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Left Leaning in my Right MindThe following was posted on my personal blog -- Left Leaning in my Right Mind -- two weeks ago, before I was a Kossack.  It seems more and more likely that my worst fears are to be realized. Civilians are getting killed by US-NATO actions, it is not clear how disengagement can come about, and the "toe in the water" of establishing a No-Fly (No-Drive? No-Mortar?) Zone has been revealed to be at least up to the ankle or knee with the CIA on the ground.

Pacifism may seem like the worst idea in a crisis, and it is...except for all the others.


I clearly identify myself as a pacifist--a conscientious objector with an uncompromising opposition to all war. I have taken it to the streets in protests and vigils opposing both "Operation Desert Whatevers" in Iraq, and correctly feared that Afghanistan would become flypaper that would stick US forces there for a very long time.

So why do I have the urge to support the military action that began today?

So why am I not (yet) up out of my seat in outrage as Tomahawk cruise missiles rain down on Libyan anti-aircraft and radar facilities this night? Why did my heart lift a bit when network news interrupted my weekend sports to tell us that French fighter jets chased Gaddafi's planes from the sky?

Oh, I still feel the same fears. I don't believe that this will end quickly, and I won't be surprised if it does not end well. And I am absolutely sure that innocents will, already have, died at our hi-tech hands. But this time I am entertaining the thought that this could, maybe, possibly be a "right" war, even though I have always considered that an abhorrent and self-contradictory concept. I feel differently tonight. I just am not sure why.

This is not the first time that brave people will have their fight for freedom brutally crushed. Do I feel differently about the dictators, Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein? They both were monstrous in suppressing thier own people. Libya's army has many mercenaries from outside the country, while Iraq's army was largely home grown. Gaddafi was tied up in Lockerbee and the German nightclub bombings, while Saddam never was a significant player in international terror (sorry, neocons.)

But none of these reasons, nor all of them together, can explain why today feels different to me. I cannot make my emotions consistent with my beliefs tonight.

Maybe I just feel like it has been a long time since my country has been on the right side of history. Or the right side of humanity's advancement. Perhaps we could act in the Muslim world, for once in a way that Muslims see as supportive and respectful of Islam. Egypt's overwhelmingly peaceful uprising against Mubarak was so thrilling, so inspiring, and the Libyan opposition's first week of action seemed full of similar promise. I had hopes...

"I had hopes." As I typed those words, the air just went out of me, and the tears have started to well up. My urge to support this military force arises, ultimately, not from what Gaddafi is doing to the hopes of the people he governs, but what he did to my hopes. I had expectations, my own picture of what should happen for people I do not know in another continent I have never seen. I didn't ask, and I cannot trust that the men I have seen speaking for the "rebels" (in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are "insurgents") also speak for the mothers and daughters and young sons of Libya. Maybe they do, but I don't know so.

I do know it this the Libyan people's struggle--succeed or fail--and if America had not made such poor choices over the past two decades about jumping into the wrong struggles for the wrong reasons in Islamic nations, this intervention would not be so appealing to me now. I must admit that part of me hopes for America's redemption through this conflict, but that again is my hope. I ultimately cannot condone killing others for the sake of my hopes. Nor will I ask our fighting women and men to die for what I imagine is the right thing.

We, I am so steeped in the thought patterns of imperialism: knowing what is right for the rest of the world, when in fact I am unconsciously rooting for what would be my preference. A committed pacifist has to keep asking "why" when something inside him exults at war. It is the only defense against imperial thinking.

Am I happy with my answer? Is my answer satisfying? No. It's just true. My truth. Pacifism is not a philosophy that is free of problems, but it has the problems I can live with.

Updated by Mark Throckmorton at Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 09:31 AM PDT

The great lesson I learned from the experience that led to this diary post is the importance of looking at my own motivations and emotions before I act. I actually thought I might wind up with a "good reason" to support US/NATO involvement in Libya when I started writing, then found out my excitement came from my own egoic stuff that wants to be a vicarious "winner"--even in a fight that shouldn't take place.
  When the powerful take significant action without understanding that dynamic within themselves, deep and lasting tragedies occur. There is hope that this intervention will turn out differently from others, but if it does not, as the old peace protest song said, "When will we ever learn?"

Originally posted to Mark Throckmorton on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Foreign Relations and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Now, this is real.... (14+ / 0-)

    and I respect this diary immensely.  

    Those who come here so chained to their ideologies that they cannot even attempt to empathize with others that think differently...that's a shame.

    But, we have something human.

    •  David, you know that's how it is... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      politics on DK is no different than politics anywhere else.

      Think of it this way: most of us are less chained than feel their voices aren't heard. Once you signal you've heard them (not my forte, I'm afraid) agreement with movement on both sides generally ensues. Happens to me all the time.

      Sorry Mark. I don't want to hijack this. It's a good diary.

      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

      by papicek on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 06:48:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pacifism, as a philosophy, has never (8+ / 0-)

    made much sense to me. As long as we live in a world where some people are physically aggressive, the pacifist is continually put in the position of either breaking with his philosophy or becoming enslaved. I believe in being passive when it comes to violence; but if me, my family, or any other innocent person is being victimized by someone, the only ethical solution IMO is to deploy violence against the violent.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:40:45 AM PDT

  •  I'm certainly going to republish this diary (4+ / 0-)

    as a Foreign Relations Group diary. Just so you know. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    I think the "feel" of the thing differs because this isn't, notionally, a US initiative. Washington wasn't out there beating the war drums as we did in 2003. The drums were wielded by France and Great Britain this time around. And the thing was done the way everyone agrees is the only legally recognized fashion: through a UN Security Council resolution authorizing it, while the Iraq invasion was clearly a war of aggression.

    However they would never have proceeded without the understanding that the US was on board from the start. Both countries put together still do not have the resources to enforce a no-fly without US support. Is this an example of the US being clever and using a "false-flag" approach? This has been suggested, but I don't think so. General agreement on the need for and reasons behind intervening needed to understood by Paris, London and Washington from the get-go. Domestic concerns in both England and France make the option to take up an overseas adventure easier to take and easier to take without a great deal of introspection.

    Part of those domestic considerations is all about both Cameron and Sarkozy and the austerity programs each is trying to impose on their people. They both have faced violent domestic rioting of their own (ironic, isn't it?) over these programs and need to appear that they wear the white hat - at least sometimes - and don't discount the fact that Gadhafi is such an inviting target for them.

    However, much of the rest of the world sees this differently. Simone Daud cites a leftish intellectual in Tunisia who feels that that the Libyan (and greater Arab) revolution needs to be saved.

    From us. How does a respected Arab writer come to believe that our intervening is a neo-colonial endeavor? How does he come to feel this is the defining issue of the intervention? Enough so that this is what he chooses to write about?

