Lies, War, and Empire: NATO’s “Humanitarian Imperialism” in Libya
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
In this report I seek to examine the war against Libya in a more critical and comprehensive manner than that of the story we have been told. We hear a grand fairy tale about powerful Western nations working together to save innocent civilians in a far-off country who simply want the freedoms and rights we already have. Here we are, our nations and governments – whose officials we elect (generally) – are bombing and killing people on the other side of the world. Is it not our responsibility, as citizens of these very Western nations, to examine and critique the claims of our governments? They are, after all, killing people around the world in our name. Should we not seek to discover if they are lying?
It has been said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Libya is no exception. From the lies that started the war, to the rebels linked to al-Qaeda, ethnically cleansing black Libyans, killing civilians, propaganda, PR firms, intelligence agents, and possible occupation; Libya is a more complex story than the fairy tale we have been sold. Reality always is.
What Were the ‘Reasons’ for ‘Intervention’?
We were sold the case for war in Libya as a “humanitarian intervention.” We were told, of course, that we “needed” to intervene in Libya because Muammar Gaddafi was killing his own people in large numbers; those people, on the same token, were presented as peaceful protesters resisting the 40-plus year reign of a brutal dictator.
In early March of 2011, news headlines in Western nations reported that Gaddafi would kill half a million people. On March 18, as the UN agreed to launch air strikes on Libya, it was reported that Gaddafi had begun an assault against the rebel-held town of Benghazi. The Daily Mail reported that Gaddafi had threatened to send in his African mercenaries to crush the rebellion. Reports of Libyan government tanks sitting outside Benghazi poised for an invasion were propagated in the Western media. In the lead-up to the United Nations imposing a no-fly zone, reports spread rapidly through the media of Libyan government jets bombing the rebels. Even in February, the New York Times – the sacred temple for the ‘stenographers of power’ we call “journalists” – reported that Gaddafi was amassing “thousands of mercenaries” to defend Tripoli and crush the rebels. Italy’s Foreign Minister declared that over 1,000 people were killed in the fighting in February, citing the number as “credible.” Even a top official with Human Rights Watch declared the rebels to be “peaceful protesters” who “are nice, sincere people who want a better future for Libya.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that “thousands” of people were likely killed by Gaddafi, “and called for international intervention to protect civilians.” In April, reports spread near and far at lightning speed of Gaddafi’s forces using rape as a weapon of war, with the first sentence in a Daily Mail article declaring, “Children as young as eight are being raped in front of their families by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya,” with Gaddafi handing out Viagra to his troops in a planned and organized effort to promote rape.
As it turned out, these claims – as posterity notes – turned out to be largely false and contrived. Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International both investigated the claims of rape, and “have found no first-hand evidence in Libya that rapes are systematic and being used as part of war strategy,” and their investigations in Eastern Libya “have not turned up significant hard evidence supporting allegations of rapes by Qaddafi’s forces.” Yet, just as these reports came out, Hillary Clinton declared that the U.S. is “deeply concerned by reports of wide-scale rape” in Libya. Even U.S. military and intelligence officials had to admit that, “there is no evidence that Libyan military forces are being given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas”; at the same time Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, “told a closed-door meeting of officials at the UN that the Libyan military is using rape as a weapon in the war with the rebels and some had been issued the anti-impotency drug. She reportedly offered no evidence to backup the claim.”
An investigation by Amnesty International, released in June, attempted to assess the on-the-ground (as opposed to ‘in-the-newspapers’) reality of the claims made which led to Western “intervention” in Libya. Among the stories of mass rapes were the use, by Gaddafi, of “foreign mercenaries” and using helicopters and jets to attack rebel forces and protesters. As the Independent reported in June:
An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for these human rights violations and in many cases has discredited or cast doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence.
Hillary Clinton stated, “Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called ‘virginity tests’ have taken place in countries throughout the region,” and at the same time, the senior crisis responder for Amnesty International who was in Libya for three months following the uprising stated, “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Human Rights Watch reported, “We have not been able to find evidence.” The rebels had been very active, in fact, in manufacturing and propagating lies that supported intervention and war, as the Amnesty representative explained, “rebels dealing with the foreign media in Benghazi started showing journalists packets of Viagra, claiming they came from burned-out tanks, though it is unclear why the packets were not charred.” Further, in regards to the use of foreign mercenaries, for which many black Africans were killed and imprisoned by the rebels, Amnesty reported, “there was no evidence for this.” The Amnesty rep in Libya declared: “Those shown to journalists as foreign mercenaries were later quietly released… Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents.” Others, Amnesty reported, “were not so lucky and were lynched or executed,” as “the politicians kept talking about mercenaries, which inflamed public opinion and the myth has continued because they were released without publicity.”
Those migrants who were shown to foreign media were not represented in that media in a friendly or even falsely unbiased manner. As the Daily Mail reported at the time, publishing photos of the “savage mercenaries” who later turned out to be migrant workers, “they were a pretty sorry bunch,” and that, “you could smell their fear.” The article then went on to declare, “these men are alleged to have been among several thousand foreign thugs and gunmen that Muammar Gaddafi sent against his own people, to kill and destroy and quell the uprising in eastern Libya.” Now, claimed the Daily Mail, “they are the prisoners of the people.” However, the article continued to – several paragraphs below, mind you – quote some of the “savage mercenaries” who made statements to the reporter such as: “We did not do anything… We are all construction workers from Ghana. We harmed no one… they are lying about us. We were taken from our house at night when we were sleeping.” The reporter assessed the situation with: “Still complaining, they were led away. It was hard to judge their guilt.”
Further, with the “credible” reports – as the Italian Foreign Minister referred to them – of “thousands” of civilians killed by Gaddafi in the early weeks of rebellion, the Amnesty International investigation found that, “there is no proof of mass killing of civilians.” During the first days of the uprising, most of the fighting was in Benghazi, “where 100 to 110 people were killed, and the city of Baida to the east, where 59 to 64 were killed.” However, there were indications that some of these deaths were also pro-Gaddafi forces, and that some “protesters” had weapons, indicating that it may have been a fight as opposed to a massacre. Further, reported Amnesty: “There is no evidence that aircraft or heavy anti-aircraft machine guns were used against crowds. Spent cartridges picked up after protesters were shot at came from Kalashnikovs or similar calibre weapons.” The Amnesty report further criticized Western media coverage of the war:
Much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge.
As for the notion that NATO was bombing Gaddafi troops poised for an invasion, even the New York Times quoted a Libyan official who claimed, “that Western powers were now attacking the Libyan Army in retreat, a far cry from the United Nations mandate to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians.” This is an important point, because the reason for the UN no-fly zone was purportedly to “protect civilians,” not to “take sides” in the civil conflict between the government and the rebels. As a Libyan official stated, some Libyan forces “were attacked as they were clearly moving westbound,” as in, away from Benghazi and the rebels in the east. He further stated, “Clearly NATO is taking sides in this civil conflict. It is illegal. It is not allowed by the Security Council resolution. And it is immoral, of course.” At the same time, the NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, declared that, “NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Days before the Libyan government official claimed that Libyan forces were in retreat as they were bombed (something which would no doubt be immediately cast aside as Libyan propaganda by Western media sources), the New York Times, within days of NATO strikes beginning, reported on 20 March 2011 that, “with brutal efficiency, allied warplanes bombed tanks, missile launchers and civilian cars, leaving a smoldering trail of wreckage that stretched for miles,” and further, outside of Benghazi, “many of the tanks seemed to have been retreating, or at least facing the other way. And others were simply abandoned.”
Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, the most prestigious and influential think tank in the United States, was also a former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. Department of State, former National Security Council Senior Director, who has also been a key figure within the Brookings Institution, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In short, it is a hard thing to be a more institutionalized imperial strategist than Haas; however, even he wrote in early April that, “I did not support the U.S. decision to intervene with military force in Libya. The evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.” However, he of course went on to support NATO’s efforts, as – he explained – “we are where we are.”
Long before the UN resolution 1973 and the NATO air strikes began, the Russian military, who had been monitoring events in Libya from satellites, said that Libya never launched attacks from helicopters or jets against its own civilians, and that, “as far as they are concerned, the attacks some media were reporting have never occurred.” Of course, this was later confirmed by an independent investigation, however the war had already been sold on the basis of such dubious reporting. Indeed, far more journalists are “stenographers of power” rather than ‘investigators of truth.’
On March 1, the same day that the Russian military reported that there had been no jets used in attacks by Gaddafi against his own civilians, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, gave a press conference at the Pentagon where one reporter posed the question: “Do you see any evidence that he actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?” Secretary Gates responded: “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that,” and Admiral Mullen added, “That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.” So even the Pentagon itself admitted that it had absolutely “no confirmation whatsoever” that jets and helicopters had been used to attack civilians, yet the whole Western world took this as de facto truth. In this, we can see the power of the media in making a case for war, where their propaganda is more absurd and manufactured than that of the Pentagon’s.
Stenographers of Power?
Glenn Greenwald, an American constitutional and civil rights lawyer who writes for Salon.com wrote an article about the notion of reporters as “stenographers of power.” He quoted an article entitled, “How to be a stenographer,” in which it was written:
If you are considering a career as a stenographer, one of the most important things that you should consider is what type of job duties stenographers have. They transcribe, or type, material which they are dictated. This can include orders, memos, correspondence, reports and various other types of information.
Greenwald, in describing his own personal experience with courtroom stenographers, wrote:
Their defining trait is that they have a fierce devotion to transcribing accurately everything that is said and doing nothing else. It’s not uncommon for lawyers, in the heat of some dispute, to attempt to recruit the stenographer into the controversy in order to say who is right… Stenographers will never do that. They will emphasize that they are only there to write down what is said, not to resolve disputes or say what actually happened… But there’s a fundamental difference: stenographers are far better at their job, since they give equal weight to what all parties say. But Time and friends exist principally to trumpet government claims and minimize and belittle anything to the contrary, and they pretend to “balance” it all only when they’re caught mindlessly transcribing these one-sided claims and are forced to write down what the other side says, too. The bulk of our establishment journalists aren’t merely stenographers. They’re bad stenographers.
