Saturday 5 March 2011

NATO ditches Moamer Kadhafi (PO)

M D Nalapat

Clients of banks based in the capitals of countries that are NATO members say that service is excellent, so long as times are good. There are smiles and parties, in all of which alcohol and charming company is present in profusion. However, as soon as times turn bad, these Fair Weather Friends change, and begin demanding the observance of conditions that are designed to further push the enterprise into catastrophe. Unlike banking institutions that have an Asian ethos, which step forward to the rescue whenever business turns sour, and shows the patience and understanding needed to conquer the crisis, the NATO-based financial institutions look only at their own (narrow and short-term) interests, and frequently convert a manageable crisis into a disaster by their unsympathetic policies. Sadly, despite knowing this, several business persons get lured by the superficial charm and seeming efficiency of such organisations, and flock there in preference to Asian entities, just as so many millions of consumers in Asia waste huge amounts of savings in buying super-luxury brands from Europe (even those where only the name is European, with even the label made in Asia. The reason for this is the continuing inferiority complex of several High Net Worth individuals who are secretly ashamed of being Asian, and compensate by using only European brands, whether these be shoes, clothes, cars or any other requirement of modern life.

Throughout the two hundred years of the dominance of the major NATO powers over the rest of the world, a period that ended only with the start of Deng-era economic reform in China by the close of the 1970s and the rise of India and Brazil in the 1990s, any effort by the rest of the world to acquire technologies that could compete with those of the colonialist rulers was smothered. The population was kept in a subordinate position, prevented from access to advanced knowledge or responsibilities. An example was the Civil Service in British-ruled India, where technically Indians too could compete (those that knew the mandatory languages of Latin and Greek), but in reality, the system was tweaked in such a way that few natives made it to the ICS. Many of those who did were subsequently expelled by the use of small errors committed in the course of duty, mistakes that were ignored if the individual making them was British. As for the Indian armed forces, although 99.8% of its personnel were natives of the subcontinent, less than 1% of its officer corps came from the same group. There was a clear caste system at work which separated the Europeans from the Asians, even though the latter did almost all the fighting and the dying. Some would argue that such single-track devotion to supremacy deserves to be admired, and that others should follow in the footsteps of the European powers in placing self-interest above all other considerations. However, the reality is that such zero-sum options (where one loses and as a consequence the other gains) are less productive for humanity than win-win solutions, where both sides benefit. Had the Europeans abandoned their zero-sum mentality while dealing with Asia and with Asians, the history of the world would have been more pleasant to read.

Old habits take a long time to disappear, as Colonel Moamer Kadhafi is finding out in Libya. On the prodding of his sons, who in common with much of the Asian economic elite are far more comfortable with Europeans and in Europe than they are with their own people and in their own country, Colonel Kadhafi gave up his quest for strategic weapons and threw himself on the mercy of the major NATO powers. He ensured that 90% of Libya’s investments went to these countries, many of whose citizens have become rich doing business in his country. The many sacrifices made by Kadhafi to the NATO powers was to ensure their support during bad times, but as he has discovered lately, the second that the situation turned negative for him, these same powers have changed sides, and are now backing those who seek the overthrow and even the death of Kadhafi and his family. In what is clearly one of the single biggest bank robberies in history (next to the theft of Jewish assets by Hitlerite Germany in during 1933-45), more than $30 billion of Libyan money has been frozen by the NATO powers, on the excuse that this belongs to Kadhafi. Clearly, it is going to take a long time for Libya to recover this cash, if it ever does.

In brief hours, a leader who had obeyed all the commands of the NATO powers has become their target, with the chance that air raids will be conducted so as to ensure his removal from power. As for Kadhafi’s sons, they have all been banned from entering the very countries that they were so much in awe of, and for which they made their doting father pay such a high price. They too will face imprisonment and even possibly the hangman’s noose, in case the NATO countries succeed in ensuring the fall of the Libyan regime. Kadhafi must now be aware of the limits to friendship in the Fair Weather world of NATO, where “help” comes only to those who do not need it. As Samuel Johnson said, such “patrons” are those who stand by while the drowning man struggles to survive, and only offers a hand once he is safely ashore. Each of the many leaders of the region who have for decades made painful concession after concession to the NATO powers in order to ensure their support in case they ever face a serious threat, will now be aware that no such assistance can be expected, and that all the concessions were made in vain. Kadhafi has got the message, and is now talking of diverting investments towards India, China and other non-NATO countries, but is it too late for him? And will his country ever get back the $30 billion that has been seized from the treasury by countries that have sought to cast away Kadhafi like a dried coconut shell after they came to the conclusion that he (and his trusting sons) are no longer of any use to them? 

The United Nations has gone the way of the League of Nations in Afghanistan and Iraq, handing over sovereign countries to a few big powers, for them to use in any way they deem fit in their own interests. Should the UN Security Council sanction the use of armed force against Libya, it would amount to a return of the period wheoutside powers directly administered much of the world. As we have seen in the case of the financial scams that have so impoverished billions of people during the period since Reagan-Thatcher in the 1980s, the NATO powers simply legalise crime and thereby justify it. Should the UNSC permit the crime of the use of armed force against a sovereign state, many of those who agree to such a travesty of international law may someday become victims of the doctrine of rule from outside.

It is for the Libyan people to decide their own fate, and it is not the business of other countries to interfere. As for the International Court of Justice, so long as it fails to act against war crimes committed in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam during the 1970s, and against those responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Iraq since the 1990s sanctions got enforced, it has no moral authority to speak of Human Rights. Today, a system of international jurisprudence has evolved in which a segment of humanity has been exempted from the standards that they seek to enforce on others. In the process, such crimes against humanity get committed as the effort to deny cheap medicines to millions of poor patients by preventing generic substitutes from being made or sold in locations such as India. The same countries that preach morality are working overtime to place the interests of just three dozen pharmaceutical companies over the collective well-being of billions of the earth’s poor, with hardly any protest.

Events in Libya are an example for the world of a policy that places short-term interests above all other considerations. It is such policies that, when enforced globally in the previous two centuries, resulted in four-fifths of the globe becoming famished and poor. The international community must take care to see that such a period does not recur, this time in the form of UN resolutions that give some countries the right to impose their preferences over weaker ones. Had Colonel Kadhfai the nuclear bomb, he would not today be facing the outside threat to his very existence from those for whose goodwill he sacrificed so much of treasure and technology.

No comments:

Post a Comment