Protests as UK joins 'irresponsible' bombing raids on Libya

By staff writers
March 19, 2011

Britain and the USA have bombed Libya with more than one hundred Tomahawk cruise missiles, claiming enforcement of the UN-mandated no-fly zone.

But peace campaigners say the action is "dangerous and irresponsible", calling an immediate demonstration outside Downing Street in London, from 3-4pm on Sunday 20 March 2011.

"These are not precision guided weapons but weapons of mass destruction that will create many civilian casualties in Libya," declared the Stop the War Coalition - which has published '10 Reasons to say no to western intervention in Libya'.

The Coalition suggests that, far from liberating the Libyan people, military intervention could well strengthen support for Colonel Gaddafi and widen the conflict throughout the Arab World.

"The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan have not been learned," says the STWC. "The price paid in the devastation of two countries and hundreds of thousands of deaths will now be extended to the people of Libya.

"The record of the west in the region is of support for autocracies in cynical self-interest. Western governments have prioritised cheap oil, arms sales and support for oppression of the Palestinians above the rights of the Arab peoples.

"David Cameron exemplified this approach by touring the region selling arms to dictators at the very moment of maximum repression."

Libya responded to the UN resolution backing “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people by declaring a ceasefire but UK Prime Minister David Cameron says that Muammar Gaddafi's regime should be judged by its actions, not words.

The beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia has warned that bombing Libya is unlikely to help the country move towards democracy and will increase the suffering of its people.

The thinktank, which works with several Christian peacemaking organisations, has raised four concerns about the bombing campaign.

• The action will inevitably kill civilians and increase the cycle of violence, whatever military targets are destroyed. There is also a real danger of ‘mission creep’.

• The recent resistance to tyranny across North Africa and the Middle East has been characterised by indigenous, grassroots movements. The ability of these movements to operate democratically will be undermined by US and UK military action, in which the priorities will be based on western governments' interests rather than the needs of the region's people. Western intervention may also play into Gaddafi's hands, allowing him to present his opponents as stooges.

• The UK government seems to have jumped at the possibility of military intervention without considering other effective, humanitarian options. These include economic and political pressure, financial assistance and intelligence-sharing with anti-Gaddafi movements and working with the Arab League to prevent the flow of non-Libyan mercenaries to Gaddafi's forces in Libya.

• UK authorities have permitted the sale of weapons to the Gaddafi regime within the last six months, while peaceful protests continue to be suppressed by Bahraini and Saudi forces, who have all received UK weapons in the last year.

Those who have solidarity with the Libyan uprising must not only support the people in Libya but also "denounce any attempts by the Western forces for military intervention", said Dr Horace Campbell, professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University, USA in an interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman last week.

"It is up to the peace and justice movement to stand with one voice to say that at this point any kind of humanitarian intervention must be through the United Nations and to support those who are suffering at the borders and those who are suffering inside of Libya. We do not need military intervention by Britain, United States or any forces of NATO at this present moment," said Professor Campbell.


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.