    And I read also that in Serbia, they're all for Gadhafi; having vivid memories of how they were (and are being, they feel) treated by the liberal democracies. (Serbian Hearts Beat for ‘Desert Lion’ Gaddafi)

    Are they wrong? Who knows what's going on down there on the ground in Libya? (Politically) What this does mean, however, is that the liberal democracies of the west create as many enemies as lives we save with every bomb that falls, and that's a big part of what this will cost us in the future.

    That's real, but I don't really give a damn about that. We're used to having to deal with this kind of thing already. What I do care about is what comes after, and I don't see how Libyan society can avoid fracturing now. Not our fault, but getting rid of Gadhafi at this point is only a side issue. Preventing as much trauma as we possibly can now is the only thing that will attenuate conditions which lead to societies with factions and the private militias who become the dominant form of political organization there. Cote d'Ivoire is an example of what this can lead to.

    The situation, which we didn't create, is fraught. Our ability to change the course of events in Libya is nil. What can be done and how we might make things worse in other areas are all considerations we need to weigh very carefully.

    For instance, our intervention in Libya, I've been told, has saved the regime in Syria. Not sure how that works (I really haven't given it any thought yet), but the blogger who told me this is one whose opinion I've come to respect.

    "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
    Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

    by papicek on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:52:59 AM PDT

  •  Fight the urge man. Libya ain't no different (9+ / 0-)

    in the scheme of things.  It is not about saving people, it is about control, whether you want to label it imperialism or hegemony or a kind of cold war with China and Russia.  Don't fall for the bullshit.

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 08:02:44 AM PDT

  •  Why no intervene in Bahrain, Syria, Ivory Coast? (8+ / 0-)

    I could go on.  The Bahrain case is actually quite vile.  The Saudis go in (while we wink wink, nudge, nudge) to suppress the protests.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 09:27:32 AM PDT

    •  well, you can see it the way (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, greengemini, TaraIst

      nick kristof does is it better to save no one?"or like pepe escobar the us saudi deal.  they are both excellent journalists.  

      Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

      by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:05:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kristoff uses Serbia as model, civilian casualties (0+ / 0-)

        from bombing there were rather frequent and high in overall number (500? 1000? -- no clear total).  

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:14:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  your point? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pay It Forward, ksingh, TaraIst

          i don't believe kristof's intention was to compare civilian casualitis from bombing, but very simply, is it better to save no one?

          as of today, there are very few civilian casualties from the airstrikes in libya.  the journos in tripoli have asked over and over again to be shown proof of the casualties gadaffi's spokespeople raise.  not once have they been taken to a hospital or shown proof.  in the east, libyan civilians are begging for airstrikes to save them.  i commented further down about the friendly fire incident and the libyan response to it.

          Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

          by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:47:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Kristoff was in Bahrain, but not in Libya, I'm not (0+ / 0-)

            sure I agree about the whole premise that a massacre was pending in Benghazi.  There's something just too pat, too tidy about the whole thing, and I'm getting a whiff of Tonkin Gulf here.  

            You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

            by Cartoon Peril on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 05:03:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  94 people were killed the night before the strikes (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mr crabby, Pay It Forward, TaraIst

              happened.  one of them is someone who became very dear to thousands of people inside and outside of libya for the work he did to explain to the world what was happening in libya.  maybe you aren't aware of his contribution.  mohamed nabbous.  there have been so many tributes written to him that it is difficult to choose one to cite.  cnn even did an interview with his pregnant widow this evening.  take a look at his reporting about the shelling that happened in the hours prior to his murder.  and extrapolate from that what gaddafi would likely have done to benghazi.  all you need do is look at what is happening in misrata for the last two weeks.  a gaddafi soldier captured in misrata tonight revealed that there is a plan for a massive tank attack on the city in the coming days.  they've been without water and electricity for two weeks.  snipers in civilian clothing ar on roofs making it impossible for anyone to walk in the streets.  the hospital was shelled making it necessary to move medical facilities to a clinic.  that was bombed yesterday.  surgeries are being performed in tents.  this is misrata, he would have done no less to benghazi.  i've commented further below about misrata citing coverage by damien mc elroy.  

              benghazi was the city to rise up first.  his son fled from the uprising.  if you don't think gaddafi would not have exacted a brutal revenge on the city, i think you are sadly mistaken.  i also question how familiar you are with what has been happening in libya.  i read about it everyday and i forget that others are not as aware.  this nyt article on libya's revolutionary road might help and this video from the bbc panorama show by paul kenyon the real story behind libya's revolution.  please take a moment to read and watch them.  

              Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

              by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 05:36:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  btw, you didn't even read the escobar article (0+ / 0-)

          did you?  

          Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

          by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:48:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually I have read the Escobar article previous (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to this, and have commented in other threads basically as follows:
            1.  The sourcing of the Escobar article is not particularly satisfactory to me.
            2. I doubt that there would be an explicit quid pro quo as he suggests (Bahrain for Libya).
            3.  However, that does not absolve either the US or SA for the Bahrain intervention, as this could not have occurred without prior US consent, which of course would been given with the understanding that cooperation of SA would be forthcoming in other areas.

            You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

            by Cartoon Peril on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 05:01:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Why didn't we get invovled with (0+ / 0-)

      every single humanitarian crisis simultaneously going on in the world during WWII?

      For obvious reasons. We don't have the resources to do it all, and we've learned that if we want to do these sorts of things, they have to be operations that more civilized countries are promoting, not getting reluctantly dragged into.

      All this nonsense about not being able to save lives in one part of the world because we aren't doing it in all parts of the world is the ultimate in moral hypocrisy and a clear sign of people unable to engage in critical thinking.

      We're involved in Lybia because we can be.

      Because there's enough ambivalent support for it in the US to do so.

      You think the other half of the aisle would go along with targeting the Saudis or the elites in Bahrain, or "wasting" US resources on black people in Africa?

      It takes two to Tango.

      Obama will intervene to save lives where he can, just like FDR did. And where he cannot, he will not.

  •  The intervention in Libya was not (6+ / 0-)

    for "humanitarian" reasons.    For a million obvious reasons.  The use of the world "humanitarian" was a big deception, so people will support it.

    In any case, it has already become obvious that the intervention is failing (if not completely failed already).  Civilians are killed by the NATO bombings, while Gaddafi has been barely affected and he will obviously stay in power.   It is time that people on the left  denounce this disastrous intervention.

    •  can you cite civilian injuries? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, TaraIst

      the ones i have read about happened on friday when nato friendly fire hit a group of freedom fighters.  here is how the libyans view it from the telegraph:

      In the east, Nato warplanes killed around 14 rebels early yesterday after a stream of anti-aircraft fire was fired in to the night sky. The victims included an ambulance driver and three medical students with a patient in an ambulance, struck near the front line between rebel and pro-Gaddafi forces east of Brega. They had been part of a rebel convoy of five or six vehicles, said Issa Khamis, liaison officer for the rebels' transitional government in the town of Ajdabiya, east of Brega.

