Washington, March 28, 2011 (Transcend Media Service) — A physician who heals only friends, not foes, is no physician, but a party to a war. An organization that protects only one side’s civilians, not those of the other, is no humanitarian, but a belligerent. There is nothing historic about the March 17 Security Council Resolution 1973.
Historic would have been a resolution protecting possible foes and restraining friends of the Anglo-American-French trio dominating the UN Security Council, putting NATO at the UN’s disposal. The same day, NATO made headlines for killing civilians – a daily routine, it seems – in Afghanistan. Historic would have been R2P, a no-fly zone over Gaza, over Bahrain, over Pakistan, Afghanistan. What is happening now is intervention in support of one side against the other. It is war.
True, President Obama has 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 prospect of “a foreign occupation force of any form in any part of Libyan territory.” So Fidel Castro’s prediction of 21 February that NATO will occupy Libya has not turned into reality. But Resolution 1973 did include the US rider “by all necessary measures.” There may be further Security Council resolutions.
A closer look at the vote and what it means needs consideration. The majority of 10 out of 15 Council members, with no veto, was clear enough. But the Western trio – the US, France, and Britain – represents less than half a billion people. The 5 abstainers – Brazil, India, Russia, China, and Germany – amount to nearly half of humanity. Political motivations of each individual member aside, to abstain may be seen as something beyond voting against: a “No” accepts the discourse, but is against, whereas an abstention rejects the whole approach.
The German abstention in the Security Council vote meant the biggest European NATO member blowing a hole in an alliance that is supposed to be based on consensus.
More important, among the abstainers are the two pillars of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; one observer, India; and Brazil, the biggest country in Latin America. By and large, it could be seen as the West against the Rest and articulation of NATO vs. the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And they all talk about a vague alternative, ceasefire, and mediation. Hopefully, they will translate that rhetoric into action, and soon.
The third power is Islam; but whereas NATO and SCO countries have state terror as their weapon, some elements in Islam specialize in non-state terrorism. Whoever gets Islam on their side will rule the world. NATO is now at war in four countries of the Islamic World, and has a Secretary General with solid anti-Islamic credentials.
That the USA wants to recede into the background can be easily explained. The Americans have all the 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, and that we cannot afford it. Libya could become a deeper quagmire than Afghanistan. The NATO action has confirmed all the predictions about the colonizers of Africa –UK-France-Italy – Gaddafi has been making. He can now try a second revolution. He may not win, but he may not lose either. For that, NATO ground troops could be needed. That could mean twenty years of war and occupation.
Of course nobody should just watch a regime brutalizing its own people, as would happen if Gaddafi turns his rhetoric into reality. Therefore, 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, and walking. What is next?
What does this remind us of? The NATO action against Serbia in 1999, of course, as Michel Collon points out in Salon. They did not have a UNSC mandate, but used “all necessary measures.”
Just as for Serbia-Kosovo, for Libya, too, the West runs its usual propaganda. There is that reduction of the enemy to one person to be hated, using the Orwellian recipe of 1984;Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and now Gaddafi. Groundwork has been done for Castro and Chávez, but there is no UNSC 1973 follow-up so far. It is strange that the West that produced the idea of a social contract the people could revise (Rousseau against Hobbes) is focused on only one person, and so little on the people; only on the bad, nothing good, that could explain why so many are still on his side; and so ignorant of history.
The goals in Serbia in 1999 were clear: bombing state enterprises, not the privatized ones, to get hold of natural resources;and getting that huge military base, Camp Bondsteel, supporting a liberation army in Kosovo, with a track record of horrors. The weapons included cluster bombs and graphite bombs with depleted uranium to hit power stations and the like, with well known consequences.
We do not yet 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 – perhaps most, or even all – are strongly and rightly against Gaddafi’s dictatorship. But what are they for, and what are their goals? An educated guess suggests that the Libyan rebels will accommodate direct foreign investment in oil, and a base or two – out of gratitude, and to solidify the victory. And the USA will have what it has tried for a long time: a NATO base in Africa; but all for less peace. Withdraw the foreign presence in Bosnia and Kosovo and the order imposed by the West may unravel, quickly.
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 route.