Should the West intervene to help the people of Libya?
On Cross Country Checkup: Libya
The revolutionary fervour sweeping the Arab world has come up against a bloodier leader in Moammar Gadhafi.
Some say the West should impose sanctions, a no-fly zone or even more.
What do you think? Should Western nations intervene to help the people of Libya?
With guest host Andrew Nichols.
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Who was not riveted by the latest drama to come out of the Middle East: protesters filling the streets of another Arab country demanding the rights many in the West take for granted? Today we want to talk about Libya. Sandwiched between Tunisia and Egypt, it is poised to become the third of those countries to topple its dictator through mass street protests.
But Libya's leader Moammar Gadhafi is proving to be a more dangerous opponent. He has threatened to fight to the death. And, there is evidence that thousands have been killed in the streets. Many are calling for international pressure ...sanctions, embargos, a no-fly zone and more ...to prevent a bloodbath.
The UN has been meeting, NATO has met. And several countries including Canada have cut off diplomatic relations and imposed sanctions. But there is little evidence that a cornered Gadhafi will be deterred by such largely symbolic acts. So what's next? Military intervention? By whom ...and what are the risks?
We'd like to hear your views on this.
The street protests sweeping the Arab world have confounded the leaders of many Western countries leaving them unsure of exactly what to do. The dangers of the West intervening in Islamic countries are clear ...but it is not clear whether helping the street protesters would actually result in democracy for those countries. On the other hand, how can democratic countries stand by while others are fighting for their own democratic aspirations? How can anyone stand by when blood is being shed?
What do you think?
Our question today: "Should Western nations intervene to help the people of Libya?"
I'm Andrew Nichols ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
- Abdalla Ruken
Former physics professor at Garyounis University in Benghazi, Libya now in touch with former colleagues who are part of the anti-Gadhafi national council.
- Irwin Cotler
Liberal MP for Mount Royal, Montreal. Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and longtime human rights advocate.
- Ramin Jahanbegloo
Associate Professor of Political Science at the Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto.
- James Bissett
Former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia and former head of the Canadian Immigration Service(1985-1990).
- Defiant Gadhafi vows to fight to death
- Libya-Canada diplomatic relations halted
- Canada readying Libyan sanctions: Harper
- MAP: Protests spread in Middle East
- Crisis in Libya: 'You must show this cruelty to the world'
- Troops kill Tripoli protesters as revolt swells
- Map: Libyan uprising closes in on Tripoli
- The urgent need for R2P, by Irwin Cotler
Globe and Mail
- UN council imposes travel bans on Libyan leaders, freezes assets
- Saudis hike oil output, prices ease
- Thousands set out on the perilous road out of Libya
- Gunfire in Tripoli as anti-Gadhafi protests scattered by Libyan leader's thugs
- UN Security Council struggles over action in Libya
- Libya revolution: Future scenarios and the West's role by Dr Omar Ashour
- Libya: Who is propping up Gaddafi?
Wall Street Journal
RT (Russian TV)
- Libya: Past and future? After alienating powerful tribes, Gaddafi's regime seems to be falling, but it is unclear who could fill vacuum, by George Joffe
The New Republic
New York Times Magazine
Crimes of War project
Yes, I think other nations should HAVE intervened: past tense. It is our willingness to mortgage our future on oil which has given most of these dictators and despots their power. Stability would be the norm in this region if we weaned ourselves off of this deadly syrup once and for all. It is the we the oil-burners who have given the power to all the little Saddams of that region and it is we who can take it back.
The West should, most defintely, stay out of the transitions occuring in the middle east. Many of the dictators and dictatorial monarchies in the middle east where created and/or supported by the west in the first place. In fact, the 911 attack was a direct result of the west's support of these corrupt regimes. Let the people in these countries decide their own fate. Too bad if the oil companies are impacted by it all. Democracy by its very nature demands that the people themselves create their own agencies of governance, not corporate interests.
Gabriola Island, British Columbia.
Why wouldn't Egypt intervene? Leave the west out of it. We've done enough.
I feel yes we should help the Lybian people when they are being slaughtered by their leaders. Why is it that the West does not intervene in this, nor did in Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, whereas when it was to the advantage of capitalist countries, they (mainly US) sent in CIA, military troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf. Could it be that Africa has no significant "Capital Advantage" ie. oil; so that "collateral damage" is not an issue. I have a more than a suspicion that capitalist greed is definitely a deciding factor in what foreign governments are willing to do.
Terence Bay, Nova Scotia.
I have a suggestion that may be taken as naive or expensive. It may be that events in the hours and days ahead will render it unneeded. But here it is. Move the Canadian Embassy in Libya to Benghazi as a show of respect to the resistance.
The idea that we need to invade a country militarily no longer holds up anymore. The recent revolutions in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere have shown us that people will push for change themselves. It is our duty to support these movements when they occur. We can't force change from the outside, but through UN sanctions, and other forms of international pressure, we can certainly help.
I am really tired of hearing about the traumas of oil prices going up. So what! It is money and it will always be based on fear and greed. The issue here is about people struggling and making a change about which they are passionate. We need to support them as they wish, just as we would hope they would assist us as we wished. So much more can happen when people support people. That is the ultimate currency.
Nelson, British Columbia.
I am impressed with and applaud the people fighting for their freedom in the Middle East. It is a no-brainer that the UN should coordinate a immediate coalition of peace-keepers to go into Lybia and remove Gaddhafi and his son and implement a no-fly zone. It is getting very late in the game. Thousands are dying and that should weigh heavily on all our hearts and minds. And where is the support of other Eastern, Arab and Moslem countries? Why is it the West that always intervenes? Finally, measures such as embargos and other sanctions will only hurt the population and should not be used.
Victoria, British Columbia.
I was disturbed by one of your callers this afternoon who suggested that the west should step in and help so that the price of oil does not stay too high for too long. I would suggest that if the west were to step in, it should be to protect the lives of innocent people who are being massacred by their own bloodthirsty dictator. The west needs to offer humanitarian support and make every effort to make sure Gaddafi is punished for his crimes.
Surely, surely, we should have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan that going in to help democracy get established, or to save lives of women and children, etc. is a quagmire which sucks precious funds that could be used to build a future for these people. If killings are the thing that needs stopping, why was it not done in Rwanda, or in Sudan?
If the United Nations Security have come to a consensus that Gaddafi has committed sufficient atrocities to be brought before international criminal court, how can it not follow that the UN take steps to prevent further atrocities from happening by implementing a no-fly zone and even curbing his forces on the ground?
Perhaps what Gadhafi needs is an exit strategy. He doesn't appear to have anywhere to go.
Countries purporting to support of freedom all have a responsibility to intervene. That intervention can come in many forms including humanitarian aid, food, water, medical services, military and legal support. Another aspect we need to consider, however, is what role the UN's small arms reduction initiatives has on citizens during political uprisings. Essentially, gun control ensures only the military and police have them. This imbalance turns to disaster during times of unrest and now we sit back and ask whether we should intervene. Countries like Canada, who support these initiatives internationally and here at home, are partly to blame for enabling corrupt leaders to attack their citizens. We have a responsibility to intervene.
Saanich, British Columbia.
Today's question is somewhat misleading because it implies that the West is a champion of democracy and people's sovereignty. This is not the case. Regarding the West's involvement, the atrocities and bloodshed taking place in Libya, as abominable as they are, are nevertheless trivial relative to the crimes, massacres and use of DU and white phosphorous weapons that the Western nations, especially US/UK and sadly Canada have committed. The track record of Western nations is one of setting up dictatorship governments to serve Western interests by exploiting the native population and imposing policies that actually creates poverty for the masses. What do you think the likes of IMF have been doing?
We should use all kinds of non-viloent help, but no military involvement. We seem to be too fast to try solving problem with thhe military and in the long run people in Libya might not thankful to us for that. The argument that the dictator is killing "his own" people applies to many countries right now. China? Iran? How come do not send our soldiers theer? VIolence is not a solution, it kills people on all sides.
Well these questions are never easy. I like to think of it this way.... If it were happening here, to me, what would I want? If these people are getting murdered in the streets simply because they're speaking out then we have an obligation as Canada and as human beings to help in these times of need.
No the west should not intervene in any way. What is happening in the arab world is the result of political and social maturation. Essentially, the people of these countries have grown up. They have been trapped on an historical "hook" for years or decades. North Korea would be the most egregious example of this. However, we should be available to offer any assistance requested of us. This is a truly heartening phenomenon!
South Mountain, Nova Scotia.
