It is despicable that thousands of people continue to be massacred in Libya but there is no urgency from the international community and regional organizations to intervene. The ghost of ‘strategic interests’ is back to haunt us in yet another conflict. In this new world order, we have to rely on the mercy of super-powers to prevent bloodshed yet that only happens when they have something at stake. Gadhafi is waging war on the revolting masses and soaking the desert with the blood of his citizens whose intention was to conduct a peaceful protest. This is not the first and last time the world has watched from the comfortable seats of the Colosseum while genocide occurs.
The United Nations has once again been exposed as a sleeping giant failing on its promise to achieve international peace and security. It has resorted to tackling problems at the tip of the iceberg— food aid, shelter and security for refugees and conducting body counts after the conflict is over. The UN also adopted a comprehensive arms embargo on the Libyan government, and ordered member states to freeze the assets of Gadhafi and his family including a travel ban on the regime a move many believe will have no major impact on the conflict at this stage. Libya was also suspended from the U.N. Human Rights Council for committing gross and systematic violations of human rights. One can only wonder how Libya was on such a committee in the first place considering the regime’s record on human rights violations.
How can we empower the United Nations to tackle the problems at the bottom of the iceberg? The solution is creation of an adequate rapid response structure. There has been no progress made on the front of creating an official UN army which would be a game changer. What we currently have are peacekeeping forces from member states that are often ineffective, poorly equipped, not well trained and under rules of engagement that prohibit use of force to restore peace. The consequence has been a list of failed missions and delayed response in numerous conflict nations such as Somalia and Sudan (Darfur).
Would the developed countries be willing to fund an army that might interfere with their national interests? What will be the command structure of a UN army? Would such an army be a threat to the sovereignty of nations? Would force be used inappropriately? There plenty of stumbling blocks and challenges towards establishing a UN Army. However, there is no doubt that having such a force would be critical towards reducing the number of casualties and preventing genocide, mass migration and the debilitating refugee crisis.
The crisis in Libya demonstrates that in spite of endless summons on spreading democracy by the United States, the Obama administration is tip toeing around the issue– not to be viewed as meddling in the affairs of other sovereign nations. Whenever the rubber hits the road, the U.S government has recently reached out to the international community before taking action– a historically slow and inefficient process of dealing with international conflicts.
Having a permanent UN army under the umbrella of the United Nations would yield swift and decisive action than the status quo. The United States is facing huge budget deficits and is likely to be more conservative in future foreign military interventions. China which is ascending into a super-power position has not shown interest or leadership in foreign military ventures. The only choice people in conflict areas are left with is to run from their homelands into refugee camps or seek asylum in other nations.
Until we have a functional international body that can react effectively to crisis situations, we will remain spectators while innocent lives are lost. Gaddafi’s son Saif put it clearly that “If we do not agree today on reforms, we will not be mourning 84 people, but thousands of deaths, and rivers of blood will run through Libya,” Blood is currently flowing on the streets and deserts of Libya but no one is coming to their rescue.