Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reactionary

This afternoon at the university, a student group organized a discussion called "Imperialists, hands off Libya!" The accompanying graphic on the poster depicted a cartoon image of the American President sniffing oil fumes.

The news reports today speak of the approach of the rebel forces toward Gaddafi's hometown. They plan to move toward Tripoli. An interior government minister in the capital has denounced the western alliance's military intervention as a violation of the Security Council resolution. He says that the interventionist coalition forces are clearly taking a side in the civil conflict, contravening the no-fly zone imposition. Yesterday, a report announced Italy's decision to approach Germany on the evolution of an exit strategy for Gaddafi's govenment, the provision of exile in their respective territories, the incorporation of the Arab and African Unions respectively in the emergence of a post-conflict dialogue.

A US general and a Canadian general, the operations commander of the coalition, still speak of the overwhelming relative military strength of the government's forces. The rebel forces are seen in paper clippings, brandishing arms propped on vehicles and victory signs, moving cohesively across and beyond eastern oil towns.

The US Secretary of State spoke candidly at a press conference yesterday about the lack of clarity on the issue of the duration of the intervention. She did, however, clarify that the US is acutely aware of how "expensive" a prolonged military presence can be.

What is a military intervention? The rhetoric in India has been consistently and conveniently noncommittal. When the UN resolution was announced, the ministry of external affairs declared India's abstinence from the vote. It said that India did not deem it legitimate to meddle in the internal conflicts of a sovereign country. A few days prior to the notification of this noble sentiment, a newspaper spoke of the interaction between Gaddafi and an Indian envoy in Tripoli, and the prospect of cooperation in Libya's oil fields after the quashing of the conflict. This meeting took place at a time when Gaddafi's forces had obliterated key rebel strongholds and the possibility of Gaddafi's returning vengeance seemed very real.

The rhetoric of non-intervention, of "sovereignty", betrays a lack of understanding of the nature of the putative "internal conflict". The rebellion referred to so glibly in the latter category was initially a civilian protest that coalesced into an armed revolt, pitted against the military vanguard of a nearly four-decade-old dictator, who, in the event of having undermined his own army, used strategically-instituted armed forces and militias to extirpate citizens.

What kind of internal conflict is it, when the power of the oppressor so overwhelming and unhesitatingly obliterates the protest of the oppressed?

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