Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Resources for Thinking Through Western Intervention in Libya

Some diverse (and ideologically disparate) resources for thinking through the West's -- and therefore the American-led -- intervention in Libya and of the extensive bombing campaign taking place.

First, Adam Kotsko has questions to ask, including:
Why is the alternative between a bombing campaign and somehow tacitly supporting Qaddafi? Shouldn’t this emotional blackmail in itself make us suspicious? Hard as it is to believe, there are some problems that perhaps can’t be solved through Western-led bombing campaigns — and some problems that could potentially be made worse, even after near-term gains. NATO air power is not the right hand of God. [. . .]

What sovereign country, no matter what its form of government, wouldn’t react forcefully to armed rebellion? I doubt Obama would be restrained if Texas seceded, for example, or if armed rebels took control of Alaska — nor would any of the pundits now demonizing Qaddafi (which, to be fair, seems like a fair portrayal) call for restraint in such a case. Qaddafi appears to thirst for blood to an unusual degree, but collective punishment is not unheard of even among Western nations (see: Israel). Why is this case of putting down a rebellion within one’s own borders considered to be so egregious while others have been passed over in silence? And why should Nicholas Sarkozy, for instance, be trusted to make the call of which case is intervention-worthy?
Second, Michael Walzer offers concrete reasons why the intervention is categorically unjustified:
First, it is radically unclear what the purpose of the intervention is—there is no endgame, as a U.S. official told reporters. [. . .]

Second, the attacks don’t have what we should have insisted on from the very beginning—significant Arab support. [. . .]

Third, opposition in the Security Council didn’t stop with Russia and China. [. . .]

None of this would matter if this were a humanitarian intervention to stop a massacre. But that is not what is happening in Libya today.
Third, The Daily Mirror on the deeper purposes behind the intervention and, as a consequence, its unique character as a war:
The military intervention in Libya has nothing to do with the humanitarian pretexts offered by the conniving Western powers. Innocent civilians are going to die in numbers in the coming days and UN Gen. Sec. Ban-Ki Moon and his cohorts should be pulled up in the War Tribunal to go by the common logic.

After Iraq, this could be the beginning of the war for the resources, may be the third World War by extension.

Military intervention in Libya, whose energy resources have made it the object of imperialist ogling for decades, is used both to secure access to oil and to bring a strong military presence in the region. A military presence in Libya would help the West to intimidate the Arab world -not the rulers of the Arab world whose faith and cultural conscience are more Western than Muslim.

The bombing would not protect human lives, but would transform the country into a battlefield with thousands of innocent victims just like in Iraq . . .

And fourth, Chris Bertram on the result of intervening in a popular uprising:
I’d certainly rather have a no-fly zone (if it works, which is a big if) than the uprising defeated and mass killings by the Gaddafi family in revenge. But a successful popular uprising is no longer a possibility either. Most of the Libyan people have now been cast into the role of passive victims rather than active agents of their own liberation. Some Libyans may rally to the Gaddafi regime out of a sense of wounded national pride at outside interference. And even if Gaddafi falls (which I hope he will) the successor regime will lack the legitimacy it might have had, and will no doubt be resented and undermined by nationalist Gaddafi loyalists biding their time and representing it as the creature of the West.
Feel free to share other helpful or critical articles and pieces in the comments.

Update: The New Republic has three articles up engaging and/or critiquing the intervention (the last of which, as it happens, is the same Walzer piece cited above, and the first of which supports the decision to intervene militarily).

Second update: David Ayres summarizes:
We are using our superior military capabilities to protect our interests against an inferior and aggressive military force who was using its superior military capabilities to protect its interests against an inferior and aggressive military force.

1 comment:

  1. New post engaging Walzer today on The New Republic: http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/85676/libya-philosophy-war-intervention