Progress in Misrata:
(Credit: Crossed Crocodiles)
Idiosyncratic commentary on politics and culture
Progress in Misrata:
(Credit: Crossed Crocodiles)
It doesn’t look like the American media has picked up on this story yet, but an Arabic newspaper is reporting that 12,000 U.S. troops are being deployed in Libya. The move is entirely consistent with recent U.S. actions in Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. As I have written before, Obama’s empire-building in Africa is aimed not just at African enemies, but also at China. Since 2000, Chinese investment in Africa has skyrocketed, and many in the U.S. government have grown concerned at this supposed challenge to American global hegemony. These newly deployed troops will ensure that Western oil companies–not Chinese ones–will be able to securely rebuild Libya’s oil infrastructure.
Obama’s unconstitutional war in Libya has been widely hailed as a foreign policy “success.” Taking just seven months and spending “only” around a billion dollars, the story goes, Obama helped rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, who was about to slaughter an untold number of civilians in the port city of Benghazi. And now that Gaddafi is gone, the rebels are busy forming a transitional government and are well on their way to establishing a stable democracy in Libya.
Except that they aren’t. According to a UN report reviewed by the The Independent, armed militias control the streets of Libya’s major cities and are settling internecine feuds through gangland warfare. Gaddafi’s fate–being beaten, sodomized, and summarily executed–is not unique. It’s been the fate of numerous real and assumed enemies of the various rebel factions, including hundreds of black Africans who were lynched because of unproven accusations that they were mercenaries hired by Gaddafi.
Obama may claim to have saved Benghazi, but you probably won’t hear him mention the city of Tawerga, the former home to a large sub-Saharan population, which was devastated by rebel fighters from neighbouring Misrata. According to the report,
Tawergas are reported to have been targeted in revenge killings, or taken by armed men from their homes, checkpoints and hospitals, and some allegedly later abused or executed in detention. Members of the community have fled to various cities across Libya.
Tawergas and other black Africans form a large part of the new Libya’s population of political prisoners. Thousands of men, women, and children are being illegally detained and tortured by rebel militias. They have no legal recourse.
In the modern American empire, supporting seven months of bombing and bloody civil war to replace one tyrannical regime with another is apparently an example of success. It remains to be seen how many more such successes it will take to completely undue the entire imperial project.
A few days ago, Herman Cain made the headlines again when he paused and stumbled in response to a simple question on Libya posed by an interviewer from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Here’s the video.
HuffPo sums up the exchange:
“Okay, Libya,” said Cain, glancing up. “President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of [Muammar] Gaddafi. Just wanted to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say, ‘Yes, I agreed. No, I didn’t agree,'” said Cain.
“I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason,” Cain started, before cutting himself off. “Nope, that’s a different one.” Cain shifted in his chair, adjusted his jacket and looked up again.
“I got all this stuff twirling around in my head,” he added.
Cain repeated he would have “assessed the [Libyan] opposition differently,” speaking in generalities about his problem-solving approach.
Cain raised broader questions about the nature of the Libyan opposition. “It’s not a clear yes-no answer, because all of those things I think should have been assessed, that’s what I’m saying.”
“And you don’t think they were assessed?” asked an editorial board member.
“I don’t know that they were or were not assessed. I didn’t see reports of that assessment,” Cain responded.
The Cain campaign has responded that Herman was sleep deprived and merely needed a minute to collect his thoughts. But even granting that, it’s clear that Cain only has a superficial understanding of the war in Libya. It’s understandable that sleep deprivation could make it difficult to collect your thoughts, but ultimately Cain didn’t collect anything. He simply fell back on his “I’m a businessman problem solver” meme.
The United States is an empire. Throughout the world, American troops are defending governments that have either been installed by or bought off by the United States government. At the same time, it’s seeking economic, cultural, and political dominance both inside and outside its frontiers.
As I recently wrote, President Obama’s recent decision to send special operations troops to Uganda was designed to bolster the empire’s clout in East Africa. And now that Gaddafi is dead, politically connected firms from the U.S., Britain, and France will surely cash in on reconstruction and oil contracts in Libya.
These actions are the actions any emperor looking to expand his power would take. They are strategic moves, aimed not just at African enemies, but also at China. Since 2000, Chinese investment in Africa has skyrocketed, and many in the U.S. government have grown concerned at this supposed challenge to American global hegemony. As Paul Craig Roberts argues, “Washington has revived the Great Power Game and is vying with China.” But whereas China “brings Africa investment and gifts of infrastructure, Washington sends troops, bombs and military bases.”
A new cold war with China would be another blow to the cause of liberty, as all wars, cold and hot, lead to debt, inflation, taxes, and the growth of the police state. But most government leaders live in a different world than the average American. Normal people were relieved that communism collapsed on its own and that they no longer had to worry about nuclear annihilation. But not America’s ruling class. They lamented the disappearance of the reliable bogeyman that, for decades, united Americans behind the U.S. government. It hasn’t been hard for them to find new enemies, but none of these new villains have really managed to fill the shoes of the old Soviet Empire. But if the U.S. continues on its current reckless course, the Chinese might have a chance to do just that.