Blog | Seumas Milne on NATO’s Libyan adventure

Today's Guardian carries an excellent piece by Seumas Milne on Nato's intervention in Libya.

Ceasefire Bites - Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:00 - 0 Comments

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Today’s Guardian carries an excellent piece by Seumas Milne on Nato’s intervention in Libya. Amidst all the euphoric rhetoric and self-serving posturing emanating from political and media elites in Britain, France and the US, Milne strikes a sobering note on what NATO intervention has actually achieved.

A key passage:

All the while, Nato leaders and cheerleading media have turned a blind eye to such horrors as they boast of a triumph of freedom and murmur about the need for restraint. But it is now absolutely clear that, if the purpose of western intervention in Libya’s civil war was to “protect civilians” and save lives, it has been a catastrophic failure.

 Another important point:

What is now known, however, is that while the death toll in Libya when Nato intervened was perhaps around 1,000-2,000 (judging by UN estimates), eight months later it is probably more than ten times that figure. Estimates of the numbers of dead over the last eight months – as Nato leaders vetoed ceasefires and negotiations – range from 10,000 up to 50,000. The National Transitional Council puts the losses at 30,000 dead and 50,000 wounded.

And again:

But for Libyans, [the NATO intervention] has meant a loss of ownership of their own future and the effective imposition of a western-picked administration of Gaddafi defectors and US and British intelligence assets.

One of the most interesting points Milne raises, albeit in passing, is the fractured nature of the Libyan rebel leadership. It is now clear that the TNC, despite its best attempts, is having huge difficulties asserting its authority over disparate, practically autonomous local groups (such as the Misrata militias and Belhaj’s Tripoli forces).

This would certainly explain the barely-disguised desperation in Mustafa Abd-Al-Jalil’s request for Nato forces to extend their mission in Libya until the end of this year. Although the official line is the need to prevent Gaddafi loyalists from staging a return, it seems almost certain the TNC’s real fear is of losing grip. A fear, we hardly need mention, that would be shared by the TNC’s western backers and the corporate interests waiting in line at the gates.

Read the full piece here.

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Ceasefire Bites is Ceasefire's news and opinion blog.

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