Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category
Humanitarian rhetoric has ramped up recently. Do we have a moral duty to intervene on the behalf of those civilian populations in Libya being targeted by Qaddafi (or in Bahrain, or Yemen, or Egypt, or Cote d’Ivoire)? Is it our responsibility to respond to the ‘humanitarian’ disaster following the earthquake in Japan (or New Zealand, or Haiti, or Chile)?
Accompanying this increased (over)use of ‘humanitarianism’ has been a growing reaction against it. Pundits from Fox News to the Guardian who pointed to a humanitarian crisis before the intervention are now questioning its relevance – do we need to intervene because it is a humanitarian crisis? Or is it a humanitarian ‘crisis’ because we need to intervene? And once we’ve intervened, what comes next? State-building? Humanitarian relief? Regime change?
There will likely be a lot of punditry, scrawlings, and even astute analyses in the coming days on the military strikes by American and European forces in Libya right now. I have none of the above to offer. Instead I’ll point your way to a very good analysis by Andrew Arato at ComparativeConstitutions.org, enriched by comparatives with a wide range of modern revolutions, on the military’s role in the Egyptian revolution and possibilities for actual regime change there. A few select quotes:
Accordingly, it would be possible to treat in Egypt, the current junta and its top down method of change similarly to the various efforts of Communist and other authoritarian governments to save regimes through reform from above. They should be forced to discover that this method cannot be legitimate unless it is fully negotiated with the widest possible inclusion of opposition actors.
Let me conclude. The events in Egypt should have inspired us all (except for the Israeli right perhaps that is losing an enabler to go on without changing their rejectionist policies). We should not however suspend our critical tools when we examine the results. The project of creating a constitutional democracy in the largest Arab country is far from done, and we should realize that the very revolutionary form the country’s liberation has taken represents serious dangers to the possibility of a genuine democratic regime change the popular movements are struggling for.
And then more “of the moment” (notice how passe Egypt is now that Libya is of the moment) a nice play on Magritte’s surrealist “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” by a former roommate referencing France’s military action in Libya against Qaddafi: