The online journal Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is hosting a series of commentaries from left-wing groups and commentators from around the world on the crucial question of whether or not to support the US-NATO military intervention in Libya.
A number of questions have arisen with the intervention, including how progressives outside Libya should respond to calls from Libyan rebels for a “no-fly zone” for protection; whether the Western intervention was a necessary, and lesser, evil than a potential bloodbath carried out by Gaddafi in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi; and whether the action advances or weakens the democratic revolution in Libya and the Arab world.
It includes the “open letter to the left” in support of the intervention by progressive journalist Juan Cole. Cole says: “I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorised intervention has saved them from being crushed … Assuming that NATO’s UN-authorised mission in Libya really is limited (it is hoping for 90 days), and that a foreign military occupation is avoided, the intervention is probably a good thing on the whole …”
Socialist author and commentator Gilbert Achcar raises the need to debate the Libyan intervention as a specific case. He says: “Does it mean that we had and have to support UNSC resolution 1973? Not at all. This was a very bad and dangerous resolution, precisely because it didn't define enough safeguards against transgressing the mandate of protecting the Libyan civilians.
“The resolution leaves too much room for interpretation, and could be used to push forward an imperialist agenda going beyond protection into meddling into Libya's political future. It could not be supported, but must be criticised for its ambiguities.
“But neither could it be opposed, in the sense of opposing the no-fly zone and giving the impression that one doesn't care about the civilians and the uprising. We could only express our strong reservations.”
It also includes the statement by the Australian Search Foundation Committee that “supports the UN Security Council decision to call for a ‘no-fly’ zone and other measures to protect civilians in the civil conflict going on in Libya”.
It says that “as long as the National Transitional Council keeps foreign military forces out of the Libyan territory, and the military forces implementing the UN decision respect the sovereignty of the Libyan people, then the military action under the UN Security Council decision is justified and should be supported”.
Links has also posted a number of replies to Achcar and Cole. Phyllis Bennis and Vijay Prashad respond to Cole’s open letter. Kevin Ovenden, a member of the British anti-war party Respect, and Alex Callinicos, a leader of the British Socialist Workers Party, respond to Achcar.
Other articles on Libya include US socialist Barry Sheppard looking at the role of the left-wing Latin American governments organised into the Boliviarian Alternative of the Americas.
There are also statements on the war from left parties around the world.