This post is dedicated to events in Libya, and the debate over whether to support “Western” (aka “imperialist”) “humanitarian” intervention?
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The USG Open Source Center translates radio broadcasts on Sunday of the Voice of Free Libya Radio, which is based in Benghazi:
‘ Libyan Rebel Radio Eulogizes Slain Doctor, Mocks State TV
Voice of Free Libya
Sunday, April 3, 2011 …
Document Type: OSC Summary
The two main items broadcast by Benghazi Voice of Free Libya in Arabic between 1730-2150 GMT on 2 April were the eulogizing of Dr Ahmad, the man reportedly shot dead by pro-Qadhafi forces two days ago and who appeared on video footage shown on 1 April on Al-Jazirah TV, and the mocking of Libyan state media…
At 1800 GMT, [the anchor, a Mr.] Malik said I have three messages for the international community, the Interim National Council (INC) and Al-Qadhafi. “My message to the international community is that we used to look at you differently. But now, after you stood by our side, we would like to thank you for all you have done and will do for the Libyan people… We know well who stood by our side and who stood against us and that will be reflected in the future when we eliminate Al-Qadhafi. My message to the INC is that Mustafa Abd-al-Jalil (head of INC) was a well-known and respectable person even when he was part of the regime. Go ahead Abd-al-Jalil and we will try as much as we can to help you. My message to Al-Qadhafi is that he is a psycho and senile and has become a figure of fun to the whole world. We, the people of Libya, will never forget who helped us and who let us down. We know that the Syrian, Yemeni and Algerian people are not against us and only their representatives opposed imposing a no-fly zone over Libya at the Arab League.” . . .
At 1900 GMT, the presenter refuted claims by Al-Qadhafi that if the Libyans in eastern Libya achieved victory over his troops, they would kill their kinsfolk in the West. “You are our brothers, so how can we kill you?” he asked.
At 1915 GMT, the presenter claimed that Al-Qadhafi’s government was funnelling weapons to Al-Qa’ida’s offshoot in North Africa. “Four or five months ago, weapons disappeared in Libya, a whole arms depot was gone. In fact, the weapons, which were in this depot were handed over to the Al-Qa’ida branch in North Africa. It is Al-Qadhafi who is helping Al-Qa’ida.”
At 2000 GMT, Shaykh Salah delivered his daily hour-long religious program.
At 2100gmt, “In the shadows of the blessed revolution” program was aired.
Broadcasts by the station were not heard after 2150 GMT.
(Description of Source: Benghazi Voice of Free Libya in Arabic — Opposition-run radio, began broadcasting on 20 February 2011. ) ‘
“Badly burned survivors described scenes of carnage, with the fighters killed in a flash, as a cluster of rebel vehicles were lifted off the ground and then landed in fiery wrecks.
Here is David A. Westbrook’s guest column for Informed Comment It is in many ways a critique of the position Juan Cole has taken, that a limited air intervention in Libya was necessary and desirable. Westbrook argues that the intervention is flawed policy because half-hearted. IC is open to alternative points of view and seeks to foster reasoned dialogue on public affairs. .
The Unbearable Lightness of Our Libyan War
Let me suggest a rule of thumb: we should not undertake the moral burden of killing when we are unwilling to undertake the existential risk of dying.
This rule of thumb raises substantial problems for our involvement in Libya. I freely admit that the US government had no good options with regard to Libya, which at least under prevailing conditions of uncertainty presented both the Scylla of another Rwanda, and the Charybdis of another Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq.
The White House made the call, and chose intervention, binding the nation. I do not intend to second guess the substance of that decision here; I am grateful the decision was not mine to make. Nor do I here wish to discuss whether, as a matter of US law, the executive adequately involved the legislature.
Even so granting the rightness and the legality of the administration’s actions, however, I think it deeply regrettable that we – and make no mistake, it is our war, now – have chosen to proceed in irresponsible fashion, that is, we have tried to deny we are going to war.
