Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In order to save civilians, we have to slaughter them

So the UN has authorized the use of force against some Libyans in order to save others.

The coalition partners in this operation include France, the UK, the US, and possibly some Arab states. Canada is tagging along too. The Harper Government has asked rhetorically whether we believe in freedom or merely say we do.  Their reply is to join the UN in violating Article 2 of the UN charter in which the sovereignty of each of its members is assured. The UN is only intended to intervene in conflicts between or among states, but internal affairs of a state are specifically off limits.

Article 2 finishes thusly: "Nothing in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state..." 

So the UN doesn't like the Libya's form of government? They are not permitted to intervene.

The Harper Government's (no longer the Canadian government) response is problematic. As a democracy, Canadians are accustomed to the idea that if those that form Canadian policy make a mess of things, the voters have the opportunity to vote them out of power. But now Canada is bound to join a war chosen by foreign bureaucrats. How are we to express our disapproval? 

Now I'm no fan of Gaddafi, but it seems to me that there are many places around the world where civilians either are or were being slaughtered by their governments (whether fairly elected or not), and the UN has not seen fit to act.

Perhaps I could be convinced if our particular method of lending assistance to civilians were not so devastating. But unfortunately, since the beginning of WWII, the preferred method of military intervention by the Anglo-American powers has been the mass bombing attack--the one method which has been field-tested and which is conclusively proven to have the highest ratio of civilian deaths to military targets destroyed.

And much of this field testing took place in an era when military targets were obvious targets--you had airbases, certain types of manufacturing, certain types of radars, armored formations and troop concentrations--but the military scenarios in the middle east involve small groups of fighters hidden among civilian populations. Attempting to destroy such targets by air strikes leads to the common Afghan problem--large numbers of civilians killed for each demonstrated insurgent.

The UN plan to save civilians will involve the murder of many others. It seems a little imperious to be deciding which Libyan civilians should live and which should die.

The air strikes have already attracted buyer's remorse from some Arab States (who had earlier called for a no-fly zone). 

"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians," Arab League secretary general Amr Mussa told reporters.

Even the Taliban, it appears, understand the UN Charter better than the UN.

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