UN unleashes all hell on Libya

By Ameen Izzadeen

(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

Libya’s firepower is no match for that of the technologically-advanced western powers that have been pounding this North African country since Saturday. The use of a sledgehammer to kill a house bug comes with the approval of the United Nations — one of the biggest deceptions in human history.

The wording of the UN Security Council resolution 1973 — which is about setting up of a no-fly zone — is so ambiguous that it allows France, Britain and the United States to take it as a licence to kill anyone and destroy anything irrespective of whether the target is civilian or military.

An analysis of the UN’s history will show that the UN often acts like a puppet that gives a veneer of legitimacy to imperialists’ wars. In the 1950s, it authorized the war in the Korean peninsula. It gave its stamp of approval for the United States and its allies to invade Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003. If this was not bad enough, its silence — more often deliberate — has encouraged Israel to wage wars and commit atrocities in Palestinian territories and Lebanon.

One wonders whether the number of UN resolutions authorizing use of force far exceed resolutions calling for peace. Sure the UN is a puppet in the hands of the five veto wielding powers — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — and is undemocratic to the core. Any move to democratize the UN disappears in the face of vehement opposition from the veto-wielding powers.

Why only blame the West for hijacking the UN? The Libya resolution also brought to the surface once again the double game played by Russia and China. They could have vetoed the resolution. Instead, they abstained from voting. The abstention, in fact, meant approval. Both China and Russia vetoed a UNSC resolution against Zimbabwe in July 2008, but when it comes to the Middle East, they often become a silent partner of the West, perhaps in anticipation of a reward in the form of a contract or an oil deal.

Against this backdrop, when Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described the West’s war on Libya as a medieval call to a crusade and when China’s official media slam it as an imperialist design to rob Libya’s oil, their words ring hollow.

Russia’s Communist party Chief Gennady Zyuganov said the Russian government by refraining from voting had in fact backed NATO’s aggressive ambitions to impose its will on Libya and everywhere on the globe. Accusing the Russian leadership of “serving foreign interests” he said the Libya resolution “poses a grave threat to Russia’s strategic interests in the region.”

Surely, there should be a trade off between the West and Russia — and also China. Whether it was the fear of high oil prices or hope of a share in the Libyan pie that prevented China and Russia from using their veto, one does not know. But what is certain is that the West is throwing its weight behind the rebels — with French President Sarkozy in a mighty big hurry to effect a regime change in Libya. France has recognised a transitional government led by Gaddafi’s one-time justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abu al-Jeleil — the west’s chosen man in Libya — and comprising US-educated men or men with properties in the US.

Hitching a ride in the west’s war wagon are the corporate media which take great pains to demonise Gaddafi and show the rebels as victims or unarmed civilians. They will not carry stories about how these ‘civilians’ are being armed by Egypt’s junta. Neither will they talk about the atrocities committed by the rebels on Gaddafi’s civilian supporters in Benghazi and other towns which have come under rebel control. The fact that Gaddafi resorted to the use of force only after the rebels armed with all sorts of weapons started moving towards Tripoli was lost on them. Yet they show Sarkozy, David Cameron and Barack Obama repeating the lie that Gaddafi was attacking civilians who were crying for freedom.

Sure, Gaddafi is not a democrat in the western sense. But he is no butcher like Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush or the dictators in Bahrain and Yemen. Gaddafi is even better than Obama, who as a commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, should be held responsible for the war crimes his troops are committing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. When world attention was being drawn to Libya and the nuclear crisis in earthquake-and-tsunami hit Japan, the German newspaper Der Spiegel last week published shocking photographs which showed Obama’s psychopathic soldiers posing next to the bodies of Afghan civilians whom they had killed for sport. The soldiers, it is alleged, derived sadistic pleasure from killing unarmed victims in front of their children and collecting body parts. We have heard or have been told by western historians that such brutes existed in Hitler’s Nazi military. Now we see Obama’s Army is no better. Please note that Der Spiegel published only two least offending pictures out of the 4000 it received from a source.

When Britain’s Channel 4 broadcast videos of alleged war crimes said to have taken place in Sri Lanka during the last stages of the war, the world human rights lobby ganged up to slap war criminal label on Sri Lanka. Now who will slap a similar label on the United States? What allegedly took place in Sri Lanka perhaps pales into insignificance in comparison with the US atrocities in Afghanistan and also Pakistan where some two weeks ago more than fifty civilians died in a US drone attack. A conservative estimate says the drone attacks have killed more than 2000 Pakistanis in the past three years. Add to these crimes, the atrocities that took place in Iraq — Abu Ghraib prison torture, the chemical attacks on Fallujah and the civilian massacre in Baghdad as shown in the WikiLeaks video. The horror is now unfolding in Libya where a UN authorized coalition attack on Sunday killed 48 people, including children, in a civilian shelter in Tripoli. This has prompted even the Arab League, a supporter of the no-fly zone resolution, to decry the west’s military action. Shouldn’t the UN also be held responsible for war crimes?

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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