“Above all, the European Union must start acting like a responsible force in world affairs, not a many-headed monster.”
The Financial Times published that on February 23, right as the civil war in Libya erupted. Unfortunately, Europe – along with America – has continued to act like a many-headed monster, particularly in Libya.
To begin with, the West failed to help countries like Libya develop their economies before the war began. In fact, the West promised to help Libya develop its economy after Libya agreed to abandon its nuclear program. But instead of doing that, the West seemed happy to support and encourage organizations intent on overthrowing the existing regime. In particular, Britain supported the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a terrorist organization linked to Al Qaeda whose objective was to overthrow Gaddafi. In 1996, British intelligence evenhired that organization to assassinate Gaddafi.
Britain has connections to several members of LIFG. The founder of LIFG, Norman Benotman, has lived in London since 1995. While living in London, he met members of Al Qaeda such as Abu Qatada and Mustafa Setmariam Nasar. Before moving to London, he lived in Sudan where he met with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Britain also has connections to another member of LIFG, Anas al-Liby. He also knew Osama bin Laden. Despite the fact that America believes he had a role in the 1998 African embassy bombings, Britain gave him political asylum and allowed him to live in Manchester until May of 2000.
Interestingly, Libya issued an arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden in March of 1998. At that time, British and American intelligence tried to conceal the origins of the arrest warrant and they minimized the danger of bin Laden. The fact that Britain provided sanctuary to two members of LIFG and the fact the Britain paid LIFG to assassinate Gaddafi suggests strongly that Britain controls the organization. And the fact that British and American intelligence tried to squash an arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden suggests they controlled him as well.
Before the Jasmine Revolution started, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, had been working with Benotman on trying to end the conflict between LIFG and Libya. All that work has been ruined by the uprising.
These uprisings were created and supported by the West. America provided training and support to many of the groups who participated in the Jasmine Revolution, much to the dismay of the governments in those countries. As the Jasmine Revolution began, certain U.S. officials even hinted that something big would soon unfold. I guess America wanted other governments to know that we were responsible for the uprisings. Perhaps we thought that might scare them into doing what we wanted – if you don’t do what we say, you’re next. For example, on January 13, Sheila Smith, an official at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a blog post in which she said, “The focal point for Tokyo and Washington will be a serious and sustained strategic dialogue, one that reflects the quickening pace of events that will require a closer understanding of mutual expectations of how to collaborate.” (Emphasis added.)
In Libya, it appears that LIFG was behind the uprising. It also appears that they attacked the government during the initial protests. Not only that, but it appears that media organization such as Al Jazeera are intent on concealing this fact.
“After initially letting slip that the earliest Libyan protests were organized by the LIFG, Al Jazeera quickly changed its line to present a heavily filtered account portraying the events as ‘peaceful protests,’” said Yoichi Shimatsu. “To explain away the gunshot deaths of Libyan soldiers during the uprising, the Qatar-based network presented a bizarre scenario of 150 dead soldiers in Libya having been executed by their officers for ‘refusing to fight’. The mysterious officers then miraculously vacated their base disappearing into thin air while surrounded by angry protesters! Off the record, one American intelligence analyst called these media claims an ‘absurdity’ and suggested instead the obvious: that the soldiers were gunned down in an armed assault by war-hardened returned militants from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Though the rebels started the war, the West has decided to intervene on their behalf. This is not a good precedent to set. It will make civil wars more likely in the future. There are many unhappy people living in third world countries. After this intervention, those people will think that if they just start attacking their government, the West will come in, help them overthrow their government, and install them as the new leaders of their country. This will result in more death and destruction and will further lower the standard of living in those countries. That, in turn, will create more disgruntled people who will want to overthrow the new government.
Given that, one wonders why the West decided to intervene in Libya. Our government justified the uprising by arguing how much better Libya will be as a democracy. That claim seems very ironic given how little this administration cares about the rule of law, democracy, or human rights.
Our government can’t even be democratic about deciding whether or not to intervene in Libya. Though we waited until a month after the uprising began to intervene, our government failed to use that time to have a public debate on why we should intervene. According to CNN, a fierce debate over American involvement in Libya began on March 22. Unfortunately, the Security Council voted to authorize the intervention in Libya six days earlier, on March 16. I just remembered something. Someone once said we should be just as careful in getting out of Iraq as we were reckless in getting into Iraq. I wonder who said that.
Our government seems to care little about the rule of law. According to the War Powers Resolution, the president must get Congress to approve any military action that lasts longer than 60 days. President Obama hasn’t done that. Instead of reining him in, Congress simply passed a resolution asking Obama to explain himself because the last thing a Congressman wants to do is take a stand, vote on something important, and take responsibility for the actions of the American government.
