Ten Oorlog!

March 20, 2011 at 9:48 am 3 comments

Minister van Oorlog Pieter De Crem kon zijn enthousiasme nauwelijks verbergen: Ons land trekt ten strijde tegen de nieuwe supervijand, gisteren nog onze beste vriend en olieleverancier Kadhafi. Alle partijen in het parlement, Groenen en socialisten incluis, roepen mee in het koor dat gedirigeerd wordt door Sarkozy en Barack Obama. Wat het einddoel is van de wapeninzet, hoeveel burgerslachtoffers er zullen vallen, wat als Kadhafi zich terugtrekt in zijn bunker en zijn troepen de verschroeide aarde toepassen, wat als hij van het toneel verdwijnt? Het zijn allemaal vragen die onbeantwoord blijven. Eerst bombarderen, daarna zien we wel.

Een humanitaire missie met bommenwerpers? “Geloof niet in de humanitaire bedoelingen van Washington,” zegt Noam Chomsky – noch bij uitbreiding in die van Frankrijk, Engeland, Italië en België zou je kunnen zeggen. Als het erom gaat de burgerbevolking te beschermen tegen een waanzinnige dictator komen we rijkelijk laat, vindt de eminente kenner van het Midden Oosten, Robert Fisk. Waarom hebben we daar 42 jaar geleden niet aan gedacht? Maar Kadhafi was afwisselend de vriend en de boeman van het Westen. Na het Lockerbiedrama maakte Tony Blair hem weer verteerbaar met olie als glijmiddel.

Intussen zijn de eerste doden in deze “humanitaire missie” gevallen. Niemand weet hoeveel er zullen volgen. Zoals steeds zullen de geüniformeerde woordvoerders bazelen over de “chirurgische precisie” waarmee aanvallen op de Libische luchtafweer en de tanks van Kadhafi worden uitgevoerd. Sinds Irak en Afghanistan weten we beter. Het aantal “vergissingen” is niet meer te tellen, net als dat van de onschuldige burgerslachtoffers  die nooit om hun mening werden gevraagd over de bombardementen die hen moesten “beschermen.”

Net als in Afghanistan kiezen we dus kant voor één partij in wat steeds meer op een burgeroorlog lijkt. Kwaad met kwaad bestrijden levert alleen nog méér ellende op voor de burgerbevolking, dat is toch de les die we uit Afghanistan zouden mogen trekken. Robert Fisk legt uit hoe de anti-Kadhafi strijders in Benghazi een oude rekening te vereffenen hebben. De leiders zijn  aanhangers van de Senoussie clan. Koning Idris, door Kadhafi in 1969 van de troon gestoten, kwam uit diezelfde groep tribale families. De rood-zwart-groene vlag waar de rebellen in Benghazi nu mee zwaaien is die van de verdreven koning.

“We willen geen tweede Sbrenica” zeggen de voorstanders van de militaire actie nu en ze verwijzen daarbij naar de moordpartij door Servische milities in een Bosnisch dorp dat onder bescherming stond van Nederlandse VN-troepen. Voor het gemak vergeten ze even – zo concludeert Fisk – dat Sbrenica op het moment van de moordpartij beschermd werd door, jawel, een no-flyzone.

Johan Depoortere

Lees hieronder het volledige artikel van Robert Fisk in The Independent:

Robert Fisk: First it was Saddam. Then Gaddafi. Now there’s a vacancy for the West’s favourite crackpot tyrant

Gaddafi is completely bonkers, a crackpot on the level of Ahmadinejad and Lieberman

Saturday, 19 March 2011

So we are going to take “all necessary measures” to protect the civilians of Libya, are we? Pity we didn’t think of that 42 years ago. Or 41 years ago. Or… well, you know the rest. And let’s not be fooled by what the UN resolution really means. Yet again, it’s going to be regime-change. And just as in Iraq – to use one of Tom Friedman’s only memorable phrases of the time – when the latest dictator goes, who knows what kind of bats will come flying out of the box?

