Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Libyan war and the deepening inter-imperialist conflict


The joint statement issued Thursday by US President Barack Obama, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Libya not only escalates the war. It also intensifies the political divisions within Europe that are in the background of the neo-colonial operation in North Africa. While the war is marketed as a “humanitarian” enterprise, little if any attention is being paid—at least in public—to the increasingly bitter dispute between France, Britain and the United States on one side and Germany on the other.

The most remarkable feature of the joint statement was that it was not issued by the European Union (EU) or even the NATO military alliance. Rather, it appeared in French and English, under the by-line of President Sarkozy of France, Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain, and President Obama of the United States. The statement did not include the by-line of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government had earlier abstained on the United Nations resolution authorizing the initial assault on Libya. And yet, this statement vastly expands the war aims of the participating powers—from the defense of civilians to a policy of regime change in Libya. Headlined “The bombing continues until Gaddafi goes,” and published in the Washington Post, the Times of London, Le Figaro, the International Herald Tribune, and al-Hayat, the statement proclaims that “it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with [Colonel Muammar] Gaddafi in power.” It dismisses any other outcome of the conflict as a “betrayal.”

The split between Germany and France is of great significance, as the two countries have historically played the leading role in creating the political framework of post-World War II Europe, and are the largest economies using the euro, the common European currency.

Though many observers expressed surprise over the German government’s abstention on last month’s vote, it followed logically from differences that had previously emerged when Germany opposed Sarkozy’s efforts to build a French-dominated Mediterranean Union (UM). Sarkozy first proposed creating such an institution during his election campaign in 2007.

Berlin criticized the proposal as an independent initiative, made outside a European context and conceived in the interest of France. As initially outlined, it would have included only countries with Mediterranean coastlines—excluding Germany, Britain, and the Scandinavian countries. It would have provided financial subsidies and a privileged forum for France’s dealings not only with its former colonies in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, but also with key trading partners of Germany in the Balkans and Turkey.

Sarkozy calculated that the new union would boost France’s strategic influence, while at the same time producing gigantic profits on the backs of workers on the European and Arab shores of the Mediterranean. As French trade deficits with Germany rose, French economists and politicians hoped that these UM plans would help Paris pursue policies of outsourcing and industrial collaboration with cheap-labor Mediterranean countries and help them compete with German firms.

The Northern European political establishment opposed Sarkozy’s plans for “throwing fresh millions southwards over the sea,” in the words of Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Merkel persuaded Sarkozy to allow all the EU countries into his planned UM in March 2008.

In the March issue of Mediterranean Politics, Tobias Schumacher of the University Institute of Lisbon explains the German objections:

“Merkel argued that the creation of a UM that included only Mediterranean riparians [i.e., states with Mediterranean coastlines] had the potential to set in motion gravitational forces within the EU that could generate a process of fragmentation and, eventually, disintegration. She reminded Sarkozy, and hence all other EU governments, that the use of EU funding for the pursuit of exclusively national interests could not be justified. Fully aware that these arguments would raise concern among the governments of other EU member states, she hardly missed an occasion to make her message heard, with the aim of bringing potentially diverse perceptions in line with one another and thereby signaling to other potential veto-players that Germany was determined to oppose any proposal based on exclusion of some EU member states. Obviously, this strategy was intended to portray Merkel as acting in defense of the ‘common good,’ i.e., the very existence of European integration and EU-European commonality. On the other hand, the rationale underlying this strategy was to prevent France from becoming primus inter pares in European foreign policy matters and thereby undermining Germany’s role as the leading actor within the EU and to preclude a resurgence of French colonial ambitions.”

Significantly, Gaddafi was another outspoken of Sarkozy’s UM plans. He called the initiative “an insult” that was “taking us for fools” and insisted that European powers “go through Cairo and Addis Ababa,” the headquarters of the Arab League and the African Union, respectively.

Apparently sensing the vast interests and dangers involved in such plans, Gaddafi backtracked on plans for multi-billion-dollar purchases of French Rafale fighter jets. This further incensed the French government, which was desperate to market these planes.

After the 2008 US mortgage collapse, the financial imbalances inside Europe led to the debt crisis that began in Greece in 2009. Tensions rose as the European powers fought over economic policy and handouts to their respective banks. After a meeting last May where Sarkozy allegedly threatened to pull France out of the euro in order to force Germany to contribute to a bailout fund, European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet said that Europe faced “the most difficult situation since the Second World War.”

Despite French chagrin over the overthrow of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia in January, the ensuing unrest in Egypt and throughout the Middle East provided Sarkozy with an opportunity. He seized upon the unrest in Libya as a means of advancing the same French interests in North Africa that had been previously blocked by Germany. On March 10, Sarkozy became the first head of state to recognize the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council as the Libyan government, and then pressed for a UN Security Council resolution to allow him to go to war with Gaddafi.

As he pursued this game, Sarkozy knew that he could rely on the fraternity of pseudo-left parties—such as the Socialist Party, the New Anti-Capitalist Party and the Green organizations to beatify an imperialist war as a humanitarian exercise in protecting civilian lives. With their typical combination of stupidity and deceit, these parties obliged, exposing their role as trusted cogs in the imperialist propaganda machine.

It is difficult to believe, however, that the Western governments can have been completely blind to the broader historical implications of their actions. For Britain, it has encouraged Sarkozy’s ambition in order to wean France from its ties to Germany and undermine the political influence of Berlin. Washington, by consenting to France’s assault on Libya, calculates that it will not have to contend with opposition to future American military operations from Paris. The common front of what former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld derided as “Old Europe” has broken apart. However, it is not to be assumed that Obama has fully worked through the implications of its support for Sarkozy’s schemes. By participating in a war publicly opposed by Berlin, Washington has all but repudiated its decades-long policy of maintaining the political and military unity of Western Europe. It is exacerbating intra-European tensions on a continent already riven by conflicts over economic policies. As has happened in the past, Germany—fearing that it has been outmaneuvered and isolated by its historical adversaries—will look for other means to protect its interests. Once again, Washington has set into motion events which will have disastrous consequences.

