Determination to get rid of Gadhafi is being tested
15 March 2011
Paul Stanway is a veteran Alberta journalist and former foreign correspondent.
Perhaps nothing better underlines the moral uncertainty of our times than the confusion over what to do about Moammar Gadhafi, who is looking more and more likely to survive the rebel challenge to his grip in Libya.
(…) … what exactly is the world now prepared to do to support the Libyan people in getting rid of one of the most odious and disruptive tyrants of the past half century?
Some years ago, Canada spent a whack of cash and a lot of energy financing an international commission to answer just that question. (…)
(…) The commission made recommendations to the UN that resulted in something called the doctrine of R2P -the responsibility to protect, as in the international community's responsibility to protect people from their own murderous governments.
It's a great idea in theory, which is what the UN does best. The problem is that in practice, somebody has to actually intervene, with armed force, to prevent despots from killing their own people. And clearly, the international community doesn't have much stomach for that.
All the talk at the moment is limited to imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, so that Gadhafi can't use his air force to attack the rebels.
The Arab League is in favour of it, as are most members of the European Union (they are slated to vote on it later this week).
The British and French governments are apparently framing a resolution to take to the UN Security Council demanding backing for a nofly zone, but as the Russians and Chinese seem opposed to it, you have to wonder if this is mere posturing.
As usual in these situations, everyone looks to the U.S. to actually do the fighting, or in this case, the disabling of Gadhafi's airfields and radar installations so that somebody (the U.S., NATO?) could safely patrol Libyan airspace.
There is some backing among U.S. politicians for this scenario. Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and John McCain like it. But the problem, put succinctly by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is that this means the U.S. declaring war against Gadhafi. (…)
(…) And even if there were UN approval for a no-fly zone, there is serious doubt that simply sidelining the Libyan air force would be enough to ensure the rebels' victory over substantial Gadhafi forces armed with tanks and artillery -and as we have seen, also armed with the determination to use them. (…)
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