Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Libya makes us squirm

Here is the dilemma: launch military action to save civilian lives -- and yes, civilians were threatened -- but only because they wanted to oust an autocrat (tyrant, etc.). When civilians started to march to that drum, when did they stop becoming civilians, and started to become a "rebel" military force? And are rebels owed the same protection as civilians? If the rebels were to massacred, it will be a civilian massacre. But if they win this conflict, and change the leadership in Tripoli, then they would do so as a rebel army.

It's no secret that the west would rather no deal with Gaddafi. The man easily flips between lunacy and pragmatism (yes -- remember eight years ago, when he decided to "change" his stripes). But will the west stop short of holding off Gaddafi's forces, or will they assist the rebels militarily? Will the west go all the way and enable a regime change?

Taking out Gaddafi's air force was one thing, but crippling his military is another. If it was just the air force, Gaddafi's forces could still crush the rebellion. And that's the problem. Other autocratic regimes -- the rest of the Arab world, Russia and China -- are looking on in horror. While the west would never dare run bombing campaigns against China and Russia, the rest of the Arab world may be up for grabs. And that is a bit concerning for the Arab League, and that's why they will pull support for the bombardment of Libya. Which will just position the west as again bombing the Muslim world.

Sometimes, you just can't win.
in reference to: Libya: Shifting sands | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian (view on Google Sidewiki)


Next Previous Home