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    Middle East
     Apr 15, 2011


THE ROVING EYE
Fatal Tomahawk attraction
By Pepe Escobar

To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please click here.

You won't settle for some Eurovision chick when you actually paid to watch The Rolling Stones. That's what the "international community" - as in the Anglo-French Arab liberator couple plus the Libyan "rebels" - is demanding; either the Pentagon bombs the hell out of Muammar Gaddafi's forces, or we want our money back (as in eastern Libyan oil marketed by Qatar).

As expected, the meeting of the innocuously named but totally gung-ho "Libya contact group" in Doha was short on content and very long on farce. The top of the pops was the offer of a sequel to

 
the International Monetary Fund (IMF); an International Rebel Fund (IRF) so that the motley crew of Gaddafi defectors, dodgy exiles, al-Qaeda linked Islamists and Central Intelligence Agency-trained armed demonstrators can actually fight as a cohesive unit.

The problem is how to shower the "rebels" with these IRF funds in a manner that is consistent with United Nations resolution 1973. Arguably London, Paris and Doha will say this is part of the "all necessary measures" text in the resolution, and hope to get away with it.

Is this a shoddy revival of the UN oil-for-food program that was a counterbalance to the UN sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq? It is - especially because Anglo-French diplomats en masse are saying it isn't.

Bomb us to freedom
The Doha meeting was chaired by Qatar Prime Minister Hamed bin Jassem and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague. The most important character in the meeting was a no-show; former Libyan foreign minister turned high-profile defector Mousa Koussa. The Qataris welcomed him, but the "rebels" vetoed him.

As for the pitiful Hague, he said, once again, "The vast majority of the world agrees that Gaddafi must go." This "vast majority" is exactly comprised of the governments of Britain and France, plus other four North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members bombing Libya, plus Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). That's it.

Both the governments of British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are lost in space because nobody wants their war. Italian Prime Minister Silvio "Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi's government refuses to bomb Gaddafi's forces. Same with Belgium. Germany will only contribute on the humanitarian front. NATO is embroiled in a monster catfight - even with secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen shrieking about their fabulous record of over 2,000 sorties. Cameron and the neo-Napoleonic Sarko are begging for NATO to "increase the momentum".

As for the "rebels", the Pentagon crush couldn't be more self-evident. According to spokesman Mahmud Shamman, "When the Americans were involved the mission was very active and it was more leaning toward protecting civilians." Nothing is sexier than a Tomahawk in action. The "rebels" are going to Washington to lobby the Barack Obama administration. Shades of Afghan mujahideen visiting Ronald "freedom fighter" Reagan in the mid-1980s, anyone?

In the desperate search for "greater ground strike capability overall", the "rebels" have learned it's the Pentagon's way or the (Mediterranean) highway (in reverse). This translates as A-10 Thunderbolt tankbusters and AC-130 Specter gunships - which nobody (France, Britain, NATO, not to mention Qatar) has. Bets are off on whether the "rebels" will convince the White House to release the bats.

Not that the Pentagon has vanished from Libya. On the contrary. Six F-16s and five navy EA-18G Growler electronic attack planes - based in Italy - have been handed over to NATO. They've been busy bombing mobile surface-to-air missile targets last week. But what the "rebels" really want is the A-10s and the AC-130s.

Enlist the French patsy
The blah blah blah on Libya is increasingly sounding like a shabby version of Dancing with the Stars where no one gets the boot - except common sense. Now it's Cairo's turn - with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, outgoing Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa (the opportunist who wants to become the next Egyptian president), African Union (AU) chairman Jean Ping and the toothless European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Lady Ashton attending. At least in Cairo they'll be - in theory - discussing the sound Turkish road map for peace, which is similar to the AU's.

As for the credibility of the "rebels" and their Interim National Council (INC), it has been reduced to grains of sand in the Libyan desert. By allowing the Anglo-French couple to hijack their "revolution" - which was conceived in Paris in late 2010, as Asia Times Online reported - and by imploring NATO and now the Pentagon to bomb their country to kingdom come, they have lost not only their credibility but their moral authority.

And on top of it they have allowed London, Paris, a few other European capitals and - the height of debasing hypocrisy - Doha and Abu Dhabi to pose as carriers of the white man's burden, teaching northern African "barbarians" how to settle their own problems.

And while we're at it, there is a practical solution the Libyan contact group has not yet considered. Why not dispatch self-promoting peacock, French "philosopher" Bernard Henri-Levy (known locally as BHL), who's been busy selling the idea he convinced neo-Napoleonic Sarko to become the new Arab liberator, to be the new "rebel" military commander?

BHL would have to abdicate his millionaire holiday home in Morocco, not to mention holding court at the Cafe de Flore in Paris to a gaggle of fawning media in his trademark, corny, open-chested white Charvet shirt. Let's see if the peacock knows how to play an "engaged public intellectual" for real.

No, he's too chicken for it - because now that this nasty, little, made-in-France civil war is going south, all BHL does (along with Sarko's minions) is whine about other countries, the US included, not pitching in. This would be tragic if it was not simply pathetic - confirming every global stereotype of how bad the French can be.

As for the "rebels", forget about dignity and sovereignty. Never underestimate the sex appeal of an actionable Tomahawk.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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