Quote:In the President's Libya speech tonight, he'll have to deflect critics who ask why we're taking on Gaddafi--but not other murderous regimes. Peter Beinart on Why Consistency in Foreign Policy is Overrated.
There are plenty of smart objections to America’s Libya intervention. But when President Obama addresses the nation on Monday night, he should rebut the stupidest one: that America shouldn’t wage humanitarian war in Libya because we’re not doing so in Congo, Zimbabwe and every other nasty dictatorship on earth
The consistency argument, it’s important to understand, has nothing to do with Congo and Zimbabwe. Most of the people who invoke those ill-fated countries showed no interest in them before the Libya debate and will go back to ignoring them once Libya is off the front page. Ask someone who demands moral consistency in humanitarian war how exactly they propose to intervene in Congo and you will quickly realize that the call for moral consistency is actually a call for immoral consistency. The point of invoking the horrors of Congo is not to convince the US to act to stop the horrors of Congo; it is to ensure that, out of respect for the raped, murdered and maimed in Central Africa, we allow innocents to be raped, murdered and maimed in North Africa as well. The Congolese, presumably, will find it comforting to know that the great powers are as just as indifferent to savagery in other lands as they are to the savagery in theirs.
There will always be horrors that outside powers cannot or will not prevent. But the fact that they cannot be stopped everywhere is no reason not to try to stop them somewhere.