Libya: A Week of Indignity

Gaddafi is a war criminal. That much seems a fair assessment. In that context, the International Criminal Court warrant that authorises his arrest seems welcome. On the other hand, it’s highly debatable whether Gaddafi is alone in the commission of such atrocities. Current violence in Syria, for example, could equally draw sanction. Even more poignantly, as Lindsey German highlights, how likely is it that Tony Blair or George W. Bush will ever be indicted for their parts in leading the invasion of Iraq?

All of which adds up to a strong suggestion that the warrant is an act of politics rather than an act of justice. An act of politics, moreover, that leads us yet another step away from any possibility of a peaceable resolution, because it makes it virtually impossible for Gaddafi to step down. Faced with the near-certainty of being arrested for war crimes if he does, he’ll surely choose to resist to the bitter end rather than negotiate.

And, in case it needs to be made any clearer that NATO’s attempts to protect Libyans are having unintended consequences, an airstrike earlier this week resulted in the deaths of several civilians in Tripoli. While these deaths were clearly inadvertent, they provide a potent illustration of the way that war makes life more dangerous rather than less, and of the oxymoronic nature of starting a bombing campaign to protect people.

Finally, the French military has confirmed that it has dropped rifles to Libyan rebels, fuelling the conflict and seemingly riding roughshod over the terms of UN resolution 1973, still the only agreement authorising military activity in Libya. How the dropping of rifles will ‘protect civilians’ is beyond our comprehension.

As the prospect of a swift resolution to the conflict becomes ever-more-obviously a pipedream, and as the costs of mounting militarism mount in a supposed era of austerity, we need to be asking repeatedly the same question Jim Hightower asks of the decade-long war in Afghanistan: why?

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