I firmly believe the left and progressive forces have made a serious error in viewing and equating Libya with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Libya is not the same situation; there has been a popular people's uprising.
Other Libya articles
Libya: 'Humanitarian' war escalates
Two wars in Libya
Springtime for NATO in Libya
Libya: A different view of the rebels
Editorial: Support uprising, not Western bombs
Repression and hypocrisy in Arab world
Bahraih: tensions rise despite repression
Video: Electronic Intifada journalist Matthew Cassell on 'activist journalism' and the Arab Spring
Antony Loewenstein on Israel and the Arab revolutions part 1
Antony Loewenstein on Israel and the Arab revolutions part 2
That revolt risked being wiped out by Gaddafi’s better-armed and more merciless army. The rebel leadership appealed for limited outside help, but have been specific that they didn’t want extensive external intervention in their freedom struggle.
I think they are being very careful, temperate and sensible about the aid they receive and on what terms. The rebel alliance is obviously very mindful about the West’s past colonial role in the Middle East and particularly wary of too much involvement and interference in Libya.
They also know any revolution perceived by the Libyan people to be imposed by outside forces will not succeed.
Of course the policies of the USA, Britain and France are carried out on the basis of geopolitical and national interests. So of course the USA and other European powers didn’t enter the conflict in Libya motivated by humanitarian concerns for the lives of civilians.
But I do believe the UN action saved many thousands of lives in eastern Libya and was therefore justified. Otherwise the people of the east would have suffered the same fate, with mass killings torture and imprisonment as those who rose in revolt in the western Libyan towns of Tripoli, Zuwara, Zawiyah, Misratah, etc.
Considering that any aid the left could offer would be inadequate in helping out the rebels and that boycotts or protests would be ineffectual in stopping massacres, something needed to be done - and quickly.
For whatever combination of reasons that UN and NATO allies decided to intervene in Libya, it was the right thing to do. I think that the public outcry around the world to stop the impending massacres had a lot to do with it. Similarly, previously in Bosnia and East Timor, the west was pressed to act by the tide of public opinion.
But also the very public exposures of US, British and French political and military support for the oppressive dictatorships in Egypt, Tunisia and others in the Middle East have had a big effect on the Western powers. The West wants to appear to be helping those suffering under a cruel regime.
I also think that Britain, France and the US thought they would win back some friends and regain some credibility and influence in the region by backing the right side this time. If this was the case, then I believe they are gravely mistaken.
Of course the US, Britain and France are not motivated by the welfare of Libyan civilians, but they sometimes must act as if they are for self-promotion, media-manipulation and their public relations image.
Note the reluctant US attitude to getting involved in Libya, markedly different than the aggressive gung-ho approach to the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions.
The fact that the USA had to be dragged into it by France and Britain illustrates the different situation. The Libyan rebels knew the situation was dire and called for outside assistance. The Libyan rebellion faced annihilation and many more thousands of Libyans would have certainly died. The rebel call for intervention by these countries was in reality a choice between the lesser of two evils.
Sometimes in life it comes down to these types of life or death choices. The Gaddafi regime is the main problem at the moment; other things must be sorted out later. Of course the USA and the other major powers are the enemies of the Libyan people, but it a matter of being practical and having priorities.
Most people in the Middle East are only too painfully aware of the extensive past history of interference by the USA, Britain and France in the region. And the immense suffering and slaughter the west’s backing of these disgusting and brutal regimes has caused.
The Arab and other peoples of the area also know who has funded and supplied the military hardware and political support that has permitted Israel to dispossess and oppress the Palestinians and steal their land.
They know these major powers as well provided the substantial assistance that propped up all the brutal dictatorships the people have just overthrown in Egypt and Tunisia and are boldly confronting throughout the region.
While Libyans are pleased to see the USA, the Europeans and other UN countries fighting the Gaddafi forces, they do not want foreign ground forces in their country. And the Libyans and other Arab countries have had enough of colonialist and imperialist intervention and being used as client states by the major powers.
While the USA, Britain and France are the enemies of the Libyan people, the rebels need to survive and defeat Gaddafi today if they are to be able to fight another enemy tomorrow. We cannot let the Libyans be defeated, as many Libyans will be massacred and the Libyan struggle will be very seriously setback.
Also their defeat will dishearten and impede other revolts going on in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria and in other parts of the region and other places. It's easy for the western left to give advice, but we must remember it is their revolution to make and any support the left could offer is too feeble to really help them at this time.
Let's trust and support the struggling Libyan people and not make premature, speculative and baseless decisions about the Libyan situation and the development and outcome of the Libyan revolution.
The changes taking place in the region are empowering the people and I’m sure it will not be business as usual in the Middle East for the imperialist West or any new dictatorships that try to impose themselves on the peoples of the region.
The Arab and other peoples in the region have had enough of repressive, crony capitalist Arab regimes, but they don’t want western colonial and imperialist domination either. Historic changes are happening in the Middle East, the peoples there want genuine freedom, independence and liberation.