There won’t be mass protests on the streets of Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne as there were in March 2003 prior to the Iraq war.
Yet words reminiscent of the Iraq war came from the White House as the Tomahawk missiles struck Libya last night.
‘Evil dictator … 112 Tomahawk Cruise missiles launched from warships … struck systems (not people?) … military targets near coast … Degrade Libyan capability … Surgical strikes.’ — US Admiral, Pentagon spokesperson.
No ‘shock’ and awe’, this time it is ‘Odyssey Dawn’. No longer the ‘coalition of the willing’ this time the US is ‘the leading edge of the coalition’.
‘First phase of campaign … US at the ‘leading edge of coalition operation’ with unique capability … Taking down SA5 and C2 anti-aircraft architecture to clear airspace for manned aircraft.’
The misnamed ‘No Fly Zone’ has become air full of French, British and even Spanish warplanes. So much so that a Rebel fighter jet (we were not told the Libyan rebels had their own planes) was shot down over Benghazi by rebel forces thinking it was a Qaddafi plane. The Libyan air force had been grounded. This time ‘no US forces on the ground’ said the US admiral– foreign invasion of Libya more like 1991 than 2003 Iraq war.
These coalition attacks concentrated on western Libya (on the Tripoli side) not in Benghazi where the rebels were ‘defenceless’ only hours ago.
A few Libyan army tanks and soldiers went into the outskirts of Benghazi and were immediately mobbed by armed rebels.
This is regime change after all. Will the result be different to the fall of Saddam?
The US admiral was asked if the Libyan defence was like Iraq’s. He replied:
“Similar to Iraq’s with older Soviet technology but still good capability”.
So they bombed Western Libya first but not Tripoli itself – yet.
Inside Tripoli, demonstrators formed a human shield around Qaddafi’s house—the same building that the Americans bombed in 1986 when they decided it was easier to kill him than broker a deal. After he proved difficult to kill, they brokered the deal and bought some control over the oil fields and the Libyan economy in exchange for forgetting about the Lockerbie bombing. Now, it seems, they are back to the old plan.
After the initial strikes, Al Jazeera interrupted the Press conference by the Libyan government spokesperson to say that he was ‘delusional’. Al Jazeera never returned to that press conference preferring to interview the ‘experts’ on the coalition strikes. There was respect was shown for the victors, but open contempt for the Libyan government was expressed by the Al Jazeera journalist in Tripoli. She was just as gung ho for foreign intervention as CNN was only 8 years ago in Iraq. I understand unidentified gunmen killed an Al-Jazeera cameraman and wounded his colleague during the fighting last week (13 March 2011).
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera has shown little interest in their own backyard during the brutal suppression of protestors in Bahrain which is only a short distance from Al Jazeera HQ in Doha, Qatar. Nor did they make much of the Saudi and Emirates invasion of Bahrain. For them all the action is on the ground in Libya with the rebels and the coalition.
At the same time all the justifications were there from the US White House – the US admiral cited ‘barbaric armed attack on civilians in Tripoli, Misrata’, ‘naked threats’ and ‘aggression on Libyan people’.
Surely the US admiral can’t be equating these attacks with US air attacks on civilian populations in Tokyo, and the nuclear bombing of the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945? But the US were seeking surrender by the Japanese Emperor (some say the had it even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki). They had lives to save then too.
But is the coalition bombardment different to the misdirected cruise missiles that killed the Mansur family in the suburbs of Baghdad in 2003? Is it any different to the US forces taking Fallujah by ceaseless bombardment of houses, schools, kindergartens, people? Or the ‘turkey shoot’ that US pilots described as they murdered Iraqis fleeing Kuwait in 1991?
Of course they will say the bombardment of Libya is surgical, as they did then.
The US admiral already has said that they are using more sophisticated Tomahawks than in 2003. What happens when they overwhelm the Libyan army. But how can they avoid a blood bath? Like the one in Iraq after the US governo, Bremer, took control of the country. If they did not care then, why would they care now.
These days, many people in the west watch Al Jazeera’s coverage of what is happening in the Middle East.
Only a few weeks ago, a few here in Brisbane were sparked into action to support the Libyan rebels. Street marches were held in other capital cities – even the royal flags of a bygone colonialist era were carried by the protestors supporting the Libyan rebels.
Similarly the Iraq war was shown on CNN anti-war demonstrations were held against the invasion.
In the years since the occupation of Iraq, satirical shows like the ABCs The Chaser’s War On Everything sent up embedded journalists from ‘CNNNN’ and the gung-ho attitude they had about the invasion and the occupation.
Back then, protests came to the streets in the western countries against the occupation of Iraq.
This time Obama promises ‘no boots on the ground’. They do have Special Forces on the ground, the British have admitted that already saying it was necessary to extract British citizens. This time the coalition have Saudi and Egyptian clients arming the rebels.
When Qaddafi falls and the rebels win, who will have the oil?
Who will feed, educate and house the people? Who will build the roads and hospitals? The Rebels? Will tey nationalise the oil? I hope so. Or will it be the big American, British and French oil cartels who will get the oil — and they have such a good track record at looking after workers in Iraq. Not according to the Iraqi oil workers Union.
Qaddafi’s nationalisation of the oil in 1969 has finally failed. The lesson? You cannot impose socialism on a people that do not wish it.
But, it seems, the imperialists can impose their market and their control of the oil.
And they did so last night unchallenged by a single journalist.
they are showing
how they define spoils
Meanwhile the anti-war movement in the West focusses on Afghanistan, Julian Assange and Braddley Manning.
(written down before the bombardment of Libya by French planes and US cruise missiles began)
For the African President in the White House his reluctance to enter the battle was overcome by the calculation of risk.
This is the parlance of Wall Street.
For the Berber, Qaddafi, the battle became a matter of pride.
But to the people, none of the architects would admit publicly to the ‘negatives’ — the fraudulent loss of life and the sale of hope in a crude exchange for oil.
I say Qaddafi is defeated, not in the military sense although that is also true. The 1969 revolution and its dreams have come to an end — the dream was for oil to be nationalised and wealth distributed.
The foreign powers that have invaded Libya represent societies where the market prevails and control of wealth is in private hands of banks and big transnational companies.
20 March 2011