Saturday, 25 April 2015

Libya and the election row

So the latest round in the election prize fight has been fought over foreign policy and whether it was right or wrong to help the Libyan rebels against Colonel Gaddafi, especially now that the country has descended into what is basically a civil war and is at the heart of a migration crisis with people fleeing Africa through the country's ports, many of whom have subsequently drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to make the crossing to Europe. 

To me the fundamental problem with the arguments that helping the rebels was the wrong thing to do just because things have not turned out the way everyone hoped is two fold. The first is the implication that allowing Gaddafi to remain would have somehow produced a more favourable result. Keep in mind that just as NATO began its operations Gaddafi's forces were planning an offensive against Benghazi, with orders to suppress the rebellion using whatever means necessary. He threatened to find people in their closets and show no mercy or compassion to those that resisted. He was not exactly planning to take the city through diplomatic means.

So anyone in a decision making capacity at that point has to make a choice. Sit back and watch the Libyan army run rampant through the streets, or provide assistance? To sit on your hands at that point would be to condemn a great many people to die. This is the crux of my beef with the idea that somehow NATO was wrong to intervene. The narrative created makes it sound like Gaddafi would have just quietly restored order, when the reality is he was planning to go in all guns blazing. And as we've seen with the civil war in Syria, the presence of an army with limited training and equipment for fighting an urban COIN war usually leads to a bloody mess as it is. The fighting in Libya could have carried on for quite some time anyway had NATO not pitched in.

The narrative against the intervention also belies the fact the people are free to make their own choices. At the conclusion of the American War of Independence there was peace. It took the Americans almost one hundred years before they finally got round to having it out with another in the open field. Many revolutions do not end well, but then again many revolutions do. I'm surprised how many people in the west are so uptight about the idea that a population should be allowed to decide for itself what sort of government it wants, even if that means them fighting it out with one another to figure out who wins. Just because there might be fighting after an intervention is not really a good excuse to sit and do nothing while people are crushed mercilessly under the boot of a dictator. 

And the final part of the narrative that irks me is all the complaining about how the west has abandoned Libya to its fate. Let's just be clear here, this is what the Libyan's wanted. At the time of the intervention the various Libyan rebel leaders were making the point quite blatantly that what they wanted was western help to defeat Gaddafi and that from there they would take it themselves. They did not want the west to interfere in the process post-Gaddafi, they wanted to be left to it. So they have been. To complain at this late stage that the west has not done enough to help stabilise the country is a bit of a piss take frankly.

Just my two pennies on this issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment