It was urged by a United Nations Security Council resolution, the gold standard for military intervention. (Contrary to what some alleged, the abstentions of Russia and China do not deprive the resolution of legitimacy or the force of law; only a veto could have done that. You can be arrested today on a law passed in the US Congress on which some members abstained from voting.)
Overwhelmingly, Left-wing statements ( see the ISO or my own SP-USA as good examples) support the popular revolt in Libya, and support aid to the rebel forces. They have no illusions that Gadaffi is anything but a blood-soaked fascist. And left groups want sanction against his supporters and real grassroots aid for the popular revolution. We just know, as past history going back to the 1880s shows, that inviting the global imperial power to save them will enslave the Libyan people to a more subtle yoke in the coming years. This may be better than Gadaffi’s death squads, but that accepts the fallacy which goes completely unnoticed by Professor Cole that there are not simply two choices: domestic tyrant or Pax Imperia.
From the halls of Montezuma
to the shores of Tripoli
Cole’s argument also accepts at face value the breathless reporting of Gadaffi’s superior military rolling over Benghazi’s defenses. In fact, those forces still loyal to Gadaffi appeared at the beginning of U.S. involvement to number less that 10,000, and despite recent offenses to be both stretched beyond their means and operating in a society that will turn on them the moment they leave town.
In fact, Gadaffi’s regime has since the 1980s starved his military of training, provided heavy weapons mostly for propaganda value and self-aggrandizing gifting to foreign partners, and set all units in competition with one another. There is no unified command, even in the six “regime support” elite units, and no units are allowed training in combined operations, for fear it may be turned against the government. Apart from entirely untrained thugs of the Revolutionary Committees militias, there are only six operating Brigade strength units fighting for Gadaffi. These internal security units are understrength, under trained, and still dispersed across the country for fear of new risings. Like the popular forces earlier failed advance westward on Syrte, the one and one half Brigades of paramilitary units advancing toward the east were unsupplied and overstretched. Even these elite units witnessed two company level defections (one armor company included) in the days prior to the US air-strikes. These are the causal relationships at play, not US bombing of Tripoli or antiaircraft emplacements. But Cole ignores all this.
Exactly. I'm tired of the "don't you care about murdered Libyans?" shtick. Of course we care. But every cruise missile fired is thousands of poor people right here in the United States who will have to go cold or hungry in the winter. Some of those will die. Why shouldn't I, when talking about what the American government should do, prioritize keeping Americans alive in America over killing (some) Libyans in Libya?
At the same time, the former US official attending these talks told me that North Korea is watching the Western intervention in Libya and seeing the lesson that forfeiting nuclear weapons was a mistake made by Moammer Gaddafi. North Korea and many other nations are seeing that if one acquires nukes, keep them. They are the only ultimate security these regimes can count on in collisions with the West.
This official said that we are likely to see more unpredictable behavior and saber-rattling from North Korea as it reminds of its hard edge and it manipulates the fears of its neighbors by rationally deploying what appears to outsiders an erratic irrationality.
France has called for a Security Council meeting tomorrow on the conflict and is circulating a draft resolution that would tell UN peacekeepers to use “all necessary measures, including by seizing heavy weapons,” to protect civilians, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of not being identified because the text hasn’t been made public.
...Eventually, after the UN Mandate of the French mission was at an end, millions of Hutu refugees left Rwanda, mainly headed to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The presence of Hutu refugees (see Great Lakes refugee crisis) on the border with Rwanda, added to internal instability, contributed to the First and Second Congo Wars, with clashes between these groups and the Rwandan government continuing.
The UN and its member states did not respond to the realities on the ground. In the midst of the escalating crisis for Tutsis, they directed Lt. General Roméo Dallaire to focus UNAMIR on evacuating foreign nationals from Rwanda. Due to the change in orders, Belgian UN peacekeepers abandoned the Don Bosco Technical School, filled with 2,000 refugees. Hutu militants waited outside, drinking beer and chanting "Hutu Power." After the Belgians left, the militants entered and massacred everyone inside, including hundreds of children.
