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With the launch of 112 Tomahawk missiles against Libya, the United States has now begun its fifth concurrent war. The U.S. military is now engaged in varying degrees of military conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and now Libya. While Americans continue to suffer under the weight of soaring unemployment, rising inflation and an ongoing lack of access to affordable health care, our allegedly leftward-leaning president has committed our precious national resources to yet another needless war of aggression.
Let’s be clear that what is going in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi is utterly reprehensible. Obama is correct in asserting that “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” The problem here is with the sheer hypocrisy inherent in such a statement coming from a figure such as Obama. What about similar protests in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia?
The United States has stood by as 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia crossed the causeway to ensure that revolts in Bahrain were adequately stifled. Meanwhile, blood continues to be shed in Yemen as protesters fight against one of the most repressive regimes on earth, while perhaps the most repressive regime – that of Saudi Arabia – remains our staunch ally.
Why the disgustingly transparent double standard? Why support the revolutionary movement in Libya, but ignore it in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Tibet, Thailand and Columbia? The answer appears to be simple, but Libya provides an interesting case study.
The United States – and other Western powers – is devoted first and foremost to preserving its own interests. These interests revolve around geopolitical power and access to natural resources. As long as the United States can ensure the safety of its interests, very little thought is given to the notions of human rights, freedom and democracy. Hence the decades long reigns of notorious figures such as Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, and the Saud family.
As long as Gadhafi was friendly to Western interests – meaning that oil production was consistent – he was allowed to remain in power. Initially, Gadafhi had done nothing to fall from the graces of Western power. However, as protests across Libya grew – fueled by similar revolts in countries around the region, spread by today’s unprecedented means of mass communication – a number of considerations forced the situation to reach a tipping point, which subsequently required Western intervention along with the obligatory lip-service to freedom and democracy.
So what exactly happened? Revolution spread from neighboring countries due to the magic of the Internet and satellite broadcasting. News of protests in Tunisia and Egypt were immediately streamed to people around the world, along with the various authoritative actions taken by local governments in order to crush the rebellions. Twitterfeeds, blogs, and streaming video helped fuel similar revolts in still more countries, including Libya. The process than repeated itself within Libya, as scattered protests in the country grew stronger in the cycle of positive feedback that was enabled by such modern means of mass communication.
The Libyan protests resulted in two interesting consequences. First, people around the world were drawn to the revolts, simply because Gadhafi has always been a strange figure on the international stage, notorious for his gross violations of human rights and democratic principles. Gadhafi and his family aided this morbid curiosity by flooding the global airwaves with nonsensical, psychopathic rants threatening to fight to the last man and child.
Sustained international interest in the conflict alone would not have been enough to trigger Western intervention, as we have seen in countries such as Myanmar and Tibet. What finally tipped the scale was Gadhafi’s sacrilegious acts of sabotage against the oil production facilities within Libya. Western powers, seeing that their interests in the country were being dually threatened by the destructive actions of a volatile Gadhafi, and the prospect of his imminent downfall, realized that the decisive moment of action had come. In order to ensure continued access to the natural treasures of Libya, military intervention had become necessary.
Meanwhile, the United States has not only remained silent with regard to the squelch of pro-democracy protests in Saudi Arabia, it has gone so far as to actively support the suppression of such protests in neighboring Bahrain, since the equipment now being deployed by the Saudi military in Bahrain is of U.S. origin. So the West claims to stand for democracy in Libya, intervening militarily to allegedly defend the principles of freedom and democracy, while simultaneously intervening militarily in Bahrain to suppress them.
Never before in history has it been so easy to see through the motives of those in power. It’s up to us to make sure we make the most of these abilities, and finally bring about an age of genuine liberty.