Friday, 25 March 2011

GP&JA: protest at US consulate, 2pm Saturday

By Mike Treen
Global Peace & Justice Auckland Spokesperson

The bombing of Libya by the US, France and Britain has nothing to do with the plight of the people living under a brutal dictatorship.

The people of Libya are simply a convenient fig leaf for an attempt to reimpose control over the region by their former colonial masters.

Every military intervention by the US and its allies in recent decades has started as an alleged “humanitarian intervention to stop a brutal regime oppressing its people”. Yet every one of these interventions – from Somalia to Yugoslavia and Afghanistan to Iraq – has ended up in disasters for their own people with the death toll in the millions. The client regimes that were established are in all cases led by corrupt local warlords whose only distinguishing feature is that they are happy to sell of the resources of their peoples to their imperial masters.

Each of these previous interventions also began with “limited police action to protect civilians” and ended with millions of civilian casualties as the deadly logic of war and empire took control. In fact the same scenario has been played out for centuries as the “civilized West” pursued colonial and imperialist adventures around the globe. Today’s “humanitarian intervention” is no different from the “White Man’s Burden” that demanded Europe colonise the African “savages”.

Whether the immediate aim of the US-led attack is to overthrow Gaddafi or dismember Libya into two warring parts with each dependent on the empire for their survival, we can be sure that the goal will never be the genuine empowering of the people. The West has never supported the people against the elites – ever. And that includes in Libya where Gaddafi and his family were showered with praise and military support for the last decade as soon as he agreed to obey the dictates of the Western powers and sell off the country’s oil resources to western oil companies.

At the same time as the rhetoric is ramped up against the Libyan dictator we had silence until the last days of the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. And we have silence today over the murderous assaults on the people of Yemen and Bahrain – and silence over the invasion of Bahrain by the Saudi dictatorship. There have been no asset freezes, no travel bans, no arms embargo. And of course Israel was supported in its invasions of Lebanon and Gaza. The US recently completed the largest weapons deal in history to provide Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman with $123 billion worth of arms. In 2009 the US and European governments – including Britain and France – sold Libya more than $US500 million worth of weapons, including fighter jets, guns, bombs, tear gas and anti-riot gear. A Canadian company was building a prison in Tripoli.

The US and other Western governments do not need to drop a single bomb in the Middle East to help liberate oppressed people. All it need do is stop selling bombs to their oppressors.

The reason it won’t do that is that this region holds most of the world’s oil reserves. In 1945 this resource was described by the US State Department in 1945 as “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”. British planners in 1947 described the oil reserves of the Middle East as “a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination”. In 1999, the future US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, said that “Oil is unique because it is so strategic in nature. We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy. The Gulf War [of 1991] was a reflection of that reality”.

Many people around the world desperately hope that “this time it will be different”. It was also true that often the initial interventions were cheered by some of the local population. But history tells us something different. The demand remains the same as the antiwar movement raised prior to the two wars against Iraq – “No more blood for oil – stop the bombing, end all foreign military intervention”.

We ask all supporters of the right of peoples to self determination – including the right to overthrow the reactionary dictatorships across the Arab world – to join the protests at 2pm on Saturday outside the Auckland US consulate.

[The consulate is in the Citigroup Building, Customs Street East, across the road from Britomart train station, in Auckland CBD.]

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