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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/21/11

A Dirty Word

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THIS, OF course, leads us straight to Kosovo.

There the same question arose. Slobodan Milosevic was committing an act of genocide -- driving out a whole people, committing barbarities along the way. Kosovo was a part of Serbia, and Milosevic claimed that it was an internal Serbian affair.

When there was a worldwide outcry, President Bill Clinton decided to bomb installations in Serbia in order to induce Milosevic to desist. Nominally, it was a NATO action. It achieved its goal, the Kosovars returned to their homeland, and today we have the independent republic of Kosovoa.

At the time, I applauded publicly, to the dismay of many of my leftist friends at home and all over the world. They insisted that the bombing campaign was a crime, particularly since it was conducted by NATO, which for them is an instrument of the devil.

My answer was that in order to prevent genocide, I am ready to make a pact even with the devil.

This goes for today, too. I don't care who puts an end to Qaddafi's murderous war against his own people, and especially to the bombing raids of his air force. The UN, NATO or the US alone -- whoever does it, may they be blessed.

A few days ago, on a day when Qaddafi's pilots were killing Libyans as usual, I read an article by an American journalist I like and appreciate very much. She ferociously attacked the idea of the US enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, especially since the abominable Paul Wolfowitz was advocating it.

It seems that this has become a domestic American affair. While the extreme right (called for some reason "conservative") -- tea partiers, neo-cons and such -- advocate the non-flying zone, politically correct "liberals" (another of these curious terms) oppose it.

People are being killed by a ruthless, half-mad dictator, a whole country is going down the drain -- what the hell has that got to do with domestic American politics? And why have my friends been maneuvered into the wrong corner?

BARACK OBAMA was again at his best, saying all the right things and doing the wrong -- or doing nothing at all.

He told Qaddafi to go, and then looked on passively as the tyrant, instead of going anywhere, terrorized his people. His Secretary of Defense told everybody what an incredibly difficult operation enforcing a no-fly zone would be, his generals warned against taking on another war they are unable to fight. The almighty United States of America looked like a has-been power, unable to mount even the smallest military operation against the negligible air force of a tin-pot dictator. Any Israeli air force commander would have finished the job by lunchtime.

We are not the policeman of the world, American politicians argued. But that is exactly what a superpower is -- power brings responsibility.

The pitiful sight of the Obama administration throughout this crisis shows that the US is no longer a superpower, just a big power anxious to keep its oil supplies safe with the help of assorted kings and emirs. Coming after its abject capitulation to the Israeli right-wing lobby and its veto of the Security Council resolution against the enlarging of the settlements, the conclusion is sad indeed.

Cynics will say that the Americans really desire to keep Qaddafi, so that he can go on delivering the oil, much as they support the autocrats of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain who are crushing their peoples and continue to deal with the oil as if it were their private property.

"Non-intervention" turned the Spanish people over to the tender mercies of Franco, and protected Hitler at the most sensitive stages of his preparation for war. Direct intervention, on the other hand, sent Milosevic to the war criminals' prison.

I WANT to make my position on this perfectly clear.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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