Libya Shouldn’t Be a Foothold for Western Interference
As North African countries rise up and cast out their dictators, Western powers have been trying to find a way to manage the situation. It’s not easy: everyone is so peaceful and democratic and cooperative with each other. Even the Muslim Brotherhood is working with politically active women to bring about change. How can corporatist democracies possibly interfere with these transformations to protect their interests?
Thank goodness for Libya. Gaddafi is not going quietly, his forces are reacting violently against the people, forcing the opposition to respond in kind. This creates a huge humanitarian crisis — a very real one — but also an opening for “intervention.” According to TIME, this is just what the ObamAdmin was waiting for. And man, is this script familiar or what?
The first reason to believe the U.S. and its allies may intervene in Libya is Gaddafi: “You start from the premise that he’s crazy,” says the senior Administration official.
Well, naturally. We don’t go after sane dictators and terrorists, like Pinochet or Mubarak. Saddam was crazy, Osama was crazy, and if anyone fits the bill for Crazy, it’s Gaddafi. Granted, all of these crazy folk were perfectly fine partners to lavish with money and weapons when they cooperated with the global strategic interests of Western energy companies and intelligence services. But now we’re ruining the narrative. Proceed:
Still, the forces favoring a robust humanitarian intervention in Libya are surprisingly broad. Administration figures such as Hillary Clinton; Samantha Power, a senior director at the National Security Council; and Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., have experience with the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, and are sensitive to the urgency of responding decisively. Some also see an opportunity to rehabilitate the U.S. role in international humanitarian intervention, which Power told TIME in 2006 had been “killed for a generation” by the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Outside pressures exist too. European energy companies are deeply invested in Libyan oil and gas fields, which yield significant percentages of their production. U.S. counterterrorism officials have noted the disproportionate number of Libyans turning up in the ranks of al-Qaeda both in northern Africa and in Iraq. Domestically, Republicans like Senator John McCain have criticized Obama for not doing more in Libya, and potential GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich argued in 2005 for international intervention to end war crimes even without U.N. approval. “In certain circumstances, a government’s abnegation of its responsibilities to protect its own people is so severe that the failure of the Security Council to act must not be used as an excuse for the world to stand by as atrocities continue,” Gingrich wrote at the time.
Energy companies, check. Hawkish Republicans, check. Hawkish centrist Democrats, check. Aspiring candidates for President, check. Screw the UN Security Council, check. Overcoming the sense of impotence felt from losing the Vietnam — I mean, the Iraq war, check.
Yeah, it’s all very familiar. Like waking up to “I Got You, Babe” every morning and facing the prospect of reporting on Punxsutawney Phil for the zillionth time.
Oh, well. I’ll play my part and ask: Did anyone run these intervention plans by the Libyan revolutionaries? Last I checked, the rebel forces were doing a fine job of pushing Gaddafi’s forces into a corner. Of course, the regime is pushing back hard, and there is no certainty of victory for the revolution. Yet Gaddafi is down to loyalists and mercenaries, while the rebels have the rest of the army joining the ranks of the Libyan people. My money is on the latter.