Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
Blog: It seems to us that the hard left, with which we have much sympathy, sometimes gets it badly wrong. An instance is the article in the Guardian today by Seumas Milne. This article contains three comment-worthy passages.
The first is:
1. “David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy won the authorisation to use “all necessary means” from the UN security council in March on the basis that Gaddafi’s forces were about to commit a Srebrenica-style massacre in Benghazi. Naturally we can never know what would have happened without Nato’s intervention. But there is in fact no evidence – including from other rebel-held towns Gaddafi re-captured – to suggest he had either the capability or even the intention to carry out such an atrocity against an armed city of 700,000.”
All the evidence suggests, on the contrary, that Gaddhafi would certainly have carried out his threat to massacre the besieged rebels opposed to his rule in Benghazi. One fact alone stands out: following the fall of Tripoli to the rebels, the site of a massive grave of perhaps 2500 opponents of Gaddhafi was discovered in a building associated with the regime. We believe, therefore, that Gaddhafi’s threat to hunt down his opponents in Benghazi “like rats” was no idle menace.
The second passage from the Milne’s article is:
2. “For the western powers, of course, the Libyan war has allowed them to regain ground lost in Tunisia and Egypt, put themselves at the heart of the upheaval sweeping the most strategically sensitive region in the world, and secure valuable new commercial advantages in an oil-rich state whose previous leadership was at best unreliable. No wonder the new British defence secretary is telling businessmen to “pack their bags” for Libya, and the US ambassador in Tripoli insists American companies are needed on a “big scale“.”
Here Milne is suggesting that western business interests were behind the bombing, not humanitarian concerns. To our minds, this is irrelevant. If, while also promoting the interests of western oil companies, NATO also succeeded in saving the lives of countless Libyan civilians, that’s okay by us. The important thing is that lives are saved, whatever the actual motivation for the bombing.
3. “The Libyan precedent is a threat to hopes of genuine change and independence across the Arab world – and beyond. In Syria, where months of bloody repression risk tipping into fullscale civil war, elements of the opposition have started to call for a “no-fly zone” to protect civilians.”
We believe that without NATO’s bombing campaign the Libyan rebels would have been crushed by Gaddhafi and a massacre of his opponents would have ensued. The Syrian opposition, whose peaceful revolt against Bashar al-Assad has led to brutal repression by the regime, are now coming to realize that, like the Libyan rebels, they need military assistance from the west if they are to have any hope of toppling the dictatorship. The sword is mightier than the pen.