Saving lives not the motive for Libyan intervention

RECENTLY it was reported that Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, admitted that jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

This news is not that surprising since, among other things, up until a month ago Gaddafi was considered to be an important western ally, whose son, Dr Mutassim Gaddafi, was welcomed to the US State Department by Hillary Clinton in 2009.

According to those in favour of the Libyan intervention, to point to such hypocrisy is to fudge the essential issue — the plight of the Libyan people. But which people are they referring to? Clearly not to the very many who still support Gaddafi. Nor to those who object to the killing of their fellow citizens and the systematic destruction of their infrastructure by an aerial bombardment conducted by a foreign military force. Motives do matter, of course, for if the welfare of the Libyan people is not the primary concern of the US-NATO intervention, it is not going to be their concern afterwards, either.

It should be remembered that “Operation Restore Hope“, the supposed humanitarian intervention in Somalia in 1992, cost 10,000 Somalian lives. It was revealed at the time by several news sources that, previous to the civil war, four US oil corporations had been granted exploratory rights by US-backed dictator General Siad Barre to nearly two-thirds of the country’s land.

When asked to explain why his country did not intervene in the Rwandan genocide, then-President Clinton stated openly that the US had no “interest” in the area. In contrast, five years later the US most definitely had an interest in Kosovo and conducted another “humanitarian” intervention to avert a supposed genocide. Given the facts of history, which record that US-led invasions, which stretch from the Middle East to the heart of Europe, have resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives and the infliction of billions of euro worth of economic damage, it seems reasonable to ask whether the latest intervention will indirectly benefit the Libyan people, even if it is admitted that their lives and welfare are not the primary concern.

Michael O’Driscoll

Blackrock

Cork

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