Instead, the administration and several members of Congress have tried to avoid the War Powers Resolution by saying that America is not engaged in a war in Libya.
“I would not call it going to war,” said John Kerry.
“One wonders what Kerry’s constituents would call the actions of a foreign power launching over 100 cruise missiles across Cape Cod,” said Joe Scarborough. “I suspect most would consider it to be war.”
Both the general counsel of the Pentagon and the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel for the Justice Department told President Obama that our actions in Libya required the consent of Congress, but President Obama ignored their advice.
There are some members of Congress who are willing to admit that we are fighting a war in Libya. But instead voting on that war, they seem content to whine and complain about the actions of the President. This is nothing more than political theater. The members of Congress do not want to take a stand on the operation in Libya, so they complain about the actions of the President while doing nothing to change his behavior. They want him to take the responsibility for the operation, so they don’t have to. I’m not sure why these people want to be in Congress in the first place, when they only seem to want to be yes men as long as it doesn’t appear that way to the public.
And, of course, Obama’s record on human rights is just as bad as his predecessor’s. He seems determined to prosecute whistleblowers while refusing to prosecute U.S. officials who torture detainees.
If Congress and the White House don’t want to debate the wisdom of intervening in Libya, someone else had better do it. It might as well be me, so here goes.
Why Libya and not Syria or Bahrain?
That is the first question the interventionists must answer. Though the West had decided to intervene in Libya, it has not decided to intervene in other countries in the Middle East that are repressing similar uprisings.
“When Muammar Qaddafi’s regime turned its guns on protesters, European leaders declared that he’d lost his legitimacy to rule, imposed sanctions, and eventually sent warplanes to bomb him out of office,” said Bloomberg News. “As the death toll from Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown in Syria passes 500, with 1,000 arrests in the last two days alone, European leaders have limited themselves to condemnations.”
In Europe, only Germany has called for sanctions on Syria. Europe offered a series of lame excuses for refusing to do anything about Syria.
“In this confused situation, Bashar could even turn out to be a moderating force within the regime,” said Ettore Greco, the director of the International Affairs Institute in Rome. “He may not, but no one knows. That’s why there’s good reason for showing some caution.”
How anyone could call Bashar al-Assad a moderating force, particularly after he killed 500 of his own citizens, is beyond me. Other commentators acknowledged that Assad was as bad as Gaddafi, but they came up with other excuses for not intervening in Syria.
“The crimes of the Syrian regime are on the same level as the crimes in Libya,” said one French official. “Gaddafi’s regime was one of folly. Syria is a very severe dictatorship, but it’s also a complex society with many minorities.”
Syria is not the only country that has minorities. In fact, many of the countries that face repression have minorities. Ethnic, racial, and tribal divisions are perhaps the leading cause of repression. If you refuse to intervene in countries with ethnic, racial, and tribal issues, you will likely end up not intervening in any country at all. And by the way, Libya has many tribes within its borders.
Paul Sullivan, a professor at the National Defense University, had his own laundry list of why NATO should not intervene in Syria.
“Syria is a linchpin for a lot of issues in the region,” he said. “Syria is a key player in the peace process. It is also a close ally of Iran. It is a vital player in the politics of Lebanon. It is an important neighbor to Turkey and Jordan. It is part of the Kurdish equation. It is an important player in the situation in Iraq.”
Given that the peace process is in shambles, given that Lebanon is a mess, given that we say we want to isolate Iran, and given that Syria supported the insurgency in Iraq, changing the regime in Syria seems like it would be in our interests. But the West wants to keep Assad. This implies that the West wants the peace process to be in shambles, the West wants Lebanon to be a mess, the West wants Syria to stay close to Iran, and the West supported the insurgency in Iraq.
Of course, the Obama administration offered the lamest reason of all for why Libya required intervention but Bahrain did not.
“There’s no comparison between Bahrain and Libya,” said Tom Donilon. “Bahrain has been a longtime ally of the United States of America and a longtime partner.”
“Oh, well, now I get it,” said Roger Simon. “If you are a longtime partner of the United States, you can shoot down your people in the streets. But if you are not a longtime partner, we will come and bomb you.”
There is also the question of why France supported intervening in Libya, but not Iraq. The crimes of Saddam Hussein were much greater than the crimes of Muammar Gaddafi. For example, Hussein killed at least 50,000 Kurds during the 80s. Furthermore, while the status of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program was unclear before the start of the war in Iraq, by contrast, Gaddafi had voluntarily given up his weapons of mass destruction program years ago. It is also ironic that the French apparently believe that a no fly zone can topple the Gaddafi regime. After all, we imposed a no fly zone in Iraq after the Gulf War, but that failed to secure the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Of course, the French weren’t the only people to support intervening in Libya but not Iraq. Many Democrats who didn’t support intervening in Iraq supported intervening in Libya. That seems particularly strange after all the problems we’ve had in Iraq. Joe Scarborough had his own ideas on why many Democrats supported the intervention in Libya but not the intervention in Iraq.
