The political and academic commentariat in the media and blogosphere seemed to have lost interest in what is actually going on in Libya and seem far more intent on turning their attention to the political consequences of intervention and analysis of the differences between ‘liberal interventionists’ and ‘neoconservatives’.
Forgotten is the fact that Gaddafi was a dictator who allowed no dissent and viciously suppressed all opposition. Using the nation’s oil wealth to both enrich himself and his family, and to buy support from those that kept him in power, Gaddafi maintained power for over forty-two years. Not once during that period were the people offered a viable opportunity to choose an alternative government or leader. Gaddafi’s style of ‘popular democracy’ was designed always to ensure an outcome that suited his own ends.
Forgotten also is the fact that today, right now, people – real people, ordinary people – are dying while we in our armchairs argue the pros and cons of what the war is about. The Left seem to have forgotten about internationalism, solidarity and the unity of the common people of the world. Instead, while those who we offer our support to are dying in the streets of their own nation at the hands of a vicious dictator, commentators seem to care not so much about the urgency of action needed to help those that need help, but more about whether or not there is some kind of ulterior motive behind those nations that have offered to help.
The people of Libya must prevail in ridding themselves of their dictator. They need your support. Yes, the intervention has gone too far. Yes, civilians have died at the hands of the allies but we should be demanding that the allied bombing and killing stops; not that the intervention stops. The intent of UN Resolution 1973 was to stop Gaddafi forces killing their own people.
I’m not going to get sucked into the intellectual debate that I’ve just criticised but I will give one example of what I mean.
Last Monday Stephen Walt wrote an article in Foreign Policy titled: “What intervention in Libya tells us about the neocon-liberal alliance”. He writes while discussing the intervention in Libya:
The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance.
While I very much respect much of Walt’s past work, I’m surprised that he would write such nonsense. The analysis is both shallow and wrong. It’s shallow because it ignores entirely the deeper motives behind the tight-knit ideology of neoconservatives whose only real concerns are for US-Israeli interests (they have absolutely no real interest in the well being of the Libyan people, and whatever they utter that suggests they do is said only because it suits their rhetoric). It is wrong because ‘liberal-interventionists’, contrary to Walt’s assertion, do not seek to ‘legitimate American dominance’ but seek only to bring an end to war (all wars)and the death of innocents. It is also wrong because real ‘liberal interventionists’ are not just 'American Democrats' or others that are slightly Left of center but are from all over the planet. They are internationalist and seek to minimise ‘American dominance’ rather than ‘legitimate’ it. Walt forgets that this intervention was instigated not by the US but by the demands of the Libyan people themselves and states that are both Western democratic and Islamic/Arab. The US didn’t jump on the interventionist wagon until the last moment. The intervention was then endorsed by the international community via the UN – unlike the invasion of Iraq which was a unilateral neoconservative attack whose purpose was to benefit Israel and project American power into the Middle East and had absolutely nothing to do with ‘humanitarian intervention’ as was claimed at the time.
Walt also says that; “President Obama took the nation to war against Libya”. This is just sloppy thinking. Obama did no such thing. The US is not at war against Libya; it is at war against despotism.
Intellectuals like Walt should know better. This thing isn’t about America ,just by way of a change; it’s about an internationalist attempt to stop a fascist dictator from killing his own people. Simple as that. Why does every Tom, Dick and Harry armchair commentator have to think it’s always about America? Let’s put the rest of the world first and sort out America’s propensity to try and dominate it later.
Meanwhile, the people of Libya are still dying today. Let's get our priorities right.