[Update: I’ve linked to the results of a WaPo-Pew survey that finds a sizeable section of Americans to have approved of Obama’s drawdown plan]
When NATO began its military offensive in Libya, the question, it seemed, was not whether Muammar el-Qaddafi would step down from power. To the crusaders of humanitarian intervention, it was only a matter of time before the Colonel relented to NATO’s military might. On Sunday, 100 days would have passed since Odyssey Dawned over Libyan skies, and the same question is being asked again, only now with a hint of desperation: when will Qaddafi relinquish his hold?
Soon, say Western diplomats and policy makers. But for all the foregone conclusions of his exit, the eccentric dictator has shown little signs of budging. Amidst air strikes and heavy bombardments, Qaddafi has still managed to make appearances in public and on television – the latest of which shows him engaged in a game of chess with the president of the World Chess Federation. Although the media’s narrative continues to be that of a fugitive on the run, it is clear that NATO operations have only strengthened Qaddafi’s resolve to dig his heels in.
Meanwhile, the military operation is itself unraveling, troubled by a series of cracks within the coalition. Norway was among the first members to contemplate a sharp reduction in forces. The massive influx of refugees and the irrevocable damage caused to its economic links with Libya have prompted Italy to call for a ceasefire. While the request has been spurned by NATO, there are few who doubt that the coalition is struggling to find consensus.
Not the least of NATO’s problems is the American attitude towards operations in Libya. The United States has chosen to stay behind the scenes, showing no enthusiasm to contribute more resources than it already has. Yet, there has been no dearth of lectures from Washington, which Europe finds increasingly unpalatable. Outgoing Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned of a “dim” and “dismal” future for NATO, if its European members were not willing to loosen their purse strings for professed commitments. Not surprisingly, these remarks were met with condemnation in Paris, diagnosed by President Sarkozy as “stemming from a bit of bitterness”.
The Obama administration is on a sticky wicket back home, where the President’s refusal to seek authorization for Libyan efforts under the War Powers Resolution has strained relations with the US Congress. Last Friday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected a resolution that sought to support the mission. The vote was largely symbolic, but the displeasure expressed along bipartisan lines was a strong indicator of war-weariness among the American people.
To top it all, the NATO operation in Libya has been a complete public relations disaster from its inception. Egged on by evangelists of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’, the coalition went into Libya with the high and noble aim of “protecting innocent people”. Broadening the scope of the mission “to include regime change would be a mistake”, said President Obama. Months later, with little to show for their progress, the United States and its allies openly espoused regime overthrow. Driven to desperation, the coalition increased the intensity of air strikes while Qaddafi’s compound and installations in Tripoli were heavily bombarded.
Equally embarrassing has been the number of civilian casualties caused by NATO operations – increasing in frequency of late - described often as “accidents” without remorse or apology. All pretence of gradualism has been abandoned and NATO is now locked almost in an existential struggle to prove its relevance in Libya.
The rebels, or the Transitional National Council as they are called, have not been able to make much headway in this battle. Cities have continued to change hands, like the oil-rich region of Ras Lanuf, or remained under siege, like Misurata. Under the present circumstances, Libya is looking down the barrel towards a long, drawn out civil war. Moreover, the military intervention and ensuing bloodshed has only entrenched positions on both sides, leaving little scope for a diplomatic solution.
The coalition’s failure to achieve its “humanitarian” ends in Libya runs the risk of turning the discourse from air-strikes to troops on the ground. It can be easy to forget that UN Security Council Resolution 1973 intended to protect civilians by establishing a no-fly zone in Libya. NATO has gone well beyond the Resolution’s mandate, taking refuge under its widely drafted provisions. Venturing further in such a quagmire will only prove to reinforce the painful lessons of Odyssey Dawn.
India’sdecision to withdraw its four Mi-35 attack helicopters from the UN Peacekeeping Force (MONUC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a regrettable one, as it is strategically flawed. A ‘capacity deficit’ back home is the ostensible reason behind such a pullout. However, indications are strong that the contractual tenure of these helicopters was not renewed because New Delhi felt the returns from such expenditure were not being reflected at the UN headquarters in New York. The decision, symptomatic of an attitude that the volume of India’s UN Peacekeeping contributions alone should win it a place at the Security Council, is both counterproductive and dangerous at once.