“The American left is also making it abundantly clear that it does not find all wars morally reprehensible — only those begun by Republicans,” said Scarborough.
After a decade of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you would think the American public would be more sober about the wisdom of killing people and destroying things in an effort to save lives, but that is not the case.
On March 22, CBS News reported that almost 70% of the American public supported airstrikes in Libya, according to its poll.
Intervention is a bad idea
According to our government, NATO decided to intervene in Libya to prevent Gaddafi from committing genocide. But both the evidence and simple logic suggest that he would not have committed genocide without our intervention.
Right after the Day of Rage, on February 19, Mohammed Ali Abdallah, the deputy secretary general of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, pleaded with the international community to intervene within 48 hours, warning that there would soon be a massacre in Libya. The international community did not intervene 48 hours later and there was not a massacre.
We eventually did decide to intervene once Gaddafi threatened to go after the rebels in Benghazi. But attacking enemy soldiers is not genocide.
“Muammer Gaddafi’s threat to show no mercy to his opponents might have been just that: a threat, within the context of a civil uprising, to intimidate those who opposed him with arms,” said Richard Haass. “It was not necessarily a threat to every man, woman and child in Benghazi.”
In fact, before our intervention, Libya explicitly said it would not harm civilians.
“The armed forces are arriving to ensure your security, undo the injustice done to you, protect you, restore calm and bring life back to normal,” said the Libyan Army, in a statement as it approached Benghazi.
“We don’t want to kill, we don’t want revenge,” said Saif al-Islam. “But you, traitors, mercenaries, you have committed crimes against the Libyan people: leave, go in peace to Egypt.”
Of course, it is questionable how committed Gaddafi is to protecting civilians lives. For example, NATO has bemoaned the fact that Gaddafi has been firing his artillery on cities. Unfortunately, we did the same thing in Iraq. Not surprisingly, when we did it, we did not call it genocide.
But from the information I have seen so far, it does not appear that Gaddafi has been atrocious in his conduct during the war.
“Muammar Gaddafi is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government,” said Alan Kuperman. “Misrata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people — including combatants — have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women. If Gaddafi were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties.”
But regardless of the level of atrocities committed by the regime, the chances of a successful outcome by military intervention are not good. Pretty much everything has to go right in order for it to succeed. But there are many things that can go wrong.
According to the UN resolution authorizing military intervention, NATO is not allowed to deploy ground forces in Libya. That means NATO is restricted to using airpower alone. It is not clear that NATO can overthrow Gaddafi by only using airpower.
“There is no reason to believe a no-fly zone would be decisive,” saidRichard Haass. “In fact, we have every reason to believe it would not be, given that aircraft and helicopters are not central to the regime’s military advantages. The regime could defeat the opposition without resorting to attack planes and helicopter gunships simply by exploiting its advantages in terms of foot soldiers and light arms.”
The effectiveness of airpower can be largely negated by simplyplacing your tanks and artillery in densely populated areas. Gaddafi has done this, much to the chagrin of NATO.
“There is a limit to what can be accomplished by airpower to stop fighting in a city,” said General Mark van Uhm.
Under these circumstances, NATO will have a difficult time using its airpower to strike the Libyan military without killing civilians.
But what I find interesting is the fact that there are still civilians in these areas. If Gaddafi is really killing civilians indiscriminately, either the civilians should all be dead, or they should have completely evacuated those areas by now. The fact that neither of those two conditions is true implies that Gaddafi really hasn’t been killing civilians indiscriminately.
Nevertheless, according to our government, we had to intervene in Libya to prevent Gaddafi from committing genocide. I do not understand how imposing a no fly zone could prevent genocide. During a genocide most of the killing would be done on the ground. In fact, I can’t think of a single genocide that needed airpower. The Khmer Rouge didn’t need airpower to slaughter its citizens. The Hutu didn’t need airpower to slaughter the Tutsis. To commit genocide, you simply need to go door to door and kill everyone. Again, it doesn’t seem like Gaddafi is doing that even though he has his ground forces in a position where they could do that.
It should not be surprising that Gaddafi would not commit genocide because it’s not in his interest to do so. Gaddafi wants to remain in power. That means he needs to maintain a certain level of support from his people. Committing genocide is not a good way to maintain popular support.