      The airstrike was the first major "friendly fire" incident of the chaotic desert war since western planes joined the fight two weeks ago.

      "I only feel sad about the people who died, I don't blame the pilots at all," said Tarek Al-Shagaaby, a law student turned rebel aged 25. He said he was about one mile away from the huge fireball that erupted when Nato attacked shortly after midnight, and afterwards buried the bodies of the rebels in the desert.

      "It was a big disaster for Nato but we don't want the airstrikes stopped," he said. "Gaddafi has heavy artillery and without Nato he could easily overwhelm us. We buried those we found at the site, they were martyrs."

      Mr Al-Shagaaby showed The Sunday Telegraph grisly mobile phone footage of charred and skeletal human remains inside vehicles which had been incinerated. Gaddafi forces later pushed the rebels back a few miles into the desert, further away from Brega.

      Another rebel who witnessed the airstrike, Nasr Shakmak, 33, a former soldier in the Libyan army, claimed that a Gaddafi infiltrator had fired anti-aircraft rounds at the warplanes to provoke an airstrike.

      But it was more likely that an over-excited rebel had fired in to the sky, making pilots think they were coming under attack. Rebels had been warned of the dangers of so called celebratory fire, but in such an undisciplined army many pay little heed to such advice.

      Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

      by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:09:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  wow, that's a strong opinion (0+ / 0-)

      without a whit of supporting evidence, and a completely opposite conclusion of what I have been thinking, after HOURS of research from credible and wide-ranging sources. I urge you to seek better information.

      Gaddafi-forces are killing (imprisoning, raping, beating etc etc) many many more people than NATO actions, and that's a fact, jack.

      tNYT article has been updated to include the torture evidence in Zawiya story

      fascinating personal account of a journo in Tripoli from NPR yesterday "this is your punishment"

      NATO: Use of human shields complicating airstrikes in Libya

      rebel spirit:

      With nothing to believe in the compass always points to Terrapin... - Robert Hunter

      by TaraIst on Tue Apr 05, 2011 at 09:24:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  good diary (5+ / 0-)

    and good comments, at this moment, anyway.....

    Tipped, wrecked, etc etc....

    Thank you for giving this a voice. I'm not a huge fan of Obama; however, in this (mis)adventure, he has my full-throated support.

    Talk about conflicted. I feel ya.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." ~ Harry Truman

    by ozsea1 on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 12:11:49 PM PDT

  •  It doesn't feel any different to me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    I think I'll wait to see how long this drags on, but for me, right now, it's too early to tell.

  •  Libya Is More of the Same (4+ / 0-)

    I have a different view.  I think the U.S. led attack on Libya isn't any different from the U.S. attack on Iraq under Bush 2.  I think those who defend it or view as different are fooling themselves, blinded by partisan affiliation.

    Libya represents no threat to the U.S. or U.S. allies.  There is, therefore, no reason for the U.S. attack.

    The humanitarian justification for the U.S. attack is simply a smokescreen, just as it was for the U.S. attack on Iraq.  There are numerous countries in the world ruled by ruthless dictators.  The truth is the U.S. has never had any problem with ruthless dictators and has enthusiastically supported such dictators on numerous occasions.  The U.S. still does so.  I conclude that humanitarian reasons are brought out only when convenient and are simply a cover for the actual reason.

    There is no evidence that the rebels will create a democratic state.  There is no evidence that the rebel government will be any better than Gaddafi.  Do we even know who they are or what they stand for other than being anti-Gaddafi?  

    The U.S. cannot afford a third war front.  I don't think it can afford the first two (Iraq and Afghanistan [leaving out of the calculation covert wars in Yemen and Pakistan]), but three!  This is hugely expensive and the U.S. does not have the savings or credit to engage in such activity.  It will only worsen the U.S.'s financial situation.

    Those who criticized the U.S. attack on Iraq but defend the U.S. attack on Libya are, in my opinion, deeply misguided.  I hope that you will rethink your position.

    Best wishes,


  •  Same here.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    conchita, greengemini

    I have never wanted to see people killed. Still didn't want to see the brainwashed and/or terrorized Gaddafi forces (some drivers have been found chained in place) killed. But they are ants in the machinery of terror the likes of which are among the worst. In real time, we have had pleas, audio, and video from citizens in whole cities besieged. In real time, thousands of people were online listening to Mo reporting from besieged Benghazi when he was hit by a sniper, on his next trip outside after broadcasting photos of a bloody pillow where children were hit by shelling in their bedroom.

    When regime forces (and many mercenaries from elsewhere)  took over Al-Zawiyah, a Bengali who was a hospital administrator and made it to the Tunisian border, said that all Libyans in the hospital were executed- injured, doctors, everyone, and they barely let him go. Thousands of people have been "disappeared" in Al-Zawiyah, Tripoli, and Zuwara, the places where G has wanted to punish those who dared to want freedom from this horror. The horrors go on and on, for all who wish to know.

    So here are two thoughts I leave you with:

    1- "Speaking on Sky News, Defense Secretary Liam Fox hit back at Libyan claims that coalition air strikes were killing civilians.

    He said the military intervention had avoided hitting targets where innocent people might be hurt and insisted its leaders held the "moral high ground".

    "Isn't it the ultimate in hypocrisy for them to talk about casualties among the civilian population when they are on a daily basis, shelling housing, schools, hospitals, mosques in cities like Misratah, inflicting who knows what death and destruction on their own people?"

    "The international coalition has been extraordinarily careful to avoid civilian casualties where at all possible."

    "We are there to try to stop the Gaddafi regime indiscriminately killing people inside their own country."

    and 2- Nicholas Kristof, having seen too many massacres close-up - Is it better to save no one???

    I don't like killing, but it doesn't seem to bother Gaddafi a whit, and he's armed and delerious. Not to say it's ok anywhere else, it's not. But is it better to save no one?

    Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

    by Pay It Forward on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 12:48:30 PM PDT

    •  supposed massacres (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You are referring to a Bengali hospital administrator saying that Lybian forces have executed everyone in a hospital. Where are the photos of that, where are your sources. Since the beginning of this whole thing there have been just too many moles spreading these stories of massacres to justify the invasion. And still to this day, 3 weeks in, not a single freakin image.

      You might have heard it from somewhere else, then fair enough. But without any solid source (and not from the rebel leaders mouths, who are trying to get NATO to fight on their side) this doesn't amount to much more than war propaganda of the worst kind.

      The whole mercenaries angle also spread like wildfire, yet no proof that those are not regular black Libyans from the South (whose tribes are closer to Ghadaffi...) and members of the Libyan army. But there is narrative here to push, so mercenaries they are...

      Then again, reality has a well-known Obama bias.

      by magatte on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 01:07:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's one source, for now: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        conchita, TaraIst, greengemini

        Valid questions. There are lots of pieces of answers all over the internet.

