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Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Can US Bombs Bring Democracy in Libya?

-Nick Chin, Boston

Once again, the United States claims to be sending its military to the region in the name of defending democracy and stopping a madman.  For those of us in the antiwar movement, the arguments for the U.S. intervention in Libya are all too familiar.  The government argues that is it their moral obligation to intervene in Libya on behalf of the Libyan rebellion against the dictator Muammar Gaddafi.  They maintain that the fighter jets merely drop bombs to prevent Gaddafi’s brutality from coming to full force.  Sadly, these are the same arguments put forward for a no fly zones and the subsequent invasion of Iraq.

Whatever good intentions supporters of this action may have, the reality is that U.S./NATO bombs will kill people.  Many of them will hit military targets, but bombs will also hit civilians as they did last week when 40 Libyans were killed.  Some will mistakenly hit rebels as they have today, April 3rd.  In past humanitarian bombing campaigns, U.S. missiles have killed refugees in Kosovo, hotels in Iraq, and wedding parties and funerals in Afghanistan.

With regards to what is shaping into the Libyan civil war, media reports paint a picture of a movement with many facets and opinions.  Many of the cities in the east of Libya have formed their own local councils including Bengazi.  But it is the self-appointed Libyan Transitional National Council that requested the no fly zone and which includes former ministers from Gaddafi’s regime.  The New Yorker reports that it is not clear how or if these bodies are working together.  Indeed, one building-sized banner unfurled at the mass protests explicitly, in English, called for the U.S. not to intervene indicating that at least some of those fighting Gaddafi’s regime disagree with the call for Western intervention.

We also have to question the motives of a government that makes arguments about aiding democracy while it currently oversees two occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars which were supported on many of the same grounds as the current Libyan intervention.  We must ask why the U.S. does not call for the ouster of the regime in Bahrain where the navy’s Fifth Fleet is stationed?  Why has our government supported the administration inYemen while President Saleh represses the protests movement in his country?  Why do we continue to arm Israel in its suppression of the Palestinian people?  Or continually aid the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia who currently sends troops to assist in the bloody crackdown on protests in Bahrain.  Why did the U.S. spend 30 years and billions of dollars supporting Hosni Mubarak’s torturous autocracy?

That is not to argue for more U.S. bombs in more places.  It is to recognize that the U.S. armed forces, or weapons or aid for that matter, are not deployed for the causes of other people alone; rather, they are sent in the political interests of the U.S. and its NATO allies.  Our tax dollars are unfortunately used not as an act of charity, but as a Trojan Horse for the U.S. to manipulate the affairs of this oil rich region.   By intervening, the U.S. and NATO ensures an outcome which they desire, not necessarily the one wanted by most Libyans.
For those who desire a better world, the wave of rebellions across the Middle East and North Africa have been welcome reminders of the capacity for large numbers of ordinary people to unite and enact change.  We want a Libya for Libyans, an Iraq for Iraqis, an Afghanistan for Afghanis, and a democratic Middle East where the people of the region can collectively decide their future.  We call on all who oppose the U.S. occupations and interventions in the Middle East to join us for a protest in Union Square in New York City at noon on April 9th.

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