Friday, February 25, 2011

Deserting the Desert, or Who We Should Be Worrying About

Perhaps it is simply the inevitable occlusion of media that we are now hearing more from and about the political leadership of Canada on getting our nationals out of Libya than any other of the many urgent matters. Likewise there's been a flood of the almost automatic inevitable bitching from stranded Canadians and media hype pejorative of the undoubtedly overwhelmed Canadian embassy staff in Tripoli. No one can ever be doing enough for these benighted souls somehow stranded in North Africa. Somehow?

As this scramble for means of evacuation so publicly continues, almost no one is asking the obvious companion question: why are there so many Canadians in Libya who suddenly need our government and our tax dollars for their salvation? Why are they there? Why - I'll ask with feigned momentary naivete - are they so plentiful in a bleak desert country in North Africa that there is such massive demand for rapid egress? Or, equally rhetorically, why so much Canuck ingress in the first place?

Of course the one word answer is oil as it is the massive Libyan petro fields that brought in foreign nationals and, more to the point, foreign development in the first place. If we allow ourselves one more rhetorical, to what extent has it been the presence of western money, western oil companies and all those now anxious to desert the so lucrative desert who have been the willing and well recompensed bulwarks of the Brotherly Leader and his henchmen. Where would Qaddafi have been in the 42 years of his tyranny without the steady support of major firms like Shell, Conoco, Husky and the Italian giant Eni. But even more pervasive are the countless small to medium sized oil and gas supporting cast whose ancillary services range from catering to heavy equipment repair to helicopter transport to the secondary and tertiary thriving nationalized businesses whose existence, to repeat, is all about oil.

Canadians have been prominent in blithely joining this workforce and thereby taking strong supporting roles in maintaining Qaddafi's primary source of money and might. At the same time, Europe, followed by the USA fell for Qaddafi's newfound, strategic, but shallow "reasonability" by buying more of his oil, investing in his regime, and generally welcoming Libya back into the fold of respectability needed for ever-widening globalization. "Complicity" is way too passive and gentle a word for all that was done since the early 2000s to suck up to Qaddafi's propaganda and his petroleum.

So as the real victims in this sordid situation - the innocent and courageous native Libyan men, women and children - cower in their unlit and unprovisioned hell-holes, while Qaddafi's oil-funded goon squads roam the streets, should we not be asking more critically who is deserving of ours and other western government's primary attention? Should we be preoccupied with rescuing our "own," most of whom gladly and for their own enrichment, went to Libya, thereby rather obviously propping up Qaddafi all these years? Or should, we instead be focused, with other NATO allies, on firm intervention to put an immediate stop to audacious slaughter? We need to save people who are not only Qaddafi's but our victims, those who have endured a tyranny partially of the making of foreign nationals now scrambling for cover. Is it just too hard to admit that the "mercenaries" in this tragic situation, are not just the paid thugs roaming Tripoli's bloodied streets? Many are standing around airports and seaports, suitcases in hand, waiting to desert Qaddafi's sinking ship.

Qaddafi, seems to be holed up in Bab al-Azizia, the same compound that NATO blasted in 1986 with far less justification than freeing an entire long-suffering populous. You do the math.

No comments: