Libya: bombs and democracy don’t mix

Following our comment on the Libya situation a few days ago, we came across this sharp piece by Oscar Reyes. Succinctly, he argues that the pro-intervention justifications and the anti-bombing cries of hypocrisy would be better directed towards an assessment of the likely consequences. As he puts it:

They’ll (Western governments) find new leaders who’s [sic] perspective coincide with their own strategic objectives. This is not an accident, but a performative act: for a Western government to recognise you as a leader, you must start to act in ways that conform to Western governments’ norms of leadership in client states.

In other words, the very intervention prevents the self-determination that the Libyan people are clamouring for. It may be true that we (the coalition of military forces) can install a leadership that would be preferable to an insane dictator. What we cannot do is decide in the stead of the Libyan people who they wish to govern their country.

If that means that the situation in Libya remains messy for some time (as it inevitably will in the wake of any toppling of Gaddafi), and if — heaven forfend — that means that Western geopolitical interests in the region take a hit, that’s tough luck. At least, we wish that the governments of France, UK, and the US would accept that it is tough luck.

Sometimes it’s harder not to intervene. It involves a sober, adult reflection upon the limits of our power to influence world events and to shape the world into the form we wish it would take. That recognition can take more courage than any military bombast.

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