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Libyan No-Fly Zone Redux

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 31, 2011

In an earlier episode I made a case for a No-Fly Zone over Libya to stop the massacre that was imminent due to a resurgent Gadhafi. When the no-fly zone was implemented, I made a comment about how the USA, NATO and the UN were in a no win situation, that prior to the implantation people would accuse them of callous indifference and that if/when it was implemented people would accuse them of imperialism. I used the term “whine” which offended some listeners…sorry Maurice…and the note that, my comments were an ad homonym attack on those who oppose the no-fly zone.

First, in my defence, the comments were not part of one of our main segments but just our idle chatter, so I wasn’t making any argument ad homonym or otherwise…but I will try to be less flippant in future if that is important to our listeners. Second, the point I was TRYING to make was that both or either side was destined to complain regardless of what was done. I was ‘whining’ that the UN did not impose a no-fly zone prior to our show. Lastly, you are right. When I made the case, for as good skeptics, we should have taken some time to assess the other side. So let’s do so now.

There are several reasons NOT to impose a no-fly zone. These fall into three main camps. The first is the idea of sovereignty. This is the claim often made by Russia and China. Each nation claims to have the right to settle internal affairs… internally and that no nation has the right to in the internal affairs of another. This issue, in a less violent way, has been raised often in Canada. There have been a number of times when Canadians have complained that comments made by American officials are wrong because they are seen as attempting to interfere with the internal affairs of Canada. An example of this is….in 2005 election the US ambassador to Canada said that Canadian politicians should not ‘bash the USA’…in response to issues like Kyoto and Softwood lumber, this verbal defence at the time cause a huge uproar in the press and public…

Another main argument against the no-fly zone is that violence, even when ostensibly for peaceful reasons, is wrong. This is similar to the arguments made against capital punishment…that we kill people to show that killing people is wrong; as in this case we are attempting to stop the killing of people in Libya by killing people in Libya…the only difference being on what side of an arbitrary, like the bombs are allowed to drop.

The last argument, and I think the strongest, is that this intervention IS an act of imperialism or at least opportunism by the US. The US has a long history of interventions in other nation’s internal affairs…or even regions affairs…not to create healthy democracies but to support pro-American regimes. My support for the No-Fly Zone was for humanitarian reasons but it is rapidly transformed into a move by ‘the west’ to oust Gadhafi. They are no longer trying to suppress loss of life but to actively support the ‘rebels’ in an attempt to drive Gadhafi from power…something a number of people said was the probable true reason for the intervention and regardless of the original intent it was the unavoidable outcome…the fundamental reason NOT to have a no-fly zone…that it would inevitably lead to active political intervention in the nation.

Now, we can argue that getting rid of Gadhafi is a good thing…like getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good thing…and therefor the no-fly zone was still humanitarian and good even if it has been escalated because these dictators were in a near constant state of bringing violence and death upon their own people. We MIGHT agree with that…but what about other regimes that do this and the UN or the west…we do nothing? Syria comes to mind, where in the 80’s after a failed revolt, that government shelled the ‘offending city’ of HAM and killed over 17,000.

Currently Bahrain and Yemen are violently suppressing political dissent but these countries are allied with the USA…notably the US 5th fleet is based in Bahrain and the ‘hot spot’ the US war on terror in the region is Yemen…Bahrain has even had the Saudi armed forces help in the suppression; yet we do nothing. Uzbekistan is infamous for their violent repression and civil rights abuse…yet because the US sees them as reliable allies we do nothing. What about the intervention in Chile…or in 2004 in Haiti where the US engineered a coup against the popularist Aristae government under the guise of humanitarian relief.


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