More war in Libya

This video from the USA is called Kucinich: Libya war unconstitutional.

The Obama administration is formally shifting its war in Libya to NATO command as the US-led alliance predicts the fighting will go on for at least another three months: here.

Robert Naiman, Truthout: “Here is some unsolicited advice for the Obama administration: you essentially have four days to put US involvement in the Libya war on a path that doesn’t look like open-ended quagmire. Otherwise, when the House comes back next week, you’re going to get in trouble. Many people have difficulty imagining the possibility that Congress could give the Obama administration difficulty over the Libya war. Since 2001, many people think Congress has rolled over for both the Bush and Obama administrations on questions of war and peace. Why should now be any different?” Here.

Allies Are Split on Goal and Exit Strategy in Libya: here.

Bernard-Henri Lévy makes “humanitarian” case for bombing Libya: here.

Turkish volte-face Thursday evening to make a sizeable military contribution to NATO’s intervention in the Libyan crisis, after two weeks of fierce opposition to the Alliance’s mingling with Arab affairs, has further blurred Ankara’s position in the Northern African conflict: here.

African Union Urges Libya Dialogue: here.

Samantha Power: The Voice Behind Obama’s Libya Action: here.

4 thoughts on “More war in Libya

  1. From the USA:

    Dear Peace Activists,

    Please help spread the word! The major national Antiwar Rallies in NYC at Union Square, on Saturday, April 9 and in San Francisco on Sunday, April 10 are just 2 weeks away. Momentum is building based on the urgency of responding to the new attacks in Libya, no end to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more attacks and threats to Gaza, ugly attacks on Muslims, new attacks on unions and collective bargaining and a new rounds of cutbacks of every possible social program, particularly hitting the Black and immigrant communities and the unemployed.

    This week has seen student demonstrations all across the country against the devastating attacks on education. Students, teachers and parents are asking why is there always money for another war, for more Tomahawk cruise missiles, aircraft carriers, destroyers, nuclear submarines and F-16 bombers, while schools are closing, tuition increasing and faculty facing unprecedented layoffs.


    In New York City we are hearing reports of buses coming from the up and down the East coast and the Mid-West as far as Minneapolis. Cars, vans and Peace Trains on all the commuter lines into NYC are scheduled.

    We are hearing of lots of plans for contingents of organizations and activists. Plans include a Asia contingent, Palestine contingent, Brooklyn for Peace contingent, South Bronx community contingent, and Irish contingent, various student contingents, and large union delegations. Groups in New Jersey, in Jersey City and Newark and on Long Island are holding morning rallies and heading to Union Square in large delegations. (Please be sure to post your information by clicking here for the transportation form)


    Because of the dangerous escalation of attacks on Muslims across the U.S., solidarity and unity of the antiwar movement with our Muslim sisters and brothers has become a major focus of these 2 major national rallies.

    Last week a leader of United National Antiwar Committee and a leader of the Muslim Peace Coalition, USA spent 6 days meetings with leaders of the Muslim community in the New York City area. More than 75,000 leaflets were distributed at the mosques for Saturday, April 9th and the Muslim community in New York is organizing buses from the entire area.

    The Muslim community is organizing for April 9th because they are for peace and they have seen the peace movement stand behind them and fight against Islamophobia.


    Over 500 organizations have now endorsed the rallies on April 9th in New York City andApril 10th in San Francisco including significant labor unions like 1199 SEIU East, which organizes health-care workers, Transport Workers Union, Local 100, which organizes NYC bus and subway workers, Teamsters, Local 808, which organizes workers on the commuter trains in New York. On the West Coast, the 25,000 member SEIU local 102 1 has endorsed as has the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10 and others.

    It is time that the antiwar movement was out in the streets in big numbers to stand with those calling to Bring the Troops Home Now, in support of those fighting Islamophobia, along side those fighting for democracy throughout the Arab World and with working people and unions fighting to preserve collective bargaining and for a decent life.


    The web site ( now contains logistics information including NYC bus drop off and pick up areas. It lists hundreds of endorsing organizations. Please take a minute to check and be sure that you are listed. If your organization is not listed, please endorse by clicking here (

    If your organization has already endorsed please immediately activate your lists to get solid head counts of who is coming. Plan to bring lots of signs and banners so that the media will see the wide range of areas, issues and organizations. Tell us your needs and plans. Email us at:

    We also need lots of volunteers. Please volunteer for the day of the rally and/or before by clicking here (

    Click here for the Facebook UNAC group.


    Click here for the Facebook April 9th/10th event


    We are on twitter here.


    Please donate by clicking here. ( We urgently need money for the rallies.

    In NYC, on Saturday, April 9, Union Square at 14th St & Broadway is the site of the 12 noon opening rally, followed by a march down the packed shopping streets of Broadway to Foley Square. At Foley Square a second rally is planned with speakers and music, along with a Peace Fair of tables, booths and displays. Please bring tables and literature from your group.

