Monday, March 12, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012

At What Point Do We Say Enough?

I increasingly find myself entering into alliance with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman, in order to advance my foreign policy interests in the United States Senate. It is an uncomfortable place to be, but it is one which is necessary, since they have often been correct on the major questions of our time since September 11, 2001.

I say this particularly with regard to Sen. McCain. Not only has he aligned himself with Barack Obama in order to oppose the use of torture (or what Dick Cheney so menacingly called “enhanced interrogation”), but he was one of the leading voices in favour of the exercise of force in order to liberate the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and prevent a genocide in Benghazi, Libya.

Now, McCain finds himself at the tip of the spear (to use a Bachmann-ism), campaigning for U.S.-led airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces, who are at this present time engaged in a civil war where, for the army, civilian and rebel as indistinguishable. On the Senate floor, McCain pleaded:

The time has come for a new policy. The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centres in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces. To be clear: This will require the United States to suppress enemy air defences in at least part of the country. If we stand on the sidelines, others will try to pick winners, and this will not always be to our liking or in our interest.

McCain is exactly right, but efforts to assist rebel forces in Syria, or least stop the bloody progress of the Assad regime, have been halted and blocked in the United Nations. Therein rests the problem. For, the Obama Doctrine (as I understand it) has a clear tenet which demands that, in order to exert force in accordance with the global “responsibility to protect”, international coalitions must be constructed through multilateral bodies such as the United Nations and NATO. And, they must be legal under international law – this demands, more often than not, a UN Security Council resolution of some kind.

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A smashed bus shelter in Brixton, south London. For more of The Guardian's images from today's riots across London, click here.
 (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A smashed bus shelter in Brixton, south London. For more of The Guardian's images from today's riots across London, click here.

 (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Friday, June 24, 2011 Friday, April 1, 2011 Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Fall of Tripoli

The international community have been valiant in their efforts as far to rescue their respective citizenries from Libya, the hostile desertscape whose sand-strewn dunes will soon be dyed a deepest crimson with the blood of martyrs. Just in the most recent hours, more than 150 oil workers were ‘dramatically rescued’ as “two RAF Hercules aircraft – backed by the SAS – pulled off a high-risk evacuation of British and other citizens.” This follows the chartering of ferries, aircraft and military vessels by European governments to rescue the marooned around the clock.

But what of those left behind? the brave and embattled Libyans. Previously, I have called on either the United Nations or, if they prove to be as sloth-like and impotent as ever, an arranged coalition such as NATO to “seriously consider the possibility of using pre-emptive hard power against the Libyan administration – up to and including the use of targeted air strikes – in order to hasten Gaffadi’s demise,” and prevent a ‘Tiananmen in Tripoli’.

In piecemeal, leading lights in global politics are taking steps to suffocate the regime. The United States has frozen “all Libyan assets in the US that belong to Gaddafi, his government and four of his children,” in addition to a suspension of defence trade and a call for his resignation. Further, Britain and France have circulated a draft resolution at the United Nations that would “impose an arms embargo on Libya and refer reported violence to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”

Yet, as Zvi Bar’el has noted, “freezing Gaddafi’s accounts, enforcing a weapons embargo and not granting visas to his officials will not deter him from continuing his war against his civilians.” Gaffadi is in preparation for his war to end all wars, and sanctions which seek to undermine his legitimacy will not stop this from happening.

Already, several witnesses in Tripoli said forces loyal to Gaddafi had shot people from ambulances and used antiaircraft guns against crowds. Witnesses to the violence also said the government had removed dead bodies from hospitals to try to obscure the death toll.

As far, the United Nations route to a definitive solution is proving futile, as slugs and slimeballs like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continue to oppose even sanctions. Moreover, if we continue to mount gallant military operations in order to rescue own our people, whilst the Libyans are left to defend themselves from Gaffadi’s ruthless mercenaries, we risk creating another ‘fall of Saigon moment,’ complete with similar scenes of abandonment and betrayal.

I can only restate my original proposal, and stress it firmly once again. Gaffadi must be removed, he must be removed with haste, and if necessary he must be removed with force.

(Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

"Tiananmen in Tripoli," February 22, 2011, 9:56PM

Sunday, January 30, 2011
The other side of the revolution: Ambulance drivers remove a casualty, who was shot in the arm and leg by police, from an aid station near the interior ministry in Cairo.
(Photograph: Peter Beaumont/The Guardian)

The other side of the revolution: Ambulance drivers remove a casualty, who was shot in the arm and leg by police, from an aid station near the interior ministry in Cairo.

(Photograph: Peter Beaumont/The Guardian)