A better way of maintaining public support would be to portray the intervention as a power grab by outsiders and use the intervention as a rallying cry. In effect, Gaddafi could use our intervention against us. He could also claim that the foreign forces are killing civilians and, in fact, Gaddafi has done exactly that. The claim may or may not be true, but even if the claim is not true, people might believe it, as such claims are hard to disprove. As far as I can tell, western media outlets have been unable to ascertain the validity of the allegations made by Gaddafi. For example, on May 13, Libya claimed that a NATO airstrike in Brega killed 11 Muslim clerics, but the New York Times refused to either verify or disprove that assertion. Regardless, after the incident, Nouri Adin al-Mejrab, himself a Muslim cleric, asked Muslims to avenge the death of those clerics. To further complicate matters, Gaddafi could use civilians as human shields and then blame NATO for killing civilians if they die.
The fact that you have to intervene military in the first place implies that the existing regime is strong. If the existing regime was weak, you wouldn’t have had to intervene militarily in the first place – the opposition would have won without your help. Unfortunately, it appears that the regime in Libya is fairly strong. In fact, on March 10, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told the Senate that Gaddafi would defeat the rebels. Of course, he said that before NATO intervened, but nevertheless, Gaddafi has managed to survive the NATO onslaught for what is now 100 days and counting. This implies that he has significant support in Libya. Apparently, there are many Libyans willing to fight and die for him. Otherwise, he would have lost by now. On the other hand, it appears that the opposition is weak, weaker in fact, than the regime. Otherwise they would have won by now. This means that our intervention has most likely prolonged what would have been a short civil war. In fact, on the same day that the UN authorized the no fly zone Saif al-Islam said that the Libyan military would complete its military operation within the next 48 hours. Instead of saving lives, our intervention has probably resulted in a higher number of deaths.
Intervening militarily means that you are killing people, which is exactly the crime you are accusing your enemy of doing. And you will kill some of the people whom you are claiming to protect. NATO has killed rebel soldiers on several occasions in Libya. On April 1, a NATO airstrike killed 13 rebel fighters. On April 7, a NATO airstrikekilled at least five rebel fighters. On June 18, NATO essentiallyadmitted that that one of its bombs had killed 9 civilians in Libya.
Even if your side wins, that doesn’t mean the situation will improve. The new regime might be just as bad as the old regime.
“Removing Gadhafi and those around him could easily set in motion a chain of events in which a different strongman, with the backing of a different tribe, took over,” said Richard Haass. “Or it could create a situation in which radical Islamists gain the upper hand. Either way, significant areas of the country would be beyond any government control, creating vacuums exploitable by al Qaeda and similar groups.”
In fact, democracy movements do not have a particularly good record in third world countries. Just look at the Ivory Coast. Three decades ago, Laurent Gbagbo was the democracy activist leading the charge against Felix Houphouet-Boigny.
“We had pinned our hopes for democracy on Laurent Gbagbo,” saidVenance Konan. “But look at Mr. Gbagbo now: Soundly defeated at the polls last November after a decade as president, he refused to concede, plunging Ivory Coast into chaos.”
In Libya, it does not appear that the rebels are any better than Gaddafi. Both Gaddafi and the rebels are using child soldiers. Also, it appears that the rebels are killing civilians as well. NATO actually had to warn the rebels not to kill civilians.
“We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don’t confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians,” said one U.S. official.
Presumably, NATO had to issue this warning after the rebels killed some civilians. Unfortunately, it appears they have few qualms about killing people. That aggressiveness could easily be directed towards the population if someone else foments another uprising. Or that aggressiveness could be aimed at us. That would not be surprising, given the background of many of the rebels.
“Many of the al Qaida activists in Afghanistan and later in Iraq came from Libya,” said Hillary Clinton.
And in fact, those people came from the eastern part of Libya, where the rebels are based.
“We have seen reports that there are some extremists that are fighting for the opposition,” said Robert Gates. “I think we have to keep a wary eye on it.”
Out of all the cities in the world, the Libyan city of Darnah gave birth to the highest number of suicide bombers who went to Iraq. As I mentioned before, the rebels have links to both Al Qaeda and LIFG. Abu Sufian bin Qumu, a member of Al Qaeda and a former inmate at Gitmo, is an important member of the rebels in Libya. He is training recruits in Darnah. Abdel Hakim al-Hasady leads 300 rebel soldiers from Darnah. His field commander is Salah al-Barrani, a former member of LIFG. Hasady spent five years in a training camp in Afghanistan. He has told several journalists that he fought against America in Afghanistan. He now denies saying that. But he does have other things to say.
“Our view is starting to change of the U.S.” said Hasady. “If we hated the Americans 100%, today it is less than 50%.”
This can't end well.
“Pre-9/11 Afghanistan offers something of an object lesson here, as the U.S. armed individuals and groups to defeat the regime backed by the Soviet Union,” said Richard Haass. “This policy worked in realizing its immediate goal, but in the years that followed it empowered individuals and groups who carried out an agenda hostile to U.S. interests.”
War has a radicalizing effect on its participants.
