There's an interesting exchange taking place about why the U.S. is participating in the bombing of Libya between self-deceiving liberals, as epitomized by Glenn Greenwald over at Salon.com, on one hand, and self-deceiving libertarians, as epitomized by Shikha Dalmia over at Reason magazine on the other.
The question: Is oil the primary motive behind Obama's participation and support of what is clearly a regime change agenda and war of aggression in Libya, or is it motivated by humanitarianism?
Greenwald says oil, Dalmia says misguided humanitarianism.
Both are right as far as they go, and yet wrong, because they fail to assemble the pieces of the puzzle together into the full picture.
Let's start with Greenwald:
When the war in Libya began, the U.S. government convinced a large number of war supporters that we were there to achieve the very limited goal of creating a no-fly zone in Benghazi to protect civilians from air attacks, while President Obama specifically vowed that "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." This no-fly zone was created in the first week, yet now, almost three months later, the war drags on without any end in sight, and NATO is no longer even hiding what has long been obvious: that its real goal is exactly the one Obama vowed would not be pursued -- regime change through the use of military force. We're in Libya to forcibly remove Gaddafi from power and replace him with a regime that we like better, i.e., one that is more accommodating to the interests of the West. That's not even a debatable proposition at this point...Counters Dalmia:
After almost three months of fighting and bombing -- when we're so far from the original justifications and commitments that they're barely a distant memory -- is there anyone who still believes that humanitarian concerns are what brought us and other Western powers to the war in Libya? Is there anything more obvious -- as the world's oil supplies rapidly diminish -- than the fact that our prime objective is to remove Gaddafi and install a regime that is a far more reliable servant to Western oil interests, and that protecting civilians was the justifying pretext for this war, not the purpose? If (as is quite possible) the new regime turns out to be as oppressive as Gaddafi but far more subservient to Western corporations (like, say, our good Saudi friends), does anyone think we're going to care in the slightest or (at most) do anything other than pay occasional lip service to protesting it? Does anyone think we're going to care about The Libyan People if they're being oppressed or brutalized by a reliably pro-Western successor to Gaddafi?
Greenwald rests his case on a rather tendentious reading of a single Washington Post story revealing that lately, Gadhafi had been demanding bigger up-front payments from Western countries for drilling rights and greater profit-sharing. This allegedly offers proof that the United States wages wars “not for humanitarian or freedom-spreading purposes, but rather to exploit the resources of other nations for its own large corporations.”Dalmia says the reason that left-wing factions of the anti-war movement want to pin the blame on oil is because that motive dovetails with their ideological contempt for capitalism:
The idea that oil lust drives America’s Middle East policy is a perennial—and tired—saw invoked by U.S. critics both at home and abroad. But why, then, does America keep spurning this oil through sanctions on hostile regimes? In the decade between the two Iraq wars, America wouldn’t let Saddam Hussein sell any oil except for food. Washington’s sanctions on Iranian oil are costing America $38 billion to $76 billion annually in lost revenue. And America had sworn off Libyan oil until Gadhafi abandoned plans to develop weapons of mass destruction and compensated the victims of the Lockerbie terrorist bombing.
That we are after Libya’s oil is particularly untenable for the simple reason that Libya is only a bit player in the world oil market. It is not even among our top 15 crude oil suppliers. The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels a day and Libya produces 1.7 million barrels for the whole globe. America lost 1 million barrels a day during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the U.S. economy barely hiccuped.
Launching an unpopular war that has already cost the U.S. $700 million at a time of record deficits and debt in order to protect such paltry supplies seems too dumb even for an Ivy League president—especially since this oil won’t do Gadhafi much good if he refuses to sell it to the West, where half the planet’s oil consumers reside. Nor does it make sense that we want to replace Gadhafi because he’ll cut us off from Libya’s future oil reserves, which are admittedly considerable. That’s because the best expertise to exploit these reserves actually resides in the West, which is why Western companies, including American, have the bulk of drilling contracts in Libya right now. Gadhafi threatened to hand these contracts to India, China and Brazil—but after we attacked him. Indeed, if we wanted only to promote our corporate interest, coddling him would be a far better strategy.
