Tag Archives: Libya

Europe’s Pro-War Leftists: Selling “Humanitarian Intervention”

“I believe in two principles: never again war and never again Auschwitz.”[1]

These words could be heard at a convention of the Green Party of Germany in May 1999, during the NATO bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in which Germany participated. The speaker was the Green politician Joschka Fischer, Germany’s Foreign Minister at the time. His comment was meant to be a justification for the war against the Serbian people, the same people that already had to suffer under German imperialism in two World Wars.

In the 70s this same Mr. Fischer was a radical leftist activist and in the 80s he became one of the founders of Germany’s Green Party. The premise behind its creation was to give political and parliamentary representation to all the different environmentalist and anti-war groups. At that time, if anyone had spoken about the possibility that this same party would one day play an active role in a war of aggression against Yugoslavia at the end of the millennium, it would have been labeled as absurd. In fact, direct German involvement in any war used to be completely taboo and no one from the Left or from the Right would have even dared to consider such an option; the popular consensus was that after 1945, no war would be started out of Germany ever again.

This political transition in Germany, which has been mirrored across much of Western Europe, is important for understanding how it came to pass that many mainstream “leftists” became modern-day warmongers, sometimes to even greater extremes than their conservative counterparts.

It is their promotion of the self-contradictory concept of “humanitarian interventionism” (as carried out, for example against Yugoslavia in 1999 and Libya in 2011) that has come to make the approach of allegedly “progressive” policy-makers so subversive. Their moral authority is spun as being much more credible than the more blatant ranting of neo-conservative preachers of hate.

In Western Europe, most proponents of militarisation on the mainstream Left are associated with Green or Social Democratic parties. One of the first advocates of militarized “humanitarian intervention” was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, member of the Green Party of France. He was also one of the masterminds behind the abolition of European nation states in favour of a stronger European Union. During the Civil War in the former Yugoslav Republic of Bosnia, Cohn-Bendit demanded that the Serbs had to be bombed, and anyone who didn’t agree with that would carry the same burden of guilt as those who turned a blind eye to the Fascist mass murder in World War Two:

“Shame on us! We, the generation that held our parents’ generation in such contempt because of its political cowardice, now we watch on seemingly helpless, powerless and yet still holier-than-thou as the Bosnian Muslims are ethnically cleansed.”[2]

Indeed, the ploy of drawing parallels with Nazi crimes in order to demonise a rival who stands in the way of Western geostrategic interests was perfected during the Bosnian war. A case in point was the story of the so-called death camps in Bosnia: In August 1992, a British newspaper published a photograph of an emaciated man behind a fence, which was supposed to be proof of the existence of Nazi-style concentration camps run by Serbs. However, as German journalist Thomas Deichmann later found out, the man was standing outside the fence and therefore was not imprisoned behind barbed wire.[3] To be sure, detention camps existed on all sides and there is no doubt that conditions there were often horrific. The point, however, is that Western propagandists tried to whitewash the Croat and Muslim sides, portraying them wholly as victims, while at the same time presenting the Bosnian Serbs as barbarians and Nazis.

Using labels to demonize opponents or even whole populations is not a new concept when it comes to the mudslinging of propaganda wars. A de-politicised understanding of Fascism merely as a form of nationalism makes it possible for postmodern leftists to present wars of aggression as “humanitarian interventions” and therefore as “anti-fascism” in action. The more traditional leftist idea of anti-fascism would view fascism not only as a chauvinist/racist ideology, but would also consider its economic background and the alliance of high finance, the arms industry and political elites.

When the United Nations Security Council proposed Resolution 1973 on the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya in March 2011, which served as a pretence for attacking the country, Germany abstained from voting, along with Russia, China, India and Brazil. The German conservative-liberal coalition government was heavily criticised by Social Democratic and especially Green circles for not taking a stronger pro-war stance. Former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer attacked his successor Guido Westerwelle for not having supported the resolution of the warmongers, and added that Germany could now “forget about a constant seat in the U.N. Security Council.”[4]

Therefore it is not surprising that in the current conflict in Syria (which is significantly orchestrated and financed by the West, as were the civil wars in Yugoslavia and Libya), Western Europe’s Green politicians and other liberal leftists are the strongest proponents of a policy of escalation towards the Al Assad government. Claudia Roth, one of the two current German Green Party chairs, recently hosted a TV debate on Syria and shouted down any voice of reason pleading for negotiations with the Al Assad government.[5] One of them was writer and politician Jürgen Todenhöfer, who holds a balanced position on the conflict and recently travelled to Damascus for an interview with Al Assad, in order to let the Western world hear the “other side” as well.[6] The fact that anyone let Al Assad voice his opinion was already too much for Ms. Roth, who expressed her irritation with Mr. Todenhöfer’s trip to Syria in no uncertain terms.

At the same time, the first Western head of state to openly raise the possibility of attacking Syria was France’s newly elected “socialist” president François Hollande. In his statement he let the world know that he would “not rule out international military intervention in Syria”.[7]

Hollande’s election to the presidency expressed many people’s hope that Nicolas Sarkozy’s five years of reactionary, neoliberal and corrupt leadership would be replaced by a more humane way of governing. Unfortunately, when it comes to foreign policy, Hollande seems to carry on his predecessor’s neo-colonial agenda.[8]

In the cases of both Libya and Syria, Bernard-Henri Lévy, a French “nouveau” philosopher, professional self-promoter and frequent object of media mockery, called upon his government to intervene and prevent the “killing of innocent civilians”. [9] Of course his open call for war was sold as humanitarian grassroots activism. In an open letter to the French president, published (among others) by Huffington Post, Lévy used the massacre in Hula as a justification for intervention.[10] The fact that evidence indicates that the victims of this terrible crime were supporters of Al Assad’s government who were killed by insurgents[11] doesn’t matter to the black-and-white world of these virtuous philanthropic activists.

From “Auschwitz” in Bosnia and Kosovo to a “Syrian dictator” slaughtering women and children, the strategy of overcoming people’s resistance towards wars of aggression by appealing to their guilty conscience – the “don’t turn a blind eye” tactic – stays the same. And no one plays this game better than today’s “progressive” false samaritans.

Bearing all this in mind, we return to the example of Germany. To date, the country’s government has actively participated in spreading anti-Syrian propaganda, but has not expressed a pro-intervention enthusiasm comparable to the “progressive” pro-war disinformation campaign. Although not many positive things could be said about Chancellor Merkel’s neoliberal, U.S.-friendly government, Germany’s present administration at least does not seem to be inclined to risk a military adventure to the same extent as the Green/Social Democratic opposition, and continues to speak in favour of a “diplomatic solution”.[12] And while the current government’s track record proves they are far from innocent in matters of interventionism[13], things could get even worse during elections in 2013 if Germany’s government again forms a Social Democratic/Green coalition, as was the case from 1998 to 2005. After all, they managed to pull off a historic achievement by making war presentable again to the German public for the first time since 1945.

[8] During his presidency, Sarkozy was responsible for militarised intervention both in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya.

[13] All this, however, despite the fact that the German army and Federal Intelligence Service is providing military aid to the insurgents in Syria. See:http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/syri-a21.shtml.

Published on:

Global Research, September 21, 2012

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VIDEO: Libya’s Destabilization Serves Western Political Agenda

Originally aired on Russia Today, September 12, 2012

 

Washington continues to support militant Islamist groups as long as it’s politically expedient to do so, says global affairs researcher Benjamin Schett.

US military adventurism, and the war crimes committed by the country’s forces, impoverish the entire region and ultimately lead to a rise in the number of Islamic militant groups, he told RT. Such groups, he says, can end up posing a threat to US citizens.

Schett spoke to RT about the killing of American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff in Libya.

RT: Ambassador Stevens was responsible for building Washington’s relations with the Libyan post-revolution interim leadership. Does that indicate that the people behind the attack are of a very different mindset to Libya’s current rulers?

Benjamin Schett: Not necessarily. The United States supported militant extremist Islamic groups in order to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi last year. And one example is the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. It is, according to the Washington Post, a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, in 1996, they received support from British Secret Service MI6 to kill Gaddafi, which did not work out, as we know. After 9/11, in 2001, they still got support from Western powers during the so-called uprising in Libya last year and the NATO bombing campaign. They got support from the US and Saudi allies, so obviously the US never stopped supporting militant Islamist groups as long as it’s in their geopolitical interests.

RT: What does this attack say about the authorities’ grip on security in post-Gaddafi Libya?

BS: It shows that Libya is part of a broader balkanization of the Middle East and South and Central Asia, which is a direct result of US policies. We saw what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq after the US invasion – the clashes between Sunnis and Shias. We see what’s happening now in Syria, where the sectarian violence is being supported from the outside – from the Gulf states, from the US, and from France. And it’s what’s happening in Libya – all these different militias that received support in order to fight against Gaddafi are now turning against each other and are pushing for a tribalization of Libya.

RT: It’s believed the attacks were a response to this US film deemed offensive to Islam. But could it also be a side effect of US foreign policy in the region?

BS: Definitely. The whole story of the clash of civilizations and Christianity versus Islam – all these stories, they don’t show the real picture. The real picture is that the majority of Muslims are as peaceful as the majority of Christians or Jews or whoever. The policy of supporting militant extremist Islamist groups as long as it serves geopolitical interests and fighting secular independent governments in the Middle East, or direct military intervention and war crimes, impoverishing of the whole region – certainly this leads to an increase of Islamic militant movements, which can turn out to be a threat to US citizens, as we’ve just seen.

RT: It’s the first death of a high-profile US diplomat on duty abroad since 1979. Could this killing affect future policymaking in the State Department?

BS: The US official propaganda has a very cynical term regarding civilian deaths during a bombing campaign, called “collateral damage.” Of course, they wouldn’t use this term when it comes to the death of a US citizen. But I think in the mindset of the US establishment, in a certain way this also was collateral damage because it won’t make them stop their policies in the Middle East, even if it threatens the lives of American citizens.

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