Why Libya matters

A reader here comments:

I have great respect for you and your site but find myself dumbfounded by your enlisting Leon Wieseltier in your campaign to impose (or as you would say “respond to the rebels’ pleas”) a NFZ [no-fly zone] in Libya. The right or wrong of such a move is highly debatable. I for one feel no honest observer of the last twenty years of US/NATO interventions can see much wisdom or efficacy in such action even with the possibility (by no means assured) of it bringing about the desired outcome of rebel (who exactly?) success and the tyrant’s fall. Wieseltier, a deluded apologist for extreme violence (Iraq, Bosnia and where else?) shows his true “humanitarian intervention” colors by solemnly citing the awful Samantha Powers. Her “sad” (for reasons other than those he cites) book “A Problem From Hell” the much lauded whitewash of U.S. slaughter (by simply ignoring it) is the Bible used by the Humanitarian Interventionists to justify violence they -liberals- wish to unleash. One of several major lies Powers propagates is the fiction that the US “stood idly by” in Rwanda when in fact it was very much involved with Kagame and his invasion of Rwanda (to this day supporting his murderous rampages in DRC). If you’re going to insist that US/NATO –responsible for some of the most grievous violations of international law resulting in the deaths of millions of innocent civilians– bomb (see Sec Def Gates) Libya I would respectfully suggest you don’t let neo-con hacks like Wieseltier make your case for you.

I can’t see why you think the US would magically change its spots after decades of murderous policies and merely float above Libya like some guardian angel, do its NFZ thing, make things safe for Libyan democracy and then turn around and fly off into the sunset. Even if the US were to morph into an egalitarian and neutral police force devoid of its mighty imperial baggage the proposed NFZ would be fraught with unnecessary risk of disaster for the Libyan people themselves. No such use of power has ever been so clinically used without serious consequences in the form of entanglements and debts owed not to mention the usual unforeseen tangential horrors of war all highly probable and predictable even if it didn’t involve the players and history in this instance. Powerful state actors are not designed to do work free of charge. The idea that the US can use military force in Libya without further destabilizing the region seems ludicrous to me.

My response:

You refer to my “campaign to impose (or as you would say ‘respond to the rebels’ pleas’) a NFZ in Libya”.

Whether a no-fly zone is imposed disregarding the preference of rebels, or is enforced in response to rebel pleas, is an all-important distinction. I don’t support foreign intervention that would amount to the US or any other outside power simply trying to impose its will on Libya. Neither do I see any evidence that such a move is on the cards. The idea that the US is itching to involve itself in another imperial adventure implies that the US has learned nothing from Iraq.

When Obama says we are slowly tightening the noose on Gaddafi, the operative word is not “noose” — it’s “slowly”. However much he and other Western leaders might profess an interest in seeing Gaddafi ousted, their primary interest is in seeing him restrain his brutality just enough that the outside powers don’t get drawn in.

Note that Obama said the US would stand up for “defenseless civilians” in Libya. In other words, they can’t expect any help from the US unless they stop fighting. That’s not much of an offer to those fighters now retreating from Ras Lanuf. In fact, it’s an invitation for Gaddafi to retake Brenghazi. If its residents try to defend their stronghold, they won’t be defenseless civilians. But if they lay down their weapons, Gaddafi can reassert control without a fight.

Those who are now vehemently opposing a no-fly zone might stop to consider whether they are actually aiding and abetting in what might end up as an opened-ended process to isolate Gaddafi that ultimately causes more harm to the Libyan people than anyone else. For governments which like to structure foreign policies around easy-to-demonize enemies, Gaddafi is more useful remaining in power than in being overthrown.

Although there have been numerous reports in which rebel leaders and individual fighters are directly quoted appealing for swift implementation of a no-fly-zone, I have not seen a single statement in which rebels say they do not want a no-fly zone. There are plenty of statements saying they don’t want foreign troops on Libyan soil — I share their assumption that a no-fly zone will not be a precursor to an invasion simply because the US and NATO are indeed overstretched in Afghanistan. The Pentagon doesn’t want to trumpet its lack of capacity — it prefers to council caution.

