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Libya & the World of Oil

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.zcommunications.org/libya-and-the-world-of-oil-by-noam-chomsky Libya
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2011
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Libya and the World of Oil
      April 05, 2011
      By Noam Chomsky

      Last month, at the international tribunal on crimes during the civil war
      in Sierra Leone, the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor
      came to an end.

      The chief prosecutor, U.S. law professor David Crane, informed The Times
      of London that the case was incomplete: The prosecutors intended to
      charge Moammar Gadhafi, who, Crane said, “was ultimately responsible for
      the mutilation, maiming and/or murder of 1.2 million people.”

      But the charge was not to be. The U.S., U.K. and others intervened to
      block it. Asked why, Crane said, “Welcome to the world of oil.”

      Another recent Gadhafi casualty was Sir Howard Davies, the director of
      the London School of Economics, who resigned after revelations of the
      school’s links to the Libyan dictator.

      In Cambridge, Mass., the Monitor Group, a consultancy firm founded by
      Harvard professors, was well paid for such services as a book to bring
      Gadhafi’s immortal words to the public “in conversation with renowned
      international experts,” along with other efforts “to enhance
      international appreciation of (Gadhafi’s) Libya.”

      The world of oil is rarely far in the background in affairs concerning
      this region.

      For example, as the dimensions of the U.S. defeat in Iraq could no
      longer be concealed, pretty rhetoric was displaced by honest
      announcement of policy goals. In November 2007 the White House issued a
      Declaration of Principles insisting that Iraq must grant indefinite
      access and privilege to American investors.

      Two months later President Bush informed Congress that he would reject
      legislation that might limit the permanent stationing of U.S. armed
      forces in Iraq or “United States control of the oil resources of Iraq” –
      demands that the U.S. had to abandon shortly afterward in the face of
      Iraqi resistance.

      The world of oil provides useful guidance for western reactions to the
      remarkable democracy uprisings in the Arab world. An oil-rich dictator
      who is a reliable client is granted virtual free rein. There was little
      reaction when Saudi Arabia declared on March 5, “Laws and regulations in
      the Kingdom totally prohibit all kinds of demonstrations, marches and
      sit-in protests as well as calling for them as they go against the
      principles of Shariah and Saudi customs and traditions.” The kingdom
      mobilized huge security forces that rigorously enforced the ban.

      In Kuwait, small demonstrations were crushed. The mailed fist struck in
      Bahrain after Saudi-led military forces intervened to ensure that the
      minority Sunni monarchy would not be threatened by calls for democratic

      Bahrain is sensitive not only because it hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet but
      also because it borders Shiite areas of Saudi Arabia, the location of
      most of the kingdom’s oil. The world’s primary energy resources happen
      to be located near the northern Persian Gulf (or Arabian Gulf, as Arabs
      often call it), largely Shiite, a potential nightmare for Western planners.

      In Egypt and Tunisia, the popular uprising has won impressive victories,
      but as the Carnegie Endowment reported, the regimes remain and are
      “seemingly determined to curb the pro-democracy momentum generated so
      far. A change in ruling elites and system of governance is still a
      distant goal” – and one that the West will seek to keep far removed.

      Libya is a different case, an oil-rich state run by a brutal dictator,
      who, however, is unreliable: A dependable client would be far
      preferable. When nonviolent protests erupted, Gadhafi moved quickly to
      crush them.

      On March 22, as Gadhafi’s forces were converging on the rebel capital of
      Benghazi, top Obama Middle East adviser Dennis Ross warned that if there
      is a massacre, “everyone would blame us for it,” an unacceptable

      And the West certainly didn’t want Gadhafi to enhance his power and
      independence by crushing the rebellion. The U.S. joined in the U.N.
      Security Council authorization of a “no-fly zone,” to be implemented by
      France, the U.K. and the U.S.

      The intervention prevented a likely massacre but was interpreted by the
      coalition as authorizing direct support for the rebels. A cease-fire was
      imposed on Gadhafi’s forces, but the rebels were helped to advance to
      the West. In short order they conquered the major sources of Libya’s oil
      production, at least temporarily.

      On March 28, the London-based Arab journal Al-Quds Al-Arabi warned that
      the intervention may leave Libya with “two states, a rebel-held,
      oil-rich East and a poverty-stricken, Gadhafi-led West. ... Given that
      the oil wells have been secured, we may find ourselves facing a new
      Libyan oil emirate, sparsely inhabited, protected by the West and very
      similar to the Gulf’s emirate states.” Or the Western-backed rebellion
      might proceed all the way to eliminate the irritating dictator.

      It is commonly argued that oil cannot be a motive for the intervention
      because the West had access to the prize under Gadhafi. True but
      irrelevant. The same could be said about Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or
      Iran and Cuba today.

      What the West seeks is what Bush announced: control, or at least
      dependable clients, and in the case of Libya, access to vast unexplored
      areas expected to be rich in oil. U.S and British internal documents
      stress that the “virus of nationalism” is the greatest fear, since it
      might breed disobedience.

      The intervention is being conducted by the three traditional imperial
      powers (though we may recall – Libyans presumably do – that, after World
      War I, Italy conducted genocide in eastern Libya).

      The western powers are acting in virtual isolation. States in the region
      – Turkey and Egypt – want no part of it, nor does Africa. The Gulf
      dictators would be happy to see Gadhafi gone – but, even as they’re
      groaning under the weight of advanced weapons provided to them to
      recycle petrodollars and ensure obedience, they barely offer more than
      token participation. The same is true beyond: India, Brazil and even

      The Arab Spring has deep roots. The region has been simmering for years.
      The first of the current wave of protests began last year in Western
      Sahara, the last African colony, invaded by Morocco in 1975 and
      illegally held since, in a manner similar to East Timor and the
      Israeli-occupied territories.

      A nonviolent protest last November was crushed by Moroccan forces.
      France intervened to block a Security Council inquiry into the crimes of
      its client.

      Then a flame ignited in Tunisia that has since spread into a conflagration.

      (Noam Chomsky’s most recent book, with co-author Ilan Pappe, is “Gaza in
      Crisis.” Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at
      the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.)

      Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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