By Mohamed Khodr
While Gaddafi’s planes are flying to kill, Libyans are dying in the plains of the desert. Since oil is thicker than blood the Europeans and Americans are deliberating and divided on whether to save Libyans from an almost guaranteed mass slaughter by establishing a No Fly Zone to ground Gadaffi’s fighter jets that can determine the outcome of the conflict between a ruthless dictator and a people fighting for their freedom from his rule and the politics of oil.
Only two European nations thus far, France and Britain, have taken the principled and humanitarian position that an immediate No Fly Zone is necessary to stop Gadaffi’s slaughter of his people. Germany under the pretext of non military intervention in Libya has nevertheless sent thousands of its troops as part of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan where civilians on a daily basis are murdered by fighter jets and drones. Recently nine innocent boys were killed by NATO helicopters (March 2) who mistook the boys collecting firewood for insurgents. Yet the Conservative Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, who knows first hand of life under the brutal Soviet regime, by her opposition to the no fly zone, is surrendering and sacrificing the lives of innocent Libyans to a blood thirsty dictator thereby denying them the freedom they cry for. Merkel’s policy is not only hypocritical but goes against the German public’s support for a No Fly Zone.
Russia opposes establishing a No Fly Zone over Libya because it fears another Western intervention and perhaps occupation of an African nation having already invaded and occupied Iraq, Afghanistan, with enormous influence over Pakistan. It does not wish to see a western presence in Libya with its vast oil reserves, the largest in Africa.
Libyan oil is not only coveted but it has the highest quality “sweet” crude oil in the world making it easily refinable into gasoline and diesel due to its lower content of sulfur, an environmentally safer and cleaner oil to burn. Saudi oil has a higher content of sulfur and thus is more expensive to refine.
President Obama, as is customary in his execution of foreign policy, has shown weak leadership in the E.U. and the U.N. in establishing a No Fly Zone over Libya despite Congressional support, even from the Republican Party that has never shied away from U.S. foreign military interventions to project U.S. power worldwide. Although he’s demanded Gaddafi step down he’s taken no steps to facilitate the end of his dictatorial rule that has lasted for forty two years.
Perhaps Obama prefers the devil he knows to the freedom fighters he doesn’t know lest they be “Islamists” and spread their violent ideology to neighboring Algeria, another oil producing Arab nation, or even use their new found oil wealth to destabilize Saudi Arabia ad the Gulf nations.
When the U.S perceives its interests are threatened it doesn’t resort to the United Nations Security Council or seeks any approval from the E.U., NATO, Russia, or China for it to act unilaterally and militarily as it did in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many other Asian, Central and South American nations.
Yet in Libya the U.S. is caught between exporting freedom, importing oil, and the private vociferous objections of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Israel lest the No Fly Zone sets a precedent for interference in other Arab oil exporting nations whose populace may rise demanding their freedom, most importantly Saudi Arabia that unilaterally invaded Bahrain to shore up its Monarchy in contravention of the U.N. Charter, yet has not faced any U.S., E.U., Russian, or Chinese condemnation much less a U.N. Security Council Resolution akin to when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Obviously U.N. Security Council Resolutions led by the U.S. are passed and implemented depending on who the violators and victims are.
Imposing sanctions has been a historical joke and failure. They have not impacted any nation or leader to change course. From Cuba, to Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, and Gaza, the sanctions have only been a mild challenge to countries and corporations wishing to do business with these nations. Even Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton oil company did business with Iran despite U.S. sanctions.
The U.N. imposed sanctions on Libya only to ignore the open violation of the sanctions by Greece as it sent a large oil transport ship bound to Gaddafi’s Tripoli only to be intercepted by Libya’s freedom fighters. (1)
The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet Wednesday, March 17, to discuss and possibly vote on establishing a No Fly Zone to save Libyans from the continuing slaughter and advancement of Gaddafi’s foreign mercenary forces who depend on air power to overwhelm the freedom fighters. Both the Libyan people and the entire Arab League have asked the U.N.S.C. to establish the no fly zone over Libya.
Yet Europe, the U.S. and Russia are playing the spin game blaming each other on the feasibility and potential outcome (s) of such a decision. Without strong U.S. leadership it’s difficult to ascertain the outcome of the U.N.S.C. vote.
To the Arab world Obama was late in recognizing and supporting the revolutions in Tunis and Egypt. To them it’s apparent that when U.S policy deals with the Arab world America’s position is that oil is thicker than Arab blood, but when it comes to Israel its support is immediate and without question. It is this hypocrisy and double standard that has lost America the Arab and Muslim street and accounts for the animosity they adopt against U.S. foreign policy, but not toward the American people or culture that they deeply admire and emulate.
Such an assessment was expressed by the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Council:
“Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.” — (Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, September 2004 (Also reported in Christian Science Monitor November 29, 2004.)
Until the U.S. can demonstrate a fair and balanced approach to the Arab and Muslim world that their lives, humanity, human rights, independence, sovereignty and freedom are as equal and valuable as that of Israelis and the rest of humanity, America’s oil based economy will be threatened and could lead the country into a spiral depression. The free Arab street will be unforgiving of America if it fails to protect the Libyan people from an eventual slaughter. A failure to establish a No Fly Zone will only empower Al Qaida and all extremist elements in the Muslim world that America is indeed an enemy of Islam and Muslims and can never be trusted. In the Arab and Muslim world the U.S. has long been on the wrong side of history in its blanket support of Israel’s military hegemony and occupation of Arab land and its self centered support of Arab Tyrants.
If the U.N. Security Council does not immediately adopt and establish a No Fly Zone over Libya which will save the lives of countless Libyans and allow Gaddafi to continue his rule which will even be more ruthless and merciless against his people then the value and mission of the United Nations, which already suffers in the Arab world, as well the exhortation of the West that their goal is to free humanity from tyranny and establish democracies of the people, by the people, and for the people rings as hollow as the Declaration of Independence’s noble idealism “that all men are created equal”; when in practice it only rang for white men in power and not for oppressed.
With Libya under tyrannical siege the world in the body of the United Nations once again faces a crossroad to destiny. Whether it has learned the lessons of history that Tyrants left to their will are prone to war and genocide, or whether it will meet the reasonability of its Charter and existence as phrased by President Harry Truman who said:
“The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members.”
What is Libya’s fate? Is it freedom or tyranny? We will soon learn the monumental outcome that Obama and the United Nations will make in not only determining the future of Libya but for all people’s who seek the freedom endowed to them by their Creator but are often denied by the powers that be.
– Mohamed Khodr is a freelance writer who writes on Palestine, US Foreign Policy, the Arab World, and Islam. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
(1) Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, September 2004. http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/ADA428770.pdf