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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:25 ( 1:25 GMT )
Libya: NATO Doing the Right Thing the Wrong Way - Daniel Kalinaki
07/07/2011 12:55:00
Four months after a NATO-backed bomb-and-batter attempt to oust him, Libya's Col. Muammar Al Qathafi retains his decades-long grip on power. NATO and US President Barack Obama have invested pride and politico-military capital in trying to get rid of Al Qathafi, including successfully procuring warrants for his arrest from the International Criminal Court.

In an opinion article on The Monitor, Daniel Kalinki says that with elections looming in the US and France, neither Obama nor Nicolas Sarkozy would want to appear soft and indecisive by withdrawing from Libya with Al Qathafi still in power. So it is likely that they will stay the course and achieve their objective of getting rid of the geriatric colonel. That, however, is the easy part.

If Al Qathafi's removal is meant to lead to the eventual transformation of Libya into a western-style democracy then it could just as well be that the NATO intervention might achieve the former while undermining the latter.

External actors such as former colonial masters and powerful western states have long had an overbearing influence over governance, the rule of law and therefore democracy in African states.

This was manifest in the client regimes of co-opted elites left in charge at the end of the colonial period, through the Cold War period, to the 90s and beyond where African leaders continued - and continue - to trample over their citizens' rights as long as they remain materially and, or strategically relevant to Washington, London, Paris and Beijing.

The triumph of western-style capitalism and electoral democracy has seen some of these very actors, complemented by the UN, NGOs and scholars in the political cloud now known as the "international community" turn into activists for reform in these countries.

This activism has given birth to a "universal" set of values including the conduct of regular, "free and fair" elections, a free press, political and individual freedoms and the respect of the rule of law. The word universal is used advisedly here because apparently what is good for the Tunisians is not good for the Saudis - but we digress.

Evidence from around the continent in countries like Ghana, South Africa, etc., shows that these values are more enshrined in countries where the people have demanded - and sometimes fought - for them and are willing to fight, if need be, to defend them.

There might have been help from abroad, such as the support to the ANC, and in Ivory Coast, but this support supplemented local demand for a change in the status quo; it was not foreign demand supplemented by local efforts.

The violence in Libya has the markings of a civil contest for power rather than a popular uprising against the Al Qathafi regime. A Libya without Al Qathafi will probably have more equitable distribution of wealth and give Libyans more space to participate in decision-making about their lives.

The contests that are inevitable in the formation of that Libya have to primarily be driven by local actors who have legitimate grievances and local credibility.

A post- Al Qathafi Libya that has a client regime in place in a divided country will only push the country back into ethnic power centres and violent confrontations. We have seen this in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia where unpopular regimes are propped up by the military might of foreign actors without the soft power of political credibility.

The attack on Libya is therefore a case of doing the right thing the wrong way. NATO is right to protect the Libyan fighters from Al Qathafi but wrong to fight their war for them.

Peaceful protestors must be protected at all costs but those who pick arms - whether against dictatorships or democratically-elected governments - must be willing to pay the price. Those willing to die for their cause are more deserving of help than those willing to kill for it.
This article has ( 1 ) Comment(s)
Name: arklight
Date: 20/07/2011 16:22:40
Libya was modern and prosperous, with full religeous freedom and full equality for women - - modern schools, hospitals and infrastructure, including hundreds of miles of aquaducts watering the burdgeoining agriculture of Libya - - each citizen of working age received a stipend of about USD 1,000, whether they worked or not. This guy must Iin my opinion) be getting a fat check from the IMF/World Bank, both of which are terrified of the Libyan Gold Dinar's appearance.
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