As the battle for Tripoli continues, the Gadaffi regime appears to be tottering towards collapse, but huge question marks remain over the future of Libya. The western backed rebels are a loose and contradictory confederation of tribal, political and religious interests; and the intervention of Britain and France in particular in the bombing of the country, which has been largely ascribed as the crucial factor in the rebels' success, is likely to be one requiring payback from any new government. Britain alone has fired over £250,000,000 worth of missles and bombs into a country that last year the Con Dem Government was happy to sell almost as much "crowd control" equipment to, while the British SAS trained the Leader's elite guards (though maybe not so well as it has turned out).
Like Iraq, Libya is one of the few Arab states with a large public sector, boasting clean water, free education (for males and females) and health services unrivalled in the rest of the region. Along with state controlled industries, these are now ripe for the capitalist "liberation" of the economy which has so often gone hand in hand with supposed political liberation in the history of US and UK military intervention. With the rebels already hundreds of millions of euros in debt to the EU for loans to cover their war effort, the level of western influence and pressure on any new administration to comply with European demands for access to the Libyan economy is already massive. Oil is perhaps less of an issue, as it was already substantially in western hands. But public sector privatisation and the sanctioning of the Desertec solar array plan, which Gadaffi's regime opposed, are clearly tempting prospects for western business interests.
While an overwhelming number of British parliamentarians have meekly gone along with Britain's military role, which far exceeded any "mission to protect civilians", Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, was one of just 15 MPs who voted against the intervention (compared to 557 in favour). Today, she has issued a statement which, while welcoming the fall of Gadaffi, warns the West not to intervene, but rather that the Libyans be allowed to run their country free from external interference.
But the lessons from Libya Caroline Lucas calls for include acting on the need for a greater ethical dimension in British Foreign and trade policies - both the last and current British governments happily engaged with Gadaffi in return for cash. And while Deputy PM Nick Clegg talked about Britain aiding freedom in Arab states earlier this week, the same Government he leads with David Cameron just weeks ago happily hosted the Crown Prince of Bahrain, whose regime brutally crushed protests and calls for democracy earlier this year. And who can forget Cameron's opportunistic appearance in Egypt's Tahrir Square at the head of a delegation of arms merchants?
British Governments have to practice what they preach; for now, their policy reeks of the rank stench of rotten hypocrisy and self-serving sanctimony.
Caroline Lucas' full statement can be read here.
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