Four days later the Security Council voted to reduce UNAMIR to 270 men, by Resolution 912. Following the withdrawal of the Belgian forces, Dallaire consolidated his contingent of Canadian, Ghanaian, and Dutch soldiers in urban areas and tried to provide areas of "safe control". His actions saved the lives of 20,000 Tutsi. The administrative head of UNAMIR, former Cameroonian foreign minister Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, has been criticized for downplaying the significance of Dallaire's reports and for holding close ties to the Hutu militant elite.
The US was reluctant to get involved in the "local conflict" in Rwanda and refused to label the killings as "genocide". Then-president Bill Clinton later publicly regretted that decision in a Frontline television interview. Five years later, Clinton stated that he believed that if he had sent 5,000 U.S. peacekeepers, more than 500,000 lives could have been saved. ( source )
March 12 - The Arab League calls for a U.N. no-fly zone over Libya. A meeting in Cairo decides that "serious crimes and great violations" committed by the Gaddafi government against his people have stripped it of legitimacy.
March 16 - Forces loyal to Gaddafi are near rebel-held Benghazi and "everything will be over in 48 hours," Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam tells France-based TV channel Euronews.
March 17 - The U.N. Security Council votes to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" -- code for military action -- to protect civilians against Gaddafi's army.
Leader Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday threatened that Libya will replace western banks, oil firms and companies by others from China, India, Russia and Brazil. Speaking on Wednesday on state television, Gaddafi claimed that Libya's oil fields and ports are "safe" and "under control." -March 2nd, 2011
( source )
The intolerable conditions the region finds itself in today are the result of a decadelong campaign by Slobodan Milosevic to build a greater Serbia by singling out whole peoples for destruction because of their ethnicity and faith. The brutal methods are familiar now. Spreading hate in the media. Killing moderate leaders. Arming paramilitaries and ordering soldiers to conduct planned campaigns of murder and expulsion. Eradicating the culture, the heritage, the very record of the presence of his victims. Refugees are not a byproduct of the fighting he has initiated; the fighting is designed to create refugees. We are haunted by the images of people driven from their homes, pushing the elderly in wheelbarrows, telling stories of relatives murdered.
President Clinton, 1999
Since 24 March 1999 [Westphalian style sovereignty] is being replaced by the emerging Clinton Doctrine, a carbon copy of the Brezhnev doctrine of limited sovereignty that supposedly justified the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Like his Soviet predecessor, Mr. Clinton used an abstract and ideologically loaded notion – that of universal "human rights" – as the pretext to violate the law and tradition.
The Clinton Doctrine is rooted in the bipartisan hubris of Washington’s foreign policy "elite," tipsy on its own heady brew of the "world’s last and only superpower." Legal formalities are passé, and moral imperatives – never sacrosanct in international affairs – are replaced by a cynical exercise in situational morality, dependent on an actor’s position within the superpower ’s value system. And so imperial high-mindedness is back, but in a new form. Old religion, national flags and nationalist rivalry play no part.
But the yearning for excitement and importance, that took the British to Peking, Kabul and Khartoum, the French to Fashoda and Saigon, and the Americans to Manila, has now re-emerged. As a result a war was waged on an independent nation because it refused foreign troops on its soil. All other justifications are post facto rationalizations. The powers that waged that war have aided and abetted secession by an ethnic minority, secession that – once formally effected – will render many European borders tentative. In the context of any other European nation the story would sound surreal.
There was no "genocide," of course. Compared to the killing fields of the Third World, Kosovo was an unremarkable, low-intensity conflict, uglier perhaps than Northern Ireland a decade ago, but much less so than Kurdistan. A total of 2,108 fatalities on all sides in Kosovo until June 1999, in a province of over two million, favorably compares to the annual homicide tally of 450 in Washington D.C. (population 600,000). Counting corpses is poor form, but bearing in mind the brutalities and "ethnic cleansings" ignored by NATO – or even condoned, notably in Croatia in 1995, or in eastern Turkey – it is clear that "Kosovo" is not about universal principles.
