Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libya: the arguments against intervention

Listening to the debate over Libya, there are a few common themes among critics of the UN intervention, Operation Dawn Oddessy (ODA).

1 We sold him arms!
Well yes, so we did. That was wrong and stupid. But if anything, it gives us more of a responsibility to stop Gaddafi from using them on Libyan freedom fighters.
The fact that we stupidly sell arms has no bearing on the central question, which is - do we stand back and let Gaddafi carry out a massacre in Benghazi and other towns, or do we act according to the UN's new Responsibility to Protect - and do that. Protect.

2 What about Yemen, Bahrein, Syria, Zimbabwe, China and all the other murderous torturing tyrants that disfigure the globe?
This argument is a variant of the "Never mind the dog poo, what about the litter?" that you get in local papers.
The converse is "Never mind the litter, what about the dog poo?"
It is the Red Herring fallacy. Rigorously applied, it means nobody does anything. Ever.

Sure, there is hypocrisy and double standards everywhere in politics. That goes with the job. But it is not an argument to leave Benghazi slaughter.

This argument is expanded here.

3 We did bad in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
Yes we did. They were illegal. This is legal, the first implementation of UN R2P, which itself may be a game changer, especially if it links with the Global Human Rights Index and a framework of set deterrents to dictators, matching their actions with set penalties.


Jim Jepps said...

It's interesting that you don't cite any of the arguments I've been putting

Anonymous said...

re number 2

Why now?

Why Libya?

How does it square with being a Quaker?

I hope everyone who's for it now doesn't get itchy feet when it gets really messy.

weggis said...

4. ?

Anonymous said...

The Arab League are already complaining that it's become something they didn't agree too.

DocRichard said...

Jim, I was addressing your arguments here:

If you've had an update, I will go look at is, after I've written another plea to my MP to block Gaddafi's broadcasts.

Do you support this proposal?

DocRichard said...


Why now? Because MG was about to massacre.

Why Libya? Because that's where the massacre was about to take place.

I have tried to explain in the text how it squares with being a Quaker.

I also hope it doesn't go wrong. That's why I am campaigning for MG broadcasts to be stopped.

Are you with us on this at least?

DocRichard said...


There is no No 4. So I have deleted it.

I'm sure there are other arguments, but I am concentrating on blocking libya State TV. Hope you are too.