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The Price of the Divide on Libya

Contributed by Tasnim

Note: This post is in response to The price of Dignity in Libya by Roqayah Chamseddine. In an earlier post, Libya from a Libyan’s Perspective, I responded to Sarakenos’ post Libya in Perspective. This was before the military intervention in Libya.

The military intervention in Libya has divided the left into two camps, the pro-interventionists and the anti-imperialists who define it as a military assault equivalent to the war in Iraq.  At the centre of this division is an apparent contradiction between supporting the people’s revolution against autocracy and an anti-imperialist stance which denounces western hypocrisy.  As a Libyan, I reject this false contradiction. I see myself as an anti-imperialist, I denounce western double standards, and I supported the revolution and the intervention. I see no need to twist myself into an arguing position where I declare myself to be for the people’s revolution, but against the intervention that sustained it. That, to me, would be the contradiction.

The accusations levelled at the pro-interventionists include naivety, hypocrisy, and selling their soul (and dignity) to the devil. The rhetorical questions fly: How can you believe this is a humanitarian intervention? Who bolstered Gaddafi? How about Bahrain, Yemen, Palestine? Afghanistan, Iraq, see what they did there? Rwanda, see what they didn’t do there? Do the three letters O-I-L mean anything to you?

The charge of naivety is popular, because proving you’re not naive can be difficult. I don’t speak for Libyans, but I can speak for myself and those I know, and we don’t need to be told that those intervening in Libya are acting in their own interests. None of us believe that this so-called humanitarian intervention is motivated solely by concern for human life.  We know who rehabilitated Gaddafi. We watched Berlusconi kiss his hand and Clinton pose with his son Mutassim and Blair sit in his tent and announce a New Era, all when the brutality of the regime was being masked by the thinnest possible patina of change, the change of Saif’s western bought PR.

We also remember when Gaddafi was lionized by some in the left as an anti-imperialist Nasserite during the 70s and 80s, a time when people were hung in public and Libyans were poisoned against  progressive ideas because of the brutality of the regime that pretended to espouse them. We remember when Gaddafi was the enemy of the west. We remember Operation El Dorado Canyon. We remember the collective punishment of sanctions as a whole nation was held responsible for Pan Am 103, only adding to the suffering of the most vulnerable. We remember when we were the pariah-state, and Libyans were the terrorists after the plutonium. We don’t need to be told that this intervention is, as one friend put it, mish ashan sawad eyona – not for the sake of our eyes. None of us are apolitical or naive, we haven’t had a chance to be. Yet all of us support the intervention.

To denounce Libyan pro-interventionist stances as naive is condescending, imperious and an insult to our knowledge of our own history. I find it amusing that self-declared anti-imperialists flourish Libya’s history in the face of Libyans who support the intervention, when some of them knew no more  about Libya a couple of months ago than its location on the map. And that it was ruled by a madman.

Cross-examining the military intervention does not make me uncomfortable. I am aware of the need to be  wary. I am aware that western countries could easily have looked the other way and continued benefiting from their deals with the Gaddafi regime, and I am aware that by intervening they are banking on new deals and new interests.

What saddens me is the morally bankrupt arguments made by those intent on justifying their anti-imperialist stance at all costs, to the extent they will mine neoconservative material and echo Gaddafi’s accusations  to prove the “rebels” are Al Qaeda, or CIA. Some have justified the crackdown, using Gaddafi’s claims of secessionist movements, ignoring the fact that resistance is as strong in Misrata in the West as in Benghazi in the East.  Some have gone further than that to deny Gaddafi’s atrocities took place. Others don’t even venture into this territory but still elect to wag their fingers at Libyans for submitting to imperialism.  And when these arguments offend a Libyan, an anti-imperialist declares: “I relish in the fact that you are offended. I enjoy it.”

I find it a little counter-intuitive to deny atrocities took place to prove that atrocities will take place. Yet when I look at the arguments of those who oppose the intervention and the methods some of them resort to, I’m reminded why I made my decision. I need the reminder because it was not an easy decision to make. The morning I woke up to find a column of tanks a few kilometres outside Benghazi and wished for air-strikes to make them disappear, I asked myself whether it was only because I am Libyan.  I imagined an alternate universe where the Arab League and the UN had made the same choices during the Gaza massacre. For me, it’s a no-brainer. Whether they called it a “no fly zone plus” or a “kinetic military action,” if it took out the jets and the tanks heading into town, I would have supported it, as long as those on the ground supported it.

I look to the cities that have been bombarded by Gaddafi’s forces for over a month – Misrata and Zintan and the western mountain area – and I see none of the intellectual arguments against intervention coming from them. So I support them. I support the opposition in every Arab country rising up, I am an activist for Palestine and against the War on Terror, and I support the Libyan uprising. In all cases, I take my cue from the people most affected, not from pundits.

The Libyans dreamed briefly about a revolution like the one in Tunisia or Egypt. One where we could go out and chant “silmiya.” Instead, we had to go from unarmed demonstrations faced with heavy calibre weapons to forming a civilian ragtag army, and then Gaddafi’s brigades sent that ragtag army into retreat. Our dreams were confronted with Gaddafi’s zenga zenga speech. We had to be realistic about our newborn revolution, because it was about to be “cleansed” off the face of the earth.  So what should we have done? Sit on our hands and wait for death? Maybe we shouldn’t have carried weapons at all? After all, what right did Libyans have to decide to arm themselves when they were being torn literally into two? Clearly stoic pacifism would have softened Saif’s heart or increased Gaddafi’s mental capabilities.

We adjusted. That optimistic banner that read “No foreign intervention, the Libyan people can manage it alone,” was accompanied by requests for a no fly zone and support from the international community, with Libyans understanding it to mean that no one wanted full-scale ground forces and an occupation of Libya. That remains the position every Libyan I know believes in.  We would have preferred Arab support, but apart from Qatar and the UAE, it didn’t happen. So what were our options? Those who opposed the intervention seem short on realistic alternatives.

The idea that the Libyans must allow their nascent revolution to be crushed by a brutal regime which has recently been bolstered by the west rather than accept western intervention in the hope for a better future – that idea seems to me to be based on an exasperatingly short memory. The west has it’s interests, the anti-imperialists warn. Just a few sentences prior, they will have pointed out that the west aided the Gaddafi regime.  Clearly, those insidious interests did not magically appear with the disastrous imperialist intervention, and they won’t magically disappear after it.

The self-described anti-imperialist camp describe themselves as cynical, to further the argument that everyone else is a naive, western stooge. I would argue that a position which holds that you should let yourself fall into an abyss rather than accept any helping hand is a quintessentially idealist (and fatalist) one. I question their cynical credentials.

This is not a refutation of the anti-imperialist argument, because the “I’m for the revolution, against the imperialist war” stance can be a comfortable one. It’s principled and it’s consistent, because that’s what you always will be when you’re blind to your own contradictions.

What I want to bring attention to is the price. Not the price of dignity, because I would never question the dignity of any people fighting for their freedom, but the price of depicting the Libyans as sell-outs. I believe in Arab unity more than ever in this Arab Spring. I’ve seen it and shared it with my Tunisian and Egyptian friends, and I’m hoping to share it with every Arab I know. What poisons the revolution is not western interests – those are facts, they are on the ground and in play in every single country in the region. What poisons the revolution is division, and the rhetoric that fosters division.

Roqaya Chamseddine has criticized the pro-interventionists for emotive rhetoric. I find that slightly ironic, given her description of dignity as “a thin string being pulled two and fro, so close to snapping in two, you can hear the sound of screams as each fiber is lacerated.” If that is not emotive rhetoric, I don’t know what is. Chamseddine goes on to pose a series of emotive rhetorical questions, bloodied hands of empire, submission, bended knees and boot-shining included.  She cites Omar Mukhtar, implying our ancestor would be turning over in his grave. She notes that he chose to be hanged rather than be a puppet. Taking this analogy to its logical conclusion, some Libyans criticized her for essentially recommending Libyans  go hang. I’ll be charitable and take this appropriation of the Libyan hero Omar Mukhtar against the Libyan people as a warning not to be puppets. I hope she’ll be pleased we’re taking her sage advice.

