Neutralisation 101 Pimping Liberal Intervention After Libya

August 24, 2011

The Guardian has an editorial on the rights and wrongs of the Libyan intervention, the day after the fall of Tripoli was announced (whether or not that can actually be said to have happened yet).

The UK’s liberal bastion has supported the intervention, although not as fervently as it did the wars in Iraq or the ongoing one in Afghanistan. As the editorial argues, “it can now reasonably be said that in narrow military terms it worked, and that politically there was some retrospective justification for its advocates as the crowds poured into the streets of Tripoli to welcome the rebel convoys earlier this week.”

But the Guardian’s own intervention, on the journalistic plane, is ongoing. The current strategy is to frame Libya as a disinterested moral exercise and a humanitarian police action. That is, messy issues such as oil can be dispensed with very easily.

As the editorial suggests, “We…know that Britain and France rushed into the action, and rushed others into it, without much thought and without much knowledge of the country we were proposing to save. Libya was the classic “far-off country of which we know little”.”

This, to me, is hugely rash. In reality, Libya was a place of which we knew very much indeed. After all, several of our elite academic institutions were providing guidance to the family and cronies of Qaddafi, and Tony Blair had made a high profile visit to Tripoli when PM. At that meeting, Blair reportedly promised “co-operation in the training of specialised military units, special forces and border security units.”

Moreover, the UK and Libya agreed to “exchanges of information and views on defence structures, military and security organisations; exchanges of visits by experts and exchange of printed materials in the field of military education and science; exchanges of information on current and developing military concepts, principles and best practice, and the conduct of joint exercises’”

Of course, “exchanges of information” could have no impact upon how much we “knew” of Libya before engaging in regime change there. Nor would the burgeoning work of BP in Libya have provided any knowledge of untapped hydrocarbon potential there.

The Guardian seems to want to bury any perspective on the Libyan intervention which challenges its moralistic, humanitarian fantasy and injects a political economic rationale. Instead, the paper is absurdly using Libya as an excuse to pimp Tony Blair’s own doctrine, expressed in Chicago in 1999 that “stronger states could and should use the means at their disposal, including, as a last resort, their military means, to protect the populations of failing, weak, or oppressive states.”

Tony Blair – the man who promised special forces training for Libya in exchange for oil money.

If the leading liberal left paper in the country cannot dig a little deeper than the surface scum of hyocrisy which passes for foreign policy, then the editors wwill indeed get their wish. As they conclude, “Liberal intervention is neither discredited nor fully validated. Too many very different things were bundled together under its rubric. They need sorting out and Libya may help us to do so.”



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