A distinction between revolutionary and constitutional government
A distinction between revolutionary and constitutional government was made in 1793 by Robespierre, when he wrote:
‘The aim of constitutional government is to preserve the Republic; that of revolutionary government is to lay its foundation.’
The effective historical function of the revolutionary government in Libya was to ensure that, while the country was modernised in important respects, it did not and could not become a republic. The Libyan Revolution turned out to be permanent because its objects were imprecise, its architects had no form of law-bound, constitutional government in view as a final destination and no conception of a political role for themselves or anyone else after the Revolution.
The claim that the ‘international community’ had no choice but to intervene militarily, and that the alternative was to do nothing, is false. An active, practical, non-violent alternative was proposed, and deliberately rejected. In authorising this and ‘all necessary measures’, the Security Council was choosing war when no other policy had even been tried. Why?
[The Security Council … ]
(1) Demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians; (2) Stresses the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people and notes the decisions of the secretary-general to send his special envoy to Libya and of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to send its ad hoc High Level Committee to Libya with the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution.
In this way Resolution 1973 seemed to be actively envisaging a peaceful alternative as its first preference, while authorising military intervention as a fallback if a ceasefire was refused. In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth.
Resolution 1973 was passed in New York late in the evening of 17 March. The next day, Gaddafi, whose forces were camped on the southern edge of Benghazi, announced a ceasefire in conformity with Article 1 and proposed a political dialogue in line with Article 2. What the Security Council demanded and suggested, he provided in a matter of hours. His ceasefire was immediately rejected on behalf of the NTC by a senior rebel commander, Khalifa Haftar, and dismissed by Western governments. →
More to the point, it was a demand that made a ceasefire impossible, since securing a ceasefire requires commanders with decisive authority over their armies, and removing Gaddafi would have meant that no one any longer had overall authority over the regime’s forces.