America’s continuing neocon tendencies

Published: July 19, 2011

The writer was Pakistan’s ambassador to the EU from 2002-2004 and to the US in 1999 tariq.fatemi@tribune.com.pk

Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal lobbying in the Istanbul meeting of countries supportive of the Libyan rebels, known as the Transitional International Council, helped win them official recognition as the legitimate government of Libya. This will be a major boost for the rebels, both diplomatically and financially, as Libya’s frozen billions can now be placed at their disposal.

The decision to ratchet up pressure on Muammar Qaddafi may have been influenced by a continuing impression of a stalemate in Libya, even after months of massive aerial bombardment by Nato aircraft and provision of intelligence and training facilities to the rebels. US officials, however, claim that the regime has begun to suffer from dwindling fuel supply, a cash crisis and low morale among its troops, which explains why Qaddafi has reportedly sent emissaries suggesting a ceasefire.

With formal recognition of the rebels, the western powers have ended the masquerade of operating within the ambit of UNSC Resolution 1973, meant to protect Libya’s civilian population. In fact, the ‘responsibility to protect’ charade has been used to drive the West’s decades-old agenda to engineer a regime change in Libya. This may explain the unceasing bombardment of private homes, schools and hospitals, even in the capital. But truly horrifying are reports of Nato aircraft, having dropped bombs that contain depleted uranium (DU). Investigative author Dave Lindorff said in a TV interview that there is “pretty strong evidence that it is depleted uranium” which accounts for massive explosions when used against tanks. Dr Randy Short, a historian, has stressed that Nato was targeting Tripoli residential areas with DU weapons, cluster bombs and other illegal substances. Admittedly, no international treaty bans them, but because DU’s radioactive and chemical after-effects are not time-barred, they are considered illegal under the 1907 Hague Convention.

What is deeply regrettable, however, is that the Obama administration should become a party to the questionable policy of European powers, whose unsavoury record of occupation and brutality against the Arabs remains a nightmare for the region. This irrefutable historic record should have sensitised the administration to the negative fallout from association with them in any such adventure. But it appears that the neocon influence remains ingrained in Washington’s approach, which accounts for disappointment among those excited at promises made by the president, which included establishing a relationship of ‘mutual trust and mutual respect’ with Muslim countries and ‘engaging’ even with those not well disposed to the US.

Sadly, the administration appears to have abandoned all pretences of embracing ‘progressive’ ideas, whether at home or abroad and, in the process, becoming an advocate of the neocon philosophy of America’s ‘manifest destiny’, which derives from its sense of inherent superiority, coupled with disdain for friends and contempt for foes. Having backtracked on most of his electoral promises, Obama’s admirers stand disillusioned, which explains why dozens of his party’s legislators rejected congressional authorisation of military action in Libya. The administration has, however, insisted on the fiction that the US was not involved in the Libyan war. But it is not only Libya that has exposed continuing neocon influence in Washington. As The New York Times stated on July 18, Obama has been “steadily retreating, sometimes in the face of political opposition, sometimes on his own” from his electoral promises, thus giving sanction to “costly travesties of justice”.

Tragically for Libya, European imperialist ambitions may lead to its Balkanisation. No wonder political scientists are calling Libya a graphic case of postmodern neocolonial plunder. Even though there can be no defence of Qaddafi, the only visible way out to save Libya from being partitioned is a ceasefire, with an end to Nato operations. Thereafter, UN troops could be deployed in the country to ensure security to the civilians, while proposals, such as the one from the African Union, could become a road map for the restoration of desperately needed peace and a guarantee of the country’s political unity and economic independence.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2011.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the article stated ‘responsibility to protect’ as ‘responsibility to Pakistan’. The changed have been made.

Reader Comments (9)

  • parvez
    Jul 19, 2011 - 11:02PM

    Your articles are always clear and easily understood.
    In this one in the 3rd para your reference to ‘responsibility to Pakistan’ in this articles context has left me puzzled. Could someone please clarify ?

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  • Jul 19, 2011 - 11:13PM

    Sir what are you talking about? It wasnt America that lobbied other states, it was primarily France. Further more these Western powers that you point to who have wanted to get rid of Gaddafi have been more than happy with him being power over the past 7 8 years, given his support to stamp our terrorism, control immigration to Europe and he happily ceded control of Libyan oil fields to Western oil companies. Had he not clamped down brutally on pro-democracy protesters they would have been more than happy for him to stay in power.

    All you are doing is imposing your own biases to paint Qaddafi as some poor victim of Western intrigue. Gaddafi was no hero to the muslims and we in Pakistan love to idolize him but he was widely unpopular in the Arab world.

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  • Samir YOUNES
    Jul 20, 2011 - 12:26AM

    It is obvious that this step of recognizing the rebel council as the legitimate representative of Libya should have been taken months ago. The reason, as most people are certain of, is that leaders as Qaddafi should have never been allowed to be heads of state.

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  • Vineet
    Jul 20, 2011 - 1:37AM

    Typo in the article : it’s “Responsibility to Protect” not “Responsibility to Pakistan” although this might be a “Ferudian slip” on authors part as many a times I get the feeling that Pakistani “hukmaraan” feel as if world owes them something ….. no offence

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  • Arindom
    Jul 20, 2011 - 2:49AM

    Gaddafi is a freakish dictator – but that doesnot give the West the right to bomb them. Period.

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Jul 20, 2011 - 2:41PM

    An eye-opener for secularists, who act as nothing more than toady analysts of the west, ignoring their tyranny.Recommend

  • Alsahdiq
    Jul 20, 2011 - 9:59PM

    Why blame the Godless Romans for being unholy, unGodly? They are meant to be what they are.
    Should we also behave like them or the way we do today?
    Lord Almighty, our best well wisher throughout the ages, chose men after men to guide us into the right path. The path which gives people amicable and peaceful living. What do we do? We reject the path of peace and amity. Do we not? So why should we expect anything better in our lives? Why?
    Everything people endure everywhere is of their own making. Correct me please if I am wrong.

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Jul 21, 2011 - 1:56AM

    @TightDhoti: I totally agree with you. If I will say something on this article/findings of Mr. Tariq Fatemi then the “Acolytes” will appear from somewhere and say ” Aftab Kenneth Wilson kay saath kiya problem hy”. It is better to sit back, relax and laugh on this unqualified article.

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  • Cynical
    Jul 22, 2011 - 4:29AM

    Col Gaddafi is part of Umma.People who are supporting western powers against him should remember that. Also don’t forget the stadium named after him.

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