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Thursday, 25 August 2011






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It’s all about who is your kind of tyrant and who is not

Perhaps it is some intrinsic political tendency, genetic if you like, of the human condition, but we consistently interpret events in ways that justify our preferences or buttress our beliefs. I am thinking of course about the recent developments (perhaps ‘development’ is too positive a term?) in Libya.

This is supposed to be the tail-end of the so-called Arab Spring. Those who coined the term (sections of the media that is slavishly pro-Washington) and those who orchestrated the whole operation (and let’s not kid ourselves that it was spontaneous citizens’ uprisings and nothing else!) quite happily conflate categories, use universalistic language and treat not just countries but entire continents as geographical and social monoliths. We’ve seen crass generalizations regarding the countries and the uprisings.

Popular uprising

First of all, each country is unique and is uniquely constituted by class structures and other social layers. They have different histories and have different structures of governance. The people enjoy or suffer different benefits and deprivations respectively and live under different kinds of systems. There are similarities, yes, but the distinctions override.

Libyan rebels. Picture courtesy: Google

The Washington-loving media speak of Egypt and Libya in the same breath. That’s not just shoddy journalism but indicate appalling levels of submission to the Washington View of the Word (WVW). The disparities, corruption, dictatorial realities and assets of the two countries are starkly different. Different too is the methodologies used by Washington to down regimes.

In Egypt a relatively more popular uprising was managed in ways that a regime was installed that could do what Mubarak had done for years. So it was a matter of an unpopular but friendly tyrant whose use-by date had passed being nudged out and replaced by a regime that was as friendly to the USA. In Libya, the USA and others of the Evil Axis, namely Britain and France, wrangled a UN Security Council Resolution to justify what was made out to be limited military operations ‘to prevent civilians being harmed’.

The ‘civilians’ turned out to be nothing more than a bunch of brigands funded and armed by Washington. The Air Force of the USA and those of Britain and France have carried out over 7,000 bombing attacks since March 19, 2011. They’ve sent special operation ground forces and commando units to direct the military operations of the so-called ‘rebels’. It is, as Brian Becker, National Coordinator of ANSWER Coalition (‘The truth about the situation in Libya’) puts it, ‘a NATO-led army in the field’.

Libyan air space

Dissatisfaction with the Libyan leadership is no doubt a part of the story, but impoverishment was not. Libya, post-1969 not only cleared the nation of all foreign military presence, but put in place processes that resulted in a remarkable improvement in living standards. The most pertinent fact is that Libyans are certainly not in charge of script-writing the rebellion nor will they be masters of the outcome. It’s now months since anyone spoke of the Security Council resolution regarding the use and abuse of Libyan air space. The protectors quickly became predators, perpetrating the crimes they set out to prevent.

It’s all about oil. Libya has the largest oil reserves in all of Africa and moreover her oil is particularly coveted due to its superior quality. As Becker points out, if it was about democracy and civilization, then NATO had better start bombing Saudi Arabia right away. In fact NATO should have launched an attack against that country decades ago!

But Saudi Arabia will not be made a Libya. Ronald Reagan insisted that the despotic, tyrannical monarchy will be protected against insurrection. Barack Obama, for all his liberalist and outwardly enlightened rhetoric is proving to be a not-so-closeted Reaganite. The same goes for Bahrain, where the regime has unleashed and continues to unleash violence on an agitating population that makes Gaddafi’s operations against ‘rebels’ in Libya seems like a water-pistol fight between schoolboy gangs. But Bahrain will not be censured. The people will not be armed. NATO will not drop arms nor send commandos to direct field operations.


The reason is not hard to fathom. It’s about who is ‘My Kind of Tyrant’ and who is not, as far as Washington is concerned. There are tyrannies, ladies and gentlemen, that will be suffered and celebrated and there are democracies that will be censured. It’s about friendship.

Did I hear someone mutter ‘integrity’ in a questioning tone? No, that cannot be and anyway it can’t be about Barack Obama or the liars and brutes in NATO who are on his friends’ list. It’s all very simple. Libya is not Egypt II or Tunisia II, this we know. Neither Bahrain nor Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, will be permitted to be Libya II. Labouring the point seems meaningless. There are other things to be done and I don’t have to elaborate.



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