By Arab News
NEARLY two weeks after the US and European jets started pounding forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi, Barack Obama has finally broken his silence on what’s being labeled as the third Western war on the Muslim world. The US leader tried to explain to Americans why the US had to get involved in Libya. And ever the suave and persuasive orator that he is, Obama managed to do so.
Indeed, even as the US, France and Britain come under fire for Libyan strikes some of which have ended up killing civilians, it’s not possible to ignore the fact that the West was offered a perfect opportunity — excuse? — to intervene in the Arab country by the Libyan strongman himself who unleashed despicable savagery against his own people.
Of course, given the long and sordid history of Western machinations in the region, it’s but natural everyone is suspicious of its intentions. How can anyone forget what happened — and is still happening — in Afghanistan and Iraq? As David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy wax lyrical about the need to save human lives in Libya, many in the region have asked: What about Palestine? Indeed, what about Palestine? Are they any less human than Libyans or Iraqis and Afghans?
This is why many suspect the Western interest in Libya is driven by the oil factor. There may be some truth in the view but not entirely accurate. The West has already been heavily involved in Libyan oil industry and has been doing business with Qaddafi for many years now. Maybe after all there’s some truth in Obama’s claim that if the West hadn’t intervened or waited another day, there would have been a massacre across Libya which would have “stained the conscience of the world.”
Again it’s not possible to reject this claim given what the Libyan leader has visited on his country and people over the past month or so — and in the past four decades. If anyone is to blame for Libya’s current woes and the suffering of its people, you have to look no further than the man in charge who vows to fight to the last drop of blood. Goes without saying it will be the Libyan blood — his people’s blood.
By the way, returning to Obama’s speech, while strongly defending the US involvement in Libya, the US leader has said something very interesting. Emphasizing that the ouster of Qaddafi or the “regime change” in Libya is not the US or Western goal, he said: “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.” This is something the world has wanted to hear for some time, especially from this president who had vehemently opposed the unjust and unreasonable war against Iraq. Perhaps, this is the best burial Obama could have given his predecessor’s toxic legacy, the so-called Bush doctrine. “They (the Libyans) will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is as it should be,” he declared.
It has taken Uncle Sam eight years and more than 5,000 American lives, not to mention more than a million Iraqi lives and destruction of an ancient civilization, to realize the absurd and unjust nature of its foreign policy. Nonetheless, this is a welcome change in the US policy, if it’s indeed a change. Does it mean the US has finally realized that it’s not the lord of all it surveys and regime change is not its job but the people of Libya, or for that matter, of Iraq and Afghanistan? We’ll wait and see.