We refuse to be puppets to a madman who has become a puppet to the west any longer. We will continue this struggle until we are rid of him, and as the Egyptians and the Tunisians have done before us, we’ll continue it after we are rid of him. Because this is a long journey we’ve embarked on. But as Omar Mokhtar said: “We are a people who don’t surrender. We are victorious, or we die.”

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89 Responses to “The Price of the Divide on Libya”

  1. Regarding the banner pictured in the article, that's some impressive graphic design for a revolution. Written in English no less…..

    Posted by @MazMHussain | April 4, 2011, 12:45 pm
  2. Excellent article.The intervention began when Saif Islam claimed to be 24 hours from Benghazi, I don't understand the position that potentially hundreds of thousands of Libyans in Benghazi should be die for "anti-imperialism". I'm against empire too, but not with the practical short term result that people who are asking for help should die.

    Gaddafi and his sons made a great case for intervention themselves by killing unarmed protestors with anti-aircraft guns and fighter planes and making obscene threats of further violence against the Libyan people. Its easy to abide strictly to an ideal when you don't have to deal with the consequences.

    Posted by @MazMHussain | April 4, 2011, 12:54 pm
  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece, though I strongly disagree I have no “major stake” in respect to the people of Libya; it is a battle which connects me as an Arab and as a human being but in the end the vents transpiring will mean far more to those engaged, those who are Libyan. In the end the choice is theirs, not mine and not anyone else’s.

    I made remarks against emotive rhetoric in dialogue when they are not coupled with fact. I contend that I was rash, as my frustration grew in light of my questions being ignored and deflection mounting. For that I apologize to whomever I offended.

    My own stance against the military intercession though has not wavered, not due to any sense of cynicism or arrogance but because I am not convinced. Again, it does not matter in respect to me as a person whether or not the events taking place suit my ideals, opinions etc. I will watch and make remarks knowing that my beliefs are my own. I speak on behalf of no one else.

    And also, the “I hope she’ll be pleased we’re taking her sage advice” is a bit much no?

    I wrote an article per request in order to vent and shed a little light on the anti-interventionist camp; one ignored or spat upon by the mainstream, conventional body of activist’s etc.

    There are many who have conveyed, factually, their personal opinions based on historical precedence; far better than I did. One is anthropologist Max Forte.

    Either way, I enjoyed your piece – though we may have to respectfully disagree.

    Posted by Roqayah | April 4, 2011, 1:53 pm
    • Thank you for commenting, Roqayah.

      I have never argued non-Libyans have no stake in what is happening in Libya. In light of the evolution and repercussions of the Arab awakening, that would be patently ludicrous. My argument is against a false dichotomy, the idea that you are either anti-interventionist (thus anti-imperialist) or an abject boot-shining stooge of imperialism with no dignity.

      I appreciate the apology you offer to those you offended and I hope they accept it.

      Like Yara, I fully respect the anti-interventionist stance. I respect people like Azmi Bishara and Dima Khatib, and I share their concerns and apprehensions. But I don't respect the campaign to discredit and castigate the Libyan uprising. That is not putting a final nail in the pro-interventionist argument, but hammering nails through the coffins of our marytrs.

      I can't stand by while their dignity is questioned.

      As for "sage advice" being a bit much – I went with the view that if you can dish it out, you're tough enough to take it. I intended it to be quite mild, but I'll admit to having a minor sarcasm addiction. I apologize for misjudging it.

      I understand and respect your motivation for writing the article, if not the tack you chose to take. I responded to provide a Libyan perspective. I also responded to your words, not Max Forte's, although I'm prepared to address the points raised in his autopsy of the Libyan revolution.

      I'm prepared to respectfully disagree, or respectfully debate. Either would be preferable to the frankly painful comment section on "the price of Dignity."

      Posted by @TasnimQ | April 4, 2011, 4:30 pm
      • The anti-interventionist camp questions whether the hand being extended towards the people of Libya is "a helping hand" as you noted. There is overwhelming evidence that the military intercession is transforming into something much more than just the attacking of tanks et al. in order to weaken the Gaddafi blocs http://exm.nr/hagxwQ "…the CIA has been working in Libya for several weeks"

        I respect and revere the true liberators – the martyrs of all revolutions. Questioning the intention of the foreign military intercession and therein vehemently aligning ourselves against such questionable intervention, in which historical precedence proves to be damning, may not be considered a conventional way to support the revolutionaries but I present the contention that it is.

        It is because I do not wish to see foreign intervention that will further destabilize the region, it is because I do not wish to see Libya partitioned or used/pillaged. It is not because of arrogance, misplaced cynicism etc. It is because of precedence and honest and humble reverence. Because history is often ignored, far too often and we only head its warning much too late.

        Posted by thecynicalarab | April 4, 2011, 6:31 pm
        • Thanks Roqayah, I take your reply as an indication we're going for respectful debate.

          As I made clear in my post, no Libyan I know thinks this is purely a humanitarian intervention, so hopefully we can lay this aspect of the discussion to rest. Like you, we question the motivations behind it, and the consequences that will come of it.

          My point about “a helping hand” is not a reference to the agenda behind the intervention – that would have contradicted my own argument – but an illustration of the idealism of the supposedly cynical anti-interventionist view.

          One of the reasons I stand by my position is that I'm not an idealist but a realist.

          In response to the quote on the CIA, I lift this from my post: “western interests…are on the ground and in play in every single country in the region.” I don't believe any Arab country currently experiencing change is immune from the agency. That said, I accept Libya is on a different level, and as I have noted, we share the apprehensions of the anti-interventionist camp.

          Opposing foreign military intercession while supporting the revolutionaries is not at all unconventional. As I said, I fully respect, understand and share the concerns of that position. However, I present the contention that questioning their dignity for “shaking the bloodied hands of an empire” and "submission, on bended knee, in order to shine the steel-toed boots” of ex-colonial regimes is more divisive than supportive, and owes more to rhetoric than reality. On that, we may have to agree to disagree.

          Personally, I don't believe the most pressing question here is whether or not the intervention compromises our dignity. None of us want to see foreign intervention further destabilize the region, and none of us want to see Libya partitioned or pillaged. We share the same fears, and I think we have the same hopes. This is precisely why I don't see the need for divisive rhetoric.

          That said, I appreciate the strength of your convictions and I do think this is an important debate.

          Posted by @TasnimQ | April 5, 2011, 7:41 am
          • Let us push the 'question of dignity' aside, shall we?

            If we are to contend that foreign military intercession begins with a face-to-face clash we would be highly mistaken. From the start of our beloved 'Arab Spring' the West has done its best to either make up for their mistakes post-haste (ex. Egypt), pretend that there is no problem (ex. Bahrain) or begin with a re-broadcast of their beloved storyline wherein they are cast as the most 'humanitarian' of empires, that glittering 'city on a hill' yet history begs to differ http://bit.ly/f0nUHb
            As noted by the above article, authored by Brian Becker, "The United States, Britain and France have spent over $600 million dropping bombs and missiles on Libya in just the past week. But they do not expect, if victorious, to necessarily become the colonial power on the ground. The exercise of their control would likely take a different form."

            The United States of America, NATO et al. have intervened for the sake of their own interests http://bit.ly/fHBBtd the idea that the military intercession if humanitarian in any way is a poorly worded farce, this not being directed at you so much as it is towards those still touting this propaganda.

            This will likely turn into a power struggle – Gaddafi's forces vs. Western elitists. Apprehension is not enough anymore. We have been apprehensive for far too long.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 5, 2011, 4:28 pm
          • Roqaya, I'm sorry but that doesn't answer my comment. Let's remind ourselves where this whole debate sprang from, shall we?

            You wrote a post with the title "The Price of Dignity." Three Libyans took issue with the premise of that post, Souad, Yara and myself. Your request that we now "push the 'question of dignity' aside" pushes aside your own article and our objections to it.

            I'll stop here, because I genuinely would like to hear a response to what I said above.

            Posted by @TasnimQ | April 6, 2011, 6:38 am
          • The piece was entitled "The Price of Dignity" though the article questions the humanitarian intervention a number of times; I called it a farce. Also, you made a comment earlier that your article was a reply to the comments I had made as well as my article. In the vast laundry-list of comments I highlighted a number of questions as well as making comments about the military intercession.

