Monday, 28 March 2011

Rescue remedy

When a large chunk of my taxes is being spent on foreign conflicts of one kind or another, I try hard to understand what those conflicts are about and whether I actually support them or not. It's been particularly difficult to comprehend the assault on Libya.

It was all rushed through parliament and the UN so quickly dozens of awkward questions went unanswered, and are still unanswered. We were told it was a humanitarian rescue of thousands of innocent Libyans facing slaughter by Gaddafi's troops. But had any massacres already occurred? I don't recall hearing of any. And was a massacre actually about to happen? One can only guess.

So various countries including the UK have invaded Libya, firing bombs and missiles in all directions, causing colossal damage, to carry out a rescue mission which may or may not have been needed.

I started off by thinking that any such action against a sovereign state was unacceptable, whatever the pretext. Would we accept an invasion of our own country to rescue the residents of Manchester? I think not.

Then I thought that preserving political autonomy, however worthy and democratic it sounds, can't be an excuse for leaving thousands of trapped people to die. It would be like refusing to enter someone's house when the family was about to be murdered.

But the quandary remains of what precisely the mission's objective was and whether it's being achieved. I can't find any clear answers to either question. All we get is gung-ho reports of bombing raids and speculation about whether Gaddafi is planning to do a runner.

I have mixed feelings even about the way the so-called rebel forces are gaining ground and look likely to replace Gaddafi. I have no idea what their intentions are and whether they'll run the country any better than the ousted dictator. Plenty of shiny new governments have proved to be just as corrupt and inept as the old ones.

Oh and one minor point. When the government keeps telling us the country is broke and we all have to tighten our belts, how come we can find £3 million a day to bomb Libya?

22 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

Well said my friend. I am appalled at the Libyan situation.
We are now joining forces with the policemen of the world spreading, joy, peace and much vaunted freedoms?
I think not. Not when we can't even sort out our own.
XO
WWW

conortje said...

Great post Nick - so many important questions. I always think - in these situations - indeed any type of 'conflict' that there has to be an open dialogue first. Now I realise that Gaddafi is probably not the sitting around the table to talk kind of person but surely force should be the very very very last option. So often that isn't the case.

Nick said...

W3 - I somehow doubt that joy, peace and freedom will suddenly break out all over Libya. Oppressive governments are seldom succeeded by enlightened democracies.

Conor - Absolutely, force should be the very last option when every other non-violent way of changing a rotten regime has failed.

Baino said...

I have a very cynical American friend who's convinced it's a political diversion in times of economic difficulty in the west. Every Democratic president has become involved in a war, seems to be good for their career. I agree, how do we know the new guard is better than the old? You wait, next stop Syria. I think each incursion should involve a referendum of the people frankly. At least Australia's hanging back on this one. War is very unpopular for our Governments.

e said...

I think I agree with Baino's very cynical friend. This is indeed a diversion from our own problems. Nick, your last question is a good one. Our citizens services are being curtailed and people are suffering for lack of jobs and supposed lack of funds, all so the west can flex its muscles and the policeman of the world can pontificate about freedom?

Appalling and incredibly stupid, but then our politicians have never lacked hubris, unfortunately.

Nick said...

Baino - Wars aren't the reliable vote-gatherers they used to be, as Tony Blair found out. I wonder if the Libyan adventure will turn sour for David Cameron as well?

e - The military budget in the US is totally obscene. Just a small fraction of it could provide a Rolls-Royce health service for every citizen.

secret agent woman said...

I don't understand this, but Quaker that I am, I am deeply opposed to war as a solution to problems, economic or political.

(A note to Baino's cynical friend - Hasn't pretty much every Republican president been involved in a war, too?)

Nick said...

Secret Agent - I agree, war seldom solves a problem and usually it makes the problem worse. As well as soaking up huge sums of money that should be going to hard-pressed public services.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have the same questions about my country's involvement in this huge debacle, now added to all the other wars we're tending like marshmallows over a campfire. Meanwhile, we at home are making more sacrifices of basic services every week because all the money in the world is apparently needed to fight these wars, which no one can win. I adhere to the Quaker view as well, and wish that my country and all countries were run by them.

Scarlet Blue said...

Actually, what is there to stop anyone from trying to rescure the residents of Manchester? This has also crossed my mind.
Sx

Terra Shield said...

I think the answer is a three letter word: OIL.

Eryl said...

I've actually stopped tuning into this now, there's nothing I can do about it. I guess the money comes from all the cuts to education, the arts, social services...

Rummuser said...

Oil politics Nick. We delude ourselves that we live in democracies. All so called democracies including the mother of all, are, in my opinion are run to protect the interests of big business. Or is that the delusion?

newjenny said...

I don't think the Manchester analogy holds, because our democratically elected government doesn't oppress the population in the way that Gaddafi's government does.

Nick said...

Heart - I've got a lot of time for the Quakers, having known a few. A Quaker-run country would be very different from the bellicose regimes we're surrounded with at present.

Scarlet - I'm sure plenty of them would like to be rescued from poverty, unemployment and a dismal future.

Nick said...

Terra - I thought of that, but there's no problem with oil supplies from Libya. Unless the "allies" just want more of it at a lower price.

Eryl - I'll bet it does. And it takes an awful lot of welfare cuts to pay for one cruise missile.

Nick said...

Ramana - Countries are certainly run in the interests of big business. Not really surprising when most of the cabinet are millionaires with hefty business incomes.

newjenny - Not at all. But if the government WAS threatening to kill all Manchester's citizens....

Quickroute said...

While I welcome the change of repressed people in the recent uprisings I think they should be allowed to play out their course. It seems from the numerous atrocities and oppressive regimes around the world the ones being cherry picked by the US and UK are ones in which they have a vested interest i.e. oil and $$$

Nick said...

Quickie - There certainly seems to be some cherry-picking, since other equally oppressive regimes are discreetly ignored. Whether the motive is oil, dollars, imperialism or religion is hard to say amidst the fog of phoney justifications.

Suburbia said...

I too am grappling with all those thoughts, thanks for putting them so concisely

Los Angelista said...

Great questions that I've been wondering about as well. We're slashing and burning education budgets but the first military strike cost almost $200 million. Are we going to invade China for their human rights abuses? North Korea? Iran? Sigh.

Nick said...

Suburbia - Glad if I've helped a bit. It's a very confusing business, full of hidden agendas.

Liz - Yes, I remember your posts about the education cuts. Clearly bombing is more important than literacy. Indeed, when do we start the assault on China?