If I cite Wieseltier or anyone else, that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing everything that individual has ever written. I trust that the readers here have enough critical intelligence to evaluate statements based on their substance and not the hallowed or hollow authority of the source.

Wieseltier says the White House is “so haunted by past Arab anger at American action in the Middle East that it cannot recognize present Arab anger at American inaction in the Middle East.” The validity of that statement doesn’t hinge on who wrote it. The frustration on the ground in Libya which Wieseltier references from a New York Times report is also evident in this statement from Salem Abdel Wahad, a 30-year-old Libyan rebel soldier:

We find one thing strange: the position of the United states. It’s impossible that the U.S. would not have imposed a no-fly zone, impossible, unless they have some agreement with Gaddafi against the Libyan people.

You say “The idea that the US can use military force in Libya without further destabilizing the region seems ludicrous”. Maybe. But as the Arab democratic revolution develops, we either accept and even dare I say celebrate the fact that this is a hugely destabilizing process, or we say that in the interests of regional stability, it would be much better if these angry Arabs temper their desire for political freedom.

The Arab democratic revolution is bad for America — at least in the short term. It’s pushing up gas prices and it’s harming the economy — and most Americans don’t really give a shit about whether Libyans or pretty much anyone else have democratic freedoms or live under oppression. The same kind of myopic self-interest applies to the US government. So, trying to build up public pressure in support of foreign assistance to Libya’s rebels is not about appealing to idealistic instincts where they are unlikely to be found. It’s about trying to enlist support for a just cause even if that support comes tainted with a bundle of dubious interests.

The fact that I support calls for a NFZ does not mean that I believe this would necessarily decisively tip the balance in the rebels’ favor, but if implemented fast enough it could place an urgently needed obstacle on Gaddafi’s path to victory and give the rebels some breathing space. This is and will remain their fight.

If Libyans could secure their freedom through non-violent protests, Gaddafi would already have been toppled. But since he chose to use violence to maintain his rule, those who had already risen up against him were left with a choice: be rounded up and executed or imprisoned, or to fight for their lives. I think they made the right choice and that their fight is worthy of support by anyone who opposes oppression. Those who believe that stability should be our overriding concern can continue watching and hoping that things quieten down soon. But have no doubt, if Gaddafi holds on, autocratic rulers across the region will have taken note that the West remains, as it has long been, a willing partner in rule by force — even as we profess our love of democracy.

Print Friendly
facebooktwittermail

Comments

  1. Paul, the biggest flaw in your argument is that you assume the US supports the rebels. Many/most arguments do this. The No Fly Zone may be a more neutral, thus forgivable than trying to drop two bombs on him, as I’ve advocated.

  2. Also, I’m surprised you haven’t looked at the Japanese reactor, which appears to be a bigger deal than the MSM is letting on.

  3. Colm O' Toole says:

    It’s interesting to note that during colonialism in Libya, the area around Bengazi hosted a major concentration camp (in fact all of the Italian concentration camps in Libya were in the East of the country, now the rebels stronghold). The estimates of the number of Libyan freedom fighters under Omar Mukhtar killed in the camps is around 80,000, mainly through starvation.

    I say it is interesting to note because even here on this site people think that The West is interested in Libya only to “oppose oppression” as Paul put it. The belief that suddenly The West has grown a conscience towards people in Africa and just wants to help the oppressed people out is what is ludicrous.

    I asked a few days ago if Che would consider the US an ally of oppressed people. I could just a well ask if the Palestinians would consider US/EU an ally of oppressed people. Or anyone in the Arab world?

    If the European and American military get involved in Libya it will not be because they want to fight oppression. Hell they have been backing most of these dictators (including Post 2003 Gaddaffi) since the 1950’s.

    I’m seriously worried about the rebels in Libya and understand why they would want a NFZ (who wouldn’t if they were getting bombed to death). But everyone should realise that the US is not on the side of oppressed people, in Libya or anywhere else in the Third World. That goes double in the Arab world where the US and Europe consistantly supports dictators/occupation/repression.

