My Iraqi co-worker reminded me that in 1991, there were no-fly zones imposed on Iraq, on the beginning of the up-rising against Saddam, again, with the pretext of protecting civilians, but the real purpose, he said, was to keep him in power, until a better replacement was found. He is critical about the no-fly zone, however [as a lawyer] he recalls the duty of the international community to protect civilians being massacred by their government. “That’s state terrorism and the international community has the responsibility to protect civilians against genocide”. He affirmed.
There have been several arguments in favor and against the intervention. I am in Iraq, and what I get from the people here- not a positive reaction -is that this is the same reality that they lived under Saddam and the imposition of the no-fly zones. Not too hopeful that this is in the best interest of the Libyan people!
Lamis Andoni continues her argument by saying that “No government is free if at its very inception it depends upon external powers – powers that, in the Libyan case, have their eye on the country's oil wealth and are motivated by geopolitical interests.” The imposition of the no fly zone leading to military intervention in Libya, will lead to the country’s infrastructure being destroyed and as a consequence a less sovereign future government in Libya; and as my coworker points, they will pass the bill of every single bullet they fire, to the Libyan people and he speaks from experience….
In the same line, Richard Falk writes opposing the intervention acknowledging the Qaddafi regime as being brutal, “but does it validate a UN authorized military intervention carried out by a revived partnership of those old colonial partners – France and Britain – and their post-colonial American imperial overseer?"-- I think that the real thing goes more like: let's stabilize the oil producer country, Iraq style, bomb their infrastructure and then bring a lot of ex-pats to fix the mess, and establish an Oil for Food program. We know that it will not work.
Falk adds the point that history has proven right in giving people self-determination, even though its short term costs and highlights the problems of intervention because of its rarely good intended motivations. He rises questions on the UN vote: “why China and Russia expressed their opposition by abstaining rather than using their veto, why South Africa voted with the majority, and why Germany, India, and Brazil were content to abstain, yet seemed to express reservations sufficient to cast 'no' votes, depriving the interventionist of the nine affirmative votes that they needed to obtain authorization.”
Nicholas Kristoff in his NYT column argues in favor of intervention, he talks about Libyans holding thank you rallies in Bhengazi. In his article he points out that “The world took three-and-a-half years to respond forcefully to the slaughter in Bosnia, and about three-and-a-half weeks to respond in Libya.” He acknowledges that intervention is more likely in countries with natural resources –like Libya- but that is “worth preventing some massacres and genocide, even if we can’t intervene every time.”
Kristoff cites a senior White House official saying that the humanitarian argument was decisive for President Obama: “The president was chilled by what would happen to the people of Benghazi and Tobruk. There were critical national security and national interest reasons to do this, but what compelled the president to act so quickly was the immediate prospect of mass atrocities against the people of Benghazi and the east. He was well aware of the risks of military action, but he also feared the costs of inaction.” --What costs, the gas prices?
Now there are many questions: How many civilians are going to be killed by the western forces before Qaddafi gives up power? After Libyans get rid of their dictator, are they going to be under foreign occupation? Are western powers going to respect the sovereignty of the Libyan people or are they going to impose another dictator that serves their interest to conquest oil and resources?
Another question is: Is the situation in Libya going to discourage the current Arab revolution? The revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt have given power and hopes of change to the Arab world, hopes of democracy, justice and equality. But this will only be a reality if after the dictators fall, the local people take over without further western influence in their affairs.
L. Andoni, The children of Omar Mukhtar, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/2011324111831413805.html, accesed March 24, 2011.
M.Mamdani, Libya: Politics of humanitarian intervention, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201133111277476962.html, accessed on April 4, 2011.
N.D. Kristof, Hugs From Libyans, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/opinion/24kristof.html?_r=1&hp#p[BwaBwa, accessed on April 4, 2011.
R. Falk, Gaddafi, moral interventionism and revolution, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/2011322135442593945.html, Accessed on April 4, 2011