Good Reads: Libya's oil, WikiLeaks' hit list, and Rwandan cyclists
Was the Libyan war really all about oil after all? Statements by France and Libya's interim government suggest it was a consideration, at the least. Today's Good Reads also shouts out pieces on WikiLeaks and a New Yorker piece about cycling enthusiasts in the hills of Rwanda.
Ever since the rebellion began in Libya, antiwar critics across Africa have repeated the mantra “it’s about the oil,” and Western diplomats would insist, “it’s about democracy and citizens overthrowing dictators.” Now, in a Guardian story, Julian Borger and Terry Macalister write that it may have been all about oil after all.Skip to next paragraph
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Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, has indicated that his country expects to get a good chunk of the oil exploration rights from the new Libyan government; British Petroleum, the state-owned oil company, also told the Guardian that it is in talks with the rebel government.
Mr. Juppe’s motto in all this seems to be “c’est normal.”
According to the Guardian, which quoted RTL radio, Juppe said: "What I know is the (National Transitional Council, Libya's interim government) said very officially that concerning the reconstruction of Libya it would turn in preference to those who helped it. That seems fair and logical to me."
The Guardian piece points out that the rebels are likely to favor its Western backers over the oil companies of countries that were more supportive of Muammar Qaddafi, such as those from Russia, China, and Brazil. Those three countries are part of BRICS, a grouping of emerging economic powers that also includes India and South Africa.
By backing Mr. Qaddafi, or at least by criticizing the Western effort to support the anti-Qaddafi rebels, BRICS nations may have hurt their own chances to enter the Libyan game, the Economist points out this week in a strong political piece that focuses on South Africa.
The South African government argues that it “holds the moral high ground” by opposing NATO’s air operation to support rebels in Libya, the Economist writes. Even though South Africa’s own ruling party had a military wing that fought to bring down the apartheid government, “the government now says there can be ‘no justification in the use of violence to solve global challenges, whether social, political or economic.’ The removal of repressive autocracies, it says, should be achieved by negotiation, not by the bullet.”
Is the South African government standing on principle, or is it standing in the dust as the bus of Libyan business opportunities pulls away?
The full text of the cables was in an encrypted file accidentally released by WikiLeaks and posted in multiple places on the Internet. A book released earlier this year about WikiLeaks by two Guardian reporters discloses the password necessary to access the encrypted file, making the information accessible to anyone with the password.
Both Wikileaks and the newspapers that published the cables are blaming each other for the release. The effect could be the end of careers, and in some cases, the deaths of people who are quoted by name in the cables as having spoken with US diplomats.
First, a word about who in their right mind would speak with US diplomats: Often, they are journalists who have agreed to help explain to US diplomats what is happening in a foreign country. Sometimes they are high profile politicians or business leaders who have insight into how the political elite thinks, or what they are likely to do next. Occasionally, in a repressive country like Iran or China or Zimbabwe, these individuals are taking great personal risk speaking to the US government.