Δεν έχεις, Όλυμπε, θεούς, μηδέ λεβέντες η Όσσα, ραγιάδες έχεις, μάννα γη, σκυφτούς για το χαράτσι, κούφιοι και οκνοί καταφρονούν τη θεία τραχιά σου γλώσσα, των Ευρωπαίων περίγελα και των αρχαίων παλιάτσοι…
(Κωστής Παλαμάς)

Σάββατο, 10 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

Τι πρέπει να γίνει με την Λιβύη; (2)


Τι πρέπει να γίνει με την Λιβύη; (2)
Συνεχίζουμε με το δεύτερο μέρος της ανάλυσης για το θέμα της Λιβύης που έχει τίτλο: "Τι έπρεπε να είχε γίνει πριν ληφθεί η απόφαση ΝΑΤΟ/ΗΠΑ για βομβαρδισμούς;"

Libya Part II
What Should Have Been Done Before the NATO/US Decision to Bomb?

The following is based on a - consciously naive - assumption: That the international so-called community was really trying to help solve a serious internal conflict in Libya. And the question we ask is this: What should, under such an assumption, be done? 

However, if the real issue is a power game - be it about sheer Western interventionism, gold, finance capital, oil or a primitive urge to simply kill someone we don’t like - then the thoughts and ideas below are of course naive.
But if so, we must also draw the sad conclusion a priori that the noble motives stated by the Western powers about the need to save human lives, pave the road to democracy, having a responsibility to protect and similar stated goals is nothing but deception and propaganda - and self-delusion.
What I do below is simply to take such noble motives seriously and ask: If we believe in them, what should then have been done?

1. Much better intelligence gathering and early warning
Generally, it can safely be assumed that foreign units and intelligence people were on the ground in Libya way before all this happened. British SAS units are known to have been there. Thus, it is not credible that it was all a surprise, particularly given the popular uprisings in Tunesia and Egypt.
 
Better intelligence would mean, among other things, that we would have known more about Khaddafi’s intentions and military planning as well as about who the rebels/freedom fighters were. The time pressure so often referred to it not credible. The truth is that the Western decision-makers were woefully uninformed by those who should be knowledgeable about world affairs and make early warnings exactly to prevent leaders from being caught by surprises as well as providing them with information in time for them to make quality decisions instead of panic policies.
Thus, there was more time to decide what to do. A society in which we have made numerous deals and in which Western intelligence and other agencies allegedly have made numerous attempts to kill the leader - well, that must be a society we also know quite a lot about. And if Western leaders did, they ignored that knowledge for other reasons. Given all this, one wonders: Where was the early warning, the early listening and early action to prevent the violent conflicts inside the Libyan society to blow up?

2. Fact-finding missions, exploratory talks, hearings, gather stake holders
The basic rule of thumb of all conflict management applies of course in this case too: Never get involved in someone else’s conflict without doing your homework. Presidents, prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers should have gathered all materials possible from Libya and other area experts, conflict-resolution experts, connoisseurs of Islamic and beduin thinking, etc. and listened to their opinions. 

One or more delegations could have been sent to Libya to speak with all sides and not just with the rebels.
Further fact-finding could have been done by inviting various parties to the conflict to the EU, holding hearings in the European Parliament and in the United Nations General Assembly. Let the parties tell their stories to the world, answer questions from enlightened media people and others - and we may begin to understand complexities and get a broader understanding in space and time.
With a global media structure, there is no reason why CNN, Aljazeera, BBC and many others could arrange panel discussions and roundtables where representatives of the parties could confront each other - and listen to each other - in civilized manners. In and of itself it would give media an opportunity to do professional work while also helping a little to bring about peace rather than mobilizing energies in the direction of war.
With due respect: basing French foreign policy on the uninformed views of an egocentric, celebrity philosopher only tells one thing: how utterly poorly equipped France, and the rest of the world for that matter, is when it comes to conflict-management and peace-making.

Had the UN kept its older fact-finding capacity and lessons learned units, or it had had a corps of fact-finders and mediation professionals - it would have been possible to develop a much broader understanding and devise a more complex reaction than the one-and-only No-Fly Zone that amounted simply to aggression on another sovereign state (something which Khaddafi has not done).
To mention just one advantage: We would have avoided the classical banalization conflicts that consists in believing that even complex conflicts have only two parties, one evil and one good with no shades of grey and with no other parties. A simple reading of the Libyan society gives at hand that there are unlimited potentials for conflicts in what is basically a society divided into almost 150 family/clan units, some 6 million Libyans and about 1,5 foreigners, workers and others.
One does have to be a fortune-teller to imagine also that there will be a huge de facto party to the conflict - however latent rather than manifest, consisting of all those who one must suppose are neither pro-Khaddafi nor with the rebels.
One would also have gathered some understanding of possible answer to the question: What kind of vacuum will appear if Khaddafi is deposed or killed? Which groups will try to move in there and with what means?
One of the most naive beliefs in the person-fixated West is that all problems are caused by a single person with a few loyalists around him - say, Mohammed Farah Ideed, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, etc. - and that everything will be just fine the day such leaders fall.

