Tuesday, 8 March 2011

UN & US Incapable of Acting on Libyan Humanitarian Crisis

If anybody is still in doubt about Muammar Gaddafi's murderous intentions they should have their sanity examined. It is inconcievable that there could be any negotiation with Gaddafi. His strategy and tactics are clear. He will continue to lie his way out of responsibility, and is almost revelling in his ability to delay the international community from taking action against him. He has many tactics, and misinformation is one of the key tools in his battle for survival. So as journalists congregate in a hotel and Tripoli, waiting for five hours for Gaddafi to appear, he launches an all out attack upon Az Zawiyah using aircraft and 50 tanks. They sit there, quite literally cut off from anything of any relevance to their jobs, while he orders an all out attack on mostly unarmed civilians, whose only defence are defectors from the Libyan army who have chosen to take a stand against Gaddafi.

And all the while, the UN prevaricates like it did during the massacres in Bosnia that radicalised a whole new generation of young muslims - the message being clear; you aren't equal enough to save. So what good is the UN? Not much, apparently. The organisation tasked with enforcing internationally recognised human rights and peace, birthed after the horrors of the second world war, is still nothing more than a bureaucratic giant that consumes large resources to justify its existence, yet does nothing to help when it is needed most. So while the UN operates globally, it's employees enjoying benefits and large salaries, where they are needed they are unable to go. So again I have to ask, what good is the UN for? Are they nothing but a large fact-finding commemorative organisation that tallies up the dead when conflicts end. In Bosnia, UN troops were so frustrated by the rules of engagement (that forced them to stand by while genocide proceeded all around them) that many expressed their discontent after the war. They were strapped down, unable to do what was required of them, while their higher command structures sat back and watched the violence unfold, unable to act decisively enough to save the lives they were purportedly there to protect. So in the end, what is the use of the UN? Indeed, they are nothing more than a toothless bureaucracy that takes so long to respond that they should be rebranded as historians of human rights violations and failures. To be clear, action is different from taking a position - and the UN now has a critical role to play in ushering in a new global era, if it has the courage to do so. 

Thus far, however, it has been an unconvincing show of hot air that the UN has cast upon the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Libya that has already seen 200 000 refugees flee the country, which constitutes a humanitarian crisis in it's own right. My point is that the UN is tasked with solving these situations, and not merely issuing 'strong' statements regarding the morality of unfolding events. We all know what is happening in Libya has gone far past reason and morality. The big question is, is the UN going to stand by and watch yet another humanitarian disaster unfold? If so, for my part, all faith in the UN is and will remain seriously misplaced, and that was indeed the case in Bosnia, where intervention had to be made without the toothless dragon's permission. The UN is a waste of time, with all it's 'humanity-serving' Princeton and Harvard graduates embellishing their CV's for future political posts in the Whitehouse and similar corridors of power. It is an ironic role that the UN plays - it has no teeth. If Sarkozy decided to put down protests in France with military might there would surely be quick and effective intervention to put it to a stop. Why should it be different for any other corner of the planet?

And when it comes to the US, it is clear that the military have gone out of their way to deny their president the authority that he is entitled to as the elected representative of the American public. The military-industrial complex has neutered Obama. He has been unable to close down Guantanomo Bay. The military has publicly disagreed with Obama on how the war in Iraq should be conducted. It is clear that Obama is useful to the American ruling establishment in as far as he has garnered them international legitimacy and support, but they are unwilling to carry out the objectives he was elected to accomplish. The American military is in a low-key power struggle with their president, and they seem intent on embarassing him publicly, on showing the world where power really lies, and holding American foreign policy ransom to their cooperation. Any idiot knows that the US military can impose an effective, even if imperfect no fly zone on Libya, and that Libya's airforce are no match at all for US might, yet Chief Robert Gates has put out Gaddafi style spin of his own. Obama, for his part, seems unwilling to take them on directly. He should do what he was elected to do, that is; to usher in a new era. If he needs to fire Robert Gates in order to get the cooperation he desires then he should, but perhaps this would be a risky move, as for all the fanfare of election, Obama is more of a lame-duck president than George Bush was. They went roaring into an illegal war on Iraq on the flimsiest of evidence for George Bush, yet when they are called upon to perform low risk operations that do not involve troops on the ground they come up with nothing but excuses for why they cannot achieve what they are being asked to.

For the first time in American history, the US military is unable to act - that should be a warning sign about what is really going on in American politics. The US ruling elite's strategy has been to contain Obama, and so far they have been very successful. His gains have been paltry in comparison to what he promised. They have rendered him powerless - a token and figurehead. This is nothing new. Indeed, this is how institutions handle people they do not want to lead them, but are forced to accept. Yes, Obama is a token - good as an institutional figurehead and nothing more. With the tea party attacking him on one side, and the US military attacking him on the other his televised appearances seem to show a less confident, more withdrawn Obama, speaking softly on issues that his voice once rang out clearly and confidently on. What has happened to the Obama presidency? Is it effectively dead already? His comments on Libya are so guarded, that it is easy to guess that he is aware that should he decide to act, that he will not have the support of the key players involved.

Talk about a global crisis ... there is no existing international force that can or will take action in Libya. The US will sit alongside the UN, issuing stern statements, but it is difficult to see them taking action in support of an unarmed populace under attack from weapons of conventional warmaking. Their institutions are either unwilling or too ineffective to make a difference, and for his part, Gaddafi is now the one issuing demands. The anti-Gaddafi forces are no doubt running out of fuel, and their supply lines are under pressure after four weeks of armed conflict against vastly disproportionate force. As I write this the town of Az Zawiyah is under attack from around 50 tanks and the aircraft, and God alone knows that the body-count will be when the sun rises tomorrow morning. Where is the international leadership that heavily funded institutions are tasked with providing? Are they incapable of understanding that knowing the difference between thought, speech and action amounts to the difference between life and death and every day that goes by without action only strengthens Gaddafi and weakens the ability of anti-Gaddafi forces.


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