War? What War?

2011 June 22
by Turk Studzel

A pleasant Saturday on the links for the Nobel Peace Laureate: "There's no war in Libya if they can't fight back."

Mere hours after the June 18 round of golf pictured to the right—the so-called “golf summit” between Obama and House Speaker Boehner on the U.S. government deficit—a NATO air strike in a residential Tripoli neighborhood killed nine civilians, including two children. The following day, another NATO strike in a Tripoli suburb killed fifteen civilians, including three children. Scores were also injured in both incidents, many critically.

Remember, this is a “humanitarian intervention” to provide a “no-fly zone” to  protect civilians from an alleged threat of massacre by Colonel Gaddafi’s air force — “humanitarianism” exploding with gusto when U.S. warships fired 120 Tomahawk missiles at targets in Libya on March 19. Three months later, the humanitarian bombs and missiles continue to rain death on the Libyan people.

According to Monday’s New York Times,

Since the United States handed control of the air war in Libya to NATO in early April, American warplanes have struck at Libyan air defenses about 60 times, and remotely operated drones have fired missiles at Libyan forces about 30 times, according to military officials.

The most recent strike from a piloted United States aircraft was on Saturday, and the most recent strike from an American drone was on Wednesday, the officials said.

The Gaddafi government claims that more than 800 civilians have been killed by U.S./NATO air strikes since March. While this cannot be verified, in modern wars dominated by air power, civilians typically represent 90% of the casualties.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration insists this is not a war.  According to “United States Activities in Libya,” a 32-page report that the administration released last week, “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors.”

So, see, we can bomb them into the Stone Age, and as long as they can’t fight back, it’s not a war.

Glen Ford’s analysis at Black Agenda Report is invaluable. He writes, for instance:

Over the five centuries since the Western Europeans broke out of their small corner of the planet, to wage uninterrupted wars of conquest and enslavement against the rest of mankind, they have seldom acknowledged being at war with “lesser peoples.” Rather, the merciless looting and depopulation of the Americas and Africa was packaged as a Christianizing or “civilizing” mission – but seldom as wars…

The wholesale taking of non-European lives was not considered warfare, which was an activity between equals. When Europeans fought each other over the spoils of Africa and Asia – that is, over the right to continue to occupy and expropriate the land, and exploit and kill the natives, of the non-white world, at will – these were considered wars. However, when the natives died by the millions – possibly ten million in Congo under Belgian King Leopold – that was due to their own failure to assimilate to the demands of “civilization.” But it was not war…

Barack Obama has totally assimilated the historical values of Euro-American civilization – a characteristic that has endeared him to multinational corporate boardrooms and contributors. He speaks and thinks the language of imperialism. By Obama’s logic, the American military’s “full spectrum dominance,” which gives the U.S. the capacity to devastate other countries without itself suffering significant casualties, can abolish wars in the developing world, forever – at least on the semantic level – since the targeted nations could fight back. No fight-back, no “hostilities,” no war. Give that man another Peace Prize!

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