Friday, February 25, 2011

Let's At Least Aspire to Futility

It's not just that the world doesn't seem able to do anything effective to stop the violence in Libya; they don't seem able to do anything ineffective either.

On Tuesday, The New York Times ran an editorial entitled "Libya's Butcher." After saying, "We have no doubt that what he really meant is that he will butcher and martyr his own people in his desperation to hold on to power," the editorial continued:

The Security Council should impose sanctions on Colonel Qaddafi, his family and other officials responsible for the repression, including a freeze on their overseas assets and a travel ban. If the government does not immediately halt the killing, the United Nations should re-impose a ban on all arms sales to Libya.

Huh? Demonstrators are being strafed by fighter jets and helicopters, and the Times recommends a freeze on Qaddafi's assets and a travel ban? And then, if that doesn't work, a ban on arms sales? You mean while this is going on, selling arms to Libya is perfectly OK? As if that horse hasn't left the barn already.

The editorial concludes with a  sentence that is anti-climactic to the point of self-parody:

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights says Colonel Qaddafi’s use of lethal force may constitute crimes against humanity. We agree. There needs to be a thorough investigation.

Take that, butcher! In six months, we'll issue a report that'll singe your eyebrows.

As pitiful as these suggestions are, none of  them has been implemented yet. The UN Human Rights Council did manage to kick out Libya, the Times reported. It's hard to see Qaddafi being deeply wounded by that; on the other hand, given that the UN Human Rights Council includes Angola, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Gabon, Saudi Arabia, and, until now, Libya, I guess you could say that if you get kicked out of that group, you must be really, really bad. (In fact, the Times said that "Arab and African states had opposed suspending Libya’s membership from the 47-member Council, fearing it would set a precedent.")

I admit that it's hard to know what to do. I doubt the world is waiting eagerly for another U.S. takeover of an oil-rich Arab country in the name of democracy. But even if all we can do is make gestures, let's at least do that.

Incidentally, I'm taking no position on how to spell his name. As I understand it, the initial letter represents a sound that doesn't exist in English, but not the one represented by "q" in "Qatar" or "Al Qaeda." If you know any Greeks, ask them how they pronounce a gamma.

Oh, and this link is pretty amusing, especially if you read the links. There's even a comment about Wisconsin.

UPDATE 2/26/01: The Security Council has voted to impose sanctions on Libya and refer it to the International Criminal Court for a war crimes investigation. Obviously it won't have any direct effect on what's going on, but it might possibly encourage more defections from among his remaining supporters.

No comments:

Post a Comment