            The article touched both bases, the military intercession, the hands behind it as well as the issue of dignity. All of which are equally as important in their own ways.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 6, 2011, 10:49 am
          • Forgive the Palinism, but I feel this debate is turning into something of a squirmish. Twice now you've brought up the “humanitarian farce” issue rather than defend your post against my argument that it is “more divisive than supportive, and owes more to rhetoric than reality.” You presented the contention that this is your way of “support[ing] the revolutionaries.” I'm trying to understand your position.

            I'm trying to understand how linking to an article which in its first sentence describes the revolutionaries as “The world’s most imperial-dependent, ill-disciplined and whining ‘liberation movement’” helps you “support” the Libyan people's aspirations for freedom (Lynch Law and Summary Executions in Rebel-Held Libya). I'm trying to understand how right-wing Islam-hysteria and left-wing anti-imperialism now share the same sources and use the same tactics in the effort to besmirch an entire people's aspirations for freedom, because it is ideologically appropriate to present millions of people as rampaging racist mobs and/or Al Qaeda/CIA operatives. I'm trying to understand how the cause my cousin died for and my family is still fighting for is less important to some than their anti-imperialist polemics.

            My position is that a principled anti-imperialist position would spend less time on smear-campaigns, castigations and smug I told you so's, and more time supporting the Libyan people's struggle for freedom from a brutal regime.

            I have stated repeatedly that I have respect for the anti-intervention position, as long as it does not attempt to denigrate or deny the existence of the Libyan people's struggle for freedom. Against your “price of dignity,” I wrote about “the price of the divide.” This is what I would like to address.

            Posted by Tasnim | April 7, 2011, 6:43 am
          • Tasnim,

            Thanks for bringing up the point about left wing and right wing using the same arguments. I saw As`ad Abukhalil attempting to portray Libyan revolutionaries as Al Qaidah and I took him off my daily reading list. These people are sick, Libyans are less important to them than the anti-west slogans.

            Posted by Souad | April 7, 2011, 12:15 pm
          • Souad,

            I agree, it is kind of through the looking glass – when Islamophobes and anti-imperialists pool resources. Deeply bizarre. I do have a lot of respect for Abukhalil, even though I sometimes disagree with his views, and disagree with almost everything on Libya. In fact I wrote something to that effect here: http://majjal.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/angry-arab

            It is difficult though. It's sad that some of the people I was with when we were all cheering the Egypt revolution are now doing their best to de-legitimise the Libyan people's fight for freedom. It leaves me feeling conflicted, depressed and isolated, and then I have to go find a Libyan to rant at/with. If you haven't already, I'd advise you to connect with the Libyans on twitter. It gets lonely otherwise.

            Posted by @TasnimQ | April 7, 2011, 6:59 pm
          • In your piece you quoted remarks I made in the comment section, in reply to Falasteeni you said:
            "I was responding as much to those comments as to Roqayah's piece."

            Also, you're rummaging through my Twitter feed, fishing for tidbits to attack (re: Lynch Law) while you contend you're only attacking the premise of my article. I never posted it in the comment section or in my piece.

            You are obviously not replying to my piece anymore but to my comments, my tweets etc.

            "My position is that a principled anti-imperialist position would spend less time on smear-campaigns, castigations and smug I told you so's, and more time supporting the Libyan people's struggle for freedom from a brutal regime."

            I support the Libyan people's struggle, as I have said from the start – we certainly have different ways of doing so. There is no need to be condescending in light of a wide array of anti-imperialists questioning every aspect of the revolution, from top to bottom, re: "…a principled anti-imperialist…" In their mind and the mind of all others, truth will certainly uphold all scrutiny.

            Certainly tweeting an article is not damning, I made no commentary in respect to my own opinion and in this case it does not matter as didn't you say you are replying to my piece? Yet you are not, are you?

            Personal anecdotes are stirring but your cousin is not the only martyr; the revolution will not be a white, surgical, impeccably clean feat.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 7, 2011, 12:33 pm
          • Roqayah,

            At least since you are very condescending you should be able to take it when people dish it out to you.

            Posted by Souad | April 7, 2011, 12:36 pm
          • Souad, I may be rash and can come across fairly blunt but do not attempt to be condescending in any way. And I certainly can "take it" when people "dish out". I've been the only one replying to the barrage of comments so I think I'm 'taking it' pretty well.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 7, 2011, 12:45 pm
          • Maybe my English is not perfect but telling someone that their dead cousin is not the only martyr seems very condescending, rude and arrogant to me. Sometimes when you have these opinions whether they are true or not it's better to keep them in your head than to type them out.

            Posted by Souad | April 7, 2011, 2:20 pm
          • It's a blunt, factually statement. This argument was never personal, yet personal anecdotes being delivered by a number of people continues in nudging it into that direction. I believe you know this as well as all those reading. If we want to refer to the martyrs collectively, that is fine.

            My comment in respect to said martyr was not from a place of superiority, nor was it patronizing – thus it was not condescending – "…to behave as if one is conscious of descending from a superior position".

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 7, 2011, 2:30 pm
          • For Libyans that are targets or martyrs of Qaddafi's terrorism this is personal and hard for us to seperate our personal feelings, especially when we have family that are victims. One issue with leftists that I have these days is when discussing the crimes of Qaddafi they seem to close their eyes and hearts to what we are experiencing and you want to "debate" within neatly defined and controlled parameters that dont make allowances for our real feelings. I am done responding to you. Good luck to the others that think they will break through your cold walls.

            Posted by Souad | April 7, 2011, 2:55 pm
          • Souad, you have long since made this pseudo-debate about me when I have noted on numerous occasions that I am attempting to make this case as factually based as possible. Yet you latch on to the idea that Leftists cohesively agree with my premise. I'm not a Leftist. I never said I was a Leftist. I don't have partisan alliances in respect to Leftists, Conservatives, Liberals etc.

            My walls are not cold, they are intellectually pessimistic and questionable. My eyes are open, as well as my heart; I have listened to both camps and Libyans on both sides of this tense spectrum. I pray all the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives in order to break the ties that long subjugated them under the rule of tyrannical regimes rest in peace. I respect those who have sacrificed their lives, be it those in Libya or otherwise.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 7, 2011, 3:06 pm
          • OK, so this has taken a definite turn away from constructive. I am sorry if anything I said seemed like a personal attack, that honestly wasn't my intention. I will admit my last comment was somewhat "emotive" and yes, I was in part replying to your comments, because I was trying to better understand your position.

            I did however point out my very specific problem with “The price of Dignity.”

            I wrote: “Twice now you've brought up the “not humanitarian” issue rather than defend your post against my argument that it is “more divisive than supportive, and owes more to rhetoric than reality.” ….Against your “price of dignity,” I wrote about “the price of the divide.” This is what I would like to address.”

            Maybe this debate isn't going anywhere, given that we are where we are, and given that through these 80 comments we've run through most of the pro/anti intervention arguing points. My only reason for writing this post was to bring some attention to the cost of the divisive rhetoric used to justify the anti-intervention position. I wanted to ask people to keep that in mind. It is possible to be anti-intervention, without attacking or denigrating the revolution and the aspirations of people for freedom.

            Posted by @TasnimQ | April 7, 2011, 5:54 pm
          • We can respectfully disagree, I have no qualms with taking this avenue. I appreciate your article, as I previously stated. We do not agree on what defiles a revolution and this, I believe, is why we are at an impasse.

            As the days move forward the tension shall build, irregardless I wish the best for all those working fervently to liberate their brothers and sisters from tyranny. I truly wish the best for the people of Libya.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 7, 2011, 6:14 pm
          • I think it has less to do with an impasse, and more to do with the fact that for a whole host of people Libya has become a case of "have your cake and eat it." There's no logical reason I can see Libyans should have to be acquiescent to that approach when our people are being killed on a daily basis. But thank you for your best wishes, they are truly appreciated and needed.

            Posted by @TasnimQ | April 12, 2011, 2:00 pm
  4. Tasnim and Kabobfest,

    I am very happy to read this article here, it almost erases the anger I felt when Roqayah piece was published :) I am glad to see that humanity did not completely get lost in the apprehension we feel about Western imperialism in our beloved Libya!

