Thursday, 13 September 2012

Libyan embassy killings

Official reaction to the brutal murders of US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three associates has been predictably selective: 'we condemn such mindless violence.'

The possibility that mindful US violence might be a key determinant of such killings can never be likewise admitted.

It's the darkest of ironies, though not an unforeseen consequence of western 'intervention': a key American official killed in 'liberated' Libya where US/Nato actions to oust Gaddafi has only encouraged more militia rule, elevated jihadist militancy and intensified Arab hatred of Washington.

Cue indignant responses from Hillary Clinton and other western voices now condemning Libyans for turning on America after its leading role in supporting the insurgents. Coming on the anniversary of 9/11, much of the western media has followed in feeding the shallow narrative of 'thankless Arabs'.

Such is the continuing Orientalist view of 'liberal assistance' which still prevails in both policy 'understandings' and media coverage of Middle Eastern societies and Islamic sensibilities, an expedient myopia which can only issue standard denunciations of the embassy killings and a prudent distancing from those who made the 'film' (the word 'puerile' doesn't remotely begin to describe its content and production) which apparently sparked the attacks in Benghazi, Cairo and elsewhere.

Of course, the alleged filmmaker, US-based 'Sam Bacile', and his promoters, financial and ideological, knew exactly what kind of incendiary effect it would have. Such calculation, pandering to right-wing, conservative hatred of anything Muslim, in no way excuses the violence of those storming the embassy and the murder of its staff. Yet, 'Bacile' and his associates bear a heavy responsibility for propagating such an ignorant, hateful message, maliciously setting out to distort and slander Islam as a religion.

Initiated and backed, allegedly, by fervent anti-Islamists with assorted Zionist and Coptic Christian agendas, it also, I'm sure, deeply offends many Jews and Christians who, whatever their political feelings, recognise and accept Islam in a spirit of tolerance, just as most Muslims respect Judaism and Christianity.

But the furore around the film also serves as a smokescreen to the bigger crime of Western interference in Libya and the violence which the US openly celebrates:
"Indeed, it’s a horrific irony that Hillary Clinton’s infamous gloating about Gaddafi’s execution – “We came, we saw, he died” – has now come full circle, with Stevens paying for such despicable arrogance with his life..." 
A useful diversionary tack by Clinton, Obama and an enabling media has been to read the murders not as a reaction to the actual film but as another premeditated 9/11 attack. Again, whether true or not, this still serves the purpose of narrowing such actions to the work of isolated extremists, the mirror contrivance of America as a resilient, trusted force for peace and security. In stark reflection, across the region and beyond, the precise opposite image is the case.

Yet, America's 'benevolent' intentions and losses remain more worthy of note than any foreign other. Such is the ingrained culture of American exceptionalism. While correctly laying the principal blame for the embassy murders on those who did the actual killing, Glenn Greenwald states that:
"It is hard not to notice, and be disturbed by, the vastly different reactions whenever innocent Americans are killed, as opposed to when Americans are doing the killing of innocents. All the rage and denunciations of these murders in Benghazi are fully justified, but one wishes that even a fraction of that rage would be expressed when the US kills innocent men, women and children in the Muslim world, as it frequently does. Typically, though, those deaths are ignored, or at best justified with amoral bureaucratic phrases ("collateral damage") or self-justifying cliches ("war is hell"), which Americans have been trained to recite."
Like Greenwald, Craig Murray makes the same valid point that while the killing of ambassador Stevens has been met with US outrage and the promise of bringing those responsible to book, the daily killing of other, anonymous victims of US and Israeli state-directed violence across the Middle East, notably Palestine, merits no such response.

And so the spectre of 'violence as solution' continues, unremittingly peddled by the US and its allies, an 'option' also still rationalised as a 'difficult necessity' by many errant liberals.

Nato's bombing of Libya has brought no respite from the killing and insecurity in that now increasingly volatile state. Beyond the publicity of this crass and offensive film, this is the real context of the embassy killings.

Might the lesson of such useless bloodshed now become more apparent in the case of Syria?

The UN's chief observer has just released a timely warning against US/Nato, Saudi and Turkish support for the Syrian rebels, insisting that the funding/arming of the Free Syrian Army and jihadist militias is only helping to intensify the violence, limiting any prospect of a diplomatic-led peace.

In a crucial blow to Netanyahu's lobbying for a US-assisted strike on Iran, a major Pentagon-sourced report by General Martin Dempsey, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also warns of the catastrophic implications of such actions.

Yet, even while such rational calculus and policy wariness prevail, crippling sanctions and economic war against Iran still proceeds, financial and political support for Israeli aggression continues, the arming of FSA and jihadi forces increases and other US/Nato violence-based destabilisation of the region deepens.

Depressingly, one can only expect more of the same backlash violence.


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