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A Quibble with Glenn Greenwald Over Libya


I have a small disagrement with Glenn Greenwald (whose work I can't praise highly enough) over his latest about the war in Libya.

In a pure coincidence, Gaddafi impeded U.S. oil interests before the war 
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/06/11/libya/index.html 

In response to Greenwald I say

1) US puppets sometimes drive a hard bargain behind the scenes (i.e tweak 
the boss's nose a bit). Francois Duvalier did a lot of this – and the US did
toy  with the idea of deposing him for this reason- but they didn't. I
don't see the  kind of "pain in the ass" behaviour Gaddafi demonstrated being
the major driving  force behind the war though I don't deny it was a factor.

2) The Arab Spring was showing up the complete irrelevance of western 
military might for any liberatory purpose. Militarization is crucial to the West
for numerous reasons and they will jump at any chance to pass off their
military  might as a force for good. Of course they will not do this by
driving Israel out  of Palestine – or Saudi Arabia out of Bahrain. The West will
choose targets that  make sense from its imperial point of view. Gaddafi was
a disposable and  annoying employee. However, I think it is wrong – based on
what Greenwald presents – to  suggest Gaddafi's rule posed any serious or even
significant threat to Western  interests.

Instead, I would argue Gaddafi's(seemingly) imminent collapse provided an 
irresistible opportunity for the West to restore credibility to the idea of 
"humanitarian intervention" which has taken a severe beating in Iraq and 
Afghanistan. Of course, the fact that Gaddafi was a pain in the ass, and easy
to  demonize (without need for much lying) contributed to making this an 
irresistible opportunity.

You can't steal/control foreign resources – or maintain incredibly bloated 
military budgets at home – if you can't use your military. The West has a
huge  incentive to jump at anything that looks like a good opportunity to use its
military.

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