  4. Vince J. says:

    I think the reader’s comments are spot on! Don’t agree with your arguments.

  5. Vince J. says:

    Colm O’ Toole
    Well said!

  6. rosemerry says:

    I must agree with the reader and the comments of colm and vince; Who knows who the “rebels” represent? They are certainly not peaceful protesters. If it were Gaza or Lebanon, they’d be called terrorists, and nobody would think of a NFZ enforced against Israel’s bombs

  7. I think you have the right side of the argument, Paul. The first distortion in the comments and the opening argument is that is all so America-centric as to be nonsense. It’s good to see so many people recognize that the US is nothing but a troublemaker and unfit to attempt any humanitarian intervention in Libya, or elsewhere — the problem is who can replace them? The Libyans understand this — that’s why they rule out ground support.
    A largely Canadian initiative was designed to provide that humanitarian assistance — “Although usually considered to be categorically distinct from most definitions of humanitarian intervention,[21] the emergence of a ‘Responsibility to protect’ (R2P) deserves mention. Responsibility to Protect is the name of a report produced in 2001 by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) which was established by the Canadian government in response to the history of unsatisfactory humanitarian interventions. The report sought to establish a set of clear guidelines for determining when intervention is appropriate, what the appropriate channels for approving an intervention are and how the intervention itself should be carried out.” (Wikipedia)
    Unfortunately the subsequent actions of the Bush administration resulted in R2P being shuffled off to the side. The present Canadian government is too doctrinaire right wing to try to promote its principles.
    This Libyan situation is exactly the kind of humanitarian disaster the report was intended to deal with. The Libyans began peaceful action to free themselves from Qaddhafi and his thugs and have been obliged to attempt to protect themselves from this state directed murder by the state’s own armed forces. It is a very good opportunity to bring R2P back onto the table in the UN.
    Lastly I would point out the biased and tellingly obstructionist text of the author of the opening arguments. For the record, Paul Kagame was the Tutsi leader whose forces STOPPED the genocide in Rwanda. Your correspondent clearly has an axe to grind when he ignores the genocide and murder of 800,000 people by the Hutu. You commenters are all being taken for a ride by those whose interests are aimed at curtailing this current movement toward democracy in the Arab world.

  8. Ian Arbuckle says:

    “We find one thing strange: the position of the United states. It’s impossible that the U.S. would not have imposed a no-fly zone, impossible, unless they have some agreement with Gaddafi against the Libyan people.”

    No, I think the US has an agreement with the Saudi King Abdullah and his family, who have every intention to use their US supplied fighter bombers and helicopters to put down any self styled Shiia revolutionaries in the north east which may be only days away. Protecting rebels or even defenceless protesters from tyrants may prove a difficult precedent to set. It would be difficult later to draw the line between bad tyrants and good ones when applying no fly zones.

    The interest here is also European and America is not only pretending it needs international cover it is in fact the Europeans (French and British) who are those pushing for the NFZ. Libya is seen as a barrier to hoards of unwanted economic refugees which Gaddafi has now promised to use as a “weapon”, an invasion of Europe. There is a need seen by the west to quickly remove a failing despot and get some stability in its place.

    I’m sure in this world of pragmatic powers, unfortunately the humanitarian considerations get more jaw time but but are far lower on the national and international priority lists of “why” to do anything. But if a power like the USA have decided that “Gaddafi must go” anyway, why does Obama say “we are slowly tightening the noose on Gaddafi”? Why slowly, if quickly would save more lives?

    We live in a world that is run for corporations not people.

  9. Vince J. says:

    I suggest, once again, watching Harold Pinter’s Brilliant Speech on Youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6tgWhMKqNk

  10. Vince J. says:

    Yeah… mention Harold Pinter, and you get “waiting moderation”!