The 1992–93 international intervention in Somalia revived the dream of a centralized state that would be a major recipient of foreign assistance. Accustomed to interpreting international interest in their country on the basis of its geopolitical standing and to conspiratorial realpolitik in the conduct of foreign relations, Somalis were reluctant to believe the humanitarian rationale for President Bush’s intervention. Most supposed that America had rediscovered a strategic interest in Somalia’s position at the tip of the Horn of Africa, or that vast reserves of oil had been identified beneath its sands. More immediately, Somalis assumed that international engagement in their country would revert to form, namely the generous sponsorship of a strong centralized ruler.
The intervention therefore sharpened factional conflict by increasing the rewards anticipated from controlling the state. This conflict initially took a political rather than military form, as none of the factions dared challenge American military power. But when forces under General Muhammad Sa’id Hirsi Morgan of SPM captured Kismayo from Aidid’s USC and its allies in February 1993, with American and Belgian troops standing idly by, the factional leaders learned that the international forces were not ready to risk casualties. The war was therefore reignited, and in due course U.S. and UN forces themselves became party to it.
...The total value of Saddam's foreign contract awards could reach $1.1 trillion, according to the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2001.
The Russian official said his government believed the US had brokered a deal with the coalition of Iraqi opposition forces it backs whereby support against Saddam is conditional on their declaring - on taking power - all oil contracts conceded under his rule to be null and void.
'The concern of my government,' said the official, 'is that the concessions agreed between Baghdad and numerous enterprises will be reneged upon, and that US companies will enter to take the greatest share of those existing contracts... Yes, if you could say it that way - an oil grab by Washington'.
A government insider in Paris told The Observer that France also feared suffering economically from US oil ambitions at the end of a war. But the dilemma for Paris is more complex. Despite President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany agreeing last week to oppose changing the rules governing weapons inspectors, France may back military action.
Government sources say they fear - existing concessions aside - France could be cut out of the spoils if it did not support the war and show a significant military presence. If it comes to war, France is determined to be allotted a more prestigious role in the fighting than in the 1991 Gulf war, when its main role was to occupy lightly defended ground. Negotiations have been going on between the state-owned TotalFinaElf company and the US about redistribution of oil regions between the world's major companies.
Washington's predatory interest in Iraqi oil is clear, whatever its political protestations about its motives for war. The US National Energy Policy Report of 2001 - known as the 'Cheney Report' after its author Vice President Dick Cheney, formerly one of America's richest and most powerful oil industry magnates - demanded a priority on easing US access to Persian Gulf supplies. ( source )
At a time of spiraling oil prices, the no-bid contracts, in a country with some of the world’s largest untapped fields and potential for vast profits, are a rare prize to the industry. The contracts are expected to be awarded Monday to Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, as well as to several smaller oil companies.
The deals have been criticized by opponents of the Iraq war, who accuse the Bush administration of working behind the scenes to ensure Western access to Iraqi oil fields even as most other oil-exporting countries have been sharply limiting the roles of international oil companies in development.
For its part, the administration has repeatedly denied steering the Iraqis toward decisions. “Iraq is a sovereign country, and it can make decisions based on how it feels that it wants to move forward in its development of its oil resources,” said Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman.
The advisers say they were not involved in advancing the oil companies’ interests, but rather treated the Oil Ministry as a client, the State Department official said. “I do not see this as a conflict of interest,” he said. A potential area of criticism, however, is that only Western companies got the bigger oil contracts. In particular, Russian companies that have experience in Iraq and had sought development contracts are still waiting. ( source )
The contracts on the first of Iraq’s two-day bidding round went to European and Asian oil companies eager to get back into the market and unafraid of assuming the risk of investing in Iraq. The traditionally less aggressive US oil majors were present but did not submit bids for the five fields on offer.
