Published: 9 October 2020
Guests: Daniel KovalikListen to Audio Download Transcript
Belmarsh prison’s most famous resident Julian Assange said “Nearly every war that has started in the past 50 years has been a result of media lies.”
In 1960 the writer Albert Camus said “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.”
Both statements are correct and interwoven. So when will we finally see through the spin to ensure there’s no more war?
Labor rights lawyer and peace activist Dan Kovalik joins host Ross Ashcroft to discuss.
The corporate media often use the phrase, ‘humanitarian intervention’ to imply a benevolent and morally justifiable use of state violence to protect ‘besieged populations’ from tyrannical regimes. But in truth the phrase is informed by imperialist exceptionalism, the augmenting of dominant forms of political power and the grabbing of resources.
Japan’s attack on Manchuria, Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, and Hitler’s occupation of Czechoslovakia were all accompanied by lofty rhetoric about the solemn responsibility to protect suffering populations. In his book, No More War, Dan Kovalik cites King Leopold’s plundering of Congo and the enslavement and murder of millions of Congolese under the pretext of protecting them from Arab slave traders, as an early example of ‘humanitarian intervention’.
Arguably, the latest manifestation of this ideology occurred in 2011 when NATO exceeded its UN Security Council ‘no fly zone’ authorization remit in Libya.
The rationale that underpinned the illegal NATO-led war of aggression against the country was a) the disproven claim that a massacre by Libyan forces took place in Benghazi and b) that the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, had launched air strikes on civilians and employed Viagra-fueled mass rape as a weapon of war.
These invented claims were shown to be, so by the time NATO started bombing and committing war crimes of their own in the city of Sirte – actions that paved the way for the emergence of various NATO-partnered jihadist groups. NATO’s stated purpose to spread democracy in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East were fig leaves for regime change.
Kovalik says the chaos and destruction in Libya was planned and that many international players stood to benefit. Italy, for example, had just signed a deal with Gaddafi to pay reparations to Libya for the crimes committed by Italy during its colonial rule of the country. The plan was torn up once Gaddafi was overthrown.
France also had its own interests. Nicolas Sarkozy had illegally received 50 million dollars from Gaddafi for his presidential campaign which was at the point of being exposed. Both France and Belgium were interested in Gaddafi’s very substantial gold reserves in Libya.
Moreover, the U.S and its allies were interested in investing in oil and securing lucrative contracts to rebuild the country’s infrastructure they had destroyed – a process author Naomi Klein termed “Disaster Capitalism.”
Kovalik says this form of creative destruction represents a relatively recent strategic shift by the dominant Western imperial powers. Up until the end of WW2, the strategy of the then dominant power, the British, was one of stewardship. This began to change post-war at a time the United States began to emerge as the dominant force.
Since then, a succession of U.S client state regimes have been pulled in different directions due to the competing geopolitical and economic interests of the players involved. ‘Strongmen’ assets such as Mobuto in Congo and, latterly, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, became increasingly unreliable for the superpower and its allies. Thus, Disaster Capitalism would emerge as the established model for ‘humanitarian interventionist’ regime change.
However, as Kovalik points out, the intention of the U.S, and by implication other Western powers, is not only to implement this model abroad, but to ensure it becomes a key feature of policy at home.
The draconian policies enacted in response to the pandemic, the resultant breakdown of the social fabric and the hollowing out of public institutions, shows how this strategy is currently being played out.
The top one per cent no longer share the same infrastructural spaces that the 99 per cent inhabit so are immune from this process. The corollary of the collapse of the social contract is the growth of private armies whose main purpose is to defend the private interests of the super-rich.
Kovalik says the only way of redressing this situation is for the public to seize the democratic institutions and rebuild society for the 99 per cent. In the view of the author, intrinsic to the rebellion will be worker and consumer general strikes and the development of revolutionary governments’.
With regards to the possibility of curtailing the ongoing war machine in the future, Kovalik is partially optimistic:
“We need to do what we have to to save this world. I think success is not guaranteed but along the way, we’ll find some fulfilment and some meaning. And that’s all that anyone can promise, I think. But you need to retain that core of hope to continue that struggle”, says the author.
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