“The bombing of Mali highlights all the lessons of western intervention” by Glenn Greenwald [The Guardian]

* The west African nation becomes the eighth country in the last four years alone where Muslims are killed by the west *

14 January 2013

[Excerpted]

As French war planes bomb Mali, there is one simple statistic that provides the key context: this west African nation of 15 million people is the eighth country in which western powers – over the last four years alone – have bombed and killed Muslims – after Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Philippines (that does not count the numerous lethal tyrannies propped up by the west in that region). For obvious reasons, the rhetoric that the west is not at war with the Islamic world grows increasingly hollow with each new expansion of this militarism. But within this new massive bombing campaign, one finds most of the vital lessons about western intervention that, typically, are steadfastly ignored.

First, as the New York Times’ background account from this morning makes clear, much of the instability in Mali is the direct result of Nato’s intervention in Libya. Specifically, “heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya” and “the big weaponry coming out of Libya and the different, more Islamic fighters who came back” played the precipitating role in the collapse of the US-supported central government…

…Second, the overthrow of the Malian government was enabled by US-trained-and-armed soldiers who defected…he west is once again at war with the very forces that it trained, funded and armed. Nobody is better at creating its own enemies, and thus ensuring a posture of endless war, than the US and its allies. Where the US cannot find enemies to fight against it, it simply empowers them…

…Third, western bombing of Muslims in yet another country will obviously provoke even more anti-western sentiment, the fuel of terrorism. Already, as the Guardian reports, French fighter jets in Mali have killed “at least 11 civilians including three children”. France’s long history of colonialization in Mali only exacerbates the inevitable anger…

…Fourth, for all the self-flattering rhetoric that western democracies love to apply to themselves, it is extraordinary how these wars are waged without any pretense of democratic process…

…Finally, the propaganda used to justify all of this is depressingly common yet wildly effective. Any western government that wants to bomb Muslims simply slaps the label of “terrorists” on them, and any real debate or critical assessment instantly ends before it can even begin. “The president is totally determined that we must eradicate these terrorists who threaten the security of Mali, our own country and Europe,” proclaimed French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

As usual, this simplistic cartoon script distorts reality more than it describes it. As [‘The Independent”s columnist Owen] Jones aptly warns: “don’t fall for a narrative so often pushed by the Western media: a perverse oversimplification of good fighting evil, just as we have seen imposed on Syria’s brutal civil war.”

The French bombing of Mali, perhaps to include some form of US participation, illustrates every lesson of western intervention. The “war on terror” is a self-perpetuating war precisely because it endlessly engenders its own enemies and provides the fuel to ensure that the fire rages without end. But the sloganeering propaganda used to justify this is so cheap and easy – we must kill the Terrorists! – that it’s hard to see what will finally cause this to end. The blinding fear – not just of violence, but of Otherness – that has been successfully implanted in the minds of many western citizens is such that this single, empty word (Terrorists), standing alone, is sufficient to generate unquestioning support for whatever their governments do in its name, no matter how secret or unaccompanied by evidence it may be.

Full article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/14/mali-france-bombing-intervention-libya?INTCMP=SRCH

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