To the left from Juan Cole

An Open Letter to the Left on Libya

Juan Cole

I would like to urge the Left to learn to chew gum and walk at the same time. It is

possible to reason our way through, on a case-by-case basis, to an ethical progressive position that supports the ordinary folk in their travails in places like Libya.

If we just don’t care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast

scale, we aren’t people of the Left. We should avoid making ‘foreign intervention’ an absolute taboo the way the Right makes abortion an absolute taboo if doing so makes

us heartless (inflexible a priori positions often lead to heartlessness). It is now easy to forget that Winston Churchill held absolutely odious positions from a Left point of view

and was an insufferable colonialist who opposed letting India go in 1947. His writings are full of racial stereotypes that are deeply offensive when read today. Some of his

interventions were nevertheless noble and were almost universally supported by the

Left of his day. The UN allies now rolling back Qaddafi are doing a good thing,

whatever you think of some of their individual leaders.

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and Juan Cole's Website and blog
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