“As the civil war stalemate persists, more and more young men learn the lethal tactics of warfare, forge ties with other fighters, and perhaps develop ambitions that can only be achieved through terrorism or violent goals beyond liberating Tripoli,” said Micah Zenko.
Regardless of which side wins in this civil war, the losers will be angry. Their anger could easily provide the seed for another civil war later on. In Libya, if Gaddafi loses, his supporters will be particularly angry given that the rebels have tortured many of the soldiers they have captured.
“Though in private those interviewed said they had been treated well since coming under the sheik’s care, and that the rebels now treated them well, many had been beaten severely at capture, by largely untrained rebels who had suffered in the siege and who knew little of the laws of war,” said the New York Times.
The Times went on to say that, in order to prevent their detainees from running away, the rebels shot several of them in the foot after they were captured.
Assuming the rebels win, they must provide effective governance after the war or else the war had no purpose. In fact, the war may resume if the population feels that its needs are not being met. The chances of the rebels providing effective governance are not good. The rebels know less about running a government than the previous regime, as the rebels have presumably never run a government before. And on top of that, the rebels were undoubtedly educated in the system of the previous regime. Assuming that the educational system of the previous regime was a disaster (which is a safe bet considering that the people just overthrew that regime for not fulfilling the needs of the people), the new administration will not know what they are doing. They will probably do a bad job and then someone else will have to overthrow them.
Even if the new administration has capable members, that does not mean that it will succeed. The new regime will still have to deal with the same problems that the old regime faced. For example, many of the countries ripe for revolution are resource extraction countries, just like Libya with its oil and natural gas sectors. But to improve their economy further, they must go beyond that. One of the ways they could do that would be to improve their manufacturing sector. But who’s going to help them do that? Obviously, there is no one in the country who knows how to do that otherwise the country in question would have a capable manufacturing sector to begin with. Help from a foreign country seems unlikely, given that every single other country in the world seems intent on figuring out ways to boost their own manufacturing sector, not someone else’s.
The countries may have more luck getting foreigners to help them boost their service sector, but even that’s not assured. Boosting the service sector would boost domestic demand. It’s not clear that the West wants that. It appears to me that the West wants to suppress demand in many developing countries. That leads to those countries having a trade surplus, which means that those countries are earning more money than they spend. That surplus money must be spent by someone. Since it is not being spent by the country in question, other countries must spend that money. Of course, those other countries are all found in the West. The West borrows that surplus money and then buys goods with it. And on top of that, America and Britain are devaluing their currencies which means they are essentially defaulting on their loans (as an example, if America takes out a loan of $100 from Libya, and then the dollar drops by 10%, that means that in Libyan dinars the value of that loan just dropped by 10%). As long as this process repeats itself, the West is essentially getting that surplus money for free.
The new regime may also have another challenge it will have to overcome – the previous regime. Our government has told us that the rebels are fighting a war of liberation against a brutal dictator. That is not an accurate picture of what is going on in Libya. In some respects, the war in Libya is an east vs. west civil war.
“Behind the thin facade of a modern state lies a long, seething history of rivalries among 140 tribes and clans, about whom we know little,” said Max Boot. “Colonel Qaddafi has kept them in check with a combination of brutal repression and generous payoffs. Once he’s gone, the tribes could fight one another for the spoils of Libya’s oil industry.”
Libya itself is a conglomeration of three separate regions – Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripolitania. For the most part, Gaddafi has his support in the west, in Tripolitania, while the rebels have support in the east, in Cyrenaica. In fact, to gain power, Gaddafi overthrew King Idris, who had the support of Cyrenaica. Thus far, both sides have had a hard time making headway into each other’s strongholds. If this stalemate persists, it may result in the partitioning of the country.
“It is perfectly possible that the country may again divide for reasons having little to do with the politics and ideologies of the 21st century,” said William Pfaff. “That could provide what could be called a natural solution to the national problem, and might be kept in mind.”
That may be a solution in the eyes of the West. It may in fact be the preferred solution in the eyes of the West. But I am willing to bet that the people of Libya do not want to see their country split in half.
Our narrative doesn’t make any sense
Despite the fact that our government doesn’t really care about democracy and despite all the downsides of going to war, the West decided to intervene anyways. They justified the war by saying that Gaddafi had no support amongst the population.
“The Libyan state is a one-man operation,” said The Weekly Standard. “Eliminate that man and the whole edifice may come tumbling down.”
The fact that Gaddafi has put up a good fight against the rebels poses a problem for the West. The West claims that the people do not support Gaddafi, but apparently some do because his forces haven’t lost after over 100 days of war against the rebels, Europe, and America. The GDP of Libya is approximately $60 billion dollars while the GDP of Europe and America combined is probably close to $30 trillion. And they can’t win despite the fact that Gaddafi has, apparently, no support in his country. The West has tried to sidestep this issue by saying that Gaddafi has hired mercenaries and will soon run out of money and therefore mercenaries. This is a lie. Most of the people fighting for Gaddafi aren’t mercenaries.
