Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Military intervention in Libya: A few thoughts and some links (part 2)

The Western military campaign continues in Libya as does the fighting between pro-democracy rebel groups and forces loyal to Qaddafi.

Along with the armed tension, the debate over the efficacy and morality of Western military intervention has continued. I previously wrote a post presenting a handful of viewpoints about military intervention. Since then, I have continued to read well-presented arguments both for and against military intervention.

Because you are dying to know, I find myself, in this particular situation, more firmly on the anti-intervention side of things. We didn't exhaust any options before we got to a military campaign. Granted, innocents were being killed so action needed to be taken quickly, but there are effective coercive methods that were not employed, they weren't even discussed. The second reason I am hesitatant to support this military intervention is because of the United States' track record when it comes to military interventions (that's just a euphemism for war, right?). Did the U.S. send planes and warships to Libya because it's so concerned with the humanitarian situation there and because human rights in the world are worth dying for? Please. See Sudan, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Gaza. There are strategic interests involved in Libya, there always are when the U.S. military is sent abroad.

Here are four articles I found worthwhile:

•As'ad AbuKhalil in The Economist -- A debate on Arab revolutions: This house believes the West should keep out of the Arab world's revolutions. Read it, here are some good lines:
This sudden Western concern for the people of Libya raises more suspicions than it raises hopes.
It is not that democracy cannot be imposed from outside—as liberal critics of George Bush often put it—but the notion that Western governments ever pushed for democracy and enlightenment in the Middle East is dubious at best.
•Max Ajl on his blog, Jewbonics -- How we missed you, humanitarian intervention.
Furthermore, air campaigns don’t dislodge dictators. What they do is turn children into corpses.
Popular insurgencies defeat illegitimate regimes. Their inability to do so does not mean that the regimes are legitimate. But it highlights the fact that we cannot intervene effectively in civil wars. The outcome is always disaster. When you hit a society with a hammer, only the strong remain standing, and the strong tend to be the most vicious. History tells us few lessons, but it does tell us that we will inevitably make things worse.
•Seham on Mondoweiss: I waiver, and still I approve of military support for the Libyan resistance

Seham generally supports the intervention because it's what Libyans have asked for and goes on to make connections to the recent bombings in Gaza and Jerusalem.

•Eric Stoner in Waging Nonviolence: Why war on Libya is wrong.
How people who are so knowledgeable about US foreign policy can buy in to the humanitarian argument for war is beyond me. It should be abundantly clear to anyone who really pays attention that the US doesn’t ever intervene out of concern over civilians or because of our desire to uphold democracy, human rights and freedom. These nice ideals are used only to sell war to the public.
The historical record is clear: in almost every case the US intervenes in other countries to protect its perceived economic or geostrategic interests. The same is undoubtedly true in Libya, which sits atop the largest oil reserves on the African continent and has largely been a hold out against neoliberalism.
Food for thought. Hope it helps to continue to turn the wheels about the ongoing violence in Libya and the role of the United States.


Anonymous said...

And you actually believe what you write? Sooo weird ...

"We didn't exhaust any options before we got to a military campaign."

Samuel Nichols said...

Anonyomous, you haven't really made a point to refute what I wrote, so I can't really respond to what you disagree with.