Following the beginning of the Iraq war, many newspapers had to publish small pieces outlining their role as “[bad] stenographers of power” in presenting the case for war in the first place. Of course, at the time that the New York Times, the Washington Post and others were selling the war to the American people, dissenters and critics were unabashedly seeking truth and were able to assess the claims made as “false” long before the war, let alone before these news publications had “discovered” the falsities they reported. Of course, claims will always be made that “hindsight is 20/20” and “we didn’t know,” but such claims don’t stand to scrutiny when the dissenters whose voices were never heard in the Times or Post were far ahead of the media in assessing the validity of the government’s assertions. In 2004, the New York Times had to publish a brief report on its own pre-Iraq war coverage, stating:
We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.
The Washington Post ran a similar story, detailing the attitude its editors and journalists took in the run up to the war in Iraq. It was reported that any article questioning the validity of claims made by the administration, such as the notion that there were WMDs in Iraq, wouldn’t make the front page. Bob Woodward, Assistant Managing Editor at the Post stated, “We should have warned readers we had information that the basis for this was shakier.” The article further explained:
Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration’s evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times… Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?..
Across the country, “the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones,” [Washington Post Executive Editor] Downie said. “We didn’t pay enough attention to the minority.”…
From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq. Some examples: “Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified”; “War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack”; “Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will”; “Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat”; “Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War.”
One story that was submitted to the Post for publication, which threw into doubt all the claims made by the U.S. administration, and which largely quoted retired military officials and outside experts, “was killed by Matthew Vita, then the national security editor and now a deputy assistant managing editor” of the Post. Karen DeYoung, a former assistant managing editor who covered the prewar diplomacy, said quite bluntly that, “Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials had no problem commanding prime real estate in the paper, even when their warnings were repetitive”:
“We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power,” DeYoung said. “If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said.” And if contrary arguments are put “in the eighth paragraph, where they’re not on the front page, a lot of people don’t read that far.”
There you have it, a former assistant managing editor of the Washington Post herself admitted that, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” If there had ever been a clearer admission of being stenographers of power, I have yet to hear it.
No doubt, then, that upon the militaristic adventurism of yet another war, the media is again doing what it does best: being a “mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” Yet, with Libya it is even more profound; sold as a “humanitarian intervention,” this war must be presented in the media as a type of “rescue” operation as opposed to an imperial adventure. This task requires all the more deception on the part of both official statements and media “mouthpieces.”
As the saying goes, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Indeed, it was so in Libya, and continues to be assaulted day-in day-out so long as this unjustified war continues.
Who are the Rebels?
We have been told a great many things about the rebels in Libya. We were told that they were “peaceful protesters,” that they were “nice guys,” and represented a popular uprising. From the flurry of reports about the rebels, the general ‘presentation’ given by Western governments and media was that the rebels are average Libyan civilians seeking to liberate themselves from a brutal tyrant who was indiscriminately killing them. Invariably and incessantly, the media in the West, such as the Financial Times, frame the forces as “pro-democracy rebels.” Naturally, such assertions must be more diligently questioned and investigated. So who are the rebels? Who makes up Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC), largely recognized by the Western nations as the “legitimate” government in Libya?
The protests in Libya began in Benghazi on February 15, 2011. Fighting broke out between protesters and government forces, though it was naturally framed by Western media as a massacre, which ultimately turned out to be false. On 27 February, the National Transition Council (NTC) (also referred to as the Transitional National Council – TNC) was formed as a consolidated effort on the part of rebel groups to form an opposition ‘government.’ The TNC immediately called for a no-fly zone to be imposed by the U.N. and for air strikes against Gaddafi forces, which the TNC claimed were committing air strikes against them, which also turned out to be false. The rebels, however, were composed of a wide array of different groups. Among them, as Political Scientist and Sociologist Mahmood Mamdani explained, are “four different political trends: radical Islamists, royalists, tribalists, and secular middle class activists produced by a Western-oriented educational system.” Further, “of these, only the radical Islamists, especially those linked organisationally to Al Qaeda, have battle experience.”
While many Western media outlets initially tried to frame the rebels as simply, “lawyers, academics, businessmen and youths,” trying to sidetrack the Islamist elements within the rebel groups, eventually the story started to slowly break, though still largely downplayed. The TNC includes many former Libyan government officials who defected to the rebel camp at the start of the fighting. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, “some of the officials are known in Washington and European capitals as secular, pro-Western and pro-business,” and that, “Islamists among the rebels have been largely kept out of the public spotlight, though they are believed to have support in eastern Libya and have assumed key functions in the rebel efforts.” The head of the TNC is a man named Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-educated political scientist and economist who previously headed Libya’s National Economic Development Board, “with the mandate to boost foreign investment and economic growth in country.” By putting Jibril at the head of the TNC, the Council is “sending a message to foreign companies that the future Libyan government is interested in foreign investment and privatization.” According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks from 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Libya wrote that Jibril “gets the U.S. perspective,” as in a meeting with Jibril, he had “highlighted the need to replace the country’s decrepit infrastructure and train Libyans,” and “requested American public and private assistance to do so.” Jibril, in his pitch to the ambassador, stated that Libya “has a stable regime and is ‘virgin country’ for investors,” leading the ambassador to conclude: “we should take him up on his offer.”
Jibril and the TNC released, in late March, a document entitled, “A Vision of a Democratic Libya,” as a type of blueprint for building a ‘new’ Libya. Among the many points in the blueprint were to: “Draft a national constitution”, “Form political organisations and civil institutions including the formation of political parties, popular organisations, unions, societies and other civil and peaceful associations”, “Maintain a constitutional civil and free state by upholding intellectual and political pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power, opening the way for genuine political participation, without discrimination”, “Guarantee every Libyan citizen, of statutory age, the right to vote in free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections”, “Guarantee and respect the freedom of expression”, and a firm commitment to “political democracy.” The ‘vision’ further states that it seeks, “the development of genuine economic partnerships between a strong and productive public sector, a free private sector and a supportive and effective civil society.”
Well, that all sounds well and good, but just how truly “democratic” or “respectful” of ‘human rights’ are the rebels and the TNC? How does their purported statements of support for Libyans “without discrimination” stand up to scrutiny? How truly democratic and peaceful are these groups?
Western Intelligence and the Rebels
The rebel groups are not simply disparate, localized, and grassroots individuals rising up in support of democracy and against a brutal tyrant. In fact, from the very beginning of the fighting, many rebels have been actively supported by Western and NATO intelligence agencies and special forces, including the CIA.
In March it was reported that the CIA had been authorized by President Obama to begin operations in Libya. The CIA was reportedly sent to Libya to gather intelligence for air strikes and “to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels.” As Obama said no U.S. forces were on the ground in Libya, which itself is a direct violation of the UN resolution 1973 which authorized a no-fly zone in Libya (but directly forbade foreign troops on the ground), “small groups of C.I.A. operatives [had] been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military,” reported the New York Times. As they had been in Libya “for several weeks,” they had arrived prior to even the passing of UN resolution 1973 and the imposition of a no-fly zone, indicating directly that there were no plans for peace, and war was the favoured option. Further, in the same report, it was revealed that British special forces and MI6 intelligence agents were also active in Libya. Prior to the UN resolution, which was implemented to only “protect civilians” and not to take sides in the conflict, President Obama signed a secret finding “authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels.”
The CIA officers in Libya, reported the Los Angeles Times, are “coordinating with rebels and sharing intelligence,” and that, “the CIA has been in rebel-held areas of Libya since shortly after the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tripoli, was evacuated in February.” As the article pointed out, in a clear indication of where the war might be headed:
In the early days of the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, teams of CIA officers and U.S. special operations troops entered secretly, coordinated with opposition groups and used handheld equipment to call in and aim airstrikes against the government armies.
However, at the time, in late March, Obama and the White House were declaring that, “no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya.” Before the UN resolution was even passed in early March, a report broke in the Independent which revealed a secret plan by the U.S. to arm the Libyan rebels through Saudi Arabia. Also before the U.N. resolution was passed, the Wall Street Journal revealed that, “Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge.” The Egyptian military is largely subsidized and supported by the United States, thus what it does with U.S. “knowledge” is also done with U.S. ‘consent.’
The leader of the Libyan rebel’s military command is a man named Khalifa Hifter. As McClatchy Newspapers revealed in March, he had “spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled — even in his late-60s — to return to the battlefield in his homeland,” and explained that he had maintained, over those 20 years in Virginia, strong ties to anti-Gaddafi groups without any ‘known’ financial support, while living a mere 20 miles from CIA headquarters. There is a significant amount of investigative research, largely not undertaken by the mainstream media, who largely kept Hifter’s name out of the press, that he is, in fact, an asset of the CIA, and has been for a great many years. However, the Guardian, in April of 2011, reported that Hifter had, in the early 1980s, “joined a CIA-run anti-Gaddafi force.”
Gaddafi, al-Qaeda, and … Charlie Sheen?
In late February and early March, Gaddafi was claiming that the rebel groups were linked to al-Qaeda, a claim which was largely ridiculed by Western media. Apparently, it is only the Western nations and media who have the ability to claim that all their ‘enemies’ are linked to al-Qaeda. As the Guardian reported on 1 March, “Muammar Gaddafi’s insistent claim that al-Qaida is behind the Libyan uprising – made in all his public appearances since the crisis began – has been dismissed at home and abroad as propaganda.” The group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an affiliate of al-Qaeda, have long been in Libya, and have been long-opposed to Gaddafi’s rule. Established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the group has been responsible for assassinating dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen. At the time, MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, was accused of supporting the LIFG in Britain’s vehement campaign to rid Libya of Gaddafi.
The Western media attempted to ridicule Gaddafi for making such claims, as MSNBC reported Gaddafi’s denouncement as a “rambling phone call to Libyan state TV.” The media kept up its campaign, with a Guardian headline in early March asking readers to participate in an online questionnaire entitled, “Charlie Sheen v Muammar Gaddafi: whose line is it anyway?” Or how about Vanity Fair, which ‘challenged’ their readers with a hard-bitten ‘journalistic’ quiz, asking, “The Two and a Half Men star and the Libyan dictator delivered rambling rants this week. Can you tell who said what?” As the National Post – Canada’s vociferously imperial national newspaper – wrote in early March:
It’s rare that the news stories that would usually be relegated to the “bizarre news” section make it onto the front pages, but over the last few days the fantasies of two famous men have forced their way into the public consciousness. Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen have probably never met (though given the proclivity for Hollywood stars to dabble in foreign policy, you never know), but they share a number of qualities, such as a slipping grip on reality and easy access to TV interviewers through which to share their musings.
