The US spent over two billion dollars during NATO’s armed assault on Libya both in ordnance used during months of aerial bombardment and in covert support for terrorists used as proxy ground forces in the overthrow of the Libyan government. The United Kingdom is estimated to have spent even more. Hundreds of millions were spent by other NATO members throughout the duration of the assault. The “protection of civilians” was repeatedly cited as the altruistic justification for such an expenditure in manpower and financial resources.
In the wake of the conflict, it was revealed that NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” left entire cities filled with unarmed civilians encircled by Al Qaeda-linked militants and relentlessly bombarded by NATO sorties while food, water, gas, and power were intentionally cut off to “starve” the inhabitants into submission. It was also revealed that the threat to civilians cited by NATO members was fabricated by those NATO chose to replace the targeted Libyan government with.
Similar scenarios have played out in Syria, Ukraine, and even North and West Africa. At the cost of hundreds of millions, French troops have invaded and occupied several African nations over the course of the past 3 years, including five of their former colonies, namely Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. And while the French government claims their justification is fighting terrorism and improving security (hundreds of miles from their own shores) much of the terrorism is a direct result of NATO’s intervention in Libya and the intentional arming of immense terrorist networks in the process that have proliferated money, arms and all the strife that follows, across the region.
Doubts rightfully linger over the intentions of the West and its “humanitarian interventions.” But surely when the opportunity arose to execute an unquestionable act of altruism, the West would rise to the challenge. Surely when civilian lives and security really demanded international intervention the US, British, and French would be there with their apparently limitless resources, tens of thousands of eager helping-hands, and equipment to meet the challenge. But instead they are absent.
As of mid August, the death toll amid a deadly Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa neared 1,000. These are well documented deaths monitored by both local hospitals and international agencies. Unlike the fabricated numbers offered by politically-motivated rivals in a war zone, those dying from Ebola in Africa are enumerated and real. With the virus spreading across borders and with infected patients inadvertently or intentionally being flown off the continent, it would appear a real humanitarian catastrophe is underway, one that warrants a “humanitarian intervention,” at least as much as Libya supposedly did.
In a Guardian op-ed titled, “Concerned about Ebola? You’re worrying about the wrong disease,” writer James Ball claims the seasonal flu should be more of a concern than Ebola and that those worrying about 1,000 dead Africans are merely succumbing to hysteria. Ball would go on to claim, “around 300,000 people have died from malaria, while tuberculosis has likely claimed over 600,000 lives.”
Surely then, using Ball’s logic, even the most hysterical claims made by NATO’s proxies in Libya should have gone ignored compared to the death toll exacted by malaria or tuberculosis. Why spend 2 billion dollars in less than a year on a conflict killing so few when other threats to the general population are so much larger? And perhaps Ball has a point.
No Return On Investment
If deciding to aid those in need is determined by the scale of suffering in proportion to other crises sweeping the globe, then neither the Ebola outbreak nor the alleged death tolls amid the Libyan conflict warranted Western intervention. If large scale human suffering of any kind warrants a humanitarian intervention, then surely if Libya was a candidate for intervention, so too should the Ebola outbreak. But in reality, both Ball and the “humanitarian” underpinnings used by the West to justify its intervention in Libya are wrong.
In Africa, the West’s “humanitarians” are absent. The US has pledged arms and training to Kiev, Ukraine as it carries out military operations against its own people, but apparently lacks the impetus, resources, and political will to help infected, struggling populations in Africa. There is no chance to capitalize from the tragedy, no opportunity to permanently expand Washington’s power further still beyond US borders and across the continent of Africa by merely distributing critical care units, medication, and resources to augment local, ongoing efforts.
Indeed, there is no return on invest for intervening in Africa to stave off the spread of Ebola and so no multi-billion dollar intervention will be undertaken.
What was already more than obvious is once again confirmed. The “humanitarian” motivations behind the West’s use of multi-billion dollar force beyond its borders is but a tenuous excuse for naked military aggression, expansionism, and neo-imperialism. The French are in their former colonies to reclaim them, exploit them, and empty them out economically, not bring them enlightenment nor truly help them in their hour of need.
It would seem in the 21st century people would by now have acquired the political sophistication to see through the multiple facets of rhetorical paradigms and begin truly grasping the nature of power, the use of force, and the various ploys used to deflect criticism and resistance to what is otherwise old fashioned empire building.
The absent humanitarians amid the Ebola outbreak, and the dismissive op-eds telling people to ignore the plight of Africa side-by-side passionate pleas to arm fascists in Kiev to help them continue the slaughter of their own people is a telling and troubling indictment of the current state of our planet and the regressive politics playing out across its surface.
Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.