Such denial of our responsibility is both insufficiently morally serious and bad foreign policy.
Addressing the nation on Monday night, the President emphasized that command of the operation would be transferred to NATO, at times seeming to argue that this was not, or would no longer be, a US intervention. Our role, he said, “is limited.” And this weekend, US planes stopped flying missions, in hope that the rebels, with air cover from European air forces, would prevail. But NATO has always been dominated by the US. Our planes and personnel have flown a substantial portion of the missions, and our diplomatic and military infrastructure makes the enterprise possible. Simply put, the United States is fighting in Libya.
The fact that multilateral institutions, namely the United Nations, NATO, and the Arab League, have approved of at least some of our action does not alter the basic facts that US personnel, using US assets, are committed to foreign combat. Again, this is our war, and while having allies is important, and getting the good housekeeping seal of approval for such violence from international institutions is generally preferable to the unilateral action of prior administrations, we are hardly relieved of our responsibility.
Similarly, on March 28 the President publicly reassured the nation and the world that we would not deploy troops in Libya. On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said there “will be no boots on the ground.” On the same day, however, we learned that the CIA has been operating in Libya for weeks, presumably wearing sneakers. While we may not have troops in Libya, if our engagements in Pakistan and Yemen are any guide, we have agents authorized to kill, eyes in the sky, and we will have warheads on foreheads (drone attacks) soon if we do not already. But, good heavens, no troops. Moreover, we are assured that CIA activity in Libya now is nothing like the CIA activity that served as precursor to invasion of Afghanistan. Obviously, completely different.
Instead, in Libya we have been maintaining a no-fly zone, not unlike the one we imposed on Iraq for years, until a ground invasion was deemed necessary after all. Exploiting our air superiority is tempting: perhaps we can do the right thing, in this case prevent “a massacre” that Gaddafi might well have ordered, without putting our own people at risk. But suppose the leader does not leave, and his forces regroup, and continue to advance? Suppose we declare a no-fly zone, and the massacre happens anyway, as happened in Bosnia? Suppose the insurgency fails, perhaps because there are many people who genuinely support the current regime? Or even suppose the insurgency succeeds, and the rebels are not what might be hoped? Suppose we are simply unsure of ourselves? In such circumstances, should we be killing people from the air, because it is not very expensive for us, and maybe things will sort themselves out for the best on the ground that we and our allies fly over? That is, if we are insufficiently committed to a civil order to put our own people at risk, are we morally serious enough to kill people, hoping that civil society miraculously sprouts after our rain of destruction?
Our lack of moral seriousness is deeply troubling, but the US tendency to deny responsibility for its actions is also bad foreign policy. While the multilateralism of the current administration is good manners and good politics, nobody thinks that NATO command makes this somehow an un-American fight. The fact that US force is exercised in Libya by CIA personnel does not make the US any less responsible in the minds of the Libyans, or for that matter, the rest of the world. And whether the no-fly zone succeeds or fails – or fails and we take further actions, at least resuming combat missions – the use of US planes to bomb Libyan positions is an act of war by the United States. Justified, maybe, but war for certain.
In minimizing or evading responsibility for wars that we undeniably wage, we appear to be disingenuous, thereby deepening suspicion about our motives. We lend credence to the tales told by our adversaries – that the CIA is fighting for our own selfish (oil) interests and against those of the Libyans, that the patriotic thing to do is to resist those who would destabilize Libya and reinstall a form of colonialism . . . we have been here before. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the limited Middle Eastern support for our intervention in Libya seems to be melting away already. In fighting disingenuously, even covertly, we make ourselves easy to demonize, and easy to oppose, for years and years. Either our fight is worthy, and should be publicly espoused and prosecuted with vigor, or it is not worthy, and we should not engage.
Hence my rule of thumb: if we are serious, we should be willing to put troops on the ground and fight. In Libya, that probably would have meant defending some rather arbitrarily defined territory against the advance of Gaddafi’s troops, and then working for a negotiated solution on that basis, ideally with an appropriately drafted UN mandate. If we are not serious, however, we should not be killing people, hoping to tilt some balance in some direction that might be more advantageous for us. But hey, who knows?