This line of ridicule comparing Gaddafi to Charlie Sheen was repeated all over Western news media, as a simple Google search of both of their names will indicate, with several publications engaging in the rank-and-file self-assured ridicule, including the Mirror, MSNBC, New York Magazine, The First Post, the Chicago Tribune, Life, Reuters, Salon, the Telegraph, the Atlantic, ABC News, and comedy pundits like Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central, among many others. So this is what our ‘news’ media has come to, in a situation of impending war and devastation, the destruction of human life and invasion of foreign countries and occupation of foreign peoples, sending our young, largely poor domestic populations to go kill or be killed, turning their guns on other poor, forgotten peoples for the benefit of those who send them. Instead of taking an issue like “humanitarian intervention” in the proper context of a war, which like all wars, would kill inordinate amounts of innocent civilians, our media chose to engage in the disgraceful frenzy of a group joke.
As the claims of Gaddafi were increasingly ridiculed as the crazy rants of a beleaguered psychopathic dictator (note: I am not casting doubt on the fact that he IS a dictator), several intermittent reports slipped through the cracks which in fact validated many of Gaddafi’s “crazy” claims.
The Wall Street Journal reported in early April that ex-Mujahideen (CIA-trained) fighters from the Afghan-Soviet war are in Libya aiding the rebels. The ex-Mujahideen fighters that the West trained, armed and supported in Afghanistan in the 1980s are now referred to in common parlance as “al-Qaeda,” unless of course we are supporting them. Then, just as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, we call them “freedom fighters” or “pro-democracy protesters” in Obama’s case. In fact, the actual term “al-Qaeda”, as explained by former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, literally means “the database,” which “was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.” In short, al-Qaeda is a “database” of Western intelligence assets used to expand Western imperial interests around the world. They provide an excuse for intervention in countries whose governments you want to overthrow or whose people you want to prevent from ushering in a popular liberation struggle. Or, conversely, you can support them covertly in engaging in warfare against a hated regime, but invariably you would not want to refer to them as ‘al-Qaeda’ in such an instance, as it would conflict with the propagated concept of a worldwide “war on terror”, instead of what it actually is: a “war of terror.”
However, as the WSJ reported from Beghazi, “Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden’s holding company in Sudan and later for an al Qaeda-linked charity in Afghanistan, is training many of the city’s rebel recruits.” Many other officials within the rebel command come from similar backgrounds, as they make up the experienced elements of the rebel army, which is incidentally led by a CIA asset (as explained above). Even a rebel leader admitted that his fighters have al-Qaeda links, as reported by the Telegraph. Further, a senior American Admiral, and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander (leading the attack on Libya), admitted that al-Qaeda was among the rebels.
Yet, while these admissions surfaced in the mainstream media, once reported, in true Orwellian fashion, they were cast into the “memory hole,” all but forgotten. Thus, when any reference or indeed dissenter continues to refer to the rebel’s links to al-Qaeda, they are cast aside as a “crackpot” or a “conspiracy theorist.” It may have even been the very news outlet which is denouncing such claims that actually reported them as fact in the first place. The National Post recently engaged in a hit-piece against independent journalists who were based in Tripoli covering events and views unwanted by the NATO powers. In ridiculing these reports of NATO involvement with al-Qaeda linked rebels, the National Post journalist stated, cynically, “No massive popular uprising, no victorious rebels flooding into Tripoli greeted by throngs of well-wishers among the city’s populace. It was a NATO – Al Qaida job.”
The writer went on to denounce my former employers and colleagues at the Centre for Research on Globalization as “a Canadian clubhouse for crackpots of the anti-war, 911-truth, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist variety. The Centre would not normally be worth noticing except for a laugh.” Seemingly, in the eyes of Terry Glavin and the National Post, “anti-war” and “anti-imperialist” sentiments are the intellectual bastion of “crackpots.” What, might I ask, does that say about the National Post? Personally, the label of “anti-war” and “anti-imperialist” is not an insult to me, nor to my former colleagues; it is a badge of honour, a source of pride and a directive for action. The framing of such anti-war and anti-imperialist sentiments as a ‘negative’ label, indeed says more about the National Post than it does about Global Research and its writers.
Is this a Popular Democratic Uprising?
The National Post refers to the rebels as a “massive popular uprising” of “victorious rebels” who entered Tripoli “greeted by throngs of well-wishers among the city’s populace,” perhaps we should ask if this is indeed the case. Scott Taylor, a Canadian journalist writing for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald in late August, observed (and it is worth quoting at some length):
The rebellion in Libya has been more of a media war than a full-scale armed clash… To prevent Gaddafi from inflicting reprisals on the rebels, the UN authorized a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Libya to protect unarmed civilians from being bombed. That, of course, did not apply to civilians living in Gadhafi-controlled sectors, as the Canadian-led NATO coalition soon began mounting airstrikes against government targets.
For more than five months now NATO planes have supported the rebels, and NATO warships have enforced a one-sided arms embargo against Gadhafi’s forces. And all foreign-held Libyan financial assets have been frozen, making it virtually impossible for Libya to purchase any war materiel, or even basic necessities such as fuel…
On a fact-finding trip into Tripoli last week, I saw first-hand that Gaddafi has solidified his control over the capital and most of western Libya. Foreign diplomats still based in Tripoli confirmed to me that, since NATO started bombing, Gaddafi support and approval ratings have actually soared to about 85 per cent.
Of the 2,335 tribes in Libya, over 2,000 are still pledging their allegiance to the embattled president. At present, it is the gasoline shortage due to the embargo and lack of electricity from NATO’s bombing that are causing the most hardship to Libyans inside Gadhafi-controlled sectors.
However, at present, the people still blame NATO — not Gaddafi — for the shortages. In an effort to combat that sentiment and to encourage a popular uprising against Gadhafi, NATO planes have taken to dropping leaflets in canisters over the streets of Tripoli. Unfortunately for the NATO planning staff, the canisters are heavy enough to cause injury and damage roofs when they plummet to the ground…
It is possible that the continued embargo, shortage of fuel and downgrading of Libyan utilities will create a humanitarian crisis inside Gadhafi’s Libya so severe that his followers have no choice but to turn on him for their own survival. However, if that indeed transpires it will be impossible for the West to justify this as being a humanitarian intervention.
It is no surprise that Gaddafi’s support has risen to such extreme levels, as this tends to be the case whenever a country is bombed and attacked by an outside imperial power. It is also no wonder that Gaddafi has such strong support among his people when one considers the human toll of fighting. Reports vary on the amount of deaths, both combatant and civilian, but in early June, the U.N. Human Rights Council mission to Tripoli reported that between 10-15,000 people have been killed in the fighting thus far. Reports of NATO strikes killing civilians do not help “win the hearts and minds” of Libyans, especially when one such strike killed over 85 innocent civilians, including 33 children. Also in June, the Italian Foreign Minister, following a NATO bombing of a house in Tripoli, declared, “NATO is endangering its credibility,” and in an extrapolation of how the West is losing the ‘propaganda war’, he stated, “We cannot continue our shortcomings in the way we communicate with the public, which doesn’t keep up with the daily propaganda of Gaddafi.”
‘Worthy’ vs. ‘Unworthy’ Victims: Are the Rebels Committing ‘Ethnic Cleansing’?
A typical propaganda tactic used by Western media, throughout the entire Cold War (and arguably much longer) is the notion of “worthy” and “unworthy” victims. In any conflict in which the Western world engages and seeks a particular outcome, the presentation to the public – (i.e., propaganda) – determines, by the very way in which it reports the conflict, who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys.” It is important for conflicts to be framed – from the view of the propagandist – in a black and white, simplified manner. Effective propaganda tends to play to the lowest common denominator. If everything is geared towards a very base, simplified audience, with minimal critical thinking and contemplation required, it tends to manifest those very sensibilities in the audience who consumes it. In short, by the very method of reporting, they create the audience they seek.
Make it simple to create a simple audience. Then, that which is contrary to the saturated and filtered version of ‘reality’ is simply rejected outright as lunacy, fantasy, conspiracy theory, or worse. It is rejected almost instinctively because it requires more effort to determine accuracy, to investigate claims, to understand much broader concepts and employ far more contemplation and thinking than is required by the propaganda system. It is not simply that the ‘truth’ itself is more complicated, which makes lies so appealing to the masses, but it is exactly because the method of investigating truth is far more complicated. Thus, setting back into the comforts of ‘simplicity’ (“let the TV tell me what to think”), is far more attractive an option than taking painstaking efforts to investigate and understand an issue.
Thus, in conflicts we come to the nomenclature of ‘worthy’ versus ‘unworthy’ victims. This allows the West – and the public especially – to “take sides” in a conflict before understanding the realities of the conflict itself. That way, intervention can be justified and assured. Strategy, more today than ever before, requires the need of an efficient, organized, and effective propaganda machine. In Israel-Palestine, Israeli citizens and even soldiers (within the Occupied Territories) are deemed as ‘worthy victims’, while Palestinians are deemed ‘unworthy’ victims. When an Israeli dies, whether a civilian or soldier, the media ensures that the ‘consumer’ knows the names, is exposed to the families, learns the ambitions and dreams of the victims. When Palestinians die, however, they become – if at all even reported – mere statistics, and more often than not, they are blamed for their own deaths, vilified and generally dehumanized. The Palestinians are the ‘unworthy’ victims.
In Libya, it is apparent that the rebels are ‘worthy victims’, while the majority of civilians, (as roughly 85% support Gaddafi) are deemed ‘unworthy’ victims. The deaths of rebels are often hyped and exaggerated; others are denied, underplayed, justified, or simply not covered at all.
The best example of this in the current conflict is the rebels themselves committing atrocities, particularly against black African migrants in Libya. In this scenario, rebels remain the ‘worthy’ victims, and the black Africans ‘unworthy.’ This disparity is increased in that the deaths of black Africans were not only largely ignored, but they were first demonized, and thus their deaths became justified. This was the basis for the propaganda rhetoric regarding Gaddafi’s “African mercenaries.” These stories proliferated through the Western media ad nauseum and largely unquestioned; they were accepted at face value. As an Amnesty International investigation revealed, the stories of African mercenaries massacring rebels for Gaddafi emerged largely from the rebels themselves, and as it turned out, was false.
