Yet another military intervention against a tyrant for the sake of freedom. Yet another bad guy who was not such a bad guy back when he pulled out the checkbook to buy millions of dollars of weaponry from our arms manufacturers.
As recently as August, 2009, Qdahfi, or Quadafi, or Gaddafi–shoot, let’s just call him “Mo”–was the affable host to his new-found friends from the U.S. Senate, John McCain, Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham. Mo’s son, “Matt,” the Libyan National Security Advisor, helped dad pour on the ol’ Tripoli charm as they won over this new bevy of buddies. According to the meeting summary contained in this cable from the U.S. embassy in Libya:
Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends. The Senators recognized Libya’s cooperation on counterterrorism and conveyed that it was in the interest of both countries to make the relationship stronger.
McCain “assured” Matt that he’d use his influence in Congress to expedite Libyan procurement of equipment needed to maintain national security, which would be either military weaponry or a really extensive Brinks Security System.
He (McCain) described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.
So it isn’t too big a leap to assume that we’re currently engaged in a military conflict against people our military has trained, and who are using arms we’ve sold them.
It wouldn’t be the first time, would it? The mainstream politicians campaigning for office often decry such behavior. But then they win election, and soon find themselves caught up in a systemic pattern of building up, then blowing up the client-states whose dictators have consolidated their power through the force of weaponry and military training that flow from this country. The system sucks in and controls Democrats and Republicans alike, with such overwhelming authority that even Dwight Eisenhower’s warning to limit the system’s power has gone mostly unheeded.
So for Mo and Matt, the best way to understand why they’re being shelled, tomahawked and demonized by the very folks who called them friends back in 2009 is to look at the dominant principle at work right now. They won’t find this principle expressed in this nation’s founding documents, or in any of the great Enlightenment treatises that speak to human liberty and democracy. Instead they’ll find the best expression of this principle made in a recent and popular work of fiction, where well-dressed, wealthy and powerful men talk about murder as being good for business. Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” focused on people involved in organized crime, who used violence as a necessary tool to capture wealth and power within their closed societies. In their world, blowing up or shooting someone to death was a business decision. “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business,” says young Michael Corleone as he states the operative principle while plotting the twin killings of a police captain and an underworld drug dealer.
Today’s world events too often seem under the control of people with guiding principles similar to those of the Corleones. As Michael Moore once said at the Oscars, we live in fictitious times. The folks who pull the strings and who compel others to pull the triggers are people well-versed at offering whatever fictions seem useful to preserve their power and to increase their profits. It’s an old, old story, and one that continually seems to inspire confrontations between profits and prophets. While the profits are rolling in, the prophets mostly go unheeded, oftentimes until a society has past the point of no return. It’s hard to say where we are at the moment. But we do have our prophets, including the distinguished military general and U.S. President who offered his prophetic warning 50 years ago from the Oval Office. One wonders if the current Oval Office resident is mindful of the prophet and his prophecy.
As the missles fly and the bombs drop and well-paid folks go about the business of covering up the “collateral damage” that wars always bring, here’s another bit of prophecy from one of the great prophets of our time. This interpretation of the Prophet Bob by Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam is sadly ironic, since it was delivered during their “Vote for Change” tour back in 2006. You’d think we might have learned something between then and now. But realistically, we ought to know that the strength of the powers at work in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, is beyond formidable. As Ike once warned, they’ve become ingrained in the fabric of our society, if not the fabric of our collective soul.