        Mercenaries have admitted to being brought in and paid (some with fake money...), and their passports have been shown. Some others were workers from the south of Libya who were robbed or roughed up and threatened, and basically forced to fight for Gaddafi. There may well be some who just love him and want to die for him as well. There are many reports of the supposed supporters being paid to come and chant for him, one said for $80 a day, or $400 for the family, sometimes including free alcohol to really cheer them up.

        I have been trying to find that article from the Bengali. I believe it was a non-english interview with refugees at the Tunisian border, but I have not found it again. It was a direct quote.

        Here is a recent report from Zawiyah:

        Select quotes: "Anyone who goes outside from the youth is either killed or kidnapped to an unknown location. The number of people kidnapped has exceeded 3000 and the martyrs 500 so far. Killings, rapes and transgression, I swear the situation does not require any exaggeration.

        The city of Az Zawiya has been destroyed and its residents live in a state of fear, horror, murder and kidnappings. Basic food supplies are near non-existant, children’s milk is not available at all. The youth and elderly are being kidnapped and even women have not been spared from this. The number of kidnapped and missing women has reached 88 so far."

        Some of people from Zawiyah were seen in bad shape by a reporter who was imprisoned for a few days in Tripoli.

        Busloads of people were rounded up in Zuwara and taken to Tripoli after forces re-took that city.

        Stories abound about folks rounded up in Tripoli, but people there can't talk freely on phones, their lives are in danger. Not many people getting out of these places to tell the stories.

        In Benghazi alone, 94 people were killed in one day before the first French airstrikes kicked in to save that city.

        In Misrata, people are being killed daily. If you live in a house the snipers want to use, bad luck for you. Zintan has also been besieged for weeks.

        And on and on and on....

        there are sources for all of this, rest assured.

        Here's one person from the US who talked to his family in Zawiyah:
        "Thank you for doing the right thing and helping protect my people, I still fear for my family, in Zawia, there has been no way to contact them for over 3 weeks, no way to hear from them. I know that over 2000 were killed, among them were about 100 women, I know every young man they found was executed without question I know thousands were taken hostage, that the houses were looted, that the bodies were thrown into the sea after their graves were defiled. "

        People cannot identify themselves, either they or their families are in grave danger. Do you understand that? In western Libya, the media is locked down in a hotel, with strange clicks on their phone lines, and brought on orchestrated bus trips.

        How can you cover massacres when they dig up bodies and remove them from hospitals, and don't allow anyone from the outside to go  there and talk to the people who are left there?

        So just because the evidence is not enough for you does not mean these things are not happening.

        How bad is bad enough?

        Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution...We now rely on just 8 crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. -Vandana Shiva

        by Pay It Forward on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 02:43:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  mercenaries and misrata (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TaraIst, Pay It Forward, greengemini

        from an msm source no less,damien mc elroy writes in the telegraph

        As well as deploying the Khamis Brigade the Libyan government has been sending mercenary African tribesmen from Niger - originally hired to battle al-Qaeda elements in remote corners of the country - into battle on the streets of Misurata. After days helping to terrorise the city, mercenary fighters from feared Saharan Tuareg tribes are rewarded with a stay in a luxury hotel in Tripoli.

        One Libyan government employee said: "They have been fighting very hard for us. They deserve to relax and rebuild." One of 40 fighters relaxing at the five-star Corinthia Hotel yesterday said they had been battling al-Qaeda linked groups in the desert financed by Col Gaddafi for years. He said they had been brought from Niger to Tripoli to fight al-Qaeda in eastern Libya and would do whatever was asked of them by the Libyan leader.

        "He did everything for us," said Mohammad, a fighter wearing expensive sunglasses. "When neither our government nor the Mali helped us, Gaddafi took care of us. So we have come from the Sahara desert on foot to die for him. e love Muammar Gaddafi. He is great."

        Under the deal struck by Col Gaddafi with Tuareg chiefs, he is believed to pay tribal leaders 3,000 euros a head and footsoldiers up to 400 euros each, a huge sum for men from an impoverished community, to fight for him.

        Aghaly Ag Alambo, former rebel leader of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), is believed to live in Tripoli and is a key co-ordinator of the regime's recruitment drive among the tribes. Sources in Niger told The Sunday Telegraph that Libya had opened recruitment offices throughout the Sahara since the uprising began and 800 fighters were leaving each week to fight for the regime.

        the main part of mc elroy's article is about misrata.  i can look for material on zawiya, but the sense i have is that gaddafi is attempting to duplicate what he did in zawaiya to misrata.    from the article:

        "The weapons that they use are not meant to prevent movement in the city, but to cause also deformation or paralysis so the suffering of the people endures all their lives," one doctor said on condition of anonymity.

        Some 243 have been killed and at least 1,000 wounded in more than a month and a half of fighting, city officials say, with a fresh round of casualties yesterday.

        One resident, a 26-year-old teacher, described the desperate measures taken to escape the city in a dramatic telephone call to The Sunday Telegraph. She told how she and her children were trapped in their home before protesters helped them tunnel through the walls to safety.

        "We were trapped for four days in the basement of our house, just hearing explosions and gunfire," she said. "We were so scared. The snipers were killing everyone – they didn't care if it was a woman or a child – they just wanted to kill.

        "The protesters rescued us by making holes in the walls of the house, tunnels in the house."

        She said that pro-Gaddafi snipers were breaking into homes and killing or raping any civilians sheltering inside before ascending to the rooftops to use them as vantage points.

        "Snipers are breaking into houses. Some are using women and children as human shields. Others are killing the men and raping the women.

        They are brutal. They think they can do anything," she said. "Every minute we are afraid that we might be killed. We are human beings. We did nothing but ask for freedom. Gaddafi has no mercy. God help us."

        these are not fighters but doctors and civilians he quotes.

        this is a video of patients being evacuated from misrata on a turkish ship.  many are children.  there is more footage and first person witness testimony out there than most people have time to read in one day.  

        and here tweets by a journalist from dubai station al anan, jenan moussa, interviewing patients when the ship stopped in benghazi to pick up other critically injured there:

        jenanmoussa Jenan Moussa
        Old woman on #Misrata boat burried daughter as shooting was on.She cries as she tells me how difficult it is 4 a mom 2 burry daughter #Libya
        3 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply
        Jenan Moussa
        jenanmoussa Jenan Moussa
        On #Misrata boat, there is one old lady, hit by #Gaddafi shell.She was going with daughter to hospital.Daughter, Hanan, died on spot. #Libya
        3 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply
        Jenan Moussa
        jenanmoussa Jenan Moussa
        On #Misrata boat, people descibed the #drastic situation inside the city. No water, no elec, no medicatn, fear, no space in hospital. #Libya
        3 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply
        Jenan Moussa
        jenanmoussa Jenan Moussa
        Just came back from port. A Turkish boat arrived with 250 injured from #Misrata. I spoke to a man whose nose is out from a bullet. #Libya

        zawiya happened a week or so ago and the links are not as fresh in my mind as the mc elroy article published this weekend.  i will see what i can find.

        Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

        by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 03:55:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  zawiya (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greengemini, Pay It Forward, TaraIst

        maybe you missed alex crawford's report of the attack to which she was a live witness.  i'm sorry i'm not going to quote from her article.  it is just too disturbing for me to revisit.

        and bill neely's follow up in the guardian.   perhaps this is why you haven't seen photos:

        We left the square to go to the hospital where doctors had told me on Sunday they believed Gaddafi was guilty of war crimes, including killing doctors. I hoped to talk to them. At the gate where we had been stopped by soldiers I saw one of the doctors. He made a sign with his hand warning me not to acknowledge him. He was clearly scared. He knows he treated rebels. He also treated government soldiers. He abided by the Hippocratic oath. But he knows his comments about war crimes could get him killed.

        We tried to get into the hospital. Not only were we refused permission, we were taken away under armed escort to a superior officer. He and six of his men took our cameras, stripped our car and bags and took every piece of TV equipment they could find – our tapes with the story we had shot in Zawiya, everything. We feared we might be detained and beaten, like the BBC team who tried to get into Zawiya earlier in the week. They suffered mock executions and a night in a cell amid the screams of tortured detainees before they were eventually freed. But we avoided that.

        On state television they have been showing off weapons and ammunition left behind by the rebels. The reporter says they were captured from "terrorists, dogs and traitors". Then, a threat: "These rats will be chased from house to house, from farm to farm and from one city to another city. The armed people's force have started from al-Zawiya and will continue to cleanse the whole country. The armed people's force is announcing that every citizen should report to them any rat if they know of their whereabouts. Libya will remain great thanks to its leader."

        (emphasis mine)

        Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

        by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:23:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  zawiya 2 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pay It Forward, TaraIst

        disclaimer, i haven't watched this video.  i don't deal well with graphic violence, and it is in arabic.  however, someone who i trust posted and said it is about zawiya.  zawiya day is coming up on april 8th.  you can expect to hear more about it.

        Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

        by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:56:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  btw, it is libyan not lybian nt (0+ / 0-)

        Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

        by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:57:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  another on mercenaries (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pay It Forward, TaraIst

        a man from chad talks about why he refused libyan money to fight for gaddafi:

        Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

        by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:56:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i don't know why i continue to post these (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pay It Forward

        but maybe you will come back to look and see how wrong you are.  here are two more sources.  one from the star. describing soldiers forced to fight:

        IN the burnt-out wreckage of tanks hit by international airstrikes in eastern Libya, rebels discover a plea for understanding and a proclaimation of innocence from Muammar Gaddafi's dead soldiers in messages written on their arms.

        Rebels says they found the bodies of soldiers, killed in the airstrikes, chained or handcuffed to tanks, suggesting they may have been forced to fight against their own people.

        “On the arm of a dead soldier was written the words, “Forgive me, I didn't kill anyone,” said Abdel Kader.

        According to Abdel, the ammunition inside the tank was intact.

        “It is quite possible this soldier didn't shoot at the people,” said Abdel.


        This plea of innocence was found in burnt-out tanks in the eastern towns of Ajdabiya, Ras Lanuf and Benghazi.

        “These soldiers were mainly killed by the international air strikes,” adds Abdel.

        Some of the rebels left notes inside the pockets of their uniforms, declaring martyrdom as well as the phone numbers of their families.

        “If I die, I die a martyr as I didn't shoot at my own people, said the note,” added Abdel.

        and this from a young person's blog:
        Why I Changed My Mind On Libya...
             For everyone who has followed The Rational Counterpoint for any length of time, you know that I am adamantly against our actions in Libya. I have also criticized the president for bypassing congress, causing his decision making process to be no more constitutional than the previous president's.  I have been so pessimistic about this war and I had not differentiated between the nation building in Iraq and nation building in Libya.
             Usually, I pride myself in seeking enough information on policy and political opinions to come to a firm and consistent conclusions. However, I have had a complete change of heart. This weekend, I watched The Daily Show and saw an interview with a native Libyan who completely reversed my perspective.
             The man's name is Mansour O. El-Kikhia, and he left Libya for political reasons three decades ago. His interview can hardly be put into words as his perspective was so real and so visceral. During this entire debate, I had thought myself to have found the moral right and the factually correct perspective, opposing Obama's needless war and his over-riding of Congressional authority. El-Kikhia tells Stewart that Qaddafi had beaten the rebels back to two miles within Benghazi, the rebel stronghold. His entire family lives there and so do many hundreds of thousands who rose up against the regime. As the army came over the horizon, it was expected that 50 thousand would be killed in the coming days. Tens of thousands, if not more would be slaughtered over time as Qaddafi was determined to kill out every last dissenter. It was at this zero hour that international bombs began to fall and stop the government advance. We were hours from the beginning of one of the the worst slaughters in my lifetime. We quite literally could not have shown up any later. El-Kikhia can do nothing but thank and praise Obama on Stewart's show.

        Like him, I have come to know Libyans.

        Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

        by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 09:34:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I wish everyone would be less convicted in (6+ / 0-)

    their opinions on this issue, and I commend you for doing so. The fact is, nobody really knows what is going on unless they're in some high-up position in one of the NATO or Arab League countries. I doubt there is a single person on this site who could say with absolute certainty why we are in Libya or what our government has planned. These things will likely come to light for the public years after the fact.

    Just a week ago I was quite set in my idea that we were fighting in Libya for the right reasons and while it is unfortunate we weren't intervening in other countries, there were reasons not to. But I've come to terms with the fact that I really have no idea what's going on, and no one else does either. I'm not saying that people shouldn't have their opinions, but they shouldn't be as certain about them as many seem to be.

    It's too bad that we don't have a government we can inherently trust, but that is the reality of the situation.

    Again, I think it is very smart of you to adopt an uncertain position on this whole thing, thanks for writing a diary about it.

    •  History is important.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, Cartoon Peril

      Although I agree with you that no one really knows exactly what is going on and the reasons for the intervention, history provides important clues.   Especially the history of that region and the history of colonialism in Libya.  

      I was instinctively against that intervention from the very first moment, and I am now absolutely convinced that this intervention has absolutely nothing with "protecting civilians".      

  •  The reason (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    The reason you feel this way is, I suspect, mostly about the man in the white house.  Were McCain president and he took the exact same actions, I expect that this site would be screaming the rafters down.  People here just trust Obama for the most part - fair enough.  I'm in favor of this war in Libya myself, but let's not delude ourselves into thinking that we'd accept this from a Republican president.

    •  The reason you feel this way... (0+ / 0-)

      The only impact the "man in the white house" had upon my feelings was in his approach: much less chest thumping and drum beating than previous presidents. Ultimately, however, once I got beyond my initial rush, my feelings are no different than re: Desert Shield/Storm/Iraqi Freedom/blah blah blah...  Our military interventions do not have the desired effect, and they have tragic consequences--both in the short term, and in ripples that go on for years.
         Generally re:Obama - "Like". But on this (and his silence re: WI public employees union), I am deeply distressed with this president.