A Google search of “African mercenaries” and “Libya” from February 15 (when the rebellion began) to March 30, less than two weeks following the NATO ‘intervention’, turned up over 86,000 matches. As it turned out, the “mercenaries” were in fact African migrants working in Libya. A Google search over the same period (Feb. 15 – March 30), but with the terms “African migrants” and “Libya” revealed just under 48,000 results. Yet, from as early as February, African migrants reported that, “they’ve become targets for Libyans who are enraged that African mercenaries are fighting on behalf of the regime.” The migrants work in Libya’s oil industry and certain other sectors. It was the reports of African mercenaries – which later turned out to be false – that induced the violence against African migrants, instead of simply justifying them. The Deputy Director of the North Africa Center at Cambridge University stated in late February, in an interview with NPR, “I tell you, these people, because of their skin, they will be slaughtered in Libya. There is so much anger there against those mercenaries, which suddenly sprung up. I think it is urgent to do something about it now, otherwise, a genocide [could occur] against anyone who has black skin and who doesn’t speak perfect Arabic.”
Al-Jazeera reported in late February that dozens of black Africans were killed, with hundreds more in hiding, as “anti-government protesters” (read: ‘worthy victims’) “hunt down” the “black African mercenaries” (read: ‘unworthy victims’). Migrants fleeing the violence who returned to their home countries were interviewed, and reported that, “We were being attacked by local people who said that we were mercenaries killing people. Let me say that they did not want to see black people.” Further, one witness reported, “Our camp was burnt down, and we were assisted by the Kenyan embassy and our company to get to the airport.” A Senior Fellow with the International Migration Institute posed the question:
But why is nobody concerned about the plight of sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya? As victims of racism and ruthless exploitation, they are Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population, and their home country governments do not give them any support.
These cases were rarely reported in Western media, however, African media sources reported much more diligently on these events, as they were more directly effecting their own citizens; thus, the victims are those who may deemed – in the African media – as ‘worthy victims.’ Thus, the coverage was much more extensive. One African media outlet reported in early March, that “rebel fighters and their supporters in eastern Libya are detaining, beating and intimidating African immigrants and black Libyans, accusing them of being African mercenaries.” In some instances, “rebels have executed suspected mercenaries captured in battle, according to Human Rights Watch and local Libyans.” Even the rebel-led government “concedes it is rounding up suspects and detaining them for questioning.” Not only is it African migrants who were in danger, but regular black Libyans as well, as in some cases rebels had lynched black Africans, claiming they were mercenaries. Human Rights Watch referred to the assault against black Libyans as “widespread and systematic attacks… by rebels and their supporters.” A Human Rights Watch official explained, “thousands of Africans have come under attack and lost their homes and possessions during the recent fighting,” and referred to the rebels (who are, in our media mostly referred to as ‘pro-democracy’ protesters) as “ad hoc military and security forces.”
Another report explained that the assaults against blacks have “revived a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans” in Libya, as “discrimination is common not only against migrant Black Africans, but also against darker-skinned Libyans, especially from the south of the country.” The Executive Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in South Africa told IPS in late March, “Against this background, one needs to be a little wary of the accusations of ‘African mercenaries’ or even ‘Black African mercenaries’ that have been bandied around.” Further, he reported that, “about one and a half million Sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees, out of a population of nearly two to two and a half million migrants, work as cheap labour in Libya’s oil industry, agriculture, construction and other service sectors.” As it turned out, “this is not the first time Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population has fallen victim to racist attack,” as in 2000, “dozens of migrant workers from Ghana, Cameroon, Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Nigeria were targeted during street killings in the wake of government officials blaming them for rising crime, disease and drug trafficking.”
One apparent victim of these assaults told media that, “I bet you many Ghanaians and Nigerians and other nationals of south of the Sahara have been killed and murdered,” and further, “they put the dead bodies in mass graves, while they still pursued others. Sometimes we had to dig deep and wide holes to hide ourselves for fear of being identified by the opposition forces.” By early March, there were reports of hundreds of black Africans from over a dozen countries who landed at Nairobi Airport after fleeing Libya by plane, and were arriving “with horrific tales of violence.” Even in early March, Human Rights Watch told the Sydney-Morning Herald that they were “yet to confirm a single case of a mercenary being used in the conflict.” Even as reports spread out regarding Gaddafi’s “African mercenaries,” Human Rights Watch stated that, “of the hundreds of suspected mercenaries detained in the east, all had turned out to be innocent workers or Libyans in the regular army.”
The most high-profile coverage in the West perhaps came from the Los Angeles Times, in which the reporter had been led by the rebels to view some of their captured “mercenaries,” and the reporter wrote that the so-called mercenaries told the media, “We are construction workers,” as they pleaded their innocence, and then “the interview was abruptly ended and the group of Africans were led away to detention by Muhammed Bala, who described himself as a security officer for the rebel government.” Bala added, “We’re out looking for mercenaries every day.”
Some reports in late March suggested that black Africans had been “slaughtered in the thousands in the ongoing civil war in Libya.” As the rebels claimed that Gaddafi’s forces were engaging in mass rape, other reports (otherwise unconfirmed) reported that the rebels were themselves, were starting “to detain, insult, rape and even executing black immigrants, students and refugees,” stating that more than 100 Africans were killed by early March, and “some of them were led into the desert and stabbed to death,” while other “black Libyan men receiving medical care in hospitals in Benghazi were reportedly abducted by armed rebels.” Further, there were “more than 200 African immigrants held in secret locations by the rebels.” As the Somaliland Press reported in early March, the attacks reflect racist and xenophobic attitudes among many Arabs in Libya (specifically the east, where the rebels were largely based), some of which was a result of Gaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanist’ views, which many Arabs felt betrayed by:
In many situations, Gaddafi and his inner circle preferred black Africans and Libyans from the south over Libyans from the east. Now the angry mobs using the revolutionary movement across Arabia and North Africa are hunting down black people.
Mohamed Abdillahi, Somaliland, 25, was sleeping at his home in Zouara, when the mobs arrived. “They knocked on the door around 1 o’clock in the morning. They said get out, we’ll kill you, you are blacks, foreigners, clear.”
The testimonials are very similar among the thousands of Africans that saw the ugly side of Libya in the past weeks. “They have attacked us, they took everything from us,” said Ali Farah, Somali labourer 29 years…
Many of the fleeing Africans are terrified to tell their stories. At the checkpoint, they do not mingle with others. When asked about their ordeal, they just freeze, “they stopped us many times and said not tell what has happened here, say there are no problems,” Elias Nour from Ethiopia said.
Of all the publications, the Wall Street Journal reported in late June that within the rebel-held city of Misrata, black Libyans were being targeted by the rebels who were ethnically cleansing Misrata of its black population. Espousing the lies that the black Libyans from Tawergha, a small mostly black town 25 miles south of Misrata, were being used as mercenaries, this galvanized the rebels and their supporters against them, referring to them as “traitors.” Prior to the siege of Misrata, roughly four-fifths of the population in the poor housing project of Misrata’s Ghoushi neighbourhood were black Tawergha natives. Now, reported the WSJ, “they are gone or in hiding, fearing revenge attacks by Misratans, amid reports of bounties for their capture.” The rebel leadership in Benghazi reportedly stated that they were working on a “post-Gadhafi reconciliation plan,” yet claim that, “Libya is one tribe.” Some were calling for the expulsion of the Tawerghans from the area, and one rebel commander said, “They should pack up… Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata.” As further evidence of the increasingly ethnically focused rebel leadership, some “rebel leaders are also calling for drastic measures like banning Tawergha natives from ever working, living or sending their children to schools in Misrata.” One rebel slogan that has appeared on the road between Misrata and Tawergha refers to the rebels as “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin.”
It is thus a very legitimate concern that if the rebels take power in Libya, they may undertake an “ethnic cleansing” of Libya in order to eliminate threats to their power (as the black Libyans by and large are supportive of Gaddafi), as well as to have a convenient scapegoat target population upon whom they can place blame for all the ills that a post-Gaddafi Libya would surely face. Scapegoats are always necessary for leaders that seek to centralize their power and brutally enforce their rule. Totalitarian leaders throughout history have always employed such a tactic. The possibility of a rebel-led government committing ethnic cleansing in Libya is, I think, an imminent and extremely likely possibility.
By mid-March, the United Nations reported that black migrants were fleeing Libya at a rate of about 6,000 a day, while “some 280,000 have already escaped to neighboring states.” As one report in Uganda articulated, a major concern for European nations (who are actively engaged in the NATO assault) was in the possible exodus of black Africans into Europe, as Libya is one of the main routes for African immigrants into Western Europe, a major source of internal social stratification, xenophobia, racism, and political pressure. Thus, if Libya collapsed into a “state of lawlessness,” it could become a major problem for Western Europe. As one BBC reporter stated, “The fear with Libya is that sub-Saharan Africans will try to leave and there are more of them.” The Ugandan Independent reported that following the stories in the Western press about the “African immigrant” came the stories about the “African mercenary.”
In fact, the West European media did prominently feature stories about the impending ‘threat’ of a wave of African immigrants into their countries. An article in the major German publication, Der Spiegel, in late February reported that, “Moammar Gadhafi, in recent years, has enjoyed a cynical role as Europe’s border guard against African immigrants. Italian ministers now warn that if his Libyan government collapses, people will flow across the Mediterranean.” Italy’s Interior Minister, ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, warned that, “hundreds of thousands of immigrants could head for Europe” which would create a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency.” While immediately fearing a wave of immigrants due to “violence that Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has reportedly visited on its own people.” But, according to some observers, “if Libya collapses into anarchy… it could become an immigration route for far more people from sub-Saharan Africa.” Der Spiegel reported:
Gadhafi in recent years has played up his role as a bulwark against African immigrants to Europe. Italy and Libya began joint naval patrols in 2008 to stop boatloads of illegal or trafficked immigrants from crossing the Mediterranean, and last year Libya signed a 50 billion euro deal with the European Union to manage its borders as a “transit country” for sub-Saharan Africans.
Italian Foreign Minister Frattini said that some 2.5 million people in Libya — about a third of the population — are non-Libyan immigrants who would flee if the government fell.
Gadhafi himself has enjoyed stoking these fears. “Europe will become black,” he said last December, if European leaders failed to cooperate with him on immigration controls.