“The Libyan leader’s core support comes from domestic constituencies,” said Richard Downie, an official at CSIS.
Gaddafi has even provided assault rifles to the civilians in Sirte. The fact that Gaddafi was confident enough to provide weapons to civilians and the fact that they haven’t used those weapons to kill him suggests strongly that Gaddafi does have some support amongst the population.
Many of the so called mercenaries are in fact naturalized citizens of Libya. They immigrated to Libya decades ago to help Gaddafi gain control of northern Africa. Interestingly, the West is not the only one who calls those fighters mercenaries. The rebels are also calling them mercenaries because they want to rid the country of ethnic minorities.
“Racism is also at play,” said Downie. “Many Libyan natives resent the country’s foreign nationals. Unrest offers an opportunity to settle scores against foreign workers by falsely accusing ‘black Africans’ of committing atrocities on behalf of the regime.”
“Sub-Saharan African workers have been targeted by rebel forces for arbitrary search and detention, as well as cruel and inhuman mistreatment,” said Micah Zenko.
So in addition to using child soldiers, in addition to torturing prisoners of war, in addition to killing civilians, and in addition to having links to Al Qaeda, the rebels are also engaged in ethnic cleansing. It kind of makes you wonder why the West decided to support them.
Actually, even if Gaddafi did hire mercenaries that only makes the West look worse. Though the West was quick to bomb Libya, it has not been quick to impose sanctions. If the only reason why Gaddafi could put up a fight is because he had the money to hire mercenaries then wouldn’t it make sense to seize his financial assets as soon as possible? But the effort to impose sanctions on Gaddafi and his cohorts was slow and in some cases non-existent.
Actually, America did some of its early work on sanctions well. At 8:30 AM on February 23, America decided to freeze the Libyan assets held in American banks. America discovered that Libya had $29.7 billion invested in American banks. America ordered those assets frozen at 8:00 PM on February 25. Unfortunately, those sanctions were incomplete. For example, America failed to place sanctions on Arab Banking Corporation, a bank owned by the Libyan Central Bank.
Europe has seemed less enthusiastic about imposing sanctions on Gaddafi. On March 4, Dow Jones reported that European nations were fighting amongst themselves over whether or not to impose sanctions on the Libyan sovereign wealth fund and the Libyan Central Bank. Italy opposed placing sanctions on those entities while other European countries supported sanctioning them. On March 23, the EU finally imposed sanctions on 5 Libyan companies. Unfortunately, had the EU really wanted to put pressure on the regime it would have imposed sanctions on more companies. After all, at that point America had imposed sanctions on 14 Libyan companies.
In some cases, our effort to sanction Libyan officials has been laughably sluggish. Switzerland certainly seemed to be in no rush to impose sanctions on Gaddafi. They didn’t freeze his assets unit May 2. Amazingly, the West did not impose sanctions on Safia Farkash, the wife of Muammar Gaddafi until June 27. The rebels thought she had$30 billion in assets. For some reason, the West allowed her to have access to those assets for over three months since the start of the bombing campaign against her husband.
In other cases, the West has refused to impose sanctions so as not to harm the European economy. For example, various media outlets, including the Arab News and the Associated Press, have reported that Europe and America had refused to impose sanctions on Tamoil, a company owned by the Libyan Investment Authority. Actually, the Libyan Investment Authority owns Oilinvest, a holding company based in the Netherlands. Oilinvest, in turn, owns Tamoil. Tamoil has refineries in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. Tamoil also has thousands of gas stations in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy.
Despite the war, Europe continued to allow Tamoil to do business within its borders. The international community intentionally refrained from placing Tamoil on the sanctions list because of its importance to the European economy. Apparently, Europe felt it was okay to kill Muslims in Libya but if that meant any inconvenience for Europe, well, that would be outrageous. Anyways, Tamoil promised Europe that none of its profits would go to Gaddafi. Unfortunately, Tamoil was lying.
“Experts say European governments are being naive, or simply self-serving, in an attempt to protect European jobs and oil supplies,” said the Associated Press.
Several European officials said that Tamoil had promised that none of the money would go to anyone on the sanctions list. However, according to one Dutch lawmaker, Gaddafi could funnel the money through a bunch of Tamoil shell companies. That would make it impossible for Europe to detect whether or not Gaddafi could access the profits earned by Tamoil. But actually, Gaddafi didn’t even need to funnel the money though his shell companies because it turns out that Europe wasn’t even trying to trace where the money was going.
