By Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
March 24, 2011
Received wisdom often states that if you understand history and apply it to the present day, you stand a better chance of not making the same mistake twice. It’s also true that the victors write the history of world events- one of the spoils of war we are told. But after decades of changing the language of modern war and its recent history, all those old lessons are becoming buried under a heap of customised propaganda and legalese.
Regarding all of the West’s military strikes, invasions and occupations over the last decade, namely in Iraq and Afghanistan, the victors and their mercenary legal teams have indeed written their way into wars, and afterwards attempted to write their own version of popular history, skillfully rewriting international law in the process- all of which has been recycled, yet again, in order to justify a new globalist operation Libya.
This week has witnessed the latest bombing attack unleashed under fake humanitarian cover against the sovereign state of Libya. Lest we forget- that’s right, Libya is still a sovereign state.
With Libya, like with past conquests in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, we see the same identical twisted neo-conservative doctrine which was officially chrisined under George Bush Jr, formerly known as the “pre-emptive strike”, now refashioned for neo-liberals like Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy… as the humanitarian strike.
The idea of the humanitarian strike is ultimately more profound than its predecessor because the term effectively disarms columns of liberal-minded mainstream pundits and intellectual academics. It’s quite an ingenious evolution from the lumbering NeoCon days. But do not be confused, they are both contrived terms designed to cover the same exact long-range foreign policy goals: regime change, followed carving up the assets of the host country through a series of military operations and western corporate privatisation projects. In time, Libya will face the same long corporate onslaught that Iraq has.
This week, Deputy National Security adviser Ben Rhodes invented more new language to describe the air strikes against Libya stating, “Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end.” Very impressive.
Last week’s UN Security Council resolution appeared to be, on its surface anyway, a quick, drive-through triumph for diplomacy. But this quick agreement managed to conceal the underlying political approach and the military strategy to follow. But for the big player abstainers like Russia and China, a humanitarian no-fly zone was as far as they would go in order to secure peace on the ground in Libya. Air patrols they said, would stop Colonel Gaddafi mounting air attacks on civilians. End of story, right? We all wished. As we have learned from past no-fly zone projects like Iraq, these are effectively a UN-enforced martial law and may only exacerbate or lead to a full-on civil war, followed by military escalation.
It’s pretty obvious to any astute observer of world events that western coalition countries have quickly cobbled together a vague enough UN resolution- a fait accompli attack plan disguised as a “No Fly Zone”. No end-game plan was given by the West during the UN hearing on Libya, but surely even the most naive political observer knows there is no simple ‘exit strategy’ with no-fly zones.
The new language of war
By a flick of the linguistic wand, any military action can be justified by the self-styled moralist and the 21st century political shape-shifter. First comes the humanitarian “No-Fly Zone”, a legal foot in the door. Then come the “surgical” air strikes. And by extension, any foreign peoples who happen to be killed by an officially branded Allied Air Strike fall under the category of “collateral damage”.
Entrusting our modern language to UN bureaucrats, White House Press Secretaries and major media talking heads from CNN, ABC, MSNBC, FOX and others has meant that public opinion on such matters has become more or less irrelevant. They have successfully replaced the old, out-dated humanist language which described modern warfare pre-Desert Storm in 1991, with a new language and a new improved perspective. Naturally, this means a new play book for all wars. Those who are awake to this fact can only sit back in wonder as it gets increasingly ridiculous. Likewise, those who remain in a trance, thoroughly impressed by the science they have come to learn and love the new lingua franca of modern warfare, are dazzled by it.
This is perhaps one of the most significant trends of the 21st century. We now live in a world where, as Western audiences go, anything can be made acceptable by the use of received ‘official’ language. It’s that simple. You can compare this world of creative writing to life in the modern American legal system- a place where any lawyer will tell you, there is no right or wrong, only legal definitions that are constantly changed and reinvented, allowing its inhabitants to navigate through their morally relative pathways, constantly filled with the air of hypocrisy. It’s certainly no place for a layman. It’s a place where only a skilled lawyer live and breathe.
Few will argue that when it comes to the punch, Western foreign policy is now the exclusive domain of lawyers and their vast labyrinth of legalese. According to British PM David Cameron, his first military adventure in the Mediterranean would hold up in a court of law. The PM has proclaimed, “It’s necessary, it’s right and… it’s legal”. That of course is the clincher for PM Cameron- it’s legal. This is, after all, Barrack, Nicolas and David’s first virgin war and so it’s very, very important to cover one’s political ass, so to speak, particularly in the wake of Tony Blair’s dubious and very long (and still pending it seems…) international war crimes criminal rap sheet.
A moment of clarity for the Mad Dog
Muammar Gaddafi claimed earlier this week that the UN resolution authorising international military intervention in Libya is “invalid”. Moral shape-shifters will off course say that Gaddafi is simply mad. However, according to International Law, the Libyan leader is actually correct. By definition, what has transpired in Libya is defined as a civil conflict and does not involve in any way (despite initial western media scares of refugees over the border into Egypt), any of its neighboring UN member states.
Whether you are a fan of Gaddafi or not, you have to recognise what looks to be a moment of clarity for Libya’s notorious Mad Dog. Earlier this week it appears that the Libyan leader had sent a message to US President Barack Obama defending his decision to attack rebels and their enclaves in certain cities:
“If you found them taking over American cities by the force of arms, tell me what you would do.”
