Libya – a potential catastrophe

Nationalism is a strange concept. Marx thought that the struggle between nations would be superseded by the class struggle. The recent demos & demands in North Africa & the Middle East have been characterised by nationalism, waving the national flag & singing the national anthem. When the Chilean miners trapped underground for weeks emerged the first thing they did was to sing the national anthem.

Nationalism & nationhood is a shifting sands concept. The map of Europe is constantly changing. From the days of the Austro Hungarian empire to socialism under the hegemony of the Soviet Union. Africa was carved up by Europe across tribal lines into entirely artificial nations. In South America, the countries there were created entirely by Iberian conquerors, if conquerors is the right word, which it probably isn’t. USA & Canada were created after the indigenous population were either killed or neutralised as is the case with Israel, Australia & New Zealand. In the UK we can’t seem to decide whether we are primarily British or Welsh / Scottish / English / Irish. Even the Islamic Arab countries were artificially created after the collapse of the Ottoman empire during the World War I. Iran is a sort of expanded Persia.  It is true that in the UK we are less nationalistic that in most other countries so perhaps this doesn’t matter.

The omens are not good for North Africa & the Middle East. None of the so-called revolutions are working out well. In Libya especially; Gaddafi has fought back & unless an outside force intervenes, the whole house is going to collapse & he will be back in charge of the place & woe betide the losers. What is happening in the areas where he has regained control? Are there mass graves already for his enemies, those who wanted him out?

The situation is a mess. There is no ideal solution at least not one which has any chance of happening. If the West intervenes it will probably be like Iraq & Afghanistan before too much time has elapsed. If the West doesn’t intervene Gaddafi will in the next month or 2 be back in power. At the moment it looks like Iraq all over again.

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