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Muammar Ghadafi (or however we’re supposed to spell his name this week) is not a nice guy.

He doesn’t seem to me to be quite at the Saddam Hussein level of gassing the Kurds and running over Shi’ites in tanks, but nonetheless, not a nice guy.

Barack Obama thinks Ghadafi’s level of not niceness is now sufficient to justify the use of US forces to bring about a regime change:

“This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought,” Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.”

Obama said that embattled Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s continued assault on his own people left the U.S. and its international partners with no other choice.

But how is using force to bring about regime change in Libya OK, when using force to bring about regime change in Iraq was not OK, was about oil, meant that George Bush was Satan, or acting for the bushitlerchimphalliburton global industrial machine?

Hussein (Saddam, not Obama) had treated his own people worse for longer, had a history of violence against neigbouring countries and of use of weapons of mass destruction.

Interesting that a substantial number of comments on the HuffPo coverage of this story ask the same question: Why good in Libya if bad in Iraq?

Some of them are even quite amusing, like this one on claims the war is about oil in both cases ‘Actually, we never get the oil, just the shaft.’

Who exactly are the people we are supporting, protecting and probably putting into power in Libya?

Well, (coughs apologetically) al-Qaeda, actually.

WikiLeaks cables, independent analysts and reporters have all identified supporters of Islamist causes among the opposition to Col Gaddafi’s regime, particularly in the towns of Benghazi and Dernah.

An al-Qaeda leader of Libyan origin, Abu Yahya al-Libi, released a statement backing the insurrection a week ago, while Yusuf Qaradawi, the Qatar-based, Muslim Brotherhood-linked theologian issued a fatwa authorising Col Gaddafi’s military entourage to assassinate him. …

The military chief (of the rebels) is Abdul Fattah Younis al-Obeidi, a former leader of Col Gaddafi’s special forces who was his public security, or interior, minister until he went over to the rebels.

He has described Col Gaddafi as “not completely sane”, and worked with the SAS during the now curtailed thaw in British-Libyan relations. But it is still ironic that the West is taking sides in a battle between the leader of a much hated regime and his former effective deputy.

More on the perils of large scale Western intervention at Israel National News:

… imposition of a no-fly zone is a full-scale assault. It’s a war. People will be killed, some of whom will be innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. And even if mistakes never come about, Libyan President Moammar Qadhafi will make certain that pictures and movies of staged massacres become major hits on Youtube, al Jazeera, and the rest of the international media. He will play to turn public opinion against the U.S. who voted for it. After all, movie production of seeming massacres presented as authentic news is an Arab specialty.

The Arab League wants the U.S. and NATO to launch a war on Qaddafi, to help the Libyan rebels defeat the dictator, while, all the while, making it look as if the Libyan people, on their own, were able to overthrow their ruthless tyrant.

Why should the Euro-American forces lead the way? Where is the formidable Egyptian military? Where is the best American-trained, American-equipped Middle Eastern war machine? If the Egyptians can’t handle such a “simple humanitarian act,” what was the purpose of building their military up to that sky-scraping level? Why do the Arabs always look to the West to take care of their own dirty laundry? And why is the West willing to go ahead and comply? …

The U.S. and Europe should stay out of Libya. If the Arab League wants a no-fly zone over Qadhafi’s head, let them have our permission; let them go ahead and move on it — not the other way around. In its aftermath, no Arab propaganda will be able to blame the West for its imperialistic, satanic tendencies.

He is right. No matter what the outcome, no matter how good the West’s intentions, no matter how free of commerical imperatives, no matter how driven by humanitarian concern, 1500 years of history tell us we will come out looking like the villains.

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