  11. “But have no doubt, if Gaddafi holds on, autocratic rulers across the region will have taken note that the West remains, as it has long been, a willing partner in rule by force — even as we profess our love of democracy.”

    Why is this though? Is it because we refuse to intervene on their behalf or because we have supported their oppressors? The latter would appear to be the far bigger problem and would explain the US’ timid response to the actions of the governments in Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. It this support that makes us look hypocritical and would continue to make us look that way even if we did intervene in Libya.

    “But as the Arab democratic revolution develops, we either accept and even dare I say celebrate the fact that this is a hugely destabilizing process, or we say that in the interests of regional stability, it would be much better if these angry Arabs temper their desire for political freedom.”

    I certainly do celebrate what Arabs are doing and quite frankly it is inspiring. What angers me the most is that the US aided in their oppression for so long. Where I disagree with you is that these revolts have been carried out by Arabs for Arabs and I believe it should stay that way. The US should withdraw its support for oppressive regimes and start living by its principles. For example, that would mean an end to indefinite detention and a stop to abuses done to prisoners like Bardley Manning. In doing so, the US could lead by example and promote democracy in that way.

  12. Any comment that includes a link goes into moderation. That’s one line of defense against spam. Nothing to do with Harold Pinter.

  13. M. Smith says:

    Paul,
    I clearly understand the distinction between a NFZ imposed disregarding the preference of rebels and one enforced in response to rebel pleas. This however has nothing to do with the question at hand. The question is not whether a NFZ in theory is not desirable, warranted or a just response to the killing of people outgunned by a murderous thug and his army. The question is whether the U.S./NATO (let’s just be honest and from now on call it the U.S.) is the party to do it. The fact that it is the only state capable of carrying out such action makes the argument against it painful to make but by no means negates its core principle. As in so many cases where good people see terrible things happening and feel compelled to “do something” they easily forget that the nature of power is that its sole purpose is to accrue more of it. People of conscience naturally want to do anything they can to assist the rebels in Libya but I don’t see anything in your comments that addresses the issue of US power and its application doing more harm than good. I am not one who “vehemently opposes” a NFZ for Libya. As a U.S. citizen, I oppose the U.S. being the power to carry it out.
    In that vein I simply can not expect to hear anything other than the usual equivocating drivel out of the mouth of Obama, the man expanding terror and mayhem in neighboring countries (need I remind your readers of how eloquent you’ve been on U.S. silence regarding the slaughter in Gaza?) while putting his smooth stamp of approval on the worst of the Bush/Cheney criminal enterprise at home. Trying to decode the meaning of “defenseless civilians” as described by Obama seems to me not the best use of our time. As Colm O’Toole in so many words put it, there is absolutely no evidence to support the argument that the U.S. has ever cared about human rights not only in Africa but throughout the “grand area” it has worked so hard to control since WWII (we’ll leave aside slavery and genocide prior to that for now). In fact, there is a direct correlation between US assistance (military or otherwise) to client states and a spike in human rights abuses.
    You say:
    “I think they made the right choice and that their fight is worthy of support by anyone who opposes oppression. Those who believe that stability should be our overriding concern can continue watching and hoping that things quieten down soon. But have no doubt, if Gaddafi holds on, autocratic rulers across the region will have taken note that the West remains, as it has long been, a willing partner in rule by force — even as we profess our love of democracy.”
    I am really trying hard not to believe you have jettisoned everything you’ve ever said or written on this site in order to conflate “anyone who opposes oppression” with the US National Security State. The US cares not a wit about oppression unless it’s being carried out by official enemies. I hope you’re not saying that my interest is only in “stability.” Certainly not “stability” as in obedience to US commands as the term is used by US elites. I support the right of human beings everywhere to have full participation and say in governance and the economic order within which they live. This is not something the US establishment has had in mind since forever.
    My opposition to the use of US military power in Libya is not something I come to without acknowledging the terrible suffering (now and possibly worse in the future) you are valiantly trying to mitigate. I am in solidarity with the rebellion in Libya. History –and in my opinion common sense– forces me to conclude however that US involvement will only cause greater suffering in the long run.
    As for Weiseltier, I have enough critical intelligence to know your citing him doesn’t mean you endorse everything he’s ever written. I just happen to think that there is a credibility factor involved here when it comes to Serious Pundits who support the use of high explosives on defenseless civilian populations giving advise on matters of military force. Quoting him did the opposite of bolstering your argument.

