The core philosophy of the United Nations, the highest expression of vaunted “international community,” is dead-ending before our eyes over the crisis in Libya. Muammar Qaddafi is smashing the arbitrary distinction between internal and external, national and international.
As a top UN human rights official said, the humanitarian crisis in Libya is “escalating alarmingly,” requiring “humanitarian intervention.” While worst-case scenarios unfold in Tripoli, the US/UN farcically re-imposes sanctions against the Qaddafi regime.
Though a senior United Nations official said that the world should intervene to stop the bloodshed in Libya, the president of the ‘sole remaining superpower,’ with a larger and more technologically sophisticated military than the rest of the world combined, is following behind President Nicolas Sarkozy in Europe. Is President Obama capable of leading?
Momentous things are happening in Libya and the Arab world. But the vast majority of people in the West still feel that it’s happening ‘over there,’ affecting them only to the degree that the price of gas goes up at the pump.
A CNN weekend newscaster sounds like she might say something significant when she remarks that the slaughter in Libya “is not a completely internal affair.” But then she sticks both feet in her mouth when she adds: “when you fill up your car you know it isn’t just happening over there.”
The media reports Qaddafi is “shooting and strafing his own people.” But that is misleading. Despite the staggering numbers of foreigners fleeing Libya as Qaddafi’s regime attacks anti-government protesters, this is a real-time example of mass murder occurring while the ‘international community’ imposes sanctions and travel restrictions on Gaddafi and his sons.
In an unprecedented diplomatic development, the Libyan ambassadors to both the UN and the US have defected from the cruel and sadistic Qaddafi regime after serving him for decades.
Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, the Libyan Ambassador to the UN, said in a tearful address before the Security Council on Friday that Qaddafi is telling Libyans: “Either I rule you, or I kill you.” He pleaded, “Please, United Nations, save Libya.”
The Libyan ambassador to the United States, Ali Suleiman Aujali, having worked for Qaddafi since his coup in 1969, now says, “The mass killing must stop immediately…[and] I want the international community to take the lead.”
When asked why he remained part of this increasingly demented regime, Aujali blithely excuses his complicity by the same rationalizations that people complicit in evil have used throughout history: “There was no way to stop the brutality of Qaddafi before.”
In the ultimate, pathetic excuse of toadies everywhere, he added: “If we have some good people in positions of power, we can function.” Function how?
Another evil regime, which killed a million people in the illegal invasion of Iraq, brought Qaddafi into the circus tent of international respectability in 2008. All Qaddafi had to do was swear off weapons of mass destruction. Now that that pact between two of the devil’s own has unraveled, the ‘international community’ is worried that Colonel Crazy may use his stockpiles of mustard gas against the Libyan people, or give them to other terrorists.
As far as oil goes, Libyan reserves aren’t the immediate worry, since though the country’s output is significant, it’s still only 2% of the world’s daily gluttony. Besides, the Saudi’s have already increased their huge output to make up for the loss from Libya. The real worry is further destabilization in the region.
The ‘international community’ was always a fiction and fantasy. But is a genuine global community now emerging? Though still inchoate and largely underground, are we witnessing its painful birth process? If so, what is our relationship to it?
The mass killing in Libya is a variation on the dominant theme of power throughout human history, which is being played out and coming to a head as we speak. And it is not ‘over there,’ with ‘them;’ it’s here, with us as much as with Libyans.
People who continue to particularize, who find escape in some form of superficial localism, who don’t see and feel in their hearts what’s going on in Libya, are inwardly dead.
On the other hand, people who feel that what happens anywhere in the world is also happening where one is, are no longer psychologically complicit in murder and war.
Can the UN grow into a global institution? That no longer depends on nations and their rulers, nor is it a function of the power relations between increasingly absurd ‘sovereign nations.’
Scale has become secondary, if not irrelevant. The individual human was never insignificant. But never before has the awakening human being been more significant. We make ourselves relevant or irrelevant now.