    Posted by Souad | April 4, 2011, 2:01 pm
    • Professor Stephen M. Walt (walt.foreignpolicy.com)t:

      Since taking office, Barack Obama has escalated U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and launched a new war against Libya. As in Iraq, the real purpose of our intervention is regime change at the point of a gun. At first we hoped that most of the guns would be in the hands of the Europeans, or the hands of the rebel forces arrayed against Qaddafi, but it's increasingly clear that U.S. military forces, CIA operatives and foreign weapons supplies are going to be necessary to finish the job.

      Moreover, as Alan Kuperman of the University of Texas and Stephen Chapman of the Chicago Tribune have now shown, the claim that the United States had to act to prevent Libyan tyrant Muammar al-Qaddafi from slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Benghazi does not stand up to even casual scrutiny. Although everyone recognizes that Qaddafi is a brutal ruler, his forces did not conduct deliberate, large-scale massacres in any of the cities he has recaptured, and his violent threats to wreak vengeance on Benghazi were directed at those who continued to resist his rule, not at innocent bystanders. There is no question that Qaddafi is a tyrant with few (if any) redemptive qualities, but the threat of a bloodbath that would "stain the conscience of the world" (as Obama put it) was slight.

      Addicted to Adventurism: Why the US can't stop intervening http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/04/03/to

      Posted by Adam Albrett | April 4, 2011, 2:09 pm
      • US only intervened in Libya because the Europeans wanted to very much and clearly could not have done so without US military support. Take a look at what's going on with NATO right now, they can't fill the void. If France/GB had the capabilities to do it alone, the US would have stayed off this one. No wonder it pushed for Nato takeover, it wanted out asap!

        Posted by Jee | April 6, 2011, 2:27 am
    • I agree – different views, same apprehensions. I hope we can live with the divide. Sa7a leek for your comments.

      Posted by @TasnimQ | April 4, 2011, 4:40 pm
  5. Your article is PERFECT. It's complex and well documented: the truth is never simple….

    Posted by @fireandgame | April 4, 2011, 8:48 pm
  6. It's time to say plainly that imperialists and WESTERN anti-imperialists have the same fear.The freedom fighters are potentially "dangerous" because they are uncontrollable.

    Posted by @fireandgame | April 4, 2011, 10:10 pm
  7. Tasnim, thank you for this. It was a fantastic read. Roqayyah raised some points that I was inclined to agree with in her post, but your measured, calm response has stirred up an honest debate. Like you both mentioned, the comments section on the other post devolved into something painful, so I'm glad you've taken the impetus to respond here.

    I still have questions that I feel need to be asked. I'm working on a brief piece that should be up sometime tomorrow (Tuesday)-hope you'll be there to provide any answers you may have.

    Posted by @Falasteeni | April 5, 2011, 6:38 am
    • @Falasteeni, I look forward to reading it. I wrote my response to Roqaya after reading through that painful comments section – the anti-interventionists accusing Libyans of "selling their country cheaply" while the pro-interventionists accused the anti-interventionists of "selling Libyan blood for slogans."

      Reading through those 172 comments wasn't a good idea. I was not as calm or measured as I should have been, and I think it's because I was responding as much to those comments as to Roqayah's piece.

      Posted by @TasnimQ | April 5, 2011, 8:03 am
  8. @ Tasnilm : Very nice and mature article, I fully support

    @Adam Albrett : Why would Obama have initially shown so shy with the hidden strategy you have described ?
    You said Qaddafi did not achieve massive slaughters so far… But he said he would !
    Please remind Hitler's Mein Kampf : There he told what he minded… and several years after, he did it !
    Why not believe Qaddafi will do the same once his regime saved ?
    Of course Hitler wad mad… Qaddhafi is mad as well !

    Posted by @ArKersaint | April 5, 2011, 9:20 am
  9. I would like to ask Ruqayah, what would in your opinionbe the way to act?
    You adressed the problem (in your opinion) but not the solution. Gaddafi and co. said "rivers of blood" and began implimenting what he said. If we dont ask the international community for help (on our terms-no ground troops we said), and the Arabs dont want to help even when we ask. What do we do?

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 12:16 pm
    • The burden of proof in respect to the no-fly zone and foreign military intercession is upon those claiming that it is "the only option"; no endgame has been presented by the Western Coalition, and Clinton et al. have admitted to ignorance when asked about "who the rebels are". There are many unanswered questions and those questions I have presented have yet to be answered.

      The US, NATO et al. comprise a network of bandits, of thugs – they are not the "international community"

      Posted by thecynicalarab | April 5, 2011, 4:19 pm
      • My question is yet to be answered. What, if for the sake of debate, we didnt ask this "network of thugs" for help. Where would we have gone from there? with the seige of benghazi and the barrage of rockets descending. How much hope in your opinion would there be for the Libyan revolution? Would it share the fate of the previous revolutions in Libya? Public hangings, Mass murder of political prisoners etcetera. (after of course chasing the Libyans house by house, ally by ally). Would the normal citizens be able to stand before the weapons of Gaddafi? If you can give me a good alternative to seeking International aid then I could debate with you.
        I did not attempt to answer your question on purpose. You say we shouldnt ask the International community for assistance (even if limited to a No fly Zone and Sale of weapons) so what is the alternative? My proof that it is the only option is the inablity of people like you to answer this question. Becasue there is no reasonable alternative therefore it is the only option

        Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 5:43 pm
        • The use of political pressure to impose a cease-fire would be a logical start; Western engagement in the form of bombing raids had its 'try-out' in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan et al.

          Also, since "normal citizens" as you put it cannot handle Gaddafi's forces why not ask for escalated intervention, allowing the Western Coalition to cease his reign of terror? Are they not putting Libyans at risk by continuing with said rebellion? Are the revolutionaries not putting innocent "normal citizens" at risk by pushing forward? Will the bombing raids continue? For how long? Why is there no endgame?

          Western jets continue to bomb Libya; Libyan opposition forces say the US and NATO have yet failed to curb Gaddafi's military power http://bit.ly/feoNvk

          My alternative is not as dramatic but it has historical precedence; Isolate Gaddafi (and his minions) politically, and engage in stern efforts to create a long-lasting ceasefire which will create a stable transition instead of the current power struggle – it also is respectful of international humanitarian law.

          Posted by thecynicalarab | April 5, 2011, 6:12 pm
          • "The use of political pressure to impose a cease-fire would be a logical start"

            Just admit that you don't have an answer. How pathetic. There wouldn't be anyone to have cease-fire WITH right now if the coalition had not intervened on that fateful Saturday when G's forces were already biting at Benghazi. You fool.

            Posted by Jee | April 6, 2011, 2:13 am
          • None of these people that are opposed to intervention have any solutions, all they can say is "western intervention is bad better to die with dignity!" that is there solution that we die with "dignity" !!!

            Posted by Souad | April 6, 2011, 11:28 am
          • That is actually far from what my post envisioned or even highlighted.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 6, 2011, 11:57 am
          • Also, the Libyan rebels are now calling NATO their “problem”, apparently the intercession is not going as planned http://bit.ly/fHsAFN

            Posted by Roqayah | April 6, 2011, 2:14 am
          • 1) political pressure to impose a cease-fire would be a logical start
            Firstly this will mean we would be asking the international community to help us albeit indirectly, but nontheless It would be a price to our dignity (according to some people) that we had political back up from imperial countries.
            Also: 26 February, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose strict sanctions against Gaddafi's government and, refer Gaddafi and other members of his regime to the International Criminal Court for investigation into allegations of brutality against civilians. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Libyan_civil_wa… / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_2011… / http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/26/world/middleeas… / Now of course Gaddafi survived sanctions before. March 31, 1992. The Security Council rejects the Libyan offer as inadequate, imposes a total air and arms embargo (UN Security Council Resolution 748) in response to Libya's continuing refusal to extradite the suspects in the bombings. The resolution also restricts the number of diplomats Libya can maintain abroad. http://www.petersoninstitute.org/research/topics/

            Posted by Mohammad | April 6, 2011, 5:56 am
          • CONT
            …But he continued undeterred, do you deny what happened in al Zawyah? Believe me in the future you will use al zawyah as an example of how International intervention is slow and ineffective and if this had been allowed to be repeated in other freed cities the opposition would have been crushed and you would be using Libya as an example of Western immorality like you use Rwanda.
            2) since "normal citizens" as you put it cannot handle Gaddafi's forces why not ask for escalated intervention
            The brave "normal citizens" as I put it now, have DIGNITY. This is OUR fight they say, so we want a no fly zone, airstrikes and blocking Gaddafi import of arms and mercs from the South or sale of weapons to us to even the odds. A no fly zone that we want ALL the countries to participate in not just western countries. The question should be put to countries like Egypt, why are'nt they participating? Is it so wrong for planes to bomb tanks/artillery that are killing civillians? wherever these planes may come from. As long as we have an agreement that no one wants an occupation of Libya.

