I would have thought that to be a Leftie today would mean being radically anti-war. I used to think that being a Leftie meant favoring nonviolence, and that even Lefties favoring revolutionary wars would oppose Imperial wars. How wrong I was. Apparently many ‘lefties’ are very flexible about all that. It seems that putting some humanitarian paint on a war-for-oil is enough to bring many ‘lefties’ on board; and, apparently, it makes quite a difference when a Democratic Party president is applying the humanitarian camo.
Znet continues to lead the way towards defining the Left as more than willing to countenance ‘humanitarian’ war. Znet seem to be dropping emails in my box every day defending the Libyan War of Imperial Aggression and for Oil, or claiming that at the very least, Lefties ought to be willing to consider such a war kindly, avoiding emotional and knee-jerk opposition to war!!! Get it? We are supposed to go easy on the warmongers, and not get all dogmatic about war!
Perhaps there is a ‘left’ Just War theory developing? Remember Just War theory, the doctrine defining virtually any war as ‘just’, so long as some kind of argument could be made to ‘just’ify it? It should be obvious, of course, that any Just War theory that doesn’t define war as something close to inevitably/inherently injust amounts to a just war theory (as in, only war), amounts to an excuse for the powerful to apply force as a ‘solution’ to almost any situation where it might seem advantageous, at least as an overarching threat (the option that should never be ‘on the table’, is infamously, the option that is ALWAYS ‘on the table’).
Znet’s Gilchar continues to argue shamelessly for war. On a certain level, his argument works, of course. If we knew without any doubt that a war on Libya would save X number of lives, and if we had an indubitable formula which would demonstrate that X number of lives saved would justify Y number of lives taken, and if we knew without a doubt that no other recourse than war was possible, and if we knew that there would not be any ongoing consequences of the war that would amount to an unfolding disaster, yes, then perhaps it would be ethically encumbent to consider war as an option. But the lie of defending the Libyan war as a ‘humanitarian’ war is already evident; these conditions, the only reasonable conditions for discussing the war ‘option’ (the option that should actually NOT be an option, outside the most dire of situations) have patently not been met in the case of Libya.
Comparisons to Rwanda encourage people to think that, at the loss of surely no more than a handful of lives, we could save perhaps a million lives in Libya, and who can argue with such numbers? But, of course, the attack on Libya has already cost untold numbers of lives, has already caused trauma and distruction, has already more than likely unleashed the scourge of Depleted Uranium on the country … and we don’t know if any of that has saved any lives, especially considering that the Rebels themselves are seeking to continue the war, NOT to cease fire, and that the rebels have already been reported to have undertaken reprisals. And all this must be measured in the context of consistent western refusal to consider peace initiatives from Ghaddafi, from Chavez and Erdogan, and from the African Union.
And what will happen going forward? Will Libya become a land of peace and plenty, once the US/Nato and the rebels have conquered Gaddafi? Does the track record of countries under the domination of western powers suggest this, or does it suggest the exact opposite? And while we are ‘liberating’ Libya, what other situations that imperil human rights are ignored? Israel is heating up its attacks on the Palestinians. Bahrain is crushing human rights protests. Yemen is on the verge of civil war. God only knows what is going on in Japan, where the triple disaster seems to be bringing one of the most populous and ‘advanced’ nations on earth to the brink of disaster. But what’s important, apparently, is that the world concentrate its efforts on wrecking Libya, in the name of humanitarianism. Is there an element of Wag The Dog here?
And shall we consider the future consequences of the advancing corruption of the UN, whereby the UNSC is twisted into a means by which Imperial powers impose their will, whereby human rights claims become convenient casi belli? How much suffering will result from this? Suffering beyond measure?
But, of course, the absurdity of ‘Lefties’ promoting the latest Imperial War is even more grotesque in the light of the actual historical record of ‘humanitarian’ interventions, and the devastating impact of the onesideness of the entire process by which these campaigns are dreamed up, hyped, decided on and undertaken. Rwanda is waved endlessly in our faces, as if we need not concern ourselves with the US and western interference in the affairs of Rwanda and surrounding countries that helped bring about the massacre in Rwanda about in the first place, and as if it was irrelevant that since the massacre, not only has the ‘good’ regime in Rwanda (the one that ‘humanitarian’ intervention would have championed) created an increasingly authoritarian state, but this same regime has promoted a war in neighboring Congo far more bloody than several Rwanda massacres.
