"And so Mr Obama presented the humanitarian argument as the main justification for intervention"
Of course he did! As I pointed out in my previous article:
Throughout history leaders have used humanitarian rhetoric to justify and legitimise their imperial goals. As Noam Chomsky explains:
"The French were carrying out a "civilizing mission", Mussolini was nobly uplifting the Ethiopians. If we had records from Genghis Khan when he was massacring tens of millions of people, he probably also had a "noble vision". See if you can find an exception"(Chomsky, 2005, 'Imperial Ambitions', Penguin Group, p.118).
Unsurprisingly, the Independent article takes for granted that Obama's stated goals are his real goals (despite the fact there is very credible evidence that Libya is being attacked for rapacious reasons) and focuses on whether his noble objectives can be achieved.
In 1984 Orwell showed how easily friends and enemies change their roles. There are many examples: before the Gulf War Saddam was supported despite his disgusting human rights record, but his human rights abuses were used to justify the war when he threatened Western oil interests by invading
. 'Our' leaders also supported the brutal dictator Manuel Noriega, despite the fact that he was involved in the drugs trade, because he was useful in the war against Kuwait . In 1984 and 1989 he stole both elections in a similar fashion. On the first occasion he was supported and praised; on the second he was vilified and the way was prepared for the invasion of Panama in December 1989. The reason for such hypocrisy is clear: in every case it is because the henchman has asserted his independence from his boss in Nicaragua . "It's all quite predictable, as study after study shows. A brutal tyrant crosses the line from admirable friend to 'villain' and 'scum' when he commits the crime of independence" (Chomsky, N. 'What Uncle Sam Really Wants', 1992, p.51). Washington
Two other Independent articles also provide a brilliant example of this warped perspective:
23 February 2011
To neutralise threats, Colonel Gaddafi became a master of divide and rule, bribing the Wafalla to stay loyal while ensuring that other tribes and ethnicities were at daggers drawn with each other. … At the same time, he built up brutal paramilitary forces and recruited a spying network of formidable size and prominence even by Middle Eastern standards. You could not walk down a street in Tripoli without remarking on the amazing number of young men with nothing better to do than lean against walls and gaze around. Long-term watchers of Colonel Gaddafi remember the way he toyed with sub-Saharan Africa, championing the notion of Africa United - while his own citizens treated the Africans on their doorstep worse than dirt.