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Selective intervention by the West?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is the Western world acting selectively and with deep bias in laying siege to Libya but staying disturbingly quiet about the brutality that has been unleashed on the innocent civilians of the Ivory Coast, that is, those opposed to defeated President Laurent Gbagbo? At least three leaders of African countries, Musevni of Uganda, Zuma of South Africa and Mugabe of Zimbabwe, think so. Back in November 2010, by the reckoning of 9,000 UN peacekeeping troops, 3,000 election observers and the Independent Elections Commission in the Ivory Coast, Mr Gbagbo lost the election to his opposition rival, Alassane Outtara—and not a closely contested election at that. However, Mr Gbagbo has refused to leave office and has inflicted serious violence on supporters and any others inclined to oppose his continued stay in office. Reports put the murdered at 435 with 450,000 native Ivorians leaving one of the most prosperous West African countries for refuge in Liberia and other neighbouring countries. The UN Human Rights Watch report calls it “a three-month campaign which gives every indication of amounting to crimes against humanity.”   

The African Union has declared the actions of the West a “contradiction.” And notwithstanding his own discredited position, Zimbabwe’s strongman and author of much violence against his countrymen, Robert Mugabe, has said that the driving force behind the Western intervention and bombing of Libya is the desire “to control the oil of Libya;” always the oil as the hidden agenda in these matters. The West, if its motive is that of saving civilian lives, has had cause enough to intervene in situations in Zimbabwe, Rwanda and other places of advantage around  the world. During the 2008-2009 Israel-Palestinian War, it became obvious to all that the Israelis were bombing civilian sites in Palestine along the Gaza Strip and killing helpless civilians. Indeed, when it became so obvious, the United States and other Western powers issued statements attempting to rein-in Israel—to no avail. This particular situation apart, the UN Security Council has passed dozens of resolutions and declarations over the decades but never once has interventionist action been even contemplated against the Jewish nation. It must be made clear though that this editorial is not about taking the side of the brutal dictator Colonel Gaddafi, but rather saying that there have been too many inconsistencies in the actions of Western countries over the decades giving credence to the point often made that “might is right” in international affairs.

Although trying his best not to have American forces seeming to lead the charge against Col Gaddafi, US President Obama has walked close to the line  of talking “regime change” in Libya while denying it. However, as the anti-war candidate of the Democratic Party in the run-up to his presidential campaign, President Obama has faced a torrent of criticism from the Congress about the strike against Libya.
While the commentators are only now beginning to talk about the contradiction as outlined above, they have certainly been critical about the absence of a plan detailing how the Americans and by extension the West will extricate themselves from Libya. Therefore what is quite likely to happen is yet another situation of continuing conflict in the Middle East out of the strike against Libya. This is a strike which eventually must lead to the extermination of Col Gaddafi and further and continuing instability in this crucial part of the world. The result may turn out to be yet another source of conflict and bloodshed in the Middle East, to join Iraq and Afghanistan, that will keep the world in turmoil for decades to come.
It seems that the inclination of the 20th century of resorting to mediation to avoid war is not being applied as rigorously in the 21 century.


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