So what other examples of the wonders of humanitarian intervention should we look to? Haiti? Where the US and western powers helped bring about a war, that they then ‘interceded’ to stop, bringing to power a brutal regime in Haiti, which then left Haiti unable to cope with a natural disaster? How about Kosovo? Remember the intervention that was ‘necessary’ because of ethnic cleansing of ethnic albanians that was overhyped, but which led to an ACTUAL ethnic cleansing of ethnic serbs and installed a criminal regime?
This whole discussion, about whether it’s inconsiderate and even nasty of the Left to be ‘dogmatic’ about ‘humanitarian’ war, is sheer insanity. If being Left is to mean anything, it must mean being radically antiwar, and CERTAINLY RADICALLY AGAINST IMPERIAL WAR. Even setting apart the obvious ethical necessity for this, how can we possibly expect to persuade people of the legitimacy and coherence and reasonableness of Leftism as a way of looking at the world and organizing society if we cannot even sustain a coherent stance of opposition on something as basic as war? We can’t. The Left needs to stand against war, NOW. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but NOW. If we don’t, then we deserve to be marginalized.
This is what Gilchar has to say. If this doesn’t nauseate you, then we aren’t on the same team.
The debate on the Libyan case is a legitimate and necessary one for those who share an anti-imperialist position … if we could … go back to the period immediately preceding the Rwandan genocide, would we oppose an UN-authorized Western-led military intervention … could Nazism be defeated through non-violent means? …
Enough now with analogies. They are always subject to endless debates …
We shall begin with the nature of Gaddafi’s regime. The facts here leave little room for legitimate disagreement. It is only for … those who believe … that Gaddafi is a progressive and an anti-imperialist that I discuss it …
The idea that Western powers are intervening in Libya because they want to topple a regime hostile to their interests is just preposterous. Equally preposterous is the idea that what they are after is laying their hands on Libyan oil … Western governments … became convinced that with Gaddafi set on a counter-revolutionary offensive and … a mass-scale slaughter was imminent. … And the pressure of Arab public opinion certainly played a role in the call by the Arab League of States for a no-fly zone over Libya .. A mass uprising, facing an all-too-real threat of large-scale massacre was requesting a no-fly zone in order to help them resist the criminal regime’s offensive. …They very explicitly rejected any foreign intervention on the ground, only asking for an air cover. And the UNSC resolution excluded explicitly upon their request “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.”
I won’t dwell on the unacceptable arguments of those who try to shed doubt on the nature of the uprising’s leadership. They are most often the same as those who believe Gaddafi is a progressive. … The program they are united on is one of democratic change — political freedoms, human rights, and free elections — exactly like all other uprisings in the region. [clearly an armed uprising is exactly the same as peaceful, armed uprisings] … No real progressive could just ignore the uprising’s request for protection — unless, as is too frequent among the Western left, they just ignore the circumstances and the imminent threat of mass slaughter …
Does it mean that we had and have to support UNSC resolution 1973? Not at all…. The resolution …must be criticized for its ambiguities. … the role of anti-imperialist forces should have consisted in monitoring it closely, and condemning
… the next time Israel’s air force bombs one of its neighbours, whether Gaza or Lebanon, people will demand a no-fly zone. …We should all be prepared to do so, with now a powerful argument.
I’ll provide a quick translation of Gilchar’s argument:
We should legitimate even the most abhorrent ideas, so as not to appear ‘dogmatic’ … Rwanda Rwanda … Hitler Hitler … don’t trouble me with any details about the history of ‘humanitarian’ intervention … Gaddafi = absolute evil … any nuance about this makes you a Gaddafi-lover … the US/Nato are not interested in Gaddafi’s oil [!!] … we should trust the US and Nato when they define a situation as a humanitarian concern … Arab regimes that virtually never heed their own people, which virtually always heed US directives, called for a no-fly zone because of Arab public opinion … providing the rebels in Libya with air cover would not amount to an imposition of Imperial power and control [!!] … anyone who doesn’t heart the Libyan rebellion hearts Gaddafi … the rebels are Good Guys … if you don’t heart Libya’s rebels you probably heart Mubarak too … anyone not in favor of the US/Nato attack on Libya is in favor of slaughter [!!] … there was no alternative to war [there somehow never is when the Imperials want war] … the UN resolution wasn’t perfect, but oh well … the Left should be satisfied to watch and complain … the US/Nato war against Libya will actually help restrain Israel [!]
We need to be clear: there’s nothing about condemning the UNSC rubberstamped US/Nato war against Libya that translates to admiration for Gaddafi, or disregard for human rights. But an argument for war, is an argument for war; no amount of humanitarian paint changes that, and a Left that doesn’t stand firmly against war and for peace, is a left that will win continue to lose political support, and that will DESERVE TO.