In OpenDemocracy, Mary Kaldor analyses the ongoing Libyan war. The best scenario is that Gaddafi is removed and democracy is established, but a more likely scenario is a freezing of the current division between east and west Libya. A third possibiity is as in Iraq, a protracted ‘new war’, she writes, and goes on to criticize the military approach of the Western powers:

From a human security perspective, the appropriate course of action is to protect civilians throughout Libya and guarantee their right to peaceful protest. The first task should have been to declare Benghazi and the liberated areas a UN Protected Area or safe haven. International peace-keepers would have had to be deployed to help protect the liberated areas. Humanitarian and reconstruction assistance and support for a democratic political process would also have to be provided so that the liberated areas could provide poles of attraction for other parts of the country. (See Kaldor, Mary: "Libya: war or humanitarian intervention?", OpenDemocracy 29 March 2011)

Kaldor's analysis is sharp and revealing. However, it is one thing to say what should have been done instead of what was actually done, i.e. to deploy UN peace-keepers on the ground instead of starting a war from the air. But what should we do now to improve the worsening situation ? That is another question, and a very urgent one. Because, as Kaldor fears, the outcome of this military "Odyssey" will probably be something like her second, or third scenario.

A pessimist would say that there may be no such "we", which is able to intervene against the economic and political forces of war. Gone are the days of the European Nuclear Disarmament movement, of which Mary Kaldor was one of the most vibrant leaders back in the 1980ies.

But, instead of painting a bleak picture of ourselves, why do we not again boldly put the denuclearisation of Europe on the agenda?

In their article "Nuclear Follies" (OpenDemocracy 13 March 2011) Dan Plesch and Harald Heubaum, reminded the readers of Open Democracy about the the export of French nuclear reactors to Libya, which President Sarkozy and Colonel Gaddaffi agreed and publicized only a few years ago (in the summer of 2007).

"(t)he events in Libya and Japan have one thing in common", Plesch and Heubaum constated. "Each case serves as a powerful reminder of the dangers of nuclear power and the short-sighted, irrational risk analyses of those pursuing the technology."

This parallell between the recklessness of the Japanese nuclear reactor builders and the irresponsibiity of the European nuclear rector exporters also needs to be considered in the analysis of the Libyan war.

Mary Kaldor's article arrived while I was reading the book about human security which she has published together with the American military officer Shannon D. Beebe (The Ultimate Weapon Is No Weapon. Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace, N.Y. 2010). I was actually quoting some of the basic propositions of their excellent work in a message to the mailing list of the European Social Forum. I shall insert a glimpse of those principles here as well, with quotation marks around the words of Beebe and Kaldor. My own remarks I have put within parentheses:

  • "the primacy of human rights"; "the goal is protecting civilians, not defeating an enemy";
  • "legitimate political authority" (this has to be something else than presidents of the republic who gladly act as salesmen for the nuclear and military industries);
  • "a bottom-up approach"; "ultimately, the people who live in areas of insecurity must solve their own problems" ( Well, where I live is probably relatively secure, although the distance from here to the NPP Lovisa, which was built in the 1970ies, is only ca 15 kilometers. Still, I cannot but consider that NPP to be a human security risk) ;
  • "effective multilateralism" (this means yes to UN operations, OK, but humanity has already waited some sixty odd years for the UN to achieve the nuclear disarmament. It just has to start somewhere, has it not? So why not start the nuclear abolition *unilaterally* here in Europe, to begin with? In addition, the UN is part of the problem when it comes to dismantling the nuclear power plants; it is no secret that the IAEA is in favour of constructing more, not less, NPPs.)
  • "regional focus" (so let's focus on the denuclearisation of our region and on the dismantlement of our military-industrial-academic tentacles e.g. the military aircraft industries of the EADS complex);
  • "clear civil command", "this means that the military must operate in support of law and order and under rules of engagement that are more similar to those of police work than to the rules of armed combat" (but this can only be achieved if we strengthen a global offentlighetsprincip, which is the Swedish term for the Freedom Of Information, defend our internet and support WikiLeaks; I keep remembering their "Collateral Murder" movie).

The human security may not be so much about what President Obama or NATO should be doing. Rather, It is about how we, the citizens, could be the change.