Tuesday, March 15, 2011

As for Libya, we'll sit on our hands.

RE: Diplomacy Stalls as Libya Rebels Face Pro-Qaddafi Forces

So we are willing to let a tyrant retake power and will do nothing to stop him. We will not attempt to halt the violent attacks against civilians; we will sit silently by at the massacres that will ensue, once his forces roll in. Bravo, the West! Bravo, Russia! Bravo, China!

As for those countries that are blocking the no-fly zone in the UN Security Council -- since when is it your prerogative to decide what happens to the Arab world and its people? The Arab League wants a No-Fly Zone. The leaders of the free area of Libya (now) want a No-Fly Zone. But you still refuse to authorize it.

Do you actually *want* Qaddafi to come back to power?!?

The world screws over the democrats (or at least the more democratically-oriented faction) time and again, claiming that we "can't get involved." Spain 1936. China 1937. We let the fascists roll through (literally fascists in these two cases -- domestic ones like Franco, and external ones like the Imperial Kwantung Army) -- and then what happens next?

dBut perhaps that is too dramatic. In this case, I suspect the rammifications for the world in Libya will be far less. There will just be tremendous suffering for the Libyan people who have the yoke of dictatorship cast over their lives again. And maybe some higher oil prices (oh dear) for a while, until we cast our lot in with this megalomaniac, because we are such wh-res for crude oil that in time we'll deal with his regime, we'll deal with any regime.

It's frustrating because this isn't Hungary, this isn't Prague -- there's no Soviet Union looming over a geopolitical battlefield. There's just one somewhat unhinged man, and his supporters with a ton of arms, unafraid to unleash these weapons on his own people. And still, we can do nothing -- or at least we choose do nothing. What does it mean to live in a post-Cold War world? Just what are the implications of referring a case to the ICC? We won't even take a stand when we know there's a murderous dictator on the rampage, seeking retribution, and hammering towns with his iron fist (backed up by artillery and attack helicopters), lobbing explosives into the midst of innocent civilians and resistance fighters. It doesn't even make political sense to allow this to happen, unless you want Qaddafi to return to power and re-establish control over the whole country -- which it is starting to seem like he is apt to do.

One of the leaders of the National Council (on the free Libyan side) pointed out that it's better for the conflict to an end in the favor of the rebels sooner rather than later. Otherwise, if Qaddafi reasserts himself, and the conflict becomes a protracted battle or a "guerilla war", then jihadists will make their way to Libya -- and then you have Afghanistan again. Why can't we support the democratic forces and let them emerge victorious? Don't we want to prove that democracy can work? Or do we want to hand the jihadists another battlefield, another recruiting ground?

In the end, I get a little bit of a sinking feeling that we actually *want* events on the ground to overtake diplomacy. If we keep dithering, then eventually a No Fly Zone will do no good -- or as the article puts it, "With the advances made by loyalists, there is growing consensus in the Obama administration that imposing a no-flight zone over Libya would no longer make much of a difference." And then we won't have to take it on. We'll have conveniently washed ourselves of the responsibility to act. Wait it out -- that's Russia and China's strategy for events like this, and it's starting to feel like it's Obama's strategy too. Wait it out, and there will no longer be agency, and then what's done is done.

How bleak. How cynical. How irresponsible. How pragmatic.

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