How much of the mainstream media do you believe to be credible? (I’m talking Time, Post, etc, I’m not thinking about the stuff that pretends to be factual such as Fox News, but never is). Personally, I’ve accepted much, but there is a question I’ve been challenged over, specifically:
- What is the real reason for our involvement in Libya?
If you believe the media and popular opinion, then its because we can’t tolerate the slaughter of innocent people by a tyrant. Up until now, I’ve foolishly accepted this without giving it too much thought. The problem is that if I had applied a bit of critical thinking, I’d have quickly realised that there was something wrong with that statement. What has enabled me to change my mind is an article written by Johann Hari. In it he quite rightly points out …
David Cameron’s instinctive response to the Arab revolutions was to jump on a plane and tour the palaces of the region’s dictators selling them the most high-tech weapons of repression available. Nicholas Sarkozy’s instinctive response to the Arab revolutions was to offer urgent aid to the Tunisian tyrant in crushing his people. Barack Obama’s instinctive response to the Arab revolutions was to refuse to trim the billions in aid going to Hosni Mubarak and his murderous secret police, and for his Vice-President to declare: “I would not refer to him as a dictator.”
This isn’t the distant past. This is a few months ago. Yet now we are told that these people have turned into the armed wing of Amnesty International.
In other words, it simply does not add up at all, something truly stinks here.
The point that Hari then goes on to make in his article is that the crimes we condemn the Libyan tyrant for are the exact same crimes being inflicted upon civilians by the US in Pakistan.
Imagine a distant leader killed over 2000 innocent people, and his military commanders responded to evidence they were civilians by joking that the victims “were not the local men’s glee club.” Imagine one of the innocent survivors appeared on television, amidst the body parts of his son and brother, and pleaded: “Please. We are human beings. Help us. Don’t let them do this.” Imagine polling from the attacked country showed that 90 percent of the people there said civilians are the main victims and they desperately want it to stop. Imagine there was then a huge natural flood, and the leader responded by ramping up the attacks. Imagine the country’s most respected democratic and liberal voices were warning that these attacks seriously risked causing the transfer of nuclear material to jihadi groups.
Surely, if we meant what we say about Libya, we would be doing anything to stop such behaviour? Wouldn’t we be imposing a No Fly Zone, or even invading?
Yet, in this instance, we would have to be imposing a No Fly Zone on our own governments. Since 2004, the US – with European support – has been sending unmanned robot-planes into Pakistan to illegally bomb its territory in precisely this way. Barack Obama has massively intensified this policy.
His administration claims they are killing al Qaeda. But there are several flaws in this argument. The intelligence guiding their bombs about who is actually a jihadi is so poor that, for six months, they held top-level negotiations with a man who claimed to be the head of the Taliban – only for him to later admit he was a random Pakistani grocer who knew nothing about the organisation. He just wanted some baksheesh. The US’s own former senior military advisors admit that even when the intel is accurate, for every one jihadi they kill, as many as fifty innocent people die. And almost everyone in Pakistan believes these attacks are actually increasing the number of jihadis, by making young men so angry at the killing of their families they queue to sign up.
The implication of this current policy is a road to utter disaster for all of us. What we soon forget is that Pakistan is a Nuclear power, if you kill and slaughter enough friends and relatives of those guarding such weapons or weapons grade material, you do nothing but motivate them to slip some into the hands of religious kooks insane enough to deploy them.
When faced with the claim that we are in Libya to protect the population, think again, because one of the country’s best writers and activists, Fatima Bhutto, says: “In Pakistan, when we hear Obama’s rhetoric on Libya, we can only laugh. If he was worried about the pointless massacre of innocent civilians, there would an easy first step for him – stop doing it yourself, in my country.”
In other regions, where war cuts through the local population, nobody gives a dam, so why step into the arena in Libya? One single word sums it up – Oil.
Bill Richardson, the former US Energy Secretary and then US Ambassador to the UN, is probably right when he says:
“There’s another interest, and that’s energy… Libya is among the ten top oil producers in the world. You can almost say that the gas prices in the US going up have probably happened because of a stoppage of Libyan oil production… So this is not an insignificant country, and I think our involvement is justified.”
Are you are still convinced our governments are acting for humanitarian reasons, well as Mr Hari puts it…
I’ve got a round-trip plane ticket for you to some rubble in Pakistan and Congo – they’d love to hear your argument.