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.
It has been exceptionally rare for major powers to intervene militarily for predominantly humanitarian reasons. One rare example was the United States-led Kosovo campaign in 1999, and another was Britain’s dispatch of troops to Sierra Leone in 2000 to end the brutal civil war there. Both were successes, but came only after years of killings that gradually built up the political will to do something.
Critics argue that we are inconsistent, even hypocritical, in our military interventions. After all, we intervened promptly this time in a country with oil, while we have largely ignored Ivory Coast and Darfur — not to mention Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.
We may as well plead guilty. 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?
If the Libya operation is successful, moreover, it may help put teeth into the emerging doctrine of the “responsibility to protect” — a landmark notion in international law that countries must intervene to prevent mass atrocities. And that might help avert the next Rwanda or the next Darfur.
Mustafa Gheriani, a Transitional National Council spokesman, told Al Jazeera's Lee that the loss of lives is very much regretted.
"However we understand that collateral damage may also take place and we do accept it, because we look at the big picture which saving more lives.
"So a few people being victims of circumstances or of being at the wrong time or the wrong place it is more or less very bad luck."
On Feb. 17, the scheduled “Day of Rage,” soldiers and the police opened fire with machine guns on unarmed crowds. Soon, photographs circulated of bodies torn in half by high-caliber weapons. Unarmed young men climbed into bulldozers and drove them in suicidal attempts to breach the high green-and-white walls of the Katiba, the last stronghold of Qaddafi’s authority left in the city, a vast compound that dominates Benghazi’s downtown like a medieval fort. The death toll shot up, and the initial core of politically active protesters like Saih and his fellow lawyers soon grew to encompass a broad swath of Benghazi’s roughly 800,000 people.
One of them was Mahdi Ziu. His home was about 200 yards from the Katiba, and he saw a young man shot to death right outside his front door. Ziu was anything but an agitator: he worked as a middle manager at the Arabian Gulf Oil Company. He was a paunchy man, sedentary and diabetic, with thinning hair and glasses and a resigned expression. He liked to read and surf the Internet, his daughter and brother told me. He had a soft heart and often cried when watching television dramas with his wife and daughter on the living-room couch. He disliked politics and tended toward moderation in all things: he would walk away when he heard religious extremists fulminating about right and wrong at the local mosque. But after three days of brutal killing in his hometown, something snapped. “He kept saying, ‘Jihad, jihad, this is the time for us all to go out and fight,’ ” his 21-year-old daughter, Zuhour, told me. Zuhour seemed to alternate between awe and horror as she quietly narrated her father’s death (his wife was sequestered, in accordance with Muslim mourning custom). She sat on a couch in the living room, a slim, pretty girl in a head scarf with her hands folded uneasily in front of her. The neighbor’s baby whined in the next room, and a photograph of her father’s face sat on the table nearby. “If you heard this man,” Zuhour continued, “you would know he was ready for something.” No one else in the family had taken part in the protests; Mahdi’s brother told me, a little regretfully, that he had been too frightened.
By Sunday, Feb. 20, protesters in Benghazi had armed themselves and were focusing all their efforts on storming the Katiba. Every day, soldiers inside the barracks were firing down on the funeral processions that used the long boulevard from the courthouse to the city’s main cemetery, killing more people and generating more funerals, more anger.
On Sunday morning, with the sound of gunfire in the background, Ziu slipped a last will and testament under the door of a friend. He then returned to his apartment and asked the neighbors to help him load a number of full gas canisters into his black Kia sedan, parked just outside the house. They asked why, and he told them the canisters were leaking; he needed to get them fixed. His brother, Salem Ziu, told me that he thinks Mahdi used a small patch of TNT, the kind Libyans use to kill fish, as a detonator. No one really knows.