The statement came via a government spokesman at a news conference in Tripoli and speaks volumes.
Whether it’s a democracy, a monarchy, or a dictatorship- there are no two ways about it, civil unrest is civil unrest. Not responding to it will certainly lead to anarchy and all its unsavoury trappings. This is validated by the reports of armed gangs marauding and robbing their way through Benghazi, a familiar scene when law and order breaks down. And how a government deals with such an event will certainly differ according the particular circumstances.
What would Barrack do?
Now, let’s rewind a few weeks. How the current civil conflict in Libya actually started was from an organised group of protesters who took over the Libyan Parliament building and proceeded to set it on fire. This followed by an organised attacked the state-run television station and further attacks on police stations.
Were these so-called rebel groups backed given support beforehand by Western Intelligence agencies as they have across the globe throughout recent history? The answer to this question will eventually come out in the wash, but putting that aside for the minute, what would a Western leader do when faced with such a situation? This scenario is not even far-fetched, particular in the case of Sarkozy’s own France, the most likely candidate for a “Flash Mob” manifestation in 2011 and 2012.
Now let’s think about it for a minute. If a group of armed militia decided to takeover and burn down David Cameron’s own Parliament building in London, or Sarkozy’s own Palais de Élysée in Paris, or Barrack Obama’s Captial Hill building in Washington, would there be a swift and firm response on the part of government forces? Judging by the current climate in the UK, where peaceful protestors need to file for a permit to protest, and where US protestors are only allowed to demonstrate in specific government-designated “Free Speech Zones”, and where hundreds of peaceful young American G20 demonstrators in Pittsburgh, PA were brutally beaten, shot with ‘bean-bag’ rounds by police, targeted with ear-piercing sound cannons, then it is safe to expect that any escalation to organised armed gangs attempting to burn down the centres of government and take over cities and towns in these same western countries… would certainly be met with lethal force. Yes, American or British would shot down in cold blood in order to avert a complete decent into urban anarchy.
Following such a domestic event in the West, in the case of the Washington Press Secretary, you can also bet that it would not be classed as “an insurrection by rebel forces”, as is the case with the Western media depiction of Libya’s civil unrest. No, it would be under the heading of “treason by anti-American, domestic terrorists”. Later, once quashed, do you really believe that the UN would go on to pass a new resolution laying blame on Obama’s DC government, like it has in the case of Libya, for “murdering its own citizens”? Definitely not.
As innocent Libyan bodies begin to wash up, Western apologists, along with the endless platoons of mindless media pundits and other moral shape-shifters will be (amazingly albeit predictably) parroting the exact same lines in defense of military attacks on Libya. It generally sounds something like this:
“Lighting fires to buildings isn’t exactly great, but with a government ignoring citizens, killing them in the streets for rising against evil and continuing to act like they’ve got a fierce stronghold on the people, we can’t just sit back and do nothing. I support the rebels because by burning down these reminders of corruption and evil, the people flush out the offenders giving them no place to hide.”
So here we find ourselves again, at that same familiar place we have come loath about our once great western civilisation. We have the modern double standard held high by the usual suspects: the UN, US, UK and their fabled Coalition. And if that’s not enough, Coalition Forces have already begun to accumulate their own list of dead Libyans, most of which will of course be civilians. By western moral standards it’s OK if western military forces kill Libyans but it’s not OK if Libyan military forces kill Libyans, because when western military forces do it, again, it’s simply written off as collateral damage.
The genuine sands of change
Popular history may describe today’s events as something like this: “
“With all the uprisings in the Middle East, the time of dictatorship appears to be winding down, as oppressed people in nations all over are using their voices along with social media to demonstrate public opinion”.
Indeed, it was Gaddafi’s own son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi who displayed some formidable rhetoric in his university dissertation entitled, “The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From Soft Power to Collective Decision Making?”. In his paper, he describes a philosophy where he believes that governments should be more democractic, in effect condemning the very things his father has been doing over the last 40 years. Later on, he declared he would not succeed his father’s position because it was against Libya’s new progressive system. However, after some 40 years of oppression, progression which was to be in the hands of the people, is now firmly in the hands of the UN, and its gang of three – the US, Britain and France.
We should know by now that the gang of three will never sit idle and let a real progressive democracy develop over time, as would have been the case in Libya, especially if there’s oil and gas under those sands.
Interestingly enough, while all these societies throughout North Africa and the Middle East all appear to be evolving towards something ultimately better and more dynamic, the West seem to moving backwards towards something more monolithic. Both domestically and in a foreign intervention sense, the West is effectively rewriting their law books as they go along, attacking who they want and revoking domestic civil rights where they see fit.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin condemned the air and missile strikes waged by the US and its allies in Libya as another “crusade”. China has condemned the Allied attack on a sovereign state. It’s a charming twist, the West now has China and Russia doling out moral lessons on foreign intervention, as it appears the US and Europe have already been publicly and permanently compromised by their wanton power-grabs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Are pedestrian politicians and middle class voters in the US and Europe able to see any of this? They should, because they already had a master course in it since 2001. Still, we haven’t even begun to catalogue the long list of lies that we’ve been sold to justify all these foreign, undeclared wars. But we will anyway…