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Guest Thinkers

Averting a Guernica in Libya

THERE are already some on the Left who are arguing against military intervention – in the form of a no fly zone – over Libya. The argument has merit on the grounds of consistency, and probably, although it is not being advanced, on grounds of practicality. This will be a difficult military operation to mount. What is more there is absolutely no guarantee that stopping Gaddafi’s airforce from hitting civilians and rebels alike will actually stop him, although his initial ceasefire call suggests that the threat of international force has stayed his hand.The big difference, the unarguable difference between the illegal bombing and invasion of Iraq is that the international community has spoken, and in the shape of the United Nations Security Council. There is no higher force, at least on this planet. Colonel Gaddafi is currently engaged in launching military attacks on his own people, and the United Nations, with Ban ki moon at its head is demonstrating the reality of what ‘Responsibility to Protect’ is all about. Mindful perhaps of past failures in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the UN is doing exactly what is expected of it. For this we should offer our whole hearted support. There will be those who will point to Libya’s oil wealth. They will argue that the Western countries’ main motivation for intervening is oil. There will be others who will say if Libya, why not Cote D’Ivoire? But at this crucial time, if not now, when? Questioning motives is a fine academic exercise as Benghazi faces a potential bloodbath..Once upon a time, the great moral voices of the Left were raised for the people of Guernica as Franco bombed them, or Srbrenica, as the UN stood by impotently and the General Mladic did his worst. Now is not the time to stand on the sidelines carping, but to recognise the full validity of international law and the United Nations. Let’s hope that it is not too late.


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