The antiwar camp likes the greed rationale because it wants to blame America’s seemingly endless quest for war on the inherent logic of its system. But the truth is that the Bush administration had its own reasons for engaging in optional wars and the Obama administration has its own. To pin every war on the greed of corporate capitalism has the virtue of parsimony, but it is false. Greed is arguably more a force for timidity than belligerence in the world.So Greenwald says "our prime objective is to remove Gaddafi and install a regime that is a far more reliable servant to Western oil interests," and Dalia says no, misplaced "good intentions" are why we're bombing Libya.
It might be disconcerting that the road to global hell is being paved not by our greed but our good intentions. But building a solid case against war will require us to admit just that. We don’t serve the cause of peace in Libya or elsewhere by making this all about oil all the time.
But both arguments fall short out of omission. The real reasons Washington is bombing Libya, (and still occupying large swaths of the Middle East), are both ideological (per Dalia) and material (per Greenwald) but conjoined, and are each part and parcel of the larger neoliberal-neocon Globalism and Zionist agendas, which go together hand in glove, and are the primary motivating factors behind the over-arching Mideast/North Africa policy.
Neolib-neocon Globalism is both ideological and economic, similar to communism or fascism (of which, indeed, it is an approximate synthesis).
The push for oil imperialism and maintenance of the petro dollar monopoly is but one economic component of Globalism, just as the push for maintenance of the dollar as world reserve currency and maintenance of the Fed's domination of the global money supply (which is part of what is keeping the hollowed out, U.S. casino economy from totally collapsing) is another. Together, they might be described as an agenda of dollar hegemony, which is necessary to the maintenance of the larger policy of economic Keynesianism, which is essentially a Ponzi scheme that maintains a currency is worth whatever everyone can be convinced, or coercively made to agree, it is worth, and so long as that worth is established and enforced, money and credit can be generated hand over fist and used to finance and pursue whatever agenda the vanguard establishment in control of the currency and the printing presses sees feet, and buy off competing factions.
The agenda currently be pursued by this corrupt elite is aggressive, "humanitarian" liberal internationalism (we must bomb to advance democracy and protect women and children) with a subtext that is cultural (we must also bomb to advance cultural liberalism such as gay rights, women's liberation, secularism, etc.)
Most of this, of course, is mere window dressing fashioned by the neolib-neocon architects and eaten up by the complicit (many of whom have convinced themselves that Washington is in earnest) to mask over the craven Keynesian economic motives at the base of the entire program. Nonetheless, this misplaced belief in the humanitarian imperative is "real" to the extent that many of those who dwell within the comfortable confines of the false consciousness created by the Washington establishment and its mainstream media lackeys truly believe the cover story to be true, and are rarely, if ever, exposed to the objective truth outside the establishment-maintained bubble.
Another phony humanitarian subtext protected by the Washington establishment and mainstream media, and a key component of Globalism, is Zionism, which might be said to be the cultural glue that holds the Globalist enterprise together.
Culturally, Zionism appeals to Judeo-Christian (a conflation that’s pure myth and contrary to traditional Christianity) conceit and bigotry on the establishment Right, and to Judeophile multicultural (the Jews are an “endangered species,” that are like a “canary in the coal mine” in terms of our tolerance for “vulnerable minorities”) conceit and self-righteousness on the establishment Left. Hence the interests and agenda of organized Jewry (Zionism) become the cultural, compassionate, progressive casus-belli (both explicit and implicit) for the corrupt establishment of the post-Christian, post-Western civilization, brave new American elite that are today using the U.S. as the vessel or Trojan horse of their neocon-neoliberal Globalist ideology.
“God blesses those that bless Israel” chants the greedy, self-serving, neocon Right in bed with Zionist Jewry. “History demands social justice for the vulnerable, including Jewry” chants the greedy, self-serving, neolib Left, also in bed with Zionist Jewry. Meanwhile, the lot of them continue to get richer and richer, while the truly vulnerable and downtrodden in America and across the world being parasitically exploited, manipulated, and plundered by the Globalist agenda and its Keynesian, crony capitalist and crony socialist-serving Ponzi scheme, get poorer and poorer.