Sunday, March 20, 2011

Global Po Po

The world once again has a global policeman. The six Canadian fighter jets and many more warships and aircraft that are being sent to Libya are taking part in a most controversial form of warfare: the bombing of a sovereign state to protect its people from their ruler.

As any cop will tell you, police operations are rarely quick, easy, clean or surgical. The United Nations Security Council resolution reached Thursday night is far more than a “no-fly zone,” as it authorizes UN members to take action against any of Moammar Gadhafi’s air or ground forces to stop his killing of Libyans. We have now taken a side in this war.

What the resolution doesn’t say – but what it certainly means – is that, after the conflict has ended, the world will be playing an active role in Libya’s transition to democracy, probably for some time to come, possibly for years.

The Arab Spring, in other words, is now our business. This could be a history-changing moment, in which the U.S. and its allies are once again seen in much of the Muslim world as supporters of the people. But there are many ways it could go wrong. We need to learn from the few times this has been tried.

You know what they say about global policemen: They’re never there when you need them, always there when you don’t. There are many who feel President Barack Obama waited too long to commit the U.S. to taking military action to stop Colonel Gadhafi, and to support a democracy movement that seemed to reflect core U.S. values. In this view, he dithered.

But there were even more compelling reasons for him to avoid rushing into Libya – even though the leaders of the anti-Gadhafi rebels, and many of the world’s humanitarians, were begging Washington to take action.

This was done the right way: through a Security Council resolution, following the rules the world agreed on after the horrors of the 20th century, in a motion initiated by Lebanon and supported by several key Muslim nations (and with active military involvement by several Arab states). It was worth waiting to get it right.

If the Iraq war had been organized this way, as an action of the whole world, we might remember it as a democratic and humanitarian success. But it was the lack of such co-operation in Iraq – and the complete lack of any intelligent action once the brief period of regime-change conflict was over, leading to a post-conflict catastrophe – that meant Washington could not possibly have been the leader on Libya. The sight of American soldiers on Arab soil would be sure to provoke the worst sort of response across the region, and would be used by other Arab dictators as a rationale for crushing democracy movements.

Could that perception change? Yes. We forget how recently things were different.

The second time a no-fly zone was authorized, after the one to protect the Kurds in Iraq in 1991, was to protect a largely Muslim population of Bosnia from being slaughtered by a largely Christian force bent on putting an ethnic Serbian stamp on the former Yugoslavia.

That was repeated in 1999 – without Security Council authorization – when NATO bombed Belgrade to protect the mainly Muslim population of Kosovo from Slobodan Milosevic’s forces; it worked, and was followed by vital support to Serbia’s democracy movement, which unseated Mr. Milosevic the following year.

For a while, the U.S. and its allies were praised as defenders of Muslims; the Kosovar capital of Pristina still has a main street named Bill Clinton Boulevard in honour of their hero. It seemed that the quick, sharp international action was the formula for global peace.

It was the confidence created by these comparatively successful (if tragically late) interventions that led many world leaders to back the ill-considered 2003 invasion of Iraq (whose 1991 no-fly zone had been an expensive failure) and to overextend themselves in Afghanistan. The wars of the 2000s taught us that quick regime-change strikes can become tragedies of epic proportion, not to mention nearly destroy the image of the U.S. and its allies.

History has turned with astonishing speed. In Benghazi on Thursday, young Arabs waved U.S. and French flags in joy, welcoming Western planes as liberators. It’s a great moment, and the world ought to seize it – but we should remember how fast, and how badly, things can turn.

Submitted by Doug Sanders from Saturday's Globe and Mail for Courtney who is apparently too damn busy reveling in her, frankly, hedonistic lifestyle to write one up for today:(


Anonymous said...

You owe me one little miss

John Rudolph said...

So who's right: the President, who says he has the authority to attack Libya, or this guy: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." - Senator Barack Obama, in an interview with the Boston Globe Dec. 20, 2007.

We need to abandon ourselves as far away as possible from the UN.

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Thank you Doug! :)

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Hi John. IDK - instead we should hug the UN in a death Grip - unbinding all democracies and crushing all despotries with resolutions about nearly every endeavor of the human spirit.

Force them to explain why control freak mentalities are NOT keeping their nations states in a very pitiful place.

As for 44 in the Before Time - perhaps classroom theories and cloakroom rhetoric can't cut it in the real world?

Steve Harkonnen said...

Yet foolishly enough we still refuse to go after the despot himself - capture him alive and drag him before a military tribunal. But, thanks to 44's ignorance in dealing with historical revenge this will never happen. I also believe you *strongly* misunderstood me in Facebook over this because you didn't realize that my sentiments against Gaddafi run much stronger than you realize. I actually came to Belgium in that same Pan Am 747 before it was destroyed over Lockerbie. Also lost a good friend Danielle from the French Military Mission at SHAPE when her country refused to allow our FB-111's permission to fly over France. That's just one of the stories up-and-coming in my second book. You see, when you live history and experience it, you gain quite a different perspective from it.