Posts Tagged ‘Military’

Since diplomacy is a mere temporary substitute for war, a mere appearance of war’s energy under another form, a surrogate effect is almost exactly proportioned to the armed force behind it. When it fails, the recourse is immediate to the military technique whose thinly veiled arm it has been.’  – Randolph Bourne, 1918, “The State

It is common to American diplomacy, when faced with an impasse of opposition to its policies, to resort to what American writer Randolph Bourne called the diplomatic “slight-of-hand” :

“Diplomacy is a disguised war, in which states seek to gain by barter and intrigue, by the cleverness of arts, the objectives which they would have to gain more clumsily by means of war.”

For the Iraq war, this “cleverness of arts” comprised falsified evidence of weapons of mass destruction, bribing other countries to support American UN resolutions, wiretapping at the UN, threats of retaliation and excluding the US from international laws.  This practice, well-hewed in the run-up to the Iraq war, is once again paying off in spades in the run-up to the war against Libya.

Diplomatic Cover

The need for diplomatic cover for an attack on a sovereign nation that has not attacked any other nation is patent. So in the rush to launch the imperialist onslaught on Libya, the American military knew a simple “no-fly zone” would not do as it was too constrictive. A no-fly zone would not provide the military with sufficient breadth to accomplish its goal in Libya: the overthrow of a sovereign ruler and “full spectrum dominance” of the Libyan nation. While initially Russia and China threatened a veto of any American or Nato attack, US diplomacy – what Bourne called “barter and intrigue” – sufficed in dissuading Russia:  it reportedly promised Russia WTO membership if it dropped its veto of a war with Libya.

The US eventually won a UN resolution that was in fact precisely what it desired: a license for all-out war. It allowed the US coalition to “take all necessary measures to enforce compliance”, short of “a foreign occupation force”. And as if there were any doubt of whether language against “occupation” would prevent a US invasion, Iraq and Afghanistan have already provided an object-lesson: the US maintains neither wars are “occupations”. Within a few hours of the war launch, it became clear that in spite of the UN fig leaf of a “no-fly zone”, in fact the mission was the overthrow of Qaddafi.

Hilary Clinton recently refused to deny that the US was targeting Qaddafi. The New York Times noted the earlier promises by the administration: “President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and British and French leaders have also talked of a broader policy objective — that Colonel Qaddafi must leave power.”

As revealed in Foreign Policy, overthrow of the government is precisely what was decided as early as March 15th, five days before the attack:

“At the end of the Tuesday night meeting, Obama gave U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice instructions to go the U.N. Security Council and push for a resolution that would give the international community authority to use force. Her instructions were to get a resolution that would give the international community broad authority to achieve Qaddafi’s removal, including the use of force beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone.”

Britain has also joined Obama:

“Downing Street has appeared to side with the defence secretary Liam Fox against the chief of the defence staff Sir David Richards, by saying the removal of Gaddafi through military targeting is lawful under the UN security council resolution, if Gaddafi is threatening civilian lives.”

Andrew North of the BBC noted, “The resolution would never have been passed if it had called for regime change.” In hindsight, Fidel Castro’s warning of exactly one month ago that NATO would invade Libya, derided at the time by American media turns out to  be quite prescient.

Plausible Deniability

Ironically though, publicly Obama has denied the intent to kill Qaddafi. However, one need only reflect on the last US attack on Libya in 1983.  At that time, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead the day before the U.S. attack on Libya declared,

“We are not out to overthrow Gaddafi[…] The object of all of this is to get him to change his conduct.”

The US then launched a massive military attack with 66 aircraft bombing civilian targets, attempting to assassinate Qaddafi, but instead killed his 2-year-old daughter and 100 others.

In times like these, it is wise to remember the words of Otto von Bismark, Chancellor of the German Empire:  “Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.”

A missile destroyed an administrative building at Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi's complex in Tripoli on Sunday where Qaddafi generally meets with guests. (Getty)

But what of the scourge of international rouges – the war crime tribunal?

Recently, the Obama administration insisted that Qaddafi be investigated for war crimes by the International Criminal Court:  the ICC, created by a treaty the administration refuses to recognize, ratify or submit itself to, but nonetheless requires the rest of world be governed by. While this stance sounds impossible to believe, it is not impossible, and Americans, like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, are asked to “sometimes believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Obama had planned well to protect himself and the American military – the administration twisted arms in the UN to exclude the US from prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity Obama and the military will be committing and have already committed (for example, bombing Libyan administrative buildings and Qaddafi’s compound) in Libya. As any student of US foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan knows, American impunity from war crimes is crucial to bringing freedom and democracy to states charged with war crimes.  The leaders and military of the UK, France, Italy, Canada or other ‘democratic freedom-fighters’ in the coalition against Libya apparently need no such exclusion, as they intend to commit no war crimes. Or perhaps they do intend to, but have no “cleverness of arts” to exempt themselves from the ICC laws. And President Obama knows this will not do for the US.