Without a comprehensive diagnosis everything - everything - that follows will be wrong and most of the future actions will be decided with a view to cover up for the deficient diagnosis - like performing various others surgery and spilling more of a patient’s blood because we thought the problem was to cut off a leg where a better diagnosis would have led to a completely different and efficient treatment.

3. Coordinate and co-operate with regional organizations
In terms of history, structure, culture and religion Libya is partly West, party east, partly Middle East and very strongly African. Chances are that other governments than those of the United States, United Kingdom and France would have not only a better understanding of Libya but would also have better access to the regime. 

The most relevant regional organizations of course would be the African Union, the Arab League, perhaps the Gulf Cooperation Council & OPEC; they are all organizations that Western media and state-financed security experts are happy to describe as inefficient and not getting their act together - without seeing that the same applies to the European Union - perhaps only to a higher degree.
If these institutions had been systematically involved with some kind of division of labour among them, we would likely have seen more diversity in views, more different aspects discussed - we would have seen much more emphasis placed on civilian-political methods and negotiation, whereas with the West believing it knows everything and can run the show alone - it is bound to make all the simplification and mistakes in relation to the stated goal of conflict-resolution. We would also have witnessed a higher degree of cultural sensitivity and respect. In the year 2011, it would have been natural to expect for a sophisticated EU and UN to have mechanisms in place to always be able to handle conflicts in co-operation with regional organizations as well as respect the UN Charter norm of trying to make ‘peace by peaceful means’ before taking to bombers and aircraft carriers.
Regrettably, however, the international community is not that mature, its governments not that conflict-competent and the interest in civilian/human security not that strong that such mechanisms are in place. So much more has been invested for decades by every government around the world in the military that that is the only tool that stands ready in emergency situations. ‘Send the Marines’, may be relevant in some cases, but if you say so just because you have no other ideas of how to deal with a situation, everybody is guaranteed to be worse off down the road.




4. Avoid saying all the alarmist, hate-inducing and offensive things - treat the conflict simply as a problem to be solved
Inflammatory notions, accusations and demonization of those we profess to work with to find a solution - such as persuading Khaddafi to stop killing his own citizens, accept a ceasefire, or step down - is not helpful, to say the least. It seems to be rooted in, and speak to, the basest instincts here and there for revenge, death and fast victory.
 
So, notions such as accusing someone of planning a genocide without the slightest evidence, switching in days from ‘Colonel’ and ‘head of state’ to ‘dictator‘ militates against every professionalism.
Would any Western leader sit down at a table with anyone who had called him a ‘mad dog’ or ‘dictator’ or ‘criminal’ prior to any moves made? The answer is obvious.
‘No-Fly Zone’ perhaps sounded fine but there were three reasons why it would not fly in the context of mediation and conflict-resolution; it was the ‘only plan in town’ (intellectual poverty with no other position to fall back on), it was de facto and de jure aggression against a sovereign state; in other words an indication of contempt for law or exactly what we accused Khaddafi to show. And, third, it sent the wrong signals, namely this: No matter what you do or don’t do now, we intend to bomb you.
‘Regime change’ is another idea that won’t fly for basically the same reasons. A regime can change, yes, but only - according to democratic theory - by the will of the people or by some elite negotiation process that usually takes quite a lot of time. Regime change through military intervention, attempts to kill or actually killing individual leaders and their families is unthinkable from a conflict-management perspective - but of course not from an interventionist-imperialist or neo-colonialist perspective. 

So, if you say and do all these things, chances are that you are by no means aiming to solve a conflict with as little violence as possible and help the citizens on the way to democracy. Rather, you use these terms as a pretext for policies of dominance, humiliation and the fulfillment of strategic and other interest of your own. At any rate, you opponent’s red warning lamps and sirens will go off at hearing any of this.
So, to put it crudely, we still lack even the contours of a professionally trained and effectively structured conflict-handling apparatus in every country as well as internationally.

