Misplaced criticism of Obama’s Libya policy
Marco Calamai 24 March 2011

This article was originally published by Articolo21.Info

Is it politically correct to wage war against Gaddafi? On this occasion, I personally agree with the thesis presented by Bernard-Henry Levy who said, “We cannot accept the same mistake made by the international community against Saddam Hussein, 20 years ago, when his capacity to harm was left intact after the Gulf War.” Therefore, I do not share the pacifist thesis (which perhaps is not shared by all pacifists) summarized in the slogan, “neither war nor tyranny.” This expression unfortunately does not go anywhere. It is evident indeed that Gaddafi is not willing, at least for the moment, to accept the “democratic initiative” proposed by the peace movement. The real issue has been clearly expressed by ANPI, the National Association of Italian Partisans. This organization, not forgetting that the Allies intervention in Italy was decisive in beating the Nazis and guaranteed the success of the anti-fascist partisans, has said, “We are against the war, but we must deal with the problem of giving a positive answer to the Libyans who are asking us to support them.”

In Italy in particular, we now face new criticism of this war, which, “has come too late and is not well coordinated”. It is true indeed that the war against the mercenary troops of this narcissist dictator who has ruled Libya with iron fist for more than 30 years, should have been decided before Gaddafi’s military counter attack against the badly armed rebels. But the point is (has it already been forgotten?) that, until a few days ago, is had proved impossible to reach an agreement within the U.N. Security Council so as to avoid the risk of a massacre. This agreement was reached only when the regime’s troops were about to enter Benghazi, the insurgency capital. One should ask who is criticizing this. Should the international community have made the same mistake as in the war in Iraq, the same war wanted by the Neo Cons who ideologically controlled Bush in 2003? Was that intervention decided outside the framework of the United Nations, and therefore lacking in real international legitimacy? These people, some like the hot-tempered editor of the newspaper Il Foglio, Giuliano Ferrara, are still cheering the foolish strategy of Rumsfeld and Cheney and do not accept that this time the so-called delay was the result of Obama’s decision to not repeat the same mistake which so badly harmed the image of United States in the world. Obama has avoided nourishing the same ideological idea, the Clash of Civilizations, which has so deeply harmed relations between Muslim populations and the democratic west’s public opinion. Obama, once again, is proving that is possible to follow a totally different strategy.

The Italian denigrators of intervention in Libya do not value the fact that, for the first time, the Arab League has agreed to join military intervention of this kind. At the same time, they underestimate the fact that an Arab television channel, as influential as Al Jazeera, supports the war. Finally, these people neglect to address the historical fact that a very large part of Libyans are cheering U.N. Intervention. The point is that these critical positions, also seen within the Italian Government (Berlusconi, “I feel very sorry for Gaddafi”), seem oriented at baffling the ideas of Italians, in the hope, perhaps, to recuperate relations with the Libyan dictator should he survive military intervention. Once again one observes the “craftiness” so typical of a certain kind of Italian politician.

So the news in Italy is that this time not only pacifists, but also right-wing representatives, are not in favour of military intervention. “We had to accept it in the framework of international obligations” Berlusconi seems to be saying, and with him other members of the government. Which is like saying, “We would have liked to do the same as Germany, a European government that is against the war, but we are not strong enough to do the same”. Which is also like saying: “Dear Gaddafi, forgive us, because we would not have done this unless obliged to. But be sure that we remain your friends after all.” Is this attitude a cynical wink or is it just fear the Libyan butcher may survive politically? We should have a clear answer to this question soon.