    In San Francisco on Sunday, April 10 the march and rally will begin at 12 noon at Delores Park at 18th St. and Mission St. followed by a 1:30 march through the streets of San Francisco’s historic Mission District and returning to Delores Park for a closing rally at 3 PM. (for San Francisco information, call 415-49-no-war).


    Joe Lombardo and Marilyn Levin

    UNAC co-coordinators



    Thoughts on Libya and liberal interventionism

    2011 March 25

    by Mike Marqusee

    ‘Those who believe democracy can be imposed by military assault have surely missed some of the basic stuff of democracy itself, not to mention the powerful lessons of Tahrir Square.’

    In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland writes that liberal interventionism is ‘fine in theory’ but goes wrong ‘in practise’. I’d suggest that it goes wrong in practise because it’s deeply flawed in theory.

    The hypocrisy, double standards and selectivity displayed in the western military action in Libya defy enumeration, but just for a start. . .

    In Yemen and Bahrain western-backed regimes are violently repressing the democracy movement the west claims to back in Libya. In Iraq a US-sponsored regime protected by 47,000 US troops is trying to do the same – shooting demonstrators, detaining thousands and subjecting many to torture. The ‘urgency’ of the response to Gaddaffi is in marked contrast to the infinite patience extended to Israel. No one proposed a No Fly Zone when Israeli aircraft were pummelling Gaza. Nor did they when the Sri Lankan government killed some 20,000 civilians in its final assault on the LTTE. In Burma condemnation has never been matched by the merest hint of military action, while millions have perished in a war in the Congo financed and armed by western corporations Had the Egyptian army jumped the other way and repressed the uprising, would western powers have treated them as they’re treating the Gaddafi regime? Not a chance. And then there’s the flip-flop over Gaddafi himself, from pariah to partner and back again in record time.

    ‘So what?’ some will respond. If the western powers are hypocritical and selective, that doesn’t mean that in this instance they’re wrong. Our guilt elsewhere is not an excuse for failing to protect the innocent in Libya. We cannot cure our governments’ double standards with double standards of our own.

    But what are these ‘double-standards of our own’? We don’t demand the invasion of Burma or the bombing of Tel Aviv and no one called for NFZs over the townships during the apartheid years. We want an end to western support for repressive regimes everywhere, we stand in solidarity with democratic struggles, but our solidarity is not expressed at the tip of a Cruise missile.

    The critical point about the hypocrisy, double-standards and selectivity is that they unveil the real motive forces driving the intervention. And motives here are anything but incidental factors; they guide and shape the intervention and therefore tell us a great deal about its likely impact. What the double standards reveal, ironically, is a very clear and consistent policy standard, i.e. western elite interests (or lack of them). Where oil is at stake, behaviour is strikingly uniform – whatever is necessary to control and/ or keep others from controlling its supply.

    This helps explain why the western powers are throwing caution to the wind, jumping into a conflict for which they are even less well-prepared than they were for Iraq. The Libyan crisis is too good, too rare an opportunity to pass up. It offers them the chance to insert a pro-western regime in an oil producing nation, to reassert their role in the region after a series of setbacks and to renew their prerogatives as world policemen in the wake of the catastrophic performance in Iraq. There is also a pressing need to realign and channel the Arab popular movements, which have defied so many western assumptions. Crucially these movements have combined demands for political rights with demands for economic and social justice – the part of the movement that is a revolt against neo-liberal rule has to be diverted.

    In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland writes that liberal interventionism is ‘fine in theory’ but goes wrong ‘in practise’. I’d suggest that it goes wrong in practise because it’s deeply flawed in theory.

    If liberal interventionists were consistent, they would advocate similar Western military action in relation to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Congo, Kashmir, Iran, Israel, Burma, etc. etc. etc. This would not only be wildly impracticable but deeply undesirable. It would lead to chaos and escalating violence on a global scale, overwhelmingly detrimental to the poor and vulnerable and fatal to the cause of democratic advance. A policy that if applied consistently and universally would result in disaster is best not applied at all.

    Liberal interventionists treat great powers as neutral agents, disinterested entities that can be inserted into a situation for a limited purpose and time, like a surgeon’s knife. In reality, however, these powers have clear and compelling interests – in Libya as elsewhere – and their deployment of military force will be guided by those interests. In action, western troops are accountable not to the people they’re supposed to be protecting but to a chain of command that ends in Washington, London and Paris.

    The unleashing of the great military powers undermines the universalism the liberal interventionists claim to honour: outcomes are determined by concentrations of wealth and power remote from the scene of suffering. If we’re to build any kind of just, sustainable world order, then we must (at the least) restrain and restrict great powers, not license them to act where and when it’s convenient for them.

