- Posted March 14, 2011 by
London, United Kingdom
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stories from Second Life
Progressives Debate No Fly Zone
Calls for a "no fly zone" in Libya have created a problem for progressives.
Progressives were critical in the past when countries like the United States invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq under the influence of neo-conservatives in the Bush administration. Yet progressives now find themselves tormented over intervening in Libya by way of a "no fly zone."
A group of progressives gathered this morning at the Red Star Bar, which is part of the SL Left Unity sim in Second Life, to see where they each stood on this issue.
In the United Nations and in NATO, the French and the British have been leading the call for a no fly zone. The Arab League has also called for the same. But the Americans have been wary of getting involved in still a third Middle Eastern conflict and the Russians and Chinese are opposed to meddling.
Framing the Question
Plot Tracer started the conversation at the Red Star Bar, "Ok, the discussion is on how the left should react to the calls for a no fly zone in Libya."
Agnes S. Sharple started out by saying, "I think this is very complex and difficult subject ..."
At this point, Nadia Lane articulated her own concerns, "About this, I am in a dilemma. On the one hand, I'm against intervention in countries for oil and profit, but on the other hand, how can we not act when there are human right catastrophes occurring under our noses?"
Kay "Mermaid" Uggla summed up the issue before us like this, "I think it is a matter of who we think is on the right side in Libya -- Gaddafi or the others."
"They're both Libyans," said Agnes.
Kay went on to say, "And if there should be any actions against either side, then there would always be a lot of mighty voices against and for it."
"Of course," said Agnes in agreement.
Kay then summed up the point from her own national perspective, "And are we Europeans are hiding behind the UN?"
At this point Plot chimed in, "There are no cries for a "no fly zone" in Bahrain as the Saudis have just invaded it."
Kay followed Plot's line of thinking, "And what would the other non-democratic countries say to [taking this action]? Or what about China or Russia, when they invaded the smaller countries around them, like Tibet [in the case of China]?
Plot added, "Yep, I would also say, where is the call for intervention in other theatres of war?"
Thorny issues for the progressives at the bar to sort through.
Some of the people in the bar, like Trent Infinity, were just here to listen ... because as Trent said to me, he wanted more information and the issue was so complex that he needed more time to consider the issue.
The emotional side of this debate.
At one point Kay said something that resonated with several of us. "My heart is for a heavy and mighty no fly zone and intervention on the side of the rebels," she said.
Plot Tracer told us this: "A friend of mine said to me, 'If you could look a Libyan in the face and say why you would not like a no fly zone while his family are bombed, then'... well you know. But the fact is, these people -- the Libyan people -- have been bombed by the US and the UK before."
Agnes asked, "Yes, but what can we do?"
"It's not just my heart that tells me that a no fly zone is a must," I told the group. "It's the fact that Gaddafi called his people "cockroaches." I'm sorry, these are people we are talking about and nobody has the right to kill people like they are animals (and I'm also into animal rights to so that expression is repugnant to me). But we're talking about an evil dictator here. Isn't it our moral imperative?"
Monarchy Republic said, "I think bombing anyone is wrong, and I'm skeptical and have been from the start, like the 'bad ogre' role that Gaddafi is playing."
Plot considered this and laid out the alternatives, "I said at the start, we either see this as a Guernicca - to step in, or we see it as an Afghanistan - an intervention to impose a western corporation friendly regime."
There was some debate about whether Libyan's rebel leaders had called for a "no fly"zone or not.
Plot asked us, "Do you think the people of Libya - those who want rid of Gaddafi -- would trust the west?"
Agnes responded, "That's a good question. I'm not sure I would if I was a Libyan."
Nadia answered, "The people of Libya, the rebels, are pleading for a no fly zone. That makes it different from outright meddling."
She referred them to today's article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek that had quoted a rebel as saying that a no fly zone was critical to leveling the playing field.
Plot objected, "No, this is not true, Nadia. There are SOME voices asking for a no fly zone and SOME saying no."
Ilsa Hesse saw it this way, "The Arab League has called for a no fly zone, and the rebels are more inclined after recent losses. The question is, does a no fly zone need American fighters. Egypt, for instance, has an air force that could handle everything except for the AWACS work."
Plot considered this imperialist, "The Arab League, surely, is controlled by the oil lobby?"
