Monday, 22 August 2011

A Victory for Liberal Interventionism?

This Post is Brought to You by Talal Rajab, of The Urbanite

Having been kept up by the scenes in Tripoli last night I could not help but smile for the people of Libya.  In what was described as a surprise for the international community and the rebels themselves, it seems that the torturous reign of Colonel Gaddafi is finally at an end. His sons have been arrested and most of his army have all but given up, although there have been reports today of sporadic fighting on the border between Libya and Tunisia and in some neighbourhoods near Tripoli.

Although it will be very difficult to predict the future for Libya, as a team of rebels with no experience of running a country will inevitably run into many complications, what this does signal is a victory for those of us in Britain (both on the left and right) who called for and supported liberal intervention when Gaddafi began to brutally crack down on protests earlier this year.  This was not like Iraq and Afghanistan, we argued.  The Libyan people badly needed us and if we stood by and let Gaddafi massacre his people we would have missed an important historical moment.

Despite the hiccups, and there were many down the line, we were right.  The scenes yesterday would never have happened had NATO not supplied the weaponry and protection to the initial rebels fighting in Benghazi.  For his leadership on the matter, David Cameron should take quite some credit for leading the campaign against Gaddafi at a time when people like President Obama, for example, were highly skeptical of intervention in the country.

But what does this mean for the theory of liberal interventionism as whole?  Now do not get me wrong, I was against the war in Iraq and am not a solid believer in the theory itself.  But what I think events in Libya do show is that, on a case by case basis, liberal interventionism to free people from massacre is correct and can succeed - at times.  Deciding what is the correct time is, however, another matter altogether.  But I was quite concerned that many of us on the left quickly dismissed intervening in Libya simply on the basis that western nations should never intervene in the business of other countries, specifically Muslim ones.

Now let us pray and hope that the Libyan rebels can provide the justice, security, democracy and freedom that the people of Libya have craved for over 40 years and fought so hard for for the past few months.

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