    •  It's the headline-writer who's alarmed. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Fortunately, most it is speculation from "critics." The sourced material is below. The headline is unsupported in the story.

      The writer also wastes the reader's time with a "double double," copy-editor speak for first summarizing and then including the direct quote.  Just the quotes are fine, and since the quotes were in two separate paragraphs, it might even be a "double double double" ;)


      The US has refused to rule out the use of DU shells in Libya, though it claims not to have fired any so far.

      “I don’t want to speculate on what may or may not be used in the future,” the US air force spokeswoman, Paula Kurtz, said yesterday.

      Kurtz insisted that the A-10s had not been loaded with DU ammunition. “Weapons with depleted uranium have not been used in Libya,” she said.

  •  Here is a totally different point of view, (4+ / 0-)

    explained by the ever-excellent BBC doumentarian, Adam Curtis, who made "The Power of Nightmares."

    It's on the long side, of course, and includes some historic video. A central character is Samantha Power, who is also the topic of a March 29 NYT piece

    A snip from the Curtis's opening:

    The idea of "humanitarian intervention" which is behind the decision to attack in Libya is one of the central beliefs of our age.

    It divides people. Some see it as a noble, disinterested use of Western power. Others see it as a smokescreen for a latter-day liberal imperialism.

    I want to tell the story of how this idea originated and how it has grown up to possess the minds of a generation of liberal men and women in Europe and America.

    It is the story of a generation who became disenchanted with traditional power politics. They thought they could leap over the old corrupt structures of power and connect directly with the innocent victims of war around the world.

    It was a grand utopian project that began in the mid-60s in Africa and flourished and spread across the world. But in the 1990s it became corrupted by the very thing it was supposed to have transcended - western power politics.

    And the idea seemed to have died in horror in a bombing of a hotel in Baghdad in 2003.

    What we now see is the return of that dream in a ghostly, half-hearted form - where the confidence and hopes have been replaced by a nervous anxiety.

  •  Ghandi, MLK wouldn't back air strikes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I admire those with the purity of conscience who can stick to the non-violent path under any circumstances. Regardless of the struggle to stay the course, at least you have a course to stay. The rest of us have to make do with ambiguity and shades of gray and the notion that one size solutions don't fit all occasions. It becomes impossible for us to stand by and watch slaughter that could have been prevented, as in Rwanda or Benghazi if the French hadn't bombed Khadafy's poised attack columns. It becomes impossible for us to ignore the cries of help from people facing mechanized extermination. Without the strength of certainty of the non-violence creed, we succumb to intervention, and saving lives, and taking sides.

    If someone was trying to kill me or my loved ones, I'd want someone to intevene on my behalf: cops, soldiers, someone. Unfortunately, I'm just not up to the Mahatma's standard.

  •  We have no credibility (5+ / 0-)

    for any sort of involvement.

    This is the same Ghadafi we spent the last odd decade rehabilitating as a partner in the war on terror.  This included dealing him arms and US corporate support.

    We knew exactly who Ghadafi was the entire time (just like we knew who Saddam Hussein was for all those years we were supporting him).  For years and years we knew.

    How telling that a primary Obama stick against Ghadafi is the cancelling of arms deals with the regime.

    As if that's some kind of bold stroke.

    We have no credibility, no moral standing in the region, not to mention no political standing, except with those we buy, sell, do corrupt backroom deals with, or intimidate.  You  know, like Ghadifi all these years.

    Democracy?  Please.  Not in our repertoire.  

    The only ones buying into this "humanitarian intervention" are US libruls and Obamaphiles.

    What our intervention in Libya is about is (re)asserting control, in the form of industrial violence (our perennial first choice and our forte) over the Arab Spring.  This is about grabbing revolution from the hands of the people and granting it to our neocon foreign policy establishment, as implemented by the CIA.

    Watch how quickly top Ghadafi regime actors are washed clean by a brief dis-association with the Colonel, only to return and rule the "democratized" Libya -- this of course alongside the CIA assets we've already placed at the top of the "revolution".

    New boss same as the old boss.  

    Arms deals reinstated no doubt.

    Arab Spring (and people): fucked.

    Just like we like it.

    This intervention is a fraud.

    Please don't feed the security state.

    •  Pretty sweet deal. (4+ / 0-)

      Let's see.  The US, France and GB deal Ghadafi arms for years and years.

      When Ghadafi turns out to be, um, Ghadafi, we get to blow off even more inventory bombing him.

      Librul interventionists get to blow off some PC steam after years of feigned unease with the Bushco style of hegemony.

      Industrial violence is re-established as the sole and necessary medium of "revolution".  

      Proper frame asserted, (thanks Ghadifi!), our favorite despots in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen (not you, Ghadafi!) breath easier tonight.

      Tunisia and Egypt and. . . done.


      Scratch as Security State Dem, out jumps a neocon.  Scratch a neocon, out jumps a fascist.

    •  Of course we have no credibility (0+ / 0-)

      or moral standing.

      That's why we're involved.

      We're going along with what Europe wants because we have no more moral authority to dictate what we want to do instead.

      And that's as it should be.

  •  Keep Questioning (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Futurama, Marie, Cartoon Peril

    I am not a pacificst by any means, but I am anti-imperialist.  In my view, the Libyan War is an imperialist adventure with no criteria by which to say the U.S. will or will not intervene in other sovereign countries.  I think it is a shameful adventure.

  •  It's all about the oil and nothing but the oil. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.

    •  the us was able to purchase oil from (0+ / 0-)

      gaddafi.  the revolution in libya will not change the us ability to continue being able to do so.

      Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

      by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 03:57:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It will make it harder to do so (0+ / 0-)

        If it were about cheap oil, we'd have let the dictator we sold arms to for cheap oil in the first place go on with what he was doing.

        •  when did we sell arms to gaddafi? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          all of the data i have seen did not include us sales of arms to gaddafi.  bush brought him back into the fold, but did not sell arms to him afaik.

          Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

          by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 05:17:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  my understanding is that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            US-approved sales to Libya dropped in 2009, to USD 15 million from USD 46 million in 2008. All Libyan sales were restricted to non-lethal equipment. Almost all of the equipment approved in 2009 were aircraft parts, compared to more than USD 1 million that had been approved in 2008 for explosives and incendiary agents. State Department spokesman Mark C Toner said earlier this week that the explosives were limited for use in oil exploration, but other officials raised concerns that the material could be converted into crude battlefield munitions.


            We have a responsibility to take out their aircraft and weapons systems in general. Those aircraft are lethal weapons, no matter how we craft the semantics in order to profit from this stuff.

            •  thank you for the reply (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bill kramer

              i guess we didn't sell arms to libya as we do to say saudi arabia or israel, but we sold material that could be used as weapons.

