War porn is back in
Forget "democracy"; Libya, unlike Egypt and Tunisia, is an oil power.
Many a plush office of United States and European elites will be salivating at
the prospect of taking advantage of a small window of opportunity afforded by
the anti-Muammar Gaddafi revolution to establish - or expand - a beachhead.
There's all that oil, of course. There's also the allure, close by, of the US$10
billion, 4,128 kilometer long Trans-Saharan gas pipeline from Nigeria to
Algeria, expected to be online in 2015.
Thus the world, once again, is
reintroduced to war porn, history as farce, a bad rerun of "shock and awe".
Everyone - the United Nations, the US, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) - is up in arms about a no-fly zone. Special forces are on the move, as
are US warships.
Breathless US senators compare Libya with
Yugoslavia. Tony "The Return of the Living
Dead" Blair is back in missionary zeal form, its mirror image played by British
Prime Minister David Cameron, duly mocked by Gaddafi's son, the "modernizer"
Saif al-Islam. There's fear of "chemical weapons". Welcome back to humanitarian
imperialism - on crack.
And like a character straight out of Scary
Movie, even war-on-Iraq-architect Paul Wolfowitz wants a NATO-enforced
no-fly zone, as the Foreign Policy Initiative - the son of the Project for the
New American Century - publishes an open letter to US President Barack Obama
demanding military boots to turn Libya into a protectorate ruled by NATO in the
name of the "international community".
The mere fact that all these
people are supporting the Libya protesters makes it all stink to - over the
rainbow - high heavens. Sending His Awesomeness Charlie Sheen to whack Gaddafi
would seem more believable.
It was up to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov to introduce a note of sanity, describing the notion of a no-fly zone
over Libya as "superfluous". This means in practice a Russian veto at the UN
Security Council. Earlier, China had already changed the conversation.
In their Sheen-style hysteria - with US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton desperately offering "any kind of assistance" - Western politicians did
not bother to consult with the people who are risking their lives to overthrow
Gaddafi. At a press conference in Benghazi, the spokesman for the brand new
Libyan National Transitional Council, human-rights lawyer Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga,
was blunt, "We are against any foreign intervention or military intervention in
our internal affairs ... This revolution will be completed by our people."
The people in question, by the way, are protecting Libya's oil industry,
and even loading supertankers destined to Europe and China. The people in
question do not have much to do with opportunists such as former
Gaddafi-appointed justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who wants a provisional
government to prepare for elections in three months. Moreover, the people in
question, as al-Jazeera has reported, have been saying they don't want foreign
intervention for a week now.
The Benghazi council prefers to describe
itself as the "political face for the revolution", organizing civic affairs, and
not established as an interim government. Meanwhile, a military committee of
officer defectors is trying to set up a skeleton army to be sent to Tripoli;
through tribal contacts, they seem to have already infiltrated small cells into
the vicinity of Tripoli.
Whether this self-appointed revolutionary
leadership - splinter elements of the established elite, the tribes and the army
- will be the face of a new regime, or whether they will be overtaken by
younger, more radical activists, remains to be seen.
Shower me with
None of this anyway has placated the hysterical Western
narrative, according to which there are only two options for Libya; to become a
failed state or the next al-Qaeda haven. How ironic. Up to 2008, Libya was
dismissed by Washington as a rogue state and an unofficial member of the "axis
of evil" that originally included Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark confirmed years ago, Libya was on the
Pentagon/neo-conservative official list to be taken out after Iraq, along with
Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and the holy grail, Iran. But as soon as wily
Gaddafi became an official partner in the "war on terror", Libya was instantly
upgraded by the George W Bush administration to civilized status.
the UN Security Council unanimously deciding to refer the Gaddafi regime to the
International Criminal Court (ICC), it's useful to remember that the ICC was
created in mid-1998 by 148 countries meeting in Rome. The final vote was 120 to
seven. The seven that voted against the ICC were China, Iraq, Israel, Qatar and
Yemen, plus Libya and ... the United States. Incidentally, Israel killed more
Palestinian civilians in two weeks around new year 2008 than Gaddafi these past
This tsunami of hypocrisy inevitably raises the question;
what does the West know about the Arab world anyway? Recently the executive
board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) praised a certain northern
African country for its "ambitious reform agenda" and its "strong macroeconomic
performance and the progress on enhancing the role of the private sector". The
country was Libya. The IMF had only forgotten to talk to the main actors: the
And what to make of Anthony Giddens - the guru behind
Blair's "Third Way" - who in March 2007 penned an article to The Guardian saying
"Libya is not especially repressive" and "Gaddafi seems genuinely popular"?
Giddens bet that Libya "in two or three decades' time would be a Norway of North
Africa: prosperous, egalitarian and forward-looking". Tripoli may well be on its
way to Oslo - but without the Gaddafi clan.
The US, Britain and France
are so awkwardly maneuvering for best post-Gaddafi positioning it's almost
comical to watch. Beijing, even against its will, waited until extra time to
condemn Gaddafi at the UN, but made sure it was following the lead of African
and Asian countries (smart move, as in "we listen to the voices of the South").
Beijing is extremely worried that its complex economic relationship with oil
source Libya does not unravel (amid all the hoopla about fleeing expats, China
quietly evacuated no less than 30,000 Chinese workers in the oil and
Once again; it's the oil, stupid. A crucial
strategic factor for Washington is that post-Gaddafi Libya may represent a
bonanza for US Big Oil - which for the moment has been kept away from Libya.
Under this perspective, Libya may be considered as yet one more battleground
between the US and China. But while China goes for energy and business deals in
Africa, the US bets on its forces in AFRICOM as well as NATO advancing "military
cooperation" with the African Union.
The anti-Gaddafi movement must
remain on maximum alert. It's fair to argue the absolute majority of Libyans are
using all their resourcefulness and are wiling to undergo any sacrifice to build
a united, transparent and democratic country. And they will do it on their own.
They may accept humanitarian help. As for war porn, throw it in the dustbin of