One year on: chaotic Libya reveals the perils of humanitarian intervention - Peter Beaumont The Observer, Sunday 1

One year on: chaotic Libya reveals the perils of humanitarian intervention

The mission to remove Gaddafi was a noble one. But it provides a further lesson in the pitfalls of such actions

Peter Beaumont
The Observer, Sunday 19 February 2012

In the immediate aftermath of the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya last summer, Stewart Patrick, writing in Foreign Affairs, made a bold prediction. The fall of Tripoli, opined the former US State Department official, was "the first unambiguous military enforcement of the Responsibility to Protect norm, Gaddafi's utter defeat seemingly putting new wind in the sails of humanitarian intervention".

Even as Patrick wrote, his argument was apparently bolstered by a presidential study directive on mass atrocities that offered a menu of potential policy options in the face of large-scale human rights abuses. It was a document, he averred, which was a significant triumph for Samantha Power, the author of A Problem From Hell and the "intervention hawk" credited with persuading President Obama to back the anti-Gaddafi forces militarily.

That was then. Now, on the first anniversary of the uprising against the regime and with Libya in increasing turmoil, the certainties of last summer look less compelling. As recent reports by human rights groups and journalists have made clear, the country has descended into rival fiefdoms of competing militias, not least in Misrata, which, as the Guardian argued on Friday, has set itself up as a "city state" with its own prisons and justice system. Human rights abuses are rife. Corruption is endemic. The new post-Gaddafi state, far from coalescing into meaningful institutions, is becoming ever more fractured.

How secret renditions shed light on MI6's licence to kill and torture Little-known clause lets secretary of state authorise UK's

How secret renditions shed light on MI6's licence to kill and torture
Little-known clause lets secretary of state authorise UK's spies to commit crimes abroad
Ian Cobain, Tuesday 14 February 2012 18.00 GMT

In fiction, James Bond drew quite judiciously upon his licence to kill, bumping off just 38 adversaries in a dozen Ian Fleming novels. In each case, the individual received his or her just deserts.

In real life, MI6 insists its officers do not kill anyone. "Assassination," its former head Sir Richard Dearlove has said, "is no part of the policy of Her Majesty's government" and would be entirely contrary to the agency's ethos.

But there can be circumstances in which MI6 officers do have a licence to kill or commit any other crime, enshrined in a curious and little-known law that was intended to protect British spies from being prosecuted or sued in the UK after committing crimes abroad.

Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act offers protection not only to spies involved in bugging or bribery, but also to any who become embroiled in far more serious matters, such as murder, kidnap or torture – as long as their actions have been authorised in writing by a secretary of state.

And as such, the section is certain to come under intense scrutiny in the months ahead, as detectives and human rights lawyers pore over the details of the secret rendition operations that MI6 ran in co-operation with Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2004.

Last month Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service announced that the operations, in which two leading Libyan dissidents were abducted and taken to Tripoli with their families, were to be the subject of a criminal investigation.

Comment : Eamonn McCann - Imperialism's legacy in Libya

Eamonn McCann - Belfast Telegraph.

Eamonn McCann explains how proclamations about "humanitarian" intervention have been used as a cover for imperial domination in Libya.

A HUNDRED years ago, for the first time in human history, bombs were dropped from the air. On November 1, 1911, a young fellow with a big moustache, Giulio Gavotti, leaned out from his Taube monoplane, yanked out the pins from four grenades with his teeth and tossed them onto a group of Turkish troops on the ground just outside Tripoli.

The grenades exploded, but caused little damage. The soldiers below, however, were seen to scatter in chaotic panic.

Giulio was already known as a sportsman and a daredevil pilot back in his home city of Genoa, where he once landed in a square to impress a girl he had his eye on. The headline on the wire service report of the innovative bombing caught the note: "Aviator Lt. Gavotti Throws Bomb on Enemy Camp. Terrorized Turks Scatter upon Unexpected Celestial Assault."

A few years later, the Italian military's main strategist, Giulio Douhet, published what was to become the bombers' bible, Command of the Air.

He argued that the wars of the future would be won not through ground battles, but through aerial assault; the specific thesis being that civilian populations would be plunged into such terror by explosives plummeting from the sky that they would cry out for peace at any price.

Why Blair should also face the wrath of liberated Libya

Why Blair should also face the wrath of liberated Libya

By Eamonn McCann
Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Watching the foot-age of Gaddafi's last moments, a friend with no particular interest in politics turned to me and said: "You'd have to feel a pity for any human being treated like that."

But not necessarily. The most disturbing images of the past week were not of Gaddafi wounded and helpless being kicked to pulp and flung across the bonnet of a truck for the small mercy of the coup de grace, but the broad smiles of a number of television journalists as they reported the news.

The display of Gaddafi's body on a slab in a freezer in a Misrata vegetable market for the cameras to linger on was the calculated crowning indignity.

Beside him lay the body of his son Mutassim, filmed shortly before he was killed smoking a cigarette in a cell, apparently uninjured.

Gaddafi inflicted worse on his enemies, it might be argued, and Mutassim must have been complicit. Does that make it okay, then?

It may be a mitigating circumstance that the maiming and killing wasn't done in cold blood, but by fighters who had come through a welter of danger and may have been seized by frenzy at having Gaddafi in their clutches at last - unlike the controlled circumstances of the torture perpetrated by Gaddafi's goons on prisoners in bunkers far out of sight of television cameras. But not everybody is entitled to make this comparison.

On September 4, researchers for Human Rights Watch (HRW) gained access to the Tripoli headquarters of the Libyan foreign ministry and discovered documents which threw light on the real attitude of powerful interests in the West towards torture under Gaddafi.

Leaked cable: John McCain pushed to arm Qadhafi

Leaked cable: John McCain pushed to arm Qadhafi

In a meeting, McCain said the U.S. wanted to provide Libya with weapons for 'security.' | AP Photo Close
By TIM MAK | 8/26/11 6:19 AM EDT Updated: 8/26/11 12:35 PM EDT

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable shows that Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain promised to help Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi obtain U.S. military hardware in 2009.

The cable, released by the open information group WikiLeaks, reveals the pledge came at meeting that was attended by other prominent members of Congress, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

In the meeting, Muatassim Qadhafi, the Libyan leader’s fifth son and national security adviser, requested U.S. assistance in obtaining military supplies, both lethal and non-lethal.

The cable indicates that McCain was the dominant voice among the congressional delegation in a push for military hardware for Qadhafi.

“Sen. McCain assured Muatassim that the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its … security,” according to the cable.

McCain said that he understood the need for Libya to upgrade its existing ranks of C-130 Hercules aircraft. Libya had bought eight of the military cargo aircraft in the 1970s, but as bilateral relationships with the United States deteriorated, a ban of arms sales prevented the aircraft from being moved to North Africa. McCain pledged to do what he could to move the issue forward in Congress.

McCain stressed that Libya needed to fulfill its commitments of giving up its weapons of mass destruction in order for bilateral engagement to go forward.

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