Saturday, September 17, 2011

Libya Again

After writing an article about the war in Libya, I was heartened to find my friend Brad Littlejohn making many of the same concerns on his blog. Littlejohn wrote:
It’s sadly ironic that this intervention is being done in the name of freedom and democracy, when a crucial pillar of democracy is the ability of citizens to take part in key decision-making, such as the declaration of war, and that democratic process has been entirely bypassed in this situation. We have effectively declared war on Libya, and yet the American people were in no way consulted, nor the British. This decision was made by politicians and diplomats behind closed doors, and authorized by a body that cannot boast a shred of democratic election. Who are the real dictators in this story?... 
The claim that Gaddafi was targeting and killing civilians has been repeated over and over, more and more shrilly and dramatically, until we’ve heard rhetoric like “Gaddafi is exterminating his own people.”  But the evidence for it has remained quite slim indeed.  Very little has even been brought forward, much less verified.  The key allegation that the West has made has centered on Gaddafi’s use of aircraft to bomb the opposition--even this is not clearly an attack on “civilians,” since the opposition are very much armed.  But Russian sources contested even this claim, insisting that they had no evidence for the airstrikes alleged.  The International Institute for Strategic Studies have acknowledged that Gaddafi is in fact probably taking careful pains not to kill civilians.  He may well be--don’t get me wrong.  I’d just like to see some much more careful and objective documentation....

Why intervene in Libya, specfically?

Let’s assume the worst--a tyrannical regime, determined to cling to power, massacring unarmed civilians. mean like the one in Bahrain, where they’ve called in military assistance from neighboring countries to use against their own people? Or the one in Yemen, where they massacred dozens of unarmed protesters on Friday? What’s so different about those two countries, that they get off scot-free, and Libya becomes the focus of a non-stop international outcry, followed by a bombing campaign? The main difference seems to be that Bahrain and Yemen are crucial US allies, while Gaddafi has been a thorn in the West’s side for years (and not always as the bad guy, either).

Or how about the massacres going on in the Ivory Coast over the past couple weeks? Or did you even know they happened? For whatever reason, the Western media doesn’t care about the Ivory Coast. And that’s because Western leaders don’t care about the Ivory Coast. Or to push it back, how about the Congo or Rwanda? Millions of innocent civilians were raped and murdered, and we stood by and did nothing, and did our best to turn a blind eye to it all? If all we care about is really protecting civilians, how come only civilians on top of oil fields owned by US enemies seem valuable enough to protect? Again, perhaps this is necessary, but I'd like a clear explanation of why such a double-standard is appropriate.

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