Obama Betrays Africa On Libya

U.K. and France were desperate for American military role–U.S. and Obama had much to lose by participating in Sarkozy’s war.

[Black Star News Editorial]

President Barack Obama has earned an ugly blot on his political resume by agreeing to join in France’s and Britain’s imperial war of aggression against Libya.

Many Black people will never forgive President Obama. The wrongful decision may cost him some significant votes in his bid for re-election next year.

There have been many angry calls to Black radio talk show hosts in the days since the bombardment and missile attacks on Libya started. This is the most aggressive military attack on an African country by foreign powers.

Human rights and protecting civilians? Where was the West when Africans were being brutalized by the apartheid regime in South Africa? Where was the West when Africans in refugee camps were being massacred by Ian Smith’s apartheid regime airforces in Rhodesia? Where was the West when more than one million Rwandans perished after the country was invaded from U.S.-ally Uganda? Where is the West now as the body count, which has now exceeded five million, continues to pile up in DR Congo? Where is the West as Somalians continue to perish?

The hypocrisy and lies are revolting.

In France, Nikolas Sarkozy wants to save his own political career with his wag-the-dog Libyan war. Britain wants to punish Muammar al-Qathafi from the political fallout that followed release of the convicted Lockerbee bomber in an apparent oil deal with Libya. Both countries also eye lucrative oil deals post-Qathafi.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the rebel leader, who was al-Qathafi’s justice minister until a month ago, told The Financial Times last Monday that Libya’s oil would be apportioned relative to how much support each country gave the insurrectionists in deposing al-Qathafi.

Black voters here understand that on many domestic issues, including President Obama’s job creation programs that might have benefitted many unemployed people, have been frustrated by recalcitrant Republicans who chose to vote against all his initiatives.

But on Libya, President Obama had the option of making the right or wrong decision. He chose to include the U.S. in Sarkozy’s war against an African country, at a projected cost of $1 billion even as more than 13 million Americans remain jobless–with unemployment rates exceeding 20% in some Black communities.

The wrongful decision does not correlate with President Obama’s intelligence and with his own earlier assessment and reluctance for U.S. involvement in Sarkozy’s war.

How desperate for war was Sarkozy? He is trailing behind Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right anti-immigrant party by 21% to 23%. Libyan conquest, the Frenchman concluded, would be a political gamechanger for him, improving his re-election prospects.

When the insurrectionists were still steadily marching towards Tripoli, and al-Qathafi’s ouster seemed imminent, there was no clamoring for a no-fly zone. After the insurrectionists suffered a series of defeats and fled back to Benghazi and their defeat was all but assured, suddenly Sarkozy was crying “massacres” and pressed for the no-fly zone. The ink had barely dried when French jets were already raining explosives on Libya.

The lie that the West are protecting pro-democracy uprisings is exposed by the indifferent reaction to the massacres by the dictatorship in Yemen and the monarchy in Bahrain.

When President Obama repeats the French and British assertion about wanting to prevent genocide in Libya, there is a lack of conviction in his tone and in his demeanor; this is because he knows better and does not believe it.

Also, despite the nonsense that The New York Times, CNN and the BBC are trying to sell to the world, Libya has been engaged in an open civil war for the last month or so and it’s unlike Tunisia’s and Egypt’s Blackberry-Facebook revolution. In addition to Jalil, the former al-Qathafi minister, the armed insurrectionists are commanded by men whom until a few weeks ago were generals and colonels in al-Qathafi’s armed forces.

Benghazi was also a favorite city of the former monarch, King Idriss. Some Libyans from there have historically been hostile to al-Qathafi, who overthrew the monarchy in 1969. It’s not by accident that the insurrectionist are waving the black-red-and-green flag from the king’s era. The Wall Street journal yesterday reported that fighting “shoulder to shoulder” with the insurrectionists, and now beneficiaries of American missiles and bombs, are Islamists.

Corporate newspapers such as The Times and other Western pro-Benghazi media outlets have also ignored or downplayed atrocities by the insurrectionists, including the executions and lynchings of Black Africans. A BBC studio host apparently believed he too was a part of a prospective invading army, and recently asked Senator John McCain “What should we do” about al-Qathafi.

Al-Qathafi’s autocracy must end. He has been in power for 42 years with no clear succession plans –barring his sons– or political evolution in Libya. After normalization of relations with the West in recent years–strongly urged by Nelson Mandela– the country had embarked on reform. The pace was too slow. Speedier reform and broadening political space, including competitive elections, are what needs to be pressed on Libya; and several African countries for that measure. Not Sarkozy’s war.

The double-standard continues during the bombardment. Al-Qathafi’s forces have been ordered to observe a ceasefire. Yet the insurrectionists are once again advancing towards Tripoli, under cover of Western air firepower.

The African Union (AU) had rejected imposition of a no-fly zone fearing it would provide Sarkozy and Britain’s Cameron license for the unchecked bombardment. The AU also designated five African presidents, including South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, who were to travel to Libya in a mediation effort this past weekend. The team was blocked by the United Nations.

The U.K. and France were desperate for American military involvement to provide firepower and to lend the operation global credibilty. The U.S. and Obama had much to lose by participating in Sarkozy’s war.

“Speaking Truth To Empower.”

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