Ilsa responded, "The Libyan [rebel] leadership is saying, 'Yes, air support, no, no ground support.'... the guy [Gaddafi] is murdering people... that makes it pretty cut and dry in my eyes... does the party have a different view about how to handle dictators who kill workers now than they used to?"
Plot countered, "I would say that the last time the west imposed a no fly zone, was in Iraq. This actually added to the suffering of the Iraqi people. For example, the no fly zone stopped medicines and other critical supplies from getting to the people of Iraq."
In his caution, we could hear this common refrain, be careful about what you ask for.
Libya's past belligerence
Nadia Lane said, "We know that Libya was behind Lockerbie, and so technically Libya has committed aggressive acts before."
Plot said, "We don't know that Libya was behind Lockerbie... some would say it wasn't."
Kay also responded, "That is history." Referring to the Pan Am Flight that was bombed in 1988.
Agnes asked, "Didn't they admit it?"
"No they didn't admit it," Plot said.
Nadia Lane: The Daily Telegraph (UK) reported today, March 14, that Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the rebel leader, said in an interview that he could prove Gaddafi had a role in the bombing of a plane at Lockerbie.
Plot was skeptical and added that "the evidence has not been forthcoming."
Oil and Intervention
"Of course, real politics is about energy," Kay said.
Eliza Madrigal answered, "Yes, well that is the rationale for removing other dictators..."
"Kay, I tend to agree with you -- this is about energy," Plot said. "But I am not so sure I would agree with you about intervention."
Eliza responded, "Interventions can make big messes with even the best of intentions. There are layers and layers of agendas in play when other countries step in."
Other outside voices have been calling for various actions to be taken. For instance, the options are not just simply intervene with a "no fly zone" or stay out all together.
Plot referred us to an African voice.
From: The All African People Revolutionary Party
Date: February 27, 2011
"Our duty is to support the masses and encourage their full participation in the Libyan and African revolution. We must also protest any move towards sanctions against Libya and demand the imperialist stay out of Africa. Absolutely no military invasion!"
Ilsa objected, "The AAPR is an African group that has branches in 'many U.S. states' ... I am not sure if that says much for their view on Libya... nor does the fact that their leadership is from Ghana... my roots are German, but I am not sure that gives me a right to decide France's future."
Agnes made a point to say, "I think we must be careful not to play the so-called superior western inference. It's a question of where to draw the line."
Ilsa countered, "There are times when you must do what is right, even if it hurts. Do I think the United States should decide the fate of Libya? No! But I DO think that when the people of Libya come asking and begging for our help, then I am no better than a butcher myself if I do not respond, including recognizing that my government, and other governments, may have something to offer..."
What should we do?
She asked, "Plot, so, inside of a protectrated civil war, are you willing to see the People of Libya fail?
Plot said, "I think though, this is not as cut and dried as let's go in or let's not."
Ilsa said that another "reason for a no fly zone is the slow down Gaddafi from bringing in outside mercenaries to fight his war."
Prior to the discussion, Concord Mesmer's notecard was passed out. He came to this conclusion, "The No Fly zone is not going to be a sufficient condition for the overthrow of the despised leader but it is going to play a part. The Libyans must overthrow the regime and must continue the process of Arab Spring."
After the discussion, I asked Plot Tracer to sum up the general consensus and he put it this way: "I would say that the people in the room were divided. The left in the real world are calling for no intervention. I feel that is painted as a bad thing -- but I think the western media and the interests of the west are really pushing this. I think we need to be careful with a no fly zone - it was a disaster for the people of Iraq."
I left the Red Star Bar this morning heartened that conversations like this were showing that Second Life is becoming a vital "third space" for rational discussion, learning and civic engagement.
Participants were from several European countries and the United States.
No consensus. But a good discussion had taken place.
Pic 1: Seated from Left to Right -> Plot Tracer, Nadia Lane and Kay "Mermaid" Uggla
Pic 2: Agnes "S" Sharple
Pic 3: Trent Infinity and Eliza Madrigal
Pic 4: Ilsa Hesse and Monarchy Republic
Pic 5: Monarchy Republic
Pic 6: The Red Star Bar at SL Left Unity sim at SLUrl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Flagg/197/4/115