”I spent 33 years….being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and the bankers. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City (Bank) boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street…. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
Marine Major General Smedley Butler
August 21, 1931 to an American Legion convention
The more things change the more they stay the same. America has a long and illustrious history of imperialistic feats as was so eloquently portrayed by Smedley Butler in 1931. The recent intervention of NATO led by the United States in the Libyan civil war is just the latest example of U.S./Western imperialism.
It all started with a massive deception. Security Council Resolution 1973 was limited in scope and simply called for the imposition of a “No Fly Zone” over Libya to protect threatened civilians from tyrant Muammar Qaddafi’s wrath. The intent was clear and mostly responsible for its passage through the Security Council as members Russia, China, India, Brazil, and Germany voted to abstain instead of against the resolution.
However, from the very beginning NATO’s intent to liberate Libya not just protect its citizens became clear. NATO bombings went beyond aircraft, anti-aircraft batteries and the like to troop formations, oil installations, and other infrastructure. Even though Obama said there would be no need for “boots on the ground”, reports broke that American Special Forces had been on the ground prior to the beginning of the social unrest?
Why the special interest in Libya?
There is no doubt it has nothing to do with the well-being of the Libyan people. It is all about Libya’s oil reserves. In 2004, after Qaddafi ended his quest for weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush lifted sanctions against Libya. Since then American companies have invested heavily in Libya. For instance, energy giants ConocoPhillips and Marathon have each invested about $700 million.
Perhaps not understanding how the system of Western corporatism functions, Qaddafi over time began demanding tougher contract terms, big bonuses up front, and most remarkably he demanded that global oil companies operating in Libya pay the $1.5 billion bill for Libya’s role in the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 and other terrorist attacks or face “serious consequences” for their oil leases. Possibly the last straw for Western imperialists was Qaddafi’s plan to unite African and Arab states under a new currency to rival the dollar and Euro. Under the proposal, oil and other resources would be sold only for gold dinars. The economic implications for the West would be immense.
So when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Tripoli last week shortly after Qaddafi’s slaying in the streets of Misrata, it was difficult for her to hold back her glee at another conquest for Western corporate interests. Even before Qaddafi’s death on October 20, representatives from 80 French firms arrived in Tripoli to meet officials of the Transitional National Council. And in the meantime, British defense minister, Philip Hammond strongly advised British companies to “pack their Suitcases’ for Libya.
If you look up ‘western companies returning to Libya” on Google News there are a slew of articles about American and European security, construction, infrastructure, and oil companies being ready, willing, and able to “carve-up” the spoils of war there. Funny how those same corporations didn’t spend the billions of dollars it took to “liberate” Libya. Of course, that was done by the taxpayers in NATO countries.
And so the more things change the more they stay the same. In Smedley Butler’s day, the admissions in his speech rocked the country to its core. Perhaps someday in the future another courageous American commander from the Libyan war will make a similar speech acknowledging his complicity in Western imperialism in that country. But with the internet and the growth of the alternative media that speech is unnecessary. Anybody has the ability to find the truth on their own.
Article first published as The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same on Blogcritics.