It is not even clear that Italy has stopped buying natural gas from Gaddafi. On March 2, Ziad Aliwa, the chairman of Babel Shipping,claimed that natural gas was flowing from Libya to Italy through the Greenstream pipeline. That contradicts an earlier statement made by Eni, which said it had shutdown the pipeline.
Here’s another thing to consider. If Gaddafi was the only thing standing between the rebels and victory, shouldn’t we try to assassinate him? Not according to John Kerry.
“This is a very limited operation that is not geared to try to get rid of Gaddafi,” said John Kerry. “He has not been targeted.”
The western media seemed to agree with Kerry. In an editorial, the Financial Times said it supported the military intervention in Libya. On the other hand, the Financial Times argued that NATO should not remove Gaddafi, arguing that the people of Libya should remove Gaddafi by themselves. It is extremely ironic that we have decided not to kill Gaddafi now, given that we tried to kill him in 1986. John McCain provided a really lame excuse for not targeting Gaddafi.
“That’s not something you can count on,” said McCain. “You’re probably going to take some other people with him. You want to do that? What if you miss? You're going to kill a lot of people. What I’m saying is that it's not so simple.”
I fail to see how bombing Gaddafi is any different than bombing another military target. You can kill civilians in both operations. And in fact, we have killed a countless number of civilians in our bombing campaigns in the last hundred years or so.
We even had the perfect opportunity to get rid of Gaddafi. On April 14, for reasons only he knows, Gaddafi took a victory lap through the streets of Tripoli in a SUV. He was standing in a car with his upper body protruding through the moonroof. At various points during the trip, a crowd of Libyans followed his car and cheered him on. You can see a video of his trip here. Had NATO wanted to assassinate him, it could have easily done so at that time. This event also shows that Gaddafi does have significant support amongst the people of Tripoli, or else he would never have done that. Someone could have assassinated him, if they wanted to.
Instead of trying to kill Gaddafi, we actually seem to be trying to help him. On April 16, the New York Times reported that America was looking for a country that would provide him refuge. In late March, the Italian foreign minister said that several countries in Africa would be willing to do that. The American media seemed to like that idea. Jackson Diehl, a journalist for the Washington Post, argued that dictators should be given immunity from prosecution. The British media seemed to approve of that idea as well.
“British officials said they would rather see Gaddafi face trial, but if his escape was the price of a peaceful settlement they would be able to live with that,” said The Guardian.
The West also offered incentives for members of Gaddafi’s family to defect.
Radicalized in the West
“We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” said Hillary Clinton. “And when you leave, you don’t leave much behind for the people who are there. We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa.”
Ironically, that is pretty much how things are in Libya now. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that the West would like to offer Gaddafi and his associates a way out. Though the conventional wisdom suggests otherwise, Gaddafi has actually been good for the West. He and his associates went to school in the West and they came to power due to help from the West. In return, Libya has rewarded the West financially. It has been a win-win situation for both Gaddafi and the West, but at the expense of the Libyan people. While Gaddafi, his associates, and the West have made money, the people have not gotten their fair share.
Of course, the ties between Libya and the West begin with Gaddafi. Gaddafi received his military training in Britain. According to the Daily Telegraph, Gaddafi went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. His Wikipedia article used to show this, but on March 18, 2011, someone changed the article, claiming that Gaddafi never attended Sandhurst. Perhaps Britain is now trying to hide the truth now that it is at war with his regime.
Both Europe and America were instrumental in bringing Gaddafi to power. On September 1, 1969, Gaddafi led a coup against King Idris. Unlike the current situation, no one died in the 1969 coup. Gaddafi waited until King Idris was out of the country before springing the coup. That sure seems smart. Too bad we didn’t do something like that this time. In any case, a mere three days after the coup, on September 4, Britain said it would not interfere in the internal affairs of Libya. In other words, Britain would do nothing to reinstall King Idris. On September 6, America, France, Britain, and Italy formallyrecognized the new regime in Libya. The fact that the coup was bloodless and the fact that the West was quick to recognize the new regime imply that the West supported the coup, supported Gaddafi, and it implies that the Libyan people supported the coup as well. Back then, America had oil investments in Libya worth $1 billion. Of the 40 foreign oil companies that operated in Libya, thirty eight of them were American. I doubt America would have recognized the new regime unless it had given the go ahead for the coup in the first place. Gaddafi has become very rich since taking over. I’m sure he knows who he has to thank for that and who he owes.
Despite the apparent dominance of American oil companies in Libya, at least according to the New York Times, prior to the coup, Italy had the most influence in Libya.
“Although the Libyans struggled bitterly to oust the Italians during their occupation from 1911 until liberation by Allied armies during World War II, Italian influence is still the strongest foreign influence in the country,” said the New York Times. “It is reflected in trade statistics, architecture, popular tastes and way of life.”
Italy had maintained its influence in Libya to this very day.
