I am no supporter of Col Muammar Gadhafi, whichever manner his name is spelt.
However, I would like to take exception to the fact that Western Countries banded together, pressed a resolution in the U.N. Security Council, won the requisite number of votes (9) and attacked Libya, all in a span of less than 4 days. This again shows that a few members can take the entire world for a ransom, and NOTHING can be done about it.
While what Col Gadhafi was doing in his own country is unpardonable, there are a few considerations which any rational thinker would take into account while making a decision to attack a sovereign country. Here are some from my mind:
1. Give due time for a process of consultation – may be a week – when the United Nations can send an envoy to Libya and insist that Col Gaddhafi end his attack on his own people ; allow for a proper discussion and a hopeful conclusion to end the conflict ;
2. Initiate consultations with key nations – whether they are members of the UNSC or not, and develop an overall strategy – not a consensus to attack ;
3. Avoid any feeling or interpretation that Western nations are coming together to derive benefit from the huge oil reserves of Libya and could do well without Col Gadhafi, hence implying that a regime change is what they are looking for ;
4. Engage with the rebel groups formally so as to understand their imperatives. Any country would resist armed rebellion. If a government is attacked by its own rebels, it would not talk, but counter the attacks. And that is what the Libyan Government did. It might have overdone the attacks by bombing its own cities and people, however ;
5. There was an intent to finish off the last bastion of “unstructured/undemocratic/tribal” Middle Eastern regimes, which has perpetrated atrocities in the past, and about which the Western Governments were always uneasy ;
6. If Libya can be attacked, then why not Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria ? What about the repression in Saudi Arabia ? We cannot have double standards and adopt a policy to eliminate the easier ones for the quick benefit of a set of rebels, we don’t even know whether all the Libyans want Col Gadhafi to go, like what happened in Egypt.
Given the above logic, I would conclude that it was an unwise decision to attack Libya. India rightfully abstained from the vote. But it should have voted against the resolution, sending a strong message on what many consider a frivolous decision to enforce a no-fly zone on a sovereign country’s air space. If this could happen to Libya, it could definitely happen in many other countries. These other countries should better get ready for punitive actions by the UNSC if they violate human rights of their own people. This is happening and it will continue to happen.
I do not agree at all that this is the right course of action. A more spirited debate and a little more time are absolutely needed to achieve a right conclusion to engage or fight with Col Gadhafi.
26th March 2011