There was a time, in another era, when idealistic humanitarians protested against war rather than endorsed bombing a foreign country to “help” its beleaguered citizens.
In the old days of anti-war activism, you could count on idealists to oppose the war in Vietnam, American military intervention in Latin America, the nuclear arms race and so on.
Today, idealists stand shoulder to shoulder with hawks to support the bombing campaign against Libya.
In a world seemingly gone insane, the United Nations — once considered the pinnacle of organized idealism — voted to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, and euphemistically called it a “humanitarian mission.”
Humanitarian missions used to provide food, blankets and medicine. Now, humanitarian missions provide aerial bombardment.
The UN-sanctioned foreign intervention in Libya is illogical, from every angle. Let’s look at the rationale, item by item.
• “The world has a responsibility to protect Libyan civilians.” That’s stepping onto some dangerously slippery territory and setting a precedent for foreign interventions unto eternity. There is a long list of repressive and murderous governments, most of which happen to have ambassadors at the UN. So, where to after Libya is liberated? Zimbabwe? Congo? Somalia? Iran? Burma? China? North Korea? Saudi Arabia? The UN is going to be busy.
• “The world has a responsibility to help the rebels.” Well, no. It is their fight, not ours. The Libyans, like all people, have a right to self-determination within their own country. By getting involved, the UN has chosen sides in a civil war. This may seem defensible, since Moammar Gadhafi is such a heinous creep. But the fact remains that nobody knows who the rebels are, what they want or what they will do if they gain power. Anyone in the West who says they do know is a liar, a fool or a lying fool.
• “We should help to establish democracy.” See above, on both counts. If Libyans wanted democracy rather than Gadhafi, they’ve had 40 years to say so. There is little evidence either way whether the rebels want to establish a free-voting, free-speaking society or a theocratic autocracy. Some observers have ridiculously referred to recent events in North Africa and the Middle East as the “Arab Spring.” That’s a mighty loaded reference. People of a certain age in Prague might be offended.
There is absolutely no indication of the direction any of these revolts will take.
Have the rebels in Libya, or the protesters in any other country, declared they want equal rights for women?
Have they demanded aspects of Sharia Law be expunged from their legal system? Have they declared a desire to recognize and make peace with the Zionist Entity? The short answers: no, no and no.
It didn’t take long for the folly of the UN’s intervention to be revealed. The day after the U.S. and Britain launched cruise missiles at Libya’s air defences, the Arab League accused them of killing civilians.
It was predictable, and inevitable, that the UN’s bombs would kill Libyan civilians. It is equally inevitable the “Arab street” — in Libya and elsewhere — will blame the West generally and the U.S. specifically. More hatred will ensue.
The UN’s plan will backfire. Idealistic humanitarians everywhere will be shocked. But when you drop bombs on people, they don’t usually stay friends with you. That tactic has failed in Afghanistan for almost 10 years.
Far from deposing Gadhafi, the bombing campaign will prompt more Libyans to see him as their defender against invading foreigners.
This should have been debated in the House of Commons and the U.S. Congress before the first bomb was dropped. Somebody might have quoted the maxim, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.