The fear of a wave of African immigrants into Europe was a major topic of discussion at the EU summit in Brussels in February, according to the Financial Times. EU ministers heard that, “the collapse of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime could result in a tidal wave of refugees and illegal immigrants pouring into Europe,” as roughly 1-2 million refugees “could attempt to make their way across the Mediterranean into southern Europe if the Gaddafi regime collapses.” The Italian Foreign Minister told the members at the EU summit:
We are following very closely the situation. Italy as you know is the closest neighbour, both of Tunisia and Libya, so we are extremely concerned about the repercussions on the migratory situation in the southern Mediterranean… We need a European comprehensive action plan. We should support all peaceful transitional processes that are ongoing in the Middle East while avoiding a patronising position.
The Minister further warned that, the collapse of the regime would lead to the “self proclamation of the so-called Islamic emirate of Benghazi.” He added: “I’m very concerned about the idea of dividing Libya in two, in Cyrenaica and in Tripoli. That would be really dangerous. Can you imagine having an Islamic Arab emirate on the borders of Europe? This would be a really serious threat.” The Czech Foreign Minister echoed this fear, warning that the fall of Gadhaffi could pave the way for “bigger catastrophes.”
The rebels are aided in their war – which is largely a “propaganda war” – by an American public relations firm “to help them earn recognition from the U.S. government.” The firm – the Harbour Group – in early April “signed a pro-bono contract with the National Transitional Council.” Pro-bono? Since when do public relations firms do charity work? In an article in the Hill, it was reported that Harbour Group “will be working with the council’s U.S. representative, Ali Aujali, who resigned as Libya’s ambassador to the U.S. in protest in February as the revolution began to hold.” The Harbour Group’s Managing Director Richard Mintz “will help manage the PR effort on behalf of the council.” Mintz told The Hill, “It’s the right thing to do. They need help and we are pleased that we are able to do that. It is in the U.S.’s interest, in the world’s interest.” Part of the firm’s work was to be aimed at gaining U.S. recognition of the TNC as the “legitimate” government in Libya, while “other goals for the Harbour Group are to encourage U.S. humanitarian aid to Libya and to push for the release of Gadhafi’s assets frozen by U.S. financial institutions to help pay for that aid.” The article went on:
To achieve those goals, the firm will help prepare speeches, press releases and op-eds, contact reporters and think tanks and develop a website and social media for the council.
According to the contract, the firm “will provide all of its professional services free of charge to the council,” though the council will be “directly responsible” for “major expenses,” such as Web design and travel.
The Harbour Group is plugged in politically — Mintz is a former director of public affairs for the Clinton administration’s Transportation Department — and is already familiar with the Middle East. The firm is helping to implement “a public diplomacy program” on behalf of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, according to Justice records.
In early July, Patton Boggs, the number one lobby firm in the United States, was hired by the rebels to promote their cause in the U.S., to get America to recognize the TNC as the “legitimate government” in Libya, as well as to unfreeze Libya’s assets in order to provide funds for them. One outside counsel at Patton Boggs stated, “We care about the cause… We want the Transitional National Council to succeed on behalf of all the Libyan people… We are proud that they selected us in assisting them and we hope that we can continue being effective for them.” According to an article in The Hill, a Washington-D.C. paper, “Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., a partner at the firm who is one of Washington’s top lobbyists, will be leading the Libya account.” Boggs wrote that, “We understand that at this time the [Transitional National] Council may not have sufficient funds to pay our fees for these important services… We will charge the Council on an hourly basis for our work, according to our customary hourly billable rates… [and] will not seek payment for these funds and costs until the Council obtains sufficient funds to pay for them.” Further:
Two lobbyists at Patton Boggs, Stephen McHale and Vincent Frillici, have filed so far to lobby on behalf of the council. Frillici previously served as the director of operations at NATO for the 50th Anniversary Host Committee and was deputy director of finance operations for the Democratic National Convention in 1996. McHale served as the first deputy administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and helped merge the administration into the Homeland Security Department.
Robert Kapla, who has represented foreign governments in the past, and Matthew Oresman, formerly a law clerk within the State Department and the Senate Judiciary Committee, will also work for the council…
Announcing recognition of the Libyan council would cut Gadhafi off from any legal legitimacy, allow the rebels access to funding to help the Libyan people and announce to the international community that only the rebels have the right to “transfer the country’s natural resources,” [Patton Boggs counsel David]Tafuri wrote in a Washington Post editorial.
The notion that a rag-tag group of rebels fighting a war in a far-off foreign nation know exactly who the best lobbying firm and one of the best PR firms in Washington, D.C. are is hard to believe. The decision to contact these firms, then, was likely suggested by an American voice. As reported, the point man of contact between both firms and the rebels is Ali Aujali, the former Libyan Ambassador to the United States, who clearly still maintains his close ties to Washington.
Sure enough, in July the United States recognized the rebels as the “legitimate” government in Libya. And now in August, there are major pushes for Libya’s frozen assets to be unfrozen for the new rebel government.
Could Libya Collapse?
Naturally, to prevent such a “catastrophe” as a “tidal wave” of African immigrants, the Europeans – who are now fully involved in the Libyan war – will need to push for an occupation of Libya. While most ad-hoc coalitions try to maintain some vestiges of unity until their initial objectives (overthrowing the state) are achieved, the Libyan rebels have already descended into infighting and murder. In late July, members of the rebel armed forces killed the commander of the armed forces, Abdel Fatah Younis, who was a former Libyan government official who defected to the rebels in the early days of protests.
This event “triggered fears that opposition fighters battling to oust Col Muammar Gaddafi could instead turn their weapons on each other.” When news spread, many units who were loyal to Younis abandoned their front line posts at the oil town of Brega, and poured into Benghazi “to avenge their commander’s death.” The TNC attempted to blame the murder on pro-Gaddafi loyalists, but his supporters believed he was killed by “his rivals within the rebel leadership.” Some of the supporters even fired on the hotel in Benghazi which the TNC leader and a favourite of the U.S., Abdul-Jalil, earlier gave a press conference. The General, when he was killed, was headed to defend himself in front of four rebel judges who were questioning “illicit contacts he may have had with the Gaddafi regime,” which were instigated when the Daily Telegraph reported that he was “the regime’s main point of contact with the rebels.” As another Telegraph article revealed, “Gen Younes was also engaged in a very public feud with the rebels’ most celebrated battlefield commander, Khalifa Hifter,” which “was seen as an important factor in the pervasive chaos along the front line as the two frequently countermanded one another’s orders.” Thus, the elimination of the General could possibly allow for “greater cohesion” among the rebels on the front lines. Unreported in that article, however, was the previously revealed fact that Khalifa Hifter, the man who profits most from the assassination, also has a long history of working with the CIA.
Yet, it would still appear inevitable, with remaining divisions among the rebels and competing and contradictory ideas of what a post-Gaddafi Libya would be like, infighting will continue and likely accelerate. There is the possibility of a scenario in which one faction, and most likely the most militant and well-quipped faction (being the Islamist, al-Qaeda-linked faction run by a CIA-operative), simply purges the rebels entirely of competing visions. This assassination could have been the start of that effort already, and even a warning to potential challengers. Regardless of the specifics, the Libyan war is likely to plunge into a total civil war, so the Western nations would perhaps be most interested in having a united, militant, and ruthless proxy army under one leadership and vision, not many. With such enormous support for Gaddafi remaining in the country, and in fact, accelerating as the NATO bombings and rebel attacks continue, a rapid overthrowing of the Gaddafi government would certainly spark major national unrest far more severe than at present. In such a power vacuum, the Western powers certainly want to ensure the group they backed will be the winning horse on the way to fill the empty seat of power.
Western government have recognized the TNC as the “legitimate” government of the Libyan people, while the Libyan people – to the tune of 85% – largely support Gaddafi. So, in the face of such enormous opposition, this ‘horse’ in the race would by necessity have to be brutal, exacting, precise, and ruthless. If they do not seize power instantly, and establish a firm control over the country, it would be likely that the nation would plunge into a vicious civil war. Further, if Gaddafi supporters quickly regain the seat of power, Western powers may seek to stoke and actively create the conditions for civil war. It is arguable that they are attempting to do this already. In such a case, it would – from the imperial perspective – be better to ‘divide’ the people among each other, and ‘rule’ over them as a justification for maintaining ‘order.’ In this instance, using recent precedents of the past decades – two conflicts which Western powers claim they “don’t” want Libya to turn into – Rwanda and Iraq, became likely outcomes. Either a situation in which a Western-supported rebel army rushes to power amid a massive wave of carnage and establishes a strong dictatorship, ultimately resulting in the ‘cleansing’ of opponents to the potential of genocide (such as with U.S. support for the RPF in Rwanda). Or, there could be an attempt to establish a liberal democratic government, with a mix of rebels and former government officials, yet dividing power among ethnic or tribal lines, further inflaming those very divisions, and possibly resulting in a total civil war (such as in Iraq). Further, if pro-Gaddafi supporters re-take power quickly and effectively, the rebels would likely go underground and attempt a more insurgent war, attempting to plunge the country into a civil war. The dismantling of Yugoslavia also presents a telling example. In this case, ethnic or tribal rivalries are inflamed, al-Qaeda-linked radical sects are actively armed and aided; these groups engage in ethnic cleansing and a territorial war, with the country ultimately breaking up into several small and easily manageable parts. In whichever case, the potential for Western troops on the ground in Libya is a stark reality.
The Occupation of Libya
In late August, Libyan rebels rapidly advanced on Tripoli, preceded by a massive NATO bombardment of the city. The operation – Mermaid Dawn – was planned weeks in advance by the rebels and NATO. As the Guardian reported: “British military and civilian advisers, including special forces troops, along with those from France, Italy and Qatar, have spent months with rebel fighters, giving them key, up-to-date intelligence,” though the article then claimed that they were also “watching out for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate the rebellion,” ignoring, of course, that we have long been supporting the ‘infiltrated’ elements. One of the rebel organizers of the operation said, “Honestly, Nato played a very big role in liberating Tripoli. They bombed all the main locations that we couldn’t handle with our light weapons.” While “sleeper cells rose up and rebel soldiers advanced on the city, Nato launched targeted bombings,” and American hunter-killer drones were also used in the attacks. According to a NATO diplomat, “Covert special forces teams from Qatar, France, Britain and some east European states provided critical assistance, such as logisticians, forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as damage-assessment analysts and other experts.” Foreign military advisers were on the ground providing “real-time intelligence to the rebels,” or in other words, ‘directing’ the rebels. Apparently, Gaddafi aides attempted to communicate with Obama administration officials, including the Ambassador and Jeffrey Feltman, the Assistant Secretary of State, in order to “broker a truce.” Yet, reported the Guardian, “the calls were not taken seriously.” NATO warplanes bombed convoys of Libyan troops as they sought to re-take rebel advances within Tripoli and elsewhere, and further, NATO undertook “bombing raids on bunkers set up in civilian buildings in Tripoli.” The article continued:
The western advisers are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi’s downfall. They have learned the lessons of Iraq, when the US got rid of all prominent officials who had been members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party and dissolved the Iraqi army and security forces.
