Cheerleading for the War on Libya


Graham Bell, 1 April 2011

Categories: BBC News | The Daily Mail | Politics | Libya | War |


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When war (or 'humanitarian intervention') breaks out, the news very quickly becomes nothing more than a voice for the government. Embedded journalists provide updates to the country as though they are reporting from a war movie. Newspapers and news websites give us statistics on war planes and other machinery as though they are luxury consumable goods. Before it was implemented, many people voiced their concerns about a no-fly zone – they know from Iraq that a no-fly zone is the precursor (and not an alternative) to war. Their fears have now been confirmed as correct, with Britain recently saying that it has no exit strategy, and confirmed civilian casualties resulting directly from the NATO attacks. By apparent western logic, it would not be unreasonable for a country to now ask the UN to implement a no-fly zone to stop the UK, France and Italy killing civilians from the sky in Libya.

Referring to the invading forces as 'allies' (as most news organisations have repeatedly done) evokes WWII images of those who saved the world and is a particularly distasteful name to give to the nations who are now invading a country and killing civilians from the sky.

There has been widespread speculation about the reasons for the invasion – not so much in the media but more from grassroots organisations in the UK. One suggestion is that this invasion is an act of the west trying to regain some ground in North Africa/Middle East following the uprisings. Occupation of Libya would compromise the revolutions in Tunisia (just to the west) and Egypt (just to the east), potentially bringing them back to the power of western-friendly dictators. Naturally, it is no coincidence that Libya is an oil-rich country.

Yesterday, the BBC reported on “The challenges facing allies”. In it, UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox is quoted as saying that Gaddafi’s forces no longer have the “capability to kill their own civilians”. There are a number of other governments who do have the capability to and do kill their own civilians (and do) – Liam Fox or the BBC are not in a hurry to point this out though. Similarly, the UK and France now have the capability (and are) killing civilians in Libya, but this is seemingly not one of the problems that the ‘allies’ face. The article runs with an ‘all is not well’ theme, because “Col Gaddafi’s loyalists are still recruiting more foreign fighters or mercenaries”. The news piece, like many before it, is designed to prepare people for an escalation of aggression. It ends by stating that a “prolonged stalemate is the outcome that the coalition was keen to avoid”, once again excusing, but not criticising, the governments actions to date.

The Daily Mail celebrates war like few others. On the 25th March they ran a story entitled “Proof we are winning”, which shows users footage of tanks being attacked, powerful images of warplanes and an image of a protester with a placard reading “we thank UN Security Council for helping us”. After being promised repeatedly that this was not going to be a war, the very fact that this is something that someone can be ‘winning’ suggests that we must now accept that it is a war – which nobody wanted.

The media didn’t quite beat the drums of war for this one like they did with Iraq. They have, however, succeeded in again generating passive acceptance in the UK for yet another brutal invasion of a foreign country. A meeting in London to discuss the future of Libya – ensuring it is a nation that is exactly what the west wants to see – confirms beyond doubt that this is not a humanitarian intervention: it is an invasion driven by power and aggression which will undermine the will of the revolutionaries and if the 'allies' have their way, it will end the way they, and not the Libyan people, want it to.


Categories in which this article appears: BBC News | The Daily Mail | Politics | Libya | War |

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