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Dáil Diary no 17- 26 February 2015

NATO Bombing Destroyed Libya. And Ireland is Complicit…

It has probably never been a better time to own shares in the Arms industry. Bombs, rockets, fighter planes, drones, tanks, guns and munitions are being used at an unprecedented scale. This is all very good for the people who make money selling this stuff to States who agree to use the same stuff. The lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who are killed or maimed or displaced, in order to promote the Arms industry, do not matter. They are what’s called collateral damage. In 2011, David Cameron and Nickolas Sarkosy wanted to bomb Libya, because it was going to be good for their popularity ratings. – And the US joined in this NATO mission to orchestrate regime change in Libya. It also had the backing of the Irish Government – Ministers and Government TD’s thought it was a great idea. If we had such thing as accountability in Ireland, maybe they could be held accountable for the slaughter of the thousands of innocent people who died at the hands of the NATO bombing. It did not have a UN sanction to bomb the place, but that hardly mattered. Powerful States don’t bother with the rules of International Law, that’s for the smaller nations - Well, it usually is. Ireland doesn’t bother too much for International Law either – we ignore it on a regular basis by allowing Shannon to be used as a US Military Airbase. Here’s my Dáil contribution on the Libya issue today with Minister Flanagan. –

“We were informed that Libya would be different, that lessons had been learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, that this would be a real humanitarian intervention and that there would be no indiscriminate bombing and that only precision weapons would be used. The Government, and this House, were cheerleaders when it came to the bombing of Libya. In six months, the number of people killed there rose from 2,000 to 30,000. Does the Minister agree that the bombing of Libya was a total disaster?

Minister Charles Flanagan:  The fall of the Gadaffi regime in 2011, which followed NATO intervention, was welcomed by my predecessor. It was clear at the time that building a democratic future for the people of Libya from the ashes of the Gadaffi dictatorship would be a difficult task. The optimism and expectations of a better future for Libya, which then prevailed, have not yet been realised. A more recent false dawn came in the form of the elections of June 2014. These were evidence that the Libyan people wanted to see a secure, stable and democratic Libya. However, in the latter half of 2014, amid increasing violence and anarchic political circumstances, the situation deteriorated substantially. The promise of these elections, just like that of 2011, remains unfulfilled. Recent months have seen Libya paralysed by intensifying conflict, with competing factions vying for political legitimacy and control of cities and infrastructure.

Our direct role in the events of 2011 was, essentially, limited to the provision of consular assistance to affected Irish citizens. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 demanded an immediate and complete ceasefire and authorised all necessary measures to protect civilians, as well as the establishment of a no-fly zone. This mandate was the basis for the NATO intervention. At the time, Ireland urged that any such military action should be proportionate, avoid civilian casualties and conform to resolution 1973. I hope that all relevant actors in Libya will participate in the continuing UN talks process in order to bring to an end the catastrophic suffering which this conflict has entailed for the Libyan people.

Deputy Mick Wallace:  Military action is never proportionate. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 called for a no-fly zone. However, Sarkozy and Cameron, who wanted to boost their poll ratings, decided to bomb Libya. The idea that this would save innocent lives was very quickly turned on its head and regime change became the objective. Those involved wanted rid of Gadaffi and they were not interested in protecting civilians. As a result of the bombing campaign, 30,000 people were killed. NATO took sides in a civil war and this proved to be a total disaster. What has been said here is nonsense. In 2011, we argued with the Government that bombing Libya was madness. However, it replied that there was a need to get rid of Gadaffi. Libya has been destroyed and the Government bears some responsibility in that regard. In reply to an earlier question, the Minister referred to humanitarian aid and humanitarian concerns. If we have such concerns, why do we allow Shannon to continue to be used as a US military air base through which armaments used to kill hundreds of thousands of people are being brought? What is the point in providing humanitarian aid after we have facilitated the murder of innocent civilians?...

…It is heartbreaking that Ireland is following a European Union diktat which is driven by NATO. In the past, war used to be waged in order to acquire property and land for gain. Then it became a method of securing economic resources. Now it has become a means of promoting the arms industry. One does not get elected to office in America without the support of that industry. It costs $1 billion to win a presidential election campaign in the US and payback is expected in respect of any support given. A NATO-led Europe has, in turn, led us by the nose in terms of how our foreign policy is shaped and we need to put an end to that. We need to reassert our neutrality and we must no longer allow Shannon to be used as a military air base. The Irish people like the idea of neutrality and they want us to be different. They do not want us to participate in ongoing global militarisation or to become involved in wars which cause nothing but hardship and grief. Libya is a powerful example in this regard. Will the Government admit that it got it wrong in respect of this matter? Those opposite supported the bombing of Libya, which is one of the craziest events that has ever happened. We bear responsibility for what has been done. Ireland is a nation state and it backed the bombing of Libya.”

Mick Wallace.


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