Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Guardian: Soft power best way for West to intervene in Libya

Simon Tisdall in today's Guardian reviews the various "hard power" options open to a West confronted by growing evidence of the Libyan regime's treatment of protesters and rebels. In his opinion, none are satisfactory, leading to a conclusion is the only viable alternative that will have long-term and less-damaging (to the West) results...

Hard power possibilities: no-fly zone; targeted missile strikes; arms drops to rebels; covert operations (including special forces)...
The remaining, simpler options are easily the best – and easiest to choose. They include co-ordinated international diplomatic efforts to talk to opposition leaders, build personal and political ties with the Benghazi council, advise on organisation and outreach as rebel-held territory expands, and help create a roadmap towards a post-Gaddafi, democratic future. Soft power options also involve stepping up immediate humanitarian relief operations and evolving plans for long-term development assistance.
Meanwhile, spreading the word that western countries are there to help, not to take over or subvert the revolution, is vital. Gaddafi has been using propaganda to great effect. A media counter-offensive is overdue. Such methods take longer and are less dramatic than other options. And they must sometimes be combined with "hard power", for example to protect humanitarian transport corridors with air power. But because they are non-confrontational and must be negotiated they have a greater chance of achieving lasting change.
This represents a useful article for A-Level students trying to understand the difference between "soft" and "hard" power in the modern world.

Read the whole thing.

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