New Internationalist

The price of invasion

On 25 March Nato announced that it was taking over command of the air strikes of Libyan forces from the US. Allied forces have been bombarding Qaddafi’s forces to stop them from killing civilians.

But a crucial question has to be asked: is the intervention in Libya motivated by the fact that Libya has got vast oil fields? It might seem so. Millions of people have been slaughtered in Africa but the world has watched with folded arms. Libya is practically floating on oil – it has been said that some of its oil is so pure that it can be poured straight into a car! – and as such is a perfect candidate for an invasion.

Up to a million Ivorians have fled their homes, fleeing from fighting sparked by the stand-off between president-elect Alassante Outtara and the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, who lost the elections but refuses to leave office. It has been going on for months but there has been no tangible intervention from the world. Lt General Yoweri K Museveni of Uganda still enjoys freedom after presiding over the deaths of over seven million people in the Congo, and within Uganda itself, nearly two million ethnic Acholis – more than 90 per cent of the population – have been confined inside death centres, where, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 1,000 civilians are dying per week through governmental neglect resulting in starvation and dehydration, and through treatable diseases. But the world looks the other way.

In April 1994 about 800,000 Tutsis and thousands of Hutus perished in Rwanda whilst the world stood by, even though a lot could have been done to prevent the massacres. In Zimbabwe we have had successive bloody elections and thousands of people have died and will continue to die as the world watches. The big brother role of the US is suspicious, to say the least.

I have witnessed on a number of occasions guys ‘disciplining’ a fellow man for beating up a wife or girlfriend. I would say such action is good if it is motivated by a desire to create a more peaceful or better world. The problem is that those who lead these crusades are equally guilty of the same crime.

The US plays the same kind of role in the world and the question is: are the Americans motivated by a desire to see a better and more democratic world? In public the US will answer yes to that question. But what does the rest of the world think? What was the motivating factor for the first Gulf War? Many nations in Africa would like the US to intervene in their nations, but I do not think the US and its allies will intervene strongly in a nation that does not have vast oil reserves.

In July 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait – and it was all about oil. Kuwait has vast oil reserves and Iraq was accusing Kuwait of lowering oil prices and thereby affecting Iraq’s revenue inflows from their own oil fields. The US invaded Iraq at the invitation of Saudi Arabia because there were real fears that Iraq would also invade Saudi Arabia and effectively control 40 per cent of the world’s oil reserves. The US could not allow that to happen!

An oppressed people will readily accept the bombing of their dictator by the US, as is the case with Libya at the moment. But Uganda, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Zimbabwe and other African countries do not have oil and therefore cannot hope for US intervention in their problems.

Should we climb atop a very tall mountain and shout from Zimbabwe: ‘Please, America and your allies, bomb us and save us from the clutches of dictatorship and gross human rights abuses! We do not have oil, but we have platinum, we have uranium, gold and diamonds!’

Maybe we should enlist the services of the controversial ‘diesel n’anga’, Rotina Mavhunga, aka Nomatter Tagarira, who three years ago made fools of President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet when she made them believe she could conjure pure diesel out of a rock and bring the country’s fuel problems to an end. If we can have a hundred Rotina Mavhungas, maybe we can convince the big brother of the world, the US, that our plight as an oppressed people is worth looking into.

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