Libya: no more sitting by and looking on

18 March 2011

Libya: no more sitting by and looking on

Yesterday the United Nations Security Council voted to approve measures to protect Libyan civilians. I am completely happy with this. The world cannot continue to sit by and look on as Gaddafi ruthlessly hunts down and kills his own people. Such acts must have consequences. Firstly we must do all we can to bring about a ceasefire. If that doesn’t work, then military intervention cannot be ruled out.

By Emile Roemer

Emile RoemerIt is extremely important to the SP that this decision was taken by the UN. Of all the world’s deliberative bodies, the UN is the one which has the clearest right to speak when it comes to matters of war and peace. The world simply does not have any kind of parliament within which collective decisions can be taken. If the UN does not support intervention in a country, as was the case in Iraq, a war has no legitimacy and discord grows. This has fortunately not occurred, and the fact that Arab countries support the UN resolution is important, as it means that actions against Libya are more than merely arrogant Western interference.

A UN statement is still only the beginning of the process. So where will it go now? You can certainly impose a no-fly zone on Colonel Gaddafi, but what then? My hope is that Gaddafi will decide to make the best of a bad job and lay down his arms. We will then have a cease-fire and could seek a solution through diplomatic methods. More victims, whether civilians or soldiers, would then be avoided.

Unfortunately we are obliged to take into account the possibility of a less peaceful development. If Gaddafi continues the violence against his people, diplomacy will no longer be sufficient to enforce a no-fly zone, and the question will be posed as to how we will impose such a ban and protect civilians. Military violence cannot then be excluded. We have as yet, however, not reached that point. For the SP what is most important is that any military intervention be effective and proportional.
The cure must in any event not be worse than the disease. Political and military support for these actions can only be provided once we know precisely what these would constitute. If we have learnt anything from previous conflicts, it is that to start a war is a very different thing to winning one.

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