Libya — Humanitarian Intervention or Ruthless Hypocrisy?

On April 5th 2011, Noam Chomsky reported that

Last month, at the international tribunal on crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor came to an end. The chief prosecutor, U.S. law professor David Crane, informed The Times of London that the case was incomplete: The prosecutors intended to charge Muammar Gaddafi, who, Crane said, “was ultimately responsible for the mutilation, maiming and/or murder of 1.2 million people.” But the charge was not to be. The U.S., U.K. and others intervened to block it. Asked why, Crane said, “Welcome to the world of oil.” (1)

It begins when over half of our income taxes pay for direct and indirect military spending, which reallocates those dollars to the too-big-fail arms production industry that produces the best for the U.S. and sells all the rest it can to the supported dictators of Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc. in order to retrieve the dollars we sent there to buy oil. Then, when a few dictators either disobey or get in the way, like Hussein and now Gaddafi, our taxes are again deployed to bomb things back "in line." After the dust settles and the blood dries, only those world  citizens with some compassion seek to alleviate at least in part the tragic suffering.

The humanitarian motive was obviously dormant before the Libyan uprising. Obama was working to deliver Gaddafi another $77 million in weapons, on top of $17 million in 2009 and $46 million Bush provided in 2008. European governments doled out nearly half a billion in 2009 to this dictator who  was “ultimately responsible for the mutilation, maiming and/or murder of 1.2 million people.” (2)

In many well documented cases, including the 1999 U.S./NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the 1991 U.S. invasion of Iraq, violent intervention moved swiftly, successfully ignoring, discrediting or brushing off viable alternatives.

Now it has emerged that viable alternatives were ignored in the case of Libya. For example, UCLA law professor Asli Bali, says the U.S.-led coalition has ignored viable alternatives to military attacks, such as the pre-bombing suggestion of the International Crisis Group. (3)

Another example was the pre-intervention offer of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez to immediately mediate between Gaddafi and the opposition. Chavez proposed an international peace mission with forces from friendly nations to try to mediate the unrest gripping Libya and avoid civil war. (4)  Reuters reported that both Gaddafi and the Arab League accepted Chavez's proposal, while others said the Arab League was still considering it. (5)

The predictable happened when this offer was quickly scoffed at by the U.S., Britain and France. U.S. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez reported on March 4 that Libya's defecting envoy to the U.S told him the opposition forces will reject the proposal. Menendez didn't even mention Chavez when he asked the question, he had only mentioned "efforts to seek a negotiated solution." (6)

Since then little has been reported, and it is apparent that Chavez’s proposal has been stonewalled as the media prints only claims such as that of Win Thin, head of emerging market strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (oldest and largest U.S. private bank in the U.S., for whom U.S. Marine General Smedley Butler installed dictators in Central America), “Chavez is hardly an impartial third party in this conflict, as he has cozied up to Qaddafi over the years. We would not expect opposition forces to be very open to any sort of Chavez intervention.” (7)

Though the U.S. has proclaimed humanitarian intervention as a virtual trademark of its foreign policy, there is not one case—from Granada to Vietnam—where the documentary record concurs. In fact it's the opposite: in every case the record clearly indicates the real basis to have been a global form of the Monroe Doctrine.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, President McKinley spoke of his humanitarian decision to, “educate the Filipinos and uplift and civilize and Christianize them," by invading and slaughtering over 200,000 with no mention of the vital role the Philippines were to play as a coaling station for the U.S. Navy.

In 1954, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles promised to support “a prosperous and progressive Guatemala” as he implemented a CIA coup that destroyed its popularly elected government, installed a series of dictators who would murder over 200,000 Guatemalans, and restored the dominance of a large U.S. corporation—United Fruit (now Chiquita Banana).

In 1999 the U.S. and NATO attacked Yugoslavia. The propaganda system was incredibly effective in this case because many today still think NATO’s “humanitarian” bombing stopped ethnic cleansing. But there is very consistent, well-documented evidence to the contrary from the State Department, the Kosovo Verification Mission, NATO, the British Parliament, etc. (8) In spite of frequent brutal attacks by the Kosovo Liberation Army, the Serbs committed no “major or systematic crimes against Albanians” up to the eve of the bombing. The UN didn’t register refugees outside of Kosovo until well after the bombing began. It was the NATO bombing that precipitated the ethnic cleansing and mass migration. The real motives may be more clear now, as NATO’s Kosovo “Colony” has become home to Camp Bondsteel, a giant U.S. military base strategically positioned to project power into the oil and gas rich Caspian and Eastern Mediterranean regions. (9)

So in the case of Libya today, we would be correct to assume the most probable hypothesis is that the U.S., Britain and France have been stirring up trouble in Libya to control its rich eastern oil fields by fomenting a violent civil war context and cutting off viable alternative negotiations until a last-minute attack seemed to be all that remained to prevent the large scale slaughter of civilians.

Already the U.S., Britain and France have gone beyond the UN mandate for a no fly zone intended to prevent a large massacre of civilians. We can expect to see a U.S. supported set of armed “rebels” (freedom fighters may have become too obvious a term) who refuse to compromise, responding to U.S. direction as the U.S. seeks a more reliable client for the third largest oil producer of Africa with its large, expected but undiscovered oil reserves.

We can expect more of the same since the real motive is not peoples’ security but petrol and other dominance (like perhaps termination of Gaddafi’s initiative to create a united African continent with its own currency (10), and /or diverting attention from covert U.S. support of violent suppression in Bahrain and Yemen). Yes more of the same, though that will further isolate the U.S. from the nations of the region and the world, increase hostility toward the people of the U.S. and ratchet up the risk of terrorism here at home.










8. Chomsky, Noam, A New Generation Draws the Line - Kosovo, East Timor and the Standards of the West, 2000.

9. Johnstone, Diana, Serbia surrenders Kosovo to the EU,

10. Alexander Cockburn, What's Really Going on in Libya?, Counterpunch, April, 2011.