UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!

The UN Security Council has voted for military intervention to facilitate regime change in Libya!

When Bush was president this was illegal

UN Resolution 1973 which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people from being crushed by Gaddafi’s army is an historic event. It’s been put in terms of a humanitarian intervention aimed at preventing atrocities against civilians (which it is, on one level), but in reality it goes far further than that. It’s actually a resolution aimed at ensuring the success of the democratic revolution in Libya.

No way is it just a No Fly Zone, already the new COW has begun destroying Gaddafi’s military infrastructure, and the resolution has clearly been worded to allow attacks on ground troops, if required. And although it rules out occupation, it doesn’t specifically rule out on-the-ground operations.

About time!!

As I write this I’m listening to interviews with Egyptians who are at this very moment casting their votes in a referendum on constitutional reform. The euphoria is palpable. Democratic revolution really is sweeping the Middle East . The tyrants and autocrats of the region are all under threat now.

With the passing of UN resolution 1970, suddenly “regime change” is ok , is becoming legitimate. So far in all the interviews I’ve heard, the question “Is this really about regime change”? has been dodged. Instead the talk is all about Gaddafi “killing his own people” and the need to stop this. But it’s pretty easy to join the dots.

And it was France which spearheaded the push in the UN. What a change from 2003!

Alain Juppe’s speech prior to the resolution talked of “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history” .

But it was under the dreaded Bush regime that the “democracy agenda” was actually launched.

“We should all look to a future when every government respects the will of its citizens — because the ideal of democracy is universal.
For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

….. We know these advances will not come easily, or all at once. We know that different societies will find forms of democracy that work for them. When we talk about democracy, though, we are referring to governments that protect certain basic rights for all their citizens-among these, the right to speak freely. The right to associate. The right to worship as you wish. The freedom to educate your children — boys and girls. And freedom from the midnight knock of the secret police.” (Condi Rice 2005, in Egypt)

On the necessity to “drain the swamps”:

Iraq was the beginning.

The US disconfirmed all the predictions of those who opposed the war in Iraq. It did not go in there and replace Saddam’s regime with a puppet regime. Instead, it promoted democratic change and made quite sure that the Sunni minority could no longer continue as the ruling class. Iraq is now a democracy, an infant one, with a long way to go, but definitely a democracy. And it’s still the only Arab democracy – no other Arab country has anything remotely like a freely elected government.

It’s just undeniable that what the US did in Iraq was to facilitate a democratic revolution. We predicted this in 2003, but now it’s no longer a prediction – it’s a fait accompli.

Back in 2003 very, very (VERY) few left wingers could bring themselves to support the US invasion of Iraq because their gut reaction was to oppose the US without thinking about it. Hatred of the US trumped everything else, even hatred of outright fascism. It was inconceivable to them that US imperialism would go into Iraq for any other reason but to “steal the oil” , “extend the empire” etc. The idea that the US was on the side of democratic change in Iraq, just didn’t compute.

However they were wrong. In the current era it makes sense for the US to be in favour of democratic revolution in the Middle East. Its old policy of propping up dictators and autocrats in that region is now a liability which has come back to bite them. It’s simply no longer viable to let the Middle East remain a stagnant swamp – a breeding ground for terrorism. The Bush regime realised that a decade ago and went into Iraq under the pretext of Saddam possessing WMDs, There was no other way at that time to get the thing started.

But pretty soon the talk shifted to the real agenda: democratising the Middle East, and why it had become necessary for the US to make such a dramatic policy switch.

Bush himself outlined the real reasons for the war :

To understand the struggle unfolding in the Middle East, we need to look at the recent history of the region. For a half- century, America’s primary goal in the Middle East was stability. This was understandable at the time; we were fighting the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and it was important to support Middle Eastern governments that rejected communism. Yet, over the decades, an undercurrent of danger was rising in the Middle East. Much of the region was mired in stagnation and despair. A generation of young people grew up with little hope to improve their lives, and many fell under the sway of radical extremism. The terrorist movement multiplied in strength, and resentment that had simmered for years boiled over into violence across the world.


