I am disgusted. This camel’s back cannot bear this new straw. I watch events unfold in Bahrain with disgust. But I have been in global work far too long not to realise that this is a struggle between two power elites, Arab and Persian, Sunni and Shi’a, that has been underway for centuries. The people, both those doing the shooting and those being shot, are pawns on their chessboard. I have no use for either power elite. It is more than difficult to choose a “side” to support on moral grounds.
But Libya is different. This is a clear-cut struggle between the oppressed and their dictator, a two-bit fascist who has killed and continues to kill for his own personal benefit. I watch with equal disgust as the US government wobbles around, unable to speak and act clearly. Thus it was with approval and some relief to hear someone in the political elite of the Old World, the North Atlantic, speak out plainly and clearly. His name is Alain Juppé and he is the foreign minister of France. If you read French, you can read his comments at his blog. If not, here is a translation. Most other translations of this are “machine” translations and not as clear as they should be, so I have done my own, only very slightly modifying it to provide clarity in English without doing damage to the original.
It is not enough to proclaim, as did almost all the major democracies, that “Gaddafi must go.” We must give ourselves the means to effectively assist those who took up arms against his dictatorship.
Legal and financial sanctions agreed by the United Nations and the European Union are useful. But we know they only give results after several months. There is an urgent need now.
Only the threat of use of force can stop Gaddafi. It is by bombing, with dozens of planes and helicopters that are at his disposal, the positions of the rebels that the Libyan dictator has shifted the balance. We can neutralize his air assets in targeted strikes. This is what France and Great Britain have proposed for two weeks. There are two conditions: to obtain a mandate from the Security Council of UN, the only source of international law regarding the use of force; to act not only with the support but also the effective participation of Arab countries. This second condition is being fulfilled: several Arab countries have assured us they would participate. France, with Great Britain and Lebanon joining us in New York, have offered the draft resolution that would give us the needed mandate. The President of the Republic and the British Prime Minister solemnly call on Council members to consider and adopt it.
It has often happened in our contemporary history that the weakness of democracies leaves the field open to dictatorships. It’s not too late to put the lie to that rule. This will be the honour of France that we have tried everything to get there.
Thank you, Alain Juppé. It is nice to hear a political leader call on us to walk the walk, having talked the talk for so long.
Here is Barack Obama speaking in Cairo in June of 2009.
America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
Yes, that is out of context, but insofar as I am concerned, not at all inappropriately. His full speech can be seen and read here and you can make your own determination, if you like.
I am not an Obama-basher and tire of that ad hominem nonsense quickly. I hold the office of the Presidency in great regard and, despite how much I may disagree with the man who temporarily who holds that office, I never forget that the office is greater than the man. Thus, I always want to think our President, whether I like him or not, is a man who is in charge of our foreign policy and willing to do what needs to be done to support both our nation and the principles we claim (and he claims) to represent. I want to be able to support him, even if I disagree with him, but I definitely do not want him to dither, to dally, to prevaricate, to sit by and watch others die for the principles we as Americans say we live by. Fiddling while Libya burns is a travesty.
There is a crude and simple way of putting it in English. Shit or get off the pot.
I am ashamed that Americans have to wait for the French, British, and Lebanese, for heaven’s sake, to take an initiative we should have proposed ourselves. Worse yet, I am ashamed when the initiative is taken, but we are not included as one of the sponsors. Elsewhere at this blog, I have argued the importance of the word in determining the course of events. There is a word here as well. That word is “fascism”.
Today, I read that Secretary Clinton has been snubbed by the young leaders of Egypt for America’s failure to hear them when they called for help.
Unless Alain Juppé and his colleagues can get some very, very, very rapid action out of the current administration, the “young leaders” of Libya will have much harsher words for us and rightfully so. That is, of course, if there are any young leaders left when the killing is over.
Shame on you, President Obama, shame on you.
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