iraqi opposition, except what we’d heard from a couple of exiles. Our soldiers didn’t speak Arabic and hadn’t been told what to do once they got to Baghdad. Incompetence led to chaos, which begat violence: Tens of thousands of people died in an eight-year civil war.

It’s amazing that eight years into the war on Iraq, and US mainstream media is still acting as an unpaid PR agency for the US government. Krauthammer’s boorish, vulgar analysis speaks for itself. But it is infuriating, yet to be expected, that the alternative to hawkishness is also imperialism, just using different means.

So, according to Applebaum, the destruction of Iraq would have been avoided had the US Army only paid for a few more Arabic Rosetta Stones and found collaborators with slightly more integrity than Ahmad Chalabi. You read Applebaum and you wouldn’t realize the following factors played any role in the destruction of this ancient civilization: hegemony, Zionism, imperialism, racism, oil, divide-and-conquer.

According to Applebaum, US military intervention is “morally right” as long as:

your soldiers and diplomats … speak the language of the people you want to influence. It’s important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist. Let’s not repeat past mistakes

Pillaging a country, murdering a million of its citizens and displacing millions more, is not a “mistake.” Only imperialists like Applebaum believed there was any intention to “assist.” Applebaum’s perception of US crimes as “mistakes” indicates her imperialist hubris and self-delusion. Even if US soldiers and diplomats learn the dialects of each Libyan province and do PhD dissertations on Libyan ethnography, the Libyan people would still not welcome US colonization.