Monday, March 21, 2011

Mabinogogiblog: What can we do to bring the Libyan conflict to a speedy end?

Mabinogogiblog: What can we do to bring the Libyan conflict to a speedy end?


  1. Please clarify: are you supporting the position of ``Mabinogogiblog"? If so, why? His/ her email begins by supporting the intervention in Libya. Indeed it begins by (rather incoherently) praising the UK prime minister for taking the lead on this. Do you seriously hold this position? Do you truly believe that this government is involving itself in Libya because of an overwhelming compassion for the people of Libya? I find such a notion entirely implausible.

    I would hope that you take some time to rethink your position on this. Surely as a Green you are in general opposed to military conflict? Why then is this situation so exceptional?

  2. You ask me to rethink my position but dont seem clear on what my position is! I'm continuously thinking over what my position on a range of issues is unlike many on the far left, along with some Greens, who seem to deal with this issue - and others - through blinkered ideology rather than reason. I make no apology for thinking freely - this is a personal blog not a Green Party blog.

    I've been debating openly in favour of a no-fly zone eg on Facebook for a while now (see the samples of what I've said ** below) and have posted a few messages on Dr Richard Lawson's blog supporting his posts on Libya and expressing disagreement with Caroline Lucas, the Greens leader, who opposed a no-fly zone on Question Time. Both Richard and I are Greens and yes we generally are opposed to military conflict - but we dont rule it out in every instance as in the case of Libya.

    I favour the current military action as I'm not opposed to trying to protect the civilian population who are fighting for freedom and democracy from mass slaughter by a dictator. His regime should not have been armed and trained - we should make up for these mistakes by acting together as an international community on Libya (and send a message to undemocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Iran and elsewhere that they must change or go under).
    **Should our inability to be perfect stop us from doing what we can when we can and gradually improving the ethical standard of international/foreign policy?
    **If its about driving Gaddafi out then why didn't 'the west' do it last year, or the year before or at any point in the last 40 yrs? Surely what's changed is what Libyas people are doing? Is it all about the West - or are there others involved in or endorsing this given that there was wide ranging debate at the UN and Arab League and no-one on the Security Council voted against the motion for action ?
    **Could the level of international agreement that's happened over Libya be reached over these places [Gaza, Sri Lanka]? No doubt we could both list others - and each one has its own features and difficulties. Unfortuneately international agreement is hard to get - so we are back to my earlier point about doing as much as we can whenerver we can and continually working to make international/foreign policy consistently ethical.

  3. "I favour the current military action as I'm not opposed to trying to protect the civilian population who are fighting for freedom and democracy from mass slaughter by a dictator."

    So, where next then, on that basis?

    And if nowhere, then why Libya?

  4. My previous response answers both of these questions Anonymous (or is that Nickleberry?) so are you really engaging with what I'm saying?

    Where next? Who knows - we simply have to work to establish international agreement on many of the worlds problems.

    I guess it may be nowhere next, so why Libya? Well, there is considerable and urgent need matched by considerable international agreement on action.

    Green thinking is about interdependence, interrelatedness, global justice, freedom, democracy, human if we are to enact such thinking it cant always be no and never to military action. I'm disappointed that Caroline Lucas has spoken and voted against the action on Libya though I'm not clear what the policy of the party overall now is. Resorting to military action is highly problematic but then that's life and we have to address and deal with what's in front of us dont we??

  5. Hi Glenn,

    (a) "Anonymous" isn't me. Just clarifying.

    (b) I understand the response you've given. I continue to disagree. Let me bring up one issue - you write "Resorting to military action is highly problematic but then that's life". No, actually, it isn't. It's one of the modus operandi of the ruling elite in this country. It most certainly is not how most people in most countries engage with existence on this planet. This country is one of the most militarily adventurous in the world; we leap into military conflict with reckless abandon, and we have a history of making an awful hash of it. It's worth bearing in mind that the media discourse that prevails in this country is very much geared towards solving problems through military means; no doubt the media presents such a course of action as reasonable, but this perception is very cultural. (And, in my opinion, very flawed.)

    Now to the specifics of this situation. There is already spectacular disagreement between major players as to what exactly this military action is all about. The main military leader has stated that the UN mandate "absolutely" rules out targetting Gadaffi; the politicians (of course) beg to differ. The president of the Arab League expressed dismay at the level of bombing, and yet our politicians view this as a matter of course. We have no clear measure of how things will end, what we are allowed to do, and what the consequences are.

    Even a rudimentary knowledge of this country's military history should leave one dismayed at the amount of carnage we have inflicted in all corners of the earth. We should be a hell of a lot more reluctant to press FIRE, and I'm bloody disappointed that even Greens are joining the marching band.

  6. Thanks for the clarification Nickleberry and for stating that you understand my response to this issue. You misunderstand me on 'that's life' - what I meant was that dealing with life is problematic! Of course military action is a part of life though of course I wish it wasn't and never needed to be.

    I agree with many of the observations you make -they illustrate why this and similar situations are highly problematic - but so is taking no military action. I understand the opposition to military action and respect any reasoned and nuanced, conditional explanation - you have to admit that some on the left and some Greens trot out the same old arguments as if they are putting on a record!


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.