Friday, April 29, 2011

Rebels, Rights, Wrongs, and Romance

On March 17, 10 of 15 nations on the United Nations Security Council voted to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. (Five nations abstained.) Two days later, the U.S. Navy was lobbing Tomahawk missiles into Libyan territory. Another war had begun.

Those voting in favor of Resolution 1973 say the fight between the rebels and government forces was unfair; the air-strikes would give the rebels a chance to advance.

Unfair? Funny that the UN never concerned itself with the unfair advantage American forces in Afghanistan have over Afghan rebels there. And how is it that the UN can tell Khadaffi that he cannot fight the rebels, but rebels can fight him? That is as unfair as it gets.

And since when were nations wrong to fight for their national sovereignty? A rebellion just ended in Sri Lanka where government forces overran rebel-held territories. Thousands of civilians died in that rebellion. There were no “No-fly zones.”

And where are the “No-fly zones” over Chechnya where Russian government forces have killed thousands of Chechan civilians and their rebel defenders? Where were the “No-fly zones” over Tibet?

Today, if you ask the allies, “Why Libya? Why not Sudan and Cote D’Ivoire; Chechnya and Yemen and Bahrain—all countries where civilians are being slaughtered by government forces—Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron will give this specious response; “Just because we cannot do right everywhere does not mean we cannot do right anywhere.”

Cute. But is what we are doing “Right”? Or is it just an excuse to bomb someone we don’t like?

The UN—the world body sectioning the “Operation Odyssey Dawn,” wonders. CNN reports that Ban-ki Moon, the UN’s secretary-general, is “nervous,” and “is not sure what is happening.” Russia, one of the five nations to abstain in the vote, is “angry,” and wants the bombing to “cease immediately.” And the Arab League, which initially asked for a no-fly zone, (and upon whom the UN based much of the legitimacy of its resolution) is having second thoughts. Not to worry, folks. The bombing will go on. (What would become of the out-gunned rebels if it did not?)

The Libyan rebels are out-gunned for a reason—all rebels are out-gunned. That is the nature of rebellions. Saying the fight between the rebels and the Libyan government should be more fair flies in the history of rebellions.

The Continentals were out-gunned against the British. The Confederates were out-gunned against the Union forces. What makes rebellions likely is not an equality of weapons so much as a balance between weapons and passion. (That is the romance of rebellions.) Sometimes passion wins out, as in the American Revolution. Sometimes weapons win out, as in America’s Civil War. Fortunately, not all rebellions are successful.

Of course, this Libyan rebellion will succeed because of the overwhelming force employed on behalf of the rebels. It will be a sterile victory, however. There will be no romance.

Western forces have co-opted this rebellion. It no longer belongs to the Libyan rebels. (They can’t fight anyway.) This will simply be a European victory over an Arab nation—coalition of advanced militaries defeating a 5th-rate army, one that could barely defeat a rag-tag group of rebels.

So, don’t be so proud ye coalition of allies. You have not done so much, except to set honest rebellions back a thousand years.

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