Saturday 22 October 2011

Massacre of innocents in Libya (PO)

By M D Nalapat
Since the collapse of the USSR caused the Cold War to end, the NATO powers have been responsible for the death and maiming of hundreds of thousands, beginning with the many afflicted by the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq after Operation Desert Storm. These had zero effect on Saddam Hussein and his family, but caused havoc within the vulnerable sections of the Iraqi population, who had to do without medicines and other necessities of life.

Although several within the UN protested at the genocidal nature of the sanctions, the US, France, Germany and the UK refused to dilute them sufficiently to allow the vulnerable within Iraq to subsist. “They ought to be taught a lesson for accepting a man like Saddam Hussein as their president”, was the rationale offered to this correspondent in Washington by a Clinton administration official. That the people of Iraq had no say in either the coming to power of Saddam Hussein or his continuance in office mattered little to this individual, who spoke approvingly of the way then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had “faced down the softies in the UN bureaucracy who wanted the sanctions to be lifted”. The multitude who perished as a result of Albright, Blair and other champions of the Iraq sanctions regime will press on their conscience on the Day of Judgment.

But clearly not before. Whether it is Henry Kissinger of “Bomb SE Asia” fame or Albright (who may yet be given the Nobel Peace Prize), they travel the world as champions of human rights, in yet more evidence of the fact that history is always written by the stronger side. And now they have been joined by Nicholas Sarkozy of France and David Cameron of the UK, who - along with Hillary Clinton - are responsible for the situation in Libya. Reports from the field speak of hundreds of presumed “Kadhafi loyalists” being shot or tortured, most because of tribal and other rivalries than because of the colonel. In both Sirte as well as Bani Walid, hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed by the ceaseless bombardment of both towns by the Sarkozy-appointed

“Transitional Council” forces. Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon is a noble personality, committed to human rights. Perhaps because his staff in Libya are (because of their allegiance to NATO) not giving him the correct picture about the situation there, Mr Ban has been silent about the way in which so-called “ Kadhafi loyalists” are being hunted down and killed in cities and towns across Libya. Some estimates claim that at least 9000 have been killed in this way, while others give higher figures. Although their UN mandate was to “protect civilians”, NATO forces from the start took sides in the civil war, and actively participated in the destruction of lives and property of those whom its spies denounced as “pro- Kadhafi “. More than $800 million in infrastructure has been destroyed by NATO bombing, yet there is no talk of restitution, there is talk only of French, British and US companies getting oil contracts at concessional rates. As for BBC and CNN, which used to be hysterical about the “loss of civilian lives caused by Kadhafi “, these days they tiptoe in silence across the graveyard that much of Libya has become. They seem to believe that the thousands of NATO-supplied rockets and artillery shells fired into so-called pro- Kadhafi areas have the miraculous quality of killing only military personnel, when in fact each such projectile is putting at risk dozens of innocent civilians. Today, Libya has become a hell, with much of the country going without sanitation, electric power or employment. However, any complaint is met by detention as a suspected “ Kadhafi loyalist”. Interestingly, most of the anti- Kadhafi fighters are also against the NATO powers, which is why they are ensuring the concealment of large quantities of lethal weaponry supplied to them by NATO to kill the other side.

These will get used in the years ahead, against the very countries that supplied them in the first place. A few days ago, Hillary Clinton was in Libya in a bid to recover these weapons. She failed, because those she is dealing with have no control over the actual fighters, who control territory in Libya the way warlords once did in Afghanistan, and still do in some parts of that ravaged country. As in Afghanistan, NATO has armed those who will in the future strike them Why does the International Court not take suo motu action against the killings in Libya of so-called “pro- Kadhafi “ elements? Because it has never been international. In effect, the Court is controlled by NATO powers, who use it to diplomatically intimidate foes while ignoring the misdemeanours of themselves and their friends. This has been facilitated by the fact that so many so-called “international” institutions are headquartered within Europe. Why should a single continent (and a small one at that) have a monopoly over the numerous global institutions, including the IAEA, the WHO, the ILO, the International Court of Justice and so many others? Such a location makes it impossible for 99% of the people of the poorer countries to access them, for Europe is a high-cost destination to which visas are only sparingly given. Had such institutions been located in poorer countries, then they would have been much more accessible to the world’s poor. US Presidential candidates from the Republican Party are demanding that their country stop giving funds to the UN. The reality is that the UN spends more (directly and through the expenditure of its well-paid staff) in the US than it gets from that country. Hence hopefully funds will indeed be cut, thereby ensuring that the UN Headquarters move to another country, one that is more representative of the majority of the global population. A good candidate would be Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean.

Nearly two years ago, this columnist was invited to the International Interfaith Dialogue meeting in Geneva. This is an initiative of the Muslim World League, which has been tasked by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to promote dialogue between people of different faiths. Not only was the hotel in Geneva prohibitively expensive (although the rooms were such that even ordinary hotels in India offered more amenities) but the Swiss embassy in New Delhi gave only a 10-day visa, thereby making it clear that they did not want any Third World trash ( such as this columnist) lingering around in their country or in their continent. Fortunately, the next conference is being held in a country that is more friendly to those of average income than Switzerland. As yet, countries in Asia have not retaliated for the barriers on movement of people, goods and services to Europe. Rather, Asia has become the only expanding market for high-cost (and low value) luxury goods from France, Italy and Germany. Over the coming years, Asian countries need to coordinate their trading decisions, the way the EU does, so that retaliation can take place over transparent efforts to block Asian goods from European markets, even if (and especially if) these be cheaper and better than local alternatives.

That Asian countries are beginning to understand the importance of a unified stance is becoming clear from a very healthy development, which is the discussion now taking place between India and Pakistan over trade. Both countries are natural partners of each other, and economists estimate that more than 2 million jobs can be created were trade barriers to get lifted between Delhi and Islamabad, 40% of which will be in Pakistan. In an era of economic turmoil, it is important to gain synergy wherever it can be found, and India-Pakistan is one of the last holdouts to better traderelations. This year, India is expected to sign a Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN, and soon afterwards, with the EU, once that grouping drops its insistence on a one-sided pact that gives all the pain to India and all the gain to its manufacturers. As NATO will soon find in Libya, trade is a much better way of getting geopolitical benefits than bombings and barrages.

It should not be forgotten that it was an oil company - Unocal – that bankrolled the Taliban. In Libya as well, it is French banks and NATO oil companies that have led the charge against Muammar Kadhafi, who negotiated much fairer agreements with them than they liked. The use of military power to seize assets, the way it has happened in Iraq and now Libya, will soon come back to bite the NATO oil companies. Winning a war on the battlefield is easy. Holding back the civilian population is not. And in both Libya and Iraq, the people of these two ancient civilisations will ensure that efforts at grabbing their resources by force will fail. Peace is not
 simply the best way, it is the only way to Prosperity through Equity.

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