Indian officials have claimed they need these helicopters to fight the Maoist insurgency, but the bogey of ‘internal security’ is far from convincing. One is at odds to understand how four attack helicopters are urgently required to counter the Naxal threat, when the Indian Air Force has clearly ruled out any offensive in the region.
Instead, the decision to withdraw the helicopters stems from a perception that our peacekeeping contributions lack the bargaining chip to influence UNSC reform. We may have only seen the first step in a gradual drawdown of troops and contribution to the Blue Berets. In the Congo, the relationship between civilians and Indian peacekeepers has long been uneasy, as leaked US diplomatic cables accessed by the Washington Post highlight. According to a cable dated back to 2009, India refused to receive a delegation that comprised the Congolese Foreign Minister and a UN Special Representative for the region, despite repeated entreaties from the DRC government. The delegation had sought to deliver a letter from President Joseph Kabila, asking the Indian peacekeeping contingent to stay on.
Beyond the presidential elections in November this year, the fate of our peacekeeping mission in the Congo is uncertain. As it were, the Mi-35 helicopters formed the cornerstone of air operations, acting as a deterrent against attacks on civilians. Withdrawing them at a critical juncture before the elections is hardly a comforting move. If peacekeepers on the ground are also removed after November, the UN Mission in the Congo will be ill-prepared for a fresh spate of post-electoral violence. In short, if the region relapses into civil war, India would be guilty of creating an environment conducive to chaos.
More telling is the decision to withdraw the helicopters on our conduct as a responsible international power, especially at a time when India is occupying a seat at the high table in the UNSC. Sulking into a corner and withdrawing humanitarian assistance when our strategic ambitions are not met is hardly becoming of a country that aspires to a permanent seat in the Council. The decision exposes the lack of clarity in India’s diplomatic maneuvering and lays bare our naked ambition and willingness to be held hostage to a UNSC seat.
Any decision to reduce our involvement in UN peacekeeping missions will deal a severe blow to multilateralism. While the United States and its military alliances have undertaken unilateral invasions in different parts of the globe, India has been a faithful and valuable contributor to peacekeeping by the UN. Imperfect as it may be, the UN remains the last bastion and hope for emerging countries to raise their say in global affairs. If India pulls the plug on its peacekeeping contributions, other nations would soon follow suit, leaving the field open for interventions in the garb of ‘Responsibility to Protect’. Apparently, Uruguay has also threatened to withdraw its troops from the Congo.
By withdrawing from its peacekeeping responsibilities, India strikes at the very roots of its ambition to be a prominent member of the international community. Thankless as it may be, efforts to keep the peace in some of the most troubled regions of the world indicate our commitment to international peace and security, as envisaged by the UN Charter. Any decision to the contrary must be taken with great caution, for the risks are many and the consequences grave.
The sale by the United States of F-16 military aircraft to Pakistan, announced in 2005, was celebrated as a sign of deepening strategic ties between Islamabad and the Bush administration in Washington. Described by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as an attempt to “break out of the notion that [India and Pakistan are in] a hyphenated relationship,” the decision was met with anguish in New Delhi. But leaked U.S. diplomatic cables suggest that the sale was used only to further America’s broad strategic interests, with Pakistan standing to gain little from the deal.
The despatches, from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, indicated that the deal was, among other things, meant to assuage Pakistan’s fears of an “existential threat it perceived from India.” The diplomatic cables, accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, suggested that the purpose of the sale was to divert Pakistan’s attention from “the nuclear option,” and give it “time and space to employ a conventional reaction” in the event of a conflict with India (151227: confidential). Privately, however, the U.S. acknowledged the “reality” that the F-16 programme would not change India’s “overwhelming air superiority over Pakistan.” In fact, the cables bluntly assert that the F-16s would be “no match for India’s proposed purchase of F-18 or equivalent aircraft.”
Given India’s “substantial military advantage,” one cable (197576: confidential) even surmised that the F-16s would at the most offer “a few days” for the U.S. to “mediate and prevent nuclear conflict.”
