US demonstrations against Libyan military intervention

By staff writers
March 19, 2011

Protesters have taken to the streets in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco and other US cities as bombing raids begin against the Gaddafi regime in Libya.

The demonstrators, whose rallies are also marking the eighth anniversary of the war and occupation of Iraq, say that widening the bloodshed is not the solution to the current crisis in Libya, or the best way of supporting the popular opposition to a dictatorial regime.

Several thousand marched in Chicago on Saturday 19 March, and the events included a rally with more than 70 local faith based organisations, along with student and community groups.

There were also protests in Times Square, New York. Demonstrator Roberto Rodriguez declared: "Even though the president is claiming saving civilian lives, if Afghanistan, Vietnam and Iraq are any indication, we would probably create more civilian casualties than save them."

Anti-war protesters also gathered near the White House in Washington, DC, demanding that troops be withdrawn from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting Bradley Manning, the army private accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, and opposing intervention in Libya.

There were loud cheers as Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon’s secret history of the Vietnam War, was later published in major newspapers, was led away by police. Around 100 people were arrested in the capital.

Jeremy Kessler of the religious peace organisation, the Fellowship of Reconcilition, in the USA, said: "The United Nations Security has used even stronger pro-interventionist language [than in previous reolutions]. Because there is no autonomous, anti-Gaddafi government in Libya, it is not clear to whom, exactly, member states would 'furnish … assistance.' Instead, they are encouraged 'to take all necessary measures' against whatever forces threaten civilians and civilian populated areas. An 'occupation force' is disallowed — but it is not clear that such a phrase even excludes non-aerial assault."

A leading article in The Nation magazine says: "It is far from certain that the No Fly Zone [in Libya] will not lead to other disasters. First, it is not clear that UN forces will be able to avoid civilian casualties. No-fly zones have, at best, a mixed record as a form of humanitarian intervention.

"Up to now, the democratic awakening has opened up the Arab world’s future because it has been undertaken by the Arab people, who now believe they have control over their own destiny. We should avoid actions that change that narrative.

"[E]ven if a no-fly zone can be implemented with minimum civilian casualties, we don’t know if it will save lives or tilt the playing field toward the rebels. Air power does give Qaddafi some advantages, but a no-fly zone might do little to stop his forces from attacking and murdering the opposition using other means if he chooses to ignore or abrogate the cease-fire.

"[T]here is a danger that a no-fly zone will distract from other measures that could be just as effective. Financially strangling the regime by cutting off all sources of money from abroad, sharing real-time intelligence with the rebels, working with others to facilitate the flow of assistance to them while stopping the flow of pro-Qaddafi mercenaries into the country, if done in cooperation with the Arab League, all have as much or more promise with less risk than does the far more dramatic gesture of a no-fly zone.

"Finally, the language of the UN resolution, while it forbids 'foreign occupation, is so broadly worded that many argue it amounts to an open-ended declaration of war against Libya," concluded The Nation.

The full article may be read here:


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.