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NATO's Cruel Inaction In Libya

Crowd of Protesters in LibyaThe human tragedy gripping Libya is appalling and cries to heavens. Unfortunately, it is more understandable to Russians than to anyone else - we also lived under a totalitarian regime and know what Mr. Qaddafi's real rule must have been like. Parallels between the Libyan regime and other Middle Eastern regimes are in fact less justified than parallels between Tripoli and La Habana, Tripoli and Pyongyang. The immense difference between totalitarian regimes and authoritarian ones consists in the fact that Qaddafi, Castro or Kim Jong Il wanted not just your vote or your business, but also your whole MIND. The word totalitarian should not be misused for anything despicable, as it is often the case today. Totalitarianism is indeed a unique "technology" of retaining power, developed in Europe and its part Russia in 1920s and 1930s and guranteeing an endlessly long hold on power (49 years in Castro's case, 42 in Qaddafi's one, etc). The price to pay is that a totalitarian state wants all of your persona, complete with your political convictions, vocabulary, aesthetic tastes or even costume style.

It so happened that the peak of fightning in Libya coincides with Mikhail Gorbachev's 80th birthday. Eerily, the video from Libya gives us the idea what the alternative to the once maligned Gorbachev's reforms could have been. It is no coincidence that Muammar Qaddafi, when visiting Moscow, called the aging Soviet leader "my brother Brezhnev."

To many, Gorbachev's "new thinking" appeared to be sheer idealism and to some it even seemed a high treason when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. In reality the "new thinking," which was not in fact practiced by Gorbachev all too strictly, now appears to be the real imperative of the day.

It is interesting that the essence of "new thinking" was best captured by Lyudmila Saraskina, a rather idealistic and impulsive literary critic, who said that being a "new thinker" meant working primarily for the joint "money-box" of humanity.

Such an approach may appear to be impractical, but how far did our pragmatism take us in the last 20 years - probably the most pragmatic and cynical years since the end of the World War II? The Libyan crisis gives us an excellent illustration for the handicaps of this kind of pragmatism. Pragmatists from the EU and NATO failed to predict real crises, concentrating on imaginary threats. If you look at the published EU and NATO policy papers, you won't see anything on the dangers of Libyan totalitarianism or the "energy blackmail" from a group of Middle Eastern countries. But you will see a lot of this stuff and outright outlandish suspicions about Russia. There was much more ink spillt on descriptions of an eventual Russian "attack" against Crimea in 2008-2009 than on Mr.Qaddafi's whole terrible rule. But at the end of the day the energy cut did not come from "these awful Russians." It came from the totalitarian Libya which everyone seems to have forgotten about long ago.

Under closer scrutiny, the EU may be seen as falling victim to its own anti-Russian bias. What are the gravest accusations against Russia? Let's take the gravest one - keeping in jail the oxumoronic "honest billionaire" Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had been vilified by the Western press up until his arrest in the year 2003. Khodorkovsky's quarrel with Putin, which had preceded his arrest, changed the attitude of papers from Vancouver to Tokyo in a second: since then and until now the same Western papers which wrote in 1991-2003 that Mr. Khodorkovsky and other Russian oligarchs "had plundered all of Russia's riches in the most shameless way" - these same papers now protest a similar assertion in the Russian court. The judge who found Mr.Khodorkovsky guilty of stealing oil (and not all of Russia's riches!) is presented to the whole world as an embodiment of evil. If the same trends persist in the mainstream European liberal press, Mr.Khodorkovsky may be soon elevated to the position of a pan-European business saint. From Saulus to Paulus, as Germans say. As for the anti-Khodorkovsky newpaper reports published before 2003, we shall just throw them away. Out of our pure European minds....

I don't wish Mr.Khodorkovsky's death and ruin, but making him a saint is a thankless job. Especially if, as it turned out, there are some more urgent problems to tackle in Libya, where a real totalitarian state (and not an imaginary "Putin's energy empire"!) is in the process of disintegration, with rivers of blood already flowing.

Where is the much praised NATO and its famous security and democracy "projected in all azimuths?" Busy with plans to protect the Baltic states from the mythical "Russian attacks," the NATO never prepared itself for Qaddafi's fall. The reasults are now for everyone to see - they are terrible and shameful.

"I think the events in the Middle East will remove the last obstacles on the way to Nord Stream and South Stream," - said Sergei Karaganov, the head of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy (CFDP). "The EU needs these pipelines. As for the talk about "energy security" - now it is becoming clear that it was just a nice way to increase the Western part of the rent for Russia's natural resources and to reduce Russia's one".
So, all talk about "demonopolizations" of deliveries of Russian gas via Gazprom and its Western partners, such as E.ON, had a simple explanation. Someone wanted to get his share of Gazprom's and E.On's profits...

Now this plan, the real force behind the "third energy package" seems to have been put to the back-burner - we can make this conclusion from the speech of the European Commission's head Barrosu at the recent meeting with Putin. One could not agree more - with a little shadenfreude, of course. The human suffering in Libya did not make the NATO and EU officials change course and send the most powerful army in human history to save lives. But the threat of cuts in Libyan oil supplies did just that - making them forget years of talks about "overdependance" on this undemocratic, unclean Russia - with all of our sins forgiven in a minute...


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