Sunday, 30 October 2011

Libya Expose Obama's Contradictions

Libya's contradictions are real enough and devastating in their consequences. But a couple of points missed by most commentators are worthy of note, adding to the strange mix of motives and actions that are the principal feature of the situation in and surrounding Libya. Possessing NO weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is no guarantee of regime survival; and having a black president in the White House offers no gurantees that the incumbent will stand up for blacks' rights.

The first, and most significant point, is this: that not having, or even planning, or surrendering in full view of the "international community" (i.e., the American hegemon and its, mainly western, core allies) one's weapons of mass destruction programmes, is no guarantee that the West will not continue to nurture the desire or to attempt forcible regime change.

It will be recalled that the erstwhile dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was removed from power due to his alleged WMD stockpiles, primed for action at 45 minutes' notice, the Britain's Tony Blair regime claimed, despite all the evidence compiled by Hans Blix's UN inspection teams. There "had" to be WMD in Iraq, so they were manufactured by false intelligence reports.

It was in the wake of that blatant violation of international law and the UN charter that Libya's Colonel Gaddafi gave up on his WMD programmes and embraced, and was embraced by, the West. And, despite that, or perhaps because of that "deadly embrace", the former Libyan dictator lies buried in the middle of the desert in an unmarked grave, brought down by NATO firepower. No claim this time round of WMD programmes as an excuse for intervention - but recourse to the favoured post-1989 rationale of "humanitarian intervention", a justification that proved enough to obtain a figleaf resolution at the UN Security Council, but was revealed as precisely that when Tomahawk Cruise missiles began raining down on Gaddafi's military forces, command and control centres, and private residences. The switch from humanitarian intervention to regime change was immediate and obvious, with results now apparent to all observers.

The lessons from this for Iran and Syria are all too clear - take the "North Korean" route and develop WMD as soon as possible, because the Western 'hand of friendship' which Obama proffers is just the beginning of a new phase of intervention with a view to regime change.

It is instructive that in proffering a hand of friendship, Obama's approach is identical to that of his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Far from being a break with the past, Obama's administration has just picked up where Bush's left off, although Obama clearly delivers a better speech to justify his actions.

One issue Obama has yet to make a speech about, however, is what's been happening to thousands of black Libyans and other black people who live and work in Libya as migrant labour. For many months both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty have noted the indiscriminate killing, detention and abuse of black Africans by so-called rebel forces, under the false argument that the former were mercenary fighters for Gaddafi. Despite reports from reputable sources, Obama has yet to speak up for the rights of black Africans.

This is hardly surprising: Obama has yet to speak up for the rights of black Americans. Atlantic Magazine noted some time ago that President Obama was seen by whites as a "no demands black" - a black American politician who did not demand radical change or redistribution of resources from better off whites to poor minorities.

They were right then, and they're right now as Obama exports his domestic policy. Because, even when it comes to the killing of blacks in Africa, Obama demands nothing.

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