              Brothers & sisters of #Egypt, you have given the world the most precious gift: the belief that ultimately right will prevail. -Desmond Tutu

              by conchita on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 05:37:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's awfully insincere to sell (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                aircraft parts and explosives to a dictator in North Africa and claim you aren't selling arms.

                That's just semantics to allow our weapons industry to go on profiting and I think we all know it.

                We call it "oil exploration" and aircraft parts in Libya and arms in Saudi Arabia, but it all gets used to subjugate the people for cheap oil in America, and we all know it.

                Let's start being real as Americans, please. There's no more time for BS'ing ourselves into feeling better about what we did in the past. People are dying.

  •  I think you should strengthen you pacifism a bit. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, Mark Throckmorton

    I think as well, this is quite wrong in a way:

    Gaddafi was tied up in Lockerbee and the German nightclub bombings, while Saddam never was a significant player in international terror (sorry, neocons.)

    Saddam invaded Iran. Saddam used tons of chemical weapons (supplied to him by mostly by Western countries). In this war about 1.5 million people died.
    Later Saddam invaded Kuwait (most likely again with US approval to get a reason to take the weapons away, that were supplied before, as after the fall of the Soviet Union there was no reason any more to arm Saddam). Much fewer people died in this invasion, but still there were quite a couple of dead people.
    Maybe invading other countries and killing more than a million people is not terrorism, but shouldn't that count more for being a monster than terrorism? Terrorism is the weapon of the weak to harm a super-mighty enemy. The terrorists would go to war, if they had the actual resources to do so. What you write sounds a lot like Peter King claiming, that his IRA support (for which I have quite some understanding) doesn't count as support of a violant group, BECAUSE the violance didn't happen in AMERICA (which seems a pretty lousy reason to me). Maybe I should remind you, that Gaddafi was in the meantime, AFTER Lockerbie and the nightclub bombing, a more or less welcome guest in Rome and Paris, one of his sons living in Germany, visiting Switzerland and so on. In addition the EU paid Gaddafi to help us (Europeans) with border protection (illigal immigration over the Mediteranian sea).

    As well at home Saddam killed much more people than Gaddafi. A slauther like the one following the Shia revolt after the 1991 gulf war is not known to me in Libya under Gaddafi. The episode triggering the current "kinetic military action" killed at most a few thousand.
    The motivation for this was as well by no means any kind of genocide, that one could argue in the case of Saddam's poisonous gas attacks on Kurds in the north. Gaddafi attacked political enemies, that used weapons for the fighting themselves. For the question of genocide, it doesn't matter, if you are fighting for democracy or for dictatorship, but if you are fighting an armed political enemy or just the civil population. In terms of cruelity, I think the US attack on Falludshah is easily even in worse category than what Gaddafi did (and in general I think the US has a worse track record of killing innocent people in the time of Gaddafi's reign than Libya under Gaddafi). But without a genocide the "Responsibility to Protect" rule doesn't apply. It was often quoted, that Clinton was full of regret, that he didn't stop the Rwanda genocide. Fair enough. But this has nothing to do with Libya whatsoever (and I wonder why he isn't full of regret for the civil sanction against Iraq, which the UN estimates to have caused ~ 400k dead ).

    Then there is the question, if the intervention actually saved lifes at all. The original goal of the UN resolution was to force a cease fire. But now, the rebels are in the offensive themselves. In the end more people might die because of the rebel offensive now than from the previous attacks by Gaddafi. The rebels are no angels for sure. They have lynched black people, because Gaddafi had hired black mercenaries. The nature of the rebels isn't clear at all, and if they have broad support of the population is even more unclear. There is no guarantee, that the Libyan rebels have in general the same character as the peaceful protesters elsewhere. Some people, that are respected by liberals in the US like Juan Cole believe so, and even claim, the support of the Libyan revolution is necessary to keep the revolutions in Tunesia and Egypt running. But they have given bad advice before and I'm not sure, if they know the price. There are several new stories now, that the US got the support of the Arabian Leaque for the intervention by agreeing not to stop Saudi Arabia's forces marching into Bahrein. Keep in mind, that - in contrast to the rebels in Libya - the protesters in Bahrein were peaceful and have clearly a majority of the population behind them (Otherwise they wouldn't allow foreign command structures taking over in their country).
    And of course this price extends. The basic rules of reciprocity, which could be used to manufacture a relatively peaceful world, where sovereignty is usually accepted, have taken a heavy hit. What if in the future a country forges a little rebellion by a minority, and then uses this for interfering with the policy of that country? It will become damn difficult to argue against such interference. Especially in Africa, interventions by white people are always seen on the background of colonialism, less from the background of democracies versus dictatorships. So they will allow a very weak standard, when they accept the current NATO action as legitimate.

    Two other thoughts before the end of this comment:
    First, it matters tremendously, what the official reason for the war is. Either it is "Responsibility to Protect" and the genocide issue. Then in the future nations will prove, that there is violance in the country in which they want to interfere and will claim international right in their side, even if it doesn't meet the standard of actual genocide by far.
    Sarkozy on the other hand accepted the rebel leaders as the legitimate Libyan gov't and thereby the NATO actions would actually be the same, what Gaddafi does. If he can get weapons and mercenaries from outside to crush political enemies, the rebels have the same right to get this (although there is a resolution to forbid to delivery of weapons). But in this case it is very crucial, that the NATO doesn't interfere with the internal politics of the rebels, especially we have to leave on their say-so, even when it turns out, that they aren't the democrats we thought they are.

    Second, I think in general the "Responsibility to Protect" is BS. If there is a responsibility to kill innocent people (and war ALWAYS leads to this) to protect a larger number of innocent people, why then isn't there a responsibility to put e.g. trade agreements under the qualification of development goals? If innocent people have to accept, that their live is taken for the greater good, shouldn't out corporate people accept, that their profits are of lower priority than poor people going hungry and eventually die from malnutrition and easy to cure illnesses? With much less money and much lower maximum infringement on individual liberty, orders of magnitude more people can be saved by changing the structural death through poverty or other factors, that e.g. can depend on climate change, than by military actions. Structural death is just not as easily televised, but should be a cause of much greater concern.

    •  Saddam and international terror (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you for your comments. I agree that the phrase you rightly criticized was not accurate within the larger picture you paint. To clarify (but not dispute your point), my argument was the US neocons' "justification" for invading Iraq hinged largely on the false assertion of the Iraqi regime's stockpile of WMDs, and the fabrication of "evidence" re: incipient nuclear bomb making capability.

      I greatly appreciate your analysis of "Responsibility to Protect" and the invisibility of "structural death" in media coverage. Neither of these can be adequately addressed in the soundbites that are the substitute for mass media coverage in most outlets today.

  •  You're not thinking about it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, itzik shpitzik, greengemini

    in honest terms.

    Yes, civilians will die at the hands of our high-tech weapons.

