Thursday 20 October 2011
What Libya tells us about interventionism
As the first pictures of Colonel Gaddafi's corpse flashed across the world media, the mood in Libya was one of joy, while in the West it was mainly relief. Undoubtedly a debate will now take place on the rights and wrongs of Britain and France's participation in the uprising in Libya and their active support through massive airpower.
The feuilletons of newspapers in the years to come may, however, focus on a completely different narrative that is nevertheless, I feel, the more important one. That narrative is about the resuscitation of Western interventionism in the fight for freedom across the world.
George Bush and Tony Blair's ill-fated war in Iraq seemed to have buried any opportunity to develop a viable interventionist strategy where un-democratic regimes took up arms against their own people and engaged in large scale killings. However, it seems that a new avenue for interventionism has taken shape, designed and defended in the form of a supportive tactic to supplement indigenous rebellions against dictators.
Slowly, but steadily, international interventionism is about to recover and Libya may just have played a critical role in laying the ghost of Iraq to rest. The developments around Syria will either confirm the contours of this more 'muscular interventionism' or demonstrate its inherent limitations.