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Reasons to support UN Resolution on Libya

Today’s events have thus far stood as a shining testament to the lack of any kind of intellectual or moral coherency on the left. I support UN Resolution 1973 (2011) and this is why. First, let’s clear away all the caveats; of course, there is a degree of hypocrisy here.  However, we should always remember that a hypocritical action is not necessarily automatically wrong.

Of course something should be done about other issues like Saudi Arabia’s conduct in Bahrain. Here I would suggest the most appropriate response are arms embargoes and so on,  as opposed to direct action because the only useful form a military intervention could take would be a ground invasion.

Second, if you read the text it does not authorise a ground invasion or any kind of ‘neo-colonial’ experiment in ‘regime change’ (although I would argue in principal the regime should be changed by the Libyan people). In fact, it rules that course of action out for while it clearly does authorise the establishment of a no-fly zone it does this while:

Excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”

The concrete discussion should not be about a hypothetical future which may or may not occur what the resolution says. In the last analysis, a no-fly zone is necessary and (hopefully) could tilt the balance of forces against a dictatorship and for rebel forces that, despite obvious imperfections, represent the best hope for democracy currently on offer. The rebels have been losing this war for a significant amount of time and one of the key reasons is the air supremacy of Gaddafi:

One rebel said: “This isn’t one or two planes. They are like a flock.”

A no-fly zone is quite clearly what is wanted by not just the Transitional National Council, but also the majority of rebel fighters and the Libyan people. Therefore, no ‘self-determination issue’ exists. The people who matter have freely determined that they need this and therefore, if we believe in self-determination truly, and not just as a political slogan, then we must take heed of that.

At the time of writing it appears that the ceasefire called by Gaddafi is a charade, a ruse to buy more time and most likely make any enforcers of a no-fly zone appear to be the aggressors. So, it’s quite possible that the need for its enforcement and even targeted air strikes still exists. I simply don’t agree that these actions will lead to the loss of more life than allowing Gaddafi a free hand would. Given that he has made it quite clear he will endeavour to exterminate every single rebel fighter and supporter (which will account for the vast majority of cities like Benghanzi) how can this be so?

If we are serious about changing the world, we have to deal with it not just as we would wish it be but it actually is. The central reason I support this Resolution is that on these terms it pragmatically is the kind of assistance that the Libyan people need to win their freedom. Without it their struggle is doomed and their war on Gaddafi will not win. This is too high a price to pay merely to keep our  ‘anti-imperalism’ on a ‘moral high ground’ soley determined and defined by us; not the concrete realities on the ground.

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