Should Libya pay the same price as Iraq?

By Huang Xiangyang (
Updated: 2011-03-28 17:30
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The military action by Western powers against Libya is fast losing its moral ground – if there were any – more than one week after the first round of airstrikes.

It is self-evident that the allied forces launched the attack only to save the rebels from the brink of defeat and help them topple Muammar Gadhafi's regime to establish a pro-West government. With the world's most powerful air force providing cover from above, the rebels now seem to have the tides turned in their favor, regaining two key oil complexes over the weekend with no substantial resistance on a fast advance toward the capital Tripoli. There has been talk of big fat oil deals from the rebels in return for the West's support.

The UN resolution on a no-fly zone to protect civilians has degenerated into the emperor's new clothes. Gadhafi's air force has been grounded since the first day of Western-led attacks, which makes the ongoing air raids look more like a show of military muscle or a case study of the law of the jungle than a serious implementation of the UN resolution. As Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa put it: “What's happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone.”

Some of the countries that voted for the UN resolution cannot but feel being cheated. Protection of civilians has become empty talk. In addition to at least 100 civilians killed in the airstrikes, more than 350,000 Libyan refugees have fled the country – that's how they are better protected.

For those who still believe that the ends justify the means, who still think that the current war against Libya -- a sovereign nation -- is necessary because ‘Gadhafi is a tyrant', their memories are short. We have seen so many dirty things done in the guise of beautiful excuses. It was under the banner of building a democracy that the Iraq War was fought. A democracy Iraq may be now, but between 104,000 and 223,000 civilians had died in that country within a short span of three years, according to the World Health Organization's study.

Are we willing to see Libya pay the same high price?