More and more each day I think there might be something to Justin Raimondo's "bizarro world" theory - that this is actually a parallel universe, a parody of our own.
At moments it appears to be 1992 and not 2011, as John McCain and Joe Lieberman clamor for "arming the rebels" and call for sanctions and a no-fly zone. Only this time it is Libya, not Bosnia, in their sights.
As I argued last weekend, the creeping intervention in Bosnia in the 1990s was declared a brilliant success at the time, and that perception was trumpeted even more in the wake of fiascoes that were Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The current Clinton Restoration government wants nothing more than to repair the Empire's shredded credibility, shaken not only by the futile wars but also the economic crisis and the "sandstorm" of revolts in northern Africa. So they are trying for a Bosnia scenario in Libya, with the usual suspects saying the usual things, while emotional Libyans go on CNN and beg for the Empire to "do something."
Much of modern warfare is perception management (though not all of it; at the end of the day it's still men with rifles that decide things, as the Empire had plenty of opportunities to learn, but somehow never did). The problem with the Empire being so good at it, though, is that after a while other people have begun to understand it as well. So, while a freelance reporter could spin Bosnia as seventeen different flavors of aggression and genocide before breakfast, today such a mission is a tad more difficult.
For example, RT reporters in Tripoli, who were trying to confirm CNN and Al-Jazeera reports of bombings and gunfire in Libya's capital, found none of it. Which begs the question how much of what we hear as "news" from Libya is actually accurate, and how much is the product of a Hearstian directive to furnish the pictures so the Empire could furnish the war?
RT had me as a guest on their evening news yesterday, talking about that particular topic. Even a casual observer can get a sense that everything that's being said and done about Libya these days has been said and done before, in other places, regarding other people. It sounds, reads and feels like a script. Probably because it is.
What business is that of the United States of America, or the European Union, that there seems to be a civil war in Libya? Egypt and Tunisia I could understand, on account of Ben Ali and Mubarak being recipients of American and European funding. Who rules Libya and how can be of concern to the EU only regarding the number of immigrant boatloads landing in Italy, and to the U.S. not at all. Unless having oil automatically makes a country an American "territory of interest"?
Another proof that we live in a bizarre universe is that Eric Margolis and I actually agree on something. When the Empire was targeting the Serbs, he was baying for blood. Only when those bombs and missiles were aimed at Muslims did he suddenly discover the virtues of non-interventionism. Whatever his reasons, though, he's right to argue against an intervention in Libya.
To most Americans, war is an abstraction. It is something that happens in faraway lands, and may require some people to sacrifice their children, but otherwise doesn't do a thing to interfere with anyone's everyday life. There hasn't really been a war on American soil since 1865. So the generals at the Pentagon move markers on maps, and the harpies at the State Department shriek about a military that needs to be used, and the kids that enlisted because McDonald's wasn't hiring push the buttons they are told to push, and foreigners die. Except when those foreigners fight back, and those very same kids end up without lives, arms, legs, or sanity. Not that the generals, the harpies and the vast majority of the country actually care.
For far too long, America's policymakers have lived in the parallel universe of managed perception, to the point where they've begun believing their own manufactured reality is the actual one. In their heads, there's nothing like a "short, victorious war" to cheer the country up, buoy the economy, and give the ruling party a boost at the polls. If they would bother to check the actual history, they would see that this scenario has never worked, for anyone who tried it. But they don't. And so they prepare to go to the shores of Tripoli, unaware that their own Empire is unraveling so quickly that all it needs to collapse completely is just a little push. Which going into Libya just might be.