David A. Westbrook is Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar and Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law, State University of New York. His latest book is Deploying Ourselves: Islamist Violence and the Responsible Projection of US Force (Paradigm 2010).
I have a set of questions for Glenn Greenwald. I ask them in the spirit of open and reasoned dialogue and am genuinely interested in his response. He is a hero of mine for his stances against torture and against government surveillance, and because he himself was suggested by security firms to the Bank of America as a surveillance target. We agree on almost everything except the Libyan intervention. So what? Even inside a family not everyone agrees on politics.
One week ago, the 28 nations of NATO agreed to take charge of the UN-authorized humanitarian intervention in Libya.
So my question is, does that decision not lay a moral obligation on the US to lend support to the effort of its allies? British, French, Canadian, Danish, and Norwegian fighter jets flying over Libya are coming under anti-aircraft fire from the minions of Col. Qaddafi. The United States had the most robust ability to take those anti-aircraft batteries out, which it largely did. Should the United States have said, well, too bad, we are not getting involved over there? Had Washington responded in that way, and had NATO allies lost jets to Qaddafi’s rockets, would not the allies have had a legitimate grounds for absolute fury?
Although NATO operations in Libya may not be an Article 5 matter, when NATO undertakes a major military mission it would be deadly to the alliance for the United States to sit it out. [It came to me later that Qaddafi has threatened to bomb European passenger jets, which may be an Article 5 issue.] (The NATO charter or Treaty of Washington (4 April 1949) contains an Article 5 which states that an attack on one is an attack on all, but limits those attacks to North America and Europe, though it also speaks of maintaining security in the ‘North Atlantic region’.)
I’d like to remind everyone that NATO did invoke article 5 with regard to the September 11 attacks, which led to a substantial NATO presence in Afghanistan in support of the US war on al-Qaeda and its Taliban backers.Coalition deaths in that struggle include 362 British troops, 155 Canadian troops, 55 French troops, and 40 Danish ones.
While these death tolls are smaller than the American ones, they are very large for the countries concerned, especially since their publics (with the exception of the UK) almost universally desperately did not want to be in Afghanistan. If, having made this supreme sacrifice so many times for the sake of their NATO alliance with the United States, these countries now met with a yawn from Washington and a disinterested wave saying ‘so long folks, you are on your own’ — surely it would mean the end of NATO and would likely send America’s stock in Europe into the toilet.
So my question is whether, given that NATO allies such as Britain and France were so insistent on meeting their UN obligations with regard to Libya and on bringing NATO allies into the effort, would it have been worth breaking up NATO and destroying America’s longstanding alliances in order to stay completely out of Libya? Note that even Turkey, which initially opposed NATO involvement, in the end acquiesced in it and even offered to patrol Libyan ports as part of its obligations to the organization.
It seems to me that there is certainly no question that NATO’s intervention in Libya is authorized by UN Security Council resolution 1973. If not, the Security Council, which has been petitioned by Libya several times, can say so. It is the arbiter of whether its resolution is being implemented.
It should also be remembered that under resolutions 1970 and 1973 the Libyan regime of Muammar Qaddafi is an outlaw regime.
“Demands the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians…”
In contrast, Qaddafi’s forces are actively shelling civilians and civilian facilities in Misrata, the country’s third largest city, as well as elsewhere in Zintan and elsewhere. Qaddafi has not complied with the UNSC demand for a cease-fire and end to all attacks against civilians. Note that the transitional government in Benghazi has in contrast offered Qaddafi a ceasefire if he will cease attacking his people.
Likewise, resolution 1973
‘ Demands that the Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law and take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance; ‘
Qaddafi actually cut off water to Misrata. He isn’t complying with his human rights and humanitarian obligations.
So the NATO effort in Libya is what the UNSC called for. Given the legality and legitimacy of NATO actions, does not the US have a moral responsibility to support our allies, especially given what they have been doing for us?
The USG Open Source Center translates an article about a rebel news conference in which they lay out their vision of Libya’ future:
Libya’s TNC Presents Memo Detailing Vision for Post-Al-Qadhafi Stage
Report by Khalid Mahmud in Cairo: Al-Sharq al-Awsat Exclusively Publishes the Transitional Council’s Vision of the Post-Al-Qadhafi Libya. The Revolutionaries Vowed To Write a New Constitution and To Take the Country to a Stage Where There Is no One-Man Rule
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Document Type: OSC Translated Text…
The Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) has pledged to rebuild a real democratic state in the country that is based on the law and public liberties after the collapse of Al-Qadhafi’s regime and to write a constitution for the state that defines its nature, spirit, and role and draws up its features and shape and the structure of its legal, political, civilian, legislative, executive, and judicial establishments.
In a memorandum presented to the various countries taking part in the Western alliance entitled “Vision of the Democratic Principles in Libya,” which Al-Sharq al-Awsat is exclusively publishing, the Council, which is headed by Counselor Mustafa Abd-al-Jalil, explained its general vision for rebuilding the national and democratic Libyan state in a way that goes in line with the hopes and aspirations of the Libyan people and the requirements of this important historic stage in which the revolution of 17 February is passing.
The memorandum said: “Time has come for drawing up the main features of our modern, free, and unified country after the elimination of the atmosphere of fear, repression, and tyranny and after we defeated the crimes of domination and humiliation practiced by the battalions and gangs of the hateful regime of Al-Qadhafi throughout difficult and lean decades.” The memorandum pointed out the difficult historic experiment through which the Libyan people passed and which taught them many political lessons that emphasized beyond any doubt that there is no alternative for setting up the society of freedom, democracy, and the sovereignty of the principles of human rights.
The memorandum pointed out that the historic experiment has also taught the Libyans the need for respecting the various social interests of all sectors, groups, and strata of our national social structure and also taught them that the political authority should be the outcome of a free choice by all without excluding anyone and without silencing anyone.
The memorandum stressed that “the authority should be subject to the principles of socio-political code which leads us to the civilized civil society which recognizes the intellectual and political pluralism and recognizes the peaceful, institutional, and legal transition of power through the ballot boxes in accordance with what is decided by the articles of the national constitution, which is enforced by the legitimacy of the referendum and the acceptance and satisfaction of the people, whose voice is above all voices.”
The Council said that it is presenting a host of democratic principles as the basis for rebuilding the free and unified Libyan republic through the adoption of the whole political democratic principles. The Council announced in its memorandum that it recognizes the following rights without reservations:
o Drafting and adopting a written constitution for the state that defines its nature, spirit, and role, and draws up its features and shape and the structure of its legal, political, civilian, legislative, executive, and judicial establishments – a constitution that clearly and openly defines the duties and rights of the citizens and is based on the principle of the separation between the three branches of government (the legislative, executive, and judicial) and defines the relationship between them in a flexible and balanced way and on the basis of the independence of the judiciary and its supremacy because there is no voice above the law and there is no authority on the judiciary.
o Adopting the principle of the free and direct choice of all the state’s legislative and executive establishments. This means demonstrating the right to freely electing and running for the post of president of the republic and the membership in the parliamentary councils.
o Practicing, respecting, and ensuring the freedom of speech, expression and publication, and the independence of the press and the mass media in accordance with the constitution and the legal principles emanating from it.
o Ensuring and guaranteeing the right of peaceful protest such as staging rallies, demonstrations, and sit-ins in light of what the constitution and the legal principles emanating from it dictate and on the basis of preserving security and order and social peace.
o Ensuring and guaranteeing the right to form political groups and the civil society’s organizations in a voluntary and independent way, including the formation of political parties, popular organizations, trade unions, societies, unions, and peaceful and free associations.
o This civil and free state, which is the state of institutions, liberties, and law, adheres to the principle of intellectual and political pluralism and the principle of the transition of power. It is a state that opens the way for real political participation on the fullest manner – a participation by all national, ethnical, political, and regional strata, in the political decisionmaking and in implementing and watching this decision and benefiting from its fruits and results.