The rebels who helped in planning the operation had hoped that an invasion of Tripoli would have sparked an uprising among the people, joining with the rebels against Gaddafi, clearly indicating their own ignorance of the support for Gaddafi within Libya and especially Tripoli. The New York Times, explaining why the mass popular uprising never took place, claimed that it was a result of “a bloody crackdown on protesters in February by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces [which] had served as a grim deterrent to those inside Tripoli who might try to challenge the government’s authority.” Naturally, the New York Times failed to report, as Amnesty International confirmed, that those reports were largely exaggerated, and there were deaths on both sides, indicating that the “peaceful protesters” had – at least a few – fighters among them.
With British and French Special Forces troops on the ground alongside CIA operatives, NATO was integral in launching this “pincer” campaign in Libya, often bombing government troops in retreat. Britain played a strong role with both military and intelligence officials – Special Forces and MI6 – in planning and coordinating the assault on Tripoli. As the Telegraph reported, “MI6 officers based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi had honed battle plans drawn up by Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) which were agreed 10 weeks ago,” while “the RAF stepped up raids on Tripoli on Saturday morning [August 20] in a pre-arranged plan to pave the way for the rebel advance.” Before the official rebel attack even began, the RAF bombed a key communications facility in Tripoli “as part of the agreed battle plan.” It is likely that in a rebel government, two prominent factions, that which is composed of the former Libyan National Army, founded and now currently run by Khalifa Hafter, a CIA asset; and the Islamist al-Qaeda linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), both of which are currently supported through the TNC by the CIA, MI6, and NATO military structures.
So while it is clear that not only are NATO forces already in Libya, but they are in fact directing the operations of rebel forces, far beyond the mandate from the United Nations to simply “protect civilians.” But then, that wasn’t the point of the war.
Even as the rebels continue to fight in Tripoli, Western media has jubilantly and prematurely declared a victory for the rebels and for NATO. The Washington Post reported that the ‘lesson of Libya’ was that, “limited intervention can work.” But then, this is no surprise from the Post, considering that one of their editors had previously said, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” As the rebels were far from victorious – though victory had already been declared – the media engaged in a ‘discussion’ of “post-Gaddafi Libya.” Meanwhile, fighting continued in the streets of Tripoli, as one resident told the Independent, “The rebels are attacking our homes. This should not be happening,” and further:
The rebels are saying they are fighting government troops here, but all those getting hurt are ordinary people, the only buildings being damaged are those of local people. There has also been looting by the rebels, they have gone into houses to search for people and taken away things. Why are they doing this? They should be looking for Gaddafi, he is not here.
While British SAS Special Forces were on the ground in Libya helping to hunt down Gaddafi, the British Foreign Secretary declared that, “Gaddafi must accept defeat,” and President Sarkozy of France said, “Gaddafi’s time has run out.” Average Libyans in Tripoli were nervous with the celebratory rebels, claiming, “The situation here reminds me of Iraq in 2003,” and that, “We don’t know who has entered the city. We don’t know anything about the people who will rule this country, about their mentality.” As one resident explained to the Independent:
The past 42 years we knew everything about the country: our people, our politics, everything. Now we don’t know anything about the future. We are afraid of the end of this, that Gaddafi will use chemical weapons, that there will be a massacre. I am afraid of both sides – of the rebels and of Gaddafi… We have no safety in this city. Now most of the people in this area have left. There are no families in the building now, just the young men.
Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, drew several parallels between Libya and Iraq, such as the fact when the Americans took Baghdad, Saddam fled underground promising to fight to the death, as Gaddafi just did. Further, as the U.S. was faced with the birth of the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, officials and media pundits alike claimed that the insurgents were “die-hards” who apparently “didn’t realise that the war was over.” As Fisk observed, already a pundit on SkyNews in Britain had claimed the remaining fighters were “die-hards.” Fisk repudiates the notion, as repeated throughout the media and by Western officials, that it is now “up to the Libyans,” as amidst “the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen – all pretending to be ‘advisers’ rather than participants – is the Benghazi Green Zone.” Fisk explained:
Of course, this war is not the same as our perverted invasion of Iraq. Saddam’s capture only provoked the resistance to infinitely more attacks on Western troops – because those who had declined to take part in the insurgency for fear that the Americans would put Saddam back in charge of Iraq now had no such inhibitions. But Gaddafi’s arrest along with Saif’s would undoubtedly hasten the end of pro-Gaddafi resistance to the rebels. The West’s real fear – right now, and this could change overnight – should be the possibility that the author of the Green Book [Gaddafi] has made it safely through to his old stomping ground in Sirte, where tribal loyalty might prove stronger than fear of a Nato-backed Libyan force.
Sirte, Fisk elaborated, is an oil rich region with a strongly pro-Gaddafi populace. It was in Sirte where the rebels were defeated by the loyalists in the current war. However, as Fisk opined, “we shall soon, no doubt, have to swap these preposterous labels – when those who support the pro-Western Transitional National Council will have to be called loyalists, and pro-Gaddafi rebels turn into the ‘terrorists’ who may attack our new Western-friendly Libyan administration.”
NATO officials stated that the alliance “will not put troops on the ground,” ignoring the fact that already there are special forces and intelligence operatives on the ground who have been there for several months since even before the war broke out. Though, NATO officials claimed that if any organization sends in troops, it would be the UN, with one official commenting, “It is a classic case for blue helmets,” and that, “Nato will help the UN if asked.” The Western “advisers,” according to NATO officials, “are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi’s downfall.”
The Telegraph reported that, “Britain is preparing to send a team to Tripoli to help with a key plan to stabilise Libya after the fall of the Gaddafi regime and prevent any repeat of the chaos seen in post-war Iraq.” Thus, the Western nations are engaging in double-speak, whereby they claim that no boots will be put on the ground, yet simultaneously send boots onto the ground. The trick, however, is in calling these boots “advisers.” This has been a common tactic for decades, as even before the escalation of the Vietnam War, President Kennedy, and Eisenhower before him, had sent “advisers” to Vietnam, which slowly, and inevitably became a massive occupying force. The British plan, which has already begun in effect, “included contacting officials in ministries in Libya by mobile phone to try to persuade them not to abandon their posts.” The British “stabilisation response team” has been sent to Libya by the Foreign Office, Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence. The Development Secretary stated, “It has been clear that we needed to learn the lessons of Iraq and plan for stabilisation and that that needed to take place in an organised and timely way.” Yet, in the same breath – and in the usual double-speak – he claimed, “It was equally clear that the process had to be Libyan led and owned.” The EU also offered to send “experts” to Tripoli “at any minute.” Libyan government officials have been and continue to be contacted “to let them let them know that they could stay in place under the new regime,” which Western officials proclaim is a lesson they learned from Iraq, where they had simply purged the former Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein and dismantled the army, adding to the chaos and crisis of post-Saddam Iraq. Commenting on this, the Development Secretary stated, “if you can get hold of the chief of police and tell him, ‘You’ve got a job, don’t take to the hills, and you will get paid,’ we can avoid that.” Another aspect of the plan includes unfreezing Libya’s assets around the world to give them to the new provisional government of the TNC.
The plans for the latest assault were organized far in advance. As Debkafile, an Israeli publication, revealed, they were established back in July between the US and France, as they were organizing plans for managing the Israel-Palestine issue:
According to the US-French plan, [an agreement] will take place shortly after the Libyan war is brought to a close – ideally by a four-way accord between the US, France, Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan rebels or, failing agreement, by a crushing NATO military blow in which the United States will also take part. The proposed accord would be based on Muammar Qaddafi’s departure and the establishment of a power-sharing transitional administration in Tripoli between the incumbent government and rebel leaders.
As recently as April, the EU said that they had a ‘ready’ force of 1,000 soldiers poised to be sent in to Libya in case they were needed. The Guardian reported that the EU “has drawn up a ‘concept of operations’ for the deployment of military forces in Libya, but needs UN approval for what would be the riskiest and most controversial mission undertaken by Brussels.” Purportedly, the combat troops would not be engaged in a combat role but would be authorised to fight if they or their humanitarian wards were threatened.” As one EU official stated, “It would be to secure sea and land corridors inside the country.” Another EU official declared, “The operation is agreed. It’s ready to go when we get the nod from the UN.”
How to Get NATO Support: Die and Lie
However, if the EU, NATO, or the UN were to deploy troops into Libya, it would need to be under the guise of providing “peacekeeping” or other “aid” support. Thus, it would only be possible to do so in the event that Libya collapses into chaos, whether there be mass killings, genocide, or civil war. In such a situation, one is reminded of the events surrounding the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ in Bosnia in 1995.
The official account was that roughly 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Serb aggressors, thus justifying a NATO intervention. The reality, however, was that the Bosnian Muslims had been struggling for years to “persuade the NATO powers to intervene more forcibly on their behalf,” writes Edward Herman. In fact: “Bosnian Muslim officials have claimed that their leader, Alija Izetbegovic, told them that [Bill] Clinton had advised him that U.S. intervention would only occur if the Serbs killed at least 5000 at Srebrenica.” As a result of Clinton’s statement, the town was sacrificed by the Bosnian Muslims, and the propagated claim was that the Serbs had gone in and killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, thus justifying the NATO intervention in Bosnia. However, not only did the Bosnians sacrifice the town, but the numbers themselves were subject to much manipulation, and the facts of the circumstances surrounding the event were ignored by the media. The Croatians, along with Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton, were delighted at the reporting of the ‘massacre,’ as for the Croats, explained Herman:
this deflected attention from their prior devastating ethnic cleansing of Serbs and Bosnian Muslims in Western Bosnia (almost entirely ignored by the Western media), and it provided a cover for their already planned removal of several hundred thousand Serbs from the Krajina area in Croatia. This massive ethnic cleansing operation was carried out with U.S. approval and logistical support within a month of the Srebrenica events, and it may well have involved the killing of more Serbian civilians than Bosnian Muslim civilians killed in the Srebrenica area in July: most of the Bosnian Muslim victims were fighters, not civilians, as the Bosnian Serbs bused the Srebrenica women and children to safety.
