ROVING EYE War porn is back in
Libya By Pepe Escobar
Forget "democracy"; Libya, unlike Egypt
and Tunisia, is an oil power. Many a plush office
of United States and European elites will be
salivating at the prospect of taking advantage of
a small window of opportunity afforded by the
anti-Muammar Gaddafi revolution to establish - or
expand - a beachhead. There's all that oil, of
course. There's also the allure, close by, of the
US$10 billion, 4,128 kilometer long Trans-Saharan
gas pipeline from Nigeria to Algeria, expected to
be online in 2015.
Thus the world, once
again, is reintroduced to war porn, history as
farce, a bad rerun of "shock and awe". Everyone -
the United Nations, the US, the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) - is up in arms about a
no-fly zone. Special forces are on the move, as
are US warships.
Breathless US senators
compare Libya with Yugoslavia. Tony
"The Return of the Living
Dead" Blair is back in missionary zeal form, its
mirror image played by British Prime Minister
David Cameron, duly mocked by Gaddafi's son, the
"modernizer" Saif al-Islam. There's fear of
"chemical weapons". Welcome back to humanitarian
imperialism - on crack.
And like a
character straight out of Scary Movie, even
war-on-Iraq-architect Paul Wolfowitz wants a
NATO-enforced no-fly zone, as the Foreign Policy
Initiative - the son of the Project for the New
American Century - publishes an open letter to US
President Barack Obama demanding military boots to
turn Libya into a protectorate ruled by NATO in
the name of the "international community".
The mere fact that all these people are
supporting the Libya protesters makes it all stink
to - over the rainbow - high heavens. Sending His
Awesomeness Charlie Sheen to whack Gaddafi would
seem more believable.
It was up to Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to introduce a note
of sanity, describing the notion of a no-fly zone
over Libya as "superfluous". This means in
practice a Russian veto at the UN Security
Council. Earlier, China had already changed the
In their Sheen-style
hysteria - with US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton desperately offering "any kind of
assistance" - Western politicians did not bother
to consult with the people who are risking their
lives to overthrow Gaddafi. At a press conference
in Benghazi, the spokesman for the brand new
Libyan National Transitional Council, human-rights
lawyer Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, was blunt, "We are
against any foreign intervention or military
intervention in our internal affairs ... This
revolution will be completed by our people."
The people in question, by the way, are
protecting Libya's oil industry, and even loading
supertankers destined to Europe and China. The
people in question do not have much to do with
opportunists such as former Gaddafi-appointed
justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who wants a
provisional government to prepare for elections in
three months. Moreover, the people in question, as
al-Jazeera has reported, have been saying they
don't want foreign intervention for a week now.
The Benghazi council prefers to describe
itself as the "political face for the revolution",
organizing civic affairs, and not established as
an interim government. Meanwhile, a military
committee of officer defectors is trying to set up
a skeleton army to be sent to Tripoli; through
tribal contacts, they seem to have already
infiltrated small cells into the vicinity of
Whether this self-appointed
revolutionary leadership - splinter elements of
the established elite, the tribes and the army -
will be the face of a new regime, or whether they
will be overtaken by younger, more radical
activists, remains to be seen.
me with hypocrisy None of this anyway has
placated the hysterical Western narrative,
according to which there are only two options for
Libya; to become a failed state or the next
al-Qaeda haven. How ironic. Up to 2008, Libya was
dismissed by Washington as a rogue state and an
unofficial member of the "axis of evil" that
originally included Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
As former NATO supreme commander Wesley
Clark confirmed years ago, Libya was on the
Pentagon/neo-conservative official list to be
taken out after Iraq, along with Somalia, Sudan,
Lebanon, Syria and the holy grail, Iran. But as
soon as wily Gaddafi became an official partner in
the "war on terror", Libya was instantly upgraded
by the George W Bush administration to civilized
As for the UN Security Council
unanimously deciding to refer the Gaddafi regime
to the International Criminal Court (ICC), it's
useful to remember that the ICC was created in
mid-1998 by 148 countries meeting in Rome. The
final vote was 120 to seven. The seven that voted
against the ICC were China, Iraq, Israel, Qatar
and Yemen, plus Libya and ... the United States.
Incidentally, Israel killed more Palestinian
civilians in two weeks around new year 2008 than
Gaddafi these past two weeks.
of hypocrisy inevitably raises the question; what
does the West know about the Arab world anyway?
Recently the executive board of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) praised a certain northern
African country for its "ambitious reform agenda"
and its "strong macroeconomic performance and the
progress on enhancing the role of the private
sector". The country was Libya. The IMF had only
forgotten to talk to the main actors: the Libyan
And what to make of Anthony
Giddens - the guru behind Blair's "Third Way" -
who in March 2007 penned an article to The
Guardian saying "Libya is not especially
repressive" and "Gaddafi seems genuinely popular"?
Giddens bet that Libya "in two or three decades'
time would be a Norway of North Africa:
prosperous, egalitarian and forward-looking".
Tripoli may well be on its way to Oslo - but
without the Gaddafi clan.
The US, Britain
and France are so awkwardly maneuvering for best
post-Gaddafi positioning it's almost comical to
watch. Beijing, even against its will, waited
until extra time to condemn Gaddafi at the UN, but
made sure it was following the lead of African and
Asian countries (smart move, as in "we listen to
the voices of the South"). Beijing is extremely
worried that its complex economic relationship
with oil source Libya does not unravel (amid all
the hoopla about fleeing expats, China quietly
evacuated no less than 30,000 Chinese workers in
the oil and construction business).
again; it's the oil, stupid. A crucial strategic
factor for Washington is that post-Gaddafi Libya
may represent a bonanza for US Big Oil - which for
the moment has been kept away from Libya. Under
this perspective, Libya may be considered as yet
one more battleground between the US and China.
But while China goes for energy and business deals
in Africa, the US bets on its forces in AFRICOM as
well as NATO advancing "military cooperation" with
the African Union.
movement must remain on maximum alert. It's fair
to argue the absolute majority of Libyans are
using all their resourcefulness and are wiling to
undergo any sacrifice to build a united,
transparent and democratic country. And they will
do it on their own. They may accept humanitarian
help. As for war porn, throw it in the dustbin of