Saturday, March 19, 2011

The PM, the conman, the blonde hooker and the Colonel

While I've been a bit distracted this week with personal matters , I have been paying some attention to the non-Japan related news. Really, there seems to be no depth to which Stephen Harper will not sink. With the revelation that one of his former close advisors did time for fraud and is currently involved in a dubious lobbying effort to enrich his 20-something escort fiance, and the looming likelihood that his government will be found in contempt of Parliament, Stephen Harper is feeling a bit cornered. It is  doubtful that he will win his precious majority if an election is called this spring and so he has tried telling voters that the disaster in Japan was sufficient reason to delay a vote.
When we didn't buy that, he stepped up his campaign of parliamentary obstructionism (dropping over 1,000 pages of documents 15 minutes before the committee session ended, for example) to try to avoid having his government and ministers found in contempt of Parliament. Tune in next week when he tells us that us that the government being found in contempt of Parliament is an example of how Michael Ignatieff hates democracy and is just some Johnny-come-lately who is playing games with the economy and is the son of Russian aristocrats not a "real immigrant"and besides LIBYA! FREEDOM! Democracy! Whisky! Sexy! We are at War! Don't switch horses in midstream! 
And if that doesn't work, expect him to try proroguing the house again, just to "save it from itself" and delay the budget so that he can "focus on the economy and the war."

Now, having said all that, let me clarify a few things: While Stephen Harper is a lying, power-grabbing, egomaniac and he may or may not be doing it for the wrong reasons, I think he is doing the right thing on Libya.
Yes, mark the day on the calendar -- I agree with Stephen Harper on something.
I think the moral choice with regards to Libya is at this stage is intervention by the international community. Libya is not Iraq, it is not Vietnam, it is not Bahrain. The closest comparison I can think of is Spain in the 1930s. There is a brutal, corrupt, autocratic ruler. There is a viable democratic opposition engaged in a popular revolution that has shown it has the hearts and minds of the population behind it. The regime in this case is being propped up by superior military firepower. The loyalists in the Libyan armed forces are mostly mercenaries and those who have profited from their affiliation with the regime. There have been numerous defections from the military by those troops and commanders who have refused to attack their own people.
As it would have been in Spain, the moral thing to do here is to side with the people against an autocrat that would crush them and murder those who dare to dissent.
The right thing to do is to freeze all of the Colonel's assets abroad, deny him jet fuel, artillery shells and other munitions.
The right thing to do is level the playing field by arming the people in Benghazi and Tobruk and elsewhere to allow them to defend themselves.
The right thing to do is to prevent the Colonel from bombing his own people or turning his tanks and artillery on the people who seek to be free from his corrupt and brutal regime.
It isn't a matter of sending troops into a quagmire, it isn't a matter of sticking our nose in where it isn't wanted.
It is a matter of dropping a few bombs and firing a few missiles to avoid a genocide and another generation of oppressive, autocratic rule in Libya, by a man who has supported terrorism in numerous forms (the Lockerbie bombing, arming the IRA, etc etc)
Just because Stephen Harper supports it doesn't make it a bad idea.

10 comments:

Trabb's Boy said...

"Just because Stephen Harper supports it" is a very good reason to really think about why you agree. Qaddafi is a creep and a dictator, but what else is new? He's not engaged in genocide; he's putting down a rebellion. The international community should not be getting involved in internal conflicts absent some clear moral horror. Otherwise, we're just saying that the security council countries get to do whatever the hell is to their advantage. In this case, there's oil involved, which the French in particular want. And the U.S. is already looking for the next bone to throw the military/industrial monster, along with an excellent reason to wrap its candidates around the flag during an election year. What's better than a villain who's already a household name? Saves time in the generation of Hitler comparisons. Stevie's just jumping on the same old bandwagon.

Beijing York said...

Why Libya and not Bahrain? I think it's a pretext to secure oil resources now that the West feels like Qaddafi is not cooperating.

Also, it is not at all like Spain in the 1930s. The Republic (legitimate democratic government) collapsed under the threat of a military coup led by General Franco. He had right wing support but some major centres like Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and Bilbao fought back and it descended into a civil war. And even at that, it was never a geographically (east/west or north/south) divided conflict but one clearly defined by political leanings.

double nickel said...

There is no ethical way to support Gaddafi and his attacks on his fellow Libyans who wish to be free of his yoke of oppression. This intervention is pretty clearly necessary. He is clearly insane and needs to go, one way or the other.

double nickel said...

