Last week Egypt and the United Arab Emirates made air strikes against Islamist militias in Libya who were threatening the airport in Tripoli, apparently at the behest of the Libyan government. The reaction of the United States and other governments is breathtakingly hypocritical:
The diplomatic angst issuing from Washington around the United Arab Emirates and Egypt bombing of weapons depots belonging to the Qatar-backed fundamentalist militia of Misrata holds many delicious ironies:
1. According to the BBC, “the US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK issued a joint statement denouncing “outside interference” in Libya.” Seriously, guys? Except for Germany, these are the NATO countries that intervened in Libya in the first place, in large part at the insistence of an Arab League led by Egypt and the UAE! It is true that the UAE and Egypt don’t have a UN Security Council Resolution, which authorized NATO involvement (I supported the then no fly zone on those grounds). But the newly elected Libyan House of Representatives has openly called for international intervention against Libya’s out-of-control militias and it is entirely possible that the Libyan government asked, behind the scenes for these air strikes. In any case, “outside interference” isn’t the issue!
2. The US is said to have been “caught off guard” by the air strikes. But the US bombed Tripoli in 1986 without coordinating with most of its Middle East allies. Or then there was that sudden invasion of Iraq for no good reason in 2003. The US is always catching the Middle East off guard.
This is the only thing that “American exceptionalism” could possibly mean. We continually condemn other countries for doing exactly the same thing that we do as a matter of routine. Thus our hypocritical blathering about Russia invading the Ukraine and violated their sacred national sovereignty (Russia is wrong to do so, but so are we when we do it — and we do it a lot).
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