The war on Libya is but one move on a global imperialist chessboard. But the war-makers are not playing with wooden pieces, but with the lives of millions in Libya and throughout the world. With its far-reaching impact on the entire geo-political stability of the international capitalist order, the war sets the stage for far wider and more devastating conflicts.(WSWS)  

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Goldstone’s Retreat on his UN report, Collapse of International Justice

The international justice collapsed and the evil, war mongers, ravaging today’s world triumphed. This is how one could describe the plight of South African Jewish Judge Robert Goldstone’s effort to retract his own, United Nations, Report on Israeli war crimes in Gaza during its December 2008-January 2009 war.

His U Turn speaks volume for the extreme blackmail to which he was subjected to and the violent forces which rule today’s world. What is Goldstone report?

In its latest massacre of Palestinians Israel, using United States supplied latest bunker buster missiles, F-16 war planes and apache helicopter gunships unleashed its carnage on Gaza. Israel killed 1458 Palestinians , wounded around 6000, 34 percent of them children, destroyed properties from houses, apartment buildings, business and industrial complexes, agricultural lands, infra structure, essential services such as water, electricity, drainage to roads and virtually turned Gaza into a killing field and grave yard.

It was a crime committed by the Israeli government backed by 94 % of its population some of whom danced while their forces rained barrages of white phosphorous over the most populated place on this planet and slaughtered and roasted Palestinian men, women , children and the aged.

The whole world witnessed the Israeli atrocities in Gaza, perhaps Israel’s 60th massacre of Palestinians since the Jews migrated to Palestine in the 1930 to kill, drive fear and oust the Palestinians from their lands to use United States to manipulate the United Nations to create the racist state of Israel in the land of Palestinians.

The United Nations appointed a fact finding mission to probe into the war. The committee was headed by Judge Goldstone regarded as one of the world’s most widely respected jurists, with an impeccable record of wisdom, honesty and integrity. He is a devout Jew and has long been known as a fervent defender of Israel’s right to peace and security.

Gaza 4 January 2009: Dozens of Gazan children killed in Israeli ground assault

The UN Fact-Finding Mission report, released in September 2009, concluded that “ that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.

Since then Goldstone has been subjected to extreme pressure and blackmail to retract the report? These pressures culminated when he wrote this month in the Washington Post retracting his report. He wrote that “if I had known then, what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,’

One commentator said it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Judge Goldstone wrote his op-ed as a direct result of the pressure put upon him by Israel – pressure that made him a pariah within his own community and which affected also his family. And it also wouldn’t surprise me if the Mossad was involved in this pressure to break Goldstone and make him retract his findings. Poor Goldstone now wants to make amends with his vile tormentors and is even willing to serve as a propaganda mouthpiece for this criminal regime. Bottom line, I feel sorry for Goldstone, but I don’t buy his cop-out for a single minute. The facts speak louder than any op-ed: 3 weeks, nearly 1400 dead, of these more than 300 women and children. Case closed.

Summing up his plight Dr Lawrence Davidson professor of Middle East history at West Chester University, United States said “It will be recalled that after the September, 2009 issuance of the Goldstone Report suggesting that Israel might be guilty of war crimes, Judge Richard Goldstone was barred from attending grandson’s bar mitzvah. That is how much resentment was produced by the critical report that bares his name. Well, Richard Goldstone has just assured himself access to all future family celebrations. He has accomplished this by calling into doubt his offending investigatory work.

By trying to retract his report Goldstone not only betrayed himself but also betrayed the Palestinians, the humanity and the international justice which virtually collapsed at the feet of lawless Zionist racist state of Israel whose six decades old history of invasions, massacres, conspiracies, deception, destruction destabilized the entire Middle East for the benefit of war mongers in United States, Britain and France.

In this regard it is worth reading what Israeli born Jew Gilad Atzmon described by John Lewis on the Guardian as the “hardest-gigging man in British jazz” had this to say;

In his convoluted Washington Post apology, Goldstone reveals a severe lack of understanding of Israeli militarism, its role, and its operational philosophy. Israeli strategy is based on the power of deterrence. Israel is there to terrify its neighbors, through death, and carnage. Israel believes that through shock and awe, it can exhaust the Palestinians, and break their spirit. Every so often, the Jewish state exercises a genocidal act — and the numbers of Palestinian fatalities speak for themselves. More than 1400 Palestinians died in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead: they died because Israel believes that Jewish future security is a function of the pain it inflicts upon others. The Goldstone report exposes the criminality that is imbued within Israeli militarism, and Goldstone’s current attempt to dismantle his own report cannot wash away his original findings.

I tend to agree that Goldstone’s U Turn was surely inevitable: the history of Jewish animosity towards dissidents has long been firmly established, and in the last two years Goldstone and his family were subject to enormous pressure and social exclusion. It is more than likely that Goldstone was torn apart by it all. But the time has surely come to admit that we have reached the point of no return: we have to free our intellectual, spiritual and ethical life from any trace of Zionist ideology, from people who may have Zionist views or may have even been affiliated with Zionist philosophy. I believe that ethical discourse should move beyond any form of Judeo centric ‘ethical zigzagging”. (By; Latheef Farook)

Latheef Farook is a Senior Sri Lankan journalist who, after working for Ceylon Daily News and Ceylon Observer for almost a decade, led a team to Dubai in February 1979 where he re launched Gulf News. After almost a quarter century in the Gulf he returned home and now based in Colombo.

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