Qualified support for the UN resolution
The left has to begin from the premise of support for the Lybian people’s resistance to the Gaddafi tyranny. This is only a ‘civil war’ in the sense that all revolutions are civil strife. Given the opportunity the Lybian masses rallied to calls to overthrow the Gaddafi-state. Only its immediate use of violent repression halted their advance.
The Lybian uprising takes place within the context of pan-regional Arab democratic revolutions. It is directed against a bureaucratic capitalist tyranny, with close links to international capital, Western states and institutions.
The UN-endorsed military interventions are neither part of a plan for military occupation, nor for the installation of an externally created political replacement for Gaddafi. In the first instance they correspond to the express wishes of the Lybian popular masses, as organised in their provisional governing bodies.
The UN sanctioned actions are not part of any generalised right to ‘humanitarian intervention’ but correspond to the particular needs of the Lybian population, under imminent threat of repression by the Gaddafi state machine. The are aimed to protect civilian populations.Peter says its more succintly. News and updates at Modernity's place.
Those who seek retrospective justification for backing the invasion of Iraq – to overthrow Saddam Hussain - misjudge the present resolution. It has been made within the context of a genuine popular revolution, internally rooted. It is not a recipe for external regime change, nor for a world-wide policing operation to enforce liberal democracy. Iraq remains proof of the way in which geopolitics are not dominated by ethical universalism but by military, commercial and resource interests. The political and civil society structures it has left behind remain an open wound.
Those who oppose such help to the Lybian revolution have some justification. The UK, France, and the US are undoubtably as concerned to be in the ‘wave of history’, that is, on the side of the Arab movements for change, and their own strategic interests as they are bothered by humanitarian concerns. Equally their capacity to help effectively and impartially, without unnecessary violence, the Lybian people, remains untested.
However blanket opposition to such measures is morally bankrupt. The Stop the War Coalition’s call to demonstrate today against the help offered to the Lybian people in their desperate hour of need isrepellent.
We should not put all anti-interventionists in the same camp as the charlatan George Galloway and others who will no doubt brandish the threadbare accusation that this resolution is a mask for naked imperialism. The claim by Counterfire that the UN move is inspired by fear of a revolution already fighting-back are empty.
But arguments, such as those employed by Tony Benn, that this is a ‘civil war’ – giving each ‘side’ a weight, are we have seen, false. Further claims about the West’s hypocrisy are distinctly distasteful. That, for example, the West does not intervene in Bahrain. This comparison is used by those who would immediately oppose Western miliary action in such countries.
The decisive point is that UN excludes a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory. Intervention can naturally excalate, and we should be wary of this – as the Weekly Worker has pointed out. But, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Parti de Gauche says, there is no mandate for physically landing French or any other foreign troops in the country (Here).
Reports are that the people of Benghazi welcome the decision.
In the absence of any other means of international support, and in view of the dramatic threat posed to Lybian lives by Gaddafi’s’ forces, we would therefore give qualified support for UN resolution 1973.
Update: Support with no illusions from Dave Osler. Lots of relevant items from Norm.
Update 2: A more nuanced case against intervention and for solidarity, but I find it a little unconvincing.
Update 3: Harry Barnes on why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003; Little Richardjohn: on David Cameron agreeing with him and on the end of nuclear credibility.