Arguably completing a paradigm shift that had already been underway, the Second World War established the United States as a hegemonic power, an empire at the center of a political and economic system that would come to envelop much of the world. Today, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as a central instrument of that system, is actively involved in implementing an imperialist project that has nothing to do with cheery slogans about “making the world safe for democracy.”
Wherever possible, NATO is instead engaged in replacing the injustices of criminals like Milošević and Gadhafi with those of the U.S. and its allies. As contemptible as the Gadhafi regime has been for over 40 years, the “liberation” missions of NATO aren’t entitled to the benefit of the doubt or motivated by the desire to create anything like a “free Libya.”
Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty itself sets out “that an armed attack against one or more of [the signatories] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all,” but NATO has never limited itself to responding to attacks. In fact, since Article 5 has only ever been appealed to once, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, NATO typically frames its military imperialism with the language of “peacekeeping.” Well, in the words of the government of Oceania, “War is Peace.”
In a special column for CNN, the Truman National Security Project’s Rachel Kleinfeld typifies the message of the foreign policy elite. “It’s worth some effort,” Kleinfeld writes, “from the U.S. — again with allies — to get this country governed right,” to get its “economic structures in order,” naming a central bank as an example.
Through Kleinfeld and others of the mainstream’s “reasonable voices,” the neocolonialist nature of the Libyan endeavor is thrown into relief. As Council on Foreign Relations President Richard N. Haass admits, “The ‘humanitarian’ intervention introduced to save lives believed to be threatened was in fact a political intervention introduced to bring about regime change.”
But regime change, the ouster of Gadhafi, won’t end well for the Libyan people, or — for that matter — the American people. For the former, it will mean being thrust into a system of debt and dependency created by the U.S., the WTO and the World Bank, one in which when the American Empire says, “Jump,” the satellites say, “How high?” And for the average American, it’s just another episode subjecting her to the crushing weight of never-ending war.
All of the rhetoric about opening Libya to “free trade” and aiding in its “development,” in the rebuilding process, will amount to big government contracts and access to a fresh cache of resources for privileged, Western multinationals. That framework is decidedly opposite what market anarchists mean by free markets.
For the political class, with its banking cartel financing the whole enterprise of occupation, there nothing to do but cheerlead while people die. After all, Gadhafi is such a bad guy.
The good news? Human freedom wins; on a long enough timeline, it has to, the forces of enslavement, authority and hierarchy having always been damned by their own essential character, by the fact that they will always be fated for new crises. As sovereign, individual human beings, morally autonomous and naturally free, we decide when freedom wins, whether it takes longer or shorter.
We decide whether we’re going to fall in line as crude apologists for the injustices of the total state, or stand and be counted as advocates for voluntary exchange — true free markets — and mutual respect among all people. Doing the latter means opposing the United States’ military dominion over the world, in Libya and everywhere else.