My bigger brother Desmond recounted an experience he once had in the city of Stuttgart where he is undertaking further studies in the field of Engineering. On his way home from lectures one evening he witnessed an Asian couple in the middle of a scuffle. Quite frankly it was more of a young Asian guy beating on his partner. Desmond, who was unsettled by what he saw, intervened and sought information from the male aggressor. Agitated by Desmond’s query, the aggressor rebuked him for his intervention and proceeded to harass the poor girl. At this juncture, Desmond who is built like the incredible Hulk grabbed him by the collar pierced into his eyes with menace and fury forcing him to let the girl go. Interestingly, the aggressor who hitherto was enjoying the upper hand began to plead with my brother for his release.
According to Desmond, before he could release him, the young lady had bolted well beyond the reach of her abusive lover. A potentially harmful situation to her had been salvaged by the timely intervention of a stranger whose judicious use of physical strength possibly saved her life. If the above scenario depicts one thing, it is that force is sometimes necessary to restore peace. In the light of the abusive lover’s violent methods, Desmond was compelled to use an even more aggressive approach in his endeavor to douse the situation.
If the world truly intends to stabilize the situation in Libya then the Security Council’s decision on 17th March 2011 to authorize the imposition of a no-fly-zone over Libyan Air Space ought to be applauded rather than criticized for being some kind of bad precedent for military intervention in the internal affairs of a state. The only setback here is that, the said authorization was too slow in coming.
Why should the world sit idly by when an oppressive dictator like Gaddafi decides to massacre his own people who are simply agitating for their God given right to be free? General Francisco Franco ruled Spain from 1939-1975. His 36 year rule was the longest in the history of Europe. Gaddafi however, has been in office for more than four decades. The agitation for his removal by the people of Libya is a natural response to an oppressive regime that has monopolized the reins of power for far too long.
Libya like Egypt and Tunisia before it is not the property of any individual ruler. The call for democratization in totalitarian regimes must not be met with force but rather with compassion, understanding and tolerance. It therefore behooves the international community to embark upon some kind of military action whenever power is callously abused to suppress protests within national boarders where the call for political freedom is on the rise. The international coalition to restore parity between the oppressed and their oppressor in Libya has become a moral obligation and does not amount to a violation of international law but rather a mere reinforcement of it.
Gaddafi’s argument that the military intervention amounts to a violation of Libya’s sovereign rights is clearly disingenuous and is meant to cover up the massive abuse of human rights that is taking place in his country. The United Nation’s decision to adopt the responsibility to protect principle will become null and void unless acts of violent aggression such as what is happening in Libya are met with force. Wars indeed are just when they become the only way of interceding on behalf of defenseless masses.
When Clausewitz remarked that warfare was diplomacy by other means; his contention was not in opposition to a peaceful approach to conflict resolution but rather, underscored the fact that, warfare could serve as an alternative method of communication between states. A successful global intervention in the Libyan crisis resulting in the overthrow and possible arrest of a man who is now being investigated for war crimes would send a strong message to all would be dictators who intend to perpetrate genocide against their own people.
Bill Clinton as President of the US took the unilateral decision to use American aggression to restore parity between Serbs and Muslims in the Balkan conflict. As unpopular as his decision was among European leaders at the time, the unilateral intervention embarked upon by the Americans marked the beginning of the end of a protracted crisis that was threatening to plunge an entire region into conflict.
Milosevic’s imperialistic ambition to forcefully annex Kosovo by engaging in ethnic cleansing was again halted by a NATO intervention force that was not authorized by the UN’s Security Council. On both occasions warfare proved to be an effective method of ending a conflict and the rise or progression of evil was stopped by the conscientious use of military might. Milosevic’s dictatorial reign was ended by his failures in both Bosnia and Kosovo and only managed to die as a war criminal abated by the resolve of the world community to stand up to unwarranted aggression meant to suppress the weak and the defenseless.
Investigating Gaddafi for war crimes must pre-suppose that a similar resolve exists to depose his odious regime. Otherwise why strengthen his grip to power by earmarking him as a war criminal? Why should he leave office knowing that even a dip in the straits of Gibraltar could lead to his arrest?
The international community must never cower in the face of a dictator’s aggression for such a weak posture would merely send out the wrong message to all would-be dictators and in the long run may prove to be a great disservice to liberators and champions of democratic governance the world over.