    The same high-tech weapons we sold these dictators in the first place.

    The only question now is how many civilians our high-tech weapons will kill.

    If we're pulling the trigger, the answer is fewer than if a dictator is, and you know it.

    Iraq was a war crime. There was no war there until we started one. In situations where the dictators we armed have started conflicts that target civilians, it's our duty to destroy the weapons capabilities we gave them in the first place.

    Strict uncompromising pacifism in America is just greed in another name, just like it was in Switzerland. It's just a way for Americans who subsidize their high quality of life with the blood and suffering of the oppressed to wash their consciences clean - but people are still dying because of us.

    Americans need to stop pretending like their quality of life isn't subsidized by our weapons sales to dictators who in turn give us cheap oil.

    And they need to stop pretending that we aren't already killing civilians with our greed.

    Where do you think the weapons being used by the dictators in the mideast come from?

    You sent those weapons there last time you filled up your car with relatively cheap gas.

    I have no patience for strict pacifists who profit from the suffering of the innocent, whether they be the Swiss during WWII or Americans now.

    If when we're no longer selling weapons to dictators for cheap resources, then you can be a strict pacifist - but not before. Not if you want to live in this country and buy/consume products here.

    The reason you're conflicted on this issue is because underneath, you sense what I'm saying is the case. And it shows that fundamentally you are a decent person, even if you seem to be confused by what's going on.

    •  wow (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Strict uncompromising pacifism in America is just greed in another name

      violence is the status quo...nonviolence is the revolution

      by ehrenfeucht games on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 05:53:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what we call it when the citizens (0+ / 0-)

        happen to be Swiss.

        •  Let the denunciations begin! (0+ / 0-)
          We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

          "Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

          "There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

          "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

          violence is the status quo...nonviolence is the revolution

          by ehrenfeucht games on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 04:58:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The reason I'm conflicted... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Bill, I hear a lot of assertions as to what my internal process is.  

      I happen to agree with many of the things you say about the situation: how the demand for low gasoline prices keeps dictators in power, and how that leads to the killing of civilians; how the weapons those dictators use came from the nations that want the cheap oil.

      What I wonder about is what motivation you have to assign other motives to my "strict pacifism"?  Not trying to start a bickering match here at all. The point (perhaps not clearly expressed by this blogging rookie) is that once I discovered the source for my own misdirected elation when the cruise missiles and planes were launched, I was convicted by my own awareness that it was not my hopes for Libya and Libyans, but my hopes to finally be "in with the winners" and escape the hard times that come with being a thoughtful, consistent pacifist.

      Knowing that what you are saying is true is not the source of my internal conflict; instead, the truth of what you have said about the situation is ultimately the source of my clarity. Pacifism is not just the opposition to war, it is also the opposition to structural causes of war and my own participation in them.

      Thanks.  MDT

  •  I also consider myself a pacifist (0+ / 0-)

    I believe that acts of aggressive violence perpetrated by human beings against other human beings (whether committed by individuals within social relationships or by nation-states on the world stage) are symptoms of intellectual failure and moral depravity. I also believe that resisting aggressive violence with violence is perfectly consistent with pacifism; as Malcolm X once said, self-defense isn't violence. It's common sense.

    Does the use of American military violence in Libya constitute self-defense? No. The very question is ridiculous, as Libya not only never attacked the US but is incapable of doing so.
    Is the use of American military violence in Libya justified because those who ordered it claim that their intentions are "humanitarian" in nature? No. And again, ridiculous question. Either one believes that murdering innocent human beings is a hideous atrocity everywhere, or one does not believe that murdering innocent human beings is a hideous atrocity.
    You don't get to choose. You don't get to condemn Qaddafi's despicable crimes and in the same breath proclaim that the Gaza flotilla murders or the deliberate and systematic slaughter of men, women, and little children with helicopter gunships in Afghanistan or drone rockets in Pakistan are somehow exempt from being labeled for what they are, hideous atrocities and crimes against humanity. You don't get to proclaim as "unfortunate but necessary" the murder of innocent Libyans with Tomahawk missiles by invoking your noble intentions.

    Americans of good conscience desperately want to believe in the moral rectitude of their political leaders, and many do, despite overwhelming evidence indicating they are but criminal butchers standing up to their eyeballs in a lake of blood. To be tempted to think that "this time is different" is understandable, of course; as Americans, we are taught from an early age that we are exceptional and enjoy a special immunity from the rules that apply to our official enemies. We are taught that one thing and one thing alone is important: Winning. We are indoctrinated to accept the idea that violence and war are "normal" means of resolving conflicts. And unless we resist and reject what we have been taught, we are committing moral suicide.


    They who have put out the people's eyes, now reproach them for their blindness --John Milton

    by Succulent Filth on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:24:10 PM PDT

    •  If I sell guns to a drug gang (0+ / 0-)

      in the US in order to subsidize my high quality of life, and then realize the error of my ways, join the police force and use guns to prevent these gangs from killing innocent civilians, then by your definition that's moral suicide.

      Of course that's ridiculous. The moral suicide was already committed when I sold the weapons to the gang in the first place.

      In order to make up for my lack of moral character, I put my life on the line and join the police force to stop them. And I don't get any bonus points for doing so. I'm simply getting back to the zero point by trying to make up for what I did.

      That's what's going on in Lybia right now.

      •  No, that's what you THINK is going on in Libya (0+ / 0-)

        What the US is doing in Libya is something else entirely.

        Committing moral suicide is not what a nation does; it is what a citizen does when he or she capitulates and agrees to pretend his or her political leaders are not criminals and are not drowning in their own hypocrisy. It is what citizens do when they decide that the standards their political leaders demand of others shouldn't apply to themselves.
        To pretend that the US can somehow "get back to zero" or make amends or atone for the slaughter it has and is committing in Afghanistan and Pakistan every single day by dropping even more bombs and killing yet more  innocent people in Libya is the type of willful ignorance that simply guarantees indefinite mass murder and war.

        They who have put out the people's eyes, now reproach them for their blindness --John Milton

        by Succulent Filth on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:24:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You have the urge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Throckmorton

    to support this for the same reason that I do:  we both remember Rwanda, and how the entire world stood aside to allow the most horrific slaughter of innocents almost anyone alive today can remember.  I have zero doubt that Gaddafi would have massacred the residents of Benghazi without a second thought had we not stepped in.  

    Having said that, let this be an abject lesson to us:  when people rise up to overthrow their own government, if that government is willing to fire upon them, our intervention means war...

    When do I get to vote on your marriage?

    by jarhead5536 on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 05:14:20 PM PDT

  •  i once had a teacher (0+ / 0-)

    who talked about the psychological of power of three. there is something emotionally satisfying about it. stories have a beginning, middle and end for example.

    victories were won in tunisia and egypt. yet that feels incomplete. we long for a trifecta.

    not that this explains it all, but i do think that this may play a small, perhaps subliminal, factor.

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