Noam Chomsky argues that, in western liberal “democracies”, a radical critique of the openly pro-capitalist, political right reveals little in comparison with an examination of the limits of acceptable, mainstream political discourse on the liberal left.
Liberal left scholarship and political discourse serve to protect the “left flank” of imperialism and ensure the uninterrupted accumulation of capital by the parasitic American investor class, the 1% as they have recently come to be known.
A few Canadian liberals, and many in the NDP especially, accept Chomsky’s assertions about the significance of these limits—when they are talking about the United States. But when the axiom is applied to Canadian politics, the majority shrinks from looking into the mirror, and those who attempt to hold it up are shunned.
But this mirror gives a true reflection of the monstrous moral economy of Canadian imperialism. Consider our role in the war against Libya.
The NDP, along with that dearly departed saint and my former MP Jack Layton, and all those fresh faced NDP MPs voted unanimously to support Canadian military participation in the NATO bombing of a sovereign, UN member state.
They did so under the cover of UN Resolution 1973, that gave NATO a very limited mandate to protect civilians from attack by the government of Libya by imposing a “no fly zone” for the rather meager Libyan air force over its own territory.
Even the Pentagon admitted that they “had no confirmation whatsoever” that the previous Libyan government was bombing their own people:
“Q: Do you see any evidence that he actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?
SEC. GATES: We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that.
ADM. MULLEN: That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.”
The UN resolution ignored the fact that what was going on in Libya was really a civil war fought along the old colonial and ethnic divisions between Tripolitania in the west, and Cyrenaica in the east.
The west used the resolution to take the side of the western Libyans who sold future oil concessions in exchange for arms, something completely forbidden under the resolution. Never mind that. What mattered was that the resolution gave legal cover to our radical act of violent penetration—the rape of Libya.
The western media amplified claims of “genocide” in the spring, claims it rapidly forgot once it became clear that they were supported by no facts whatsoever. In fact, the Libyan government was defending itself from the armed insurrection waged against it by the National Transition Council, with weapons supplied by western states.
The same goes for claims that Libyan armed forces were committing mass rape as a method of warfare. It was reported with almost zero investigation in the Guardian, that bastion of liberalism and human rights.
If such claims were real, then we would be seeing the evidence for them in big type on the front pages of our newspapers and on TV. Western governments love to rub our faces in propaganda or any facts that support their aims.
Real, bona fide evidence of mass rape committed by the previous Libyan government would constitute a massive propaganda coup for “our side.” But we’re not seeing the evidence, because it doesn’t exist.
The false claims of genocide and mass rape loudly voiced in the spring and early summer of 2011, served their intended purpose.
A “war pretext incident” was created, and western liberal outrage mobilized against the target de jour of the western far-right, (nice trick that) and a mandate given to “protect civilians” by means of the power of western air forces, one of the most effective means of killing them.
Never mind that there was a very real type of ethnic cleansing going on, of black African migrant workers, viciously attacked and massacred en masse for the colour of their skin. This was done by the western-backed mercenaries of the National Transition Council, which now rules the country.
None of these contradictions bothered a single NDP MP enough to stand up in the House and declare her or his principled opposition to a war waged by their own government.
None of the great hopes of the NDP left, not Libby Davies, not Peggy Nash, none stood up and said no to these lies. Instead, the NDP chose to condemn atrocities that were not really happening, and which if they had happened in Palestine or Kashmir or Colombia or Sri Lanka or Bahrain or Yemen, would not have elicited a NATO call to arms.
Davies did not ask the Prime Minister whether or not the war was wrong, only if his government had the best “exit strategy.”
The NDP played the role assigned to them by the Canadian state system, providing a useful left cover for Canadian imperialism, for a radical violence that bloodies the truth as much is it shoots the faces off of little girls. (Warning! This video is very difficult to watch.)
The NDP, as I detailed in X-Ray #28, has accepted the “responsibility to protect” doctrine. On the face of it, the doctrine would be a tremendous moral and ethical achievement, were it to be applied universally. The doctrine would have it that it is the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak.