Fully aware of such limitations, the U.S. continued to press ahead with the deal, and cables document hectic parleys to bring it to fruition. Before the agreement was signed in September 2006, the U.S. played hardball to make Pakistan sign the Letter of Acceptance (LoA). Islamabad had threatened to delay it further, raising additional demands. The U.S. Ambassador to Islamabad, Ryan Crocker, suggested that Washington “convene” the Pakistani Ambassador, Ali Durrani, to remind him that “missing the deadline [to sign the LoA] would have serious ramifications.”
“Do not think there is a better deal out there if this one expires,” was one of Ambassador Crocker’s suggested bargain lines for Washington to use (77877: confidential/noforn). The agreement was inked two weeks after the cable was sent.
At the time of signing the LoA, Major General Tariq Malik, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Production, had expressed reservations about the payment schedule as an “immense strain on Pakistan’s fiscal and foreign exchange reserves…, jeopardising growth.” But Mr. Malik’s memo was dismissed by Mr. Crocker as “separate from the valid, legal contract” (80337: confidential/noforn).
But when “a cash-strapped” Pakistan government approached the U.S. two years later for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to perform mid-life updates for the existing F-16 fleet, the succeeding Ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, was concerned that Washington would be “rewarding economic mismanagement.” The annual disbursement of FMF had “produced a culture of entitlement within the Pakistani military,” according to the diplomat (151227: confidential).
Why, then, did the U.S. push hard to realise the agreement, apart from the stated objective of “additional business for U.S. defense companies”?
If, according to American diplomats, the threat from India was the primary consideration for the Pakistan military, the F-16 sales would not tilt the strategic balance by their own admission. However, the cables suggested that the U.S. was confident that Pakistan would “still fully invest in its territorial defense, despite current economic challenges.” On the other hand, “our [U.S.] cancelling the sale would emphasize that we favor maintaining Indian superiority at Pakistan’s expense and feed anti-Americanism throughout the military” (197576: confidential).
Another reason to sell F-16s, according to the same cable, was to “exorcise the bitter legacy of the Pressler Amendment” in the 1990s, when the U.S. refused to deliver F-16s that Pakistan had paid with “national money.” Pakistan was even made to undertake costs for storing the fighters in Arizona. For the Pakistan military, the new deal would be tangible proof of the “post-9/11 bilateral relationship.
Avoiding a blow-up
“The bottom line is that Pakistan cannot afford the $2 billion required to complete this F-16 program,” wrote Ambassador Patterson in 2009 (189129: secret). “At the same time, nothing is more important to good military-military (and overall U.S.-Pakistani) relations than avoiding a blow-up over the F-16 case.”
Even if the sale was considered only “symbolically important” by the U.S., the deal came with many strings attached.
The U.S. was more interested in the use of F-16s by Pakistan for counter-terrorism purposes along the Af-Pak border.
Although the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) had been disinclined to use F-16s “due to the risk of collateral damage in civilian areas,” Ms. Patterson suggested linking the FMF for mid-life updates to “explicit commitments by the PAF that accept Close Air-Support training” (151227: confidential).
A year after the agreement was concluded, Pakistan learnt that mid-life updates for the F-16s could only be performed in a third country. Since the LoA did not bear any references to “cryptokeys” for the aircraft, officials were also worried that the U.S. would withhold the capability of the F-16s. When these concerns were raised by President Pervez Musharraf and Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood, the U.S. response was hardly comforting.
“We know many in Washington are dismayed by what they consider a juvenile reaction on Pakistan’s part. The Pakistanis do not fully understand our requirements for sharing encrypted devices and need to be reassured that the aircraft will still fly without the cryptokeys.” (122429: secret)
Eventually, it was agreed that Pakistan would pay $80 million to perform the updates in Turkey. The U.S. also expressed concerns about basing the F-16s in Pakistan due to “concerns about potential technology transfer to China.” The outcome? Pakistan was made to fork out another $125 million to “build and secure a separate F-16 base” (197576: confidential).
The purported aim of selling the F-16s to Pakistan was to “yield foreign policy benefits for the U.S.,” but the cables reveal that these benefits were gift-wrapped almost always at Pakistan’s expense.
If the ‘bin Laden’ story has grabbed eyeballs, equally intriguing are the many versions of the Abbottabad raid that have been doing the rounds. These narratives, often at odds with each other, have mostly been sourced to “officials” in both U.S and Pakistan. From the moment American helicopters are supposed to have entered Pakistani airspace, there have been multiple prevarications over what actually transpired.
