29.3.11

The Libya conflict – My narrative

The Libya conflict – My narrative - Mendo Henriques _ WAIS

The conflict in Libya is between, on one side, the Libyan Jamahiriya,
a legal regime in the face of international law, supported by a
tribal structure centered in Tripoli and Sirte but infringing human
rights since its inception in 1971; and, on the other hand, a complex
coalition of Libyan tribes with a majority in Cyrenaica and also in
Tripolitania and Fezzan, ruled by the Libyan National Council's
authority and an allegiance to the Libyan National Senoussi dynasty,
whose flag they use and to whose Constitution of 1951 they seem to pay
allegiance. These rebels used the right of resistance against
repression and comparative underdevelopment to start a post-Islamic
revolution in January 2011. They reaffirmed the legitimate desire to
overthrow a tyrant, as accepted by political doctrines that found a
contemporary expression in the Universal Declaration of Rights.

Starting from Benghazi, the Libyan revolution conquered villages and
populations up to the outskirts of Tripoli in February, with the
support of dissident military units, including Air Force. Yet, it
never managed to have a unified command. Given the stalemate, Colonel
Gaddafi gathered his tribal support and hired thousands of mercenaries
in black Africa (and continues to hire war veterans, members of the
Polisario http://www.aujourdhui.ma/nation- details81531.html) to
launch an offensive with heavy weapons in the direction of Benghazi.
After dominating the corridor of Ajdabia, he threatened to raze
Benghazi.

Faced with the threat of crimes against humanity, the UN Security
Council, after the favorable stand of the Arab League, voted
Resolution 1973, which allows for the creation of a no-fly zone and
approved military action, with a 10 affirmative votes and 5
abstentions.
As the conflict in Libya became a peace enforcement operation, it
opposes national and international forces on both sides. The armed
forces operation by U.S., France and England (and Italy, Greece,
Canada, etc,) gave way now, 29 March, to a NATO command and control
structure that integrates forces from Qatar and UA Emirates.
I believe it is encouraging for the world at large that U.S. forces,
the Armée de l'Air and the RAF destroyed heavy weapons of the “tyrant
of Tripoli”.

I appreciate pacifist arguments that "love is better than war" but I
do not believe in permanent human kindness. I appreciate the antitrust
and anti-corruption arguments about the oil business, but the Libyan
oil can be easily replaced by other sources for European countries,
except, perhaps, Italy. I believe that in European democracies, reason
of state is bigger than vested interests. I support President Obama's
declaration that there will be no international intervention of ground
troops.. Libyans on the ground will sort it out and I am informed such
is the goal of Odyssey Dawn ...

An operation of peace enforcement implies the use of armed force to
achieve a ceasefire. The force can also be used to achieve other
purposes such as sheltering the victims of hostilities. It is clearly
a situation of armed conflict. This means that the forces are
countered by one side and they must fight to force a cease-fire. In
the process, they lose their neutrality. These operations are beyond
the ability to UN command and control, and can only be performed by a
coalition of the willing or a polyarchy such as NATO. As the Libya
conflict regards a sovereign state, national law should be taken into
account and thus an international mandate is essential to the
operation to be legitimate.

All things considered, I believe - as prime-minister Cameron told the
Commons, applauded by Labor - that the Libyan conflict is a "just,
necessary and lawful war." This is not a humanitarian intervention, as
Bosnia 1998. It is not power projection as Afghanistan 2001: It is
not, as Iraq 2003, a war for "regime change". It is a conflict to
create conditions for regime change by the people, because human
rights are equal for all. It is both a civil war and an international
conflict. Pretty much like Spain 1936-39.

This brings me to Carl Schmitt’s political categories. I think they
are not that relevant for international conflict. The “theorist of the
Third Reich” was a much more intelligent but less cunning Fascist than
Hitler's Nazi fellows, and he was out of his depth when he tried to
adapt Donoso Cortes’s traditionalist political categories to a 20th
century situation. Indeed, last year, at the kind invitation of the
Portuguese editor, I presented an Alain de Benoist’ book in Lisbon,
called " Carl Schmitt Actuel, Guerre juste, terrorisme, État
d’Urgence”, Nomos de la Terre”. I restricted myself to an academic
presentation of its contents, expressing my disagreement in a polite
way. I said that M. de Benoist was pretty much doing something like
“enfoncer des portes ouvertes”. Anyone who knows the Roman Law
distinction between inimicitia and bellum justum ( the traditional
example is Octavius’ conduct of war against Cleopatra as bellum justum
and against Mark Antony as inimicitia) may see that the Libya conflict
is a belllum justum against the “tyrant of Tripoli” from the point of
view of the NATO coalition on account of Resolution 1973; and it is
inimicitia from the perspective of the post-Islamic rebels.

An intellectual debate about the Libya conflict is a very good thing
because it keeps our minds busy. Yet, when it comes to see people die
on account of war initiated by a tyrant, I do not consider myself an
intellectual but a citizen of the world who says “Rwanda, never
again!” , “East-Timor, never again” "Bosnia never again”. I feel I am
well accompanied by the Arab League, the majority of Western public
opinion, and the magnificent North African youth who launched the Post
Islamic and almost bloodless revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. The
West and the Arab countries have given a hand to prevent Post Islamic
revolution to sink in the Libyan wilderness. I think it a sign of hope
that the moral conscience of humanity proves itself superior to the
vested interests that celebrated agreements with the "pirate of
Tripoli" .. eh… ..all right.. with that grotesque and comic strip
personage who, for the next few days, weeks, or months, will be the
"Tyrant of Tripoli".

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