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Attacking Libya: Humanitarian crisis or Preserving influence?

March 23, 2011

Libya bombing

^Libyan forces attacked in air strike (courtesy London Evening Standard).)

Here is a breakdown of this week’s mainstream discourse: “Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and his regime are bad. Killing anyone and especially one’s own citizens is especially bad. Intervening to stop a civil war is potentially  good.”

The above may be true, but it all begins to get murky very quickly.

Moammar Gadhafi has ruled Libya for 41 years through violent oppression, crushing internal opposition. However, he is not alone in using torture, jailings, and the usual spectrum of methods for political repression. One only has to read the reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to see how Gadhafi resembles numerous other leaders in the Arab region, and governments throughout the world.

Until the recent “revolutions” in Tunisia, Egypt and now Yemen, Euro-American governments have had no moral concern about supporting these despots. They’ve been supportng them for decades. The EU in particular has sold over $1 billion in arms to Libya over the past six years. (

This scenario sounds awfully similar to the Western nations’ military sales to Saddam Hussein in Iraq in the 1970s and early 1980s, but whom they later vilified, invaded, and deposed.

So, why attack Libya now and not Yemen? Why not attack any repressive regime that systematically kills its own citizens? What makes this current situation in Libya so deserving of a UN Security Council resolution (#1973)? A measure allowing “whatever means necessary” to prevent this humanitarian crisis.

Two other examples of such “interventions” are Kosovo and Iraq, who were invaded by NATO and the US “coalition” on the grounds of some very dubious evidence.

Democracy, human rights and social justice have never been the underlying motives in the foreign policy of the American-European empire (nor of any other empire). Rather, the policy of empires has been to support any regime, no matter how repressive, as long they are useful in safeguarding vital interests –in this case, cheap energy or the maintenance of regional stability.

Think of this situation in a larger context. These regional outbreaks have the potential to affect massive regime changes. Initiated by citizens fed up with decades of internal repression, violence and corruption, the ruling elite are stumbling and tumbling throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It’s a political free-fall in these regions and the US and European ruling actors are frantically doing what they can to preserve their future influence. For Empires dependent on oil to run their economies, the endgame is controlling Saudi Arabia.

While popular revolts are bringing about regime change, the mantra from the US and Europeans is “orderly, stable transition”. No radicals need apply. Military action against Libya appears a necessary tactic to get Gadhafi out of power without disrupting the “orderly transition” to the new “democratic” paradigm.

The real test will be for future governments in this region and their disposition toward national autonomy or subservience to the interests of foreign empires.

So, attacks on Libya, though perhaps supportable, are starting to become very ugly.

Good to protect people from bad governments but regrettable when it is selective and driven by self-interests.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 10, 2013 12:54 am

    This is exactly the third posting, of urs I personally browsed.
    But yet I personally enjoy this particular 1, “Attacking Libya: Humanitarian crisis or Preserving influence?
    Sisyphus” the most. Thank you ,Tim

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