In short, NATO (and Bill Clinton in particular) told the Bosnian Muslims that at least 5,000 Muslims needed to die at the hands of the Serbs in order to justify an intervention and the continuing war against Serbs all across the former Yugoslavia. The fact that a number of 8,000 Muslims having been killed was (and remains) widely propagated, though widely inflated and unsubstantiated (save for the investigations into the manipulation of those numbers), was a ‘convenient’ event for NATO and the Bosnians. Also significant is the fact that such an event took place in the midst of massive ethnic cleansing of Serbs, largely ignored by the Western media, as it was committed by those who NATO were claiming to “save” from “Serbian aggression”; in particular, the Bosnian Muslims and Croatians. Some years later, Madeleine Albright, upon being told of another massacre which was good for U.S. interests, stated that, “spring has come early this year.” Of course, this is also the same woman who said that 500,000 dead Iraqi children (killed by the UN sanctions Albright helped impose and enforce during the Clinton administration) was “worth it.” So, it is safe to say that we can dispense with any claims of “humanitarian” concerns on the part of NATO leaders. Their interests are imperial. Their propaganda is humanitarian.
The same must be kept in mind about Libya, where we were told we went to “intervene” in order to “protect civilians.” Yet, immediately we began supporting what turned out to be a ruthless military outfit, including al-Qaeda-linked Islamists, who have concocted lies to justify their cause and foreign intervention, and who have been committing ethnic cleansing of black migrants and citizens in Libya. We call these people “pro-democracy” and claim that they represent a “popular uprising.”
The British government stated on 22 August that, “hundreds of British soldiers could be sent to Libya to serve as peacekeepers if the country descends into chaos,” with two hundred troops on standby since the start of July, as well as 600 Royal Marines who “are also deployed in the Mediterranean and would be available to support humanitarian operations.”
The possibility of an invasion seems imminent, as even if the rebels take Tripoli and overthrow Gaddafi, since thereafter the real struggle would begin, and the rebel TNC would likely struggle to maintain unity and possibly engage in attempts to purge various factions from the leadership, as the assassination of the former army commander in late July indicated is already taking place. Uniting these factions remains one of the greatest challenges the rebels will face.
Military sources revealed to some alternative media the plans for the U.S. to occupy Libya with upwards of 30,000 soldiers by October. A Debkafile report from July indicates that Western leaders were actively planning for a military invasion and occupation of Libya, starting with the French and British and followed by American troops. In early July, the Russian envoy to NATO stated that, “I think that now we are witnessing the preparation stage of a ground operation which NATO, or at least some of its members… are ready to begin.”
The Barons of ‘Humanitarian Imperialism’
As the rebels entered the capital, the true nature and purpose of the war and “intervention” in Libya was made known, as Western oil companies made their intentions and interests public, and the rebel TNC established themselves as subservient to those very interests.
Gaddafi may have signed his own death warrant back in 2009, when his government gathered 15 executives from global oil and energy corporations and demanded that they foot the bill – to the tune of $1.5 billion – for Libya’s settlement with victims of the downed Pan Am Flight 103 (itself a very mysterious terrorist attack possibly tracing back to the CIA itself). Libya had been subjected to UN sanctions from 1992-2003 as punishment for the terrorist attack, though it has never been conclusively proven that Libya had any involvement. Gaddafi, for his part, was seeking to make those who profited off of his country’s wealth (foreign oil conglomerates) pay for the costs of their punishment, as the sanctions had largely affected the nation’s economy. Libyan officials warned the oil companies that if they did not comply, there would be “serious consequences” for their oil leases. In 2004, when trade restrictions were lifted with Libya, Gaddafi gave in to Western interests in the aftermath of the Iraq war, fearing that Libya would be next. As the trade barriers broke down, the U.S. Department of Commerce “began to serve as self-described matchmakers for American businesses,” as companies like Halliburton, Boeing, Raytheon, ConocoPhillips, Occidental, and Caterpillar tried to “gain footholds” in the country. However, there were several problems and corporate plundering was increasingly stalled. The Gaddafis often demanded the corporations plunder the nation in joint partnerships with state-owned (and Gaddafi family run) companies, which the foreign conglomerates resisted, in which the State Department tried to intervene (according to diplomatic cables), but often failed to come to an agreement. However, some companies such as Occidental Petroleum, Petro-Canada, and Canadian arms manufacturer, SNC-Lavalin made inroads into Libya.
In January of 2009, Gaddafi threatened that Libyan oil “maybe should be owned by national companies or the public sector at this point, in order to control the oil prices, the oil production or maybe to stop it.” Forbes magazine asked: “Is Libya about to take the lead of its friends in Venezuela and Russia and launch a new round of energy-sector nationalism?” Postulating on the answer, Forbes wrote: “The thought sends a shiver through the collective spines of ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Amerada Hess, and Royal Dutch Shell. All have made massive new investments in Libya.” Libyan papers had all been discussing the possibility of nationalization.
Libya, as Africa’s largest oil producer, even far surpassing the proven reserves of Nigeria, would be an enormous loss to Western interests. In March of 2009, Libya was trying to convince three American oil companies operating in the country “to sign revised contracts giving the North African nation a greater share of its oil production.” Libya had already revised its contracts with Petro-Canada, ENI of Italy, and Repsol of Spain, as well as Occidental Petroleum in the U.S. It was seeking to revise its contracts with ConcocoPhillips, Amerada Hess, and Marathon Oil, all U.S. companies.
In March of 2010, Middle Eastern press reported that, “Libya is an economic force to be reckoned with,” as it challenged both Europe and America, and gave “a warning to US oil firms that their contracts are in danger.” Oil companies were finding it increasingly difficult to do business in Libya. As one oil industry expert reported, many companies are seeking an exit, “That’s partly because Libyan authorities have, over the past year, taken a very hard line on contract negotiations and renegotiations. A lot of companies developing oilfields are finding it incredibly difficult to make money.” Libya also expelled Swiss companies and even detained two Swiss businessmen after police in Geneva arrested one of Gaddafi’s sons. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley publicly derided Gaddafi, “which in turn provoked a warning from Libya that failure to apologise could hurt US oil companies.” Crowley, in a not-so-subtle display of who the State Department really works for, apologized. As one commentator from an American think tank explained, Libya’s use of oil as political leverage represents a new turn in the country’s leadership: “After decades in isolation, Libya’s oil reserves and a sovereign wealth fund worth around US$60 billion (Dh220bn) have given it unprecedented leverage with western governments.” Italy received roughly a quarter of its energy supplies from Libya, and many other Europeans hoped that Libya’s natural gas fields would free them from dependence upon Russia. One industry analyst explained, “Libya mostly gets its way because people are prepared to pay the price,” and that, “the future of new discoveries really boils down to a small number of companies – such as BP, Shell, ExxonMobil – which have massive exploration programmes going on for the next few years, and which could open new frontiers.” However, “for time being, oil companies are leaving rather than entering.” There was even a diplomatic row in November of 2010 when Libya expelled an American diplomat from the country “for breaching diplomatic rules.”
In October of 2010, U.S. oil companies Chevron and Occidental Petroleum did not extend their 5-year licenses with Libya, and instead left the country. The companies, among the first to rush to Libya following the lifting of international sanctions and formation of bilateral relations with the U.S. in 2004, established 5-year contracts with Libya in 2005. Libya, while home to Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, remained largely ‘under-explored’, and thus, unexploited.
Gaddafi’s Libya had many shady dealings with foreign (primarily British, but also French, Italian, and American) companies and individuals. Prime Minister Tony Blair had especially facilitated the emergence of prominent British industrial and financial interests into Libya, setting up meetings with top executives and Libyan officials, both while in office and after leaving. Blair and a former top MI6 official who joined BP, helped the oil conglomerate establish itself in Libya. Business and social relationships were also established between top British elites and Gaddafi’s family. Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, had a cozy relationship with British Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, and in 2009, both men were guests of Lord Jacob Rothschild’s at his villa in Corfu. Until 2009, Lord Rothschild was an adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA). Tony Blair, who after leaving office, took up a job at JP Morgan, continued to go to Libya as a representative of the bank, and Gaddafi’s son referred to Tony Blair as “a personal family friend.”
JP Morgan Chase reportedly, as of late January 2011, “handles much of the Libyan Investment Authority’s [LIA’s] cash, and some of the Libyan central bank’s reserves.” According to one Libyan financier, by the summer of 2008, “a great percentage of the L.I.A.’s funds were in the interbank money markets, channelled through the central bank. They have given mandates to some of the international banks to manage this liquidity,” such as JP Morgan Chase.
Within ten days of Britain’s sanctions on Libya having been lifted in 2004, a secret delegation of British officials had rushed to Libya to open the way for British business interests. Among the officials were Lord Foster of Thames Bank; Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, the former Army Chief of Staff; and the financier Lord Rothschild, who brought his son Nathaniel, “and the party was accompanied by four executives from a public relations firm run by Lord Bell.” As reported by the Times, “At stake was access to oil and gas reserves and the opportunity to profit from the country’s $90 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority.” Lord Rothschild became an adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority, until 2009.
As Tony Blair and his secret delegation went to Libya in 2004, their meeting with Gaddafi “led to lucrative Libyan oil contracts for Shell,” and “a month before stepping down as PM, Mr Blair visited-Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli again at the same time that BP signed a $900million deal with the Libyan National Oil Company.” On behalf of JP Morgan, Blair helped develop banking opportunities in Libya. As the fighting broke out in February of 2011, Gaddafi’s “friends” in the West immediately turned their backs on him. A statement from Tony Blair’s office stated: “Tony Blair does not and has never had any sort of commercial relationship or any sort of advisory role with any member of the Gaddafi family, the government of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority nor any Libyan companies.”
In early March, Britain (and several other nations, including the United States and Canada) froze Libya’s foreign assets in their countries, which had been managed by the Libyan Investment Authority. Over $3.2 billion in assets were frozen in London, and over $32 billion were frozen in the U.S. As the fighting began, the major Western oil conglomerates closed down their operations and fled.