On the link between the political democracy and the values of social justice, the memorandum presented the following points:
o Developing the national economy on the basis of knowledge, programming, and planning so that the people would benefit from national resources and correct the influential economic establishments in order to put an end to poverty, unemployment, and inflation, and to move toward the society which enjoys health, clean environment, abundance, and welfare.
o Establishing the state of the real economic partnership between a strong and productive public sector and a free private sector that is self-motivated, and a supportive and active civil society that confronts corruption and the exhaustion of resources.
o Building a state that reconsiders, in a scientific way that copes with the development and the progress in technology and the wide use of knowledge and sciences, organizing the social life in order to preserve the sublime family values and correct the relationship between the two sexes. This state should also reconsider the contents of education, culture, and media in a way that is necessitated by the development and progress of the society and the revival of the creativity spirit and ensuring the fair laws for personal status that guarantee many social rights that we have lost during the black dictatorship and tyrannical period and the creation of public and private funds for social care and social integration and solidarity. It should also ensure the freedom and rights of women in the law and constitution and the equal chances in all legal, political, economic, and cultural fields.
o The state we are seeking is the civil state that respects the religious beliefs and their sublime principles away from racialism, extemism, violence, and forgery that are sometimes caused by the political, social, and economic interests. The state we want is a state that renounces violence, terrorism, racialism, and cultural isolation. It is a state that respects human rights and the principles of citizenship and the rights of minorities and weak groups because the human being in light of the state of the institutions and law is a free creature who enjoys all privileges of citizenship regardless of color, race, language, fai th, ethnicity, or social status.
Concerning the future relations between the Libyan state and the world, the TNC said: “Our upcoming state whose democratic fabric is having balanced and rational regional and international relations, respects neighbors and praises the friendship relations and values the independence and sovereignty of states, and seeks to achieve regional integration and international cooperation and contributes with the rest of world countries in realizing international peace and security.”
It pointed out that this aspired state adheres to the values of international justice, citizenship, and respect of human rights. Therefore, it seeks to renounce the fascist and dictatorship regimes and joins the international system in alienating racialist conflicts and their discriminatory and ethnical forms as well as international terrorism. On the other hand, it supports the causes of peace, democracy, and the liberation from all forms of hegemony and tyranny.
The TNC stresses anew that this democratic state respects all charters, accords, and international and regional agreements that it concludes with the peoples and states for the sake of international peace and security and to achieve cooperation and peaceful coexistence among peoples and nations, pointing out that Libya as a state, after the fall of Al-Qadhafi, would honestly and truly take care of the interests and rights of the foreign citizens and companies in the country in its capacity as a state of the institutions, liberties, and law. It has laws that organize legitimate immigration, residency, and nationality, and respect the principles and the rights of humanitarian asylum in general. This state rejects the interference in the affairs of the countries and peoples out of its respect for their sovereignty and in recognition of their freedom of choices.
(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic — Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat. com/)
“Moustapha Abdeljalil, ancien ministre de la Justice du colonel.”Pour nous, souligne le journaliste, il reste le président de la cour d’appel de Tripoli qui, à deux reprises, a confirmé la peine de mort des infirmières. Un fidèle parmi les fidèles qui, en récompense de son intransigeance dans ce procès, a été nommé ministre en 2007.”
ministre de l’Intérieur du régime de Tripoli, Abdel Fattah Younis […] surnommé le “tortionnaire en chef” [par la presse Bulgare] à cause des mauvais traitements dont se sont plaintes les infirmières – viols, électrochocs et morsures de chiens notamment – commis par ses hommes et destinés à leur faire avouer des crimes qu’elles affirment n’avoir jamais commis.” (thanks “anonymous crazy bear”)