Thursday, June 09, 2011

"Can we just do nothing?"

And speaking of Mark Steel, did you see this lovely bit on Libya a while ago? He starts funny and ends up bitterly pointed:
Isn't it marvellous that all these governments are determined to do "something" about Colonel Gaddafi? For example Hillary Clinton said she supported military action once the Arab League – made up of countries such as Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia – backed the air strikes. And it is encouraging that the policy of not tolerating a dictator has the backing of so many dictators.


Others will say the West might now turn a blind eye to repression that happens in countries which have backed the bombing of Libya, but that would mean an American government has bombed somewhere without being honest about its motives, and that would be highly cynical. For example, Hillary's comments about the need to act once the Arab League asked for help explain why no government helped Gaza when it was attacked two years ago. Because Gaza obviously forgot to ask. It's a bit shy, I suppose, and didn't want to be any trouble.

But the person to be most sorry for is Tony Blair, who must feel like one of these people who get interviewed when their neighbour's gone berserk and shot everyone in the shopping centre. Tony will make a statement soon that goes "I knew Mr Gaddafi for years. He just kept himself to himself, I had no idea he'd end up like this. I even had my photo taken with him after selling him dozens of tanks – who'd have guessed he'd use them for military reasons? I'm shocked."

The main argument for the bombing seems to be that we have to do something. This suggests that up until now we've been doing nothing, which is true if you don't count drawing the boundaries of Arab countries in the first place, installing an assortment of Kings and helping them to fire on anyone who objected, backing every Israeli invasion, arming the Shah, arming and financing a list of dictators as long as they sent us their oil, invading Iraq and then making Tony Blair the Middle-East poxy sodding peace envoy, to give his job its full title.

This may explain why most Arabs are reluctant to welcome Western backing, and why they might reply to a question from Britain and America that went "Can we just do nothing?" by answering, "Why don't you give it a go? For about a hundred years. Then we'll see how we're getting on and get back to you".

So while the people of Benghazi must have been relieved that the UN has forced Gaddafi back, it must be in the same way that if you were being attacked by robbers you'd be relieved to see the Mafia turn up and fire on them.

Then afterwards you'd have a new problem, that you owed them something. And that might be the aim of the governments involved in the bombing. Because none of them have ever seemed bothered whether the regimes in the Middle East are democratic, or brutal, as long as they're happy to trade their oil on favourable terms. They want to make sure that whatever emerges from these rebellions, there are rulers who will carry on with that arrangement.

So true, so true.

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At 8:04 AM, June 09, 2011 Anonymous Mark had this to say...

The problem is that I'm not sure it is true that the Arabs don't want help, at least if you believe news reports. Early on in Libya, when the rebels seemed to be doing well, they seemed to be saying that we should stay out and let them do it. Then, when things began going poorly, they said, "Where are the Americans?" Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

At 9:29 AM, June 09, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Well, "where are the Americans?" comes because we talk ourselves up. We start things and then sometimes we abandon them (Hungary, the Northern Alliance) and sometimes we just refuse to go away. Did, for instance, the Iraqis want us to get rid of Hussein? Yes - especially in the first Gulf War (see above). But did they want us to still be there nine years later, telling them how to run things? I rather doubt it.

At 4:06 PM, June 14, 2011 Anonymous listeningtoquranonline had this to say...

there are man reason why no government helped Gaza when it was attacked two years ago because helping them will help them with nothing and the will not fight with there dearest friend

At 4:07 PM, June 14, 2011 Anonymous learn quran had this to say...

i agree to your point would say helping Muslim is not the key the just want the same thing oil oil and again oil

At 6:08 PM, June 14, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Absolutely. No government that stands and watches Gaza can pretend to a moral high ground. Pragmatic realpolitik - not necessarily evil, but not embodying the rhetoric of good, either.


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