The history of American opposition to being constrained by international law against war crimes is well know. Most are familiar with the initial opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by President Clinton and two other leaders named Muammar Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein. After years of delays, Clinton finally signed the accord establishing the ICC, but opposed ratification of it. Later President G.W. Bush “unsigned” the treaty, making clear the US would not abide by international war crime laws in its manifold existing wars around the world.  However, fewer may realize that there is now ambiguity about whether the US could be prosecuted for new war crimes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan (where they have a free pass), even though Obama has continued Bush’s rejection of international ICC law.

In 2003, after the Abu Ghraib tortures by the US, the UN revoked US exemptions from ICC jurisdiction.  In defiance, the US then signed over 100 individual agreements with countries across the globe banning them from cooperating with the ICC in any investigations of US war crimes. However, the Libyan crusade is not covered by any of these agreements. Further, by the UN launching investigations into any Gaddafi crimes against humanity, the US could become a target once again of the ICC.

The Obama Solution

It will therefore come as a great relief to those American prosecutors of the war against Libya, and to President Barack Obama himself that he is now excluded from jurisdiction of the ICC, just as was Bush. In February, the United States quietly inserted an escape clause into the resolution referring Libya to the ICC, excluding “those not a party to” the ICC (U.S., Israel and Sudan). The relevant language in Section 6 of UN Resolution 1970 (of 2011) states:

“Nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council.”

That is, the United States (and only the US among those attacking Libya) is exempt from war crimes prosecutions in any operations in the Libyan attack. This is clearly a prerequisite for what the US plans for Libya.

–Peter Fay, 2011, theclearview.wordpress.com

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As mentioned previously, the privatization of state property carried out by ‘President’ Mubarak at the behest of the IMF and USAID beginning in 1991 was a boldfaced looting of the highest magnitude supported by the leading international financial institutions of the world, and with the cooperation of international investors in these enterprises.  While this may sound like hyperbole, let us remind our readers that the ‘proof is in the pudding’.

The Guardian reported today,

“President Hosni Mubarak’s family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.

“After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels.”

While this in itself is not surprising, one wonders how deeply foreign investors, one and all, had paid off the bloody dictator (though Joe Biden insists Mubarak is not one) in order to extract their profits from the backs of the Egyptian working class.  Professor Christopher Davidson of Middle East politics at Durham University, tells us the payoff is in fact less than the rate in other cleptocracies in the area – only a 20 percent ownership served up to Mubarak is required to get a business concession.

The Algerian newspaper Al Khabar reported

“Alaa Mubarak [Hosni’s son] allegedly owns $2.1 billion worth of properties in Rodeo Drive… real estate in Washington and New York and owns two royal yachts with a value of 60 million pounds.”

The booty has been spread throughout the Mubarak family and it appears Mrs. Mubarak has decamped to London complete with 97 suitcases (which could contain not all, but perhaps only this month’s lucre).  The rest of the family’s fortune is deposited in UBS, Credit Suisse and accounts all across Europe.

However, the mechanics of this monumental thievery perpetrated on the Egyptian nation by USAID and IMF connivance and “new economy” corporate neoliberalism has spawned two entire Egyptian classes who are competing today to rule the country.  These two have been deftly described by Paul Amar at University of California at Santa Barbara as: a “military/nationalist” class of capitalists including much of the military leadership of the last decades, with allegiance to the state and national capital; and the “neoliberal crony capitalists” who, along with Gamal Mubarak, are civilians with close ties to international capital and have most benefited from the state asset privatization debauchery of the last 20 years.  Yet the former class still dominates Egypt:

“Since 1977, the military has not been allowed to fight anyone. Instead, the generals have been given huge aid payoffs by the US. They have been granted concessions to run shopping malls in Egypt, develop gated cities in the desert and beach resorts on the coasts. And they are encouraged to sit around in cheap social clubs.

“These buy-offs have shaped them into an incredibly organized interest group of nationalist businessmen. They are attracted to foreign investment; but their loyalties are economically and symbolically embedded in national territory.”

The recent half-measures of Mubarak for appeasement over the last week have sacked all civilian ministers from the government and from the ruling party belonging to the “crony capital” class (wholly attached to foreign capital) including, most notoriously, his son Gamal.  Despite this attempt to placate both the protesters and his rivals in the military, the military/nationalist class now has the upper hand.  That is, Director of Intelligence, Omar Suleiman, the military’s representative, the butcher of Cairo, now has Washington’s ear.  He is the one Obama and Clinton have anointed to take over from Mubarak to continue the dictatorship… or in the Americanese language of today, the “change we can believe in”.  Suleiman headed the extraordinarily renditions by the CIA to Egypt and even personally carried out some of the torture, including against the Egyptian-born Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib.

Mamdouh Habib, left

Mamdouh Habib, left (and family), tortured in US rendition by Suleiman

Word on the street in Cairo is that Egyptians are understandably underwhelmed by Obama’s endorsement of Suleiman:

“We won’t accept this American plan if it does not cut off the head of the snake,” said Ahmed Mora, a university lecturer among the demonstrators. “America has not been good for us in Egypt. It supported Mubarak for 30 years. If he’s still there, or other people from the system are still there, we will not accept it.”

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