By Ameen Izzadeen
(This articles first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)
There is more to this than meets the eye. Yes, it is a cliché but it is an apt phrase to describe world politics where injustice is presented as justice, dictatorship is tolerated as democracy and the villain is seen as a hero. With the Western powers preparing for an invasion of Libya, the cliché assumes importance once again.
What is delaying the invasion is the lack of public support in the Western world. It is here that the unholy alliance between imperialist forces and the western media comes into play. Sections of the Western media, which humbly and shamelessly served capitalist and neocolonial interests during the two Gulf wars, are up to their old tricks again. Libyan leader Moammer Gaddafi is being portrayed now in the same way Saddam Hussein was portrayed — a mad man killing his own people.
True, even friends agree that Gaddafi is a maverick and may be a megalomaniac too. But is he a mass murderer? After all, didn’t he support freedom struggles around the world? Ask the African National Congress which under the visionary leadership of Nelson Mandela fought the apartheid regime in South Africa. Ask those rebel groups which fought colonialist-backed regimes in Africa. They will shower praises on Gaddafi for Libya’s financial and moral support.
But ask the West. It will say Gaddafi is a terrorist.
The West, especially the United States, has an axe to grind. It’s time for vengeance. In 1969, the young revolutionary Gaddafi after ousting pro-British and pro-US King Idris marched with his troops to the US base near Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast — it was so big that even Americans called it ‘Little America’ — and issued an ultimatum to all foreign troops including the British who also had a base in Libya to leave.
You chased us out in 1969 and here we come now to chase you out. These words flash across the mind when the US and Britain prepare their military for a Libyan job. Although the Libyan leader is being accused of using African mercenaries to attack the protesters, there is strong suspicion that mercenaries backed by Western powers have infiltrated the protesters. Otherwise, how could the protesters capture town after town, defeating Gaddafi’s well-armed forces? Egypt also saw demonstrations but the protesters there did not capture territory. What is happening in Libya is different from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt. There is something fishy. The democracy protest has degenerated into a civil war. This was what the imperialists wanted — an excuse for intervention.
Adding to the doubts is the US insistence to include a strange clause in this week’s UN Security Council resolution on Libya. This clause exempts mercenaries from prosecution for war crimes. Why?
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that British troops were already in Libya carrying out rescue operations and SAS Special Forces were ready to seize Gaddafi’s mustard gas depots. The US Sixth Fleet, meanwhile, has positioned itself in the Mediterranean Sea overlooking Libya. And a docile United Nations is blowing up a humanitarian crisis.
Against this backdrop, doubts arise as to who is doing what in Libya. Who is bombing the protesters, using aircraft? Are we one hundred percent certain that it is Gaddafi?
The protests in Libya seem to have been hijacked by the West to promote its own capitalist and imperialist interests — to take control of Libya’s oil and natural gas and set up military bases. Creating a humanitarian crisis in Libya will offer an ideal excuse for an invasion. Television images of thousands of workers scrambling for food and trying to escape Libya and a few bodies in morgues are probably an attempt to show that a humanitarian crisis is in the making. The Western media won’t talk about the casualties supporters of Gaddafi are suffering at the hands of marauding protesters.
The one-sided coverage smacks of an ulterior motive for invasion. Even if one assumes that Gaddafi’s forces are responsible for the killings, the toll is much lower than the number of people George W. Bush and his military killed in Iraq. Barack Obama’s army has killed more civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan than Gaddafi has allegedly killed in Libya. It was only on Wednesday that the US forces killed nine children who were collecting firewood in Afghanistan. Yet the United Nations Security Council will not condemn the mass murder and baby killings by US troops in Afghanistan. The biggest impediment to global justice is the United Nations, an instrument that gives the stamp of legitimacy to illegal wars and whitewashes war crimes committed by the imperialist West.
The other culprits are the Western media, which have mastered the art of faking news and presenting them as facts. Who can forget the case of 15-year-old Nurse Nahiriya during the first Iraq war in 1991? The US media repeatedly showed the young Kuwait nurse’s testimony before the US Congress to whip up public support for the war. Nayirah testified that she witnessed the murder of infants by Iraqi soldiers who “took the incubators and left the babies to die on the cold floor.” Even Amnesty International believed the story and lent indirect support to the war party. But it later turned out that Nurse Nayirah was the daughter of Saud bin Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s then ambassador to the United States. She was coached by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton to tell a fabricated story aimed at melting the hearts of the American public and winning their support for the war.
If this was not enough, the lies and heaps of crap the US administration presented as solid facts to claim that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction are another example. Throughout the build-up for the war and after that, the mainstream US media were with the war party, distorting stories, withholding facts and not giving adequate and fair space to voices which spoke against the war.
Against this backdrop, commonsense demands that one takes what the Western media and leaders say with a mountain of salt. Their hypocrisy or moral nakedness is exposed when they adopt a totally different approach to deal with protests in pro-US Bahrain and Yemen.
The Arab masses are rising up against dictators and monarchs. When will the American public rise up against their rulers and take them to justice for repeatedly lying to them to promote the capitalist agenda?