The dead civilians in Yemen have been buried in silence it seems; in Syria the police tear gassed the mourners for the dead of Friday’s clashes and Bahrain has disappeared from the news since the Saudis have started helping the King, also a generous host to the US 5th Fleet. The biggest news of the day was that Hamas has sent over fifty rockets into Israel: more destrcutive force than at any other moment in the last two years.
And meanwhile the killing and raping continues in Eastern Congo, while Mr. Gangbo has not let up in his war with the legitimately and democratically elected president of Ivory Coast. Undoubtedly the secret intelligence agencies of the “Golden Self-Indulgent Western Democracies” know of many more atrocities…
And yet, France, the UK and the USA have pushed to punish Libya, or better, to punish Kaddafi and liberate Libya. While I usually try not to second guess the motives of united world leaders when they attack (alone, or under cover of an “alliance”) tyrants, it is difficult to escape that kind of thinking this time around.
Why Kaddafi? What makes saving Libyans nobler than saving Yemenis or Ivoirians? What exactly makes Kaddafi worse than other tyrants? Did he not raise the standard of living for most citizens over the years? Who are the “Representatives of the Libyan People” that will take over once Kaddafi’s regime has been eliminated (whatever that may mean in terms of numbers or time frame)? Is the oil under the ground the real reason? Or is the reconstruction which will (as it did in Iraq) be a prerogative of companies linked to the victorious forces?
Given that our noblest of leaders would, obviously, never prefer to save the life of a Libyan over the life of another African, it is nigh impossible to overlook the last two reasons: oil and business. And accessibility of course (after all, Libya belongs to the area of the “Mare Nostrum”, as the Mediterranean has been known to former world powers), and can easily be pummeled from international waters. Let us not forget neither that the West is still in the throngs of an economic crisis, and war has often proved an effective weapon to combat problems at home, economically as well as mediatically.
Beyond these obvious questions, I need to strain myself to try and imagine other plausible, albeit speculative explanations for this rush into another war. I then arrive at thoughts that elucidate the utterly failing leadership in the “Golden Self-Indulgent Western Democracies”. For indeed, other kinds of motives ought to be related to “deep ego” or to “the dream of state building”.
The early twenty-first century saw examples of the latter: Iraq and Afghanistan shine brightly as absolute failures in their class. Imposing democracy has not worked (notwithstanding elections and parliaments), because it plainly obstructs the sitting powers and because the people are not ready for it and do not believe that it is the best form of government. (Given the way it now works in the West, where money or established power structures determine the landscape, it is not in the best interest of the western people neither!)
All in all, we should not dismiss the “ego” factor out of hand though. Who cannot remember the gallant reception that Mr. Sarkozy offered to Kaddafi when he visited the Elysée Palace a while ago? All smiles and handshakes. Neither of these leaders, as is the case with most of leader types, are lacking in excessive hubris and power-drenched self-indulgency. Perhaps their emotion has outrun their reason? Perhaps they wanted to teach “the one that laughed at them in their face” a lesson? Perhaps they expected that he would “behave” after having had the honour of shaking hands with them? Who knows, but I believe that revenge for “perceived personal offenses” may play a role in all this haste.
Fifty years ago it would have sounded far-fetched to think of three leaders simultaneously succumbing to emo-egotizing or ego-emoting. In the early 21st century that should not surprise anyone any longer: facebook and twitter are the biotope wherein western politicians, their advisors and their spin-doctors sharpen their decision making skills and are the pool wherein they test their policies, encouraged in the endeavour by their news-making media friends.
The attack on Libya, undoubtedly a country that deserves to be liberated from a cold-calculating tyrant, shows once more that Western Democracy does no longer produce leaders that are fit for reasoned and balanced polity on the world stage, and worthy of the people that they are supposed to lead.
Grimburger, 20th March 2011