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NAY-TO: The Alliance of Disarray

Author bio: 
Richard Cottrell

"The war is not necessarily proceeding to Japan's advantage."  So we are told the emperor of Japan solemnly informed his subjects after the US vaporized two large, undefended, non-military targets with the concentrated energy of the sun. Barak Obama, along with his sidekicks Bomber 'Dave' Cameron and Little Napoleon Sarkozy, are having similar bother with their own lovely little war in Libya, which is definitely not proceeding according to plan. Namely, even as the bombs rain on civilian targets in Tripoli,  the Evil One, Muammar Gaddafi, lounges in the comely arms of gorgeous Natasha (occupation: nurse/Ukrainian all-in female champion wrestler) while his troops make mincemeat of the bob tail rebels out there in the back yard.

Surreal eh? Does anyone make sense of this war/not war?  And isn't it rather mean to do this sort of the thing with Prince Charming about to introduce yet another ex-nanny to the usually fatal, asp-infested bosom of the British 'Royal Family.' Personally, I think none other than Silvio Berlusconi of Bunga-Bunga Land was spot on when he announced the Italians were taking their spaghetti home because they had done enough already. Which was, nothing at all.

This was supposed to be the big NATO gang bang where everyone came to the ball. Out of 28 invited guests all but six (ish) turned out to be party poopers. The bouncers grudgingly let the Swedes in to make up the numbers, but with a letter from home forbidding their pilots to drop anything nastier than open sandwiches.  The British ran out of bombs, or couldn't find where they put them,  the French kept hitting the rebels they are supposed to defend (old habits die hard), the Qataris who arrived with a pair of WW1 biplanes loaded with flour bombs ran out of fuel and sought asylum in Malta.  The Americans are neither in the war nor out of it at the same time, like the co-combatant ruse in WW1.

Dear me, fretted the Washington Post and War Telegraph: "NATO attacks are becoming less precise and lethal." Get that stuff? The great peace-loving mission spraying the joys of democracy across Libyan skies like some kind of sticky molasses isn't killing enough people who happen to be standing around, trying to get on with their lives, shaking fists at interlopers roughing up what is, or was, easily the most developed nation in the Arab world.

You can tell times are hard when three men who have never felt the rough scratch of army serge next to their soft velvety flesh in their entire lives start writing want-ads in the newspapers asking for more time to murder people. I mean, Cameron even draft dodged out of the Eton officer training corps! Even on circus stilts fitted with elevator heels Sarkozy would still be too short to peep over the recruiting sergeant's desk. As for Obama, he'd get lost on the way. Excuse me, am I on the right road for the war/registrar of births?  Of course you can make too much of leaders with wartime experience. Just remember Churchill and the Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Norway, the Dieppe Raid, and other such mighty set-backs  of the British Empire, and you get the picture.

Truth is always the first casualty in any war. Another grandstand feature is the playbook of atrocity stories, in which you will have noticed, the official baddies are always the perpetrators. When the British bomb Libyan civilians that's an accident of the sort you must expect in war (as he not of the Eton officer corps actually said with that weirdly spherical podgy face of his). You've got all this in Libya and if it were not so utterly grotesque, it would be merely sad. As it is, we have clearly understood nothing from spearing babies and roasting nuns in WW1, or even tossing the new born out of their incubators in Kuwait a few years back. What war needs is the oxygen of theatre to keep it going. So of course do embattled leaders.

What Obama actually needs right now (apart of course from a birth certificate which isn't made out in invisible ink) is a  'war of necessity' that 'he' can actually win. Little Napoleon and  Bomber Dave are in the same leaky lifeboat, their electoral appeal yellowing at the edges. So Gaddafi, who is genuinely a horrible old toad, is inflated to the status of monster demon the world cannot live with, although the vast majority of Libyans evidently can. But there is something else this desperate triumvirate need and that is a winnable war of purpose to deify the alliance of peace and progress which at the moment looks embarrassingly more like NAY-TO than  NATO. All the tricks of light you can summon  - and there are plenty in the corporate media, 'NATO'  bombing this, that and the other –  cannot transform a war performed by just three serious committed combatants into a full-blown 'NATO' war (sorry, peace mission).

As it is, Guido Westerwelle, Angel Merkel's foreign minister who found himself projected around the globe as Public Enemy Number One for taking the back seat, now seems to have made the smart call.  But that was a funny episode indeed. The Germans, of all people, publicly reviled and humiliated for not wanting to go to war! Out came all the usual peacenik tut-tutting and general clap-trap of that kind, Germany "stepping aside from the post-war consensus" and other such bull droppings. Even the long dead/murdered Baader-Meinhof gang were exhumed to illuminate the new Red Peril dangling over the Fatherland.

The scrap in the desert is of course all about oil, what with Libya having the largest reserves in Africa, fourth largest on the planet. It is also about the expansion of the One World Mission to seize Libya's very substantial reserves of precious metals and not least, water, of which Libya, thanks to the Great Demon, has plenty. Gaddafi was never shy about selling the West all the oil it asked for and rubbing his hands. But as the Iraqis have discovered, that's not enough without handing over the property rights which are promised to the all-strangling global octopus called the Oilocracy

As I explain in my new book on NATO (see below) back in 1999 the alliance committed itself to a thorough re-jig of its central mission, which henceforth would be hitched to wars of resources and the humanitarian type of relief provoked by great movements of populations. There has been one of those going on Sudan for, well, forever, but given the Sudan has no oil, or for that matter much of anything except drought, misery and hunger, NATO is nowhere to be seen. A year ago the great humanitarian bomber Albright of the Balkans took a great deal of NATO coin to say the exactly the same thing all over again. So one would have imagined that having voted all these lofty ambitions through without a single veto (just like the old Warsaw Pact), there would be a rush of volunteers for the Libyan Crusade. So why so many came over shy all of a sudden?

The Long War in Afghanistan is only partly an explanation, because the fighting there is entering its final phases and it's largely a question now of picking the site for the peace conference and patching up some sort of fudge that allows NATO (sorry, US) bases to remain as a permanent fixture. No, the catch with Libya was the slippage from the no-fly camouflage to an invasion that would inevitably drag in other countries of the Maghreb, quite possibly or even probably turn seriously messy and more important, create a huge amount of instability in the European Near Abroad. This was the clever call of Herr Guido Westerwelle (and to be fair, Berlusconi too).

We can say that the split which has divided NATO is exactly that: the gap in comprehension between America's Far Abroad, way distant  from US shores, and the warm waters of the Med which Europe shares with her own Near Abroad just the other side of the basin. In the past, the US exported its proxy war against the Russians to Europe, and Libya/Iraq/Afghanistan is a re-run. Cynically to US eyes, the old canard that we fight them there instead of here. Europeans, meaning the people at large not popinjays like Cameron and Sarkozy, have concluded this is a war too close for comfort. And they are right. 

Richard Cottrell is the author of Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, a revisionist study of the Alliance and its future, a coming attraction from Progressive Press. He is a former member of the European Parliament, broadcaster and author of critical works on the EU and the NATO-promoted fascist junta installed in Greece in 1967.