søndag 4. november 2012

Humanitarian interventions and the White Man´s burden

Innledning holdt på Globaliseringskonferansen søndag 4. november.
Norway is a different country than Great Britain, with a different historical background. Great Britain has a history of colonialism. Norway, as an independent state, has not. And the policy of «humanitarian interventions» can be seen as a follow-up of the line that Britain has followed since the colonial times, with a more paternalistic attitude towards people in their colonies and towards the countries they attack and invade in the wars we have seen the last decade.

In Norway the mentality of interventionism, as I see it, has another soil it grows out from.  Here the mentality is more the missionary man who «helps the poor people» against a brutal dictator. We save the poor people around the world -by humanitarian principles - and with the ideas of democracy and Womens rights. But the rhetoric is not that different in the invading countries. It just sounds different because of our different history. And the result is anyhow the same.

And now I just want to say a few words about the two more recent wars, the war in Libya and the ongoing war in Syria. I want to make a few comments about what we have witnessed in Libya, and then draw the lines to what is happening now in Syria. What was really going on in Libya? Ola Tunander, professor at The peace research institute in Oslo, in his newly released book Libyenkrigets geopolitikk - Humanitär intervensjon eller kolonialkrig? has written about how the Libyan uprising already from the beginning was infiltrated by foreign forces. There were 5000 Qatari special forces on the ground. They again were under the command of SAS, British special forces. The Tv-channel that were on the ground in Libya, was Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera is owned by one man, the emir of Qatar. And we now know that Al-Jazeera was on the ground several weeks before the war started, and when the international journalists came to Libya, they «took care of them» and channeled them to speak to the «right» families, who had some disturbing news to tell about Qaddhafi. So, do you remember the image of Qaddhafi that was building up before the FN-resolution 1973? It was the image of the brutal dictator. Was it true? Yes, he was a dictator. Was he more brutal than the rest of the dictators in the world?

Well, now this professor I mentioned from PRIO, Ola Tunander, shows in his book, that there was in fact huge massacres on the black immigrant population, conducted in fact by the rebels, not Qaddhafi, and this happened before NATO came for a rescue (Human Rights Watch couldn´t find more than 2-300 people being killed by Qaddhafi when we sent our Norwegian F-16 to Libya.) So we went in to «rescue» rebels that was in fact conducting a massacre on the black immigrant population in Libya. These were the «good guys» we supported, in the air, and on ground. 

And now, what about Syria?  Is it a revolution going on where the people are rising up against a dictator? Or is the picture more complicated? This is a rhetorical question. Yes, it is more complicated. There are extreme sunnimuslims taking more and more over the uprising in Syria. What we saw started as big demonstrations and demands for reform by ordinary people are now being hijacked by extremists. And we know CIA have a training facility at the border of Turkey. And this issue, to put it short, is far more complicated than a poor people rising up against a brutal dictator.

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