14 March 2011
The political campaign to launch a military intervention in Libya – ostensibly on humanitarian grounds but with patently political ends in sight – is gathering steam among the NATO powers. A “no-fly zone” has now been urged by the Arab League – for the most part a collection of frightened despots desperate to get the US military still more deeply involved in the region. That would be the start of a journey down slippery slope.
Here are ten reasons to resist the siren calls for intervention:
- Intervention will violate Libya’s sovereignty. This is not just a legalistic point – although the importance of observing international law should not be discounted if the big powers in the world are not to be given the green light run amok. As soon as NATO starts to intervene, the Libyan people will start to lose control of their own country and future.
- Intervention can only prolong, not end the civil war. “No-fly zones” will not be able to halt the conflict and will lead to more bloodshed, not less.
- Intervention will lead to escalation. Because the measures being advocated today cannot bring an end to the civil war, the next demand will be for a full-scale armed presence in Libya, as in Iraq – and meeting the same continuing resistance. That way lies decades of conflict.
- This is not Spain in 1936, when non-intervention meant helping the fascist side which, if victorious in the conflict, would only encourage the instigators of a wider war – as it did. Here, the powers clamouring for military action are the ones already fighting a wider war across the Middle East and looking to preserve their power even as they lose their autocratic allies. Respecting Libya’s sovereignty is the cause of peace, not is enemy.
- It is more like Iraq in the 1990s, after the First Gulf War. Then, the US, Britain and France imposed no-fly zones which did not lead to peace – the two parties in protected Iraqi Kurdistan fought a bitter civil war under the protection of the no-fly zone – and did prepare the ground for the invasion of 2003. Intervention may partition Libya and institutionalise conflict for decades.
- Or it is more like the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia. NATO interference has not lead to peace, reconciliation or genuine freedom in the Balkans, just to endless corrupt occupations.
- Yes, it is about oil. Why the talk of intervening in Libya, but not the Congo, for example? Ask BP.
- It is also about pressure on Egyptian revolution – the biggest threat to imperial interests in the region. A NATO garrison next door would be a base for pressure at least, and intervention at worst, if Egyptian freedom flowers to the point where it challenges western interests in the region.
- The hypocrisy gives the game away. When the people of Bahrain rose against their US-backed monarchy and were cut down in the streets, there was no talk of action, even though the US sixth fleet is based there and could doubtless have imposed a solution in short order. As top US republican Senator Lindsey Graham observed last month “there are regimes we want to change, and those we don’t”. NATO will only ever intervene to strangle genuine social revolution, never to support it.
- Military aggression in Libya – to give it the righty name – will be used to revive the blood-soaked policy of ‘liberal interventionism’. That beast cannot be allowed to rise from the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan.