100 Years of Air Strikes

Ian Patterson

The world’s first aerial bombing mission took place 100 years ago, over Libya. It was an attack on Turkish positions in Tripoli. On 1 November 1911, Lieutenant Cavotti of the Italian Air Fleet dropped four two-kilogramme bombs, by hand, over the side of his aeroplane. In the days that followed, several more attacks took place on nearby Arab bases. Some of them, inaugurating a pattern all too familiar in the century since then, fell on a field hospital, at Ain Zara, provoking heated argument in the international press about the ethics of dropping bombs from the air, and what is now known as 'collateral damage'. (In those days it was called 'frightfulness'.) The Italians, however, were much cheered by the ‘wonderful moral effect’ of bombing, its capacity to demoralise and panic those on the receiving end.

A hundred years on, as missiles rain down on Gaddafi’s defences and sleeping Libyan soldiers are blasted and burned, we hear claims of a similar kind: the might of the western onslaught will dissipate all support for Gaddafi’s regime and usher in a new golden age for everyone. Just as Shock and Awe were meant to in Iraq. Or bombing and defoliation were meant to in in Vietnam. Or as the London Blitz was meant to break Britain’s spirit. Yet all the evidence suggests that dropping high explosive on places where people live increases their opposition, their solidarity and their resolve. Happy Anniversary.


  • 21 March 2011 at 1:44pm
    pinhut says:
    Hard to believe how people are swallowing this.

    The Guardian has had two great moments in the last two days. Firstly, saying bombs were raining down on "Gaddafi" rather than Libya. That's clever. Then, today, they are calling the rebels 'revolutionaries'. Well, are they? And, if they are, and they are Muslims, perhaps they should be called "Islamic revolutionaries." No, The Guardian wants people thinking of Pancho Villa and Che, it seems.

    Then, last night on BBC World News, a live conversation with a Tripoli resident who said bombs had landed close to her home. The BBC anchor felt moved to immediately ask, "Are you happy that Tripoli is being bombed?" It would have been perfection itself if she and her house had been wiped out at that very moment by a Tomahawk missile and the world had listened to it live. "That was Rahma from Tripoli. Now, the sport."

    There has been no consultation of any electorate, just a UN resolution. And, even then, it appears people are running the show without being willing to acknowledge the fact. So, it's a UN approved operation, only it's not the UN acting, and it's going to have NATO involvement, but it's not a NATO operation, etc. It looks a lot like the mystical decision to invade Iraq, that, after X number of inquiries and millions spent, was not actually able to identify who took that decision.

    And supposedly, all this is to 'protect civilian life' and, perhaps, to advance democracy. And yet we're bounced into this without any democratic input whatsoever, and billions are suddenly available when, apparently, as people on the right (who are also supporting this) have been chanting, "We're broke" vis a vis The Cuts.

    The sight of Cameron, Osborne, Fox and Hague, suddenly prancing around the TV studios of London like reincarnations of Winston Churchill is quite sickening to behold. Well, at least this will disabuse any of those new generation of voters who may be anti-war of the notion that either party can be trusted to stop this endless cycle of military invasion. It's not a party thing, it's a state thing. It saddens me to say it, but I belong to a state that favours endless war in the developing world as a central plank of its strategy for sustaining its power.

    • 21 March 2011 at 2:17pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ pinhut
      If you spend Billions on arms, sell the products to all kinds of dictators and believe that a 'nuclear deterrent' (sic) is a good way to invest taxpayers' money then you welcome any opportunity to see how the damn things work. The prancing and parading come later (that sickening shot of Bush swankng under a "Mission Achieved" banner). The German Foreign Minister refused to join the fun - probably because they haven't got any weapons they want to test. But where would we be if politicians thought things through before they acted?

    • 21 March 2011 at 2:54pm
      pinhut says: @ Geoff Roberts
      I won so many free rounds of drinks with the simple question - "Where was Bush when he did his fighter pilot stunt and announced Mission Accomplished?"

      Oh, I didn't mention, supposedly Liam Fox said, when asked, "What's the point in having all this military capability if you're not going to use it?" There's logic for you. But, in some respects, it was the closest I've heard so far to any truth on this. And poor Joe, talking about how we need to support nuclear power! Sure, but how can you support anything when it is going to be furnished via the state, that is institutionally incapable of sharing accurate information about *anything* with the public? The history of BNFL and its various incarnations is exactly correlative with the propaganda spewed during a military operation such as the one that's just begun.

    • 21 March 2011 at 8:03pm
      Joe Morison says: @ pinhut
      Who needs to be told things by the government when they can volunteer for Operation Absinthe Binge? (Our country needs us!)

    • 22 March 2011 at 12:05pm
      Joe Morison says: @ pinhut
      Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power by George Monboit in today's Guardian.

    • 22 March 2011 at 2:29pm
      pinhut says: @ Joe Morison
      His conversion is suppposedly due to this event so far not having given anyone a lethal dose of radiation. Given that the full health consequences have yet to emerge, he may come to rue this premature ejaculation of enthusiasm. For example, only this week, almost a full year on, there is new evidence of the continuing impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

    • 22 March 2011 at 7:00pm
      Joe Morison says: @ pinhut
      His conversion has been a long process. It seems to have been the same 'journey' (nurse!) as mine: initial opposition gradually worn down by fear of global warming.

  • 21 March 2011 at 3:06pm
    outofdate says:
    Operation Odyssey Dawn. Do your own jokes. La, lala, lala, lala, la, lalalala...

    • 21 March 2011 at 3:17pm
      pinhut says: @ outofdate
      I dug that 'Enduring Freedom' it was clever, like Ian McEwans 'Enduring Love'

      There was even an Operation Panther Claw!

      Some of my own suggestions :

      Operation Mugwump
      Operation Absinthe Binge
      Operation Showaddywaddy
      Operation Enhancing Shareholder Value

  • 21 March 2011 at 3:21pm
    pinhut says:
    Of course, if they had Operation Panther Claw then they should have had :

    Operation Tiger Feet
    That's neat, that's neat, that's neat
    I really love your Tiger Feet...

  • 21 March 2011 at 4:37pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    We owe a lot to Tedder and Churchill. When the stupifying stupidity of trench warfare entered its fourth year Tedder proposed constructing thousands of planes to drop bombs on the German trenches. Tedder's thinking dominated the inter-war strategic 'thinking' - "no war in the next ten years but if one comes we'll drop so many bombs that they will give up." Irak was one of the first targets too. Churchill accepted and so did the Americans. "Carpet bombing" was the phrase that made it sound very domestic. Collateral damage? Pretty much all bombing causes collateral damage. Good for the arms manufacturers and their shareholders of course.

  • 21 March 2011 at 5:15pm
    bornyesterday says:
    Technically, the first aerial bombings in recorded history occurred in 1849 -,9171,853864,00.html

  • 21 March 2011 at 7:05pm
    cigar says:
    I don't often agree with Rory Stewart, as he's been largely in support of "humanitarian intervention" (that is, "humanitarian bombing"), but what he says at the end of his latest essay for the LRB pretty much sums up the problem with this latest good intentioned war:

    "But today, though I am in favour of the no-fly zone, it seems as though the real danger remains not despair but our irrepressible, almost hyperactive actions: that sense of moral obligation; those fears about rogue states, failed states, regions and our own credibility, which threaten to make this decade again a decade of over-intervention."

    And sadly it is not only the BBC but also al-Jazeera that has willingly become a propaganda organ for this latest crybaby-Liberal Good War. The Oxbridge accent and the Caucasian faces became so common in their coverage, I might as well have been watching the BBC. When their paymaster, the good Emir ruling over their little island sent troops to Bahrain to help crush the rebellion there, no editorials protested this - in fact I think they didn't even mention it. Wonder if he would have defended his latest foreign policies in front of Frost the Despot Slayer.

    Now I learn from the French LMD that the Emir has sent some 4 fighter bombers to drop humanitarian bombs in Libya. I can picture the tweets and the victorious cries from their reporters: the "Qataris Air Force rocks!". Hopefully CNN will then sue them for breach of copyright.

