Surprised to get some comments accepted by US Peace Action, in response to their article “Choosing the Path of Peace in Syria Part One: The Siren Song of the No-Fly Zone” (see https://peaceblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/choosing-the-path-of-peace-in-syria-part-one-the-siren-song-of-the-no-fly-zone/ ). The final comment reacting to Jon Rainwater’s response was not accepted, creating the impression that there was no reply, to his deeply flawed argument. The missing response is below:
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A brutal dictatorship is definitely not a country at peace in any sense…………. The counter argument to the problem of No Fly Zones, is in previous comments, even a link to a briefing on the No Bomb Zone Strategy (please see http://www.syriauk.org/p/no-bomb-zone.html for a more detailed briefing)……. Most Libyans wanted to live without Gaddafi’s oppression, not just “many”.
I did engage strongly with why the transition in Libya has gone wrong. You acknowledge the alternative to “intervention” as “partnership”. I went through what should have been done, and what was not done. I agree with you that a “quick military fix” is insufficient, but that does not mean there is not a military dimension to empowering people striving to live without dictatorship.
The concept of partnership was enumerated in previous comment as ……. “The concept of partnership I am referring to, is not confined to reconstruction. The Libyan Opposition needed the resources, arms and training to create a professional armed opposition before Gaddafi was overthrown, so they could provide security after the regime ended. They begged for this and did not receive it. Consequently there was a patchwork of divided militias, and the initiative was given to funding from Sunni monarchies and Egyptian military establishment. This was compounded by lack of reconstruction help after Gaddafi was removed, so the new government could not demonstrate legitimacy by providing food, health and housing security to the Libyan people.”
You say “Peace Action is not an international solidarity group we focus on U.S. policy.” The foreign policies of democratic Western countries are governed by elites, with little public input. This has created shameful serious policy failures, as we both know. My point is that the foreign policy of US, UK, Germany, France …. must be about international solidarity with the peoples (not the elites) of other nations. This is “non interventionist” as not about invading or imperialistically doing things to others, it is about empowerment. You want solutions to all problems which have no military dimension. This is not possible with brutal dictatorships like the Assad regime.
I engaged with the chaos in Libya after the uprising and the limited support from the West. I explained what was done, and what should have been done.
You say “Likewise the forces the U.S. would be backing will not necessarily replace the Assad government with democracy as we can see with some of the brutal authoritarianism in some of the rebel held areas.” This is why we need progressives to expose and campaign for an alternative partnership approach, rather than blanket rejection of any “intervention”.
The “if only” you mention is about “if only” the West had given the Libyan Opposition the resources to enable them to create a cohesive force. Partnership is about empowering others. You are right about the problems of reconstructing governments, especially in an environment of hostile Sunni authoritarian regimes pushing spoilers; but you underestimate the agency of the people of the MENA.
On Bassam Haddad, beware of too narrow sources. Idrees Ahmad has this to say on BH, “How sad that the day Russia/regime commit a major massacre in Syria, Democracy Now! invites an ideologue to equivocate and obfuscate. Just when we thought that DN [Democracy Now] was moving away from Assad apologists and giving Syrians a voice, we get this torrent of drivel from a hack best known for his flatulent prose and morally flaccid posturing.” See http://muftah.org/responding-bassam-haddads-false-binary-syria/ for a demolishing of BH narrative.
On the polls quoted. ORB poll article includes “There must be US and Russian pressure on Bashar al-Assad to compromise, to step down, then it would be possible to reach a solution.” – Male 18-35 from Der ez Zor, Syria. Refugees poll “Of those who responded, 71 percent agreed that an ‘end to the fighting in Syria’ would be ideal. Sixty-five percent of respondents agreed that removal of the Assad regime would be an ideal ending.” Is this sample who reach Turkey representative of Syrians or even Syrian refugees, as 90% causalities caused by Assad and Putin regimes.
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