And after Tunisia, after Egypt, it’s got to be Libya, hasn’t it? The Arabs of North Africa are demanding freedom, democracy, liberation from oppression. Yes, that’s what they have in common. But what these nations also have in common is that it was us, the West, that nurtured their dictatorships decade after decade after decade. The French cuddled up to Ben Ali, the Americans stroked Mubarak, while the Italians groomed Gaddafi until our own glorious leader went to resurrect him from the political dead.

Could this be, I wonder, why we have not heard from Lord Blair of Isfahan recently? Surely he should be up there, clapping his hands with glee at another humanitarian intervention. Perhaps he is just resting between parts. Or maybe, like the dragons in Spenser’s Faerie Queen, he is quietly vomiting forth Catholic tracts with all the enthusiasm of a Gaddafi in full flow.

So let’s twitch the curtain just a bit and look at the darkness behind it. Yes, Gaddafi is completely bonkers, flaky, a crackpot on the level of Ahmadinejad of Iran and Lieberman of Israel – who once, by the way, drivelled on about how Mubarak could “go to hell” yet quaked with fear when Mubarak was indeed hurtled in that direction. And there is a racist element in all this.

The Middle East seems to produce these ravers – as opposed to Europe, which in the past 100 years has only produced Berlusconi, Mussolini, Stalin and the little chap who used to be a corporal in the 16th List Bavarian reserve infantry, but who went really crackers when he got elected in 1933 – but now we are cleaning up the Middle East again and can forget our own colonial past in this sandpit. And why not, when Gaddafi tells the people of Benghazi that “we will come, ‘zenga, zenga’ (alley by alley), house by house, room by room.” Surely this is a humanitarian intervention that really, really, really is a good idea. After all, there will be no “boots on the ground”.

Of course, if this revolution was being violently suppressed in, say, Mauritania, I don’t think we would be demanding no-fly zones. Nor in Ivory Coast, come to think of it. Nor anywhere else in Africa that didn’t have oil, gas or mineral deposits or wasn’t of importance in our protection of Israel, the latter being the real reason we care so much about Egypt.

So here are a few things that could go wrong, a sidelong glance at those bats still nestling in the glistening, dank interior of their box. Suppose Gaddafi clings on in Tripoli and the British and French and Americans shoot down all his aircraft, blow up all his airfields, assault his armour and missile batteries and he simply doesn’t fade away. I noticed on Thursday how, just before the UN vote, the Pentagon started briefing journalists on the dangers of the whole affair; that it could take “days” just to set up a no-fly zone.

Then there is the trickery and knavery of Gaddafi himself. We saw it yesterday when his Foreign Minister announced a ceasefire and an end to “military operations” knowing full well, of course, that a Nato force committed to regime-change would not accept it, thus allowing Gaddafi to present himself as a peace-loving Arab leader who is the victim of Western aggression: Omar Mukhtar Lives Again.

And what if we are simply not in time, if Gaddafi’s tanks keep on rolling? Do we then send in our mercenaries to help the “rebels”. Do we set up temporary shop in Benghazi, with advisers and NGOs and the usual diplomatic flummery? Note how, at this most critical moment, we are no longer talking about the tribes of Libya, those hardy warrior people whom we invoked with such enthusiasm a couple of weeks ago. We talk now about the need to protect “the Libyan people”, no longer registering the Senoussi, the most powerful group of tribal families in Benghazi, whose men have been doing much of the fighting. King Idris, overthrown by Gaddafi in 1969, was a Senoussi. The red, black and green “rebel” flag – the old flag of pre-revolutionary Libya – is in fact the Idris flag, a Senoussi flag. Now let’s suppose they get to Tripoli (the point of the whole exercise, is it not?), are they going to be welcomed there? Yes, there were protests in the capital. But many of those brave demonstrators themselves originally came from Benghazi. What will Gaddafi’s supporters do? “Melt away”? Suddenly find that they hated Gaddafi after all and join the revolution? Or continue the civil war?

And what if the “rebels” enter Tripoli and decide Gaddafi and his crazed son Saif al-Islam should meet their just rewards, along with their henchmen? Are we going to close our eyes to revenge killings, public hangings, the kind of treatment Gaddafi’s criminals have meted out for many a long year? I wonder. Libya is not Egypt. Again, Gaddafi is a fruitcake and, given his weird performance with his Green Book on the balcony of his bombed-out house, he probably does occasionally chew carpets as well.

Then there’s the danger of things “going wrong” on our side, the bombs that hit civilians, the Nato aircraft which might be shot down or crash in Gaddafi territory, the sudden suspicion among the “rebels”/”Libyan people”/democracy protesters that the West, after all, has ulterior purposes in its aid. And there’s one boring, universal rule about all this: the second you employ your weapons against another government, however righteously, the thing begins to unspool. After all, the same “rebels” who were expressing their fury at French indifference on Thursday morning were waving French flags in Benghazi on Thursday night. Long live America. Until…

I know the old arguments, of course. However bad our behaviour in the past, what should we do now? It’s a bit late to be asking that. We loved Gaddafi when he took over in 1969 and then, after he showed he was a chicken-head, we hated him and then we loved him again – I am referring to Lord Blair’s laying on of hands – and now we hate him again. Didn’t Arafat have a back-to-front but similar track record for the Israelis and Americans? First he was a super-terrorist longing to destroy Israel, then he was a super-statesman shaking hands with Yitzhak Rabin, then he became a super-terrorist again when he realised he’d been tricked over the future of “Palestine”.

One thing we can do is spot the future Gaddafis and Saddams whom we are breeding right now, the future crackpot, torture-chamber sadists who are cultivating their young bats with our economic help. In Uzbekistan, for example. And in Turkmenistan. And in Tajikistan and Chechenya and other “stans”. But no. These are men we have to deal with, men who will sell us oil, buy our arms and keep Muslim “terrorists” at bay.

It is all wearingly familiar. And now we are back at it again, banging our desks in spiritual unity. We don’t have many options, do we, unless we want to see another Srebrenica? But hold on. Didn’t that happen long after we had imposed our “no-fly” zone over Bosnia?

Entry filed under: Afrika, Europa, Midden Oosten, oorlog, Politiek Belgie, VS. Tags: , , , , , , .


3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Everaerts Jan-Pieter  |  March 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Welkom Salon van Sisyphus in het selecte clubje van kritische stemmen dat verder vooralsnog enkel bestaat uit vzw Vrede, PVDA en het ezine De Groene Belg. Elders ter linkerzijde is het na toch al een etmaal bombardementen nog ofwel radiostailte (De Wereld Morgen, Apache, de Indymedia’s) of enthousiaste instemming met de overval op Libië. Zie de oproep van mensenrechtenmadame en Groen-Slimste Mens-speelster Eva Brems.

  • 2. jefc  |  March 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    The longer the bombing campaign goes on, the sooner the real issue will have to be confronted: where is it leading?

    Ziehier het commentaar van The Guardian vandaag. ‘The coalition of the willing’ weet op geen haar na wat ze wil, ze hangt als los woestijnzand aan mekaar.

    Het is een déjà-vu op zijn Iraaks: als Saddam eenmaal weg is, lost de rest van de problemen zichzelf wel op, bleek de foute redenering. Waarbij dient aangestipt dat Khaddafi nog niet eens weg is…

    Het is dus lang niet bewezen dat het zo’n verstandige beslissing was om het land te gaan bombarderen. Maar inderdaad, ook het tegendeel is niet bewezen. (jc)

  • 3. Roepen in de (Libische) woestijn | DATAPANIK  |  March 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    […] goeie zaak vinden. Zoals journalist Johan Depoortere die grote vraagtekens plaatst bij de idee van een humanitaire missie met bommenwerpers. Of zoals Vredesactie in haar opinietekst Oorlog beschermt geen mensenrechten. Of  Koen […]


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