The West’s immoral crusade against Libya

War is misery incarnated on this earth. That is why the Buddha said, “Better than a thousand statements composed of meaningless words is a single word which brings peace.” The current war the West is waging against Libya is disastrous.

The problem is that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) actions speak even louder of violent regime change, not peace and protection for civilians. Claims such as “the mission to defend the population in Libya,” from United Kingdom Defence Secretary Liam Fox, condone actions like bombing large urban centres such as Tripoli, endangering civilians not protecting them.

When Colonel Gaddafi’s forces brutally advanced east, NATO stopped them by bombing their forces. When rebel forces brutally advanced west, NATO supported them. The NATO mission is not aimed at preventing conflict but instead a cloak for fuelling violent regime change.

Another example of this was in mid-April. African leaders proposed a road map to peace which Gaddafi accepted and NATO rejected. A force dedicated to the protection of civilians and peace should have worked with this proposal at the very least, rather than rejecting it outright.

Second, the West does not understand Gaddafi’s regime. Gaddafi is not some thug dictator that will leave his country for money and safety. He is a revolutionary dictator. If you listen to him speak, you realize that he believes that he is carrying on the legacy of his forefathers who fought for Libya against Western imperialism. In his mind, he is a popular leader fulfilling the will of the Libyan people.

Third, this idea of humanitarian intervention is in itself problematic. While it would be more aptly described as war, humanitarian intervention treats peace like a structural problem of high politics, not a constant challenge for people. When this topic comes up, you often hear people look back in retrospect, as if hindsight would have solved the world’s problems. Yet, war is not a problem of setting up proper international police forces to invade countries that are considered “evil.” War is the result of hate that many people cultivate within themselves. As soon as someone starts to hate another group, religion, nation or individual, the seeds of war are sown.

Instead of trying to make peace through violent means, the first thing we can do in this kind of situation is know the limits to our power. NATO’s laser-guided missiles cannot fix the deep-rooted problems Libyans face. We, as a part of NATO, can do some things to help ease or limit the situation but, overall, Libyans are the only ones capable of solving their own problem. We must ensure we do not hurt their efforts to help establish peace with our unfounded hubris.

Next, we must all commit ourselves in everyday life to promoting peace within ourselves and our society. When war breaks out, the discussion should not revolve around deciding which side to support. Instead we should question why our country is still manufacturing and shipping arms that fuel these wars. This crisis should show us that we need to fully commit ourselves and our society to peace first before preaching to others.

Finally, we can focus on engaging in conventional political actions to assist the situation. For example, refugees from Libya are fleeing into neighbouring countries like Tunisia and Egypt, who have just undergone revolutions, as well as Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world. Helping these countries provide shelter, food and general care to refugees which will help stop instability from spreading. Working to ensure that arms shipments to both sides are stopped also helps to drive both sides to peace. Proposing peace plans and influencing both sides to come to a sustainable and lasting solution might not be easy or glamorous, but might be what would help the situation the most.

The West’s actions are not ones of peace but that of poorly-conceived violent regime changing. The War in Libya shows us that war is not a structural problem of the international system, but a problem of hate that can only be solved by all people committing themselves to a society of peace.