If it didn't have real life consequences for living people, the bullshit spewing from NATO (Need Another Territory to Occupy), a remarkably uncurious media, and our very own Stephen Harper would almost be funny.
In the last few days, a number of news tidbits about the war in Libya have been floated to a public vastly more concerned about hockey playoffs and American Idol. First, NATO has extended its mission "to protect civilians," i.e., the armed uprising in Libya, for another 90 days. Harper declined Canadian financial support for the new, hopefully more democratic, governments of Egypt and Tunisia but to show that Canada still stands on guard for liberty in the Arab world, Canadian jets will continue bombing Libyan targets. Indeed, it seems as if Harper has yet to see a war against third world countries that he doesn't like, as long as it's NATO doing the bombing.
Do NATO countries have ground forces in Libya? Absolutely not, according to the British. There are, however, former SAS commandos working for private companies actively training the rebels and directing NATO air strikes, but that doesn't really count as troops per se.
United Nations officials recently noted that the non-rebel areas of Libya were running out of food due to NATO's blockade of government held ports and that the situation could become dire in the next few weeks. The solution? Muammar Gaddafi and his regime should surrender to NATO and the rebels. The Libyan National Transitional Council, headed by a U.S. educated fellow who, just coincidentally, favours privatization, refused to discuss a ceasefire until Gaddafi leaves the country.
Where, oh where, to begin dissecting this collection of offal?
Let's start with NATO, whose trajectory to super power surrogate for the U.S. has clearly emerged over the last 15 years. First, it took over the Bosnia mission from the UN under the general notion that the civil war there was a European affair that needed European (read NATO) intervention. From there, it was an easy step in time and space to Kosovo and that "mission to protect unarmed civilians" (sic) by bombing Belgrade. Just as that "humanitarian" intervention was winding down, the U.S. flagged Afghanistan as the next hotspot in need of soldiers from the self-described "countries that ski", but only to protect women's rights, of course. A resurgent and growing Pashtun insurrection against an utterly corrupt Karzai regime has made the tar baby-like war in Afghanistan a clearly losing proposition.
Hence, the time for NATO to head for new pastures is nigh. Libya is clearly the ticket for as it gives NATO a claim to be defending human rights while clearing the path to freer access to oil resources. The latter is virtually a guarantee courtesy of a grateful new government in Benghazi that will remember how NATO air strikes accomplished what rebel fighters couldn't. It's a win-win for all involved, less those Libyans getting bombed for freedom.
As for the rebels, their flag, the one from the days of former Libyan King Idris, tells us pretty much all we need to know about the depth of the democratic traditions they hope to bring to a liberated Libya.
The Libyan war -- that's what it now undeniably is -- has mission creep written all over it. NATO has been bombing for two and half months and now needs three months more. Why? Because against all expectations and in the face of all the "degrading" of the Libyan military (and civilians) by bombs and missiles, these totally misguided people just refuse to surrender. (And some journalists should really be asking why that might be so. The same journalists should also be asking when the intervention was originally planned.) It's almost like those "nasty, brutish, cowardly, misogynist, Islamo-fascist, Al Qaeda-loving, freedom-hating" Pashtuns in Afghanistan who also refuse to surrender to NATO's dictat.
NATO ground forces are already on the soil of Libya and it hardly matters that these are, for now, mostly Western mercenaries. This is merely a diplomatic convenience until NATO finds a reason to dispatch their regular troops, something we can expect sometime between now and September. By then it will be obvious that unless starved into submission, those loyal to the existing regime will not have surrendered. And that small detail will require that Libya be partitioned into a very poor rump state without oil based on the province of Tripolitania and a new "democratic" state, centred on Cyrenaica, with lots of oil.
Who will guard the border between the two and maybe carve help off the third southern province of Fezzan? NATO, of course, from its new base of operations in Africa (aka liberated Libya).
And, as a virtual guarantee, the Canadian Forces will get a piece of this action and a new role to play after Afghanistan.
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