People are dying in Libya as I write this

You will have to forgive me if I do not post anything for the next few days. The intervention mandated by the UN Security Council for military action against Libya, has Impacted on my mood. As I write, people are dying, slaughtered by the corrupt regime and by coalition forces.

While I find all military action distressing in the extreme, I feel less opposed to this action than, say, Iraq and Afghanistan. My concern regarding Libya is the level of civilian casualties and what the motives are of the US government. To paraphrase Churchill: “You can always rely on the Americans to do the right thing ….. once they have exhausted all other options”.

I am also exhausted by ‘military experts’ who say that modern weapons are so accurate that they can “enter buildings through open windows”. We have been told something like that during every conflict, yet civilians are always killed. And I am also sickened by the salivating at the BBC and on Sky News at the prospect of Britain at War once again.

I might not feel so depressed had Britain not been the poodle of the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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8 Responses

  1. I hate it personally.

    Prediction = another long drawn out war where civilians bear the brunt of the death toll. What happens when when Gaddafi tells his supporters to take there colours off? You have the same guerilla war as we had in Iraq and that we have now in Afghanistan. Missiles fired at buildings will do NOTHING to hurt the guerillas who are just lying in wait.

    Smelling another war for oil.

  2. The Falklands have a lot to answer for – nothing like a ‘quick war’ and ‘victory’ to boost a governments ratings and make the the leaders look like ‘real men of action’ – or so the theory goes. Even if you beleive it, it never goes to plan.

    Of course when the ‘quick war’ goes wrong and turns in to a long running mess, and government popularity falls further – all the more need to try to find yet another ‘quick war’ to recover from that one…

    Politicians like the worst gamblers chasing their losses.

  3. I happen to agree with Harris. Unfortunately, precedent for this type of intervention has been set many times previously.

    I remember in Kosovo where we had OSCE forces on the ground before the NATO bombardment. Once the NATO strike was called on, OSCE forces had to withdraw, thus escalating the ethnic cleansing in the region.

    Whilst we don’t have OSCE forces in Libya, nor do we have ethnic cleansing. It’s important to remember that without ground forces, regimes can carry on regardless, whilst turning either an apathetic or neutral populace against interventionists and towards the regime.

  4. Whilst I’ve some sympathy for what is being said, there are always examples that can be trotted out to suit the occasion. Sierra Leone is an example of a brief and timely intervention which had positive results in which we played a prominant role. Ultimately we did the right thing in Serbia/Bosnia, having sat on the sidelines for far too long. A no-fly zone in Northern Iraq certainly helped the Kurds to establish semi-autonomous government. In Rwanda we just sat on the sidelines and allowed the slaughter to continue, to our shame.

    There are no trite or easy solutions, including sitting aside, and situations often develop in a way that is not predicted. In the case of Libya, a nation is subjugated by a tyrant and are asking for our help to save their lives. Our response seems to be over the top in a way which may not help the people in the long run. Whilst I recognise that to establish a no-fly zone there has to be the destruction of military installations, as Luke says, this may not effect a change on the ground, and we may find ourselves then sitting back again and allowing the killing to go on.

    What concerns me is that somehow the argument is being put forward that we have no moral authority to intervene because we’ve got it wrong before, and that there are always examples of countries who have a worse record than the one being considered at the time.

    Surely if there is an injustice that we can address, a fascist who we can help to remove, or just a life that we can save, then we have to intervene where we can reasonably expect to make a positive difference – learning the lessons of previous failure of course, but doing nothing is not an option.

    • I think you sum up the ‘issue’ with your phrase at the end of your first paragraph “to our shame”.

      To whose shame precisely? Mine? Yours? The Chinese? The Indians? The Japanese?

      If you feel shame then it is your concern – feel free to use your life, property any anything else you have title to, in addressing that – but you have no right to drag anyone else in to salve your conscience. Least of all people who by sheer chance happen to be geographically close to you.

      • Surely the shame of all who label themselves any kind of progressives. If a similar number to those who protested against Iraq had come on to the streets to urge intervention in Rwanda then, who knows, perhaps the deaths there might have been an order of magnitude lower.

        Only time will tell the results of the intervention in Libya but, taken at face value, it seems the right thing to do in a country on Europe’s doorsteps and whose stability, or lack thereof, has the potential to affect us deeply.

        When we elect governments (and notwithstanding the iffy mandate this lot have got) we explicitly delegate to them the power to take the nation to war – so they do in fact have the right to ‘drag’ us in. If the governments chosen by election consistently act in ways that greatly upset you then the solution is to move to a country whose electorally-expressed views on war and peace are more closely aligned with your own.

  5. @Tim Sewell

    I think you have a rather facile view of things. If your view is “if you don’t like things, then move” then I am not sure what you think politics is about.

  6. Best article I’ve read. Al jazeera seems to produce better coverage generally

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201132093458329910.html

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