The western political leaders are in a very difficult situation. Right now they can pontificate and take a position but what happens if Ghadafi turns his fortune and regains power. How will they position themselves when they find themselves having to re establish trade for oil with his regime. what kind of tale will they tell us regarding their decisions.
Lake Cowichan, British Columbia
No. Being as oil flow will belong to Lybians when Gadhafi is gone perhaps the focus should be on removing Gadhafi. Since he is killing people, perhaps these people should also hire mercenaries, who can be paid pro bono after Gadhafi is removed.
The west should not militarily intervene in Libya. To intervene now would be hypocritical. We invited Suharto, dictator of Indonesia, to the APEC summit, as a legitimate legal representative of Indonesia, despite his killing of local dissenters and invasion of East Timor. Let the Libyans use the Tunisian and Egyptian non-violent models and recover their own sovereignty and autonomy, albeit at the risk of the west losing access to Libyian oil supplies - oil being the reason for the west turning a blind and/or propping up these brutal dictators in the first place.
In Colombia at the moment, but from Chatsworth, Ontario
We can talk all we want, He'll likely be dead by Wednesday.
Perhaps we in the west should ponder our actions of the last 30 years, as far as Libya is concerned. Major Canadian interests have been paying large sums to the dictator in order to do business.We are not alone in this. We all want that oil and it seems the west wants to be on the winning side, no matter what kind of government is in place in Libya. We would rather have a strongman in power as it is easier to deal with that form of rule. Imagine trying to deal with them if they had a government such as ours, then they might have restrictions on foreign investment and all the so called safeguards which we have here.
Before you were so rudely cut off the air, people who were inside the situtaion and therefore knew what they were talking about, said very clearly that they wanted no interference from outside, except for the friendly provision of a no fly zone, and some assistance in emergency supplies. I can imagine the intensity of the discussion going on between the planet's oil barons and financial interests, wanting invasion so that we can start gulping oil again, and the few diplomats left with any power to caution that we must give democracy a chance to be born where it has never breathed before I hope democracy wins. But that would be a massive change in orientation of oil hungry nations.
Muriel Wiens, Gabriola, British Columbia.
We would not be asking this question if we did not continually support corrupt governments who happen to have oil or with whom we want to be friends for strategic reasons. Gaddafi has always been a bad apple. When will we intervene to help the people rather than to protect our interests? We are friends with all kinds of non democratic governement who abuse their citizens and WHEN we intervene we say that we are doing it to bring them democracy. Imperialism has always been to benefit the colonizers, never to liberate the citizens.
Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Just one question: the western community is getting its collective knickers in a knot over Ghaddafi's violent suppression of his own people, and threats of sanctions and diplomatic withdrawl are coming into play. My question is: why then is Suncor doing business with this madman?Richard Weatherill,
Victoria, British Columbia.
No, by a long shot. What has happened and is happening is not the entire point, what will happen is the real question. This we know the young people are poor and jobless and they have no other means of support. The people have said they want democracy, they want their dictators gone, they want all the money returned and they want jobs, but most of all they want all western influence out of the Middle East, because they understand and know America has supported all previous rulers/dictators from arms length, so what good could come to them if another one was put in place.
This is their fight to the finish with their blood and the West must stay out now and in the future, they only have to look to Iraq. Times are about to change, oil will flow but it will flow under the guidelines of the people and modern Islamic rules and regulations. No American presence will be acceptable. These young educated people with their cell phones and blackberries know how poor America is (over 40 million people living in poverty, unemployment near 20% a debt over $14.5 Trillion, 4 in 10 living on food stamps and 50 million plus with no health care)
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
While I completely support world-wide support for the people of Libya, I am dubious of the nature of "aid" or sanctions that Western powers would actually provide. As Naomi Klein points out in The Shock Doctrine, Western powers are eager to capitalize on world crises by providing military and financial intervention to re-impose their undemocratic and oppressive rule. The Western assaults on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and their uncritical support for Israeli oppression of Palestinian people have erased any legitimacy Western powers may have had in providing "aid" to Middle Eastern people. Canada alone provided over $1.8 billion in military exports to Middle Eastern dictatorships since 1990. Canadians have a lot to learn from the courageous, principled resistance of Egyptian, Tunisian, Yemini, and Libya. It is important that Canadian people stand in solidarity with the people of the Middle East and look critically at our own government's role in perpetuating oppression there and here at home.