Libya ceasefire, not another endless war


This article was originally published May 17, 2011. We are reprinting it now as a House vote on the Libyan conflict looms.

It seems like every time I look at the New York Times or Washington Post, an article appears suggesting that the rebel forces in Libya are making progress. But upon reading the article I can't help thinking that the progress is more a mirage than a reality.

As far as I can see, the war in Libya is a stalemate.

The only option that makes any sense in these circumstances is a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement that hopefully brings both peace and democratic openings to the Libyan people.

Last week United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a call for an immediate ceasefire. He said that he would send a special envoy to Tripoli "as soon as possible."

This is a welcome development.

From some news reports it appears that the Gaddafi government is ready to enter into talks with its opponents.

The same can't be said about the opposition or its NATO supporters. The opposition seems to believe it can oust Gaddafi with a continued NATO air assault - despite the growing potential for terrible civilian casualties. For NATO, regime change, from all indications, remains the objective.

The danger in this situation is that steps will be taken to escalate the fighting in order to break the impasse.

Three options are available. NATO could commit ground forces, which is very unlikely. It could intensify the bombing attacks, which is already happening. And finally it could undertake a large-scale effort to train and arm the anti-Gaddafi movement.

This is a prescription for a long, drawn out war. It is hard to see how this is in the interest of the Libyan people or their understandable desire for democratic renewal.

Nevertheless, it could well be the option pursued.

Gaddifi, after all, is considered to be an unreliable steward of oil interests and a loose cannon in a region and on a continent whose geopolitical and geo-economic value to the powerful imperial states - first and foremost the U.S. - is inestimable.

And this is likely to remain so as long as the economies of the world are dependent on the oil that this part of the world is so rich in.

But are unending wars and occupations what we want in this region? Is that the best way to make us safe and keep the oil flowing? Is it the best way for peace and democracy to take root in the Middle East?

The answer, obviously, is no.

Two occupations - one hopefully winding down, one that should wind down - as well as an undefined "war on terror" and a seemingly endless conflict between Israeli government intransigence and the Palestinian struggle for statehood - all these have brought neither stability nor peace nor democracy to this region, nor have they made the world any safer.

A ceasefire and negotiated resolution of the conflict in Libya along with a pullout of troops in Afghanistan, a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and an end to the military "war on terror," would immeasurably help Libya and the rest of the Middle East become a new birthplace for peace, democracy, stability, and independent development.

Photo: A U.S. guided missile destroyer, part of the U.S. Africa Command task forces, launches a Tomahawk missile against Libya, March 19. DoD photo by Interior Communications Electrician Fireman Roderick Eubanks, U.S. Navy/Released 



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  • This article by Sam raises important points. In the US we have a responsibility to reeducate the public as to what NATO is and is not. It is NOT an international organization with a mandate to police the world and oust the "bad guys". It is not the "cops" in a gigantic TV "cops and robbers" show. It IS a military alliance of the major North American and European capitalist states. NATO itself has a bloody and criminal history.
    NATO never intervened to deal with the way the Palestinian people are oppressed. It never launched bombing raids to out the government of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or numerous others we could mention, all of which have violently oppressed their own people. What does that tell you?
    So what's the real reason for the Libya intervention? Could it be the oil, natural gas and subterranean water resources? Could it be to make sure that the African countries further south are kept in economic thrall to their former colonial masters in Europe?

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 06/04/2011 10:39pm (4 years ago)

  • This is a great article Sam! But this is what is going to happen ,so pay attention. NATO has softened The Gadaffi Regime with its Bombings. This allows an opportunity for Al-Qaeda to try to move into Libya. The Unites States blames NATO for The failed operation, and tells the World that they must step in to become The World Hero to defeat Al-Qaeda and deploys ground forces. Of course, Halliburton is called upon to support and is paid generously. Dick Cheney and his DC boys are happy and The American People are happy but don't realize this was the Plan.

    Posted by factsaretruth, 06/01/2011 9:08pm (4 years ago)

  • When The Palestinians gather in the thousands to protest Israel. Are The US Government coming to remove the President in power from Israel? Like when the US supported the protesters in Egypt to remove Murabak from power, and helping the Libyan Rebel Protesters remove Gaddafi from power? Why stop here Lybia?

    Posted by john jay, 05/30/2011 10:42pm (4 years ago)

  • We know for sure how premeditated violence will affect the victims, and we do know the road to peace will require some honesty from NATO and the U.S.
    Is this possible?

    good article Sam

    Posted by Gabriel Falsetta, 05/24/2011 11:43pm (4 years ago)

  • This is a good argument and I agree with its conclusions.

    I do want to pose a counter-factual hypothetical for reasons that will obvious in a moment.

    Suppose the U.S. had not intervened. And suppose Gadhafi's threat to annihilate protesters had come about.

    How many leftists who now use NATO intervention to criticize President Obama would be criticizing him for not doing something to stop the slaughter?

    The left has to get past criticizing and offer meaningful, real world alternatives, real solutions to problems. This article goes a long way toward that.

    Posted by Joel Wendland, 05/18/2011 9:00am (4 years ago)

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