Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Not another Western Intervention, honest.

There have been a variety of questions asked about the intervention in Libya, such as whether the effort itself can have the intended effect of helping the rebels, as well as how to deal with a post-Qadafi Libya. However, you would expect the insane "hidden Western agenda" remarks would be limited to the mad colonel himself.
First, we had Vladimir Putin's recent remarks likening the airstrikes as "medieval calls for crusades." Then we have the Turks drinking the kool-aid. According to this recent BBC Post, Turkish president Abdullah Gul sent a statement to coalition forces stating "that it was "obvious" some coalition forces perceived the conflict as an opportunity for themselves." Gul then warned coalition members not to "pursue any hidden agenda."

While Gul may just be playing to Turkish politics, it doesn't exactly send the right image to the rest of the Middle East when the most moderate and western of the muslim nations is paying lip service to the same rhetoric of "Western/zionist conspiracy" used by Islamic fundamentalists.

I think that this type of rhetoric mostly has to do with the lack of certainty among the various allies in the coalition. Without a clear statement of objectives, governments are questioning just what the true purpose of this intervention is. Opportunists can use this uncertainty to make such conspiritorially-minded comments.

Also, while it was probably prudent of President Obama to wait for broad international support before intervening in Libya (particularly to avoid the image of Iraq), the fact that practically all the coalition members are Western means that it is difficult to garner support for our actions in the Arab world. It doesn't help that the Arab League is getting wishy-washy about its endorsement of our intervention.

While it may be difficult to do much, I think that the United States should try to ask for greater support from other Arab nations that are not currently facing problems of domestic unrest. Also, we should attempt to emphasize the support of Muslim nations already helping us (such as Qatar and Turkey) much more prominently both in the media and in statements about operations. I worry that if all the Arab states see is NATO forces conducting air raids, it will be difficult to allay the suspicions that this isn't "just another intervention."

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