By Jill McLaughlin, World Can’t Wait Steering Committee Member
On March 19th, the 8th anniversary of the U.S. Occupation of Iraq, the U.S. and it’s western allies began bombing Libya. Prior to these attacks and there after many people, including those who have opposed the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan have asked those opposing the actions of the U.S. against Libya “Yes, but isn’t this a humanitarian effort on the part of the U.S.? Isn’t the U.S. trying to get under control a brutal dictator who is slaughtering his own people? Isn’t the U.S. trying to aid the people of Libya by stopping Gaddafi? First let me be clear. Yes, Moammar Gaddaffi is a brutal dictator who has committed crimes against humanity on his own people, but Saddam Hussein’s slaughtering of his own people too was one of the arguments for invading Iraq during the Bush Regime. But as many have seen the U.S. imperialist could really care less about the people of Iraq.
I realize that as support for the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan is waning among people here in this country that people are perhaps clinging to the hope that the U.S. can do something good in the world…that the hope for change they cast in November of 2008 hasn’t been all for naught. Well I’m not confused and I want to clear up any confusion you may have. The U.S. Intervention in Libya is no good either. The hypocrisy and the illegitimacy of the U.S. intervention in Libya runs thick as the blood that has been spilled by the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Prior to the attack on Libya the U.S. began using the weapon of fear in trying to justify and build support for it’s use of force. This is strikingly similar to the run up of the U.S. of Iraq. Margaret Kimberly of the Black Agenda Report highlights this in her article . She writes,
Obama definitely took a page out of the Bush administration recipe book. First we start with an evil dictator. (Said dictator may have been a United States ally but no one will mention that anymore.) Next, add hysterical warnings of imminent terror attacks from the evil-doer.
The administration had already begun peddling scary stories of poison gas stock piled at a remote desert location. “In recent weeks, as U.S. and European militaries prepared to intervene in Libya, Western reconnaissance satellites have been focused on a small garage at a remote site in the Libyan desert. In the garage, south of the city of Sirte, the Libyan government keeps about 10 tons of mustard gas in about a half-dozen large canisters. If he chose to do so — and could determine how — Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi could use the caustic chemical to kill large numbers of his people.”
One cannot and should not dismiss the fact that the U.S. is being rather choosey about what uprisings of the people in the Middle East and North Africa it will support and which it will not. As Revolution Newspaper points out that while the U.S. bombs Libya under the cover of humanitarian intervention under the cover of humanitarian intervention
it is allowing the governments of Bahrain, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia to abuse the human rights of their people as their people rise up to demand those rights be respected:
At this very moment, when U.S. officials denounce Qaddafi for systematically abusing “the most fundamental human rights of Libya’s people,” the U.S. is backing violent despots savagely repressing their own people in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia because it conforms to U.S. imperial interests. On Friday, March 18 alone, at least 45 people were killed and 200 wounded by the pro-U.S. Yemeni government in the capital Sana’a. On the same day in Pakistan, a U.S. drone strike killed 26 people—mainly tribal elders and local civilians.
But perhaps one need look no further to have their confusion cleared up about whether this is a humanitarian effort and therefore legitimate “intervention” or not than to Hillary Clinton herself. On the March 27th segment of Meet the Press Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lets the cat out of the bag. Here’s an excerpt from a transcript of the show:
MR. GREGORY: Secretary Gates, is Libya in our vital interest as a country?
SEC’Y GATES: No. I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of the region which is a vital interest for the United States.
MR. GREGORY: I think a lot of people would hear that and way, well, that’s quite striking. Not in our vital interest, and yet we’re committing military resources to it.
SEC’Y CLINTON: Well, but, but, but then it wouldn’t be fair as to what Bob just said. I mean, did Libya attack us? No. They did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries–you just mentioned one, Egypt, the other Tunisia–that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders? Yes. Do they have a major influence on what goes on in Europe because of everything from oil to immigration?
And, you know, David, that raises a, a very important point. Because you showed on the map just a minute ago Afghanistan. You know, we asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked. The attack came on us as we all tragically remember. They stuck with us.
When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interest. The UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, “We have to act because otherwise we’re seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.” So, you know, let, let’s be fair here. They didn’t attack us, but what they were doing and Gadhafi’s history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob said, and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests.
So you see Hillary Clinton demonstrates that this excursion into Libya is not in the least about the interests of the people of Libya but about U.S. Imperialist interests.
But hey if any confusion still lingers we could also look at the way U.S. troops are trained to think of the people whose countries the U.S. is trying to “liberate” to answer questions about the legitimacy of U.S. interventions, wars, and occupations. One stark example of how U.S. troops are taught to think of people of these countries is given by Ethan McCord. Ethan McCord was a U.S. troop who is seen in the infamous Collateral Murder Video carrying two wounded children from a van that U.S. troops in an Apache Helicopter fired upon after they had shot down on civilians, two of which were Reuter’s reporters, in Iraq in 2007. Ethan, in an interview with Cindy Sheehan, that is referenced in an article by Ralph Lopez recounts a cadence that is used during training of U.S.troops:
we went to the market where all the hadji shop,
pulled out our machetes and we began to chop,
we went to the playground where all the hadji play,
pulled out our machine guns and we began to spray,
we went to the mosque where all the hadji pray,
threw in a hand grenade and blew them all away.
This is how U.S. troops in these “interventions”, wars, occupations are trained to think of the people. It’s as if they’re told “if they’re brown skinned shoot em” This scenario seems to have been played out in Libya. A U.S. jet crashed in Libya and the people went to the aid of the pilots. However, they were fired upon from another U.S. jet. As reported in the British Newspaper Daily Mail Six people were wounded in this incident. The villagers said they had come to aid the pilot and to celebrate the U.S. arrival:
The villagers claimed they were shouting ‘Welcome, welcome Libya’ and trying to offer hospitality to their saviours. One of the injured men, Hamad Abdul Ati, 43, suffered multiple shrapnel and bullet wounds, and a broken arm. His 20-year-old son Hamdy’s injuries are more serious according to hospital staff, and he will need to have part of his leg amputated. Speaking to reporters from his hospital bed, Mr Ati said: ‘If they just stopped shooting, we would have escorted the pilot to safety. We were just trying to have celebration for him.’
Do you think that the powers that be in Washington are not privy to the way their own military train’s it’s troops? In the past 9 years we have invariably found that the powers that be have either strongly suggested or directly ordered a kind of behavior in the military whether it be the torture of detainees or how civilians are dealt with. So let us not naively think that surely if the powers that be knew this was going down that they put a stop to it. Wrong! The powers that be of this empire bank on it. This is how they keep civilian population down lest the people decide they want to be rid of their brutal and oppressive occupiers.
Looking at all of this anyone in this country who is against the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan cannot in good conscience give their support to the U.S. attack on Libya. These actions by the U.S. on Libya are just as illegitimate to the U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and must be denounced.