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imperialism & war

Is U.S. intervention justified in Libya?

SocialistWorker.org columnist Lance Selfa, editor of The Struggle for Palestine, critiques calls from several left-wing figures to support Western military action in Libya.
March 29, 2011

THE WHITE House-massaged media spin portrays President Barack Obama's decision to go to war in Libya as a triumph for a triumvirate of liberals--Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and Obama adviser Samantha Power--who have well-established records of advocating the use of U.S. military force for "humanitarian" purposes.

As Stewart Patrick, director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in Foreign Affairs:

The United States and its coalition partners' decision to launch Operation Odyssey Dawn to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya on March 19 was a vindication of the fragile "responsibility to protect" (RtoP) norm. The diplomatic process to build a consensus about intervention was messy, involving protracted negotiations among multiple parties, and the military outcome in Libya remains uncertain. Still, the Obama administration was correct to champion RtoP's basic principle: state sovereignty is not a license for a dictator to murder his citizens.

It's no surprise that many of the most vocal supporters of a military action launched by a Democratic president would hail from the Democratic sector of the foreign policy establishment--and that a number of these were also critics of the ham-fisted and unilateralist strategies of the Bush administration.

But supporters of one form or another of Western military intervention extend to important figures on the left and the antiwar movement.

Gilbert Achcar, the veteran socialist and respected scholar--who has published numerous articles, interviews and books on the struggle in the Middle East, including at SocialistWorker.org--contended in an interview and a subsequent article published on ZNet:

Can anyone claiming to belong to the left just ignore [the Libyan] popular movement's plea for protection, even by means of imperialist bandit-cops, when the type of protection requested is not one through which control over their country could be exerted? Certainly not, by my understanding of the left.

Likewise, Middle East expert Juan Cole added his voice to the chorus in support of the UN-sponsored "no-fly zone" over Libya with an "Open Letter to the Left on Libya" on March 27. It begins:

As I expected, now that Qaddafi's advantage in armor and heavy weapons is being neutralized by the UN allies' air campaign, the liberation movement is regaining lost territory...I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorized intervention has saved them from being crushed.

Achcar and Cole have made the case for Western intervention in Libya, however limited, for "humanit.......
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eep 29.Mar.2011 16:35