Imperial powers intensify air campaign in Libya under the guise of “protecting civilians” as war casualties in North Africa and Western Asia over the past decade pass the million mark.
May 29, 2011–New York
by Rawlinsview with press agencies
I absolutely agree that given the progress that has been made over the last several weeks, that Gaddafi and his regime need to understand that there will not be a letup in the pressure that we are applying. And the United Kingdom, the United States, and our other partners are putting a wide range of resources within — consistent with the U.N. mandate — in order to achieve that pressure.
President Barack Obama speaking at a press conference in London May 25, 2011 side by side with British Prime Minister David Cameron
The London Telegraph reported, in an article yesterday, plans for a “two pronged blitz” against forces loyal to Libya’s Gadaffi. Not having been born yesterday, I listen to the projections of imperial leaders as they drag whole populations into decades of bloodshed with a somewhat filtered ear. The campaign toward all out imperial war in Libya is remarkable only for two aspects.
One is the pattern-book sameness of the plot line: the vilification of the only recently rehabilitated Gadaffi, the moral postures and ever-present promise of democracy and freedom to come, the weepy concern for the lives of civilians, the promise of a short and limited engagement, the initial non-combat stance, the no-fly zone, the planned leaks describing “daring” commando and clandestine operations, the opening of weapons supply lines, the aerial campaign, and now, the attack helicopters, the fetishism of high tech weaponry such as “bunker-busting” bombs and “predator” drone aircraft, the dehumanization of ‘enemy combatants,’ the call of opposition politicians for all out war. And next: the increasing engagement of various ground forces and years of bloodshed and strife.
The other is the speed at which the plot is run through. Like the quick run-through rehearsal of the first act of a play by a troupe anxious to work out the second act, the pace toward full scale imperial war in Libya accelerates in time with the speed of the events which it is designed to meet.
Readers should not consider it an accident that the announcement of French and British intent to use attack helicopters and bunker buster heavy bombs against fighters loyal to the Libyan government coincides with Egyptian mobilizations for a Second Day of Rage, ongoing labor actions in Tunisia and mass demonstrations demanding an end to aerial drone bombardments in Pakistan.
“Ultimately this is going to be a slow, steady process in which we are able to wear down the regime.” Stated the US president in the same event quoted above.
that’s been part of our goal, that’s been part of our mission, is making sure that we are targeting regime forces in a way that does not result in enormous collateral damage.
As has been the case in the Afghanistan war, the deaths of young fighters and the years of warfare that pass are treated as inconsequential. The fact of the general consequences of civil war that has been fanned in Libya is seen as an almost irrelevant and, by their standards necessary, byproduct of imperial policy aims. What was shown in the US wars in Iraq and Vietnam is that the results of these actions are tragically destructive to the societies in which they are carried out. Infrastructure is destroyed, lives are uprooted, human activity is turned away from productive ends, education stops, families are torn apart, women and children live in fear.
It is a grave falsehood to act as if the avoidance of “civilian casualties” equates to war as being of limited consequence. The conduct of war itself becomes a form of oppression irrespective of which side one is on or who it is that lives or dies.
It is obvious enough that politicians’ claims as to the “surgical precision” of their war machines is always been exaggerated. As today’s news carries an AP report of 14 additional civilians killed by a NATO attack, add this to a non-combatant death toll in Afghanistan alone now approaching 10,000 since the US led invasion. (see sources below) Are we to believe that the bombs and drones used in Libya are more precise than those used in Pakistan and Afghanistan?
An estimate for which one may find a link below makes clear the consequences of the “slow” steady wars fought by the imperialist nations. The total death toll due to war in Iraq and Afghanistan since the invasions conducted at the beginning of the last decade are now approaching one million people, with over 1.5 million additional seriously injured. These figures do not register the death tolls from the US and French supported Iran/Iraq wars nor the first Iraq war “Operation Desert Storm” in which many hundreds of thousands of others were killed. I remember sitting at a political conference on a hot Ohio summer and listening to Jack Barnes currently the Political Secretary of the US based Socialist Workers Party deliver the speech that would become the article “The Opening Guns of World War III” which described the first Iraq War also known as “Desert Storm” and its social and historical consequences viewed from the lens of a working class political party. At the time I admit to thinking that the title was unnecessarily dramatic and as combat during the first Iraq war ended quickly and devolved into a decade of grinding US led and UN backed sanctions and a no-fly zone over Iraq, mostly administered under US president Clinton, I felt confirmed in my sentiment that the article had been a bit overblown.
Today, however, looking back at all that has developed in the decade since the reactionary anarchist destruction of the World Trade Center, and looking forward to what is obviously enough the extension of the US military engagement in Afghanistan for at least another half decade and what appears to me to be its extension into Pakistani territory, and considering the current escalation of imperial warfare into North Africa via Libya, and considering the evident competition of the French, British, Italians and even Danish imperialism to play a decisive role in that, I find Barnes prognosis to be nothing short of prescient.
The expectation of anyone of my generation was that World War III was to be a nuclear holocaust showdown between two great powers representing communism and capitalism. Instead it seems that the centers of power in the world have become atomized. It now seems to me that we are living through the first trimester of a World War III as an aggregate of multiple distinct but related conflicts and the intervention of imperial forces in each of these in an attempt to tape together the cracked vase of their never completed hegemonic project. Count for yourself the number of conflicts and consider the involvement of imperial militaries in each of these.
The recent rise of mass democratic and national movements in North Africa and Western and Central Asia inadequately described as the “Arab Spring” is but one result of its shock waves and the essential beginning of a response by those who refuse to be dragged toward a century of destruction.
As always, respectful relevant comments and even arguments are more than welcome.
- Libya: Coalition forces prepare two-pronged blitz to finish off Gaddafi
- John McCain interview regarding Libya Fox news Sunday May 29, 2011
- Britain readies “bunker-busting” bombs for Libya:Reuters
- For the full transcript of the May 25, 2011Cameron/Obama press conference in London Follow this link
- Obama warns Gadaffi of “no let up” Reuters
- Afghan official: NATO airstrike kills 14 May 29 AP, Washington Times
- Guardian UK estimate of Afghan War Casualties
- Estimate of total casualties and injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan From point of US invasions to August 2010
- Excerpt from Jack Barnes’ “The Opening Guns of World War III” from The Militant
- One of greatest atrocities of modern war Jack Barnes excerpt from the “Opening Guns of World War III”