When Col. Muammar Gadhafi responded to armed rebels—not unarmed protestors—in a military manner, the United States, France and Western nations quickly responded with a “no fly” zone and attacked forces loyal to Libya's revolutionary leader.
The attacks came despite a call for observers by Col. Gadhafi soon after the ceasefire was ordered by the UN Security Council. His call for neutral parties to make sure both sides honored the ceasefire went unheeded.
It was quickly clear why the observers were not accepted—President Obama declared that President Gadhafi had lost legitimacy to lead and had to step down from power. France quickly recognized a group of rebel leaders as the legitimate government of the North African nation without so much as a political poll—let alone actually voting and holding elections to determine the will of the people. So much for democracy, and the democratic process.
From the outset the United Nations resolution passed by the Security Council to authorize military strikes in the name of protecting civilians was not designed to bring or promote peace or a political settlement to a civil war. The resolution was a shield for U.S. and Western nations intent on destroying a revolutionary leader with an eye toward getting easy access to Libya's oil.
As fighting has raged and Libyans have died on both sides of the conflict, Col. Gadhafi has apparently made different attempts to halt the fighting through negotiations—or embraced attempts to find a negotiated settlement.
The African Union has tried to offer settlements to avoid more loss of life and more destruction of the nation with the highest standard of living in Africa and a nation whose oil wealth has been used to support liberation struggles around the globe and investment in projects and businesses across the Motherland.
Some of these same African governments, notably South Africa, initially supported the no fly zone. But seeing the havoc and death that followed, the African Union has rightly stepped in and stepped up, seeking to end the fighting.
But Libya's opposition leaders April 11 rejected the African Union's proposed settlement, calling it a ploy that would allow Col. Gadhafi time to regroup and tighten his grip on power. The rebels may believe that and it mirrors what America has declared—and the U.S. wants Col. Gadhafi removed from power.
Libya's military battles are at a standstill, with NATO-UN military operations holding pro-Gadhafi forces at bay and the two sides almost indistinguishable as rebels found out when NATO planes bombed them and NATO officials didn't apologize.
“Gadhafi must leave immediately if he wants to survive,” one rebel leader told the media.
The “Gadhafi must go” declaration mirrors what the Obama administration, France and other Western countries have declared. But as the declarations of “Gadhafi must go” and “there can be no compromise” are shouted, it is Libyan blood that is spilled in the desert and in street fighting.
Western forces fly high above the fray, dropping bombs and missiles in what looks like an ugly and disgusting 21st century videogame. But the victims in this “game” are real people whose lives have value.
It is Libyan men, women and children who suffer. Once the missile strikes end and the bombs stop falling, it will be Libyans who will be left to pick up the pieces just as Afghans were left to rebuild their country in the 1980s. Afghans were promised U.S. aid once the Soviet menace in their country was eliminated with the help of their “friends” in America.
But once the “Evil Empire,” as President Reagan called his communist nemesis, was gone so was any interest on America's side in rebuilding Afghanistan. The U.S. was happy to provide weapons and support war but was loathe to invest in Afghan peace. The country disintegrated into lawless fiefdoms until the Taliban arose to restore order. The same Taliban was labeled America's enemy after the Sept. 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade and charged with harboring Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, who was charged with masterminding the attacks. Coincidentally, or not-so-coincidentally, there had also been unsuccessful attempts by the West to entice the Taliban into allowing an oil pipeline to be built across the country. Soon U.S. bombs fell again in Afghanistan and U.S. soldiers returned to fight Afghans. War in the country continues today.
Libya's rebel leaders are likely hearing sweet songs from the U.S., Western governments and oil conglomerates along with promises of a bright future. Those promises, however, are false and Libyans would do well to recall life under King Idris, who was overthrown some 40 years ago by Col. Gadhafi in a bloodless coup. King Idris was a favorite of America and the West but his people were poor, ignorant and exploited.
One would be hard-pressed to find any conflict where America sided with anyone based on morals and pursuit of what was right. America and her allies only pursue their cold, naked and heartless national and foreign policy interests. So yesterday's friends, like former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, can be tossed aside or fed back to their own people once anger and hatred explodes over policies pressed for or supported by America. When the suffering masses are driven to revolt, America quickly changes sides and seeks to manage and redirect the new emerging force in her own best interest.
While Libya is engaged in a deadlock, the West continues to plot its course. NATO officials now say there cannot be a simple military solution to the conflict.
If a military solution is impossible, a negotiated settlement is the only way to end the fighting. But with America and the West pressing their interests, it will be Libyans who suffer, bleed and die, until a solution is reached. Unfortunately, their suffering means little to Western nations intent on getting what they want regardless of how much it costs—especially when Western lives are not at stake.