By Premen Addy
April 01, 2011
Fear of communism led the US to suppress its nobler instincts and launch war in the colonial world. That urge to ‘intervene’ in foreign lands still remains strong.
Meeting Triumph and Disaster just the same was Kipling’s prescription for those who aspired to true manhood. It is unlikely that the world’s macho enforcers will treat the Libyan Disaster as they would a Roman Triumph. Britain, France and America are joined at the hip in bringing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to heel under the umbrella of Nato. The endgame remains a mystery; more so is the exit strategy.
Meanwhile, the British economy wobbles and Portugal’s is in collapse. An EU bailout for Portugal would require a significant British contribution, when Chancellor George Osborne pleads that a straitened treasury, declining tax receipts and a Himalayan national debt require severe Government spending cuts at home. The public demonstration in London last weekend drew disaffected humanity to the capital in their tens of thousands from every corner of the land. The crowd was the largest since 2003, when 500,000 men, women and children gave voice to their opposition to the looming Iraq war. This latest demo promises to be the first among many as the summer of discontent unfolds and the numbers swell.
Europe as a whole is in turmoil: Belgium hasn’t had a Government these past nine months and the Brussels police were stretched to contain a mass riot against austerity. Only Germany with its burgeoning economy is tranquil — the powerhouse of the continent, whose decision at the UN Security Council to join Russia, India, China and Brazil in abstaining from the Anglo-American-French Resolution 1973 on Libya may be a foretaste of things to come.
Whither the EU? Whither Nato? With Russia’s Siberian oil and gas carried to Germany in giant pipelines along the bed of the Baltic Sea and the lure of the Russian market, with ambitious joint Russo-German industrial ventures taking off, the future promises a condominium whose reach and grasp will likely exceed the muscle of the post-War Franco-German alignment.
Germany will face East and West with measured tread, as its statesmen of earlier eras, Bismarck and Stresemann, believed was in Germany’s best interest. Those in London and Washington, DC prone to look through their glass, darkly, will hope fervently for a continuation of the lease to the present comfort zone.
Most friendships, pronounced Dr Johnson, are either partnerships in folly or confederacies in vice: The Anglo-American ‘special relationship,’ some would say, is both. Tories and Labour alike have been selling British independence for a mess of pottage, the counterfeit status of a great power satisfying an atavistic need for pomp and glory. Hubris is usually followed by nemesis. The Anglo-French Suez expedition in 1956 brought humiliation to both parties; that, and Italy’s colonial enterprise in Libya, beginning with the bombardment of a Libyan city in 1911 and ending with Mussolini’s fascist rule in the 1930s, carry shades of the past in the present.
Mr Rory Stewert, a Tory MP with combat experience in Afghanistan, was visibly apprehensive in a BBC Television discussion of the consequences of moving into ‘uncharted territory’ in Libya, a country seven times the size of the UK. Air power alone cannot guarantee effective foreign occupation, while the anti-Gaddafi Libyan rebels supported by Nato have proven Al Qaeda and kindred Islamist elements within their ranks. There are perils aplenty, but Prime Minister David Cameron, bit between his teeth, is pressing on regardless, even as the international conference in London has exposed the lack of a Libyan consensus.
“Mrs Margaret Thatcher wanted to be Churchill, resurrected in the Falklands. Mr Tony Blair, who wanted to be Mrs Thatcher, sustained it, and now Mr Cameron, who wants to be Mr Blair seems determined to do the same. But the next great British Prime Minister, if there is to be another, will be the one who ends it once and for all,” wrote Matthew Norman in The Independent. A high-tech war is infernally expensive in lives and treasure. Squadrons of aircraft enforcing a ‘No-Fly Zone’ in Libyan skies and bombarding Col Gaddafi’s installations and formations are costing millions of dollars.
Education cuts will mean a less skilled British workforce in the national and global marketplace. Depletion in research funds will end in diminished science and technology and less innovation on the factory floor. Knowledge-based industrial power enabled Britannia to rule the waves. Empty posturing will scarcely allow her to rule the roost.
The Pentagon has requested a fresh supplementary Budget to meet the cost of its Libyan operations when the US is deep in debt. Every post-War American President has embroiled the nation in military conflict, big or small; every one of them has a case to answer for crimes against humanity, said the American philosopher and academic, Prof Noam Chomsky, in an interview with BBC Television.
Media demonising is a national sport in America and, to a lesser extent, in Britain. Col Gaddafi is, and always was, a nasty crook. But so surely were Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Zia-ul-Haq, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Suharto, Marcos, Hosni Mubarak, and a multitude of others of the great and good blessed with Uncle Sam’s indulgence, arms and cornucopia of cash. Mr Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser detected in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Pakistan’s answer to the Italian Borgias and Mussolini, “a world class mind.” Islamabad’s genocidal mania in East Pakistan in 1971 was apparently of little consequence in the great game of world powers; Mr Kissinger’s nudge and wicked wink to Indonesian warlord Suharto to invade East Timor in 1975 (with the loss of millions of Timorese lives) was not considered worthy of serious scrutiny and comment. It was not given to the lesser breeds without the law to reason why.
Presumably the cunning of reason provoked US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld (in the George W Bush Administration) to denounce India in a fit of the vapours, within a month of taking office (in February 2001), as “a menace to other peoples, including the US, Western Europe and the countries of Western Asia.” Phew!
The crises of fading empires have bedeviled world peace since 1914. Then it was the inability of the Austro-Hungarian polity to meet the marginalised aspirations of its Balkan subjects; the Ottoman Empire disintegrated under the weight of its historical baggage, leaving any number of unresolved issues in West Asia and southern Europe; the weaknesses of the Versailles settlement seeded Fascism and Nazism in Italy and Germany respectively, while the British, French and Dutch Empires in Asia became breeding grounds of indigenous discontent which, in the fullness of time, developed into post-World War II insurgencies in Indochina, Indonesia and Malaya. Imperial Japan was shackled to its colonial demons as is Communist China today.
Fear of communism led the US to suppress its nobler instincts and carry the White man’s burden in the colonial world. The results are for all to see.
Source: The Pioneer