March 19, 2011

UN Action on Libya. Finally.

Finally, after Rwanda, Darfur and the inexcusable delay in Bosnia and Croatia, the UN has voted to intervene and stop the slaughter of innocent people in Libya.

Amazing. Even Russia and China, who never saw a situation that justified foreign intervention, abstained but did not vote against it.

Finally we can act by principle and not some feel good barometer and not by a balance sheet consideration. This is the chance for the US to fundamentally reorder, at last, its relations with key Arab states.

We have the chance to support both the government and the democratic movements erupting throughout the Middle East. We have the chance, for the first time, to change the narrative, fundamentally, throughout this area and hopefully throughout Africa. Perhaps we can show, finally, that we can practice what we preach.

Even Al Jazeera and the Arab League (another first) support a no-fly zone and arms for the rebels. There are many who say the slaughter of the rebels is very unfortunate but we must be purely objective. To that I say, “Never at the expense of being human.” If we lose our humanity what do we possibly have left of any value?

“Responsibility to protect”, adopted by the UN in 2005 and affirmed by the Obama administration stresses the responsibility of the international community to protect people threatened with mass atrocities including by their own government.

Remember, we’re not talking about troops on the ground, we’re talking about a no-fly zone and, if they keep on attacking (and there has, as yet, been no let up) the destruction of all government armed vehicles.

Some of the arguments against it are: “If a civilian population takes up arms they should no longer be considered civilians. Gaddafi has every right to reign his country back in.” This is nonsense. Civilians took up arms only after many were killed by Gaddafi’s thugs.

“Intervention will violate Libya’s sovereignty. As soon as intervention begins the Libyan people will start to lost control of their own county and future.” That sacred word of the non-interventionists: Sovereignty. Totally flawed reasoning. When you threaten and kill your own people then you have given up the right to call this your country. The whole point is the Libyan people don’t have control of their own country. That control rests with Gaddafi and his hired killers. The Libyan people want to take it away from them. Human life trumps sovereignty.

“No-fly zones and supplying arms will not be able to halt the conflict and will lead to more bloodshed, not less.” The fact is, one of the key reasons the rebels have been losing this war is the air supremacy of Gaddafi. It is ludicrous to think that a no-fly zone will lead to the loss of more life that allowing Gaddafi a free hand would. If he prevails by using jets, tanks and gunships, there will be a terrible settling of scores. He has sworn that he will exterminate every single rebel fighter and supporter.

If you don’t believe it, you haven’t’ followed Gaddafi’s past actions (one of the biggest supporters of international terrorism, Lockerbie bombing, etc. Or you’ve been living in a cave for the past 41 years.)

“We have no obligation nor owe anything to the rebels opposing Gaddafi.” Dead wrong. We helped (along with Europe) to enable this monster, Gaddafi, over the past 41 years. So we cannot just avert our gaze and wash our hands.

“A justly motivated revolutionary movement doesn’t need outside assistance to prevail.” Oh, really. Without Frances’s help it is highly unlikely we would have prevailed against the British.

“This is like the invasion of Iraq repeating itself.” Wrong. That was an illegal bombing and an illegal invasion. Here, the international community has spoken and through the UN Security Council a no-fly zone is clearly what is wanted by the majority of rebel fighters and the Libyan people. Therefore no self-determination issue exists.

In the 90s, when the Rwanda massacre was on the verge of beginning, Clinton, Annan and the UN and Europe did nothing and after the massacre started, still did nothing. Like today, there were many people who said we shouldn’t get involved. Of course, after the numbers were released, 800,000 to one million murdered, they became very quiet. When the slaughter started in Bosnia and Croatia, the same protest against involvement. And of course, most recently, Darfur. Over 350,000 killed by Bashir and his thugs. I spent four years working for the “Save Darfur” movement and we tried desperately to enact, at the least, a no-fly zone, all to no avail. Many of the same people are against the no-fly zone in Libya. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. I am convinced they will never change.

The Libyan people are demanding the right to choose their own destiny. They do not want foreign troops on their soil. They just want us to level the playing field. Without this their struggle is doomed. If we don’t act to stop the killing in Libya, how can the US and Europe credibly encourage the Egyptian military to hold free and fair elections, push for commitments for non-violence by new political parties and convince the Arab autocrats to reform? Inaction is a statement to all brutal regimes.

No comments:

Post a Comment