            Posted by Mohammad | April 6, 2011, 5:57 am
          • 3) Isolate Gaddafi (and his minions) politically, and engage in stern efforts to create a long-lasting ceasefire which will create a stable transition
            As I have shown isolating G doesnt work he survived that for decades after his terrorist attacks, only Libyans suffered from the sanctions. As for a ceasefire did you listen to his speeches? rivers of blood? A burnt land? Alley by alley? Millions from other nations will march with me to cleanse Libya? 2 times they say ceasefire and 2 times they continue bombing Libyan cities? Berore 1973 passed Saif said it will be over in 48 hours? Gaddafi would welcome this wholeheartedly, he gains more time to kill more libyans and control more land… and when he controls the OIL… then its pretty much over. As far as the imperialist west is concerned he who controls the oil has the right to rule. Another scenario is they keep calling for him to ceasefire, he continues to kill more libyans and they intervene at the end when tens of thousands die with ground troops and engage in a war not according to our terms but according to their "human rights agenda" ending with military camps and a picture similar to iraq, all the more food for people like you.

            Posted by Mohammad | April 6, 2011, 5:58 am
          • CONT
            …Now this time its according to our terms with no ground troops, they have interests and the question you should be asking is: will the transitional council suceed in putting the interest of the people first? P.S If you haven't noticed the West is anxious to avoid occupation of Libya given how Iraq and Afghanistan are going.
            4)respectful of international humanitarian law.
            I'm sorry, it is very humantiarian to let a leader besiege a bomb a city for 8 consecutive days (Zawya) with tanks and artillery and only impose political sanctions . it is very humantiarian to let a city of 700 000 (Benghazi) be bombed by air sea and land while we impose only political sanctions which have been proved not to affect the situation on the ground. Forgive me for my poor understanding of human ethics, as a medical student I should have a good understanding but truly my syllabus must need some changing.

            Posted by Mohammad | April 6, 2011, 5:58 am
          • 5)Western jets continue to bomb Libya; Libyan opposition forces say the US and NATO have yet failed to curb
            Gaddafi's military power /Also, the Libyan rebels are now calling NATO their "problem", apparently the intercession is not going as planned .
            Indeed, now imagine if we only had "stern political sanctions" to wave in Gaddafis face. I myself say NATO needs to show it really wants to help the Libyans not these half hearted efforts and limited attempts it has been making. (The previous coalition on the other handacted effectively in saving Benghazi and gave the free areas in the west more help ) As General Abdulfatah younis said, "If you dont show a realistic attempt to help the Libyan people then you can pack your bags and leave us to fight alone." hows that for DIGNITY? the Libyans are clearly showing NATO that they are not stupid, they dont consider NATO a knight in shining armour.
            On another note, Turkey has indeed taken the position of political pressure and limiting air strikes, and how did the Libyans answer? Furious protests against Turkey in Libya and calls for worldwide protests next saturday infront of Trukish embassies.

            Posted by Mohammad | April 6, 2011, 5:59 am
          • First and foremost, I never brought up "sanctions" so your quote on "stern political sanctions" does not exist, certainly not as a quote made by myself. I made no comment in this respect.

            There is a course contrast between 'kinetic military action' as it is being called by the elites on the Western front clamoring for foreign intercession and alternatives, one of which is negotiation for a stable cease-fire. In any event, what is the endgame? Alternatives were never assessed, never debated; the push for war was blatant and quick.

            The resolution states decries against "occupation forces" yet not even the forces currently stationed in Iraq were admittedly "occupation forces"; the resolution bars only a "foreign occupation force", not ground troops per se.

            The NATO Chief himself opened the door to the possibility of ground troops as of recently http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2

            In my article, I highlighted the intervention itself, questioning its motives, within my article – not just dignity. There was more to the title really. There is really no need to be so overtly sarcastic when highlighting Gaddafi's crimes, I never denied them and have long abhorred his regime. Though you may have an understanding it certainly does not mean we cannot disagree. I'm yet to be convinced, though it certainly isn't up to me in the end – as I have stated time and time again.

            The fact that no bloc taking part in the bombing raids has even so much as hinted at an endgame is telling to say the least. Engaging in a full-scale military intercession without an endgame strikes me as fairly questionable.

            Posted by thecynicalarab | April 6, 2011, 11:09 am
          • When I said "stern political sanctions" I wasnt quoting, I was bieng sarcastic. (When I quoted you I debated each quote as 1 to 5) However please explain how far would you get with Gaddafi when you want "Political Pressure"(this is quote number 1) without even sanctions?(remember that he survived even the sanctions).
            Also now you can return to the nonexistant that argument above.
            As I discussed Gaddafi violated 2 ceasefires and his son said Benghazi would be overcome in 48 hours so everything is over (I use this in the context of it meaning that Gs forces are not implementing a ceasefire and going forward with crushing the rebellion i.e. not responding to political pressures)
            I am not about to repeat my debate which you so happily pushed aside, please reread it!

            Posted by Mohammad | April 6, 2011, 3:28 pm
  10. Thank you so much for this excellent article!

    The continuous shouts against the so-called "imperialist intervention" by the left here in Europe really made me sad and confused. What was so wrong in being left-wing and backing the intervention at the same time? I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me, if I was missing something…

    How could we let a massacre and persecution of Libyans happen in Benghazi, Misrata and throughout Libya? How could we let a dictator and his tyrant regime rise up victoriously, defying all forms of basic human rights, while we sit and watch? How could we let some of the seeds of this incredible uprising in the arab world be destroyed by tanks and bullets?

    Basically, how could the world say NO when the Lybians themselves were asking for help?

    We all know how the West has double standards and interests, but that doesn't mean we have to be against everything they do, or that every decision made by a Western leader has only negative effects. Let us not forget Bosnia! There is no oil in Bosnia and I can hardly believe the West had any interest whatsoever there — maybe that's why it took them so long to intervene — but they did so and for sure that was a good thing!

    I don't won't to sound too optimistic about the West's intentions, but the alternative seems far worse.

    My sincere best wishes for the people of Libya in these hard times.

    Posted by Rui | April 5, 2011, 12:28 pm
  11. I find your article and your arguments contradictory and full of logical cracks the first of which that you were in bed the morning Qaddafi's tanks approached Benghazi rather on the streets preparing to fight. But again maybe you were speaking metaphorically. If the Libyan revolution was truly desired and wanted by all Libyans then Nothing can wipe it of the face of the earth. The only thing that can wipe it at that point is for the regime to wipe out the whole population and that won't happen. I find it amazing that some Arabs want McLiberty served on the wings of NATO wings forgetting that popular revolutions do work. Algerians gave a million martyrs to get rid of France, Libyans under the inspired leadership of Omar Al Mokhtar gave tens of thousands against the Italians, Iranians gave their tens of thousands to get rid of the Shah the Indians got rid of Britain, and I can go on with examples of people bringing tyrants to their knees. Liberty is a messy business and it has to bought with the blood of as many people as is necessary to obtain it. It seems to me that the writer of the article just wants the quick solution so that he can get back to his comfort zone blogging about the revolution ignoring the high costs that come with foreign intervention ignoring what such interventions have done wreaking havoc on nations such as Yougoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia causing instability and civil strife and poverty for decades serving none but the bankers and big corporations of those foreign interests. So be careful what you wish for my friend because the price is dear and you'll be paying it sooner than you think for a long time to come.

    Posted by @Jabraghneim | April 5, 2011, 1:57 pm
    • No, when I said I woke up and tanks were on the outskirts of Benghazi, I wasn't speaking metaphorically. I was speaking very literally.

