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WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO LIBYA? August 30, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in North Africa.
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Could it be that the Libyan War we have witnessed at a distance was not primarily a civil uprising, despite Gaddafi’s 42 years in government, but another example of active neo-imperialism from the usual suspects Britain, France and the United States?

Juan Cole argues the contrary, but others are less sure. For example, consider Simon Jenkins in The Guardian who disputes the factual case for three contentions: the purported massacre in Benghazi, the absence of foreign ground troops, Britain and the other intervening powers were not supporting parties to a civil war. Significantly he argues:

There had been no massacre in Benghazi, only the threat of an attack on the city by Gaddafi if the rebels failed to negotiate. While the threat was real, the assumption of “thousands” of deaths was Nato propaganda to justify its desire to “do something” for the Arab spring. Whether it reinforced the rebels in their intransigence must now be moot.

The threat to Benghazi was the sole basis on which UN and Arab league support was obtained for a no-fly zone. The threat was averted within days. No further resolution was gained to support a Nato advance on Tripoli, let alone to kill Gaddafi from the air, because one would not have been forthcoming. The ambition to topple the regime was based on the claim to be “protecting civilians” by installing a more democratic one.

The claim that the intervention “saved thousands of lives” was thus wholly conjectural, and must be set against the thousands that have certainly been lost, and may yet be lost, through the intervention. These deaths can be justified only on the thesis that any precipitated revolution is worth any number of lives – as is asserted by apologists for Iraq.

At Law and Disorder Radio, Brian Becker makes other and similar points suggesting outright lying by the media and governments. Pepe Escobar is another who is doubts the official story, suggesting the notion of responsibility to protect was transmogrified into right to plunder,.

These matters area always contentious, and without alternative sources of information, the official version of events will be for the most part accepted. So what is to be done?

When and if military violence is used, regardless of the circumstances, an independent and thorough investigation should be undertaken, and those without distinction who engage in indicted.

ELSEWHERE:

Stephen Zunes concludes at Tikkun:

However, given the strong role of NATO in the uprising and the close ties developed with the military leaders of the revolution, it would be naïve to assume that the United States and other countries in the coalition won’t try to assert their influence in the direction of post-Qaddafi Libya. One of the problems of armed revolutionary struggle compared to unarmed revolutionary struggle is the dependence upon foreign supporters, which can then be leveraged after victory. Given the debt and ongoing dependency some of the rebel leaders have developed with NATO countries in recent months, it would similarly be naïve to think that some of them wouldn’t be willing to let this happen.

In summary, while Qaddafi’s ouster is cause for celebration, it is critical that it not be interpreted as a vindication of Western military interventionism. Not only will the military side of the victory likely leave a problematic legacy, we should not deny agency to the many thousands of Libyans across regions, tribes and ideologies, who ultimately made victory possible through their refusal to continue their cooperation with an oppressive and illegitimate regime. It is ultimately a victory of the Libyan people. And they alone should determine their country’s future

A government that exists for the needs of the people, at their discretion, and accountable to them is certainly desirable. It would be foolish to believe that violent interventions orchestrated by external interests are not designed to maintain and further the violent political order in the world. I am not suggesting that outcome is what Professor Zunes is recommending.

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