  14. Fedup23 — “these revolts have been carried out by Arabs for Arabs and I believe it should stay that way.” So even if this particular group of Arabs — Libyans trying to overthrow Gaddafi — are actually requesting outside support in the form of a no-fly zone, we should tell them: sorry, we can’t do that because it will sully the purity of your revolution.

    Ian Arbunkle — “Protecting rebels or even defenceless protesters from tyrants may prove a difficult precedent to set.” Indeed, which makes it all the more interesting that the Arab League is now calling on the UN to impose a no-fly zone. Who knows what kind of backroom machinations are going on right now, but the Arab League’s appeal would seem to make it much more difficult for Obama to weasel his way out of this corner.

    “There is a need seen by the west to quickly remove a failing despot and get some stability in its place.” Agreed. Which underlines the fact that if a no-fly zone is put in place there will be a whole array of motives behind its support, the least of which will be the welfare of Libyans fighting Gaddafi. Even so, they are merely asking for a no-fly zone — they are not saying that those who enforce it should only do so if they have the loftiest of motives.

    Rosemary — “Who knows who the ‘rebels’ represent? They are certainly not peaceful protesters. If it were Gaza or Lebanon, they’d be called terrorists, and nobody would think of a NFZ enforced against Israel’s bombs.” Rebels is now a catch-all term that no doubt encompasses individuals and some groups with a diversity of interests, yet preeminent among these is the desire to free themselves from tyrannical rule. It would be nice if all tyrants could be overthrown with peaceful protests, but the Libyans tried that route and ended up getting killed in the hundreds and perhaps thousands. They are now fighting back, although with a huge military disadvantage. There is indeed hypocrisy in the apparent willingness of some Western powers to back a NFZ over Libya and not Gaza or Lebanon, but it would be perverse to now argue that we should look to Israel as the arbiter of international standards and say that if Israel can get away with murder, so should Gaddafi.

    Colm O’ Toole — To judge the merits of a no-fly zone on the basis of whether its imposition would accurately represent Western values seems to be missing the point. If, even to only a limited degree, it would assist the Libyan revolution, then it’s worth supporting — unless you believe it would be better for Gaddafi to remain in power.

    Gaddafi’s opponents know they are fighting for their lives. “Everyone in Benghazi knows it’s them or us.” This is not an expression of ideological affiliation. It’s a prediction that if Gaddafi wins then thousands of people will be executed and tens of thousands imprisoned.

    Gaddafi’s jets not only pose an immediate threat to the rebels but they also symbolize the impunity with which mass killings will follow if this uprising is crushed.

  15. M Smith — “My opposition to the use of US military power in Libya is not something I come to without acknowledging the terrible suffering (now and possibly worse in the future) you are valiantly trying to mitigate. I am in solidarity with the rebellion in Libya. History –and in my opinion common sense– forces me to conclude however that US involvement will only cause greater suffering in the long run.”

    If it turns out that the Arab League’s endorsement has now tipped the odds in favor of a no-fly zone and that the US will end up with the primary responsibility of enforcing it, then there will be no need to continue this debate. Needless to say, I’m still of the opinion that the fate of the revolution will be of greater consequence than whether or not it received some form of American support. If US involvement ends up causing greater suffering, then I will have been proved wrong.

    If there’s one thing I can give Obama credit for — and there’s precious little — it is that to a degree he has an ability to not insist that America is the center of the show. If he ends up backing a no-fly zone and doesn’t make it redundant by having a three-month review process before actually doing anything, I’ll be surprised. In any case, it is now looking somewhat more likely than I had anticipated that this debate will be settled by seeing what actually happens.