      Metaphorical tanks wouldn't have been much of a threat to my family.

      This is what happened on March 19 in Benghazi, when people faced down tanks to stop them from entering the city. http://www.universalsubtitles.org/en/videos/D92Wz

      Mohammad has addressed your other castigations and dire warnings below.

      Posted by @TasnimQ | April 6, 2011, 6:44 am
  12. Be careful what you wish for indeed: the Americans are using depleted uranium weapons on Libya, as they gleefully do everywhere, from Iraq to Afghanistan. They sell them to their loyal vassals too.

    Posted by traducteur | April 5, 2011, 3:59 pm
  13. @jabraghneim

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 4:18 pm
  14. @Jabraghneim "If the Libyan revolution was truly desired and wanted by all Libyans then Nothing can wipe it of the face of the earth. The only thing that can wipe it at that point is for the regime to wipe out the whole population and that won't happen."__ I believe Gaddafi would beg to differ, he has managed to do just that before(see below). When you kill thousands and imprison tens of thousands you can stop revolution in its tracks.__ "Some Arabs want McLiberty served on the wings of NATO wings forgetting that popular revolutions do work."__ Please read this remark over and over again. And then open a news channel or surf the internet for pictures of the brave rebels at the front lines now in Albrega. Read about what happened in al zawyah. About what is happening in Misrata. Scream emotive rhetoric and I scream F-A-C-T-S. this is proof for the blind that this is a popular revolution being quelled by a massive use of force. Tanks and planes to attack an untrained unequiped people. That is the fact on the ground.

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 4:19 pm
  15. CONT. This remark is devoid of respect to the thousands who have died in the past weeks and to the statement of the Transitional councils when it said , we want no ground troops in Libya. We want 1)A no fly zone 2)Recognition of TC 3)Allow us to BUY arms so WE can fight… and this is called "some Arabs want McLiberty served on the wings of NATO wings forgetting that popular revolutions do work." I am appaled by your disrespect of the blood of my family and my friends, at the disrespect you have shown every Libyan by your remark..

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 4:20 pm
  16. If images, imaginations, and concepts of the past are more important for judging the ongoing processes than a fresh and unbiased analysis one gets a debate like the one documented above:

    The "West" solely has an imperialistic agenda in some peoples view. In this view there have been never any developments in the "West" (no 68, no fight against US imperialism in the 50-80th, no decay of the soviet empire, no re-integration of the former East into the West, no hard-fought unity in the West on finally protecting (muslim) people in Bosnia or Kosova, no divide in the West on the war in Iraq, no lively democracy and no public opinion etc), no Bernard Henry Levy telling Sarkozy what's up in Libya. People with a rigid and ideological ("anti-imperialistic") world view, will never realize that things are (though too slowly) changing.

    A major change of this kind is the north african spring in tunesia, egypt and libya. What a surprise (also for me being an elderly european leftist/ecologist/marxist), but what a welcome surprise.

    Let's set up a puzzle:
    (1) germans generally do not like wars too much (since WWII)
    (2) there are elections pending in some german states and a UN police action is threatening in Lybia
    (3) therefore german government decides to oppose the pending UN police action

    and what happens:

    the parties opposing the UN police action in Libya loose the next election not the least because german voters are ashamed because their government did not defend the rule of international law.

    Now, neither the "anti-imperialists" nor the "interventionists" ever discuss the issue from the standpoint of the UN Charter (as revised 2005), which they should, because only then one may envisage a civil world society on a distant horizon. In my view the current international police action in Libya is a major step into this direction, because it firmly rests on UNSCR 1973, because it rest on the human rights guaranteed by the UN charter, because in appeals to the ICC concerning the Gaddafis, and because it is therefore setting standards.

    Posted by @Mo190311 | April 5, 2011, 4:20 pm
  17. CONT.
    "Algerians gave a million martyrs to get rid of France, Libyans under the inspired leadership of Omar Al Mokhtar gave tens of thousands against the Italians…and I can go on with examples of people bringing tyrants to their knees. Liberty is a messy business and it has to bought with the blood of as many people as is necessary to obtain it"
    As a Libyan I dont need to be told that Freedom takes its toll heavily in blood. We know our history with the italians (which began before Omar al mukhtar) even more than you rest assured. We also know our history and the many attempts of uprising during the past 42 years.In the 70,80s and on to the 90s there were public hangings in universities and assasinations abroad by the hundreds, need I mention Abusleem 1200 dead in under 3 hours. But due to the absence of media coverage these revolutions died from to the excessive use of force.

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 4:21 pm
  18. CONT. (sry keep getting messages saying my message is too long)
    I ask you Algeria/Libya/Iran payed a heavy price for freedom, does it have freedom today? Did it have freedom during that first period after it vanquished the opressor? No. Freedom isnt measured by how much blood is given, its measured by the determination of the people and the strategy they employ to outwit their enemies.

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 4:21 pm
  19. " ignoring what such interventions have done wreaking havoc on nations such as Yougoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia causing instability and civil strife and poverty for decades serving none but the bankers and big corporations of those foreign interests."
    I'm sorry, did you say the west INTERVENED in Iraq, I was under the assumption that it was a direct attack due to fabricated evidence of nuclear weapons (which by the way is entirely different). And did you also say that the intervention in Yougoslavia wreaked havoc? Do you mean to imply that the United nations should have sat back and let the Serbs finish off the muslims? (while I do agree that the intervention had its short comings but Yougoslavia is better off today).

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 4:22 pm
    Bottom line: you make it seem as if the Libyans are sitting safely at home with electricity water and food blogging about the revolution while NATO is doing all the work, when the reality is Libyans who are fighting in the worst of conditions all over Libya for freedom are bravely telling the world this is OUR fight, what we want from you (the international community) is a only no fly zone and to sell us arms. The no fly zone that has been implimented has done almost nothing and we have not been able to purchase arms yet. Basicly you are disrespectful and I find your arguments contradictory and full of logical cracks.

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 4:22 pm
  21. Dear Tasnim (First part),

    I feel sympathetic with you and the Libyan plight, but to be honest I cannot be congratulatory with your analysis. I find it based on false assumptions. First of all, the "left" is not divided: an overwhelming majority condemns the imperialist intervention, and I only know of one professor who agrees with it (although he provoked a storm of criticism in his own party). You also heavily rely on all we have been told by the corporate media, including al-Jazeera (which is supporting its autocratic patron and Qatar's vested interest in Libyan oil). Now we know we have to take all we have been told with big grain of salt, to say the least.

    The “I’m for the revolution, against the imperialist war” stance, as you put it is not accurate. We could say “I’m no longer for the revolution, against the imperialist war”, but not just for the foreign intervention taking sides and turning into the air force of the rebellion in flagrant violation of UNSC Resolution 1973. In fact we have to revise all we have been told, because we have been told all sort of lies about what was going on, and is going on, in Libya. At the beginning, we believed the reports that it was a "spontaneous" protest suppressed by a dictatorship, like in Tunisia and Egypt , or Yemen, Bahrain, etc., who don't enjoy so powerful protectors by the way. But bye and bye another picture has been transpiring and now we know that reality is very different. And uglier than the idealistic view of wretched "unarmed" demonstrators shot down by vicious soldiers (even African "mercenaries" -as racist pogroms in Benghazi might suggest).

    Now we know that there is no revolution on course, because a revolution made by US Tomahawks and Depleted Uranium bombs etc., is no "revolution. It is a fake revolution, based from the start on bogus assumptions. As Russian satellites proved, the air attack on demonstrators claimed by al-Jazeera was false, so were the 150 soldiers killed by non-existent officers (they were killed by the armed militia who took the barracks blowing the gate with a suicide-bombing car…), or the 6 000 killed who were never seen or named. All lies to manufacture war.

    We know that the presence of al-Qaeda-affiliated militias is also a fact, as inter alia the LIFG joined the AQIM in 2007. On the other hand there are Monarchic groups, and the political leader of the TNC is Gaddafi's former Justice minister, whereas the military commander has been so far Gaddafi's former Interior minister (both ministries are the heart of the repressive apparatus of the state), and so renegade members of the regime -not precisely life-long democrats. On top of that a couple of prominent Libyan-American neo-liberal economists have joined, along with some other CIA assets.

