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PORTSIDE  September 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE September 2011, Week 1

Subject:

To the Shores of Tripoli

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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Date:

Fri, 2 Sep 2011 22:18:16 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (226 lines)

To the Shores of Tripoli

Uri Avnery
27/08/11
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1314366465/

THOUGH THE Bible tells us "Rejoice not when thine enemy
falleth" (Proverbs 24:17), I could not help myself. I
was happy.

Muammar al-Gaddafi was the enemy of every decent person
in the world. He was one of the worst tyrants in recent
memory.

This fact was hidden behind a fa├žade of clownishness. He
liked to present himself as a philosopher (the "Green
Book"), a visionary statesman (Israelis and Palestinians
must unite in the "State of Isratine"), even as an
immature teenager (his innumerable uniforms and
costumes). But basically he was a ruthless dictator,
surrounded by corrupt relatives and cronies, squandering
the great wealth of Libya.

This was obvious to anyone who wanted to see.
Unfortunately, there were quite a few who chose to close
their eyes.


WHEN I expressed my support for the international
intervention, I was expecting to be attacked by some
well-meaning people. I was not disappointed.

How could I? How could I support the American
imperialists and the abominable NATO? Didn't I realize
that it was all about the oil?

I was not surprised. I have been through this before.
When NATO started to bomb Serbian territory in order to
put an end to Slobodan Milosevic's crimes in Kosovo,
many of my political friends turned against me.

Didn't I realize that it was all an imperialist plot?
That the devious Americans wanted to tear Yugoslavia (or
Serbia) apart? That NATO was an evil organization? That
Milosevic, though he may have some faults, was
representing progressive humanity?

This was said when the evidence of the gruesome mass-
murder in Bosnia was there for everyone to see, when
Milosevic was already exposed as the cold-blooded
monster he was. Ariel Sharon admired him.

So how could decent, well-meaning leftists, people of an
unblemished humanist record, embrace such a person? My
only explanation was that their hatred of the USA and of
NATO was so strong, so fervent, that anyone attacked by
them must surely be a benefactor of humanity, and all
accusations against them pure fabrications. The same
happened with Pol Pot.

Now it has happened again. I was bombarded with messages
from well-meaning people who lauded Gaddafi for all his
good deeds. One might get the impression that he was a
second Nelson Mandela, if not a second Mahatma Gandhi.

While the rebels were already fighting their way into
his huge personal compound, the socialist leader of
Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was praising him as a true model
of upright humanity, a man who dared to stand up to the
American aggressors.

Well, sorry, count me out. I have this irrational
abhorrence of bloody dictators, of genocidal mass-
murderers, of leaders who wage war on their own people.
And at my advanced age, it is difficult for me to
change.

I am ready to support even the devil, if that is
necessary to put an end to this kind of atrocities. I
won't even ask about his precise motives. Whatever one
may think about the USA and/or NATO - if they disarm a
Milosevic or a Gaddafi, they have my blessing.


HOW LARGE a role did NATO play in the defeat of the
Libyan dictator?

The rebels would not have reached Tripoli, and certainly
not by now, if they had not enjoyed NATO's sustained air
support. Libya is one big desert. The offensive had to
rely on one long road. Without mastery of the skies, the
rebels would have been massacred. Anyone who was alive
during World War II and followed the campaigns of Rommel
and Montgomery knows this.

I assume that the rebels also received arms and advice
to facilitate their advance.

But I object to the patronizing assertion that it was
all a NATO victory. It is the old colonialist attitude
in a new guise. Of course, these poor, primitive Arabs
could not do anything without the White Man shouldering
his burden and rushing to the rescue.

But wars are not won by weapons, they are won by people.
"Boots on the ground", as the Americans call it. Even
with all the help they got, the Libyan rebels,
disorganized and poorly armed as they were, have won a
remarkable victory. This would not have happened without
real revolutionary fervor, without bravery and
determination. It is a Libyan victory, not a British or
a French one.

This has been underplayed by the international media. I
have not seen any genuine combat coverage (and I know
what that looks like). Journalists did not acquit
themselves with glory. They displayed exemplary
cowardice, staying at a safe distance from the front,
even during the fall of Tripoli. On TV they looked
ridiculous with their conspicuous helmets when they were
surrounded by bareheaded fighters.

What came over was endless jubilations over victories
that had seemingly fallen from heaven. But these were
feats achieved by people - yes, by Arab people.

This is especially galling to our Israeli "military
correspondents" and "Arab affairs experts". Used to
despising or hating "the Arabs", they are ascribing the
victory to NATO. It seems that the people of Libya
played a minor role, if any.

Now they blabber endlessly about the "tribes", which
will make democracy and orderly governance in Libya
impossible. Libya is not really a country, it was never
a unified state before becoming an Italian colony, there
is no such thing as a Libyan people. (Remember the
French saying this about Algeria, and Golda Meir about
Palestine?)

Well, for a people that does not exist, the Libyans
fought very well. And as for the "tribes" - why do
tribes exist only in Africa and Asia, never among
Europeans? Why not a Welsh tribe or a Bavarian tribe?

(When I visited Jordan in 1986, well before the peace
treaty, I was entertained by a very civilized, high-
ranking Jordanian official. After an interesting
conversation over dinner, he surprised me by mentioning
that he belongs to a certain tribe. Next day, while I
was riding on a horse to Petra, the rider next to me
asked in a low voice whether I belonged "to the tribe".
It took me some time to understand that he was asking me
if I was a Jew. It seems that American Jews refer to
themselves in this way.)

The "tribes" of Libya would be called in Europe "ethnic
groups" and in Israel "communities". The term "tribe"
has a patronizing connotation. Let's drop it.


ALL THOSE who decry NATO's intervention must answer a
simple question: who else would have done the job?

21st century humanity cannot tolerate acts of genocide
and mass-murder, wherever they occur. It cannot look on
while dictators butcher their own peoples. The doctrine
of "non-interference in the internal affairs of
sovereign states" belongs to the past. We Jews, who have
accused mankind of standing idly by while millions of
Jews, including German citizens, were exterminated by
the legitimate German government, certainly owe the
world an answer.

I have mentioned in the past that I advocate some form
of effective world governance and expect it to be in
place by the end of this century. This would include a
democratically elected world executive that would have
military forces at its disposal and that could
intervene, if a world parliament so decides.

For this to happen, the United Nations must be revamped
entirely. The veto power must be abolished. It is
intolerable that the US can veto the acceptance of
Palestine as a member state, or that Russia and China
can veto intervention in Syria.

Certainly, great powers like the US and China should
have a louder voice than, say, Luxemburg and the Fiji
Islands, but a two thirds majority in the General
Assembly should have the power to override Washington,
Moscow or Beijing.

That may be the music of the future, or, some may say, a
pipe dream. As for now, we live in a very imperfect
world and must make do with the instruments we have.
NATO, alas, is one of them. The European Union is
another, though in this case poor, eternally conscience-
stricken Germany, has paralyzed it. If Russia or China
were to join, that would be fine.

This is not some remote problem. Gaddafi is finished,
but Bashar al-Assad is not. He is butchering his people
even while you read this, and the world is looking on
helplessly.

Any volunteers for intervention?

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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