  16. “So even if this particular group of Arabs — Libyans trying to overthrow Gaddafi — are actually requesting outside support in the form of a no-fly zone, we should tell them: sorry, we can’t do that because it will sully the purity of your revolution.”

    The main reason would be the complications that could arise because of it. In my opinion, injecting a foreign presence is a risky proposition. As I’ve said and others more informed than myself have posted on here and elsewhere there is no guarantee a NFZ would ensure the victory of the Libyan rebels as Gaddafi’s forces would still hold a number of advantages. Many of these adavantages are due to the arms deals “freedom-loving” western governments made with him and I doubt you believe they were clueless regarding the nature of Gaddafi’s regime.

  17. M. Smith says:

    Paul,

    Nothing would make me happier or prouder to be a U.S. citizen then to see the U.S. military used as a force for good in the world. I remain deeply skeptical if not opposed.

    One other very important possible ramification to consider is even given an outcome where the U.S. intervenes with a NFZ and it indeed helps to defeat Gaddafi and then the U.S. more or less disappears from Libya it will most certainly burnish the very idea of U.S. Military intervention being a good thing. This is a very dangerous outcome. It is one of the rarely discussed results of US/NATO’s attack on Serbia. That action undoubtedly greased the wheels for the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. More on this in my posted response to Christopher Hoare shortly.

    Best,
    Martin

  18. M. Smith says:

    Christopher Hoare,
    Your response to my comments is a textbook case of hewing to the “standard narrative” of what is called “humanitarian intervention” with its latest manifestation being “R2P.”
    I would turn your attention to Edward S. Herman and David Peterson’s “The Politics of Genocide”, Monthly Review Press. It is a solidly researched and documented look at power politics and the very selective outrage employed by Western powers when it comes to mass killing. The rule of thumb can pretty much be boiled down to “If those out of favor with the West do it, it’s genocide.” Humanitarian interventionists are robotic in their avoidance of such unpleasantries as Iraq Sanctions of Mass Destruction (500,000 children dead but who’s counting?) and the subsequent invasion and killing of upwards of a million people. Then there is the Indonesian genocide in East Timor –proportionally greater than the numbers killed by Pol Pot– where one of the strongest proponents of R2P Gareth Evans, who as former Australian Foreign Minister secured the Timor Gap Oil Treaty putting the stamp of approval on Indonesia’s brutal occupation of the god forsaken country. Other horror shows not put on the R2P crowd’s list are Colombia (worst human rights record in the Western hemisphere and currently number one in internally displaced persons) and third? largest recipient of US aid, Turkey’s slaughter of the Kurds as Clinton lavished them with arms, Gaza and the Occupied Territories(say no more) ten years and counting in Afghanistan, drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia (don’t forget C-130 gunships) and god knows where else. The point is R2P is the latest doctrine cooked up to serve Western interests while whitewashing or ignoring crimes committed by its proponents. For instance when talking about killing in Cambodia it’s necessary to start in 1975 so as to better focus on Pol Pot’s crimes thereby stuffing down the memory hole the conclusion of US killing of some three million in the region which just about everyone on all sides agrees was instrumental in the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Oh, will we hear R2P’rs mention the US SUPPORT for Pol Pot later when Vietnam had the gall to invade to end his atrocities? I don’t think so. How about US SUPPORT for Saddam Hussein when he was committing his worst crimes? The rest of the dozens of dictators kept in guns and whores for decades across the globe? Responsibility to protect indeed.
    As for the Balkans please see Herman as well as Diana Johnstone’s “Fools’ Crusade”, Michael Mandel’s “How America Gets Away With Murder”, John Laughland’ “Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice” and Peter Brock’s “Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting.” All of these books go a long way toward deconstructing the grossly oversimplified fairy tale of evil Serbs hell bent on committing genocide against Muslims.
    As for your version of the Rwanda killing I’m afraid you’re history suffers from the same misinformation. Like Cambodia it is important to focus laser-like on a particular starting point of murder in this case April-July 1994. Best to ignore Uganda’s invasion (along side Kagame and his RPF forces) of Rwanda in October 1990. Kagame and his Ugandan ally dictator Museveni killed and ethnically cleansed tens of thousands of Hutu farmers in northern Rwanda setting the stage for their US backed weakening of the elected government of Juvenal Habyarimana culminating in the shooting down of his plane by RPF commandos on April 6, 1994. This assassination triggered the long planned assault by Kagame (trained at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas) on the government in which he killed both Hutu and Tutsi in his quest for power. I am only scratching the surface of the reams of documentation long suppressed by western corporate media (like the ICTR’s 2008 acquittal of four high ranking Hutu generals for the most serious crime of conspiracy to commit genocide – not on the front page of the NYT). Putting aside the story behind the killings of that period you might want to check in with your hero Kagame as we speak. Have a look at his mass murder in the Congo. Not consistent with your depiction of a man who is committed to the noble pursuit of peace and justice. Another source you might find of interest (if you’re serious about uncovering the truth and not beholden to what powerful states and their media servants tell you) is Keith Harmon Snow who has spent considerable time in the region. I’d give you the link but that would put me in the “moderation” cue.
    Finally, in your last paragraph you claim I’m biased and “obstructionist(?)” then spew out the Disney version of the Rwanda killings and top it off with the contorted logic of my aiming to “[curtail] this current movement toward democracy in the Arab world.” Since I find this line of reasoning foggy to say the least, I’ll have to leave it at that.