    The incompatibility between democratic development and great power intervention may seem obvious but it seems to escape the liberal interventionists. Their approach is ahistorical, as if somehow the entire record of western imperialism could be suddenly overturned, self-interest magically transformed into humanitarian interest. In the name of pluralism they endorse a uni-polar world, governed perpetually by a few great powers. In the name of universalism, they support an exercise of power that has always been and must continue to be selective in the extreme when it comes to human rights.

    Characteristically, the liberal interventionists omit from their equations the realities of unequal power. Their approach to crisis is managerialist. Problems will be solved by the implementation from above of sound policies. They see the masses as passive recipients of democracy, not the creators of it. Those who believe democracy can be imposed by military assault have surely missed some of the basic stuff of democracy itself, not to mention the powerful lessons of Tahrir Square. For them military intervention is an act of noblesse oblige – but like all such acts, it re-enforces the subordinate status of the alleged beneficiary; it reminds them who’s boss.

    It’s argued that badly motivated actions can still have unintended positive consequences and that Libya may be a case in point. But it’s much more likely that such actions will have unintended negative consequences. This argument from serendipity – that good will accidentally flow from bad – was advanced in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. It seems a flimsy basis for a geo-political philosophy. Most importantly, it ignores that intentions, however contradictory or confused, shape outcomes.

    Liberal interventionism is underpinned by a lack of sensitivity to the inevitable costs of warfare and in particular warfare waged by one country on the soil (or airspace) of another. It ignores the vast range of unpredictable ramifications. It treats military intervention as if it were the same as raising or lowering taxes, a mechanical incentive to a desired form of behaviour.

    Liberal interventionism is entirely dependent on the great powers. There’s no other way the policy can be implemented. It relies on a coincidence of western and humanitarian interests, one that has been a historical rarity at best. In the end, the liberal interventionists have no agenda or standard of their own.

    The current intervention ensures that if Gaddafi falls, his replacement will be chosen by the west. The new regime will be born dependent on the western powers, which will direct its economic and foreign policies accordingly. The liberal interventionists will say that’s not what they want, but their policy makes it inevitable.

    The problem is not the ambiguities of the UN mandate. ‘Mission creep’ is inherent in the process. The mission will become what the major powers want it to be, according to their own agendas, not least their interest in Libyan oil.

    ‘What about Bosnia? What about Rwanda?’ One significant difference is that in Libya we’re faced with an attempt by an authoritarian state to crush a popular uprising and the ensuing civil war – not an ethnic assault. The lessons of Bosnia and Rwanda are indeed powerful but they do not include the one that the question usually supposes, i.e. that western military intervention should have taken place.

    In Bosnia a western-imposed NFZ and Dutch troops on the ground failed to stop the Srebrenica massacre. When the full scale intervention that the liberals had been calling for finally took place in 1999, it precipitated a massive escalation of the ethnic cleansing it was supposed to stop and stymied the anti-Milosevic movement in Serbia (which succeeded without western help a year later). Eleven years on none of the underlying issues have been resolved, the victors have engaged in their own ethnic cleansing and the Kosovo statelet is a corruption-riddled western dependency.

    In Rwanda, there were French troops on the ground, defending their national interests and nothing else. In the end, the genocide was stopped by an African intervention. Western powers are unlikely to have been any more effective and their presence on the ground as a military force would have profoundly skewed subsequent developments, in all likelihood hampering the progress that Rwanda has been able to make in their absence.

    ‘So do we do nothing?’ The question is undermined by the selectivity of those who ask it. Their indignation may be sincere but it is intellectually contrived. Not wanting to do the one particular thing (using military force) that they fix on is not the same as ‘doing nothing’. We do what we can do, what contributes most and destroys least. There is ready to hand an alternative model of global intervention in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign aimed at Israel, which is opposed by most liberal interventionists.

    Western presence in the region is not the solution but a major part of the problem. This is not a presence that can be restricted to policing the rights of civilians (and I can’t think of a single instance in modern times where it has actually performed that task). It’s a presence that shapes the region’s economy, society and political institutions according to its own priorities. Getting rid of that interfering hand is a necessary step towards democracy and development.

    Finally, this debate has reminded me of the gulf that separates my politics (and most of us on the left) from this type of liberalism. For me this gulf first opened when as a youngster I watched liberals launch the Vietnam War on a sea of ‘good intentions’. The gulf widened when, despite the ensuing nightmare, liberals continued to believe in the benign nature of US (or British or French) world intentions. In Libya, once again, they have been seduced by a vicarious potency. And they have always failed to recognise that vast disparities in wealth and concomitant concentrations of power are themselves the greatest threats to democracy and human rights. Liberal interventionists may not like the disparities, the inequalities, but they regard them as inevitable and tolerable. Mass economic immiseration, it seems, is never grounds for ‘urgent intervention’.


  3. Pingback: Japanese demonstration against war, nuclear disaster | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Iraqis fight for democracy | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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