Clearly, Gaddafi, after establishing significant ties with foreign elites, from JP Morgan, to Rothschild, to Prince Andrew of the British Royals and Tony Blair, made ‘friends’ of himself and his family to the dominant foreign financial and oil interests. When he began using Libya’s newfound oil wealth as a political tool, his “new friends” quickly became “old enemies.” These Western elites had helped Gaddafi gain access to Western markets and invest in their companies, while those companies tried to plunder the resources of Libya, as soon as Gaddafi felt secure enough, he began to use his new oil and financial leverage as a political tool. As this began, the West – and in particular the banking and oil elites – found Gaddafi to be much more of a liability than an asset. Now that Gaddafi is “gone,” the jubilation of Western conglomerates can barely be contained.
This is evident in the fact that as the rebels have gone into Libya, foreign oil conglomerates quickly followed behind. On 24 August 2011, the Independent reported that, “British businesses are scrambling to return to Libya in anticipation of the end to the country’s civil war,” yet, “they are concerned that European and North American rivals are already stealing a march as a new race to turn a profit out of the war-torn nation begins.” Thus, it is a new ‘scramble for Africa’ as the Western nations and corporations rush to plunder the country’s resources and wealth. British business leaders said that, “plans are in hand to send a trade mission to Benghazi to meet leaders of the Transitional National Council (TNC).” Among the stampeding oil conglomerates, there “is also intense lobbying for the multibillion-pound reconstruction contracts that are likely to be offered once fighting ends.”
Even as the rebels had not taken Tripoli, reported the Globe and Mail, “already the leaders of France and Italy, and their national oil champions, were openly courting the top men of the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC).” As for who will get to reap the rewards of Libya’s newly “liberated” oil, “the NTC has already said it will reward the countries that bombed Col. Gadhafi’s forces.” One rebel official stated, “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like Italians, French and U.K. companies,” however, he added, “we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.” These were, of course, the countries that did not back the strong sanctions on Gaddafi’s regime.
This is what we call “humanitarian intervention.” A situation in which we go to war against a foreign nation, based upon lies; in which we support – arm, organize, and lead – a militant rebel army; an army which has been committing atrocities, ethnic cleansing, and spreading lies and misinformation; in which we call these rebels ‘pro-democracy’ protesters; in which we call a group with less than 15% of the support of the people a “popular uprising”; in which we bomb innocent civilians to allow these rebels to move forward and occupy new territory; in which our oil companies move in to plunder the wealth of the most oil-rich country in Africa. This – this! – is what we call “humanitarian intervention.”
Our leaders do not care for human life. They care about power and profits. They will tell you anything you want to hear in order to justify their imperial conquests around the world. They will send you – most especially the poor ‘you’ – off to foreign countries in order to kill poor, foreign people. They will do this in order to obtain control over resources and strategic routes. One of America’s most pre-eminent imperial strategists, Zbigniew Brzezinski, wrote in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, that America must maintain hegemony over the entire world, but – he wrote – “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of well-being.” In the same book, Brzezinski, in blunt language explained the purpose and role for America to play in the world:
To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
Brzezinski, incidentally, supported the military intervention in Libya, which he claimed is “something between war and military intervention, to stop something that is going on, but without really trying to conquer the country,” and that, “if we didn’t act it would be worse.”
Who are we really helping? Who are we really hurting? And why?
We must not support this cynical and disastrous conquest of “humanitarian imperialism,” whether it is in Libya, or perhaps – quite soon – in Syria. Wherever we “intervene,” we make everything much worse for that vast majority of the people involved. Where our nations go, they spread chaos, war, death, destruction and genocide. When our nations speak, they speak of hypocritical morality and paradoxical ethics. They speak with twisted tongues and poison words.
We must speak truth back. We must “intervene” in the discourse of the powerful around the world, in order to promote the true interests of humanity: freedom, peace, and solidarity. Only when we seek – and speak – truth, can we ever hope to meet the true ‘humanitarian’ needs of the world’s people.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is co-editor of the book, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.” His website is http://www.andrewgavinmarshall.com
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 Stanley Pignal and Giulia Segreti, Italians fear African migration surge, The Financial Times, 21 February 2011:
 Libya: up to a million refugees could pour into Europe, The Telegraph, 21 February 2011:
 Canada joins propaganda war aimed at Gadhafi forces, CBC News, 26 August 2011:
William Maclean, Analysis: Seeking leverage, Libya foes in propaganda war, Reuters, 5 August 2011:
 Kevin Bogardus, PR firm helps Libyan rebels to campaign for support from US, The Hill, 12 April 2011:
 Rachel Leven, Libyan rebels hire Washington’s No. 1 lobby firm for ‘advice and assistance’, The Hill, 2 July 2011:
 CNN wire staff, U.S. recognizes Libyan rebels’ authority, CNN, 15 July 2011:
 Molly Hennessy-Fiske, LIBYA: Push to unfreeze Libyan assets, LA Times Blog, 25 August 2011:
 AP, Libyan rebel forces leader shot dead, The Guardian, 28 July 2011:
 Adrian Blomfield, Libyan rebels in disarray after mysterious killing of leading military commander, The Telegraph, 29 July 2011:
 Russ Baker, Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?, Business Insider, 22 April 2011:
Amy Goodman, A Debate on U.S. Military Intervention in Libya: Juan Cole v. Vijay Prashad, Democracy Now!, 29 March 2011:
Patrick Martin, American media silent on CIA ties to Libya rebel commander, World Socialist Web Site, 30 March 2011:
Chris McGreal, Libyan rebel efforts frustrated by internal disputes over leadership, The Guardian, 3 April 2011:
 Scott Taylor, Support for Gaddafi soars amid NATO bombing on civilians, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 August 2011:
 Richard Norton-Taylor and Dominic Rushe, Assault on Tripoli ‘planned weeks ago’, The Guardian, 25 August 2011:
 KAREEM FAHIM and MARK MAZZETTI, Rebels’ Assault on Tripoli Began With Careful Work Inside, The New York Times, 22 August 2011:
 Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Allies guided rebel ‘pincer’ assault on Tripoli, The Washington Post, 22 August 2011:
 Gordon Rayner, Libya: secret role played by Britain creating path to the fall of Tripoli, The Telegraph, 22 August 2011:
 Daya Gamage, Gaddafi under siege: Two CIA-backed groups, an al-Qaeda-linked LIFG on top of power stakes, The Asia Tribune, 22 August 2011:
 Jason Ukman, The lesson of Libya: Limited intervention can work, The Washington Post, 22 August 2011:
 Howard Kurtz, The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story, The Washington Post, 12 August 2004:
 Kim Sengupta, Terror in Tripoli as loyalists fight to the death, The Independent, 25 August 2011:
 Portia Walker, ‘We are afraid of both Gaddafi and the rebels’, The Independent, 25 August 2011:
 Robert Fisk, History repeats itself, with mistakes of Iraq rehearsed afresh, The Independent, 25 August 2011:
 Richard Norton-Taylor, Nato will not put troops on ground in Libya, The Guardian, 24 August 2011:
 Duncan Gardham, Libya: Britain prepares to send team to help with stability plan, The Telegraph, 23 August 2011:
 DEBKAfile Exclusive Report, Palestinians to apply to Security Council next week for UN membership, DEBKAfile, 7 July 2011:
 Ian Traynor, Libya conflict: EU awaits UN approval for deployment of ground troops, The Guardian, 18 April 2011:
 Edward S. Herman, “THE APPROVED NARRATIVE OF THE SREBRENICA
MASSACRE,” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (Vol. 19, No. 4, 2006), pages 411-412.
 Ibid, page 412.
 Ibid, page 411.
 Rahul Mahajan, ‘We Think the Price Is Worth It’, FAIR, November/December 2001:
 Jason Groves, Ian Drury and Nick Fagge, British troops may act as peacekeepers if Libya descends into chaos, The Daily Mail, 23 August 2011:
 Martin Chulov, Libya rebels have won the war but biggest battle will be uniting factions, The Guardian, 22 August 2011:
 Aaron Dykes, U.S. Invasion of Libya Set for October, Infowars.com, 15 June 2011:
 US and NATO prepare final assault on Qaddafi. He threatens terror, DEBKAfile, 3 July 2011:
 NATO may be preparing ground operation in Libya – Russian envoy, RIA Novosti, 1 July 2011:
 Marcello Mega, Police chief: Lockerbie evidence was faked, The Scotsman, 28 August 2006:
Steve James, Lockerbie-Pan Am 103: Prosecution case evaporates, World Socialist Web Site, 17 October 2000:
Susan Lindauer, Libya’s Blood For Oil: The Vampire War, The Intel Hub, 28 March 2011:
 ERIC LICHTBLAU, DAVID ROHDE and JAMES RISEN, Shady Dealings Helped Qaddafi Build Fortune and Regime, The New York Times, 24 March 2011:
 Christopher Helman, Is Libya Going To Boot U.S. Oil Companies?, Forbes, 22 January 2009:
 AP, Libya Wants Greater Share of Its Oil Revenue, CNBC, 3 March 2009:
 John Thorne, Libya flexes its new oil wealth muscles, The National, 14 March 2010:
 Libya orders U.S. diplomat to leave: reports, Reuters, 7 November 2010:
 Ali Shuaib, Libya says Chevron and Oxy exit licenses, Reuters, 2 October 2010:
 David Rose, The Lockerbie Deal, Vanity Fair, 26 January 2011:
 David Robertson, Richard Kerbaj and David Brown, Secret delegation went batting for British interests in Tripoli, The Times, 29 August 2009:
 Nabila Ramdani, Tim Shipman and Peter Allen, Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi’s son, The Daily Mail, 5 June 2010:
 Michael Peel, Friends in high places turn their back on Tripoli, The Financial Times, 23 February 2011:
 Roula Khalaf, James Blitz and Lina Saigol, UK freezes Libyan wealth fund assets, The Financial Times, 3 March 2011:
 Javier Blas, Oil groups prepare to close down in Libya, The Financial Times, 21 February 2011:
 Jerome Taylor, Kevin Rawlinson, Laurie Martin and Charlotte Allen, Dash for profit in post-war Libya carve-up, The Independent, 24 August 2011:
 Eric Reguly, They bombed and therefore they shall reap, The Globe and Mail, 24 August 2011:
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (Basic Books: New York, 1997), page 36.
 Ibid, page 40.
 Hiram Reisner, Brzezinski: Libya Action Isn’t War, But Necessary Intervention, NewsMax, 24 March 2011: