It certainly feels uncomfortable to watch American, British and French planes enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, bombing Libya’s anti-aircraft defences and destroying Libyan tanks. Certainly the hypocrisy of the West and the Arab dictators is as galling as ever. There’s no chance of a no-fly zone over Palestine and Lebanon, nor over Saudi-occupied Bahrain. I can understand very well the fears of some that the West will overstay its welcome – although I think this is very unlikely indeed.
I am pleased, however, that the joint British-French-Lebanese (with Hizbullah in government in Lebanon) resolution for the no-fly zone has been adopted by the United Nations, that the massacres of the Libyan people may be minimised or stopped, that liberated Benghazi will probably not now fall to the tyrant.
If Britain, France and others are seeking influence in post-Qaddafi Libya by pleasing the Libyan people, that’s fine by me. Perhaps they fear their companies being banned from Libya as a punishment for supporting the dictator, and they are taking this opportunity to make amends. Again, fine. This is how things are done between strong, free countries which respect each other. It’s not the same as, for instance, Western powers arming and politically supporting the Saud family in return for military bases which are hated by the Saudi Arabian population.
Europe also has legitimate reasons, beyond oil, to be worried about ongoing massacres in Libya. A quarter of a million (mainly non-Libyans) have fled the country so far. I’m not somebody who thinks there are too many immigrants in Europe, but if Qaddafi were to wrest back control, there could be hundreds of thousands pouring out all at once, many across the Mediterranean.
I’m sure the West, and the dictators of the Gulf, are trying to force promises from the transitional authorities. And it’s true that the transitional leadership is not particularly impressive, containing plenty of ex-regime people. The fact is that the Libyans have not had the leisure to discuss politics and choose good leaders – their priority now is to get rid of the tyrant and to simply stay alive. It goes without saying that the revolution must continue once Qaddafi has gone, that elected representatives of the people must decide on the nature of future relations with foreign powers. If Libyans end up handing over economic control to the West, it will be the fault of the Libyans, not of the no-fly zone resolution.
It’s interesting to observe, as the world abruptly changes, how many people are crippled in judgement by their ideology: leftists who think Qaddafi is an anti-imperialist hero, non-Arab soft Islamists who have a problem admitting the Arabs are connected to each other beyond the borders drawn by imperialists, Zionists who tell themselves the revolutions have nothing to do with Palestine, Americans who tell temselves that the invasion and destruction of Iraq started the democratic ball rolling…
It’s the stupid fringes of the left who have the most to answer for at the moment, as they not only express logical concerns about the extent of Western intervention but actively support Qaddafi. They say the UN ‘aggression’ is designed to ease Western access to Libyan oil, as if Western companies did not already exploit Libyan oil under Qaddafi’s regime. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanism’ as if his funneling of the Libyan people’s money to African dictators and militias were somehow beneficial to the African masses. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘socialist’ credentials and completely ignore the expensive decadence of his sons and his own penchant for calling himself ‘King of Kings.’ They talk about Qaddafi’s great ‘victories’ against imperialism – here I can only guess they mean his squalid sponsorship of terrorist attacks against civilians, which serve to distract attention from the sufferings of occupied and oppressed peoples. Or perhaps they mean his murder of Lebanese revolutionary Musa Sadr. Or maybe his willingness to torture rendered suspects on behalf of the United States.
Talking to the Western media recently, Qaddafi excused his cold-blooded murder of thousands thus – “Even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists.” So he compares himself to Israel and the Libyan people to Palestinians, who are ‘extremists.’ Please explain that, O leftist followers of the Brother Leader.
These leftists are ignorant of the stagnation of Arab societies under dictatorial regimes and of the enormous suffering of those – often the very best and brightest – who have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered. If they are not ignorant, they simply do not care. They are the kind of people who supported Soviet interventions in eastern Europe in 1956 and 1968, who think the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was a liberation, that Mao’s cultural revolution was progressive, that Louis Farrakhan is a great historian. These people are posers, for whom ideas and facts are useless except as adornments for the sexy self. They are an insult to leftism and anti-imperialism. Fortunately, their residence in fantasy land makes them entirely irrelevant to the real world.