In the space of a single morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. We realized that years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. Instead, the lack of freedom in the Middle East made the region an incubator for terrorist movements.

The status quo in the Middle East before September the 11th was dangerous and unacceptable, so we’re pursuing a new strategy. First, we’re using every element of national power to confront al Qaeda, those who take inspiration from them, and other terrorists who use similar tactics. We have ended the days of treating terrorism simply as a law enforcement matter. We will stay on the offense. We will fight the terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)

Second, we have made it clear to all nations, if you harbor terrorists, you are just as guilty as the terrorists; you’re an enemy of the United States, and you will be held to account. (Applause.) And third, we’ve launched a bold new agenda to defeat the ideology of the enemy by supporting the forces of freedom in the Middle East and beyond.

The freedom agenda is based upon our deepest ideals and our vital interests. Americans believe that every person, of every religion, on every continent, has the right to determine his or her own destiny. We believe that freedom is a gift from an almighty God, beyond any power on Earth to take away. (Applause.) And we also know, by history and by logic, that promoting democracy is the surest way to build security. Democracies don’t attack each other or threaten the peace. Governments accountable to the voters focus on building roads and schools — not weapons of mass destruction. Young people who have a say in their future are less likely to search for meaning in extremism. Citizens who can join a peaceful political party are less likely to join a terrorist organization. Dissidents with the freedom to protest around the clock are less likely to blow themselves up during rush hour. And nations that commit to freedom for their people will not support terrorists — they will join us in defeating them. (Applause.)

So America has committed its influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism. We will take the side of democratic leaders and reformers across the Middle East. We will support the voices of tolerance and moderation in the Muslim world. We stand with the mothers and fathers in every culture who want to see their children grow up in a caring and peaceful world. And by supporting the cause of freedom in a vital region, we’ll make our children and our grandchildren more secure. (Applause.)

The ‘freedom agenda’ was opposed by just about everyone, from the most conservative elements on the right, to liberals and so-called “revolutionary leftists”. Bush and his supporters went down in flames eventually. But not until the deed had been done.

Obama was elected as an anti-Bush beacon of hope, and on an anti-war, “bring the troops home” platform – but he inherited the same issues and the consequent imperative to drain the swamps.

And now we can see that despite an appalling amount of dithering and lots of double-talk, he’ll do what must be done. He must, whether he likes it or not.

He’s got it easier than Bush though – a lot easier. The passing of the UN resolution to intervene in Libya – spearheaded as it was by France and the UK, enabled him to tail comfortably behind , leaving “all options on the table” till the last minute. He can still be Not-Bush.

And how good is it that Iraq is no longer under the heel of Saddam Hussein (a far greater monster than Gaddafi)?!! The existence of a Shia- based democracy in Mesopotamia, is of enormous importance for the unfolding revolutions in the surrounding countries. (What we’re seeing in Libya now, should of course have happened way back in 1991 after the liberation of Kuwait. At that time the people of Iraq did rise up and try to oust their dictator, but no support was forthcoming and they were crushed)

Now that the UN has adopted Bush’s freedom agenda things have opened up. It’s still not going to be easy. The autocrats will try to hang on, Obama will continue to dither and pretend that he’s not really into it (Please be nice to your people, autocrats”). The Arab League may expect “payment” for having supported the No Fly Zone in Libya in the form of being tolerated for a while longer.

But the writing is on the wall. People everywhere must now insist that UN resolution 1973 really has made tyranny illegal, everywhere.

9 Responses to “UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!”

  1. 1 websinthe


    It’s amazingly hard to see any kind of force as having even a remote modicum of legitimacy. Unfortunately this one’s so close to the ‘ethical event horizon’ that we’re damned either way, and this is the least of a number of evils. Hindsight may kick us in the arse, but if we hadn’t moved in and tried to quell Gadalfi, hindsight would have shamed us entirely.

  2. 2 V Yarran

    Long live Comrade Juppe, long live the revolution!
    I can see Kesa can hardly contain herself after the democratic revolution finally gains support from the French government after their perfidy committed against Comrade Bush.

  3. 3 keza

    V Yarran (Ned Kelly??)

