So the West is about to launch another war, this time against Libya. Who exactly is the West backing? Who are the rebels? What do they represent? Are we providing arms to groups who may turn against the Libyan people?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Egypt is sending arms to the Libyan rebels, with US backing.
Intervention is a tough decision, to be sure. It’s impossible to view supposed Western care for Libya in the context of history and not see our constant support for Gaddafi’s brutality. Yes, Libyan rebels have been calling for help but our meddling in the Arab world has arguably only brought misery, occupation, dictatorship and death.
This move has an uncertain future and may not conclude in a nice and neat way imagined by its backers. UN Security Council backing for a no-fly zone is important – this isn’t a unilateral US decision – but it’s remarkable how little debate occurs when Western forces begin another war. Is this the CNN effect on foreign policy?
And the Libyans should be cynical, as this New York Times piece explains. Our moves have nothing to do with human rights and are all about “interests” and resources:
There once was no American institution more hostile to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s pariah government than the Central Intelligence Agency, which had lost its deputy Beirut station chief when Libyan intelligence operatives blew up Pan Am Flight 103 above Scotland in 1988.
But with the Sept. 11 attacks came a new group of enemies. In recent years, the C.I.A. has been closely tethered to Colonel Qaddafi’s intelligence service as it hunts for information about operatives of Al Qaeda in North Africa.
Now, the uprising against the Libyan leader, along with the revolts that drove out the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and threaten other rulers, have cast a harsh light on the cozy relationships between America’s intelligence agencies and autocratic, often brutal Arab governments. The C.I.A. faces questions about whether such ties blinded it to undercurrents of dissent and may now damage America’s standing with emerging democratic governments.
Top American officials say that the C.I.A.’s close ties to Libya brought important benefits: the dismantling of Colonel Qaddafi’s nascent nuclear weapons program, and a partnership to track terrorist cells in the country.
But Dennis C. Blair, the former top American intelligence official, said that while spy services in places like Libya and Egypt were cooperating with the United States against Al Qaeda, they were “aggressively and sometimes brutally suppressing dissent in their own countries.”
“Not only did these intelligence relationships interfere with our ability to understand opposition forces, but in the eyes of the citizens of those countries they often identified the United States with the tools of oppression,” said Mr. Blair, who served until last May as President Obama’s director of national intelligence. He added that the recent uprisings offer an opportunity to “align our intelligence relationships with our national values.”
The seeming collision of American interests was evident in 2009, when the State Department’s human rights report on Libya was a gruesome inventory of disappearances and torture. Months earlier, however, a diplomatic cable, obtained by WikiLeaks, called the Qaddafi government a “strong partner in the war against terrorism” and declared the relationship with Libya’s spy service “excellent.”