Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Libya, the Security Council and our Responsibility.

Following today's mild remarks from the UN Security Council on Libya, after more than a week of slaughter there, I am reminded of this photo, which I took by chance a couple of weeks ago.

It shows the UN Secretariat Building, hidden to the left of the picture, reflected pinkishly at sunset in the Trump Tower, the dark building on the right.

Now, I don't believe there is any direct connection between Trump himself and either Libya or the UN, and as far as I know he does not deal in arms. But the webs of relationship between government, cruel exploitation and fabulous wealth have been so sharply clarified by the current uprisings, that it seems at least moderately symbolic, especially perhaps as that thin white building in the centre is the newly renovated US mission to the UN (and when I say renovated I mean, of course, "renovated").

The photo suggests perhaps the smoke and mirrors that obscure these shadowy relationships of neo-imperialism.

The reality, we have to remind ourselves, is far harsher than this somewhat dreamy crepuscular snap implies.

A particularly disgusting element of the current moment is the complicity of western governments in the poverty, terror and desperation of North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf.  The hypocrisy of the mumblings coming out of Washington, and the more robust denunciations emerging from Downing Street (even while blatantly dealing in arms and other acoutrements of repression) is hardly out of character, but gobsmacking nevertheless. 

Our government, and the business people they represent, are equally culpable with those they now denounce, who up till now have been doing the wet work for them.

Why on earth would they break the pattern and act against their own interest on the Security Council?  And their best interest is that Gaddafi should stay for the time being, provided he does not become a total embarrassment. That is why they have been stalling, in the hope that perchance he might weather this storm.  And Plan B, if the Libyan people force them to ditch him, will be to shepherd as far as possible the installation of a new puppet: more liberal, more democratic, more credible, but a puppet nevertheless, if they can.......

The point is not that they should now "do something" about Libya - its way too late for that. We didn't stop them when they were setting it all up (which is our culpability), and now we have all been overtaken by the people of Libya and the whole region.

Our job, our historical responsibility, is to limit the options of our respective governments to perpetuate this kind of oppression, in the present and for the future, and we have a huge opportunity right now.

The contradictions, the corruptions, the lies are so clear.  The best thing we in UK can do in support of the people in the Arab world in overthrowing their governments, and to advance the struggle for greater equality world wide and within our own countries, is to clarify the puppetry and linkages among all the actions that oppress and weaken us collectively - attacks on unions in the US, austerity in Europe and dictators supported by the west, to name but three, organize in our groups, and get out in the streets in vast collaborative numbers to stop them.

And, as they appear to have forgotten, a copy of Picasso's Guernica hangs, or used to hang, outside the Security Council Chamber.

The ambassadors and delegates used to walk past it each time they entered and left the chamber. Often it has been the backdrop to press conferences, and indeed the United States insisted that it be covered while they were bombing Iraq. I believe it was then moved a bit down the corridor, out of camera range.

I don't know what has happened to this remarkable, and always timely, image now that the Secretariat itself is under renovation (and no doubt a little "renovation"), and its various chambers are in temporary accommodation next door.

I wonder if the Ambassadors had it in mind as they juggled popular pressure and international law with their own national self-interest and the urgent pressure from regional tyrants to hold the line, as they prepared their expression of grave concern and deep regret about the excesses, but not the rule, of Gaddafi.


Just for the record, the current members of the Security Council are, in addition to the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States), Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Gabon, Germany, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa.

MagNews  has a great post that gives all their human rights records.  Prepare to be re-gobsmacked. @magsnews

And check out @itsmotherswork's post on the links between all of our struggles: Solidarity, multiculturalism and public service values.

And A regime in mortal freefall over at Lenin's Tomb, has more on the crocodile tears of western governments.  And Simon Jenkins: Britain Can Push Democracy or Weapons - not both.

And photoshopped or not, I like this pic.  It is by Muhammad Saladin Nusair, and has been placed in Mother Jones and Lenin's Tomb, among many, many others, I am sure.

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