Sunday, April 03, 2011

Libya, the East, and the Wilting US Empire

Libya, the East, wilting US empire

Sunday, 03 April 2011 00:00
By Tafataona Mahoso

The success of a new dispensation in Zimbabwe, based on economic indigenisation and African empowerment, will depend to a great extent on an adequate number of leaders being able to read accurately the meaning of what is going on in North Africa, especially Libya.

In addition to stealing resources and occupying strategic space, the bombing is meant to intimidate all anti-imperialist forces and leaders around the world while impressing and encouraging all the sellouts who collaborate with the dying Western empire against the interests of their own people.

In Zimbabwe, the movement of the people behind the Third Chimurenga, which has led from land reclamation and agrarian revolution to economic indigenisation and African majority empowerment, is a movement outside the development aid regime of the crumbling US empire.

One reason for this is that it is this same crumbling foreign aid regime dominated by the US for the last 60 years which has also been used to enforce illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe. So our leaders will be divided between those who see exclusion from the imperial aid system as a great opportunity and those who view it as a catastrophe. In other words, not all those who call themselves “leaders” in Zimbabwe are able to think and operate outside of that conventional foreign aid regime often referred to as the “Washington Consensus”.

The current global development aid regime was constituted in the period between the end of the Hitler wars and the defeat of the United States in Indochina. For this reason, the aid regime contains and is still heavily dependent on assumptions of that period about global imperial power.

These assumptions became most clear after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, particularly in the North Atlantic states’ obsessive continuation with structural adjustment programmes on a global scale despite the danger warnings from Rwanda, Somalia, Turkey, Argentina, Indonesia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.

A multi-polar world was already obvious when the US-sponsored unipolar myth was declared. And the lethal deployment of the Bretton Woods institutions on behalf of the North Atlantic powers started exactly at a time when the value of the same institutions to the majority of nations became doubtful. This is the paradox of capitalist imperialism.

Part of the reason is that the principles, the norms and the rules and regulations of the current global development aid regime reflect assumptions about the world which developed between 1945 and 1974, a period when the United Sates believed its power to be without limits. Robert Wood in “From Marshall Plan to Debt Crisis” cites Joseph Jones of the US State Department 10 years after the Second World War:

“What, indeed, are the limits of United States power? And what are the limits of United States foreign policy? . . . The answer is that the limits of our foreign policy are on a distant and receding horizon; for many practical purposes they are what we think we can accomplish and what we think it is necessary to accomplish at any given time.”

The crisis facing the powers trying to force illegal regime change in Zimbabwe is therefore the crisis of powers who themselves fear change and are committed to resisting all changes which have upset the post-1945 world order.

The United States and Europe today are in a position similar to where the British Empire was in the crisis of the 1930s.

The British Empire was over-stretched and spread thin; it had military bases all over the globe; and it commanded a gargantuan military machine boasting the latest lethal monstrosities and gadgets ever invented by man or woman. This is true of the US and Nato today. The British Empire in 1930s had unlimited military power.

But its economic base had eroded and was seeping away fast. The reason was not just endless wars and the threat of more wars. The reason was that the resources and territories, lands, which the empire regarded as its own, the resources which the empire used to guarantee the security of its allies did not really belong to the empire. They had their own owners who were now beginning to demand them back.

The United States and their allies find themselves in a similar situation in our time.

Professor George Caffentzis in 1988 wrote an article called “Rambo on the Barbary Shore: Libya, the Oil Price and the US . . .” In that article Caffentzis repeated an interpretation of US foreign economic policy which most people around the world have known since the late 1940s:

“For the US state considers itself the custodian for world capital of the planet’s energy [and mineral] resources, whether these residues of geologic evolution happen to be immediately below US territory or not. This is not a Reagan invention. Carter’s, Nixon’s and indeed all post-World War II US administrations have affirmed this as an inevitable consequence of world capitalist hegemony.”

Now, to show that what we see displayed by imperialism over Libya is weakness and not strength, all we need to do is look at the last six major events which serve as grave markers for the approaching end of the slave-built Euro-American empire:

September 11 2001

The terror bombing of New York and the Pentagon, given a different system and a different mass media, should have brought the white society of North America closer to the rest of the world (Cuba, Chile, Iran, Palestine, Guatemala, Panama) where the US or US surrogates had inflicted terror on innocent populations for decades.

But that is not what happened. September 11 2001 helped imperialism to implement, indeed digitalise, George Orwell’s vision of totalitarian society at home while preaching free flow of information and open society abroad.

September 11 2001 helped imperialism to bring home, in the form of the Department of Homeland Security, the total surveillance system and society which the US had employed in the many war zones it maintained on other people’s soil for decades.

According to “The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism”:

“The document that launched the US Department of Homeland Security [in the aftermath of 11 September 2001] declares, ‘Today’s terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon’ — which conveniently means that the security services required must protect against every imaginable risk in every conceivable place at every possible time. And it’s not necessary to prove that a threat is real for it to merit a full-scale response — not with [Dick] Cheyney’s famous ‘1 per cent doctrine,’ which justified the invasion of Iraq [two years later] on the grounds that if there is a 1 percent chance that something is a threat, it requires that the US respond as if the threat is a 100 percent certainty.”

The War on Terror

The external, indefinite “war on terror” declared by George W. Bush was not just one of the results of September 11 2001. It had its own tragic features. It was a programme for the US to outsource terror to already repressive regimes especially in Europe and the Middle East which became responsible for providing secret bases to which kidnapped suspects were brought and tortured to extract forced confessions which were then brought home and used to further frighten the home population into submission.

The regimes to which the US outsourced its terror projects accepted the job in exchange for having their own forces armed and trained to keep their own populations down. Some of these regimes are now being overthrown in the current wave of uprisings.

Another feature of the so-called “war on terror” was the Bush dictum that “you are either with us or with the terrorists”, which was to say that other countries should respond to the US in only two ways: Join the stampede and crusade or be targeted as supporting terrorism against US interests.

This approach had a bearing on Libya, especially at the time of the US-UK illegal war on Iraq. Libya was forced to make many compromises with the North Atlantic states in exchange for being spared, but it seems to have become too relaxed thereafter to notice that the same countries still entertained the idea of getting rid of Colonel Gaddafi’s movement sooner or later.

The War Against Afghanistan

Although the war started as part and parcel of the war on terror, it soon assumed its own characteristics as demonstrated though the following account:

On October 27 2009, Bloomberg TV interviewed David Rohde, a US journalist who spent time in captivity on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In the interview with Charlie Rose the journalist revealed several things about the so-called “war on terror” which are relevant to considerations of the geopolitical situation in Africa in the context of the global security environment today.

Here are some of the revelations:

--In terms of Pentagon and US State Department pronouncements, the Taliban government of Afghanistan was overthrown in 2001; in reality it only moved a few hundred kilometres away into areas inaccessible to Nato forces. But it exists; it operates; and it is getting stronger.

--The Taliban and other radical groups are not backward “tribal leaders” steeped in what the West calls “tradition”. They are highly digitalised, using laptops, DVDs, cellphones, satellite dishes and other cutting-edge communication gadgets to spread and communicate terror and fanaticism. The Western effort to associate digitalisation with liberalism or free flow of information with democracy is therefore wrong.

--The Taliban’s explanations of their objectives in the war are far more convincing to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan than Nato’s explanations of its objectives.

--Through diligent indoctrination, the Taliban have created a movement which lives in its own ideological and spiritual universe, despite being exposed to Western media and propaganda.

Some of the Moslem beliefs which explain the paradox of the US and Nato pursuit of the war on terror include:

--The widespread belief among Moslems that the September 11 2001 bombings of New York and the Pentagon were organised by US and Israeli intelligence services in order to frame Islam and Arabs in the interest of US imperialism.

--The purpose of that September 11 2001 conspiracy was to justify a Western religious war against Islam, to destroy Islam and replace it with Christianity;

The implications of these facts for the geopolitical situation in Africa and beyond are far-reaching:

--First, the Anglo-Saxon countries have already targeted Africa as a place ripe for what they call “political Islam”, which they consider to be a threat to them and which they use partly to justify their interventionist programmes, such as Africom. South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Somalia and other African countries have been identified by the US as ripe targets for “political Islam” and therefore requiring at least some monitoring by US intelligence and the Pentagon;

--Second, the same Anglo-Saxon countries pursuing interventionist policies in Africa have invested in the latest military systems and technologies and the latest mass communications here which have failed to secure the expected results in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.

The presumed military and technological superiority of Nato forces is undercut by Nato’s ideological weakness in the face of the collapse of neoliberalism, in the face of radical nationalism and radical Islam; and this struggle between imperialism and radical Islam is also linked to the paradox of so-called free flow of information. In fact, the Pentagon recognised this paradox as far back as 2004. Rohde in his interview suggested that too much of freely-flowing information is neither correct nor true: for example the idea that the Taliban regime was overthrown in 2001.

The Illegal US-UK Invasion of Iraq

This invasion surprised some of the closest allies of the US and Britain because it was carried out so close to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and because it was fought solely on borrowed money. Former US president Bill Clinton voiced concern about this at the start of the war. But he soon went quiet because such an outcry would be considered dangerous and unpatriotic.

The invasion surprised many also because the desire to display weakness as strength (through the media) almost outweighed the desire to steal massive quantities of oil.

The trend had started in the illegal Nato bombing of former Yugoslavia in 1999. But it was in Iraq that the idea of war as a digitalised imperial message was perfected as “shock and awe”.

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