Pakistan’s involvement in the episode has been highly debated. On May 5, three days after the raid, BBC News carried a story titled “Bin Laden killing: What did Pakistan know?” A Pakistani intelligence official, named simply as ‘Ayaz’, is quoted as saying, “The first we knew they [US] were coming was after they had crossed the Durand line”. Jets were apparently scrambled to intercept the helicopters, but “called back when the US informed the High Command”. The Wall Street Journal’s account of May 9, however, is entirely different. The WSJ, relying on “people familiar with Army Chief Kayani’s thinking” reported that the latter was “in his study” during the raid and made aware of the situation only when “a helicopter had crashed in Abbottabad”. The call from his US counterpart came not during the raid, but “four hours” later, according to WSJ. On the other hand, a Xinhua dispatch filed immediately after the raid cited “eyewitnesses” saying “electricity had been cut off during the operation”, raising suspicions of Pakistan’s complicity. The latest on this count comes from the Guardian, which has revealed a “secret deal made almost a decade ago” to let the US conduct a unilateral raid in Pakistani soil.
Takes on the final moments of bin Laden have massively fluctuated. “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden”, announced President Obama on the night of the operation. The next day, a “senior” official expressly stated that bin Laden “had resisted the assault force”. On May 3, however, the story changed course when Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, briefed reporters that Osama “was not armed”. Subsequently, the New York Times learned from “American officials” that OBL had “two guns within reach”. The confusion hardly ends here. Subsequently, the Washington Post spoke to “unnamed officials” who claimed that bin Laden was spotted in “the doorway of his room” and was shot while “retreating”. The latest account from NYT does not help things. “Osama was with his wife, along with children in the bedroom”, goes the report. The source? That’s right, “officials”. Even peripheral details have been shrouded in mystery. After being officially diagnosed as “mechanical failure”, it was suggested (officially) that an air vortex had caused the malfunction of a U.S. helicopter. But as wonks began to speculate that the helicopter used might have been a secret, “stealth” model, media reports suggested that the commandos might have blown the machine up to destroy leading evidence of the same.
For ‘Operation Geronimo’, the truth is competing with fiction to be stranger. Officially
December 28, 2011, will not be a red-letter day for Samoans. In fact, it will not be a day at all.
Samoa, currently positioned to the east of the International Date Line, has decided to forego a day and shift to the time zone on its west to facilitate trade with Australia and New Zealand.
The island nation in the South Pacific is currently 21 hours behind both countries — effectively meaning a loss of “two working days a week” with them — but it is now set to go three hours ahead.
The “shift” will take effect on December 27 this year. At midnight, when it will be 9 p.m. on December 28 in Sydney, clocks in Apia, the capital of Samoa, will jump to 00:00 of December 29.
“There appear to be overwhelming reasons for a time zone change,” Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told the Samoan Observer.
The decision to adhere with the eastern side of the date line was purportedly taken 119 years ago, to make business with the United States and Europe easier. Now, as the volume of trade with their neighbouring countries has surged, Samoans have decided to go “back to the future.”
The International Date Line, which slices the Pacific Ocean in two, is an imaginary line along the 180 degree longitude that separates two calendar dates.
To avoid cutting through nations, the line zigzags along their sides; but for tiny island countries like Samoa, it presents a peculiar problem. Midway between New Zealand and Hawaii, Samoa is virtually forced to choose its date, ensuring that the country loses valuable working days with one side or the other.
But a decision has now been made to hop to the other side, literally.
“Difficulties in communication and business dealings with Australia and New Zealand have resulted,” the Samoan Cabinet said, justifying the shift. However, for islanders born on December 28, it’s going to be a long wait for their next birthday.