5. Establish an international mediation commission
True mediation and problem-solving requires a minimum of objectivity or impartiality. We would have served the cause of peace better, had we put together a truly global Commission with people from all continents, several religions and high standing - former UN, Nobel Prize laureates, people of culture who could have shuttled back and forth between different capitals and talked at length with every side in Libya - a kind of Jimmy Carter-like endeavor, showing respect for all parties (broadly defined) and operating in professional ways that it could not be accused of having taken sides.
Its members would have to possess a series of competences and personal experiences and come from countries that have no interests in a particular solution to the conflict in Libya. They would speak on for themselves and not in any way as representatives of any country. Its task would be to present, say, 2-3 proposals to the parties, to various organizations and to the world community.
What a delightful, innovative idea it would be if such a Commission’s proposals could become objects of a vibrant discussion throughout parliaments, media, bloggers and others and encourage citizens as well as experts in debating the best possible solution to the conflict.

6. Stick to certain principles, avoid selective measures with them and exceptionalism for yourself
Get your principles right and use them in a principled way - don't tell the world that your humanitarian concerns are so deep and noble in the case of Libya where very few people have been killed while you did not lift a finger in Cote d'Ivoire, Bahrein, Syria and perhaps above all, in the case of Israel's law- and UN resolution-defying occupation since 1967 and it systematic violations of all possible laws and rights including its activities on the West Bank, Gaza and in Lebanon which are much worse than Khaddafi’s human rights violations.
The counter-argument of course is: But there is neither willingness nor resources available to intervene everywhere such unacceptable things happen. The counter-argument to that counter-argument of course is: but then show us at least one case where you intervened rapidly and with military means where there we absolutely no material or strategic interests present. Even in cases of pure humanitarian concerns, say the hunger catastrophe at the Horn of Africa happening simultaneously and which threatens about 12 million lives, 2000 dying per day in July 2011, has mobilized only a tiny fraction of the political, economic or military energy invested in the case of Libya.
Governments with deep, long-term commitments to human suffering beyond they own national and vested interests are far and few between. Until proof of genuine humanitarian concerns can be discerned in the real world - say, in meeting the Global Millennium Goals and many other goals such as nuclear disarmament that have been high on the international agenda for decades - concepts like the Responsibility to Protect and military interventions to promote democracy, human rights (including women’s liberation) and welfare can be written off as noble aims turned into salesmanship vis-a-vis media and the taxpayers who pay for the wars.

7. A robust UN mission should have been tried but we know why it has not
A robust UN mission that could keep government and rebel forces from each other and from killing each other mercilessly should have been tried. It would have to consist,of the three classical components: a) a well-armed military (some 20.000-30.000 perhaps) from all over the world, plus a few thousand globally composed UN Police and UN Civil Affairs people.
In the case of Libya there would have had to be a clear mandate of impartiality but also a robustness to disarm any side that would violate a ceasefire or non-attack agreement. Would the parties have accepted such a mission at an early stage? While we really cannot know because it was never even mentioned, the author believes the answer is positive.
Why?
Khaddafi would be smart enough to see that he could lose a battle in the long run if the rebels in Benghazi would accumulate international support over time. Such a mission would make him a player in the game rather than open up for a violent regime change.
At the early stage of the conflict, the rebels were so weak, untrained, disorganized and inexperienced that they - who had originally vowed to fight only with non-violent means - would have seen it in their interest to work with and appear co-operative with the international community to gain legitimacy rather than against the international community and thereby get protection from the regime through such a mission.
Third, the vast majority of Libyans would have benefitted from such a mission too - earning money from tens of thousands of foreigners being in the country and providing at least some protection for those who are always, without exception, paying the prices for warfare: the innocent majority who do not take an active part in the fighting but are its victims.
It wouldn’t be so difficult, would it? 8.000 robust Canadian troops defeated Franjo Tudjman's forces in no time in Eastern Slavonia, Croatia - perfectly doable in Libya too. What was needed was to disarm anyone who breaks the protected zone with weapons, taking the weapons from this or that side and stove them into warehouse to which only the UN military would have the key. Weapons going into depots open up for possible negotiations, arming the different sides - which is, predictably, what happened does the opposite.
Believing Khaddafi, his family and country can be bombed day and night and that that will make him come your way and/or give himself up to the International Criminal Court is not supported by historical evidence; it’s a foolish, if not stupid, assumption. Believing that people will side with NATO - and the Libyan stand with flowers along the roads when troops roll in - well, Iraq should have taught us that lesson.
Outside military pressure, bombings and destruction is perceived by normal people as humiliating and unfair even if they hate their leader. It usually increases people's dislike of the West and provides the leader with an opportunity to become a hero, standing up for the nation, becoming a martyr, etc. And the clients on the ground of those bombing countries become dubious in the eyes of others on the ground: Do we want new leaders who invited people to bomb us to pieces in order to become our new leaders right away (don’t forget that the Benghazi fighters at a very early stage declared themselves the only legitimate representatives of the Libyan people, 300 people gathered who didn’t consult anyone about that decision!) I’ve seen myself how these psycho-political mechanisms worked out both in former Yugoslavia and in Iraq before the war. I don’t see why it should be different in the case of Libya.
But some kind of UN involvement was not even mentioned. Why? Because the norms of the UN Charter are still not understood or adhered to by the far majority of the member governments; because none of the stronger international players want any organization like the UN beside or above them; because the UN will never be better than its member states want it to be; because the UN has been systematically undermined, underfunded and underutilized during the last 20 years and because Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is, beyond any doubt, the weakest - some would say most incompetent and spineless - UN leader since the establishment of the world organization.
The fact that a UN peace-keeping or -making intervention of some kind was not even discussed - and the absence of such a discussion not discussed either - is indicative of how very serious the situation is: the UN is perceived as utterly irrelevant by the strong, except in its rôle as fig leaf for Realpolitik strategies.

