Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NATO's "concern for human rights" should never be taken seriously.

    Right now we are starting to hear calls for an air war against Libya to "prevent human rights abuses". NATO is basically the United States, and it has one of the worst records for human rights abuses in the 20th century, including supporting military dictatorships which kill thousands of dissenters, aiding and abetting genocide and massacring civilians. Whenever a great power starts expressing "concern about human rights", should we really take them seriously? Ever?

Libya is the latest ugly incarnation of the
(invoking the doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect", 
or R2P), essentially a pretext to justify imperial
adventures, such as the Kosovo war in 1999
    Make no mistake: whenever you hear the U.S. clamoring for military intervention, you must always ask what the real geo-political reasons underlying it are. Wars are expensive and risky (particularly, public opposition to the war back home, or loss of prestige if defeated). A human-rights abusing power like the United States will not enter a conflict for such flimsy reasons as "protecting human rights". These are always excuses, pretexts for the real reasons underlying war.
    The Obama administration's reaction to the uprisings in Egypt and Libya have been the same, and what you'd expect from an imperial power. The U.S. wants to support the dictator but does so quietly and hopes things blow over. When things become agitated, Obama expressed some meaningless words expressing concern over the situation but remaining noncommittal, taking a "wait and see" approach. If it becomes clear the leader has lost, America's leader will pretend they supported the revolution all along. It is important for the U.S. to make sure that whoever is in power, they work as a client of the United States. For this reason, it would be unwise to take sides before you know will end up on top.
    I do not know exactly what U.S planners are thinking about Libya right now, but I suspect they believe Gaddafi's days are numbered and they want to make sure that when he falls, the right person will take over his position. U.S. interests in the Middle East fear independent, democratic and secular Arab states. The existence of one might inspire Arab populations in other countries living under oppressive U.S.-backed regimes to agitate for change--a real threat to U.S. dominance in the region. This is especially true for Saudi Arabia, America's #1 ally, and a completely undemocratic, theocratic dictatorship. Popular Arab democracies might undermine America's strategy of controlling the world's oil supplies.
In Libya, activist movements called
for no intervention (Mar. 2011)
    We should definitely oppose any military action in Libya without United Nations approval. We must make it clear to our leaders we oppose unilateral military action and that we won't fall their appeals to emotion when they say they just want to defend human rights.

Edit: This article discusses western dependence on oil from the region and how Libya's oil disruption can affect our economy. This may underlie our real reasons for intervening, getting the oil flowing again.

Update: The UN has since authorized military force in Libya, with Russia and China abstaining on the motion in the Security Council. While minimal adherence to international law is favorable, the structure of the UN as it stands is admittedly imperfect and endorsement of intervention should not necessarily be taken to mean that the cause is just. The matters at hand are the fact that the Obama administration wants "regime change" in Libya, first and foremost, and is not looking at other solutions; neither are the Eastern rebels' provisional government, who rejected outright the possibility of a diplomatic solution (which may or may not have been serious, but that's beside the point) with Qadaffi (who suggested he was willing to entertain the possibility of leaving the country). While one can be sympathetic with notions the Qadaffi should be "brought to justice", as it is claimed by some in the East, it is worth remembering that the stated reason for intervention of intervention was to save lives. It is rather ironic to pursue a war that will end up with many more deaths, when another potential solution existed. Needless deaths seem a high price to pay just to bring one man, criminal though he may be, to justice. How essential is this "justice" when a country would be better off ending a conflict and move forward in relative peace? How many deaths is this kind of honor worth?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Technical Terms of the Intelligentsia

    Have you ever noticed the in media repeating words like "stability", "democracy" and "religious extremism" used in political discourse? It's an effective form of propaganda because who could possible be against stability and democracy? But these words are generally used in a way that is different or opposite to their generally understood meaning. How will one de-code doublespeak codewords you hear on the news? Read on...
Typical propaganda narrative on  fear  of
"religious fundamentalism" in Egypt, which
means "independence from the United States")
    These terms have been used a lot lately referring to Egypt and fears in our society's elite class of the consequences of their recent revolution. When commentators say "the recent revolution may allow religious extremists to take over, undermining democracy and stability in the middle east", they really mean something different. I hope this helps you understand the next news broadcasts a little better once you memorize what Noam Chomsky calls "words with a technical meaning".
Onward with some examples!

"Promoting Democracy" verb (use w/ target country) installing a government friendly to our interests in another country.
"Freedom Fighters" noun a proxy terrorist army that we support
"National Interest" noun the interests of the ultra-rich, especially those in the U.S.A.
Stability noun (referring to other countries) subordination to US power interests (or "the national interest"). Usually achieved through war against the population.
Example: "We should promote democracy by supporting the freedom fighters in Nicaragua because it is in America's national interest to promote stability in Central America."
Translation: "We should send weapons to a proxy terrorist army that murders civilians to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua, for the benefit of U.S investors and to intimidate other countries into doing what we say."

Moderate adjective (referring to political leadership) a technical term, meaning 'they do what we say'
Anti-semitism noun opposition to the Israeli state's agenda.
"Fundamentalist Religious Zealotry" noun independent nationalism in a state that doesn't follow U.S. orders. Threatens stability.
Synonyms: radical nationalism or radical populism.
Example: "We must support moderate forces in the middle-east so that fundamentalist religious zealotry and anti-semitism do not threaten stability in the region."
Translation: "We must prop up brutal dictators who follow U.S. orders and crush independent nationalism so that the economic and military interests of America and Israel dominate the region."

"Internal Security" noun war against the population to protect our favored regime
Democracy noun (referring to other countries) a society with markets open to U.S. investors.
Terrorism noun violence against us, our allies or client states. Violence done by us is "counter-terrorism", by definition.
A university education will help a student 
internalize prevailing values while thinking 
of themselves as independent thinkers
Example: "We must be sure that Iraq and Afghanistan have the adequate internal security needed to protect their fragile democracies from terrorism".
Translation: "War on the population of American colonies must be continually maintained to protect governments friendly to our investors and global economic agenda, from violent opposition."

"Humanitarian Intervention" a pretext for naked aggression against an enemy, for geo-strategic reasons.
Example:Bill Clinton: "Slobodan Milošević has got to go. Yugoslavia has to come into the fold and become part of the West's economic system. How should we take him out?"
Tony Blair: "I've got it! We'll stage a humanitarian intervention in Yugoslavia and oust him!"

Neo-Liberalism noun colonialist-style economic domination of weaker countries
Democratic adjective a state with no barriers to foreign ownership and investment
Globalization noun corporate controlled world economy
Example: "Democratic states adopt neo-liberal capitalism because they have the wisdom to support economic liberty. Besides being the most efficient economic system known to man to allocate resources and capital, it will also unite the world with a rapidly globalizing economy."
Translation: "Countries accept our economic policies, because they know if they refuse, we use force to open their markets to our investment. Economic warfare like IMF "restructuring plans", unregulated currency speculation, and protectionism create economic collapses so that our corporations can loot and pillage."

"Jobs in the United States": corporate profits
Example: "The person Obama selected to be in charge of creating jobs is Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, which has more than half their workforce overseas. And, you know, I’m sure he’s deeply interested in jobs in the United States."  
-Noam Chomsky

* The US has supported military dictatorships which kill thousands of dissenters, aided and abetted genocide and massacred civilians. Whenever a great power starts expressing "concern about human rights", should we take them seriously?