And that’s the real reason for the war in Libya — America and its European allies are desperate to seem and feel relevant while the centerpiece of their world order is collapsing all around them.
It may be going unnoticed that there is no shortage of Arab and Muslim allies of the anti-interventionist movement who are fully behind the operations in Libya, along with such respected left-of-center voices as Juan Cole and Philip Weiss. Also worth noting in this connection is the prominent support for the intervention from Al Jazeera. The errors of their ways are not the point, only that this bears acknowledgment. For myself, I’d split the difference and say the ideal scenario would have been for the Egyptian military to enter Libya and take out Gaddafi as the Vietnamese did to remove Pol Pot. But of course, this would mean that the Arabs would be masters of their own destiny, and that simply cannot be allowed.
While everyone is focused on Libya, the Saleh regime is finally on the verge of collapse in Yemen; Bahrain may become the flashpoint that could well prove the Saudis’ undoing; a movement for Palestinian unity behind a South Africa-style solution is finally gaining momentum; and even the Assad regime in Syria is now threatened by upheaval. Much as many powerful people want it to, what began in Egypt and Tunisia is not stopping any time soon.
And yet in Libya the U.S. is taking the side of the upheaval. It is stunning that virtually no one, including and especially neoconservatives, seems the least bit concerned that the U.S. military is quite likely in the process of installing a Muslim Brotherhood government in the world’s tenth-largest oil producer. Whether the neocons are simply blinded by democracy-talk and Reagan nostalgia to the reality of what they’re doing, or just biding their time to blame Obama for the inevitable, it is still too soon to say. At least one trial balloon would indicate the latter waiting game, which has long appeared to be the neonconservative conceit regarding Egypt and, even earlier, Iran.
Obama has done something extremely reckless and foolish, and we can only hope that the Egyptians — and perhaps other Arab League members — will take out Gaddafi and put an end to this insanity while they still can. But a la the British in Yemen in ’67, it is still more likely the last pathetic thud of the American Raj than another Iraq.