Regime Change: In Libya, Call a Spade a Spade

Regime Change: In Libya, Call a Spade a Spade

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No one expects hypocrisy to be absent from foreign policy. What is heinous and tragic is to lie to ourselves about it, or accept the lie given to us.

To say intervention in Libya is anything but militarized regime change keeps the door open for the U.S. Big Stick that has cost countless lives the world over the last century, and robs us of moral authority every place we bring it down hard.

In Libya, the major world powers led by the United States are triggering a downward spiral to more human suffering and death for their own geo-political and economic ends. In recent years, Muammar Qaddafi has been our darling, a presumed bulwark against Al-Qaeda in Africa, just as Saddam Hussein was our champion in the Iran-Iraq war, both beneficiaries of our largesse. Recognizing national sovereignty -- better said: eyes closed -- we let them use money and material that we gave them in any way they wanted, including against their own people.

Then, we changed our minds about them -- decided they must go.

Forty-six peaceful demonstrators, including a fourteen-year old boy and a journalist, were killed March 18 in Sana'a, Yemen's magical-looking capital, adding to the deaths of non-violent resisters at the hands of a dictator in power as long as Qaddafi. Why not intervene in Yemen as in Libya?

What began in quiet Bahrain a few weeks ago as joyful but serious civic marches for wider rights by Shiite and Sunni citizens has become a nightmare. Even government killings of unarmed demonstrators were not enough to quell growing resistance, so Saudi Arabia's brother monarchy sent over a thousand troops in blatant occupation of the tiny island. Why tolerate state murder and foreign occupation? Why not intervene in Bahrain as in Libya?

It is another lie to say the world wants this, and the United States is merely one nation in an alliance of humanitarian warriors. Neither India, China nor Russia, representing far more of the world's population than France, England and the United States, would commit itself to voting "Yes" in the United Nations Security Council on the Libya operation, abstaining instead. Likewise, Germany would not say yes. Also abstaining: Brazil, the largest country in the South American continent.

To recognize that Libya's rebels risk their lives by fighting the overwhelming might of the state is one thing. To militarize the crisis further with the might of major powers is another.

Accepting Washington's line that our actions are based on something that they are in fact not is to enable a foreign policy, in our name, based on fatal prevarication. This might be a good time to stop.

Mary Jo McConahay reported from the Middle East and North Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Her new book, Maya Roads, One Woman's Journey among the People of the Rainforest, is out this summer.