Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Nowruz

From The Brooding Persian to one and all

On this March equinox, the first day of spring and of the Iranian New Year.

Here is to Ruth, Disobedience, Rebelliousness, Perseverance, Patience,
Curiosity and Wonder.

And in the absence of peace on this earth as always,
to another fleeting year, minimal torments, swift wars and rapid deaths.

For the multilingual among you, from a friend, the only bearable prayer in memory:

چه دعایی کنمت بهتر از این

خنده ات از ته دل

گریه ات از سر شوق

روزگارت همه شاد

سفره ات رنگارنگ و

تنی سالم و شاد ..... که بخندی همه عمر

بهاران خجسته باد

Saturday, March 19, 2011

War in Libya

A few short pieces on the latest intervention in North Africa as International forces bombard targets in Libya

Roger Cohen on the pros and cons of intervention: Be Ruthless or Stay Out

Interesting Guardian piece, Endgame in Libya: how the world called time on Gaddafi

One issue throughout, insiders admitted, was the role of America. The UK and France, both smarting from criticisms over their initial stumbling response to the Arab spring, were happy to take the lead on pushing for military action. The French were keen to make up for the blunder of offering riot police to the soon-to-be-overthrown Tunisian regime in the early days of the disturbances.
Aides admitted Cameron was "very frustrated" by criticism he had received for taking arms dealers with him to Kuwait and Egypt shortly after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and the failure to rescue British nationals in the early days of the uprising in Libya. The prime minister was keen to seize control of events.

A very thoughtful, well written piece from Le Monde Diplomatique. Robert Zartsky’s Libya: what would Orwell do?

Orwell was merciless on the complacent certainties of intellectuals. “No-fly zones” and “surgical strikes”? How not to think of Orwell’s remark that “one has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool”?

Mr. Zaretsky, nonetheless, is clear on where he might stand at the end of day:

We do not know what a post-Qaddafi Libya would look like, but it cannot be any grimmer than the current model. Orwell concluded that, at the end of the day, matters were rather simple in Spain. “In essence,” he wrote, “it was a class war; all else was froth on its surface.” It is also a class war in Libya: the few who have everything and are willing to murder and maim in order to maintain their power; the many who are fighting for their dignity. While he would not be surprised, Orwell would be as dismayed by the pusillanimity of the West today as he was seventy-five years ago.

A welcome cautionary voice --of all people-- that of Victor Davis Hanson, Should We intervene in Libya?

As we contemplate action against Libya, the Obama administration has not in any logical or coherent fashion explained why, where, when, and how the United States should support popular unrest... Do we express support for regime change in a Middle Eastern country when protesters pour into the streets, or only when such protesters seem to be on the edge of winning? [...] Is the Saudi autocracy less harsh to its own than the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, or is it Saudi Arabia’s unique oil status that earned its present exemption from American pressure? And as we contemplate moving into Libya, are we opposed to or supportive of the ongoing Saudi incursion into Bahrain to stamp out dissidents there? Are the Saudis acting as good allies who are protecting Western petroleum interests and the contractual integrity of U.S. military installations, or as reactionary forces that are denying the people a voice in their own affairs?

[there were large segments in what I quoted that deal with Iran and Syria. I just highlight the Saudi part given the other intervention by forces in Bahrain at the moment]

And a few timely questions from the Independent’s Robert Fisk:

So here are a few things that could go wrong, a sidelong glance at those bats still nestling in the glistening, dank interior of their box. Suppose Gaddafi clings on in Tripoli and the British and French and Americans shoot down all his aircraft, blow up all his airfields, assault his armour and missile batteries and he simply doesn't fade away.[...] what if we are simply not in time, if Gaddafi's tanks keep on rolling? Do we then send in our mercenaries to help the "rebels". Do we set up temporary shop in Benghazi, with advisers and NGOs and the usual diplomatic flummery?

And what if the "rebels" enter Tripoli and decide Gaddafi and his crazed son Saif al-Islam should meet their just rewards, along with their henchmen? Are we going to close our eyes to revenge killings, public hangings, the kind of treatment Gaddafi's criminals have meted out for many a long year?

Then there's the danger of things "going wrong" on our side, the bombs that hit civilians, the Nato aircraft which might be shot down or crash in Gaddafi territory, the sudden suspicion among the "rebels"/"Libyan people"/democracy protesters that the West, after all, has ulterior purposes in its aid. And there's one boring, universal rule about all this: the second you employ your weapons against another government, however righteously, the thing begins to unspool. After all, the same "rebels" who were expressing their fury at French indifference on Thursday morning were waving French flags in Benghazi on Thursday night. Long live America. Until...