Via Weasel Zippers comes a provocative op-ed in the Boston Globe by Alan J. Kuperman, a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas and the author of The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention. The op-ed is titled "False pretense for war in Libya?"
Kuperman claims that President Barack Obama "grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat" in Libya in order to justify military action there.
Last month, Obama said that U.S. military involvement in Libya was necessary in order to avoid "blood bath" and "humanitarian catastrophe."
The president said, "If we waited one more day, Benghazi . . . could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."
Notwithstanding the harrowing tale of alleged Libyan rape victim Iman al-Obeidi, Kuperman says that new data from Human Rights Watch paints a very different picture of what's actually happening on the ground in Libya.
But Human Rights Watch has released data on Misurata, the next-biggest city in Libya and scene of protracted fighting, revealing that Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government.
But that's Misurata. What about Benghazi?
Despite ubiquitous cellphones equipped with cameras and video, there is no graphic evidence of deliberate massacre. Images abound of victims killed or wounded in crossfire — each one a tragedy — but that is urban warfare, not genocide.
Nor did Khadafy ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The “no mercy’’ warning, of March 17, targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away.’’ Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight “to the bitter end.’’
If bloodbath was unlikely, how did this notion propel US intervention?
Kuperman explains that the rebels deftly crafted the narrative of an "impending genocide" in order to sway the international community to intervene in Libya.
And it worked.
So did the president lead the U.S. into war under false humanitarian pretenses, or was he duped by the rebels? Either way, Professor Kuperman paints a rather grim picture of the president's Libya debacle. "It is hard to know whether the White House was duped by the rebels or conspired with them to pursue regime-change on bogus humanitarian grounds," he writes.