Now, They Want Us To Intervene In The Ivory Coast

The same sort of people who were pushing for intervention in Libya now want President Obama to take action in the Ivory Coast:

As civil war grips the West African nation of Ivory Coast, critics claim that President Obama is neglecting a potential crisis in Africa even as he wades into conflicts in the Middle East.

A former French colony, Ivory Coast had long been a model nation in a continent full of strife. But four months ago, after Allasane Ouattara was elected president and Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down, an on-going civil war type of conflict broke out. In the months since, the United States and allies have passed U.N. resolutions denouncing Gbagbo. Obama even taped a video message that was posted on the White House Web site.

But as fighting continues — with reports of around 1,000 found dead over the weekend– critics say the White House is neglecting the conflict and instead has focused on the Middle East.

“Rather than merely search yet again for short-term solutions in the violent aftermath of an election, it would be more sensible to look for ways to prevent future crises rooted in Africa’s dysfunctional political systems,” Jendayi Frazer, a former Bush administration Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, wrote in the International Herald Tribune.

While Frazer argues for an overall Africa policy, others say the lack of involvement is two-faced by the White House.

“This reveals the fact that the “Obama doctrine” as the president described it – wherein a humanitarian disaster occurs that that compels the United States morally to intervene — is in reality nothing of the sort,” Brett Schaeffer from the conservative Heritage Foundation told Fox News.

This is the problem with Obama’s doctrine of humanitarian imperialism, once you’ve said that a human rights “crisis” is sufficient justification for military intervention in one conflict you risk getting dragged into every other conflict where civilians are are risk. Which is pretty much every conflict in the world.

FILED UNDER: Africa, Middle East, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Chad S says:

    I’ve been hearing a lot of bitching about how this is already Obama’s “next war.” There’s no good response when asked how we’re actually involved in it.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    Doug, I’m going to surprise you and agree with you 100% here. When we as a nation do ANYTHING that we don’t strictly define as “in our national interest,” then we set ourselves up for all kinds of crap like this as we get hung on our own petard.

    That’s the big problem with doing things purely on moral principles — others then start expecting you to live up to them at every opportunity. Even — and especially — when it’s damned inconvenient and expensive and does us no good whatsoever.

    “Enlightened self-interest” is the only way to go.


  3. michael reynolds says:

    The same sort of people who were pushing for intervention in Libya now want President Obama to take action in the Ivory Coast:

    Really? Who?

    Anjin-san’s got it right: Fox tweets it, Doug repeats it.

  4. Tano says:

    To the extent that there is a humanitarian crisis here, I think it perfectly appropriate for Obama to handle this in an analogous manner to his handling of Libya – i.e. to help to organize a coalition of local powers that have a more direct interest in the area to provide protection for civilians, with the US helping out in the background, or in the foreground as little as possible, while also working diplomatic channels to effect the ideal outcome.

    As in Libya, this will not entail any US troops on the ground, but it will serve as another building block in a far more responsible and effective international community that will be able, in the future, to prevent, or at least respond effectively to situations like this.

    This seems to be to be an excellent way for American global leadership to be exercised – as not only the military superpower, but the political and diplomatic organizer of a responsible international community. Obama may end up being responsible for the design and creation of the essential structure for international politics in this century.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Heh. Just checked. Sure enough, Fox tweeted this “story” a little over an hour ago. And Doug slaps it up there without so much as pausing to think, um, “Who are the they in this story?”

    So, have an answer, Doug? Who are these “same sort of people” of which you speak? Names?

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    French and “UN” (couldn’t find a breakdown of nationality) forces have pounded artillery, AA, and defensive positions around the Presidential compound. There are coordinated helicopter attacks on Gbagbo’s position right now. Ouattara’s main military leader has stated he believes they are hours to one day away from ousting Gbagbo. If all that is true (big if) I don’t think the US could get involved before its over.

    That said, you can’t underestimate the U.S.’s ability to get involved in a war on a moment’s notice.

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    Oh, the source: click

  8. Jay Tea says:

    Well, Michael, anjin, there’s your answer — Al Jazeera.

    Next question?


