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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Challenge to pro-Libya-invasion “Left”

Humanitarian interference relaunches 
arms race, lengthens endless wars
From Jean Bricmont interview
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

The humanitarian reasons invoked by the United States 
[in 1999] left me puzzled.
I was also shocked by lack of opposition from the left —
even some of the extreme left —
to this aggression
[Jean Bricmont, author of Humanitarian Imperialism:
Using Human Rights to Sell War]

In an interview this month with Grégoire Lalieu, Jean Bricmont speaks of and to the political Left. In review and as overview to the present Libyan context, he says, “[Humanitarian imperialism] is an ideology that aims to justify military interference against sovereign countries in the name of democracy and Human Rights. 

“The motive is always the same: a population is the victim of a dictator, so we must act. Then all the usual references are trotted out: the Second World War, the war with Spain, and so on. The aim [is] to sell the argument that an armed intervention is necessary. This is what happened in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Libya — Necessary intervention 
or bad judgment

“This campaign ushers in the reign of the arbitrary,” Bricmont says, [and] “the Libyan conflict is not exceptional.

“There are many other conflicts anywhere in the world whether it may be in Gaza, in Bahrain, or in the Congo, which happened some years ago.” The last of these three “occurred within a context of foreign aggression on the part of Rwanda and Burundi. The enforcement of international law would have saved millions of lives — but it [did not happen] …

“If we apply the underlying principles of interference behind the aggression against Libya, it means that anyone can intervene anywhere they want to. Imagine the Russians intervening in Bahrain or the Chinese in Yemen: the world would be a general and ongoing war.

“Therefore, one major feature of the right to interfere is infringement of standard international law. If we had to change international law to new laws justifying the right to interfere — it would result in a war of all against all.  This is an argument to which the advocates of the right to interfere never give an answer.

“…Such interventions strengthen what I call the ‘barricade effect’: all the countries in the sights of the United States will start to feel threatened and will seek to increase their armaments. We all remember what happened with Iraq President Saddam Hussein

“Moreover, Libya President Muammar al-] Qaddafi had said to the Arab League: ‘We have just lost a member state of the league and none of you have done anything; it can happen to you, too, because even though you are all U.S. allies, so was Saddam in the past.’

“Now the same thing is repeating itself with [Colonel] Qaddafi and the threat which hangs over many states is likely to relaunch the arms race.

“Russia, which is not an unarmed country, has already announced that it would reinforce its troops, but it can go even further. If Libya had the nuclear weapon, it would have never been attacked. This is why North Korea is untouchable.

“Therefore, the left that supports intervention in Libya 
should definitely realize that
humanitarian interference is 
inevitably going to relaunch the 
arms race and lead to long-term wars.”

Sources and notes

“Libya in face of humanitarian imperialism,” An interview (Grégoire Lalieu) with Jean Bricmont, April 19, 2011, Translated from the French by Sheila Carby for Investig’Action - Source: www.michelcollon.info, http://merryabla64.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/libya-in-face-of-humanitarian-imperialism-an-interview-with-jean-bricmont/ 

Jean Bricmont is author of Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War (published in English in 2006, published in 2005: Impérialisme humanitaire. In the book, Humanitarian Imperialism, Jean Bricmont denounces the use of the human rights pretext to justify attacks against countries in the South. He is a pacifist and a committed intellectual.

Bricmont co-authored with Alan Sokal Fashionable Nonsense (also known as Intellectual Impostures) in which they criticize relativism in the philosophy of science. Jean Bricmont also collaborates with Noam Chomsky and campaigns on a variety of progressive causes. He is a member of the Division of Sciences of the Royal Academy for Sciences, Letters and Arts of Belgium. In 2007, he wrote an article in French discussing the possibility of a U.S. invasion of Iran.

Jean Bricmont is a Belgian theoretical physicist, philosopher of science and a professor at the Université catholique de Louvain. He works on renormalization group and nonlinear differential equations, 

Is this the final word, as Bricmont puts it — “Unable to assume a coherent attitude against wars, the left is compelled to tag along behind the interventionist policy.”


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