Today in the Middle East Monitor, Yvonne Ridley describes how visiting Libya for a few days made her completely change her standpoint on the international intervention.
A few short weeks ago I stood on a public platform in London and slammed proposals for Western military intervention in Libya. In my mind, the hasty scramble to get involved by the Americans, French and British lacked strategy and a clear goal; it appeared to be yet another oil-fuelled, reckless act by gung-ho leaders. The possibility looked very real that they would end up being sucked into a long military campaign as futile as the Bush-Blair adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, for which we are still paying in wasted lives.
“Here we go again,” I thought. “Another imperialist adventure so that we in the West could get our grubby paws on someone else’s oil.”
I warned those few Libyans present at my talk that they would live to regret this pact with the West; I likened it to selling one’s soul to the Devil. Moreover, being very conscious of the fact that I’m not a Libyan, and desperate not to be seen as another opinionated Westerner sticking my nose into matters I don’t understand, I sought the views of many Libyan friends and contacts.
Their reaction was mixed, but more often than not I was told that without outside help the Libyan people would be slaughtered by Gaddafi. After all, he actually described his opponents as cockroaches which needed to be crushed.
To justify my stand I reasoned that all revolutions are bloody and that the heroic people of Tunisia and Egypt had paid the blood price in their hundreds to win freedom. I even recalled what Malcolm X had told people: if they are not prepared to die for it, they should remove the word freedom from their vocabulary.
Of course making grand statements from platforms in central London is one thing but going to see for myself what was happening in Libya was something else. My few days there proved to be extremely humbling and illuminating; a strong reality check, indeed.
So let me be absolutely clear: I was wrong to oppose military intervention. No ifs, buts or maybes; I was wrong, wrong, wrong. The people of Libya would have been crushed brutally and without mercy, if the West had not responded to their cries for help.
Perhaps the greatest shame is that Arab leaders stood by emotionless as the Libyans begged for help to bring an end to Gaddafi’s dictatorship. Some of those Arab leaders showed no such hesitation in answering cries for help from the oppressive royal regime in Bahrain; obviously the Saudis and rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council cabal felt uncomfortable about helping to bring down an evil, brutal, dictator who abused and oppressed his people as a matter of routine, while being very happy to prop-up a similar regime in the Gulf.
Libya could have provided an opportunity for the rising regional power of Turkey to take a lead; it was a massive disappointment to the Libyan people that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to intervene.
In the end, therefore, the West stepped in to the extent that although the blood of innocents is still flowing in the streets, at least it is not a torrent. This may be a war led by no one in particular, with no specific aim, but the enforcement of a no fly zone over Libya has prevented a general massacre of the population.
Read the full article here.