Opinions of Peter Belmont
Speaking Truth to Power

Egypt to Libya’s Rescue?

by Peter A. Belmont / 2011-03-11
© 2011 Peter Belmont


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Egypt may have achieved the possibility of a truly democratic system of governance. Libya needs to get there, but has an actively vicious dictator in place. Can Egypt help Libya?

After a powerful presentation around the Goldstone Report on a rainy night in NYC, a discussion of the human rights problems for Gazans morphed into a discussion of human rights problems for Libyans and the good luck of the Egyptian rebellion. Someone wondered if the Egyptians could help the Libyans.

We decided they could. Day dreams, I know. But still. We imagined it might go like this:

Egypt’s military, after consultation with whomever now “constitutes” “the people’s voice” in Egypt, makes a pronouncement and sends troops into Libya.

What pronouncement?

Egypt has reliable information that the Gaddafi regime of Libya constitutes a threat to Egypt’s security. The armed forces of the Libyan rebellion, by contrast, are not believed to constitute a threat at this time. Egypt will accordingly, at 12:01 PM today, Egyptian time at the Egyptian-Libyan border on the Mediterranean, send its troops into Libya to disarm the Gaddafi regime and turn the governance of Libya over to the leaders of the rebellion. Once this is accomplished, Egypt’s armed forces will immediately withdraw. Egypt’s armed forces have no intention of becoming, much less cooperating with, an army of occupation.

In a second, and explanatory communique, the Egyptian Army will explain to the curious that this invasion is perfectly legal under the by now well established doctrine of customary international law called “anticipatory self defense against mosquito bites” which has been offered by way of explanation for what would otherwise appear to be wars of aggression, by the USA and by Israel, each the strongest and least threatened country in its region, a doctrine accepted without demur by most of the world. Libya threatens Egypt’s border. No other nation does.

Just imagine it!

Egyptian tanks, still bestrewn with Egyptian flowers, rushing across the border, possibly meeting no resistance at all as Gaddafi realizes there is no future for him and his family. The rebellion becomes an instant success. There is no looting, but rebel forces nevertheless protect the museums and Gaddafi’s residences (and the money if they can find it). Democracy spreads in the Arab world without the “west” lifting a hand (or otherwise interfering). More flowers on the tanks, not a shot fired! USA? No thanks! As little children are often heard to say, “My do it!”

Is this a really bad idea?

There are dangers to this idea. One danger is uncertainty as to who, exactly, speaks for the Libyan rebellion. Another is who speaks for the Egyptian rebellion. It seems likely that any government in Libya will be better for the people of Libya than the present government, but one could be surprised. Democracy may not be achieved, and even if achieved, may prove to be as corruptible as other “democratic” systems. The USA and Israel come to mind, democracies which are quite insensitive to human rights within their own purviews and in the wider world as well. It is, however, doubted that Libya will succumb—whatever else it may succumb to—to delusions of imperial growth and may thus be content to seek to secure the benefits of its own citizens.

On the whole, I think this would be a very, very good use of the Egyptian military, and much preferable to “western” intervention.


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