After a trip to Benghazi, Senator John McCain is calling for increased assistance for the Libyan rebels. Much of the new weaponry for the rebels will merely counter the West’s own efforts in building up Qaddafi’s forces. The West’s humanitarian intervention in Libya is already resorting to a familiar gameplan: send more weapons.
In a recent piece for the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover asked: “How can we be so blindly stupid as to sell arms to despots then bleat about democracy?” Showcasing primarily Britain’s complicity in selling weapons to the likes of Qadaffi and Zimbabawe’s “democratically elected” despot, Robert Mugabe, his question is perfectly valid.
The Sunday Times reported in 2009 that “Tony Blair helped to secure defence contracts worth £350m and the promise of more as part of the deal with Libya that allowed the Lockerbie bomber to return home.” – Adding that Blair had no authority to release someone who had been convicted (Lockerbie bomber, Megrahi).
The sad fact is that amongst internationally competing rivals, the “real world’s” historic reliance upon “spheres of influence,” “special relationships,” and “balance of power” (preferably a dominating balance) continues. So deals with the devil continue.
At the end of the day, noble doctrines like “Responsibility to Protect” – employed by the UN in the West’s Libya intervention – are really exercises in noble rhetoric. The UN Security Council may continue passing “R2P” resolutions for cases like Libya. But needlessly so.
Under Article 8 of the UN Convention on Genocide, “Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide…”
Which means that intervention could have occurred in Rwanda…or Cambodia against the Khmer Rouge back in the 1970s – as indeed, the Vietnamese did in 1979. The fact is, however, that no great power wanted to get caught in a Hutu-Tutsi quagmire deep in Africa — “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing” as Chamberlain said after Munich. Or in Bosnia. So everyone kept looking away, deliberately avoiding use of the “genocide” word, And so on up to Darfur.
The adoption of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine by the UN in 2005 was a chest thumping opportunity to make up for failures to protect against genocide – authorized by the UN Genocide Convention in December, 1948. That’s progress?
In any event, the likes of Qadaffi and Mugabe will at some point be history. They are also pipsqueaks in power. But what if China decides upon genocide for its’ Islamic Uighur people in Xinjiang. Chances are any intervening power(s) will themselves prove to be pipsqueaks.
Will there be more R2P interventions as in Libya and the Cote d’Ivoire? Don’t count on it. In 2000, Kofi Annan famously said “The days of a coup…of manipulating elections are over.” when Laurent Gbagbo – recently R2P’d out of office – himself overthrew General Guei.
Approximately 275 military coups occurred between 1946 and 1970 in 59 countries. Since “The Millenium,” there have been coups in Ecuador and Fiji (2000), Guinea (2008), and Honduras (2009); attempted coups in Venezuela (2002), Equatorial Guinea (2004), Chad (2004/06), Madagascar (2006), and political instability in Bangladesh and the Philippines.
The days of the coup, it seems, are not quite over. Libya’s rebels will get the weapons they need, as will others…