Jun 28, 2011

Libya: The Great Debate

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey
   There can be no doubt at all that the situation in Libya provides one of those moments which provide a collective test to measure where Humankind stands, what its values are and how far it has progressed towards a state in which our societies are governed by the precepts of the rule of law, in which international law not only exists but is applied.
   I invite our readers to participate in an active discussion on the points raised in this article and to reflect on them before making knee-jerk reactions, because to be qualified to enter into a meaningful debate, you have to be informed. How many of those who call Muammar al-Qathafi a "dictator" have bothered to read his Green Book, see foot note (1); how many of those who say that his humanitarian record is deplorable have bothered to read the UN Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review - Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (2)?
    In this report, the systematic commitment to uphold human rights in Libya by the Libyan authorities is praised, a record for which Colonel Gaddafi was to receive a UN award in March.
   The sheer stupidity of the attack on Libya by a handful of (powerful) nations underlies the difference between a balanced and responsible Government and the clique of self-seeking lightweight and cheap wannabes which run Britain, France and the USA today. Due to their ill-judged impetuousness, high-handedness and arrogance, they have painted themselves and the Institution they represent - NATO - into a corner.
Let us examine the background to this conflict and let us collectively reflect on the best way out.

The background
Colonel Gaddafy saw this coming, a long time ago. To start with, Benghazi and Tripoli are two cities representing, formerly, two ancient countries: Tripolitania and Cyrenaica and Benghazi has long had a radical and Islamist streak running through members of its population. This is the city which provided the highest number of suicide bombers in Iraq to act against NATO troops, this is the city which produced Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the al-Qaeda operational who recruited these terrorists for the Iraq and Afghan theatres of war.

   The "rebels" are obviously funded from abroad and have been prepared for a long time. The sudden appearance of hundreds of "new" Libyan flags representing the time before Colonel Gaddafi, before he transformed Libya from the poorest country in the world to the most prosperous in Africa, was a telling sign; the timing of the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions on the Western and Eastern frontiers provided a timely, crafted no-man's land for NATO to coordinate the operation.
    The Libyan Government tried to reason with the "rebels", contrary to what has been reported, and Colonel Gaddafi sent his son Saif al-Arab al-Qathafi to talk with them. He was promptly murdered by NATO along with three of the Colonel's grandchildren in yet another horrific NATO war crime. Who are the rebels? See this report (3). And this video (4).
   Now, here is one of the main events which sparked it all off - the "massacre" was in fact a false flag event and carried out not by Libyan Government forces (after all why would a Government commended for its human rights record suddenly start the indiscriminate shelling of civilians?) but by the "unarmed civilians" themselves (5).
The reaction
   What was also behind this horrific surge in violence by the marauding groups of armed fanatics called "The Rebels", basically representatives from the very dregs of society, a hotchpotch of lunatics, bandits, terrorists, criminals and opportunists, was ethnic cleansing carried out against Black Libyans. The "rebels", indeed, refer to themselves as "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin." The Wall Street Journal has also reported that the "rebels" are trained by former al-Qaeda operationals, released from the US concentration camp Guantanamo Bay.
   While the Libyan Government itself has said an armed reaction was "regrettable" it has also asked what else it was supposed to do. What would anyone do if their nation was being torn apart by armed terrorists torching Government buildings and committing massacres in the streets? There is evidence of horrific "rebel" attacks against children. In this video, you can see a boy who was impaled. He later died (6).
     By now we can see that to describe this as a fight between a "brutal dictator" and "innocent civilians who wanted freedom" is sickeningly and dangerously naïve, however easy it is to sell to generations brought up on western movies with fights between the good cowboy in the white hat and the bad cowboy in the black hat.
The danger
   The problem with this simplistic attempt to brainwash the public, manipulate public opinion and whitewash NATO's war crimes in Libya (murder of children, acting outside the rules of engagement occasioning the crimes of murder, attempted murder, criminal damage with intent, grievous and actual bodily harm) and crimes under international law, interfering in an internal armed struggle, against the UN Charter (7), is that it creates the space for a travesty of international law to be committed with impunity.

    More seriously, this ill-planned, ill-conceived and very amateurish attempt at foreign policy and, unbelievably, a total absence of crisis management by poorly-advised politicians in countries with serious internal problems (Britain, France and the USA) has serious consequences for the future of Libya and the region. Indeed, the longer it goes on, the more ancient fault lines and tribal conflicts appear. The country has already shown a massive crack down the middle: the ancient countries of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica mentioned above and fighting in different areas is not based upon population vs. Gaddafi (who you will be surprised to hear, is genuinely liked and popular among the vast majority of Libyans, who would certainly vote for him in an election - that is why NATO refused this offer from the Libyan Government), but rather, upon ancient tribal feuds which are surfacing with every week that passes.
The solution
     Deriding NATO, calling its leaders incompetent, at best and criminals, at worst, feels great. However, this situation has gone beyond name-calling and it is time for action. In this non-Clauswitzian world, in which military action can be taken by entities which are not an organised military force controlled by a State apparatus, NATO countries engaging in this murderous outrage have rendered themselves open for revenge attacks by non-State players. After all, what is the difference between the slaughter of a Libyan civilian in Tripoli and a British, French or American citizen in London, Paris or Washington? One was caused by a bomb dropped from 30,000 feet and the other,by a grenade tossed through his window? Or does NATO have some God-given right to go around the world breaking international law and committing massacres?
    Such revenge attacks are not the first option, because violence engenders violence and escalates it, as is the case with the conflict in question. The answer is a political solution, so long as NATO is willing to accept one; if not, there would be no alternative in the minds of those most enraged by this travesty of international law.
    NATO has painted itself into a corner - or to be more precise, certain members of NATO have painted the Organization into a corner and the squirming and twisting and turning of most of its members is visible and audible. Italy wants out (now which bases are going to be used? Who is going to admit that its territory could well be a target?), Obama is being systematically neutered in the USA and Hillary Clinton is sounding more hysterical by the day as she sees her Grand Plan slipping though her fingers (destroying the African Union which Al-Qathafi mentors and replacing it with AFRICOM). Meanwhile, the British and French voters are starting to question why their family members are denied hospital treatment, why there are no places in schools or police on the street because their governments say they cannot afford it, when each of them has shelled out some 300 million USD to date and daily spends 50,000 to 100,000 USD per aircraft per hour plus accommodation plus insurance and other expenses...on supporting Islamist terrorists in Libya.

    Therefore, there is a need to help NATO extricate itself because it does not have the wherewithal to back down and lose face, even though its politicians deserve it. The best option would be to admit that the terms of Resolution 1973 (2011), namely the imposition of a no-fly zone, have been met, while at the same time accepting the Libyan Government's offers of allowing international mediation (something it has said from the beginning), allowing the UNO to monitor the situation on the ground, and allowing the Libyans, together with the African Union, to sort it out for themselves before it is too late and before the country and the region implode. If NATO does not accept this, then what exactly is it supporting? Obviously not democracy.
NATO's reputation therefore rests, once and for all, upon a decision to use the get-out strategy referred to above.

Comment: In the debate that follows I would request readers to refrain from ad hominem attacks, name-calling and derogatory and aggressive writing styles. For once, let us have a heated debate but without lowering the standard before it has started.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...