In practice, it’s the greatest bullshit story going. It is only ever applied when western business interests want to overthrow the leader of a developing nation that resists western penetration—rape.
It is never applied to western allied states, those who cooperate with our corporate financial interests, with those who allow us to penetrate and dominate their markets. The verbs used to describe our “foreign policy” smack of rape because our foreign policy is one of generalized rape.
Libya is a very rich country. At least it was until we got there. Libya possesses the largest oil resources in Africa, larger even than Nigeria. We wouldn’t care what the old Libyan government did if Libya was not rich, or if the riches of Libya were flowing into our hands.
The real problem in Libya was that the riches were staying in Libya. Capital is actually flowing out of Africa into the west, despite western misconceptions that we subsidize Africa with development aid. Libya was an exception to this general rule.
Structural adjustment programs imposed upon African states by the IMF and World Bank saddle African governments with unpayable debts, in the same manner being introduced to the people of Greece today, with predictable results. The wealthy of Africa, just like the wealthy few in Greece export their capital to western investment banks, instead of investing it in local production.
The previous Libyan government had attempted to reverse those relationships, though with a very spotty record. It used oil revenues to create a system of universal healthcare and education. Most Libyans were decently housed.
The country had the highest Human Development Index in Africa. In comparison Nigeria, with the second largest oil reserves, and with a pliant government dependent upon western support, ranked at number 25 out of 50. Tanzania, a country where Canadian mining companies are heavily invested, ranks 30th.
The previous Libyan government was also attempting to establish an African Development Bank to provided funds to African countries. This was an obvious threat to the IMF and World Bank, which are geared not towards development but rather opening up developing markets to penetration. That’s what I call rape.
And the rapists? Western corporations, including Canadians, whose investments in Libya I have described previously here.
That penetration this time around included the total destruction of Sirte, and the very real anal rape committed against Muammar Gaddafi, the head of a UN member state, committed with a knife and caught on camera.
Despite its dovish, “humanitarian” stand, the NDP isn’t overly concerned with the very real rape of an entire nation, and its legal head of state, committed by the Canadian government and its allies. They rather aspire to take command of that government.
They have cast themselves as the “government in waiting” and so their first priority is to convince its current managers—those on Bay Street and within the murky, permanent quasi-government which is constituted by the highest ranks of the state bureaucracy, that the NDP constitutes a “safe pair of hands,” a “responsible” organization that can manage the Canadian sate in the interests of its owners – that’s not you, gentle reader.
And so, rising in the House of Commons on September 26th, NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan chose not to condemn the very real and then ongoing rape of a whole nation by the government she is sworn to hold to account (this was of course before the rape and murder of Gaddafi).
Instead, she endorsed the stated policy of her party to support that act of rape, while condemning the concocted rapes that formed the war pretext incidents, thus validating the war. It’s worth quoting her at length.
“The New Democrats supported the Canadian military mission and its extension in June in order to ensure that civilians were protected from the Gaddafi regime.
Members have heard a bit of my story before. I fled a war-torn country myself. I wanted to see international support go into my homeland but we did not see any of that. When we in the House were able to provide Canadian support with other international forces, I was happy to know that the Libyan people would get some support.
I and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party sincerely thank our military personnel and diplomats for their hard work in accomplishing the job that they did so well in Libya.
The regime was using rape as a weapon of war. Through our support for the extension of the mission in June this year, the New Democrats were successful in adding a number of amendments to address the atrocities that were being committed, including rape.
The acknowledgment that rape was being used as a weapon of war in that amended motion was quite groundbreaking. I really commend every member in the House for acknowledging that and for finally recognizing that rape was being used as a weapon of war.”
Except that it wasn’t in Libya. Sitsabaiesan’s speech pandered to common ignorance about the facts in Libya, and to the commonplace that “rape is bad.” If you’re against rape—who isn’t, except rapists—then you are on the side the angels. That’s the best the NDP Parliamentary Caucus has to offer.
The truth that dare not speak its name is that the “angels” in our government are the real rapists. The other, more interesting, more challenging truth is that their political enablers are some of the most outspoken and “progressive” members of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.