    • 22 March 2011 at 1:07pm
      pinhut says: @ cigar
      "this latest crybaby-Liberal Good War"

      Not being disingenuous, but what does this mean?

    • 22 March 2011 at 3:19pm
      cigar says: @ pinhut
      I refer to the childish, too overtly Romantic attitude of Liberal interventionists, who, with an almost total lack of self-awareness, completely forget the death and misery their supposedly good intentions have brought to the rest of the world. At the same time, not being content with being that naive, they go farther, and letting their pathetic, drama queen sobbing wipe out common sense and reason, they insists on turning victims first into saints, and then into little retarded children that have to be rescued from the clutches of the latest fashionable bogeyman.

      And so they succeed on turning the victims into perennial wards of one or another foreign power, unable to establish, let alone administer a working state. Of course, that begs the question whether that was a main goal.

      Perhaps the worst example of their folly is Kosovo, whose saintly statesman and bureaucracy have just recently been uncovered as rapacious, absolutely immoral criminals.

    • 22 March 2011 at 3:36pm
      pinhut says: @ cigar
      Ok. That's a clarification. And what about the fact that this intervention appears to be enjoying huge popularity on the right of the political spectrum?

      And, no, I'm not employing a distraction here, just curious as to your thoughts on that.

      My own take :

      It seems that the right can find a justification for any military intervention. Because this one is being presented as compatible with the doctrine of liberal interventionism, it is catching the left in a bind (something like the use of 'defending women's rights' to justify being in Afghanistan).

      But Iraq and Afghanistan remain okay, despite not fitting the same profile, as they were about rooting out terrorism, WMD, and so on.

      I see the Libya situation as being akin to those souls who expound that wildlife documentary makers should intervene to save a seal cub being flattened by a walrus, etc, the idea being that simply bearing witness places a moral obligation upon onseelf, even if what would unfold without intervening is nature / natural. I am sorry, but I do not accept that. Instead of this eleventh hour remedy by Western military intervention, where was the opposition from our governments to arming this man? He did not just go mad last night (I don't buy the crazy stuff, anyway), and he certainly did not establish this regime yesterday. It was built up over many years, with the support of many nations. Libya would have no tanks and jet fighters without having purchased them. Their planes are French Mirage fighters, I wonder where they came from? I'd do no more than let them manufacture Sopwith Camels under license. On that level, if the Western powers were serious about defending democratic societies, we could agree tomorrow to only allow advanced weaponry to be sold to them. If Cameron is capable of saying, "Because we can't do good everywhere, does not mean we should not do good somewhere", why, that would apply equally to the UK unilaterally advocating the policy I just sketched (Robin Cook tried it, didn't he? And it was crushed) Instead, we now see the West destroying equipment it supplied, reminiscent of the Catch-22 caper where a handsome profit is made by bombing their own airfield because "Everybody owns a share in the company."

      Me? I would have not intervened. If that is being painted as impossible, as appeasement, etc, so be it. Those wanting the intervention were chirping about how 'doing nothing' would mean the West bore responsibility for what unfolded, well, great, that at least would be truthful! We might then have a debate over how the situation came to pass, a debate that included where Gaddafi got his gear, and precisely which British arms manufacturers and dealers had sold what and how much profit they made. Instead, we're treated to Cameron instructing us on how 'we' have literally saved 'thousands of lives'. I find that sickening, in light of what I have sketched out above.

      Sorry this is so long.

    • 22 March 2011 at 6:20pm
      Joe Morison says: @ pinhut
      It's not bearing witness that places a moral obligation, it's knowledge. When we know someone's in trouble, we have a duty to help them. It may well be that there is nothing we can do to help, even that if we do try to help we will only make things worse - those are practical considerations which do nothing to change the principle.

      I agree entirely with the need for the debate you are calling for but not that leaving the Libyans to their fate is a worthwhile price for bringing it into being. We can only start from where we are: we shouldn't have armed them; but given that we did, what should we do? I've always found the Christian Just War theory convincing; and as i've no idea whether what the West is doing now is going to make things better or worse, so i can't say whether i approve of it or not. I just hope.

    • 22 March 2011 at 6:58pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Joe Morison
      Wise words, Joe!
      As a side issue, not without its amusement value, the incredible Westerwelle, German Foreign Minister supports the NATO action but is aligned with China and Russia in not condoning the bombing. This pleases Ghadaffi, and the Islamic radicals and earned him gracious praise from the German'Left Party' (Die Linke) who against all interventions wherever they may be. Apparently the Libyan rebels are not very firendly to German reporters right now, but if Ghadaffi holds on, Germany can probably sell him alot of ne weapons, nuclear power stations and a tunnel or two. Nobody ever intervenes for purely humanitarian reasons, however much they may claim this to be so.

    • 22 March 2011 at 7:24pm
      Joe Morison says: @ Geoff Roberts
      'Purely' is the key word in your last sentence, Geoff, and if you replace 'Nobody' with 'No politician', i have to agree. If the decision had been mine, i'd have surrounded myself with people who know what they're talking about, and few that i know of know more than Patrick Cockburn. Here are his thoughts, they are not encouraging.

    • 22 March 2011 at 8:44pm
      cigar says: @ Geoff Roberts
      I don't think that after their experience in Afghanistan, Germans will care much about not having their own reporters on the backward desert wastelands of eastern Libya. And if you are right, Geoff, in that their lives would be at risk if they stayed there, then that shows the rebels to be little better than Ghadaffi in the final analysis. That is, unless you want to split hairs by talking about degrees of evil.

      The Afghanistan adventure has been sold to all NATO members, including Germany, as a moral one: to help secure and build a modern functioning state that will improve the lives of all Afghans. But military intervention, invasion and occupation can never be legitimized for long, because these actions in themselves are immoral. The regime that condones it will always lack legitimacy, as in the case of Karzai's hopelessly corrupt government.

      And as with your (plus Joe's) other darling, the Belorrusyan "opposition", the Lybian "rebels" proved themselves a bunch of incompetent, stupid cowards, who, the moment they faced a serious resistance, fled back to their Benghazi stronghold and began to demand - not beg - Western powers to intervene (there was never even an attempt to limit a possible coalition to neighboring Muslim countries untainted by imperialist adventures). They have positively stained their cause, turning themselves into pawns of imperialist powers that have time and again, for hundreds of years, though nothing of murdering hundreds of thousands of innocents to maintain their hold over foreign peoples and lands, justifying it with a typically Christian hypocrisy, later dressed over with appeals to Enlightenment values they didn't respect much even at home. To believe that they will change their ways after so many examples of their gratutious violence, of their arrogant, cavalier attitude towards lives not their own, risks turning one into another of their useful idiots.

      And the idea of a "no-fly zone" is and has always been a sham. The moment you tell another state that it can't fly any planes over the land it controls - and has a right to based on international law - you are attacking its sovereignty and so - for all intents and purposes - you are declaring war on it. So "the dog Khadaffy and his maffya" (as a "rebel" called him in al-Jazeera - I just love the phrase, as it really fits that bastard and his lackeys) will have a right to bomb any airbases in Malta, and any and all barbarity that follows will need no justification but that of the done deed. After all the Geneva conventions on the conduct of war don't apply to the American, British and French government, plus any attack hamsters that choose to follow them. The chief bully isn't even a member of the Court that is supposed to rule on such matters! Why, then, should another murderous lunatic with imperial ambitions behave according to the rules reserved for pathetic losers?

      And Khadaffy will also have the right,if any stray bombs kill a hundred Maltese civilians, to get them out of the way of his vengeful bloodlust by calling them "collateral damage" or by issuing a lame apology, such as those lately much favored by the snake oil merchant in the Oval Office and his top general, the pompous, many-ribboned gorilla, David Petreaus.

    • 23 March 2011 at 12:29am
      pinhut says: @ cigar
      Apart from the rhetorical pitch, I'm on the same page as cigar.

    • 23 March 2011 at 12:51am
      pinhut says: @ pinhut
      "LISTEN TO MY LAST WORDS anywhere. Listen to my last words any world. Listen all you boards syndicates and governments of the earth. And you powers behind what filth deals consummated in what lavatory to take what is not yours. To sell the ground from unborn feet forever—
      “Don’t let them see us. Don’t tell them what we are doing—”
      Are these the words of the all-powerful boards and syndicates of the earth?
      “For God’s sake don’t let that Coca-Cola thing out—”
      “Not The Cancer Deal with The Venusians—”
      “Not The Green Deal—Don’t show them that—”
      “Not The Orgasm Death—”
      “Not the ovens—”
      Listen: I call you all. Show your cards all players. Pay it all pay it all pay it all back. Play it all pay it all play it all back. For all to see. In Times Square. In Piccadilly.
      “Premature. Premature. Give us a little more time.”
      Time for what? More lies? Premature? Premature for who? I say to all these words are not premature. These words may be too late. Minutes to go. Minutes to foe goal—
      “Top Secret—Classified—For The Board—The Elite—The Initiates—”
      Are these the words of the all-powerful boards and syndicates of the earth? These are the words of liars cowards collaborators traitors. Liars who want time for more lies. Cowards who can not face your “dogs” your “gooks” your “errand boys” your “human animals” with the truth... For this you have sold out your sons. Sold the ground from unborn feet forever. Traitors to all souls everywhere." - William S. Burroughs, Nova Express

    • 23 March 2011 at 7:20am
      Joe Morison says: @ cigar
      Out of curiosity, cigar, what would you have done if you'd been a Gaddafi hating citizen in Benghazi when the uprising began? Would you have been clever enough to realize that it couldn't succeed and looked on in disdain as your fellow townsmen and women went off to certain defeat? Or would you have taken control and led them to victory? Or would you have hoped the rebellion would succeed but when you saw it wasn't going to have died fighting; surrender not being an option for the brave, and begging for or demanding help beneath your dignity (by the way, i saw a lot more begging than demanding on the news channels i watch - are both equally despicable in your view, or if we'd seen nothing but abject begging would you have been more inclined to help)?

      I can understand your anger towards the imperialist West, but your contempt for the rebels (or "rebels" as you label them - is that because only winners can be real rebels, or is it that real rebels would never beg for or demand help?) leaves me baffled.

    • 25 March 2011 at 1:43am
      cigar says: @ Joe Morison
      I would have gone to the front, and found myself fighting not for democracy and Eastern Lybia's independence, but for Clinton, Cameron and Sarkozy's falling political stars.

      I say demand because that's what I felt the protesters in Benghazi were doing in front of aJ's cameras just before they got their wish. As their fellow rebels in the west kept fighting while facing considerably worse odds (they were much closer to Ghaddafi's own base), in Benghazi they just left the western roads to the city undefended, and massed downtown for what then -with large screens set up on the sides of buildings- looked like another color revolution, a PR event made specifically for the media.

      It was one of the Cockburn brothers who last week described the forces fighting Ghadaffi in the East: it turns out most of them had received covert aid from the US in the past. It is difficult to believe those links are not being used now by the US to promote its own interests. Robert Fisk reported in the Independent, also last week, that Obama had tried to get the Saudis to deliver arms to the rebels in the east, but it seems the Saudis had enough work defending absolute monarchy in Bahrain and their own land.

      Now, if the Lybian rebels had limited themselves to taking weapons from the US to defeat or keep Ghadaffi's forces at bay, I don't think they would have necessarily compromised themselves. After winning, if the US or its European allies tried to meddle too much on their affaris, forcing them to sell off every valuable state asset to the usual suspects, and take the IMF/IRDB Kool Aid, they could have told them to go to hell.

      But they wanted it easy, they wanted powerful foreign bullies to win their war for them, and they got their wish. But now everybody in the region - their neighbors - will find it difficult to trust them, associating them with the recklessness and treachery of the West. And in the "street", I am pretty sure right now their star is falling quite rapidly.

    • 25 March 2011 at 1:59am
      cigar says: @ pinhut
      There are those in the right who are against foreign interventions of any kind. I don't know about Britain, but in the US the best examples are Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan. I am just mentioning it - I don't support these two.

      As to the Sopwith Camel, the design must be in the public domain now, but it wouldn't be useful even as a short range liason aircraft, as even a dwarf with epilepsy would be able to shoot one down with a rusty Kalashnikov. A more effective policy would be to let Gadaffi (I can never get this Fascist clown's name right) manufacture such high tech white elephants as the JSF, the Eurofighter and the F-22, so forcing him to tax his people to such a point even his own tribe would revolt.

    • 25 March 2011 at 3:18am
      pinhut says: @ cigar
      So, you're criticizing them as 'cowards' for employing a successful strategy. Got it.

      "I would have gone to the front, and found myself fighting not for democracy and Eastern Lybia’s independence, but for Clinton, Cameron and Sarkozy’s falling political stars."

      You omit the motivation of simply wanting an end to Gaddafi's regime. I doubt anybody in Libya is naive enough to believe that the Western powers will not exact benefits from this action, but the idea that one interest completely annihilates the other, that is flawed. After this, whoever comes to power will make a deal and on we go.

      I don't support the intervention, but I also don't support the idea that the rebels are cowards, a moral valuation that I don't see you as presenting any evidence, other than your own perjorative descriptions, to support.

      At the end of it, Gaddafi's power base itself, is largely derived from heavy weapons and aircraft secured from abroad, along with a large contingent of mercenaries. As such, it's hardly earth-shaking that any armed opposition might feel that they will also need access to foreign support to fight. If your view had any logical basis, then the rebels would have been calling for a ground invasion, so that these cowards would not have to do any fighting at all. Instead, the rejection of that has been a feature of their demands.

    • 25 March 2011 at 3:20am
      pinhut says: @ cigar
      "as even a dwarf with epilepsy would be able to shoot one down with a rusty Kalashnikov."

      As is clear from my scenario, this would not occur. The Sopwith Camels would come under fire from muskets.

    • 25 March 2011 at 4:44am
      cigar says: @ pinhut
      From your next to last reply above:

      "I don’t support the intervention, but I also don’t support the idea that the rebels are cowards, a moral valuation that I don’t see you as presenting any evidence, other than your own perjorative descriptions, to support."

      So there can be no such thing as a cowardly rebel? Does the noun "rebel", then, refer to some idea that exists outside of reality, whose qualities can not be changed by the corrupt material world we share? This is the kind of shallow thinking that always brings down your fellow armchair freedom fighters Geoff and Joe. And these half hidden appeals to the honor of these rebels sound a bit rich coming from someone accusing me of manipulative rhetorical "pitches".

      If you read my comments again, you will see that I mention al-Jazeera coverage, that the rebels left the roads into their town unguarded to join a mob meant for a PR event. You could have asked for links, but now I have an even more recent report that shows how wrong you and your pals are about these clowns:

    • 25 March 2011 at 10:39am
      Joe Morison says: @ cigar
      Pinhut didn't say the rebels were brave, and he said absolutely nothing to suggest that rebels are by definition brave: not for the first time, you are attacking people for opinions they haven't expressed - that isn't shallow thinking, it's dishonest. And i don't understand why you call us 'armchair freedom fighters': Geoff and pinhut have said they are against the intervention, and i have said i don't have an opinion on its wisdom because i have no idea whether or not it will make things better. You are the one lecturing them on tactics and courage.

      As for your link above, it only shows that the rebels are hopelessly disorganized, which is hardly surprising; and, yes, of course and as usual, the people at the top are fighting between themselves for power - lions have a habit of being led by donkeys.

      It's your venomous branding of them as cowards that i find both bizarre and contemptible. So, they ran away when confronted with a professional and highly equipped army - that sounds like common sense to me. What would you have done? You've every right to criticize their tactics, and to point out the West's part in creating the whole mess in the first place. I suppose that if you have ever faced the sort of situation these people have and had behaved heroically, you would be in a position to comment; but in my experience, people who have been in that situation do not throw such insults around. My father was a bomber pilot in the war, and he once said to me "The thing about the war was, by the time it was over most of the people you knew were dead"; he never accused anyone of cowardice because he knew what it was to be brave.

    • 25 March 2011 at 11:50am
      Joe Morison says: @ Joe Morison
      My dad talking about being interrogated and threatened with death by the Gestapo.

    • 25 March 2011 at 1:08pm
      pinhut says: @ cigar
      "So there can be no such thing as a cowardly rebel? Does the noun “rebel”, then, refer to some idea that exists outside of reality, whose qualities can not be changed by the corrupt material world we share?"

      You're both factually wrong and rude with it. I advise you to read my words more carefully before labelling my thinking as shallow. FWIW, nowhere do I state that the rebels are brave, so your clever clever tour de force of logical argument above, is, sadly, a total and utter waste of time.

      If you want to send your email address to, I will let you actually know what I think of you, as a tirade of abuse is well owed you for this unhinged and disrespectful reply.

  • 21 March 2011 at 7:16pm
    Nick Holdstock says:
    For more on the history of aerial bombing see:

    The Lindqvist book is particularly good.

    • 31 March 2011 at 8:25am
      streetsj says: @ Nick Holdstock
      The Lindqvist book is excellent. I recommend it to everybody who has ever expressed an opinion on "intervention".

  • 21 March 2011 at 8:19pm
    Joe Morison says:
    It's all going to hinge on what happens. It's easy to see how this could all go well, it's just as easy to see how it could be a total fuck up. This 'crybaby-Liberal good war' might do good or it might do bad - it's not like Iraq when a good ending was always a fantasy because this really does seem like a popular uprising. I wanted to cry when it looked like it was going to be crushed, and i'll want to cry if we make it worse.

    Over-intervention might be worse than under-intervention, but they're both hideous.

  • 22 March 2011 at 7:24pm
    Kevin O'Brien says:
    Read the article and most of the comments, aspects of people are so true, maybe that's the difference I like about LRB. But still, even though I have read Rory Stewart's article and found some truth in some parts, I still wonder If someone here is thinking alike me...

    Rory Stewart mentioned about "moral rights" to intervene, or "moral duties" towards Libya's citizens (and in this case, If we say they are divided into two: Qaddafi supporters and rebels, "Libyan people means rebels, I believe), I have one question in my mind still unanswered:

    Where is the morality of "the intervention to somebody else's country"?

    Qaddafi is not honest, is not right, indeed although in past we have seen much more desperate situations making it "necessary to intervene" to cease a possible incoming massacres/genocides, but nobody really cared, such as in Rwanda, or such as in Srebrenica. I'm not so optimistic about nations learnt their lessons from these conflicts so now they are "breathing as one", so that's the reason I'm also not optimistic about the reasons of intervention.

    Thank you.

  • 23 March 2011 at 8:44pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    What really bothers me about the media coverage on Libya is that many of its reporters describe Qaddafi as being unhinged, mentally unstable as if this was enough to justify the attacks. Just how normal is G W Bush, or T Blair come to that?
    The attacks cannot be justified on moral grounds. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was said to be because the Japanese would fight on for years, to save American lives the bombs were dropped. We now know that these were tests - to see just how many people they would kill. Is Libya a new test market?

    • 24 March 2011 at 1:13pm
      pinhut says: @ Geoff Roberts
      If only there was another planet to go and live on.

      There is absolutely no way to stop what is going on. I remember hearing all the arguments over the value of participating in the UKs democracy last year, but, honestly, look at this event. The public actually only has any power if they are mobilised in the streets, a la Egypt, and tossing their leaders out of power. Paradoxically, of course, we have the Hillary Clinton's et al cheering that on, but where we really need it is on the streets of London, Paris, Washington, Madrid, Rome, Berlin.

      Anyway, let's see how the parallel realities of supporting Arab agitation for freedom rubs up against the protests in London this weekend. Let me guess, our protesters are 'spoiled'...

    • 25 March 2011 at 8:17pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ pinhut
      Why don't we go and live in Norway? The only countries that have manage to avoid the insanity of imperialism are the small ones like Norway. (Small in population only of course.) They have an excellent school system, a fine welfare system, a balanced budget and the worst weather in Europe. They never win anything but they don't care. They are satisfied with living in a peaceful country.

    • 26 March 2011 at 2:25am
      pinhut says: @ Geoff Roberts
      Do I have enough money to relocate to Norway? How much would I need, AJ? And is it possible to find a job? As an itinerant, I would definitely consider it, even given my general aversion to cold.

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