What is certain is that about 1:30 p.m., Ziu drove his car until it was facing the Katiba’s main gate, near the police station where the first protests began five days earlier. The area in front of him was clear, a killing zone abandoned by all but the most reckless. Rebels fired from the shelter of rooftops and doorways, and snipers at the Katiba fired occasional shots down on the figures darting in the streets. Ziu put his foot down on the accelerator. The guards opened fire, but too late. The speeding car struck the gate and exploded, sending up a fireball that was captured on a cellphone video by a protester a few hundred yards away. The blast blew a hole in the wall, killing a number of guards and sending the rest retreating into the Katiba. Within hours, it would fall to the protesters.
The remains of Ziu’s charred and crumpled car now lie by the open gate of the Katiba. Above and around it are tributes to him in looping spray-painted letters: “Mahdi the Hero.” “Mahdi, who liberated the Katiba.”
Earlier that same day, Emad al-Imam was walking in a funeral procession in downtown Benghazi. He, too, was unused to protests. A 42-year-old father of two who worked as an administrator at an agricultural company, he joined the procession only out of sympathy. As he passed near the Katiba, machine-gun fire raked the mourners. Imam dropped to the ground. His head was protected by a concrete block on the pavement; he could feel the bullets whining past his upturned ear. He lay there — it felt like 10 hours, he told me, but it was probably only 10 minutes — until the shooting stopped. He opened his eyes and saw four soldiers pointing AK-47s at his head.
“They made me get up and searched me,” he told me. “One of them hit me on the head with his gun stock, and I fell on my face. He put his foot on my neck. They were arguing about whether to kill me now or bring me inside first.”
The men took him by the arms and dragged him into the Katiba, through a gate not far from where Mahdi Ziu would soon launch his kamikaze drive. He did not resist. Inside, they blindfolded him and threw him onto the floor. After a few minutes, he worked the blindfold off far enough to see that he was in a room with 60 or 70 prisoners. A soldier walked up and beat him savagely, he said. Someone fired a gun next to his head. He turned and watched the soldier fire two more bullets into the body of the man sitting next to him. Then they dragged Imam into another room, where they used electric wires to burn his legs. By this time, he could hear fierce exchanges of gunfire outside the Katiba walls. The protesters had now acquired heavier weapons from looted military barracks in Bayda and other eastern towns, and some of Qaddafi’s soldiers had defected to join them. The siege of the Katiba was in its last hour.
“Both sides were firing so hard that paint flakes were falling from the ceiling,” Imam told me. “One of the soldiers with me said, ‘Before we die, you will.’ ”
Another soldier asked, “Who here comes from Bayda?” One protester said he was from there, and the soldier told a comrade, “Give me that bayonet.” He took it and began slashing the prisoner brutally. Imam was born in Bayda, and it is written on his national ID card. He lay there, waiting for them to find the card and kill him too. But the sound of gunfire got closer and closer, and before long the soldiers ran out of the room, leaving the prisoners alone. Some time later, a group of armed protesters ran in. “Who are you?” one of them shouted. One captive cried out, “Don’t hurt us, we are with you.” The protesters untied them. But Imam and his comrades were too frightened to leave. He listened to the gunfire, tried unsuccessfully to get up and then passed out.
He woke up in a hospital. He had burns and bruises all over his body. The doctors told him to rest, but he wanted to find his parents, to let them know he was alive. He staggered off the bed. The doctors had given him Valium. He fell down twice, and then, emerging into the darkened street, began limping home.
Emad’s father, a tall, stoic-looking man of 65 named Miftah al-Imam, told me he started to worry after his son was missing for several hours. He called Emad’s cellphone, and an unfamiliar voice answered. “May I speak to the owner of this phone?” Miftah said. The voice said, “The owner of this phone is being burned,” laughed and hung up. The words sounded so strange to Miftah that he thought his son’s phone had been taken by a child or practical joker. He called several family friends, and then, reluctantly, he went to a nearby hospital.
