After a hiatus of nine years, in which Gadaffi was a useful ally to western interests, the same Col. Muammar Gadaffi is once again the man we love to hate.
GADAFFI: HANG’EM HIGH!
by Eric Margolis
War fever over Libya has gripped the United States and Canada. After a hiatus of nine years, in which he was a useful ally to western interests, Col. Muammar Gadaffi is once again the man we love to hate.
“On to Libya! Down with the Tyrant of Tripoli!” That’s the latest hue and cry from North America’s right wingers, media, and neoconservative lynch mob. Once again there’s talk of war against a small, almost defenseless nation that can’t seriously fight back.
The right thinks it sees a golden opportunity in Libya’s current civil war to get rid of the unloved Muammar Gadaffi, “liberate” Libya’s high-grade oil, and to halt the wave uprisings now flaring across the Arab world.
We heard this same song about Iraq:
an evil dictator oppressing his people, seas of oil, arsenals of dangerous weapons.
President Barack Obama is nearing a decision to attack Libya and implement no-fly zones over it. US Marine amphibious units are nearing Libya’s coast.
Leaders of the US, Britain, France, and Germany who were happy to play footsie with Gadaffi and take his money and buy his premium oil now suddenly brand him a monster. There is enough hypocrisy over former ally Libya to float the US 6th Fleet.
A US-British-French-Canadian invasion of Libya would be sugar-coated as a humanitarian mission to rescue Libyan civilians from supposedly murderous air strikes by Gadaffi’s totally inept air force.
But no mention is made of the 65 Afghan civilians recently killed by a US air strike, or the nine Afghan boys collecting wood on a hillside massacred by US helicopter gunships last week Nor about repeated US air strikes on Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen that have killed large numbers of civilians. When we do it, it’s `collateral damage.’
There are reports of US, British, French and perhaps Canadian special forces operating in eastern Libya, training, arming and even fighting alongside anti-Gadaffi irregular forces. The oldest trick in the book is to foment an uprising, then call for outside help.
The tribes of eastern Libya, and the city of Benghazi, have always been opposed to Gadaffi. British intelligence, MI6, has long been active in the region. A major British attempt to assassinate Gadaffi was mounted in Benghazi.
Libya is very fragile and appears to be coming apart at the seams. It only became a unitary state in 1951 when its three independent regions, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan were merged. Regional and tribal civil war is now breaking out, and oil-hungry foreign powers are circling Libya, as Col. Gadaffi warned. Libya may end up splintered, like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Having learned nothing from America’s trillion-dollar fiascos in Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington’s national security circles (America’s term for what in Britain were called “imperialists”) are eager to invade Libya. Plans to attack Iran and/or Pakistan have been postponed. Libya’s oil riches are too good to pass up.
However, some voices of reason are still heard in Washington. The able US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, stated very strong opposition to any no-fly zone and/or ground invasion of Libya, warning the US can’t risk or afford a third major war when 40% of every dollar spent by the US government is being borrowed from China or Japan.
Not so Canada, newly infected by the virus of neo-imperialism from running its little colony in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Its prime minister, who seems to regret missing the Iraq War, is now beating the war drums over Libya.
Former CIA chief Gates is quite right. A no-fly zone would soon draw the US into ground combat and into the midst of a confusing tribal conflict no one in Washington understands. This is precisely what happened in Afghanistan, where America found itself in the middle of a civil war between its Communist-dominated Tajik/Uzbek allies and the majority Pashtun.
The supposed “cakewalk” in Iraq turned into a quagmire tying down 50,000 US troops costing $1 million each per annum. The US is now getting ever deeper involved in conflicts in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier and, most lately, Djibouti. Could Libya be the straw that breaks the American camel’s back?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Attacking Iran certainly would be. But for now Tehran is breathing easy thanks to Col. Gadaffi.
One person who must be relishing this spectacle is the elusive Osama bin Laden(assuming he is alive.) Bin Laden’s primary goal was overthrowing US-backed autocratic regimes across the Muslim world. Attacking western targets was merely secondary.
Col. Gadaffi was not totally wrong when he blamed al-Qaida for Libya’s uprising. Bin Laden was not pulling the strings of Libya’s rebellion, but al-Qaida’s revolutionary philosophy and anti-western jihad certainly inspired many young people from Morocco to Bangladesh.
That’s Washington’s big problem. Invading Libya will intensify the fires burning in the Arab world and create yet another anti-western jihad. Interestingly, this is exactly Osama bin Laden’s strategy: draw the US into many small wars in the Muslim world and so bleed it dry. So far, the US has been cooperating with Osama master plan.
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2011
See Eric Margolis’s interview on Gadaffi with TVO’s excellent Steve Paikin, posted on his Facebook page
Related Articles: 1. Libya: How Gaddafi became a Western-backed dictator 2. Gadaffi: Crazy Like A Fox
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