STW: 10 Reasons to say no to western intervention in Libya

By Andrew Murray National Chair, Stop the War Coalition 14 March 2011 The political campaign to launch a military intervention in Libya – ostensibly on humanitarian grounds but with patently political ends in sight – is gathering steam among the NATO powers. A “no-fly zone” has now been urged by the Arab League – for the most part a collection of frightened despots desperate to get the US military still more deeply involved in the region.  That would be the start of a journey down slippery slope. 

Here are ten reasons to resist the siren calls for intervention:

  1. Intervention will violate Libya’s sovereignty.  This is not just a legalistic point – although the importance of observing international law should not be discounted if the big powers in the world are not to be given the green light run amok.  As soon as NATO starts to intervene, the Libyan people will start to lose control of their own country and future.
  2. Intervention can only prolong, not end the civil war.  “No-fly zones” will not be able to halt the conflict and will lead to more bloodshed, not less.
  3. Intervention will lead to escalation.  Because the measures being advocated today cannot bring an end to the civil war, the next demand will be for a full-scale armed presence in Libya, as in Iraq – and meeting the same continuing resistance.  That way lies decades of conflict.
  4. This is not Spain in 1936, when non-intervention meant helping the fascist side which, if victorious in the conflict, would only encourage the instigators of a wider war – as it did.  Here, the powers clamouring for military action are the ones already fighting a wider war across the Middle East and looking to preserve their power even as they lose their autocratic allies.  Respecting Libya’s sovereignty is the cause of peace, not is enemy.
  5. It is more like Iraq in the 1990s, after the First Gulf War.  Then, the US, Britain and France imposed no-fly zones which did not lead to peace – the two parties in protected Iraqi Kurdistan fought a bitter civil war under the protection of the no-fly zone – and did prepare the ground for the invasion of 2003.  Intervention may partition Libya and institutionalise conflict for decades.
  6. Or it is more like the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia.  NATO interference has not lead to peace, reconciliation or genuine freedom in the Balkans, just to endless corrupt occupations.
  7. Yes, it is about oil.  Why the talk of intervening in Libya, but not the Congo, for example?  Ask BP.
  8. It is also about pressure on Egyptian revolution – the biggest threat to imperial interests in the region.  A NATO garrison next door would be a base for pressure at least, and intervention at worst, if Egyptian freedom flowers to the point where it challenges western interests in the region.
  9. The hypocrisy gives the game away.  When the people of Bahrain rose against their US-backed monarchy and were cut down in the streets, there was no talk of action, even though the US sixth fleet is based there and could doubtless have imposed a solution in short order.  As top US republican Senator Lindsey Graham observed last month “there are regimes we want to change, and those we don’t”.  NATO will only ever intervene to strangle genuine social revolution, never to support it.
  10. Military aggression in Libya – to give it the righty name – will be used to revive the blood-soaked policy of ‘liberal interventionism’.  That beast cannot be allowed to rise from the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan.

4 thoughts on “STW: 10 Reasons to say no to western intervention in Libya

  1. point 9 – “NATO will only ever intervene to strangle genuine social revolution, never to support it.” So the revolution in Libya is no longer happening because NATO has decided to intervene? A rather ass-backwards view …
    point 8 – the Egyptian revolution … which as we squabble has been hijacked by the Egyptian military. NATO is too late there …
    Points 5 and 6 – It’s like Iraq. Actually, no, it’s like Bosnia and Kosovo … well make up your mind!
    point 4 – but it’s not like Spain in 1936. Glad we have that straight.
    Point 1 – Libya’s sovereignty – much more important than the actual lives of real existing Libyans, obviously …
    Come on, the left can do better than this. The left should exist to do things, not just oppose doing things all the time.


    1. Hi Matt, That the Stop the War coalition even managed to put a statement up is amazing, given it took so long. There has been next to no opposition to this intervention on the part of Empire. Whatever the internal situation with Libya, the press here has been consistently on a war-mongering march, with Dave ‘Desert Rat’ Cameron scouring the Middle East for a war to call his own. Opposition to colonial occupation is an imperative I think, especially where its against an invasion that is all about domestic votes. What the left can do – and lets say trying to do in the coming ten days in London – is start the revolt here – inspired in part by uprisings in the Middle East, and the students in December – and… well, watch this space… The 26th will not be your usual TUC demo, I hope. best, John


    2. And by Sukant Chandan here:

      The Libyan Rebellion: The West’s Cloak over the Gulf by Sukant Chandan

      Fidel Castro was right. The West *was* planning an attack on a sovereign third world nation imminently: Libya. Nothing like a good old war against brown and black people in Libya by the West to remind oneself of what western civilisation is all about. Many of us who have been politically active since the 1990s are painfully aware of the trauma that humanitarian imperialism causes on peoples of the Global South.

      Libya has been one of the most controversial conflicts to have taken place in the Arab world, and the Goebbelsian propaganda machine of most of the media (except for Russia Today, which has been the only critical voice on Libya) has whipped up narrow-minded hysteria against Ghadafi, which has not helped anyone understand some of the more insidious things that are currently taking place.

      Why did the UN Security Council pass the resolution last night? Why at this time? Up until the passing of the resolution there was a consensus in mainstream media that the rebellion in Libya had lost momentum around a week ago and was on its last legs, having been defeated everywhere apart from Benghazi and Tobruk. It is even more interesting that the USA went ahead with supporting the no-fly-zone aspect of the UNSC resolution as it was one of the most vocal in expressing the great challenge that a bombing campaign on Libya with its associated civilian deaths would entail. Perhaps the USA knows that there is little that actually can be done and there is not much to lose by posturing as the erstwhile ‘shock and aweing’ power. However, there are some other factors to consider as well, especially in relation to the current people’s movements developing across the Arab world.

      British Prime Minister David Cameron recently went on a business trip to the Gulf where he sold British weapons to his puppet states of the region just as the people’s movements were erupting in Yemen, Bahrain and even in what was always considered relatively quiet and stable Oman. Al-Jazeera English (AJE), the voice of the Qatari gulf monarchy, instead of criticising Cameron’s arms-selling trip, decided to hand over their air time so that Cameron could conduct war propaganda against Libya. While it is true that AJE and Qatar have one foot supporting the resistance, one has to be honest and state that Qatar also has the other foot hosting the USA’s biggest military base in the region — Centcom — and Bahrain hosts Centcom’s naval fleet. Here you have AJE protecting British interests in the region while Arab people in Gulf are being killed by British-trained and British-armed regimes.

      The West is terrified of the Arab and North African uprisings and going all out to co-opt them the best it can, or as one of my close colleagues Daniel Renwick states, imperialists are ‘reforming to conserve’. AJE seems to be playing into this reform-to-conserve strategy by positioning itself as the voice and activist media of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, but giving much less respect and airtime to the uprisings in ‘Saudi’ Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain, going so far as to even roll with the Western line that Bahrain has a lot to do with Shia-Sunni issues and Iran. Arguably, as long as AJE has this editorial policy, it will be an obstacle to the development of a growing anti-imperialist strategy of the region’s uprisings. …

      …read the rest here:


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