    An exclamation is not an argument.

  4. 4 Steve Owens

    The freedom agenda. Well thats nice, the UN which is a mixture of democrats and dictators has joined the Freedom agenda. The US President who supported democracy for Iraq but did little about it in undemocratic friendly countries brings to mind previous US Presidents like Reagan who stood for freedom in Eastern Europe but was happy for South Africa to be undemocratic. Or President Kennedy who was a Berliner when in Berlin but sponsored a military coup in South Vietnam.
    In 1972 there were 40 democracies. By 2007 there were 127. Not because the US president had got aboard the democracy train or because the UN had bought a democracy ticket. Democracy has blossomed all over the world for 40 years because ordinary people in Poland, Egypt, the Phillipines, Indonesia, Argentina and may other countries have stood up to UN members and to US allies and US enemies. If the UN or the USA can at this late stage do some good well good about time.

  5. 5 Arthur

    I think the article should put more stress on the people and the future and less on the US and the UN.

    The US and UN position has certainly been well ahead of Steve Owens and what passes for “the left”, but that really isn’t saying much, is it?

    With the imminent victories in Libya and Yemen and revolt already started in Syria most of the rest of the Arab world is pretty much a fait accompli (indeed this has been pretty much settled by Egypt, and earlier by Iraq).

    The Gulf monarchies and the Israeli occupation could perhaps hold out for a bit longer.

    We need a clear call to action on Bahrain, the rest of the Gulf countries and Palestine. Then on to sub-saharan Africa!

  6. 6 GuruJane

    The so-called “democracy” movements through the whole of the Arab ME have only come to pass since the victory of Iraq’s democratically elected government over the sunni arab salafists, baathists and shiite jihadis back in April 2008, less than three years ago. Indeed they have only materialised since the post-victory election of the current Iraqi government which now – significantly, I would suggest -includes the major sunni arab coalition. That government was formed only 6 months ago.

    However it will be some time and more pain before the other ME countries achieve the democratic political cohesion that is currently occuring in Iraq. First, these countries have no developed political parties whereas the long term Iraqi exiles and the Kurds had many years of argument, debate and organisation under their belts before they came into power. Secondly, the other ME countries will have to get rid of their “strongman” presidential systems if they are not to risk a plus ca change situation. Thirdly, the military in all these countries are still calling the shots, whereas in Iraq the US disbanded the Iraqi army and built a new one in partnership with the Iraqi governments of 2005 and 2006 that would would be loyal to the new order and not the old.

    So Iraq had a genuine rebirth from zero. Helped in no small way by the fact that its shiite population had a revolutionary tradition (Iraqi communist party, brutally put down by Saddam); the Kurdish parties also came from socialist origins.

    The Sunni arabs of the rest of the ME, with no such tradition, will be on a steep learning curve. But at least it’s a start, and at least they are now getting the opportunity thanks to Bush’s staying power back in ’06/07.

  7. 7 V Yarran

    Arthur wrote;
    “We need a clear call to action on Bahrain, the rest of the Gulf countries and Palestine. Then on to sub-saharan Africa!”
    We certainly do!
    Obama, Clinton, Palin, Bush, Rice, Wolfowitz, who Arthur, who will give the call.
    You are engaged in a sad fantasy that seeks to justify an analysis that has engaged opportunism as its basis.
    Years have passed with you trumpeting change as imminent in Israel as a result of fundamental change in US policy. Nothing has occurred. Things have gone backwards. Israel remains the US land based aircraft carrier in the middle east.
    You are simply a childish contrarian when it comes to engaging the left.This is all an intellectual game to you.
    Marxism, Mao Tse Tung thought exists as an abstract in your desire to be different.
    Have you ever thought of anything else other than your own importance.

  8. 8 barry

    So VYarran, you for or against the invasion of Libyan airspace?

    Your two posts in this thread add nothing.

  9. 9 jim sharp

    how many name changes now?
    ’tis interesting how VYarran’s
    got under keza &
    her comrades thin skin


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    ever overflowing waters
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    fashioning well
    the flowing book
    of our social life.

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