The Impossibility of Humanitarian War

Libya and Beyond

Authored by: Robin Andersen

The Routledge Companion To Media and Humanitarian Action

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138688575
eBook ISBN: 9781315538129
Adobe ISBN:


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Along with Hillary Clinton, well-known humanitarian author Samantha Powerswho ran the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights in Obama’s National Security Council, together with United Nations ambassador Susan Rice, made the case forcefully, that if the United Sates military did not intervene in Libya there would be a bloodbath. The charge that Qaddafi was “murdering his own people,” was a talking point often repeated in the mainstream Western press. But Jacobin magazine in 2016, confirms that claims that Qaddafi was on the verge of carrying out genocide against his people were largely baseless. Also in 2016 the New York Times reported that Human Rights Watch later showed that media claims about Qaddafi’s repression of protesters, which were used to sell the war to the public, were grossly exaggerated by an order of magnitude. Yet on the basis of the 2005 provision endorsed by the UN World Summit in New York on March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973, which authorized a No Fly Zone and member states “to take all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populations under threat of attack,” while also “excluding a foreign occupation force of any form.”

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