Adventures of a Forced Migrant Contact Me
I’ve such a horrible case of déjà vu right now. Anyone else remember how the oppression of women in Afganistan was used as a polemic and rhetorical device to justify the occupation of the country and distinguish between “us” and “them?”
Of course, taking nothing away from this woman, my statement does not mean that Qaddafi and his troops are not horrendous and guilty. I’m just interested in how the crisis of women’s oppression has been used to justify war efforts throughout our history. We are so concerned about women’s rights abroad but not so much at home. A really good recommended reading is Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars.
I have a question. When is the last time bombing a country with Tomahawk missiles freed a people? Was it in Vietnam, Korea, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq?
Frankly, I have no idea what is going on in Libya. Qaddhafi claims the uprising is Al-Qaeda forces. The “rebels” — who are religious but claim not to be extremists — say they want “freedom” for Libya from the despot. The UN Security Council passed a resolution to intervene and now the United States, along with France and the UK, are bombing the country.
I can’t help but see a pattern here and coincidences with prior bombing campaigns.
Coincidence #1. Many say that Libyans asked for help and military intervention and that this is not an invasion like Iraq. Rather, that this is an “internationally sanctioned” intervention. The focus is on the tyranny of the Qaddafi regime, much like the 2003 war against Iraq focused on the actions of Saddam Hussein and his mythical weapons of mass destruction.
Coincidence #2: Supporters of the war against Libya also decry the irony that the bombing campaign on the country began on March 19, 2011 — the 8th anniversary of the war against Iraq. Obama could not have picked a better date to commemorate the anniversary.
Coincidence #3. There is an oil factor here as well. The United States was chummy with Saddam till he decided to nationalize his oil industry in the early 90s. That’s when the country started having problems with Hussein gassing the Kurds, with weapons supplied by the United States. Similarly, Libya used to be categorized as a “rogue” country for quite a while. That was until it moved to dismantle its weapons of mass destructed program and liberalize its economy and signed the near-billion dollar oil contract with BP oil, following Tony Blair’s visit in May 2007. Due to the uprising, BP had to suspend operations scheduled to start this year. The company has a lot to lose if it does not resume operations and there is some evidence that it has a lot of power with the British government. (Read up on the Lockerbie bomber).
Coincidence #4. The interests of our allied powers are not so pure so saying that the war is internationally sanctioned is not any excuse. As the country with the largest oil reserves in Africa, Libya supplies 10% of Italy’s gas needs and in return Italy is the second biggest arms seller to the Qadaffi regime. It supplies 10% of France’s oil and petrochemicals and in return France is the biggest seller of arms to the Qadaffi regime. Finally, the BP (a UK-based oil company) investment in Libyan oil $2 billion and in return the UK was the third largest seller of weapons to the Qadaffi regime. Knowing that, I’m supposed to believe that when the UK and French used Italian airbases to implement a no-fly zone over Libya, they did so with the purest and most humanitarian of motives, much like the no-fly zones imposed over Iraq.
I’m not saying that this is a war for oil. Professor Ismael Hossein-Zadeh forewarns that there is strong evidence that the powerful interests vested in war and militarism actually use oil as a pretext to justify military adventures in order to derive higher dividends from the business of war such as defense contracting.
I’m saying that our interests are not as clear and convincing. The United States, France and the UK may have several different interests in attacking Libya, some taking precedence over others. The French interest may be the coming presidential election in France where Sarkozy is not a clear favorite to win re-election. There is a looming European economic crisis and an oil/gas crisis in the short term propagated by the internal turmoil in Libya does not sound appealing for any of the European countries involved in the war. The press says the UN Security Council vote was 10-0, but really there were major abstentions from Germany, India, Brazil and China. I guess they don’t have any interest in going to war with Libya.
If this is only for humanitarian purposes, it is unclear to me why intervention in Libyan affairs takes precedence over intervening in other countries with tyrants and despots as leaders. Why is the United States supporting anti-Qaddafi forces in Libya but not popular uprisings in equally undemocratic countries like Yemen, China, Iran, Bahrain and Sudan? Right now, Japan figures as more of a threat to the world and needs our help more than Libya but I do not see the same priority for the country. Maybe there is a simple answer to all this: it is easier to get rid of Qaddafi and almost everyone will be in a better place without any real objection from anyone.
I want to make it clear that there is no way I support Qaddafi but bombing Libya does not take place in a vacuum. There are economic and human costs involved, and as of now, it is unclear precisely what a successful bombing mission is supposed to achieve. No one is asking the people of Libya what they want to achieve from this. After all, their interests are the only thing that should matter in this new shock and awe campaign.
It wasn’t a serious question. It wasn’t something that he had considered. It was a hypothetical statement, maybe made in jest to get some conversation going with an otherwise quiet companion.
I considered it for a second and answered:
“First, that won’t happen. Second, I would be really devastated.”
We dropped the subject and moved on to other things. I obviously did not pick a side. But my mind kept coming back to the question.
How do I really answer that question? My great-great grandparents came to Fiji in 1879 as part of the indentured servitude system. We didn’t even have a strong, established “Indian” or “Pakistani” identity at that point in time — those countries did not exist as nation-states. We were divided by caste and creed, religion and geography, and subjects of the British. Five generations later, I have no idea what part of India-Pakistan-Bangladesh my ancestors came from and where my family may be scattered. This is true for many in the Indian Disapora, whose families were taken to remote islands and countries for agricultural and indentured servitude purposes.
My mother can probably trace part of her roots to South India, with her father’s family from someplace near Goa. My Dad can trace his roots from Uttar Pradesh (North), maybe some in the Kolkatta region. Our surname is more Western-Indian than anything else.
What part of ‘India’ am I from? I simply refuse to answer that after 130 years. We aren’t from any part of ‘India’ and I refuse to support any sort of belligerance or war.
Yep, so who else is up to this? I will probably do the one in Downtown SF.
Details on the two actions below. All info available at actagainstwar.net
or email us about bike stuff at
Meeting for cyclists Sunday 3/9
2pm at the Blue House (3208 Shattuck at Woolsey, Berkeley, Ashby Bart)
This is also a bike decorating party.
Lotsa fun and get plugged in to the two actions below.
March 15th in Richmond
No War. No Warming. No Chevron Expansion!
Ride in solidarity with the people of Richmond against the expansion of the
Chevron is refining over a million barrels of stolen Iraqi oil in Richmond a
month, and actively lobbying for the privatization of Iraq¹s oil fields.
11 AM Rally at Carroll Park in Richmond
1 PM March and Bike Train to Chevron Refinery
Bike Posses also leaving Richmond Bart at 10 AM, 11 AM, and !2PM.
March 19th in downtown SF
Actions against war profiteers and government offices
Bikers meet at Justin Herman Plaza at 7:30, 9:00, and 11 AM