Remember Srebrenica? The west’s intervention in Libya is a no-brainer

Peter Preston at The Guardian writes:

It’s fashionable already to cluck apprehensively over Libya. Another botched adventure, another unwanted war. Look how much it’s costing – at this rate, more or less your standard Ministry of Defence project overrun before 2011’s out. Why isn’t it over long since? Why, for all his soaring rhetoric, has Barack Obama decided to rest on his oars? David Cameron broods over sending in four Apache helicopters while the BBC lugubriously reminds us that helicopters can get shot down. If you want to confect a stew of gloom, then any old ingredients will do.

But mix a pinch of foresight with your hindsight, and sprinkle lightly with added realism. Libya isn’t Afghanistan or Iraq. It isn’t even a proper war, more a series of skirmishes strung out along a long coastal strip. Oh! TV reporters talk excitedly as though this was some mighty contest between opposing armies, but they don’t even seem to look at their own pictures. In fact, it’s rag-tag stuff on both sides. There are casualties, of course; but the numbers involved seem relatively small. The colonel’s mercenary regiments are brutal, but militarily feeble. Take away air cover and they’re going nowhere. Will four British Apaches – count them again, yes just four! – make a big difference this week? Merely posing the question helps define this mini-conflict. Its costs and its risks aren’t worth so much rumbling angst.

Recent history tells us Muammar Gaddafi is a menace (especially if you’re in a jumbo jet over Scotland). When he vowed to take revenge on the insurgents, these were no idle threats. His first reaction when the citizens of his second city marched for change was to shoot them down. The chief prosecutor in The Hague already thinks that, just like Ratko Mladic, Gaddafi has a case to answer. On 18 March, as the allies finally prepared to move, his troops were driving into the outer suburbs of Benghazi. No hindsight necessary: it was five minutes to midnight. And no shucking off our own leaders’ responsibility, either.

After Tunisia, after Egypt, the word was the same from Obama to Nicolas Sarkozy to Cameron. The US Senate, the European parliament, the Arab League and the UN security council all knew what had to be done. So did Gaddafi’s man at the UN. There was massacre pending. All the usual recourses had been duly employed: sanctions, seizing overseas assets and the rest. But it wasn’t enough. Hundreds – probably thousands – of Libyan protesters we’d directly encouraged were about to get shot. Do nothing? Then or now, with or without hindsight, it’s a no-brainer.

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2 thoughts on “Remember Srebrenica? The west’s intervention in Libya is a no-brainer

  1. Yonatan

    I’m sure the families of the million Iraqis killed to remove another ‘menace’ have different views on who is the real menace. The total silence over the murders and destruction in Bahrain, aided by troops trained by the British SAS, speaks volumes about Preston’s hypocracy

  2. John Somebody

    When I have heard activists that I used to count as a part of the solution, rightly telling people that NATO, et al, should not be trusted, to act out of humanitarian concerns, I am reminded of a few instances, where I have sought / would have appreciated, protection from the British police. Even though I know, they are part of the big problem, in the bigger picture.
    I know that a lot of them are fascist bastards. I know that alledgedly “good apples”, amongst them, actually tolerate, and even cover up, for the bastards. But if any anti – imperialist colleagues, had heard me screaming, when being stabbed in the neck, then beaten up, being left unable to recognise my own face, the next day, , , , , , if any such colleagues had tried to interfere with anyone calling the police, then I would have regarded such colleagues as part of the problem, as well as the police.

    Like me, when Libyan people, (who have to outnumber Gaddafi supporters by a lot, as he doesn’t have enough of an army to fight them off, without foreign mercenaries), were faced with death, and then finding there are people who will criticise them, for seeking help, from someone with more power than the nutters with the heavy weapons, (or in my case, just knives, fists, etc), how can anyone not regard the opponents of intervention, as part of the problem ?

    Have you become part of the problem, irrespective, of who created it, in the first place ?

    If the people who did what they did to me, were able to carry on, with that behaviour, I would not have been around now, and could not be part of the soulution. The bigger picture, would have been deprived of one more activist, with experience, a degree of understanding, , , , , , , and a brain in his head.

    If Benghazi had been flattened, (I have known Libyan, refugees for years, who are convinced that little would have been left of it without fascist bastard NATO, or the people who pull their strings), the imitation left would have had no more credibility, and NATO et al, would have had a free hand, for many years to come.

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