Libya: The War Is On
EDITORIAL, 28 March 2011
#157 | Johan Galtung, 28 Mar 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service
Indeed. A physician who heals only friends, not foes, is no physician but party to a war. An organization that protects only our side civilians not the other side is not humanitarian but belligerent. We are far from the Hippocratic Oath in world affairs. Thus, there is nothing historical about the March 17 Security Council Resolution 1973.
Historical would have been a resolution protecting possible foes and restraining friends of the Anglo-American-French trio dominating the UN Security Council, putting their NATO at the UN disposal as a world cop. The NATO that made headlines the same day exactly for killing civilians, a daily routine it seems, in Afghanistan. Historical would have been R2P, a no-fly zone over Gaza, over Bahrain, over Pakistan, Afghanistan; against themselves. What happens now is intervention supporting one side against the other. It is normally called war.
True, President Obama became more multilateral than Bush. But that is a formalistic perspective. The problem is not who and how many decide but what they decide. Also true, the resolution excluded the Fidel Castro prediction of 21 February that NATO will occupy Libya: “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”. But it included the US rider: “by all necessary measures”. There may be more UNSC resolutions.
Then a closer look, starting with the vote. The majority 10/15 and no veto is clear. But the Western trio represents less than half a billion whereas the 5 abstainers, BRIC + Germany, are close to half of humanity. To abstain, regardless of political motivation, may be something beyond voting against: a No accepts the discourse but is against, Abstain rejects the whole approach.
The German abstention withdrew the biggest European NATO member digging a hole as it is supposed to be based on consensus.
More important among the abstainers are the two pillars of SCO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, one observer, India, and the biggest country in Latin America. By and large the West against the Rest and articulation of NATO vs. the SCO opposition. And they all talk about a vague alternative, ceasefire, mediation. Hopefully they will translate that rhetoric into action, and soon.
The third power is Islam; but whereas NATO-SCO use state terrorism some elements in Islam specialized in terrorism. Who gets Islam on their side will rule the world, and NATO is now at war with 4 and has a Secretary General with solid anti-Islamic credentials.
That the USA wants to recede into the background is easily explained. They have all reasons not to front the empire, leaving that job to the allies. The USA is bankrupt, and wants to share economic, military and above all political risks. There are noises in Congress about the constitution; moreover, we cannot afford it, this could become a deeper quagmire than Afghanistan. The NATO action has confirmed all the predictions about the colonizers of Africa–UK-France-Italy. He can now try a second revolution. He may not win, but may not lose either; for that NATO ground troops could be needed. And 20 years of war and occupation.
Of course nobody should just watch a regime brutalizing its own people as would happen if-when Gadhafi turns rhetoric into reality. All other measures should have been used, including hitting his planes by sea-born missiles. But, as someone on National Public Radio quipped, “President Obama has fired more cruise missiles than all other Nobel Peace Prize winners combined”, and they have hit all kinds of targets, flying, driving, walking, being. What is next?
Well, what does this remind us of? The NATO action against Serbia, of course, as Michel Collon points out in Salon. They did not have a UNSC mandate; but used “all necessary measures”.
Like for Libya, for Serbia-Kosovo the West made its usual propaganda. There is that reduction of the enemy to one person, to be hated, using faithfully the Orwell recipe in 1984. Milosevic, Hussein, Osama bin Laden, now Gadhafi. That groundwork has been done for Castro-Chávez, but with no UNSC 1973 follow-up, so far. Strange that the West that produced the idea of a social contract that the people could revise, Rousseau against Hobbes, is focused on only one person and so little on the people, and only on the bad, nothing good that could explain why so many are on his side. And so ignorant of history in spite of its high education.
But the goals in Serbia were clear: bombing state enterprises not the privatized ones, opening for transnational to get hold of natural resources, getting that huge military base Camp Bondsteel, supporting a liberation army (UCK) with a track record of horrors. The weapons used included cluster bombs, graphite bombs to hit electricity, depleted uranium with well known consequences.
We do not know that this will apply to the Libyan exercise, with the threat to flatten Tripoli. Who the rebels are is not clear; no doubt many, most, all, are strongly and rightly against Gadhafi’s dictatorship. But what are they for, their goals? Educated guess: they will accommodate direct foreign investment, in oil, and a base or two; out of gratitude and to solidify the victory. And the USA has what it has tried for a long time: a NATO base in Africa; and the more so the less peace. Withdraw the foreign presence in Bosnia and Kosovo and the order imposed by the West may unravel, even quickly. From a US to a Western empire?
In Libya there may be millions who dislike the man but like much of what he stood for. The West may become an easy victim of its own one-country-one-person doctrine. And we are in for one more long-lasting, tragic, crime against humanity. With no exit.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 March 2011.
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