[The Hindu] Before the birthers, came the ‘Truthers’ — a coalition aimed at “exposing official lies” about the 9/11 attacks to “understand the truth that the U.S. government and covert policy apparatus orchestrated” them. This ‘movement,’ has, however, been only one of many engines to churn out conspiracy theories about 9/11. And while the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces in Pakistan on Monday will close the manhunt for America’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorist,’ grandiose theories about the deed that made him infamous are likely to persist. Most theories have suggested that the attacks might have been an “inside job” or even the handiwork of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. Proponents claim, even more fancifully, that none of the Jews who worked in the twin towers turned up for work that day, a patent fiction belied by the fact that Jews were among the people of all religions who perished in that terrorist attack. Fanciful narratives The initial aftermath of 9/11 saw Osama bin Laden denying any involvement in the attacks, and Washington’s failure to prove his complicity led to a flourish of fanciful narratives. The surprising popularity of books like ‘9/11: The Big Lie’ spawned new theories, several of which claimed that the U.S ‘military-industrial’ complex was behind the attacks. Some raised the possibility of a “controlled demolition,” while others ventured to speculate that the Pentagon was hit by a U.S. missile. As early as December 2001, U.S. officials released a ‘smoking gun’ tape that showed bin Laden asking his “overjoyed” followers to “remain patient,” after the first of two planes struck the World Trade Center towers. If that were not enough, the conspiracy theory should have been put to rest in 2004, when bin Laden, through a videotape released to Al Jazeera by the Pentagon, was seen claiming responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. “It entered my mind that we [al Qaeda] should destroy the towers in America,” he said, “in order that they taste some of what we tasted.” Years later, a visibly upset Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s No. 2, lashed out at theories suggesting Israel was behind the attacks. But conspiracy theories got the better of al-Qaeda’s best efforts to appropriate credit for 9/11. Sensational films like the Loose Change series and the Zeitgeist documentary continued to challenge the “official account.” These theories were nudged on by reports in mainstream media as well. In 2006, Le Monde carried a three-page story carrying the headline “11 September – An Inside Job?,” while TIME magazine ran a piece titled “Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away”. Without endorsing any, the stories gave enormous publicity to these claims, with TIME calling such conspiracy theories “seductive.” Bin Laden’s death, it seems, will make little difference. The day after the al-Qaeda’s leader was killed, the ‘9/11 Truth Movement’ website was abuzz with activity. It seems the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted List’ had updated Osama’s profile to ‘deceased,’ but the crimes listed against him did not include those in connection with 9/11. The game was already afoot.
Before the birthers, came the ‘Truthers’ — a coalition aimed at “exposing official lies” about the 9/11 attacks to “understand the truth that the U.S. government and covert policy apparatus orchestrated” them. This ‘movement,’ has, however, been only one of many engines to churn out conspiracy theories about 9/11. And while the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces in Pakistan on Monday will close the manhunt for America’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorist,’ grandiose theories about the deed that made him infamous are likely to persist.
Most theories have suggested that the attacks might have been an “inside job” or even the handiwork of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. Proponents claim, even more fancifully, that none of the Jews who worked in the twin towers turned up for work that day, a patent fiction belied by the fact that Jews were among the people of all religions who perished in that terrorist attack.
The initial aftermath of 9/11 saw Osama bin Laden denying any involvement in the attacks, and Washington’s failure to prove his complicity led to a flourish of fanciful narratives.
The surprising popularity of books like ‘9/11: The Big Lie’ spawned new theories, several of which claimed that the U.S ‘military-industrial’ complex was behind the attacks. Some raised the possibility of a “controlled demolition,” while others ventured to speculate that the Pentagon was hit by a U.S. missile.
As early as December 2001, U.S. officials released a ‘smoking gun’ tape that showed bin Laden asking his “overjoyed” followers to “remain patient,” after the first of two planes struck the World Trade Center towers. If that were not enough, the conspiracy theory should have been put to rest in 2004, when bin Laden, through a videotape released to Al Jazeera by the Pentagon, was seen claiming responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. “It entered my mind that we [al Qaeda] should destroy the towers in America,” he said, “in order that they taste some of what we tasted.” Years later, a visibly upset Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s No. 2, lashed out at theories suggesting Israel was behind the attacks.
But conspiracy theories got the better of al-Qaeda’s best efforts to appropriate credit for 9/11. Sensational films like the Loose Change series and the Zeitgeist documentary continued to challenge the “official account.” These theories were nudged on by reports in mainstream media as well. In 2006, Le Monde carried a three-page story carrying the headline “11 September – An Inside Job?,” while TIME magazine ran a piece titled “Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away”. Without endorsing any, the stories gave enormous publicity to these claims, with TIME calling such conspiracy theories “seductive.”
Bin Laden’s death, it seems, will make little difference. The day after the al-Qaeda’s leader was killed, the ‘9/11 Truth Movement’ website was abuzz with activity. It seems the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted List’ had updated Osama’s profile to ‘deceased,’ but the crimes listed against him did not include those in connection with 9/11. The game was already afoot.
