Monday, March 21, 2011

Wrong On Libya

I perhaps should have begun posting about this last week, when it became clear Qaddafi wasn't going to fall on his own and was, in fact, pressing down on the rebels all the way to Benghazi. I "misunderestimated" (to use a Bushism) the strength of the rebel forces. (To my credit, at least, it turned out to be more a matter of firepower than a matter of will.)

Yet the U.S. and coalition airstikes - codenamed "Operation Odyssey Dawn" - will prove a Faustian deal. Even if Western boots remain planted on Western aircraft carriers, none of us are so naive as to think this is out of the kindness of anyone's hearts. It is always a ploy for markets, oil as much as imports (Libya is 10% reliant on China for its imported goods, and if the Obama administration is serious about reviving manufacturing, we'll need increase our export markets).

But the model of the Western imperialists is actually not to have to occupy countries if they don't have to (Bush was an anomaly in this sense). They want an ally in Northern Africa to moderate in case Tunisia and Egypt don't go in their favor.

Obama also has spoken about Qaddafi's violation of the Libyan people's "universal rights." I remind our readers that it wasn't all that long ago that China and the United States butted heads over this rather philosophical argument. (Chinese leaders think of this phrase as being code for "Western values" and insist that different peoples have different values ... kind of the forerunners in global postmodernism?)

So basically all the old-school imperialists are banding together and having a good ole fashion show of force, brandishing the sabres and sending a message to Iran and China and any other regime they don't agree with that universal rights aren't negotiable, that you have to respect your people's right to protest and their right to free speech.

Because universal rights apply to our geopolitical enemies first, our friends last, and ourselves.... You get the picture.

(And I'm not even going to touch the cost of this intervention in dollar terms. You shouldn't put a price on human freedom, in my opinion. Political rhetoric, however, will latch on to any excuse to slash living conditions....)

"Fire the rockets! ... and the teachers, and municipal employees, and construction workers, and...."


Anonymous said...

Would you prefer a world in which the UN did not authorize a no-fly zone and no external support was provided to the rebels because the Western powers admitted they have long term ambitions in the region which would render their aid less than altruistic?

Dresden Scott said...

I think if you read between the lines, I prefer the situation we're in to exactly that. I'm merely saying that people should not be deluded about the motivations in the West. Those motivations are varied and opportunist and pursue a geopolitical strategy.