    And another active party has been the Gulf Council of Autocracies, which are paradoxically not only supporting Libyan rebels, but very busy in suppressing their own protesters, or sending troops to Bahrain…

    Posted by Enrique Ferro | April 5, 2011, 5:47 pm
  22. Dear Tasnil (Second part):

    We also know now that since October France was plotting with some Gaddafi men and officers a putsch, and that the SAS and French operatives were in Libya preparing the uprising, which was accelerated to put it into the general movement of protest in the Arab world.

    It is grossly delusional to think that the US & Co are seeking democracy and freedom in Libya. Since the Cuban war in 1898, I know of no American intervention (leaving aside WW2, which was a very multilateral affair) which has brought any of that. The 1898 Cuban war set the model: launched on the basis of a bogus charge (the Maine explosion), it ended up in the confiscation of the Cuban revolution and the establishment of a protectorate where the marines could intervene (and did thrice to break sugar cane strikes), the conquest of the Philippines as a colony, and the annexation of Guam. About 100 years later we have the gangster state in Kosovo, the permanent war in profitable drug producer Afghanistan, and Iraq enduring a continuous genocide and seeing its oil stolen by the neo-colonial powers and a local mafia.

    And now who is leading the "liberation" of Libya? Former murderous colonial power Italy as well as France and the UK, who sought to sabotage Libya's independence in the wake of WW2, and the US, who chose to pressure a stooge, corrupt monarchy, and later aggressed Libya at its pleasure.

    Thus now on the basis of all this information, that you can find by clicking on search engines, how can you expect that the left may support the Libyan revolution? It is no revolution, it has been all along a plot to establish in Libya a non-entity like Kosovo or Iraq, to steal its riches (Qatar has already begun under the cover of "aid").

    No revolution can be made by a foreign power: Napoleon, Stalin, and in its tragically buffoon version, Bush Junior failed. A revolution has to be made by the people of a country or not at all. And if there is no resolution to make it, better wait and organize the masses. In Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere the masses stood firm on the streets and weakened the state crackdown and its repressive forces, instead of taking arms and trying to conquest the cities which they didn't control, unleashing a violent reaction as a result by the security forces rallied by people who had remained quiet… And if there is the need to take arms, arm the people but reject any foreign intervention, like in Vietnam, for instance, where the revolutionaries rejected the involvement of foreigners even as volunteers. And they defeated the Empire!

    The Empire has been inciting and arming the people all the time, abusing and cheating them, in fact using the citizens as cannon fodder to justify its intervention. It has installed collaborators, and finally when even under the cover of massive air strikes the rebels were absolutely hopeless, it has sent its special forces to overrun the government forces (and we are told that they are "recent" army defectors! )

    I'm sorry, I follow on a daily basis a lot of op-eds and statements from the left, and the overwhelming majority cannot support this revolution for the simple reason that there is no revolution, but the conquest of a sovereign country by imperialist violence and reactionary anti-national and renegade cliques.

    Wake up! Gaddafi may fall down and end up like Saddam Hussein, or Omar al-Mukhtar, the Lion of the Desert, his hero. He may be satisfied to enter history like a patriot defending his country against former colonial powers, and present imperialist thieves. We know that he is also delusional in his own way. But whether Gaddafi is killed or not, now all of that is irrelevant. The civil war will continue like in Iraq, and riversof blood will be spilled whereas the Empire takes the oil, phosphates, etc., away and establish military bases to check and terrorize the whole region, because that is the issue. The issue is not Gaddafi, but imperial greed.

    I'm sorry for the Libyans; many of them will have lost their chance. They are going from bad to worse. They should not have believed the imperial kraken.


    Posted by Enrique Ferro | April 5, 2011, 5:49 pm
    • Dear Enrique,

      Don't be sorry for Libyans. I have read through your comments carefully, and concluded that every Libyan I know is a collaborator deeply embroiled in a non-existent bogus revolution to further the "imperial kraken." I also discovered that Libyans have first filmed themselves attending non-existent unarmed demonstrations, then killed themselves by shooting heavy calibre weapons into their own skulls, then documented their own fake murders and sent them to oil-greedy Qatar's Al Jazeera in order to manufacture war for the nefarious Empire. People that evil don't deserve your esteemed sympathy. Thank you for exposing so conclusively the dishonesty of my entire family and the ignorance of Libyans about Libya. We're so tribal and backward we needed you to put it all together for us.

      I think the most amusing part of your post is the repeated "now we know." Yes, the involvement of the "Empire" has transfigured everything that came before it. You see what you want to see, the imperial kraken staring back at you. You do that by brushing aside those who have died and are still dying for their freedom. It's not about them. It's about the imperial kraken.

      This is what I believe: “A more sensible anti-imperialist position would focus less on what a no-fly zone means for western powers and more on listening to Libyan voices on the ground and finding ways to meaningfully support their struggle.” http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/15842.pdf

      I would take you seriously, but I know that nothing I say will dissuade you. I think you exemplify the distinction I made between the anti-intervention camp, which I respect, and the self-described "anti-imperialists" who exploit, denigrate or deny the very existence of the Libyan uprising to serve their own simplistic agenda.

      But at least you admit to the logical conclusion of your position, and the cost of your ideological purity. You don't support the revolution. Sorry, the "no-revolution."

      Posted by @TasnimQ | April 6, 2011, 6:51 am
  23. Enrique, when i read people like you, im flabergasted to say the least. Your article thrives in its contradictions and you end by comparing Gaddafi god damn his soul with omar al mukhtar. You are not a Libyan and you dont know Libyan history. I shall reply to this tomorrow (im going to sleep now) but I suspect you will not see the error of your ways and you will continue chanting Gaddafi till the end. Only time will make you accept that you were you wrong.

    Posted by Mohammad | April 5, 2011, 6:20 pm
  24. Enrique, I'm so baffled by your comments that wouldn't even know where to begin.

    Let me just say that I find it amazing how you (and most of the left, let's be clear) actually use expressions like "conquest of a sovereign country" ( in your own words).

    It seems that the authoritarian regime that rules the country, or the endless crimes commited against its citizens, do not matter! All this becomes acceptable and disguised under the name of "sovereignty". Ridiculous!

    Posted by Rui | April 5, 2011, 9:28 pm
  25. No weapons to the insurgents.Nato strategy : to temporize. Who cares about the sufferings of the Libyan people?

    Posted by @fireandgame | April 6, 2011, 12:10 am
  26. Unfortunately, what the poster seems to not note is that the Libyan Revolution has been hijacked by individuals from the regime who "switched sides" and many of the self-proclaimed leaders are American-trained.

    Posted by worries | April 6, 2011, 8:12 am
    • This is what the poster said
      ''We will continue this struggle until we are rid of him, and as the Egyptians and the Tunisians have done before us, we’ll continue it after we are rid of him. Because this is a long journey we’ve embarked on. ''
      Tunisia and Egypt's new governments are led by figures from Ben Ali and Mubarak era, yet revolutionaries aare mostly OK with them though they continue to push for reforms. Like Libya some of these had clear stances against Gaddafi like Justice minister who became something of a celebrity years ago when he told Gaddafi on live TV he wanted to resign because he has signed release papers for political prisoners but they were still held (Gaddafi has killed his own cousin for less), General Haftar has lived in exile even Younis was usually seen as more respecatable my own father says he was only one who treated him as human during imprisonment in 80s, let him meet father and pressured others to allow him to take clothes.

      Posted by Yara | April 6, 2011, 10:03 am
      • These are not heroes Libyans know their very real flaws (which are serious, not your irrelevant ideological ''American-trained'' claim), but we need their input now because there are no instituions or civil society or opposition in Libya everything is Gaddafi controlled, even Jazeera reporter Khaled Dib was sacked when proved to be employee of Gaddafi ''revolutionary commitees''. We don't want these figures running future Libya and they have been forced to publically say they are just providing needed help and have no political ambitions (true or not, shows they know public opinion against them). The lawyers and academics who started the sit-in at Benghazi courthouse are still in charge of administrating free areas, they are the spokewomen/men, they set out vision for new democratic Libya, and with young demonstrators and now fighters they will lead continuing struggle to build better Libya even after Gaddafi leaves as in Egypt and Tunisia.

