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Those Who Abstained in Libya Vote
By Micah Halpern


Monday March 28, 2011

The revolutions that are taking hold in the Middle East have become more about ousting thugs than about inculcating values of freedom, equality and democracy.

That said, it is important to analyze the resolution to authorize international intervention into Libya. The United Nations Security Council passed the resolution, ten member countries voted in favor, five abstained. The abstentions were: China, Russia, India, Brazil and Germany.

Each of the five countries has an individual and collective reason for casting their vote in that manner and now they are each publicly condemning the attacks by the international body as it patrols the No Fly Zone. Collectively, they wanted to make certain that Libya did not use its own air-force in this battle of wills and wits, but what they did not want - and what they now have, is international strikes against Libya.

Any serious military strategist will confirm that in order to create a real No Fly Zone it is necessary to destroy air command centers in order to eliminate mid-air dogfights that place pilots and aircraft in harm's way. It means taking out anti-aircraft batteries and tanks so that the playing field is made more even.

The steps necessary to create a true No Fly Zone are more than problematic - they are truly abhorrent, for China, India, Russia, most of the Arab speaking and Muslim world and most UN member states. And yet, that is what they, albeit inadvertently, created. Now they are asking "how?" How can the West, under the leadership of the United States, simply intervene in the domestic activities of a member state?

China and India combined constitute most of the world's population. Then add on the Arab world. Most of the world, it now becomes apparent, is distraught over the sanctioned actions of the United Nations in Libya. Again, they are wondering "how?" How can Western nations get so involved in the inner workings of other nations just because they do not like their human rights agenda?

This is the first time in the history of the United Nations that the Security Council has intervened in the domestic affairs of a member state who has not attacked, threatened or violated another member state. The five abstaining countries and the Arab and Muslim world are seriously worried about the precedent that has been set. And rightly so.

Had the five countries voted "no"rather than abstained, the resolution would not have carried. In uncharacteristically politically polite moves, they forced through the resolution. In the Security Council a "no" vote is a no, an abstention goes over to the "yes" side.

So, given the current climate of internal turmoil, in order to try to obviate and stymie any international intervention, Syrian President Bashar Assad placed calls to many of his fellow Arab dictators and monarchs, i.e. thugs, to make certain that they will stand with him against international intervention - should it come to that. And indeed, he was given the assurances.

The Germans are maintaining that the United States and the other Western states have been misled. They claim that it is Libya's right to put down internal insurrection without international intervention. Most importantly the Germans are pointing out that they simply do not know that opposition forces represent what we hope them to represent. The German rationale is that they are fearful that, in the end, the Middle East may become even more anti-Western and the entire situation will blow up.

China thinks that the intervention is the height of US arrogance.

How dare the United States intervene with weapons because they do not like the leader of Libya, they ask? How un-democratic. Most member states in the UN are not democratic and the United States should not be given carte blanche to intervene.

The situation now can best be described as a diplomatic earthquake. The tremor is felt around the world - the tremor is the aftershock of the intervention into Libya. The situation is growing out of control. Countries are beginning to align themselves with Libya, countries fearful that they will end up in the same situation.

The aftershock in a diplomatic earthquake, just like in a real earthquake, can be more damaging that the quake.

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4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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