Signs of Hope – A continuing series
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"Kraven på att stoppa blodbad i Libyen påminner starkt om tidigare humanitära interventioner. Av dem kan vi lära oss att löftet om en snabb militär lösning ofta visar sig ihåligt. Sedan Srebrenica vet vi att flygförbudszoner inte räcker för att stoppa massakrer. Sedan Rwanda att FN-trupper på marken inte nödvändigtvis förhindrar massmord. Risken är betydande för att man nu när tärningen ändå är kastad snart anser att stridande marktrupper trots allt måste sättas in.
Också för rebellerna borde varningar för att låta sig inhägnas av stormakter ringa. Om priset för att bli av med Gaddafi är att Libyen i likhet med Kosovo blir ett dysfunktionellt FN-protektorat med en permanent amerikansk militär närvaro, eller om man som Irak förlorar kontrollen över sin olja kan upproret sluta i dubbel tragedi.
Mest tragiskt är att varje tanke på att lösa svåra konflikter med annat än krig verkar ha försvunnit helt ur den allmänna debatten. Kan man endast välja mellan passivitet och missilanfall kommer många, inklusive vänsterkrafter, att välja missiler. Men både FN och vänstern borde sträva efter aktiv konfliktlösning på fredlig väg."
"What's the reason we can't we intervene here? If anything, this seems like a much more obvious humanitarian intervention than Libya where a spontaneous uprising to overthrow the government has not even come close to the mayhem and displacement in Ivory Coast. It's not that I think we should intervene in every humanitarian crisis. But honestly, the truth is that we don't intervene in any humanitarian crises. We intervene in places in which we have large financial and strategic interests, period. It's merely a convenience to attach a humanitarian label to it and persuade everyone that we are doing God's work instead. Even the arguments for Iraq were all wrapped up in "rape rooms" and "he gassed his own people" rhetoric. The entire debacle eventually rested on the trope "the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein."
I used to think in these terms --- using our military power for good and all that rot. But as I've grown older I've come to the conclusion that wars are almost always the wrong choice. If Hitler is sweeping across Europe, committing genocide and declaring his intention to take over the world, I'm reluctantly in. But short of that I'm always going to be extremely skeptical of motives and interest about any of these military adventures. It's rare that this extreme form of violence is used for the reasons stated and far more often than not it creates more mayhem and instability than it stops. The law of unintended consequences is never more consequential.
The reasons being stated for this one are even more unconvincing than usual. Insulting, actually. Millions of people are suffering all over the world, even here in the US. And the money that's spent to protect oilfields and our "strategic interest" in keeping people drunk on scarce resources so that the already wealthy can get wealthier would go a long way toward alleviating it. Calling these oil field protection operations "humanitarian" is Orwellian and it prevents the American people from facing the real questions before them about their own futures and how to genuinely work toward a more peaceful, equitable and decent world."
"Ironically, one of the reasons many people supported the call for a no-fly zone was the fear that if Gaddafi managed to crush the Libyan people's uprising and remain in power, it would send a devastating message to other Arab dictators: Use enough military force and you will keep your job.
Instead, it turns out that just the opposite may be the result: It was after the UN passed its no-fly zone and use-of-force resolution, and just as US, British, French and other warplanes and warships launched their attacks against Libya, that other Arab regimes escalated their crack-down on their own democratic movements.
In Yemen, 52 unarmed protesters were killed and more than 200 wounded on Friday by forces of the US-backed and US-armed government of Ali Abdullah Saleh. It was the bloodiest day of the month-long Yemeni uprising. President Obama "strongly condemned" the attacks and called on Saleh to "allow demonstrations to take place peacefully".
But while a number of Saleh's government officials resigned in protest, there was no talk from Saleh's US backers of real accountability, of a travel ban or asset freeze, not even of slowing the financial and military aid flowing into Yemen in the name of fighting terrorism.
Similarly in US-allied Bahrain, home of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, at least 13 civilians have been killed by government forces. Since the March 15 arrival of 1,500 foreign troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, brought in to protect the absolute power of the king of Bahrain, 63 people have been reported missing.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said: "We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain. Violence is not the answer, a political process is."
But she never demanded that foreign troops leave Bahrain, let alone threatened a no-fly zone or targeted air strikes to stop their attacks."
"This is why it’s so nuts for intervention enthusiasts to dismiss out of hand the obvious concerns that have been raised about US-subsidized regimes in Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia attacking un-armed protestors even as we intervene militarily in Libya to halt repression. There’s an obvious question as to what, in reality, American policy in the Arab world is. Is this part of a policy of boosting democratic change in the region, or is it part of a policy of bolstering the position of the Persian Gulf dictators who are important clients of American arms manufacturers? Basically what Eugene Robinson said."
"The stench of death hanging over protest centers in the Arab world is more than matched by the rank hypocrisy befouling Washington and the lesser capitals of Western Empire. There is, however, not the slightest allusion to “hypocrisy,” in the imperial media. The “H” word is not to be used with respect to Obama or the other lords of Empire, even though it is as obvious as the proverbial nose on one’s face; the censorship in the mass media is holding.