        Posted by Yara | April 6, 2011, 10:03 am
  27. I agree with you on the following: 1) The endgame is to be questioned 2)the role of the western forces is not clear, they have not delivered all what Transitional council wants, as pointed out by General Abdulfattah 3)that it isnt up to you in the end, I am merely having this disscussion to bring in the Libyan point of view to you. Something I believe you need to listen to. 4)we certainly can disagree, though I would concider it wise to place a counter-argument for each of my arguments as I have done for yours so your position on WHY you disagree is clear (not just the one dimensional view of anti-imperialism). 5)in the end I believe you only want the best for the Libyans, so although we may disagree on many things we can agree on that 6)The intervention has questionable motives.
    Finally I ask you however not to be blinded by anti-imperialism into disregarding the lives of millions of people.

    Posted by Mohammad | April 6, 2011, 3:32 pm
    • Calling on blocs to help enforce a long-lasting ceasefire does not necessarily entail seeking out NATO-US aid in being the mediators, specifically. I do not deny the warcrimes; the perverse claim that any anti-interventionist, anti-imperialist is therein allowing Gaddafi's mercenaries to continue in their onslaught is untrue.

      The very premise that taking out Gaddafi's air-power via no-fly zone will cause his regime to submit to revolutionary force has been proven false by even those on the ground. Gaddafi, seeing that implementing air-attacks will be harder, has now bolstered shelling on the ground – “They are changing the technique and they are shelling by mortar now everywhere, so instead of no-fly zone we have no safe zone,” said Aiman, a doctor in the besieged city of Misurata http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/world/africa/07

      As of late "apologies" have been delivered in light of civilian deaths due to the Western Coalitions bombing raids. Some 13 were killed. These are being dismissed as "collateral damage" as they were many times before in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan et al.

      My note on historical precedence highlights Western intervention in Libya http://www.pslweb.org/liberationnews/news/war-aga… and vetted interests.

      The very fact that there is no endgame is enough to call the entire scope of this military operation into question – its tactics, the elitist powers pushing so vehemently for it etc.

      In the United States there was no public debate, no questions. It was almost a given that the US et al. would become militarily engaged. And yet again this intercession was touted as being "different" than the ones prior.

      I replied to your comment on occupation forces:
      The resolution states decries against "occupation forces" yet not even the forces currently stationed in Iraq were admittedly "occupation forces"; the resolution bars only a "foreign occupation force", not ground troops per se.

      My view is certainly not one dimensional; I have listened to Libyans from both sides though the conventional pro-interventionist camp is given all the public relation attention at the moment. I certainly did not come to this conclusion overnight.

      I do not disregard any peoples' lives and support any and all honest calls by the people against ruthless dictatorial, tyrannical systems.

      I have listened and will continue to listen. The fight for Libya is far from over, as yourself, Tasnim et al. note.

      I have stated that Libya is a battle which connects me as a human being but in the end the events transpiring in the region itself will mean far more to those engaged, those who are Libyan. In the end the choice is theirs, not mine and not anyone else's.

      It does not matter in respect to me as a person whether or not the events taking place suit my ideals, opinions etc. I will watch and make remarks knowing that my beliefs are my own. I speak on behalf of no one else.

      Posted by thecynicalarab | April 6, 2011, 4:27 pm
      • 1)Calling on blocs to help enforce a long-lasting ceasefire does not necessarily entail seeking out NATO-US aid in being the mediators

        Please do tell me would the Arab countries be mediartors? Russia perhaps? Maybe Chavez and Castro? Gaddafi's African friends? Turkey which was negotiating for weeks, watched as zawiya fell and complained the negotiations were setback by the French airstrikes which destroyed the column of artillery and tanks on the outskirts of Benghazi? I believe as you can see there is no other option as to who will run the No-fly-zone which is what we asked for…not a ceasefire. If truly there is to be a ceasefire it is with the condition that Gaddafi stepdown and transfer rule to the transitional council. And if he agreed to that we wouldnt be needing mediators. But he didnt. Even just a ceasefire like he twice declared was never kept, he continued firing on Libyan cities and marching to besige more free cities.

        Posted by Mohammad Q | April 7, 2011, 6:43 am
        • 2)The very premise that taking out Gaddafi's air-power via no-fly zone will cause his regime to submit to revolutionary force has been proven false

          It was indeed expected to be a solution to many problems, however just because Gaddafi hasnt fallen due to the No-Fly-Zone does in no way mean that it didnt save many lives. To claim that would be false. Also the random shelling and no safe zone has been present before the No-Fly-Zone as shown by Zawya infact it was even more terrible than now because he could use planes to bomb civillian areas as in Benghazi. What the No Fly Zone has done is to a certain extent reduced the casualities (by preventing G planes flying and bombing G artillery and tanks) although they have not yet delivered what they promised in full. N.B. Yesterday I was able to contact someone in Misurata and they say strategic positions of G forces were bombed by NATO enabling the revolutionaries to capture many people, also the Revolutionaries themselves devised a plan to trap a group of snipers which suceeded (this shows how while NATO occasionally helps but the Libyans are not waiting for them).

          Posted by Mohammad Q | April 7, 2011, 6:44 am
          • 3)As of late "apologies" have been delivered in light of civilian deaths due to the Western Coalitions bombing raids. Some 13 were killed.

            Mohammad Bedrise, a doctor in a nearby hospital, said three burned bodies had been brought in by men who said they had been hit after firing a heavy machine gun in the air in celebration. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,206… , It is indeed a sorrowful incident, but this is due to a lack of co-ordination as Ghoga said. This must be looked into closer after Libya is free. Now the military wing is more organised accoring to Ghoga so I hope we will not be seeing repeats of this incident. The fighters rightly blame themselves http://alive.in/libya/2011/04/06/revolutionary-ac

            4)The bombing war against Libya today should be condemned without hesitation by all progressive people. This is a rich man’s war.

            Posted by Mohammad Q | April 7, 2011, 6:45 am
          • __This is your historical precedence? How nice of Brian to push aside all the revolutionaries dreams of freedom, their calls for help and their sacrifices then call this a rich mans war. As if Libyans never existed. I believe they know more than he does what Italy, Britain and France did. I also believe they know more than him how Gaddafi allied himself with the west the past years signing unfair contracts for bribes.(52% of our oil owned by foriegn companies)Oil continued to be sold to the west even during the sanctions imposed in the 90s. We know who the puppets are. The West was forced to turn on Gaddafi to protect their oil interests. The change in the Arab world today entails that the West must recognize that we have a right to control our natural resources and we have a freedom to choose however and to whoever we sell them to. Libyan experts have said for decades that we need to sell more refined oil instead of crude and buying back products, but Gaddafi''s regime was not interested in seriously tackling this. The West I believe understands that if wants to maintain economical ties to the new Libya it must support the cause of the revolutionaries and allow them to control there resources as noted above.

            Posted by Mohammad Q | April 7, 2011, 6:48 am
          • 4) I replied to your comment on occupation forces:

            I reiterate that the Transitional council stated any ground troops in Libya will not be tolerated. I do not believe the countries in question are prepared to wage another war nor is the public opinion back home about to let them. If they have any plans to send ground forces to Libya they know the Transitional councils position on that.

            6)The very fact that there is no endgame
            Our endgame is clear, Gaddafi leaves and we continue the fight as our brothers in Egypt and Tunisia against the installation of another puppet regime. Regardless of what NATOs endgame is, we have clearly defined our position.

            Posted by Mohammad Q | April 7, 2011, 6:49 am
  28. http://12-7-9-11.blogspot.com/2011/03/behind-scen
    So explain this please, Tasnim. I want to believe you but I suspect you are the, pretty, smiling face of Libyan Islamism.

    Posted by tewart | April 6, 2011, 5:28 pm
  29. Maybe there is no alternative. Maybe what is happening in Libya is a check-mate situation. Libyans have no moves to make except the ones they are making. The same can be said for Qaddafi. The reason he went all-out war (unlike Ben Ali and Mubarak), according to Moncef Marzouki of Tunis, has a lot to do with the fact that the moment Qaddafi steps down and outside of Libya, he would be put behind bars as several lawsuits against him are pending.

    The blue-eyed opportunist is watching all of this "inevitability" unfolding, and what he's about to do is, also, inevitable.

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