On the Line With Libya
By telephone, I reached a family in
One member of the family is a senior naval officer who says that his ship and two others were ordered to sail to the major city of
Some of the senior officers were aghast at the idea of attacking civilians but feared summary execution if they disobeyed orders, by his account. In that tense situation, the officer said, four officials supporting Colonel Qaddafi staged a rally for him on the naval base. Other officers then hushed them up without explicitly condemning the government, my contact said, and there was a fierce argument that ended with the pro-Qaddafi group giving way because it was far outnumbered by the anti-Qaddafi forces.
There has been no mutiny, and in theory the naval officers accepted their orders, my contact said. But in practice they have not yet set sail. I can’t say more for fear of getting some very brave people in trouble.
Likewise, in another phone call to
Those are the people we need to send signals to
We shouldn’t invade
Offer a safe haven for Libyan pilots ordered to bomb their country. For example, they could be encouraged to land on airstrips in
Impose financial and trade sanctions on
Impose a no-fly zone, as Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations proposed after he defected, to prevent the government from bombing or strafing its own people. This is what we did to prevent Saddam Hussein from attacking his Kurdish population, and in
Encourage the Arab League and African Union to continue to pressure
Seek a referral by the United Nations Security Council to the International Criminal Court for the prosecution of Colonel Qaddafi for crimes against humanity.
Skeptics will note that none of these moves would convince Colonel Qaddafi to be any more genteel. And these are uncertain levers, creating some risk that he would respond by going after citizens of the
The first is that so many Libyans have defected or seem to be wavering. That military family in
The second is that as this democracy uprising spreads, other despots may be encouraged to follow Colonel Qaddafi’s example. We need to make very sure that the international reaction is so strong — and the scorched-earth strategy so unsuccessful — that no other despot is tempted to declare war on his own people.
So let’s not sit on our hands.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs