In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Cameron meets his Suez

Posted by seumasach on October 2, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

2nd October, 2011

NATO has stopped bombing in an unusual and so far unexplained move. Nor are they updating there website on the Libyan situation. Reportedly, green flags are fluttering over a building in Tripoli which had been the CIA’s base and out in our global world of real time communication an eerie silence prevails. No news is not good news for NATO. Apart from informing ourselves from mainly Spanish and French language sources, we are left to guess what exactly it is that NATO doesn’t want to tell us. Could it be the rout of their Benghazi assets at the hands of the sovereign people?

Actually I exagerate about the silence. A certain General Carter Ham, head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has been shooting his mouth off, or is it discreetly leaking, to Associated Press. He claims NATO’s campaign could be called off after a meeting in Brussels this week. He doesn’t say that it’s because they’re losing. On the contrary, he thinks the goal of the operation, that the TNC gain “reasonable control ” of populated centres, is close to achievement. Ominously, he claims AFRICOM will take over the operation. Air strikes would end unless “specifically requested by the Libyan transitional government”. This is amusing: there is no Libyan transitional government, nor will there be, and the TNC, in as far as it exists, exists only to demand more NATO bombing. A point of clarification from Ham: the campaign was not about killing Gaddafi. Who was it about killing? Presumably civilians asleep in their beds.

What can we make of this? Is it the end of NATO’s operation or just the end of NATO, to be discarded in favour of AFRICOM. Ham doesn’t envisage more than a couple of dozen US ground troops in Libya- hardly enough to defeat the Jamahiriya. I’ve always insisted on the basic logic of humiliation or escalation for this war. Short of a full scale invasion of Libya by AFRICOM, it looks like the empire is facing defeat. Of course, they could lose the battle but escalate the war elsewhere, such as in Iran. That would be complete madness and therefore cannot be ruled out.

It appears that the virtual victory bubble that followed the stunt in Tripoli has burst. Consequently, the divisions which were already in evidence before that have reemerged. It could be, as rumoured, that NATO pilots are refusing to continue a genocide against civilians- I like to think so. Or maybe, Cameron’s flashy, new, French flame, Napoleon Sarkozy “le petit’ has had a vision of his Sedan and has recoiled in horror putting the ball back into the Anglo-Saxons court. They hoped for easy pickings not the terrible dilemma of total war or nothing. I think it’s going to be nothing.

Where would that leave the smirking figure of David Cameron who is definitely a villain for all that he smiles? Already, in his worst dreams, tossing and turning in the night, he hears the fluttering of the green flag only to awake, fevered and screaming, at the apparition, no longer even of his nemesis, the Libyan Lion and hero of the Global South Muammar Gaddafi, but of the spectre of Tories past, specifically of that other “brilliant” Tory prime minister Anthony Eden who was destroyed by a rash colonial venture. What can Cameron do to avoid that fate. Well, he must perfectly satisfactorily answer the following questions:

Why did he reject the offer of mediation by the African Union and accepted by Gaddafi and instead embark on war whose endpoint would be, as now seems likely, that same process of mediation?

Why did an operation ostensibly to protect civilians result in the deaths of many, perhaps as many as 50,000, civilians?

Why did Cameron ally himself with forces on the ground in Libya prominent amongst which was a proscribed organisation, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (as nefarious by any other name) provenant from what is generally known as Al Qaeda, and how does he reconcile this with the so-called war on terror in which we have been engaged for the last ten years?

He has recognised a body calling itself the Transitional National council. Who are they? Where are they?

Good luck with that, David! It would still be nice to hear from you again.

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