in WorldAffairs

Back in the Fold (a.k.a Business as Usual)

With a few master strokes – principally paying off the billions in compensation to the families of the victims of the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie and renouncing its ‘advanced’ Weapons of Mass Destruction program, Libya has wormed its way right back into western favour.

So now the rewards will flow in earnest. Libyan oil will again fill American engines and McDonald’s will open a halal outlet in downtown Tripoli. Colonel Gaddafi will continue to dispense tyranny to his people, only this time the vilification will be a little muted. Who criticises when ‘we’ all profit?.

Having failed to achieve the regional supremacy that he quietly sought whilst a pariah by the west – his murky paws have been found in the unrests in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Chad and a host of other African nations that have experienced internal instability. He has tried the respectable statesman route, and done the Pan Africanist tango. He has walked the walk of African Solidarity and toasted to communist ideals. It now seems that the contingency is to pally with the west and surge forward as a feted junior partner rather than as a dastardly mastermind. It must be so satisfying in the White House that they finally got him in a way worse than death! (ponder Mr Reagan’s attempt to assassinate the head of sovereign nation).

The timing of all of this seems of some relevance, why now? After so many years of isolation, what has Libya to gain by this positive posturing? At a time when the west can be justifiably rallied against for the debacle of Afghanistan, the injustice of Iraq and what is perceived as a new crusade against Islam.

Never mind the questions that need answers amongst Libya’s peers in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) – from a religious standpoint; and from the African Union from a political standpoint; perhaps the most important questions would come from the Libyan people themselves, if they were permitted to. Unfortunately with such tight control on what , when and how one can question the Colonel it is unlikely these questions will ever be asked nor indeed answered.

Questions about the suffering caused to millions of Libyans, the denial of their right to freely associate with the global family. The abuses that have been committed against them by their state, given carte blanche without the regulation of international observation. Why they were taken into a confrontation with the west that resulted in all this and for the final betrayal of their sacrifices by this apparent kowtowing.

The world is not safer because Libya gave up its WMD program. The dangers that face us as a world are worse now because of the complacency that pronouncements by leaders have lulled us into, whilst they know full well that their actions and those of their predecessors have condemned us all to a terrifying future.

One particularly nasty legacy of colonialism was that it left a cadre of young charismatic officers, trained and armed by the departing colonial masters. These young, ambitious (not particularly socially responsible though) officers understood that they could hijack their nations with their newly acquired skills and weaponry to realise their ‘destiny’ as the new lords. With the now proven goals of plunder and pillage, most of Africa has suffered immeasurably. This can also be seen across most of the colonised world. Of course, as history as shown, the greater the spoils the bloodier the battles. So perhaps the depth of carnage and cruelty seen in Biafra, Mozambique, Angola, Zaire, Sierra Leone and Liberia pay bloody testimony to the wealth (human and otherwise) that exists in these countries.

All now seems forgotten about what Libya did or did not do. Forgotten or forgiven is largely academic, the result is the same. It is an ’emerging’ market, left to fallow and now its time for the western capitalist cow to come and graze it bare. Of course, the people of Libya will become tempted into lusting after western goods, developing the taste that will condemn them to an eternity of consumption and peonage to fund it. Across boardrooms in the UK and the US, there must be such elation that the red lining of the last few years indeed looks like history now that a new host has been fostered.

Libya is back in the fold and it is (big) business as usual. With the re-entry into the fold, undoubtedly Libyans will have to pay more for their own oil, endure privatised healthcare, pensions and the destruction of whatever social system they have. They will find that Libyan grain no longer graces their tables (US and EU subsidy will ensure that). More of what they consume will be coming in than their produce goes out. Their army will be stronger, better trained and fantastically armed – by British and American corporations (who knows perhaps the Uzi Corporation of Israel might get in on the action!).

What do you think?