Vantage Point: Libya

For regular updates on the chaos that ensues in Libya follow:

Vantage Point: Libya

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Dan Glazebrook – NATO’s response to the ‘Arab Spring’

10th Nov 2012

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Bani Walid in Ruins

Homes, businesses, and public buildings including Bani Walid’s hospital looted, burnt and destroyed by militias

Bani Walid’s hospital destroyed by government militia

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Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa

The next time that empire comes calling in the name of human rights, please be found standing idly by

By Stephen Gowans, 8th November 2012

Maximilian C. Forte’s new book Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa (released November 20) is a searing indictment of NATO’s 2011 military intervention in Libya, and of the North American and European left that supported it. He argues that NATO powers, with the help of the Western left who “played a supporting role by making substantial room for the dominant U.S. narrative and its military policies,” marshalled support for their intervention by creating a fiction that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was about to carry out a massacre against a popular, pro-democracy uprising, and that the world could not stand idly by and watch a genocide unfold.

Forte takes this view apart, showing that a massacre was never in the cards, much less genocide. Gaddafi didn’t threaten to hunt down civilians, only those who had taken up armed insurrection—and he offered rebels amnesty if they laid down their arms. What’s more, Gaddafi didn’t have the military firepower to lay siege to Benghazi (site of the initial uprising) and hunt down civilians from house to house. Nor did his forces carry out massacres in the towns they recaptured…something that cannot be said for the rebels.

Citing mainstream media reports that CIA and British SAS operatives were already on the ground “either before or at the very same time as (British prime minister David) Cameron and (then French president Nicolas) Sarkozy began to call for military intervention in Libya”, Forte raises “the possibility that Western powers were at least waiting for the first opportunity to intervene in Libya to commit regime change under the cover of a local uprising.” And he adds, they were doing so “without any hesitation to ponder what if any real threats to civilians might have been.” Gaddafi, a fierce opponent of fundamentalist Wahhabist/Salafist Islam “faced several armed uprisings and coup attempts before— and in the West there was no public clamor for his head when he crushed them.” (The same, too, can be said of the numerous uprisings and assassination attempts carried out by the Syrian Muslim Brothers against the Assads, all of which were crushed without raising much of an outcry in the West, until now.)

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Amnesty International and the Human Rights Industry – Must Read

Who Will Watch the Watchmen?

Counterpunch, DANIEL KOVALICK, 8th November 2012

When I studied law at Columbia in the early 1990s, I had the fortune of studying under Louis Henkin, probably the world’s most famous human rights theoretician.   Upon his passing in 2010, Elisa Massimino at Human Rights First stated in Professor Henkin’s New York Times obituary that he “literally and figuratively wrote the book on human rights” and that “[i]t is no exaggeration to say that no American was more instrumental in the development of human rights law than Lou.”

Professor Henkin, rest his soul, while a human rights legend, was not always good on the question of war and peace.  I know this from my own experience when I had a vigorous debate with him during and continuing after class about the jailing of anti-war protestors, including Eugene V. Debs, during World War I.  In short, Professor Henkin, agreeing with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, believed that these protestors were properly jailed because their activities, though peaceful, constituted a “clear and present danger” to the security of the nation during war time.  I strongly disagreed.

That Professor Henkin  would side with the state against these war protestors is indicative of the entire problem with the field of human rights which is at best neutral or indifferent to war, if not supportive of it as an instrument of defending human rights.   This, of course, is a huge blind spot.   In the case of World War I, for example, had the protestors been successful in stopping the war, untold millions would have been saved from the murderous cruelty of a conflict for which, to this day, few can adequately even explain the reasons.   And yet, this does not seem to present a moral dilemma for today’s human rights advocates.  (I will note, on the plus side, that Professor Henkin did become increasingly uneasy with the Vietnam War as that conflict unfolded, and specifically with the President’s increasing usurpation of Congress’s war authority).

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Obama Turned Out Worse Than Bush – Dan Glazebrook

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Muammar Gaddafi Memorial, Conway Hall, London, 3rd November 2012

Dave Roberts – Global Civilians For Peace in Libya

Asari Sobukwe, All African Peoples Revolutionary Party

Click here to see more videos from the event

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