Furthermore, perhaps Bahrain should be next. Never mind Yemen. The days of tin pot dictators, who feel no compunction about killing their citizens, need to end.

Alison said...

I also hate to say that I agree with Harpie. I am generally against using any kind of force, but in this instance I can see the rationale. With all the upheavals going on in the region, I think it is necessary to do what we can to stop one nasty dictator from brutally putting down a rebellion to save his own skin. It sends a message to the other autocrats in the neighborhood that they will be subjected to the same treatment if they start murdering their own citizens.

Having said that, there is certainly a good deal of truth in what Trabb's Boy wrote.

double nickel said...

Harper can't take too much credit for this move. A trained monkey could make the same decision given the same facts.

kirbycairo said...

Indeed, the comparison to Spain is as incorrect and misleading as it is offensive. As Beijing York pointed out, the Spanish government was the legitimately elected one etc. But more importantly, regardless of where one might come down on the question of the Spanish Republicans against the forces of fascism, the question of Qadaffi is entirely different. For many years the west has played a cat and mouse game with the Libyan dictatorship, often supporting him as long as he was cooperative concerning oil exports. Meanwhile the CIA has continually supported anti Qadaffi forces in hope that if he were to fall, they could guarantee a pro-Western government would take his place. But these anti-Qadaffi forces are not much better than Qadaffi himself and they don't represent anything particularly progressive or democratic. This is not to justify Qadaffi's brutality etc. But it is nieve to imagine that those who would take his place would be particularly democratic or interested in human rights. The West, particularly France has seen an opportunity to foster a more pro-Western government and they are taking it, it is as simple as that. They would never interfered in Egypt for the simple reason that they didn't really want the anti-Mubarak forces to win. There is a deep-seated left-leaning, pro-Palestinian opposition in Egypt.

When are people going to learn that the only time Western Powers are interested in democracy is when its results serves their interests?

Edstock said...

Kirby:
"But these anti-Qadaffi forces are not much better than Qadaffi himself and they don't represent anything particularly progressive or democratic."

You know this how? That's your opinion. Considering "these anti-Qadaffi forces" mean just about everybody that's not taking his shilling, there's probably lots of really enlightened people as well as some jerks.

"When are people going to learn that the only time Western Powers are interested in democracy is when its results serves their interests?"

Take a pill. Same as it ever was. In this case, humanity benefits.

Rev.Paperboy said...

"Meanwhile the CIA has continually supported anti Qadaffi forces in hope that if he were to fall, they could guarantee a pro-Western government would take his place."

This is kinda what the CIA is for.

As to the Spain comparison, no, the situations are not identical, but this is very much a civil war with the sides divided along ideological lines, the ideologies being pro-and anti-dictator.

Why Libya and not Bahrain?
Call me when the people of Bahrain start an armed uprising and the government starts suppressing it with airstrikes. Right now, intervention in Bahrain would be like the UN security council declaring a no-fly zone over the United States after Kent State.

Agreed, the international community should not get involved in internal affairs absent some clear moral horror. We've already seen the clear moral horror. Khaddafi executed over 1,000 political prisoners after a prison uprising no so long ago, what makes anyone think that given a free hand he wouldn't make the streets of Benghazi run red as an example to anyone else who dared to challenge his rule?
And on what basis can anyone say the people opposing Khaddafi are no better than he is? All the reports I've seen out of Tobruk and Benghazi have indicated that the rebels are liberal democratic types who have been governing along fairly enligtened lines, without any bloody reprisals against former agents of the regime or imposition of Sharia law or anything of the sort.
Of course the major western powers and oil companies will try to turn the situation to their economic advantage, but better to have them do that with the complicity of a liberal democratic government that might spend the oil revenues for the good of the nation rather than some merciless dictator who is lining his own pockets with the money the oil brings in.
Assisting the Libyan rebels will not usher in a utopia. No one sane thinks it will. But not stepping in will mean leaving a whole lot of people to die in order to maintain an unsatisfactory status quo.

harebell said...

Should we deplore Gadaffi's actions? Yes.
But where the hell are the rich oil producing nations in the area? The richest is propping up another pos dictator in Bahrain.
The Arab League should be sending in their troops and planes and spending their money. But instead we do the dieing and spending initially with Arab say so, but that will change.
Before long the scumbags that form the Arab League will welcome him back and then it'll be cries of "jihad" against the crusaders.
I'm getting fed up of us fighting wars for guys who are only a shade away from being Ghaddafi and calling it decent, honest and the right thing to do.
The west has a justifiable grudge against Ghaddafi and it has been used to get us to do the League's bidding.