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Libya’s Hell, Enabled by Canadian Humanitarians

Why ‘responsibility to protect’ is proving irresponsible.

The Tyee

Nov 25, 2013

By Murray Dobbin

Libya oil

Expected flow of Libyan oil to West didn’t materialize. Photo: Creative commons licensed, Gripso Banana Prune.

Who will protect Libyans now? One of the darkest and most shameful chapters in Western military intervention continues to play out in spades in Libya. The latest news comes from Benghazi where one of the (literally hundreds) of murderous militias opened fire on peaceful, white-flag-bearing protesters (protesting militias), killing at least 20 and wounding over 130. And they didn’t use just small arms — it was rocket propelled grenades, machine guns and even an anti-aircraft gun. It was, even for a horribly violent context, a disgusting slaughter of innocents.

But we hear nothing from the international choir, led here by Lloyd Axworthy, which sang the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) hymn at the top of their lungs two years ago. The R2P, established by the UN in 2005, has lofty principles but in practice has been used as an excuse for any brutal assault on sovereign nations that serves the capitalist interests of the first world. Responsibility to protect states that sovereignty is not a right, but rests on the responsibility of governments to protect their populations. It is triggered by evidence of any one of four “mass atrocity” crimes: war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

None of these, of course, prevailed at the time of the Security Council’s vote in favour of establishing a “no fly” zone to protect civilians from Gadhafi’s fighter jets. But China and Russia abstained because of Western promises of going no further. That, of course, was a Big Lie as the real purpose soon revealed itself and regime change became the end game. When the country could have managed a ceasefire, NATO and Canada declared that could only happen if Gadhafi was gone in complete violation of Resolution 1973. And Canada happened to choose this particular conflict to invest heavily in — both morally and in material support. Stephen Harper made a huge show of our bombing efforts (over 1000 sorties) and boasted that Canada was “punching above its weight.”

Reckless and cynical

What is so infuriating in the history of this hideous “mission” is the complete lack of remorse or shame at what has been “accomplished.” Just like Iraq and Afghanistan, there are no regrets: Imperialism — especially “humanitarian imperialism” — will never admit to its crimes. But it can’t deny the facts, and for citizens attracted to the notion of “responsibility to protect,” the facts are important so that the next time this convenient principle is trotted out there will be more skepticism.

The key facts? There was no “mass rape” ordered by Gadhafi, a claim repeated many times by Hillary Clinton (and eventually refuted by Amnesty International, the UN and even the U.S. Army). There was no bombing of protesters (a fact admitted to by the CIA’s Robert Gates). There was no plan for a “massacre” in Benghazi. Gadhafi offered amnesty to any insurgents who laid down their arms — in contrast the “no mercy” theme played by the Western powers. All of these facts are to be found in Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa by Maximilian Forte.

Thirty Years After the U.S. Invasion of Grenada, the First Neoliberal War

Zero Anthropology

October 28, 2013

by Maximilian Forte

grenada_invasion

U.S. forces in Grenada in 1983

This past Friday, October 25, marked the 30th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Grenada. There were many meanings and consequences of that invasion, not just for Grenada itself, or for the wider Caribbean region (including the increased militarization of the region in the aftermath, the importation of U.S. national security doctrine, and the scandalous collaborationism embodied by Dominica’s then Prime Minister, Eugenia Charles, and Barbados’ then Prime Minister, Tom Adams–and the advent of the Caribbean Basin Initiative), but also meanings and consequences for the onset of the “new world order” of the post-Cold War period which was just a few years away. (From a personal perspective, the revolutions in Grenada and Nicaragua, where I spent months in the 1980s, formed an important foundation of my own development and impelled me in certain directions with my own studies.)

Thoughtful, Respectful, and Progressive: Regarding the “Responsibility to Protect”

Zero Anthropology

24 February 2013

by Maximilian Forte

laurentlouis

Some of this has already been raised, in my recent interview with Phil Taylor, plus in an excellent article by Ken Stone, “UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay: ‘Pretext-maker’ for Western Military Aggression,” and by The Wrong Kind of Green (“Must Watch: MP Laurent Louis Exposes International Neo-Colonialists Behind ‘War On Terror’ & ‘Humanitarian Interventions’ in Belgian Parliament“), probably my favourite website right now (see additional articles of relevance from WKG at the end).

At the focus here is a basic, honest response to what is being sold to us by various vested interests as the ideal form of “humanitarian action,” and specifically Western notions of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P). The response is not collegial, civil, comforting–that’s because the speaker has not yet been pacified and tamed, not even as an elected member of a European parliament. However great is the pressure to become structurally adjusted in a normative sense, and aligned with the new white woman’s burden, this speaker (Laurent Louis) bucks that trend.

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