There's no business like war business
By Pepe Escobar
Lies, hypocrisy and hidden agendas. This is what United States President Barack Obama did not dwell on when explaining his Libya doctrine to America and the world. The mind boggles with so many black holes engulfing this splendid little war that is not a war (a "time-limited, scope-limited military action", as per the White House) - compounded with the inability of progressive thinking to condemn, at the same time, the ruthlessness of the Muammar Gaddafi regime and the Anglo-French-American "humanitarian" bombing.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 has worked like a Trojan horse, allowing the Anglo-French-American consortium - and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - to become the UN's air force in its support of an armed uprising. Apart from having nothing to do with protecting civilians, this arrangement is absolutely illegal in terms of international law. The inbuilt endgame, as even malnourished African kids know by now, but has never been acknowledged, is regime change.
Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard of Canada, NATO's commander for Libya, may insist all he wants that the mission is purely designed to protect civilians. Yet those "innocent civilians" operating tanks and firing Kalashnikovs as part of a rag-tag wild bunch are in fact soldiers in a civil war - and the focus should be on whether NATO from now on will remain their air force, following the steps of the Anglo-French-American consortium. Incidentally, the "coalition of the wiling" fighting Libya consists of only 12 NATO members (out of 28) plus Qatar. This has absolutely nothing to do with an "international community".
The full verdict on the UN-mandated no-fly zone will have to wait for the emergence of a "rebel" government and the end of the civil war (if it ends soon). Then it will be possible to analyze how Tomahawking and bombing was ever justified; why civilians in Cyrenaica were "protected" while those in Tripoli were Tomahawked; what sort of "rebel" motley crew was "saved"; whether this whole thing was legal in the first place; how the resolution was a cover for regime change; how the love affair between the Libyan "revolutionaries" and the West may end in bloody divorce (remember Afghanistan); and which Western players stand to immensely profit from the wealth of a new, unified (or balkanized) Libya.
For the moment at least, it's quite easy to identify the profiteers.
The water privatizers
Few in the West may know that Libya - along with Egypt - sits over the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer; that is, an ocean of extremely valuable fresh water. So yes, this "now you see it, now you don't" war is a crucial water war. Control of the aquifer is priceless - as in "rescuing" valuable natural resources from the "savages".
This Water Pipelineistan - buried underground deep in the desert along 4,000 km - is the Great Man-Made River Project (GMMRP), which Gaddafi built for $25 billion without borrowing a single cent from the IMF or the World Bank (what a bad example for the developing world). The GMMRP supplies Tripoli, Benghazi and the whole Libyan coastline. The amount of water is estimated by scientists to be the equivalent to 200 years of water flowing down the Nile.
Compare this to the so-called three sisters - Veolia (formerly Vivendi), Suez Ondeo (formerly Generale des Eaux) and Saur - the French companies that control over 40% of the global water market. All eyes must imperatively focus on whether these pipelines are bombed. An extremely possible scenario is that if they are, juicy "reconstruction" contracts will benefit France. That will be the final step to privatize all this - for the moment free - water. From shock doctrine to water doctrine.
Well, that's only a short list of profiteers - no one knows who'll get the oil - and the natural gas - in the end. Meanwhile, the (bombing) show must go on. There's no business like war business. moreAnd of course, there is no business like the weapons business.
Democracy or Dollars?
Weapons Sales to the Arab World under Scrutiny
By Benjamin Bidder and Clemens Höges
In recent years, Western countries have made a bundle selling arms to Arab despots. But, as with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, some of yesterday's buyers have become today's enemies. Now major weapons exporters must seek a new balance between arms profits and human rights.
The revolutions in the Arab world caught British Prime Minister David Cameron off guard. For some time, diplomats had been planning a trip for Cameron that would take him to several countries in the Middle East. In fact, it was meant to be more of a trade mission, with Cameron's delegation consisting largely of high-level executives from Great Britain's weapons industry.
But then came the revolutions in Arab countries and the fighting in Libya. Ignoring them was impossible, and Cameron added a six hour stopover in Cairo to his already tight schedule. It was almost exactly a month ago that he visited Tahrir Square in the center of the city, the focal point of mass demonstration which ultimately forced Egypt's aging leader, Hosni Mubarak, out of office.
"Meeting the young people and the representatives of the groups in Tahrir Square was genuinely inspiring," Cameron said. "These are people who have risked a huge amount for what they believe in."
From Egypt, Cameron flew on to Kuwait, where he got down to the real purpose of his trip: selling weapons to Arab autocrats. When members of parliament back home attacked him for this lack of tact, the prime minister insisted there was nothing wrong with such business transactions and that, in any case, his government made weapons buyers pledge to not use them to violate human rights under any circumstances. Great Britain, he said, has "nothing to be ashamed of."
Britain, though, has exported over €100 million ($142 million) in weapons to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the last two years alone. Included in those shipments are sniper rifles that may currently be in use against the Libyan opposition. Furthermore, Gadhafi's terror police are British-trained. Indeed, British officials were forced to hastily revoke 50 arms export licenses to Libya and Bahrain.
Friends of Convenience
Cameron now finds himself in a tight spot shared by many Western politicians. Policies that seemed fine prior to the revolutions are now questionable. Regional paradigms are shifting and, at a time when populations are throwing off the yoke of oppression, Realpolitik is a poor guide to Western policy.
Until recently, the West had been arming despots in the Arab world with a series of ever-larger, billion-dollar deals that served to stabilize their regimes. Some are close allies when it comes to Iran and al-Qaida, making questions about human rights and democracy secondary.
In addition, many of the region's potentates were convenient partners for the West: They had their people more or less under control, and some provided oil. Even Gadhafi proved useful by keeping poor African refugees out of Europe. Likewise, many of the rulers bought whatever the West's defense industry put up for sale. more