At the fringe meeting on Libya, called by Stop the War Coalition at the National Union of Journalists conference held in The Southport Conference Centre 8-10 April 2011, the military attacks on Libya were condemned as wrong and doomed to becoming a prolonged deadly conflict.Report by Peter Reilly, co-ordinator of Merseyside Stop the War Coalition, who chaired the meeting.
Alistair Cartwright, Stop the War Coalition
Dave Crouch, Financial Times journalist (personal capacity)
Alistair Cartwright, from the Stop the War national office, drew attention to the USA’s dreadful record of intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries around the world. Military attacks which were said to last a matter of weeks turned into years of expensive and disastrous wars, which all failed to achieve the original stated objectives.
With regard to Libya, far from saving lives, Alistair said, “Casualties are growing, and the NATO forces are killing the people they are meant to defend”. Alistair was also keen to point out that the countries doing the intervention in Libya, with the declared aim of saving lives, are still arming other authoritarian regimes which are using those arms to oppress, kill and torture their own people, as in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Yemen.
He suggested that the true motive for the military intervention in Libya was to manage the Arab revolution to ensure the outcome was in Western strategic and economic interests.
David Crouch, the Financial Times Deputy Europe News editor, focused his contribution on the media. “The media in general campaigned heavily for the need for intervention, using all the tricks- scare mongering and focusing on victims, particularly, women and children”.
Whilst he was no fan of General Gadaffi, he was troubled by the myths generated by the media. They claimed the opposition forces were defenceless, but as they had liberated massive arms dumps, they were capable of defending themselves. They were presented as disorganized and not good at fighting, but that is untrue. The reported massacres by Gadaffi forces were not borne out by any evidence. “The British media had buttered up the British public to accept war”, he said, and added “The greatest casualty of war is truth”.
A lively debate followed, with the majority of the meeting agreeing with the speakers. The hypocrisy of the West was often brought up, in their claims their attacks were to support freedom and to save lives, when they were arming oppressive regimes and refusing to give military support for popular uprisings in other Arab countries whose leaders were friends of the West.
“Particularly notable,” said radio host, Tony Gosling from Bristol, “far from imposing a no fly zone over Gaza, where 14000 people were killed and countless others injured, and where there was nowhere to escape from the Israeli onslaught, the Americans and British refused to condemn Israel”.