  19. Paul, are not most of the member states of the Arab League hypocritical in this regard as well given their human rights abuses? Are the rulers of Saudi Arabia any more legitimate than Gaddafi is?

  20. Fedup23 — No question — there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the position assumed by the club of autocrats, which is what the Arab League amounts to. No doubt they are eager to try and position themselves as reformists who should not be compared with Gaddafi and this is an attempt to ease the pressure that they themselves face from their own restive populations. The legitimacy and effectiveness of the NFZ over Libya does not depend on whether it’s being supported by hypocrites.

  21. Dieter Heymann says:

    After I had finished reading Don Quixote for the fifth time yesterday the thought struck me that the foreign policy of our country has had a powerful Quixotic component ever since the Wilson Presidency. Especially after WW2 when our country was essentially the only “knight errant” left in the World, our leaders and much of the nation believed that Don USA d’ America was obliged to mount Rosinante, unsheathe his sword, firmly grasp his buckler, and sail or fly to the rescue of every besieged damsel in the World.
    As in the case of Cervantes’ Don, Don USA d’ America had some victories but lately he has become clobbered more often when he stuck his nose into adventures he completely misjudged: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan. Will Libya be his next misadventure?
    Just as in the case of the Spanish knight, our Don USA d’ America seems to have read far too many stupid books and papers on the exceptionalism of the USA and “shining beacon on the hill” and “destiny of the USA”.

  22. Dieter Heymann says:

    P.S. Who is the modern Sancho Panza? NATO I believe.

  23. shelley day sclater says:

    Vince: the Pinter video you gave the link for comes up as ‘blocked in your country’. (I am in the UK). Funny that.

  24. Frigga Karl says:

    Please Mister Heymann, do not compare this innocent figure of Don Quichotte to the USAmerica. The USAmerica is an international dangerous political maffia, without any consideration of the world’s people, and NATO is not Sancho Panza, but a dangerous instrument for the violent imposition of the US world power. We have seen it everywhere on US and NATO wars, with prohibited weapons of mass destruction and murderous covert actions all over the world. If the US would only consider the smallest moral for this world, it would not led illegal wars and would not destroy souverain states. They would not have built havely protected military bases all over the world. Their embassies are fortresses in each country. Their foreign politics are so unjust and maffiosi especially with their infamous israeli ally that I wonder how long will it take for them to blow up the whole world.

  25. boy after all this time and these exceptional comments, my point still echoes through. It seems to becoming more acute, which forces are we supporting? I think we’re getting our answer Paul. Cue Edmund Burke comment…