There is a new politico-military reality in the world today. "Old Europe" and the United States, arguably led by the most Liberal of presidents, have reset the clock and have successfully achieved its imperial realignment cloaked in the language of humanitarianism and righteous concerns for the safety of the world's innocents. Today, this new political and military alignment is clever enough to forgo aggressive, jingoistic and arrogant language in the run up to wars of intervention substituting in its stead slick platitudes mingled with tough talk that now finds acceptance in an attuned and tech savvy global population.
Thing is we all bought it. Hook, line and sinker. Lock stock and barrel.
Europe and the United States are more united than ever before as they couch belligerence in seemingly disarming language and use the undemocratic United Nations Security Council to pass resolutions that authorize violence in the name of peacemaking and human protection. There is no other way to put it.
Powerful world leaders routinely ignore the UN when it suits their purpose and use it to rubberstamp their favorite military adventures when they find it necessary. Perverted over time by its beggar status and dependence on wealthy nations for money to operate, the United Nations is a global talk-shop, toothless, powerless and at the mercy of rich and powerful nations.
But wars -- call them what you will -- be they interventions, limited military actions or police activities are peculiar things that always wind up killing people -- innocent people. There are greedy, rapacious wars launched in pursuit of so-called "national security interests." This is a phrase used by every American president right up to Barack Obama. Wars or military actions are always justified because they are in "our national security interests." This fig leaf of pseudo legitimacy has never been fully explained simply because expansive vagueness is what makes that BS fly.
The reality is that in such wars nations pursue economic or strategic objectives to protect the nation or to expand their power. And no matter the noble and lofty ideology upon which these wars are predicated the fundamental fact is that they are always to the detriment of the innocent. But arguably since the Viet Nam war and the rise of so-called emerging nations like China, Pakistan and India in both the economic and military fields "Ole Europe" and America have found it expedient to reset the clock.
For example, the French who were ridiculed by their European allies and the United States for their opposition to the Iraq war has taken the lead as Europe's most aggressive and belligerent nation in the Libyan crisis. France's "out front" calls for military action against Libya was a direct response to the fact that events in its former colony of Tunisia caught Paris -- and the west -- napping. Within days of the Libyan crisis France was pounding the drums of war aided and abetted by Britain "America Lite."
So under the cloak of acting in concert to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe these global powers launched a thinly disguised war against a country that did not threaten them or pose absolutely no threat to them. Presumably in this kind of 21st century war the imperial nations claim to be fighting neither for their national security interests or their western style political ideologies but for the noble cause of preventing human carnage and suffering.
As President Obama told it the no-fly zone and the bombing of Libyan targets was necessary to prevent the Libyan government from committing mass murder. That's one version. The other is intervention to remove a corrupt government and enact regime change. Then there are peacekeeping missions launched by both the United Nations or western nations ostensibly to act as a buffer between two warring factions. These third party forces roles are based on some form of neutrality but often, as is the case in the Congo, peacekeepers end up abusing the very people they are sworn to protect.
In the Libyan case, as in all cases of military intervention, the imperial powers' action has been in favor of the weaker side in the conflict. And once it is a military intervention there must be an enemy. So no matter the rhetoric, the flowery statements and the carefully crafted public relations statements in a conflict as what occasions in Libya the government is portrayed as the bullying aggressor and the weaker "rebels" the hapless democratic victims that need help to rid the nation of a hated dictator.
But there is an analysis that is not fully articulated in the Libyan conflict. The regime in power has remained there for the past 42 years because its does have some form of legitimacy and internal public support. So the very first words in unison from the west in the run up to the start of the bombing campaign were that "Gadhafi has lost legitimacy." Still the fact that the rebels are weaker and now supported by the west is proof positive that they still constitute a minority in Libya and that no matter the dictatorial nature of the regime it may still enjoy some popular domestic support.
The western powers now bombing Libya have no way of knowing the full extent of Gadhafi's internal support since no one wants to articulate the fact that maybe -- just maybe -- their intervention on the part of an armed minority may undermine the will of the majority. So that in reality the imperial military action on behalf of one side in the Libyan conflict and is now an attack, under United Nations umbrella and cover, on the legitimate government -- no matter how odious it is or how much these imperial powers hate it.
The other thing is that these new kinds of 21st century military constructs sometimes tend to spiral out of control and evolve into actions that escalate result in occupation and regime change. Remember Iraq? Calls for regime change in Libya and the strident denials are simply hypocritical since this kind of military action always results in regime change. But there must be denials, at least in public, because no European or American government wants to anger their domestic populations or face a severe political backlash at home if they are seen to be actively conspiring to topple a legitimate government no matter how dictatorial or despotic.
Further, no matter the innocent sounding construction of a humanitarian war and its stated intention to protect the innocent, philosophically, wars and morality do not mix. There is no moral justification for war, intervention or military action. The end result is always the same -- murder legitimized by the state or a cover organization in this case the United Nations. Wars are not fought on the basis of the desire to do good. So the potential for these "limited" or "short" wars or military interventions to spiral out of control is ever present. A no-fly zone is a very limited military engagement and equally sustained limited bombardment will not result in a balance of military and political forces or changes on the ground.
In Iraq's case Saddam Hussein remained in power for 12 years after the no-fly zone was sanctioned by the United Nations and enforced by the United States. It did very little to deter him from murdering thousands before he was toppled by an imperial war of aggression launched by western powers led by America. Today, with regime change in place and a supine puppet government that is pro-America (as if it had a choice) Iraq is a monumental mess that these well-meaning humanitarian interventionists are getting ready to abandon and left to its own devices and uncertain destiny.
Gadhafi is not stupid nor will be forget these lessons of history and record of imperial aggression. He is cornered and has nowhere to go. Britain has arrested his former foreign minister and there will be most certainly a bounty put on his head and charges of genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC). This reluctance by Gadhafi and company to stand down creates the conditions for a long and ultimately inconclusive war on the side of a minority faction that could end up into a protracted and bloody civil war. So the argument that this is a limited, fast military engagement in Libya is idiotic and simplistic.