OK, Libya. Qaddafi is using state television to incite violence; change.org has posted the following: 'In 1994, Hutu state radio played a massive role in the Rwandan genocide, inciting violence and giving directions on how and where to kill Tutsis. Right now in Libya, Gaddafi is using state television much the same way. As a weapon. On his three state-run stations, supporters are urged to hunt the opposition “alley by alley, house by house, room by room.” It's been reported that state programming is used to send coded instructions to loyalists and hired mercenaries.' change.org which, like avaaz.org, has seen a number of victories due directly to its online campaigning, has a petition circulating to close down Libyan state television: http://www.change.org/petitions/shut-down-gaddafi-state-tv#?opt_new=t&opt_fb=f
As for our involvement, it's hard to know what is 'just' (in the sense of 'justified') intervention. The New Statesman this week spoke of the 'Responsibility to Protect', formulated by the International Convention on Intervention and State Sovereignty in 2001, after the Balkan and Rwandan genocides. The principle behind this is sound: 'Every country has the responsibility to protect its own citizens from mass killings and other ethnic cleansing. If a country is unwilling or unable to do so, the international community has a responsibility to launch military intervention.' (Gareth Evans, co-chair; quoted by Mehdi Hasan.) Well, OK, with some pacifist reservations.
The difficulty, as I see it, lies in two things: one, the international interventionists' motivation; and two, the interpretation of the six criteria laid out in the commission's case for intervention:
Surely there are two at least, and three probably, of those clauses that are not met?
Right intention: why is it that, of the many dictatorships worldwide, and the serious crimes against humanity being committed in eg Yemen, Gaza, Bahrain, Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan, it has been Libya that we've chosen? Am I being unduly cynical (after Iraq) in thinking that Libya has oil; unlike say Israel and possibly Iran Libya does not have a nuclear capacity with which to defend itself; and Libya is headed by a dictator who is not 'a friendly dictator' in terms of his usefulness to the West? Yemen and Cote d'Ivoire, with their own grave humanitarian crises, have been fruitlessly pleading with the international community for help. Gaza could have done with a no-fly zone for the last 40 years. What is our intention, genuinely?
Proportional means: in the first day of 'our' intervention, 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched by the intervening forces. Each one costs, according to the NS – get this – £800,000. Yes, that's right. Maths is not my strong point, but that's one hell of a lot of money: £89,600,000, my calculator says.
And you look at the humanitarian crisis in Japan:
'“Words don't describe it,” he said. “It's total and absolute carnage.”