Photo (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
One of the main objections to Operation Dawn Oddesey is that of selectivity, consistency or hypocrisy.
It runs like this: "Why Libya? What about all the other dictators in MENA and further away? What about Yemen, Bahrein, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cote d'Ivoire? What about Burma, Zimbabwe, and China? And Israel? and the USA? And the UK, with its burgeoning repression of demonstrations? What about Kagame of Rwanda, who is clearly setting off on the road that leads to dictatorship?"
It is a good question, one that deserves a full answer. In the answer we will find a route map to a far more peaceful, democratic and sustainable world.
The reason that it is so important that the democratic revolution in Libya succeeds is that it is the third of the Arab Spring uprisings. Tunisia was first to go, and over relatively quickly and easily. Egypt was more difficult, but succeeded because the Army rightly refused to attack the people.
Now we have Libya, where the dictator has used massive lethal force against the revolution. If Ghaddafi wins, he will set the standard for other dictators. They will follow his lead, and use military force. This would result in huge loss of life and destruction of property, and probably crush the revolution, perpetuating dictatorships, torture, oppression and war. It would also, arguably, lead to an increase of violent Islamic extremism.
That is why Gaddafi must not win.
When Gaddafi is gone, we can work on a pathway for peaceful reform. Essentially, the UN needs to set out a legal framework to deal with the passage from dictatorship to democracy. We need to provide disincentives for those, like Kagame of Rwanda, who are setting out on the pathway to dictatorship. And we need a Global Index of Human Rights to help anyone who needs to know, at a glance, the kind of regime that rules the country they are intending to visit or do business with.
The UN's Responsibility to Protect (R2P) arose out of the mess in Bosnia and Iraq. It is an enormously important step towards a just and peaceful world, but it needs further definition. The Index of Human Rights is a suitable complement to R2P.
So critics of Dawn Oddesey should join in the effort to create a legal framework in the UN which would make tragedies that we now see in Libya that much less common.