When the Arabs and the West Fly to the Aid of a Free Libya (The Huffington Post 2011/03/23)

logo huffingtonIt is not an intervention on the ground, with tanks, infantry, occupation, green zones, and all the rest.

So it’s the contrary of the insane war of Iraq.

It’s the contrary of the just war in Afghanistan.

I do not know (for it’s infinitely more complicated than that) if the (just) war in Afghanistan or the (insane) war in Iraq were «neocolonial» wars. But if one thing is certain, it is that this war, this intervention whose primary aim was to ensure sanctuary for the civilians being massacred in Misratah, Zaouïa, and Benghazi, this rescue operation where there is no question of seeing the boots of one western soldier on Libyan soil is, in any case, the opposite of a colonial expedition.

What, exactly, is a just war?

It is a war that puts a stop to a war against civilians.

It is a war that, to parody a famous and unfortunate saying (that of François Mitterrand attempting, til the very end, to prevent the air strikes over Sarajevo on Serbian positions) removes the war from war.

It is a war that, far from assuming to parachute a democracy, complete with arms and a user’s manual, into the midst of a political desert (as in Iraq), ultimately depends upon and supports a budding insurrection–permitting and only permitting the liberators to do their work of liberation and consequently, in this instance, allowing the Libyans to liberate Libya.
This war is a war inspired by a French initiative, but it is not a French war.

It is a war where, as early as Saturday, we saw French planes fly over Benghazi and start to break the military means of a Qadhafi in desperate straits who had gone all out as his shells rained down upon the city. But it is also a war that saw Qataris, Emiris, and Egyptians join the French and other Western powers in the same coalition, either individually, or as members of the Arab League that has made its presence felt from the very beginning at the heart of this movement of global solidarity with a country whose own leader has put it to fire and sword, or as a people already engaged in an uprising whose legitimate concern is to universalize its values (as is really the case of Egypt). Thus it is a war that is no less Arab than it is occidental.

The purpose of this war?

Is it really only to guarantee sanctuary for the civilians being massacred in Misratah, Zaouïa, Benghazi ?

Will it be enough, eventually, for Qadhafi to return to keeping a low profile, pack up his arsenal and lay low in his Tripoli stronghold–only to come back for revenge in six months, a year, or longer?

I do not think so.

I hope not.

It’s hard to imagine the international community repeating the same error as with Saddam Hussein, whose capacity for crime and trouble-making was left intact after the First Gulf War, twenty years ago.

And it is hard to see this mountainous resolution, adopted last Thursday in a historic vote at the United Nations, when the Chinese and Russians were convinced not to use their respective vetoes, being transformed into a veritable molehill.

Qadhafi has committed crimes against humanity.

What was his first reaction to news of the vote, this Qadhafi we were told (by Patrick Ollier, French Minister — for how long ? — of Parliamentary Relations) had changed and renounced terrorism, becoming a discriminating reader of Montesquieu? What did he say, then? He said, « You attack my military aircraft? I’ll attack your commercial planes in return — I’ll teach your civilians a lesson, with one, two, three new Lockerbies. »

With this Qadhafi, there is no possible negotiation or compromise.

In unison with the Libyan people and its National Council of Transition, the international community must tell this terrorist whose acts know no bounds, « Qadhafi, beat it ! »

For, incidentally, what do the free Libyans want?

Who are they?

And what, precisely, is this National Council of Transition that Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to recognize, in a political gesture at once decisive and courageous?

They’re certainly no angels (but then, I haven’t believed in angels for ages).

They are not Churchillian democrats, born, by who knows what miracle, as Qadhafism’s gift to mankind. (Before defecting, some of them were his indebted servants.)

Among them, perhaps, there may be anti-Zionists, even antisemites in the guise of anti-Zionists (although, in none of my encounters with any of their leaders, in Benghazi and then in Paris, did I ever omit to say who I was and what I believe in).

I simply believe that these men and women are, like their brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, or Bahrain, on the path to democracy, whose principles and reflexes they are rapidly reinventing.

And I am certain that these fighters who have learned, faced with the infernal troops and tanks, what liberty means and in what language of the mind its name is inscribed, will still be better than a psychopathic dictator who has made the Apocalypse his latest religion.

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