Is Libya just Iraq or Afghanistan with better PR?

By and large, most of us seem to have accepted the version of events in Libya that suggests that Gaddafi was a clear danger to citizens of his own country, that the rebel uprising was an expression of outrage by those citizens, and that we stepped in to help. Sure, we might have some doubts about the overstepping of the mandate offered by UN Resolution 1973, but we might also feel helpless to suggest better courses of action, for fear of seeming heartless towards a people in grave strife.

When we came across this article, however, that perspective began to look a little naive. The simplistic ‘Gaddafi bad, rebels good’ narrative started to unravel. The oil imperative began to look ever more obvious (yeah, OK, we did twig that one beforehand), and the intervention appeared more calculated than we’d imagined. The story that our armies acted upon a responsibility to protect innocent Libyans from an army of thugs on a Viagra-fuelled rampage began to look distinctly flimsy.

Now, as most major newspapers concentrate on the hunt for Gaddafi (as though capturing or killing him will resolve anything meaningful at this stage), we find ourselves reading about the factionalism that already appears to be threatening the political stability of the newly ‘free’ Libya. The power vacuum left by Gaddafi has, predictably, not been filled easily or effectively, and now Libya’s social organisation looks to be degenerating to the degree that it is at risk of being classified as a ‘failed state’.

Remind you of any other nations subject to Western military intervention over the past decade? If the deposition of Gaddafi leads only to further degradation of the Libyan infrastructure, perhaps followed ~ or hastened ~ by a growing military presence in the region, then ~ in humanitarian terms, at least ~ it will be an unequivocal failure.

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