By Michael Wiesberg
The roles have once again been assigned: Here’s the crazy, unscrupulous Bedouin despot Moammar Gadhafi and his rapacious clan; over there are the noble rebels who want nothing more than to bring freedom and democracy to the Libyan people. Here the dark and there the light. This Manichean cliffhanging interpretation is constantly used by Western politicians and media to describe events in Libya.
Some of this may have something to do with the recycling of Kosovo propaganda, wherein the “so-called West,” to borrow Joschka Fischer’s terminology, was supposed to defend the “human right of the Muslim people” to feel comfortable in airplanes and/or prevent a “new Auschwitz,” as was reported in a 1999 die Zeit article. The only thing missing so far is that Gadhafi is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, in describing Saddam Hussein, once used the trite phrase “the Middle East’s Jabba the Hutt.”
Crusades in the Name of “Humanity”
Right up front in the chorus of those demanding Western intervention in Libya — Gadhafi could start gassing his own people, you know — stands Daniel Cohn-Bendit, someone who could never be accused of endorsing any NATO military intervention anywhere during the past decade.
Cohn-Bendit doesn’t have to risk his neck if a crusade in the name of “humanity” actually comes down to real fighting. Politicians like him prefer to remain “passive cheerleaders of U.S.-led NATO wars,” as the controversial theoretical physicist Jean Bricmont pointedly observed. Cohn-Bendit has already found an influential proponent to do that in the person of France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is calling for targeted bombardments (humanity, you know) in Libya. But he’s not finding much support for his demands.
But what isn’t yet may still come to be, because in Western eyes Gadhafi’s departure has since become mandatory; after all the humanitarian tsunamis of the past few weeks, there can no longer be any negotiations with him. That, to borrow another bon mot from Bricmont, is the consequence of a “humanitarian imperialism,” which operates exclusively with a morality-oozing consternation that is mistaken for policy.
Consequences of Western Intervention
This attitude, loudly represented above all by leftist and left-leaning politicians, opposes political solutions because they are willing to admit to only one solution — everything else is denounced as “appeasement politics” — and that solution is “humanitarian intervention.” The examples of Afghanistan, Iraq and, finally, Kosovo as well — where shady figures like Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hasim Thaci were propelled into power with the help of the West — show, however, what sort of questionable results such policies can produce.
Nevertheless, all indications coming from the West seem to point toward intervention. And make no mistake: The Americans, who have thus far played their cards very close to the vest, will once again get involved (if only in an indirect role, if you credit the reports filed by Robert Fisk, the level-headed correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent).
Insights of Russian Intelligence
Interestingly, the Moscow-based news organization Russia Today reported last week that, according to Russian military intelligence sources, Gadhafi’s often-condemned air strikes against Libyan civilians never actually happened as described.
Events in Libya have been observed in Russia right from the start with the aid of state-of-the-art reconnaissance technology, including satellite observation. While one might dismiss this as Russian anti-Western propaganda, there remains the possibility that it contains an element of truth and we will run the risk of again getting caught up in a “battle of lies.”
Worst-case scenario for the West
The pro-intervention propaganda directed at Libya has a very concrete goal: namely, to prevent a worst-case scenario (at least as perceived by the West) by any and all means. That worst-case scenario is that Gadhafi, who the European Union again demanded step down last week, keeps his hold on power. What happens to all that Libyan oil in such an event?
In a speech Gadhafi gave in early March, he hinted he would encourage Chinese and Indian oil companies to take over the operations of Western oil companies in Libya. It’s totally unimaginable that the West, especially the United States, would stand idly by and watch Gadhafi hand out slices of the Libyan petroleum cake to those new upstarts from China and India.