Every so often a new intervention by NATO and the usual suspects gets proposed, and there's always an argument all over again about whether it's a good idea. Generally, there is little real information available about just what's really going on, but there's plenty of propaganda, some of it nuanced and plausible, and often some genuine complexity to the situation. Even intelligent, well-meaning progressives are frequently persuaded that this time, maybe it's a good idea.
It never is. Even the best cases you ever get for imperialist intervention always turn out to be terrible. The more such events I see, the more convinced I become that knee-jerk opposition to such action is pretty much always justified. Say, I was going to talk about Libya, wasn't I?
So let's talk Libya. The poster child for "humanitarian intervention". Ruled by a dictator who was certainly eccentric, even a weirdo, and could plausibly be called "crazy". Resisted by protestors who seemed to be part of the celebrated Arab Spring. Threatening to massacre his regime's opponents. How could anyone possibly oppose intervention? And, partly persuaded by this basic frame of events, many progressives, even on boards such as "enmasse.ca", argued in favour of UN/NATO military intervention. I didn't, but for a while I temporized, was luke-cold in my opposition, agreed that with all the ambiguities it was difficult to be sure . . .
Tens of thousands of deaths later, what was the African country with the highest standard of living is now falling apart. The "government" is vicious and authoritarian to the extent that it's in charge of anything, which it mostly isn't. Militias and mercenaries fight it out in miniature civil wars. Bagmen pocket the oil wealth. Far more people have died than ever would have if Gadhaffi had just crushed his opponents, and we're really still just getting started. The government has a law granting immunity to anyone committing war crimes in the service of the revolution, and what with all the torture and ethnic cleansing they need it. And it has a law mandating jail terms for anyone who says nice things about the previous regime; way to institute freedom, NATO!
in recent weeks government buildings - including the Prime Ministerial compound - have come under fire by 'rebels' demanding cash payment for their services. $1.4billion has been paid out already . . . Corruption is becoming endemic - a further $2.5billion in oil revenues that was supposed to have been transferred to the national treasury remains unaccounted for . . .
Law 37, passed by the new NATO-imposed government last month, has created a new crime of 'glorifying' the former government or its leader - subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Would this include a passing comment that things were better under Gaddafi? The law is cleverly vague enough to be open to interpretation. It is a recipe for institutionalised political persecution . . .
Law 38. This law has now guaranteed immunity from prosecution for anyone who committed crimes aimed at "promoting or protecting the revolution". Those responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha - such as Misrata's self-proclaimed "brigade for the purging of black skins" - can continue their hunting down of that cities' refugees in the full knowledge that they have the new 'law' on their side. Those responsible for the massacres in Sirte and elsewhere have nothing to fear. Those involved in the widespread torture of detainees can continue without repercussions - so long as it is aimed at "protecting the revolution" - i.e. maintaining NATO-TNC dictatorship.
On the plus side for the US at any rate, the article goes on to point out how the removal of Gadhaffi has drastically weakened the African Union, making it far easier for the US to move in Africom and go all neo-colonial on the Africans. Not such great news for Africans, or for progressives who aren't wild about imperialism.
So I'd like to suggest that next time around, or for that matter this time around (Syria) we just keep in mind how, no matter how good the spin for any given military intervention seems to be, it is almost certainly a really horrible, evil idea, insane from the perspective of anything except advancing imperialism. The complexities of such situations are dwarfed by the mindboggling nastiness that will be the result of imperialist intervention. There are vanishingly few situations so bad that military intervention by the US and hangers-on such as Canada can't make them heartbreakingly worse. I plan to remember that in future discussions whenever a new flavour of the year pops up and people are being fooled all over again.