Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the president of the Green parliamentary group in the European Parliament, loves military interventions, as long as they satisfy imperial interests. His demand to impose a no-fly zone over Libya is only the first step. It would not be the first war which he would like others to fight for him; to this end he has been downplaying Nazi fascism for years: In 1993 he shouted at the Green party conference that war had to be waged against Yugoslavia because the Bosnian Muslims were a “part of European culture" and were "people with our same blood" [i] In 1994 he seriously likened the situation in besieged Goražde with the Warsaw ghetto.
Currently he is abusing the memory of the Spanish civil war, the crushing of the social revolution by the fascists, to justify a war against Libya: “… I know that every historical comparison is a bit silly, but still - 36 in Spain, we allowed the Germans, with Franco, to massacre the Republicans; it was horrendous, but the French, the English did nothing back then. I think that our generation should behave differently in this respect.”[ii]
The war – a generational question?
Why this war? Why not one against Morocco, for example, where an absolutist monarchy exploits the population, has occupied the neighbouring state Western Sahara with military power since 1975 and orders the incarceration and murder of dissidents? Of course, I am not proposing such a war, I am just testing the logic of the Green agitator. The Sahrawi resistance movement, the Polisario, gave up their partisan warfare in 1991, because the UN promised a vote with the chance of independence for Western Sahara. Since then the Sahrawis have been betrayed by the UN and the EU; Morocco's cooperation with the EU is excellent: Together they plunder the resources of Western Sahara, African migrants on their way to Europe are caught and held captive in camps.
What is the deal with Libya? Who is the “opposition“ that Cohn-Bendit – as he argued almost hysterically on German public TV station ZDF – wants to supply arms to and for whose benefit does he want Libya to be bombarded?
Muammar Al-Ghaddafi was a good friend of the capitalist states. He accepted “structural adjustment” imposed by the IMF and supplied oil. Ben Ali, Mubarak and Ghaddafi were not just friends with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, as Cohn-Bendit's polemics would have it now. I remember Otto Schily's* visit in Ghaddafi's tent. And the Green foreign secretary Josef Fischer paid jolly visits to Hosni Mubark over many years.
A critical analysis finds that the situation in Libya is different from the one in Tunisia or in Egypt. There are fewer young unemployed and trade unionists rising up. The hero of the Libyan “rebels” in the country's east is King Idris, ousted in 1969, of all people, who had the same intimate ties to the US government as the Shah of Persia. Neither in Tunisia nor in Egypt were there any royalist flags at the anti Mubarak protests.
Is it a coincidence that the most productive oil fields are located in the Eastern part of Libya? Precisely where the chosen "rebels" who are supposed to profit from a military intervention live? Two representatives of the Libyan "opposition" persuaded the EU and Cohn-Bendit of the necessity of war. But there are approximately 140 "tribes" in Libya about whom the EU also knows very little.
Why am I reminded of the Taliban who grew with help from the USA? Why am I reminded of the revolting, unforgivable comparison between Kosovo and Auschwitz, which the Green foreign secretary Josef Fischer used to justify NATO's war against Yugoslavia? And why did the USA claim that the Iraq had chemical weapons plants, which never existed? These are questions which must be answered by crazed Green parliamentarians, rather then getting others to fight a war for them.
The best way to help an emancipatory opposition movement in Libya, if there is one, is to try and prevent a military intervention, amongst other things, and to strengthen what must grow from a grassroots level.
An abbreviated version of this article appears in today’s edition of TAZ
* Otto Schily is a Green turned Social-Democrat who was Minister of Interior in the Schröder government [Tlaxcala's note]
[i] Quoted according to: Mathias Geis: »Immun gegen Mitleiden«, in: die tageszeitung on 11.10.1993
[ii] Daniel Cohn-Bendit interviewed by Theo Koll, ZDF Spezial »Blutiger Machtkampf in Libyen«, on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsk6QsiI9X4, posted on 24.2.2011 [3:00-3:22 mins]