Glenn Greenwald writes that the country of Libya is now in a state of total collapse and anarchy, not quite what we were promised when we bombed that country on ‘humanitarian’ grounds.
So widespread is violence and anarchy there that “hardly any Libyan can live a normal life,” Brown University’s Stephen Kinzer wrote in The Boston Globe last week. Last month, the Libyan Parliament, with no functioning army to protect it from well-armed militias, was forced to flee Tripoli and take refuge in a Greek car ferry. The New York Times reported in September that “the government of Libya said . . . that it had lost control of its ministries to a coalition of militias that had taken over the capital, Tripoli, in another milestone in the disintegration of the state.”
Sectarian strife and economic woes destroyed efforts by the U.S. and U.K. to train Libyan soldiers, causing those two nations last week to all but abandon further programs: “not a single soldier had been trained by the U.S. because the Libyan government failed to provide promised cash.” AP reports this morning that an entire city, Darna, has now pledged its allegiance to ISIS, “becoming the first city outside of Iraq and Syria to join the ‘caliphate’ announced by the extremist group.” A report issued by Amnesty International two weeks ago documented that “lawless militias and armed groups on all sides of the conflict in western Libya are carrying out rampant human rights abuses, including war crimes.” In sum, it is almost impossible to overstate the horrors daily faced by Libyans and the misery that has engulfed the country.
All of that prompts an obvious question: where did all of the humanitarians go who insisted they were driven by a deep and noble concern for the welfare of the Libyan people when they agitated for NATO intervention? Almost without exception, war advocates justified NATO’s military action in Libya on the ground that it was driven not primarily by strategic or resource objectives but by altruism. The New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof wrote: “Libya is a reminder that sometimes it is possible to use military tools to advance humanitarian causes.” Former Obama official Anne-Marie Slaughter argued that intervention was a matter of upholding “universal values,” which itself advanced America’s strategic goals. In justifying the war to Americans (more than a week after it started), President Obama decreed: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”
But “turning a blind eye” to the ongoing – and now far worse – atrocities in Libya is exactly what the U.S., its war allies, and most of the humanitarian war advocates are now doing. Indeed, after the bombing stopped, war proponents maintained interest in the Libyan people just long enough to boast of their great prescience and to insist on their vindication. Slaughter took her grand victory lap in a Financial Times op-ed headlined “Why Libya sceptics were proved badly wrong,” Dismissing those who were telling her that “it is too early to tell” and that “in a year, or a decade, Libya could disintegrate into tribal conflict or Islamist insurgency, or split apart or lurch from one strongman to another,” she insisted that nothing could possibly be worse than letting Gaddafi remain in power. Thus: “Libya proves the west can make those choices wisely after all.”
The overt warmongers who want to bomb countries to advance US or Israeli interests are one thing and there is some chance of opposing them. But when they share the same goals as these odious ‘humanitarian’ warmongers like Slaughter, then all hope is lost because the opposition simply collapses.
Greenwald exposes the appalling shallowness of these humanitarians (in a manner similar to the way Noam Chomsky ripped apart William F. Buckley’s noble reasons for the Vietnam war and other US militaristic actions in a previous era):
[V]irtually all wars, even the most blatantly aggressive ones of conquest (such as the Iraq War) are wrapped in humanitarian packaging. Moreover, there should be enormous doubt about the ability of the west to use bombs and military force – in distant lands with radically different and complex cultures – to manipulate political and social outcomes to its liking (except where total disorder is what it craves, in which case it likely can achieve its goals). Beyond that, the devastation and human costs from having the powerful U.S. military bomb countries are enormous, and will virtually never be outweighed by supposed “benefits.”
But the most compelling reason to oppose such wars is that – even if it all could work perfectly in an ideal world and as tempting as it is to believe – humanitarianism is not what motivates the U.S. or most other governments to deploy its military in other nations. If you have doubts about that, just look at how the supposed humanitarian concern for Libyans instantly vanished the moment all the fun, glory-producing and self-satisfying bomb-dropping was done. If there were any authenticity to the claimed humanitarianism, wouldn’t there be movements to spend large amounts of money not just to bomb Libya but also to stabilize and re-build it? Wouldn’t there be just as much horror over the plight of Libyans now: when the needed solution is large-scale economic aid and assistance programs rather than drone deployments, blowing up buildings, and playful, sociopathic chuckling over how we came, conquered, and made The Villain die?
As with all these fiascos, all those who eagerly advocated the bombing to destabilize that country are now conspicuous by their silence, moving on to the next target. How many more of these ‘humanitarian’ wars can the US initiate before people finally realize that they are all a charade?