Top Ten Ways Libya is NOT Iraq by Juan Cole

A Point of View, Libya, Middle East & North Africa, Politics | | March 22, 2011 at 11:49

I keep hearing so-called experts say Libya is another Iraq and Afghanistan. But these countries are not the same people or the same struggle. All Muslim struggles are not alike. For once, we have a chance to be on the right side of history.

This great essay written by Professor Juan Cole, author of “Engaging the Muslim World,”  lays out 10 ways that our intervention in Libya is different from our invasion in Iraq. I summarized/edited some of his comments: Please check out the full statement on his site Informed Comment  His website:

Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003

Posted on 03/22/2011 by Juan

Here are the differences between George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current United Nations action in Libya:

1. The action in Libya was authorized by the United Nations Security Council. That in Iraq was not. (more…)

2. (more…) vast majority of the Libyan people demanded the UN no-fly zone. In 2002-3 there was no similar popular movement against Saddam Hussein.

3. There was an ongoing massacre of civilians, and the threat of more such massacres in Benghazi, by the Qaddafi regime, which precipitated the UNSC resolution. (more…) under Saddam Hussein… Nothing was going on in 2002-2003 in Iraq  that would have required international intervention.

4. The Arab League urged the UNSC to take action against the Qaddafi regime (more…). The Arab League (more…) expressed opposition to a war on Iraq. (more…)

5. None of the United Nations allies envisages landing troops on the ground, nor does the UNSC authorize it. Iraq was invaded by land forces.

6. No false allegations were made against the Qaddafi regime, of being in league with al-Qaeda or of having a nuclear weapons program. The charge is massacre of peaceful civilian demonstrators and an actual promise to commit more such massacres.

7. The United States did not take the lead role in urging a no-fly zone (more…) President Obama pledges that the US role, (more…) will be turned over to other United Nations allies.

8. There is no sectarian or ethnic dimension to the Libyan conflict, whereas the US Pentagon conspired with Shiite and Kurdish parties to overthrow the Sunni-dominated Baathist regime in Iraq, setting the stage for a prolonged and bitter civil war.

9. The US has not rewarded countries as Bush often did in his coalition of the willing  (more… ) but rather a genuine sense of outrage at the brutal crimes against humanity being committed by Qaddafi and his forces impelled the formation of this coalition. (more…)

10. Iraq in 2002-3 no longer posed a credible threat to its neighbors. A resurgent Qaddafi in Libya with petroleum billions at his disposal would likely attempt to undermine the democratic experiments in Tunisia and Egypt, blighting the lives of millions.

I’d like to add my comments to point 10. A Gaddafi still in power after this assault on his ego by the West and some Arab governments will result in a renewal of state-sponsored terrorism on all countries that spoke out or moved against him. I believe he will go after the news media, especially Al Jazeera, with assassinations. Death threats and threats to family have already occurred throughout the Middle East. He’s too dangerous now to be allowed to stay. I don’t believe there is a political leader in this coalition that doesn’t realize that.


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