Posts Tagged ‘humanitarian

03
Apr
11

‘is it better to save no one?’

A protester holds a banner beneath a Kingdom of Libya flag during an anti-Gaddafi demonstration in Benghazi, March 31

Nicholas Kristof (New York Times): Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don’t have an exit plan, that he hasn’t articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.

But let’s back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.

We were all moved by Eman al-Obeidy, the woman who burst into the reporters’ hotel in Tripoli with her story of gang-rape and torture, only to be dragged away by security goons. If we had not intervened in Libya, Qaddafi forces would have reached Benghazi and there might have been thousands of Eman al-Obeidys.

Eman al-Obeidy

It has been exceptionally rare for major powers to intervene militarily for predominantly humanitarian reasons…. We are inconsistent. There’s no doubt that we cherry-pick our humanitarian interventions. But just because we allowed Rwandans or Darfuris to be massacred, does it really follow that to be consistent we should allow Libyans to be massacred as well? Isn’t it better to inconsistently save some lives than to consistently save none?

….The difficulties of Iraq and Afghanistan have again made many Americans – particularly on the left – allergic to any use of military force, even to save lives in a limited operation with very few civilian casualties, like the one in Libya.

…The International Criminal Court is investigating Colonel Qaddafi, with an indictment possible as soon as next month. It would be a fine step toward ending global impunity for atrocities if a SWAT team of Libyans and coalition forces swooped down one day and seized Colonel Qaddafi to face trial in The Hague. It’s the kind of thing that no one can predict, but it’s an ending that would leave this Libyan incursion remembered not only for the lives it saved, but also as a milestone in the history of humanitarianism.

Full article here

Thank you Dorothy and BWD (see here) for highlighting this article

28
Mar
11

‘moral progress’

A child of a pro-Gadhafi soldier, Tripoli, March 6

Peter Beinart: There are plenty of smart objections to America’s Libya intervention. But when President Obama addresses the nation on Monday night, he should rebut the stupidest one: that America shouldn’t wage humanitarian war in Libya because we’re not doing so in Congo, Zimbabwe and every other nasty dictatorship on earth.

The consistency argument … has nothing to do with Congo and Zimbabwe. Most of the people who invoke those ill-fated countries showed no interest in them before the Libya debate and will go back to ignoring them once Libya is off the front page. Ask someone who demands moral consistency in humanitarian war how exactly they propose to intervene in Congo and you will quickly realize that the call for moral consistency is actually a call for immoral consistency.

The point of invoking the horrors of Congo is not to convince the US to act to stop the horrors of Congo; it is to ensure that, out of respect for the raped, murdered and maimed in Central Africa, we allow innocents to be raped, murdered and maimed in North Africa as well….

There will always be horrors that outside powers cannot or will not prevent. But the fact that they cannot be stopped everywhere is no reason not to try to stop them somewhere.

….humanitarian war is not possible everywhere because war is never waged for humanitarian reasons alone. There is nothing strange or scandalous, for instance, about considering logistics. NATO is intervening in Libya in part because Libya lies relatively close to the NATO countries that are doing the intervening, as did Bosnia and Kosovo. That means the operation can be done more cheaply, at less risk to American and European lives, and with a greater chance of success, than in Zimbabwe or Congo. Those are all valid considerations, as valid as a doctor choosing to operate on the patient he has the best chance of saving.

…There will always be horrors that outside powers cannot or will not prevent. But the fact that they cannot be stopped everywhere is no reason not to try to stop them somewhere. And showing that they can be stopped somewhere – first in Bosnia and Kosovo, hopefully now in Libya – may make dictators pause to reflect that they could be next. That’s moral progress, which in the ugly, real world is a pretty impressive thing.

More here

23
Mar
11

‘how the left got libya wrong’

A boy looks out as mourners pray during the funeral of a rebel killed by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi, March 22

John Judis (The New Republic): ….I looked at various blogs and websites that air opinion on the left. With some notable exceptions (like Juan Cole), all I have found is opposition to the Obama administration’s decision to intervene in Libya.

So I ask myself, would these opponents of U.S. intervention (as part of U.N. Security Council approved action), have preferred:

(1) That gangs of mercenaries, financed by the country’s oil wealth, conduct a bloodbath against Muammar Qaddafi’s many opponents?

(2) That Qaddafi himself, wounded, enraged, embittered, and still in power, retain control of an important source of the world’s oil supply, particularly for Europe, and be able to spend the wealth he derives from it to sow discord in the region?

(3) And that the movement toward democratization in the Arab world – which has spread from Tunisia to Bahrain, and now includes such unlikely locales as Syria – be dealt an enormous setback through the survival of one of region’s most notorious autocrats?

If you answer “Who cares?” to each of these, I have no counter-arguments to offer, but if you worry about two or three of these prospects, then I think you have to reconsider whether Barack Obama did the right thing in lending American support to this intervention.

…Should Obama, as some critics have charged, have gone to Congress for a war powers resolution? I am not sure there was time for a full-scale debate…

…isn’t Obama repeating the same mistakes that George W. Bush did when he invaded Iraq in order to oust a despot? There’s a big difference between then and now: The United States is supporting an active revolt; it is preventing carnage; and it is encouraging real, rather than imagined, democratic movements across the region. These are all reasons why, even at this late date, and with uncertain prospects, it made sense to intervene.

Full article here

21
Mar
11

“inaction tears at our conscience”

“I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.”

President Barack Obama in his Nobel Lecture in the Oslo City Hall, 10 December 2009

BBC: The UN Security Council has passed a resolution authorising “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya from pro-Gaddafi forces. The resolution expressed grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties…the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity




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