Liberate Knowledge

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The Hard Truth about the Libyan Intervention: The West Doesn’t Care About Innocent Lives and Democracy

Like many anti-war activists who don’t support the West’s military intervention in Libya, I have been struggling to put my objections into words. But I have finally figured it out. It’s not that I don’t support a “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, it’s simply that I have absolutely no reason to believe this is what the West’s bombing campaign is actually about. Those that promote the idea of the intervention have what on paper sounds like a good cause: stop Gaddafi from killing scores of innocent people while supporting a democratic uprising against a dictator.

Unfortunately, there are two colossal facts that must be completely ignored in order for anyone to believe that these are the true intentions of the West’s intervention in Libya:

1) The United States and Europe do not care about innocent lives in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. In fact, they are one of the worst perpetrators of killing civilians in these regions.

I can’t believe that I actually have to make this point, yet so many people on the left who support the intervention seem to have purposefully forgotten that the United States and NATO are already at war with two countries in the Middle East while bombing scores of others.

In Iraq, the number of those that have died from our 8-year war is simply staggering. A conservative estimate of the death toll puts the figure in the 100’s of thousands; while some say that once you incorporate all of the factors (such as a lack of adequate medical facilities as a result of the war, which has led to countless unnecessary deaths), there may be a million or more dead in Iraq. In fact, our continued occupation has completely decimated the country’s infrastructure, which by 2007 reduced the average life expectancy of an Iraqi by four years (from 71 years-old to 67). Our military has been occupying Afghanistan for a decade while demolishing entire villages, bombing weddings, and even posing for pictures with dead civilian Afghans. Our drones are ravaging Pakistan and we are launching countless “secret” bombing raids into Yemen (and that country’s regime covers this up on our behalf). The list goes on and on.

And when Israel killed over 1,000 in South Lebanon in 2006 and another 1,400 in Gaza in 2009, the U.S. and Europe did nothing to protect those civilians. The United States government didn’t even say that these mass killings were wrong.

The only difference that exists when civilians are killed by Gadaffi’s shelling versus when they die from Western bombs is that one is being called “murder” and the other is known as “collateral damage.” This is a prime example of how people’s lives are suddenly devalued when they get in the way of America’s bombs, contrasted to their new-found value when under threat from America’s enemies at a convenient time.

This information simply cannot be ignored. The United States and its European allies do not care about the lives of Libyans, just as they do not care about the thousands upon thousands upon thousands that have perished as a result of their own bombs and bullets in more countries than I can count on a hand.

2) The United States and Europe do not support democracies, but rather dictatorships and oppressive states, in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

I don’t even need to write a paragraph about this. A couple of names off the top of my head should suffice:

  • Egypt (former)
  • Tunisia (former)
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Israel
  • Yemen
  • Jordan
  • The Shah of Iran (former, obviously)
  • Bahrain
  • Etc.

These are all oppressive countries in the region that we arm (or armed) and whose governments we prop (or propped) up to support our own agendas. Past and present, we are one of the primary reasons that those regimes are/were in power – as well as why the ones that still exist are currently brutally suppressing protests against their rule (often with weapons bought on our dime). We supply these nation’s brutal governments with financial and militaristic aid as well as political shelter.

A few days ago, Yemen’s government massacred over 40 protesters. (Earlier this year, the Obama administration increased the military aid the United States sends to Yemen.) As I write this, reports are coming in of an Israeli air-strike killing children in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison. (We give Israel 7 billion dollars a year in military aid and block any attempts of international condemnation for its actions). Saudi Arabia has sent in troops to suppress protests and even kill protesters in Bahrain. (The United States and Europe have done and said nothing to stop this). When protesters risked their lives in Egypt and Tunisia to overthrow the tyrants ruling their countries that were supported by Western powers, the United States and Europe called for a meaningless “national dialogue” between the dictators and protesters – not for the removal of the oppressive regimes.

The United States and its European allies have never, ever cared about the democratic aspirations of people living in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Do not be fooled in thinking that they suddenly do want to support freedom in the region. Empires always act in complete self-interest. There are absolutely ulterior motives for their military intervention in Libya (which has already grown into much more than the original-proposed No-Fly Zone).


So let’s step back from these points for a second. Let’s imagine that Gaddafi falls and a truly democratic government rises – it’s important to remember that the West still has one major weapon in its pocket that it regularly employs to bring nations going through upheavel to their knees and in line with “Western interests”: the shock doctrine.

I hope the rebels are victorious in disposing of Gadaffi while being able to realize their aspirations for new lives that are not under a brutal dictatorship. And I also do truly hope I’m wrong. Hopefully the U.S. and Europe have suddenly realized the error of their imperial ways and have now opened their arms wide to embrace the democracy and value of civilian lives in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia which thus far they have done so much to strangle.  If that’s the case, I look forward to also immediately ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, ceasing the bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and cutting off financial and political support to oppressive regimes throughout the region.

Somehow, though, I doubt that’s going to happen. I think putting ones faith in the West to improve the lives of everyday people in the region is a very proven fallacy.  I cannot trust those that are killing hundreds of thousands and propping up oppressive regimes in the region to also support democratic ambitions and save lives in Libya.


One response to “The Hard Truth about the Libyan Intervention: The West Doesn’t Care About Innocent Lives and Democracy

  1. revoltlab March 24, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I hope there is still a chance of subverting dictatorship and imperialism simultaneously. It seems unlikely though. Gah!

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