Our political map, with its constant shift to the right, reflects precisely this colonial logic, which has become the logic of our lives: The West is allowed what the natives are not.
Two other Arab uprisings are going on aside from the civil war in Libya. But no one in Washington has called on Bahrain’s government to step down, and Saudi Arabia, which cuts off the hands of thieves, has been allowed to invade the emirate to take part in the suppression there. Protesters are being slaughtered daily in Yemen, and the West is helping. As always, Arab blood, high octane, is on sale.
To claim that this is a double standard is like complaining that a missile has a warhead and a tail. For two decades now, states have been taken apart in the name of “human rights”: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and now Libya, using human-rights missiles deployed against humans. Western media outlets are already producing a global discourse about “a war with values” and “contradictions between values and strategy,” as if strategy didn’t include “values.”
Once again the West is quoting Homer and dropping business and partnership with Muammar Gadhafi in favor of ratings, oil and especially the use of the machinery of war. The public likes this, until it has to pay in blood and money. After the graves are covered, the mood can change. In general, indifference – the progeny of the malls, reality TV and beach vacations – takes control.
Something is rotten there. Not only the corruption of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi or French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Not only the dismantling of the welfare state, the disappearance of the left, but – in place of all this – the return of colonial theology. It begins at home with the great hostility toward Arabs and Muslims, and now, with the help of Gadhafi’s drugged image, another “no-fly zone,” which has turned, with a great global wink, into a tremendous, high-tech shooting gallery.
The destruction of Iraq – a crime with the scope of genocide – began with aerial attacks and a siege that went on for more than a decade. No one planned the moves at the time. So there’s no point asking what the goal of the attack on Libya is. Saving human lives? As in Iraq? Maybe democracy? As in Saudi Arabia? Those who possess giant war machines with funding for research and development prefer trial and error. There are no goals. Will Al-Qaida also get there quickly? Well, there’s a huge arsenal that needs refreshing, once in the name of “human rights,” once in the name of “the war on terror.” Something will come out of this. Ratings, oil, a peace conference, photo-ops, Sarkozy next to Angela Merkel, Berlusconi next to David Cameron and Barack Obama. A smile. Speeches.
The rush in Israel doesn’t come from concerns about the lives of Libyan opposition fighters, and even the “values” have received no warm words. Since the Sinai Campaign, Israel has learned to get excited only as long as Arabs are getting killed by Western intervention. And what about Operation Cast Lead, a naive person might ask. What did the West have against Cast Lead? Well, the fact is, they didn’t get in our way, a cynical person from the silent majority might respond. That’s Israel’s loss, historically speaking.
How many generations can recognize truth along the lines of “the main thing is that the killing benefits us” and not be damaged? Can humanism really be built on disgust over one racist rabbi from Safed or over Avigdor Lieberman and wax enthusiastic about wars like those in Iraq or Libya? Our political map, with its constant shift to the right, reflects precisely this colonial logic, which has become the logic of our lives: The West is allowed what the natives are not.
For the blink of an eye, we thought Obama would change our lives, but the U.S. presidential election – the author Gore Vidal once said – is like vying to become manager at a big bank. The customers don’t care who’s in charge. And from the Middle East, it’s easy to see how right he was.
By Yitzhak Laor