Greens criticise aid to Libya

August 25th, 2011 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Ally Mullord at 3 News reports:

John Key’s announcement that Government is likely to provide financial aid to Libya “feels a bit like ‘me-too-ism’”, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says. …

He says the Government should wait to see how the situation in Libya develops before making a decision to send aid to the country, and while he isn’t opposed to supporting the country there are other places “which in terms of absolute need are higher priorities”.

Tell me you are kidding?

At the end of a civil war where a dictatorship has just been abolished, is exactly the right time to be lending support and aid. It is at this point one has the greatest ability to help encourage Libya to go down a benign path.

So why on earth would the Greens be criticising aid to Libya?

“It feels a bit like ‘me-too-ism’ following the United States, which this government does kind of suffer from… and we need to see what’s going to happen at least in the next few days and the next week,” he says.

Oh, now I understand. The logic must be:
  1. US is root of all evil in the world
  2. US is giving aid to Libya
  3. Hence it is wrong for NZ to give aid to Libya

Hope for Libya

August 22nd, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

Hundreds of euphoric Libyan rebels pushed to the western outskirts of Tripoli without meeting any resistance after they overran a major military base that defends the capital.

The trappings of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime were crumbling fast, with opposition forces rising up from within his stronghold at the same time.

Associated Press reporters with the rebels said they reached the Tripoli suburb of Janzour around nightfall Sunday (early today, NZ time). They were greeted by civilians lining the streets and waving rebel flags. Hours earlier, the same rebel force of hundreds drove out elite forces led by Gaddafi’s son Khamis in a brief gunbattle.

Hopefully the Gaddafis will flee, and the civil war will end soon. That of course does not guarantee a bright future for Libya, but it does give the Libyan people a chance to build a democratic society.

Dyer on Libya

March 30th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Gwynne Dyer writes:

So why is this “coalition of the willing” (which has yet to find a proper name for itself) doing this? Don’t say “it’s all about oil”. That’s just lazy thinking: all the Western oil majors are already back in Libya.

I remember nutters insisting the Iraq war was about oil. The cost of the war has been many many times more expensive than any oil pumped from Iraq – and regardless the US is paying the same price as everyone else for Iraqi oil.

Maybe it’s just about local political advantage, then. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the driving force behind this intervention, and he faces a re-election battle next year. Is he seeking credit with French voters for this “humanitarian” intervention?

Implausible, since it’s the right-wing vote he must capture to win, and saving the lives of Arab foreigners does not rank high in the priorities of the French right.

True. Having said that Sarkozy’s opularity has increased due to his leadership on this issue. but I don’t think that was the motivation.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was the other prime mover in the Libyan intervention. Unless the coalition Government he leads collapses (which is quite unlikely) he won’t even have to face the electorate again until 2014.

And this will be long forgotten, unless the conflict is still ongoing in which case it will be very unpopular.

As for United States President Barack Obama, he spent weeks trying to avoid a US military commitment in Libya and his Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, was outspoken in denouncing the idea. Yet there they all are, intervening: France, Britain, the US and half a dozen other Western countries, strikingly unaccompanied by Arab military forces, or indeed by anybody else’s.

There is no profit in this for the West, and there is a high probability (of which the interveners are well aware) that it will all end in tears.

So why are they doing it?

So why have the Western countries embarked on this quixotic venture? Indians feel no need to intervene, nor do Chinese or Japanese.

Russians and South Africans and Brazilians can watch the killing in Libya on their televisions and deplore Gaddafi’s behaviour without wanting to do something about it.

Even Egyptians, who are fellow Arabs, Libya’s next-door neighbours, and the beneficiaries of a similar but successful democratic revolution just last month, haven’t lifted a finger to help the Libyan revolutionaries.

They don’t lack the means – only a small fraction of their army could put an end to Gaddafi’s regime in days – but they lack the will.

Indeed, they lack any sense of responsibility for what happens to people beyond their own borders. That’s normal.

What is abnormal is a domestic politics in which the failure to intervene in Rwanda to stop the genocide is still remembered and debated 15 years later.

African countries don’t hold that debate; only Western countries do. Western countries also feel guilty about their slow and timorous response to the slaughter in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Nobody else does.

Sad, but largely true.

Why is it only Western countries which believe they have a duty to intervene militarily, even in places where they have no interests at stake, merely to save lives?

My guess is that it’s a heritage of the great wars they fought in the 20th century, and particularly of the war against Hitler, in which they told themselves (with some justification) that they were fighting pure evil – and eventually discovered that they were also fighting a terrible genocide.

Of course not all in the West have this view. Keith Locke said in Parliament:

Five important Security Council members—Germany, Brazil, India, China, and Russia—did not support the UN resolution. They were reluctant to support military intervention in Libya, and the Greens share their concerns. Although we fully identify with the democratic forces in Libya and do not wish to see them crushed, we see a lot of problems with the military intervention as it is evolving right now.

They identify with the democratic forces, but won’t vote to use force to protect them from being slaughtered by Gaddafi.

Generally military force is the last resort. But it is a resort. With the Greens, they seem unable to support military action, no matter how noble the cause.

Gulf War No III

March 19th, 2011 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

The UN may just have authorised the third gulf war. I think the UN made the right call to stop Gaddafi using his air force against the opposition. If he re-established control over all of Libya, hundreds or even thousands of Libyans may have been executed.

But there is no guarantee this won’t happen anyway. It’s one thing to defend unarmed protesters, but a bit different when it is an effective civil war.

If the no fly zone is not effective, then pressure will go on, for more active intervention – and at that point you have a full war.

Gaddafi would lose that fight very quickly, but the aftermath could turn out to be more akin to Iraq than Egypt.


March 1st, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Most analysts think Gaddafi has lost control of so much of Libya, that his downfall or demise is just a matter of time. I hope so.

The death toll is in the thousands, and those lives could have been saved if Gaddafi had done a Muburak. Of course the difference may just be that the Egyptian Army was less willing to kill it own citizens. To be fair most of the Libyan Army has been reluctant also.

A part of me sees some good from his decision to try and supress the pro-democracy movement by arms. Because it looks like he will fail, and will depart office (or life) reviled internationally.

This may prove a useful lesson to other dictatorships in the Middle East, and encourage them to peacefully engage with pro-democracy movements – not try and crush them.