  9. michael reynolds says:

    I love the way you think you said something Jay. It’s priceless.

  10. People, al-Jazeera is picking up the meme too:

    Now, why don’t you tell me exactly why I should give a damn about the Ivory Coast.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Oh, cut the Wiley Stoner level bull, Doug. You have nothing and you know it. You grabbed a tweet from Fox, slapped an even dumber headline on a content-free story, and you think somehow proves your point?

    Echo chamber. . . echo . . . echo . . .

  12. G.A.Phillips says:


    Harry says echo chamber, lol……………

  13. sam says:

    Uh, Doug, I read the AJ piece, and I don’t see the ‘they’ you referred to. Or is the mere fact of a news story enough to imply that ‘they’ want us to get involved.

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    Well, Michael, anjin, there’s your answer — Al Jazeera.

    What the hell does this mean?

    That Al Jazeera is the “they?”

    I’m actually not being combative, Jay. I really don’t understand what you are referring to.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Doug’s “they” is a lot like the Fox staple “some say…” Problem is, there is generally no there there.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Some say they want us to invade Ivory Coast. If some say they want it, they must be right. At least that’s what some say.

  17. The “they” are the same idiot internationalist humanitarians who came up with the so-called “Responsibility To Protect” Doctrine that this entire Libyan misadventure is based on.

    Ans none of you have come up with a reason why I should give a crap about the Ivory Coast.

  18. Heh. Just checked. Sure enough, Fox tweeted this “story” a little over an hour ago.

    Or maybe Doug just reads his own blog:

  19. michael reynolds says:

    The “they” are the same idiot internationalist humanitarians who came up with the so-called “Responsibility To Protect” Doctrine that this entire Libyan misadventure is based on.

    Thats a pitiful evasion. Saying “they” is “they” isn’t an answer.

    Ans none of you have come up with a reason why I should give a crap about the Ivory Coast.

    And no one has tried.

  20. Jay Tea says:

    michael, you want a few names and groups pushing the reckless (to put it kindly) “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine? No prob — Wikipedia can be your friend.

    First pushed forward by Kofi Annan, perpetuated by Ban Ki-moon. Supported by the African Union and lots of other groups who think that we need a one-world government that can override the sovereignty of individual nations upon the approval of some overarching body. And like most such initiatives, it can only work if the body can dictate (or, at least, significantly persuade) that nations use their military and other resources to carry out the will of the majority.

    And that gives me yet another excuse to quote P. J. O’Rourke, with this excerpt from “Peace Kills: America’s Fun New Imperialism.” More specifically, from the introduction, entitled “Why Americans Hate Foreign Policy:”

    America has to act. But, when America acts, other nations accuse us of being “hegemonic,” of engaging in “unilateralism, of behaving as if we’re the only nation on earth that counts.

    We are.Russia used to be a superpower but resigned “to spend more time with the family.” China is supposed to be mighty, but the Chinese leadership quakes when a couple of hundred Falun Gong members do tai chi for Jesus. The European Union looks impressive on paper, with a greater population and a larger economy than America’s. But the military spending of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy combined does not equal one third of the U.S. defense budget. The United States spends more on defense than the aforementioned countries — plus Russia plus China plus the next six top defense-spending nations. Any multilateral military or diplomatic effort that includes the United States is a crew team with Arnold Schwarzenegger as coxswain and Nadia Comenici on the oars. WHen other countries demand a role in the exercise of global power, America can ask another fundamental American question: “You and what army?”

    Amazing what one can find, michael, if one is only willing to look a little… just a little.


  21. James Joyner says:

    As the story stands this morning this is a “UN” op. But, as Dave Chappelle so eloquently pointed out, the UN has no army. Or air force. So, this is France taking care of one of its former colonies under UN mandate.

    My guess is that the US won’t be needed here, since the prez is looking about to capitulate. But I share Doug’s concerns about the slippery slope of R2P.

  22. michael reynolds says:


    Once again, love the effort to entertain. Kofi Anan and Banki Moon. Well, there you go. Your usual brilliant contribution.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    Gbagbo appears to be locked in his basement rec room. Pretty sure the Marines won’t be needed.