Consider it. The Western powers have now launched a full-scale military assault on Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya, never a reliable “partner” of the West. First there were denunciations and demonization of Qaddafi following the Libyan uprising in the East, then sanctions, then the attack. Ostensibly, the attack is to “protect” the Libyan people from the hand of Qaddafi. But is such a rationale even remotely credible?
Look at other events happening on the very same weekend the attacks began. In Bahrain Shia protesters by the score are being gunned down by the Sunni police of the Al Khalifa “royal family,” sometimes killing the protesters like animals with hunting rifles. They are joined by the tanks of the Saudi “royals,” the same Saudi Arabia whence came the majority of the perpetrators of 9/11. There are no American cruise missiles aimed at the Saudi tanks and no threats from the Western powers to stop the carnage of the thugs ruling Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. What comes from the U.S.? No denunciation, no demonization, no sanctions, no attack."
"Did the United States win legitimacy through the vote at the UN? Hardly. Five huge world powers abstained: India, Brazil, Germany, China and Russia. Using its enormous clout as the world’s last, if declining, hyperpower, the United States had to dragoon tiny little countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Portugal to vote yes, or it couldn’t have won the nine votes it needed to pass the resolution. At one point, Susan Rice had to scurry out to find the South African ambassador, who’s apparently tried to avoid the vote. The vote almost didn’t pass, since the United States, the UK and France ended up with only ten votes in the UNSC.
Did the UNSC resolution that passed demand that Muammar Qaddafi step down? No, it didn’t. While it gave open-ended permission to the United States, the UK, France, and other powers to attack Libya (short of an invasion), it has nothing whatsoever to say about regime change. (Go ahead, read the whole text.) It calls for “the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians,” demands “ a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people,” and “demands that the Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law.” That, however, hasn’t stopped President Obama from acting like he has a mandate for regime change, and US officials are making it clear that even if Qaddafi accepts the UN's terms, he can't survive. And Susan Rice says that the United States is prepared to go beyond the UN resolution, by arming the anti-Qaddafi forces.
So who’s in the new “coalition of the willing”? So far, it looks like it’s the United States, the British, the French and that bastion of democracy, the United Arab Emirates. That vicious and undemocratic kleptocracy, whose troops recently invaded Bahrain to put down a democratic rebellion there, is sending its jet to participate in the attack on Libya. In a painful and delivious irony, Clinton was meeting with the UAE’s foreign minister in Paris, and here’s how the Times described her dilemma: “In a Paris hotel room on Monday night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found herself juggling the inconsistencies of American foreign policy in a turbulent Middle East. She criticized the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates for sending troops to quash protests in Bahrain even as she pressed him to send planes to intervene in Libya.” Or was it really a dilemma? Qaddafi has long been a thorn in the side of the United States, so toppling him is a good thing, but the rulers of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf have long been subservient stooges, so why not keep them around?"
"Support for war against Libya has risen to a fever pitch even among liberals. I would point out that Russia, China, India, Brazil and Germany abstained from the UN Security Council vote yesterday, belying the Obama administration’s contention that bombing Libya has worldwide support. There is very little difference between George Bush’s 2003 “coalition of the willing” and Barack Obama’s “alliance” in 2010, since it is comprised of the US, UK, France and a handful of reactionary Arab states in the Persian Gulf who are meanwhile using brutal force against their own dissidents and rebels.
In response to President Obama’s warlike declaration of intent against Libya, Representative Dennis Kucinich issued the following statement today. Needless to say, I agree. Here is the statement:"
"UPDATE Tuesday 2:30 pm:The entire conclave of neoconservatives, virtually an identical collection to the cohorts of the Project for a New American Century and the pro-Iraq war lobby before 2003, issued another call for President Obama to intervene in Libya, including air strikes on Libyan military positions.
Says the statement issued by the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI), Bill Kristol’s thinktank:
"Thirty-eight former U.S. government officials, human rights and democracy advocates, and foreign policy experts expressed concern Tuesday regarding the ongoing crisis in Libya, urging President Obama to: urgently institute a no fly zone over key Libyan cities and towns, recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council, and explore the possibility of targeted strikes against Qaddafi regime assets."
You can read the whole letter at their site. Signers include Randy Scheunemann, who is chief foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin, Martin Peretz and Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic, Gary Schmitt, Tom Donnelly, and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, Robert Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, Bill Kristol of FPI and the Weekly Standard, Eric Edelman, Reuel Marc Gerecht, and many others.
UPDATE Monday, 4:45 pm: The United States public is overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. intervention in Libya, according to a new Pew poll:
"The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 10-13 among 1,001 adults, finds that 63% say the United States does not have a responsibility to act in Libya; fewer than half as many (27%) say the U.S. has this responsibility. Opinion about U.S. responsibility to take action in Libya is comparable to views about the conflict between Serbs and Bosnians in 1995; just 30% said the U.S. had a responsibility in that case. By contrast, far more Americans said the U.S. had a responsibility to take action in Kosovo in 1999 and in the Darfur crisis of 2007. …
"Roughly half of Americans (51%) say that the best argument for not using military force in Libya is that U.S. military forces are already overcommitted.""