Regarding the Sept. 1 opinion article “Libya’s next fight: the West“: Surely writer Ramzy Baroud has read a few too many conspiracy novels, or believes the worst about the United States and any Western government. After reading further and following the link to the website he writes for, I think his biases are clear. Thus he fails to judge the intentions of the NATO powers fairly.
That said, did the U.S. have selfish motives in helping the Libyans? Probably in part. Everyone usually has multiple motives for the things they do, not just one altruistic one. Does that mean the U.S. helped Libya only to expand its “imperialist empire?” No.
Baroud’s points contradict themselves. In past articles he has talked of the U.S. focus on security — an obsession as he calls it — and its willingness to interfere in a country to maintain security. Yet, the U.S. felt safer when Hosni Mubarak was in charge of Egypt, as it’s always better to deal with an enemy you know.
By that reasoning, “security” should have been a reason for the West’s inaction in Libya, not action. In fact, NATO held off on action in Libya until it knew the rebels were serious, could succeed, had support, and would cast democratic reforms. This point differentiates the rebellion in Libya from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, the rebellion has been led by Libyans with only tactical assistance from foreign powers.
Baroud continues his anti-Western discourse by quoting Western officials as “judging” Libya because of their fear of terrorist influence. He then connects these comments to the idea of American control over the Arab region.
In reality, NATO intervention helped the rebels succeed. The foreign powers knew whom and what they were dealing with. By helping the rebels, the U.S. put its own security at risk.
Nothing is more terrifying than chemical weapons falling into terrorist hands during this transition phase. The West took the risk of helping and hopefully bringing some stability to a chaotic region and, perhaps, someone to justice.
Is there talk about security, especially in the U.S.? Yes. Is Libya another Iraq or Afghanistan? No. All the security talk is the result of the West risking its security to help. We don’t want to get bit in the rear end in the meantime. The talk about security has increased only because this is the most important part of the revolution — the part where revolution and chaos need to give way to order, law, governance and even Libyan security.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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