8. Follow the UN Charter norm of “peace by peaceful means” until everything has been tried and proved in vain
As everybody knows now nothing was really tried, the No Fly Zone being the only tool seriously contemplated and planned. The Western countries did not want a peaceful, negotiated solution with Khaddafi. And this in spite of the fact that they are committed to the principle of the UN Charter’s extremely urgently important and central norm: that everything shall have been tried first non-violently before military action is set in motion.
If the task was to get rid of Khaddafi, as we are told, and create conditions for a better life for the Libyans, contemporary history offers more than enough evidence that non-violence is considerably more effective in ridding the world of dictators than full-blown war. One has only to think of cases such as the Marcos family in the Philippines, the Shah of Iran, the Solidarnosc movement in Poland, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, of Shevardnadze in Georgia, etc.
Right in front of our eyes, a comparative study in social change is going on - compare the changes in Tunesia and Egypt with those in Libya. While these processes are hugely complex and - by late summer 2011 when this written - we have not seen which path the largely non-violent revolutionary changes will take in those two countries, we can sstill behopeful and perceive non-violent mass uprisings as an eye and door opener to a better future. That is not the view anyone can have who has witnessed Libya’s destruction from March 19 till early August 2011.

9. Some kind of mechanism and model to achieve a negotiated solution
It’s main argument of this analysis that each of the above proposals as well as their synergic effect could have contributed to what ought to be seen as intelligent, professionalized conflict-management aimed at a fair and sustainable solution. This is admittedly a kind of counter-factual assertion but so is the one stating that nothing else but the so-called No Fly Zone covering up for a de facto mass bombing of Libya was the only option.
As a matter of fact, unless you believe blindly in the non-substantiated claim that Khaddafi was about to commit genocide - eradicating parts of or all of a people, i.e. his own Libyans - which militates against common sense in a non-ethnic setting like this, much more speaks for the hypothesis that other options were available but deliberately not tried, options that are like to have created a less devastating and hope-killing process than the one the world has witnessed over the 5-6 months of NATO bombing.

Together these proposals , if implemented, would have open the path for a mechanism to be established with a structure and functions that could have open up for consultations, one-on-one explorative talks, various types of facilitations, secret diplomacy, confidence-building etc - until some kind of negotiations would have begun in reasonably good faith by all relevant parties. It is not the aim here to describe such a mechanism in any detail, its modalities, place or time perspective.
Instead of playing the less than constructive rôle as bombing nations, the West - led by the UN and the EU could have served as constructive facilitators in close co-operation with other regional actors, the above-mentioned international mediation commission. In short, provided good offices rather than become the most destructive actor in the conflict theatre.
Unfortunately, Western nations are better at bombing and forcing through their own solutions than at dialoguing-facilitating-mediating while listening intensely to possible solutions coming out of conflict zone itself, i.e. from those who not only know their own society, culture and problems best but are also those who are going to implement and live with a solution.
However, it must be remembered that a conflict can only be solved and sustained over time when the parties, broadly defined,
a) changed their goals, perceptions and behaviour to some - converging - extent;
b) when they have come to some kind of vision of the future that they can live with (albeit not perfect for all),
c) have a strong feeling of being stakeholders and co-implementers, and
d) have come to that result in a voluntary manner. (Signing a peace treaty written up by foreigners with a pistol in the back, is not exactly conflict-resolution or peace-making even if politicians and media would have us believe that peace is identical with the dying down of direct violence in a conflict area).
The elements described above are not exhaustive, neither are they prioritized. It’s a common experience that any conflict to be solved requires some common or general elements and initiatives but also deserves tailor-made treatment in terms of who can do what, when and how - a process that relies thoroughly on both excellent science and creative arts.

To be continued...

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