NewsClick, touted as an “alternative to corporate media”, has completed two years in existence. Founded in 2009 by a group of senior journalists to “address issues that matter head-on”, NewsClick has grown in stature to witness its viewer base increase five-fold in the last year. Recently, NewsClick entered into a partnership with YouTube, becoming the only such news channel that is not a TV station. To host a wider repertoire of written and audio-visual content, it has now launched a “new-look, sleek” website at NewsClick.in.
Asked whether NewsClick had found it difficult to marshal funds for survival, Prabir Purkayastha, its Editor, broke into laughter. “Of course”, he said, “but since when has an initiative failed to take off in India due to lack of money or people?” Led by persistence, Mr. Purkayastha and his team at NewsClick have managed to overcome initial hurdles and complete two years successfully. At an event to celebrate the occasion here on Friday, the team presented its plans for NewsClick’s future.
“When NewsClick went ‘live’, I honestly did not think it would last for long. But now I am confident that it is here to stay”, said Mr. Purkayastha. Journalist Seema Mustafa, who spoke on the occasion, said that entities like NewsClick were necessary when mainstream media was caught in an “unholy nexus with the Government and the corporate sector”.
“Why use ‘alternative’ when the appropriate term should be ‘independent’ media”, wondered Ms. Mustafa. “Realizing the power of mainstream media, the corporate sector has cosied up to it. The line between an editor and proprietor has now been blurred”, she said.
But NewsClick’s has been no rosy tale. The organization has struggled financially, often relying on personal contributions from its team. Yet, the editors have refused to accept advertisements, claiming that “it would affect the integrity” of content. “If we accuse mainstream media for being compromised by corporate interests, how can we afford to do the same?”, asked Mr. Purkayastha.
NewsClick has turned its attention to audio-visual content, since it is “the easiest way to catch eye-balls”. “Television channels have a large audience, but most of the news is presented in a sensationalist manner”, Mr. Purkayastha said. “At NewsClick, we are doing our bit to be factual and objective”. In the pipeline is a documentary on Khap Panchyats.
A panel discussion at the Alliance Française here on Thursday threw into sharp relief the complexities of ‘humanitarian intervention’, which has come to be embodied in the principle of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P). The panel, which featured familiar faces from India’s strategic community, differed in its views on R2P and its application to the ongoing crisis in Libya.
“Let me congratulate France for acting boldly to lead the Libyan intervention and saving Europe from irrelevance,” began C. Rajamohan of the Centre for Policy Research. According to him, humanitarian interventions had to be seen through the prisms of “consistency, [the] neutrality of interveners and [their] pursuit of maximalist goals”. Dr. Rajamohan was candid in his embrace of the same, asserting that ‘some regimes just had to go’, but predicted the fate of R2P would ultimately be determined by “success” in Libya.
His self-professedly ‘realist’ take, however, found little favour among other panelists. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, a writer and member of Raqs Media Collective, condemned the Libyan “aggression”, and claimed that its sponsors were hardly the torchbearers of humanitarianism, “as they made it out to be”. Mr. Sengupta referred to the Mucyo Commission’s report, which indicted the present French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe for lending active support to genocidal forces in Rwanda.
The discussants also highlighted India’s role in moulding the character of humanitarian interventions. K.C. Singh, a retired diplomat, said that India’s “explanation” for abstaining from the Security Council vote on Libya was “weak” and suggested it should have joined hands with the West in supporting the UN resolution. “If India wishes to be a permanent member of the UNSC, then it should behave like one”, he said.
The discord among NATO members in fleshing out the contours of a “poorly conceived” intervention likely pointed to an entrenched civil war in Libya, argued Siddharth Varadarajan, Strategic Affairs Editor of The Hindu. The need for a cautious approach to R2P was also endorsed by Dr. Radha Kumar, who heads the Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the Jamia Millia Islamia. Dr. Kumar, who said that preventive steps were as important as missions to protect, advocated more attention being paid to the post-intervention situation.
The discussion was introduced by French Ambassador to India, Jerome Bonnafont, who said that France had a “stake in the debate on R2P”, adding that his country attached importance to what “India thought of the issue”.