He found a terrifying scene, Miftah told me. The hospital was full of the wounded, people shouting, blood on the floors, pandemonium. He found a doctor who showed him a list: his son’s name was not on it. He walked to another hospital. This one was overwhelmed, too. No one recognized Emad’s name. Miftah pleaded for help finding his son, and a kindly nurse told him there was one unidentified body. She led him into a makeshift morgue where a covered corpse lay on a gurney and pulled back the cloth from a young man’s face. Miftah approached. There was a bullet hole in the side of the head. Miftah looked, and felt his stomach wrench. The face was a little fuller than Emad’s, but that could be from torture. He was certain this was his son.
“I kissed his forehead,” Miftah told me when we met in Benghazi, a week later. “ ‘May God have mercy on you,’ ” I said. “ ‘May God take revenge on injustice.’ ” He gave his name to the hospital staff and told them the body was his son. One doctor, seeing that Miftah looked pale and unsteady on his feet, drove him home. Back at the house, Miftah gave the news to his wife and to Emad’s wife and two children, who live on a different floor. The sound of shrieking and sobbing filled the house. The neighbors heard and came to pay their condolences. For two hours, more friends and relatives arrived to comfort the bereaved family.
It was then that Emad staggered through the front door, into his own funeral.
MISURATA, Libya — Military forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who have surrounded this city and vowed to crush its anti-Qaddafi rebellion, have been firing into residential neighborhoods with heavy weapons, including cluster bombs that have been banned by much of the world and ground-to-ground rockets, according to the accounts of witnesses and survivors and physical evidence on the ground.
Such “indiscriminate” weapons, which strike large areas with a dense succession of high-explosive munitions, by their nature cannot be fired precisely, and when fired into populated areas place civilians at grave risk.
The cluster munitions were visible in use late Thursday night, in the form of what appeared to be 120-millimeter mortar rounds that burst in the air over the city, scattering high-explosive bomblets below.
Remnants of expended shells, examined and photographed by The New York Times, show the rounds to be MAT-120 cargo mortar projectiles, each of which carries and distributes 21 smaller submunitions designed both to kill people and penetrate light armor.
The cluster munitions are not the only indiscriminate heavy weapon system to imperil the city’s neighborhoods. An examination of the area of an intensive rocket barrage on Thursday near the city’s port showed that the Qasr Ahmed residential district was struck by multiple rockets, known as GRADs, which landed in a dense pattern on houses and streets. One rocket shattered the wall beside a mosque.
The GRAD rockets, an area weapons system designed in the Soviet Union to blanket a battlefield with multiple explosions, were readily indentified by their twisted fragments and remains, some of which bore markings indicating they had been manufactured during the cold war. They are fired from truck-mounted launchers that hold 40 rocket tubes, so that each truck is, essentially, a mobile system that can launch its own barrage 12 miles or more.
One of the GRAD rockets alone killed eight civilians, according to survivors and witnesses, who then showed two journalists eight hastily dug graves in a public park nearby, where relatives prayed over the dead. The bodies had been interred beside two children’s swing sets. Each grave was dated: April 14, 2011.
Taken together, the attacks of Thursday and the evidence they left behind, point to a campaign by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces against Misurata that relies in part on weapons designed to endanger the lives of the civilians trapped within. They also support the rebels’ frequent contentions that in the lopsided fight for Libya, Colonel Qaddafi’s forces have targeted civilians or at a minimum, taken few measures to avoid endangering them.
The toll of the GRAD rocket strikes also framed the ways in which civilians in this war are forced into vulnerability. Misurata has few open markets, almost no electricity and limited supplies of food. To eat, many residents must stand in bread lines.
One of the rockets that landed in Qasr Ahmed exploded beside one of those lines, killing several people waiting for food. “I jumped onto the ground when the explosions started,” said Ali Hmouda, 36, an employee of the port. “My friend did not. His head came off.”
The BBC’s Orla Guerin reports from inside a Misrata hospitals. Doctors say 80% of the victims are civilians, many of them hit by shrapnel. Some of the patients were hit while waiting in a bread queue. That attack alone killed 23 people.
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