THE BUSINESS OF MILITARY INTERVENTION
By Yemi Soneye
Friday, September 16, 2011.
How fortunes change in the world of international politics and diplomacy! The latest magnate to go bankrupt: Muammar Gaddafi. In September 2009, he was introduced at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York as the “leader of the revolution, the president of the African Union, the kings of kings of Africa”. To the West at the time, he was not a mad terrorist but a strategic striver for world peace; some of his antics being giving up weapons of mass destruction projects, suggesting the merging of Israel and Palestine into Isratine and advising Nigeria to partition itself into new entities if its ethnic groups cannot live together peacefully.
Barely one and a half years after the flowery introductions, the UN Security Council this February denounced him as a tyrant from whom unarmed protesting Libyan citizens must be protected. The hot romance Gaddafi had with the United States, United Kingdom and several countries that embraced him in 2004 ended abruptly. And in sudden realization of the evil that he is, countries and their medias described Gaddafi in such a way that if Brown Lloyd James, the British PR company that gave him an image makeover in 2009 for the UN General Assembly, tried to salvage his global image it would have failed utterly.
The hastiness with which countries distanced themselves from Gaddafi was strange. Also strange was the urgency with which a no-fly-zone resolution was reached about Libyan skies while a similar action was not taken about Syria, Bahrain and Yemen whose leaders were murderously threatening their unarmed protesting citizens at the time Gaddafi was promising Benghazi blitzkrieg.
The UN now needs to give us good explanations as to why NATO commanders and airplanes that carried out its Security Council’s resolution interpreted their mandate as the incapacitation of Gaddafi by bombings. The crux of the resolution was the keeping apart of Gaddafi from the protesters and not to flare the conflict into a war. It is cogent to note that NATO bombing was a major factor in the deterioration of the conflict into a war in which innocents have been killed and human rights abuses committed by Gaddafi soldiers and rebel forces.
The African Union did canvass for the non-conflict resolution of the crisis which is the peaceful relinquishing of power by Gaddafi. But even if the AU had failed in such instances before a la Zimbabwe and Kenya, the initiative could have been tried by the UN as first attempts to prevent the unnecessary war.
Gaddafi who treated the UN charter disrespectfully as if it was a piece of nonsense, who requested the UN Security Council to be renamed the terror council and who asked the UN headquarters to be relocated from unsecure US to his Al-Qaeda proof Libya at the 2009 UN General Assembly, strongly believes he is fighting an ‘anti-imperialism’ war and is most likely to fight to the death. In recent audio messages of defiance, he called his loyalists to arms against ‘invading imperialists and aiding Libyan traitors’ with the voice a commander of a legion of army uses in rousing his army to anger at the mouth of the battlefield. It is unclear if his acts are inspired by delusions, if his loyalists are not depleted to a handful, and if they are willing to continue fighting for him. However the case, post-war Libya will be without Gaddafi. His generational over forty-year old rule ended in February.
And about post-war Libya, it is not far-fetched to state that it is the current war, Gaddafi versus Rebels, whose end is visible. From the arms that have been unfortunately allowed to be proliferated in Libya, turning protesters into rebels and from the enmities that may ensue between Libyan ethnic groups, newer and smaller wars may quietly await. Also looming is the incursion of Al Qaeda into the country. Concerns about the presence of fighters with ties to the extremism empire among the rebels are also rising.
One aspect of a closing war, seemingly closing in this case, is that everyone who has not been affected too negatively are spurred to start pining and scheming for its spoils. Libya’s new Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril, recently called out to the new powerbrokers in the National Transitional Council and other invincible councils in a press conference in Tripoli. He strongly admonished them to put aside the differences arising from the squabbling for power and to continue working together till Gaddafi is captured and the war is ended. The bids to fill the vacant offices the war effort has created in Libyan government should wait till elections are about to be conducted.
The new powerbrokers may not have started acting against each other on personal realizations of the spoils of war. The odds are that they were inspired by their participations and quasi-participations in the Paris ‘Friends of Libya’ conference on Libya’s political and economic future French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, convened in August.
There was fair representation of all the countries who contributed in one way or the other to the dynamic freeing of Libya from Gaddafi at the conference. The ‘friends’ of Libya who reiterated the essentiality for the people of a state to be determining its future helped Libyans glimpsed into its future. The conference is yielding.
Politically, members of the National Transitional Council have started racing for power. And if Libya’s coming democracy is not hijacked, it is most likely to have a taste of the refreshes of democracy. That will undoubtedly be an important realization even if they will have to choose between two or more pre-determined officials.
The economic outlook for Libya in the interim may not be good. In addition to the grim fact that few countries have ever recovered from the reconstruction costs of war within a comfortable period of time, and the smaller wars that may plague Libya after the present war has ended, the oil resources of Libya, and consequently its economy as it is oil resources based, are already going out of its control. As facilitated by Alan Ducan, a British junior minister, controversial British oil firm, Vitol, has achieved a $1 billion contract from the Libyan National Transitional Council. French newspaper, Liberation has also reported that France has gained access to 35 percent of Libya’s oil resources.
With regards to these contracts, Libya may soon realize that its new friends are only interested in themselves. The legendary economist Adam Smith, once said in his book, An Inquiry Into The Wealth of Nations, that:
“When a nation binds itself by treaty, either to permit the entry of certain goods from one foreign country which it prohibits from all others, or to exempt the goods of one country from duties to which it subjects those of all others, the country, or at least the merchants and manufacturers of the country, whose commerce is so favoured, must necessarily derive great advantage from the treaty. Those merchants and manufacturers enjoy a sort of monopoly in the country which is so indulgent to them. That country becomes a market…Such treaties, however, though they may be advantageous to the merchants and manufacturers of the favoured, are necessarily disadvantageous to those of the favouring country.”
Controversial Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has said that the war is a civil coup d’état against Gaddafi by some “powerful men” in the international community. But his government, for the sake of its economic interests in Libya has embraced Libya’s new government. This only shows the sad premium placed on economic interest above entrenching democracy. As much as the world has to evolve and free itself from non-democratic governments like Gaddafi’s, the democratization of the world cannot be achieved with such undemocratic acts.
Yemi Soneye was born in 1991. He is a graduate of Agricultural Economics and Extension from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria. His works have appeared on Sentinel Nigeria, Saraba magazine, Istanbul Literary Review and Palapala magazine. He was a winner in the 2010 StoryTime One Sentence Short Story Competition.