Gates is being cautious for the wrong reasons – US journalist

Commenting on US Defense Secretary Gates’s assertion that the US is cautiously working to understand who makes up the Libyan opposition, reporter Patrick Hayes says the US should have first understood matters before hastily jumping into the country.

­“Gates is being cautious for the wrong reasons,” said Hayes. “I think there are good reasons to be cautious, because this humanitarian intervention by the West in Libya was very much a knee-jerk reaction to what was going on there. It wasn’t a planned strategy – it was a war without a real aim, something the West jumped into more for reasons of grandstanding than anything else – without any real clear sense of whom they are doing it on behalf of, who the rebels are, and what they want to achieve from it.”

“They are nervous now that there might be extremists in the mix, they want to be sure they are dealing with the right people, they say,” he continued.

Representatives of the Libyan opposition are in Washington this week to meet senior US officials in a bid to win more foreign assistance to help topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.  

“You can’t bomb Libya into democracy,” Hayes told RT. “The West can’t sweep in like guardian angels and just say we are going to remove Gaddafi and give freedom and democracy to the Libyan people.”

He says the West has underestimated the complexities of the situation there, and is just starting to discover this.

“Yes, Gaddafi symbolized the problem,” he said. “But ultimately the solution doesn’t come from the West removing Gaddafi. I think it will be absolutely dreadful if this bombing does end up killing Gaddafi, because Gaddafi should be removed by Libyans, not by the West.”

­Political writer Diana Johnstone believes that developments in Libya are playing out slowly because France, the UK and the US thought that Gaddafi would fall very quickly.

“This is taking longer than they thought, and it becomes obvious what the whole thing was about from the start, which is regime change,” she said. “So what the US is doing is totally illegal, although the US will pass a law making it legal for them to take the money they say is Gaddafi’s money and hand it over to a group of rebels.”

The political writer says the money should not be simply handed over to the rebels.

“The international community should take the suggestion that was made at the very start by Latin America and Africa and Russia to have a cease-fire and negotiations,” Johnstone declared. “That should have been done at the start.”

According to Johnstone, while the world believes the Libyan leader is a legitimate target, there has been no proof of his brutality.

“Here in the West, in France and other countries, people are taken by the media,” she said. “But there has been no proof that there’ve been massacres of Libyan people, this was asserted by rebels. There has been no independent investigation of these charges and it’s been assumed that Gaddafi is a criminal because they want to get rid of him.”

“The West, very arrogant and very violent, is seeing one world and the rest of the planet is seeing a different one,” Johnstone concluded. “They demonstrated a lack of respect for the common decency of mankind.”

­Anti-war activist Tighe Barry believes humanitarian efforts in Libya must be stepped up.

“We need to take care of the Libyan people on both sides, but definitely by dropping bombs on Libya, the US becomes complicit in the deaths of the civilians that are being killed in Libya,” Barry said.

Despite claims that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been attacking his own people, Barry says the reasons for NATO’s intervention are not strictly humanitarian.

“It’s not humanitarian when you drop bombs on people,” Barry stated. “They need food and tents.”

The anti-war activist acknowledged, however, that the Libyan leader is highly dangerous.

“Gaddafi is certainly dangerous, and I feel that he doesn’t really have his people’s interests at heart,” Barry said. “I think it’s time for him to leave. I wish he could leave quietly and let the people get on with democratic reform, but apparently he is not going to leave. And the US getting involved militarily only escalates the problems in the region.”