1. There is much gloating in the West over what is happening in the Arab countries. They, the West, have been peddling democracy to the world and at times they would assassinate leaders or invade countries so as to impose their democracy. Now the Arabs are doing this work for them. The Arabs themselves are overthrowing their authoritarian Governments so as to, presumably, install democratic Governments in their places.
2. Overthrowing Governments is serious business. It normally involves violence and killings. Fortunately the people in Tunisia and Egypt have achieved their objectives without too much bloodshed. But the Libyan Government is not ready to go. So are the Governments of Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.
3. The situation in these four countries is not to the liking of the western democrats. They want to make sure that the despotic rulers surrender and the forces of democracy take over. If the people cannot overthrow their Governments by themselves, than the West must take a hand in ensuring that the authoritarian rulers are deposed.
4. I don’t think it is right for the Western powers to interfere. We believe strongly in non-interference in the internal affairs of independent nations. That was what independence was about: the right to manage a nation’s affairs by its people. And the uprisings of people, be they simple demonstration, civil wars or rebellions are basically the internal affairs of the countries’ concerned. No one really has a right to interfere.
5. But then one remembers Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Cambodia the Pol Pot regime decided to get rid of all intellectuals and others believed to be against the Government. The world knew something horrid was happening in that country but a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of nations stood in the way. As a result two million Cambodians were systematically bludgeoned to death.
6. In Bosnia-Herzegovina the Serbs openly announced that they intended to cleanse the country of European Muslims. With guns and bombs and missiles they set about doing this as the world watched live on TV. Even when NATO soldiers were sent in, they turned a blind eye when the Serbs systematically massacred 12,000 Bosnian men and boys while the women were raped. The Dutch soldiers tasked with protecting these people simply moved away.
7. Far from helping the Bosnians the West decreed that no weapons should be supplied to them. This is to “reduce” killings. Let the killings be done by the Serbs only. Allowing the Bosnians to defend themselves, would result in Serbs being killed also. And so the Bosnians were massacred by the Serbs, without Serb deaths adding to the numbers killed.
8. By the time the United Nations decided to send in a peace-keeping force, a hundred thousand Bosnians had been killed.
9. The price for non-interference is clearly very high. But is it better for other countries to send forces to help the rebels or the Government. The Americans went into Korea, Vietnam and Grenada to support the Governments of these countries. The result is a full-scale war in which a lot of people, not just soldiers were killed. The end of the wars saw Korea divided into two and the defeat of the United States in Vietnam. Only in Grenada was the mighty US successful.
10. Apparently interventions in the internal affairs of nations do not always yield good result. It is worse when force has to be used.
11. Interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in increasing the numbers killed without the objectives being realised. Indeed the situation now is perhaps worse than before intervention.
12. Today we see NATO forces not just supporting the rebels in Libya but have actually carried out military assaults against Government forces. They have interpreted “no-fly zone” to mean outright aerial attacks against Gadaffi. In fact it is obvious that NATO is bent on assassinating the Libyan leader and his family. Is this the right way to reduce bloodshed?
13. Bloodshed is not something to be encouraged. But when attacks are made against the Government there is bound to be bloodshed.
14. We have all but forgotten that one of the most important reasons for setting up the United Nations is to end wars. What is happening in Libya and other Arab countries is war, civil war. It is the bounden duty of the United Nations to stop the wars. But the United Nations should not pass judgement and take sides. The United Nations should not help one side to defeat the other.
15. But then how should the United Nations go about stopping the killings? Is it by a “no-fly zone” resolution? We are seeing now that “no-fly zone” means aerial and ground attacks by NATO forces against Libyan Government forces. Basically the United Nations have declared war against Libya. It is hardly in keeping with an institution to end wars and promote peace.
16. What the United Nations should do is to engineer a peaceful solution. It should try to get the two sides to agree to negotiate, or to submit to United Nations arbitration, or to seek for judgement of the claims by a world court. If all these fail a referendum supervised by the UN should be held so as to ascertain the true wishes of the people.
17. If any side refuses to all these means of peaceful settlement, then the United Nations must act against the recalcitrant side. Force may need to be used to get the recalcitrant to accept United Nations’ efforts at peaceful settlement of the dispute.
18. It is important that the United Nations does not allow NATO or any other power to act on its behalf. The operation should be a United Nations operation commanded by United Nations – appointed commanders.
19. This action is not new because the United Nations has always been tasked to keep combatants apart. However the United Nations may have to use more force than usual in order to separate the warring factions and bring them to the negotiating table.
20. It is likely that if the operation is truly a United Nations operation for the purpose of giving both sides a hearing or for conducting a national referendum, the parties to the conflicts are more likely to show respect for the move.