Eni is the largest Italian oil company. Before the war began, Eniproduced 244,000 barrels of oil per day in Libya. That amounts to 13% of the company’s total production of oil. Eni has a long history of doing business in Libya. The company first entered the country in the late 50s. Eni was the only major western oil company to continue to do business in Libya during the UN trade embargo, which started in the early 90s and ended in 2004.
After the trade embargo ended, business between Libya and Italy expanded even further. On October 16, 2007, both Eni and the Libyan National Oil Company agreed to each spend $14 billion to expand oil and gas production in Libya. Libya also agreed to extend its existing oil contracts with Eni through 2042 and extend its existing gas contracts with Eni through 2047.
Twenty eight percent of all Libyan exports go to Italy. Before the war, Italy got 25% of its oil and 10% of its natural gas from Libya. Italy has hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts with the Libyan government, including contracts to build roads, real estate, rail, and telecommunications networks. Libya has billions of dollars in investments in Italy. For example, Libya owns 7.6% of UniCredit and 2% of Finmeccanica. One report claimed that Libya had $6 billion invested in stocks. Libya had 25% of that money invested in Italian companies. By contrast, Libya had 15% in American companies.
Presumably, Italy and Libya have this relationship because Libya used to be a colony of Italy. Unfortunately, Libya has not done as good a job of removing its colonial masters as the conventional wisdom suggests. In fact, even though Italy agreed to “give” Libya $5 billion in reparations for atrocities committed during its colonial rule of Libya, it’s not like they gave Libya that money for nothing. In exchange for the money, Libya agreed to provide Italy with favorable energy, infrastructure, and defense contracts.
Italy even saved Gaddafi’s life back in 1986. Bettino Craxi, the former head of the Italian Socialist Party, warned Gaddafi that America would bomb Tripoli in retaliation for the disco bombing in Germany.
Not surprisingly, Gaddafi has spent much of his personal fortune on improving the Italian economy.
“Gaddafi spent his time investing more and more of his personal wealth in the Italian economy, filling corporate boards with his close friends and pursuing a strategy of economic penetration that allowed his sons and associates to live in unusual luxury during their long periods of residence in Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rapallo,” said Maurizio Molinari.
Ironically, in his writing, Molinari has been trying to convince the world that Gaddafi has been taking advantage of Italy. I think he has it reversed.
Britain also has a lot of influence in Libya. Again, you can see this influence by looking at all the money Libya has invested in Britain. Libya owns part of Pearson, the British publishing company. When the war started, Libya had at least $19 billion deposited in British financial institutions.
Amazingly, a short while before the war began, the Libyan government had nothing but admiration for the Queen of England. Consider the words of Ali Treki, a Libyan diplomat, while introducing the queen before the UN assembly.
“You presided over a remarkable global transformation which saw the birth of a multitude of independent nation states based on the principles of equal rights and the self-determination of all peoples as enshrined in the U.N. Charter,” said Ali Treki, a Libyan diplomat.
That’s a pretty remarkable statement. Too bad he forgot to mention the part about how East Asia – and the rest of the world – forcibly removed Britain and Europe from their territory. But perhaps we should forgive Libyan officials for their misunderstandings of history, given that many of them were educated in western universities.
Mustafa Zarti, the vice chairman of the Libyan sovereign wealth fund, got his education in Europe. When he was 13 years old, he moved to Vienna.
“I spent my most wonderful teenaged years here in Vienna,” said Zarti.
Apparently, Europe knows how to show a future authoritarian a good time. Perhaps that is part of the reason why Libyan officials have consistently chosen to favor European interests over the interest of their country.
Zarti got his MBA in Vienna, at Webster University. Unfortunately, his western education did not seem to help him make good investments. Many of the investments made by the Libyan Investment Authority went bad. In 2007 and 2008, the Libyan Investment Authority bought currency and commodities derivatives from companies such as Goldman Sachs. Libya lost $4 billion on those investments. While those investments didn’t work out so well for Libya, I’m sure they made western financial institutions a lot of money.
Perhaps his advisers led him astray. Lord Jacob Rothschild worked as his adviser, as did Howard Davies, the director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. McKinsey & Co. also did some consulting work for the Libyan Investment Authority. Perhaps his friends led him astray. He is friends with Stephen Schwarzman. Schwarzman even went to his wedding. Or perhaps he knew exactly what he was doing. Perhaps he was simply helping his masters at the expense of his country.
Saif al-Islam, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, got his doctorate from the London School of Economics. He owns a mansion in London worth 10 million pounds.
The Libyan information minister, Moussa Ibrahim, lived in Britain for 15 years. He went to the University of Exeter and Royal Holloway, University of London. He certainly sounds like someone whom Britain owns.
“I lived in London for 15 years,” said Moussa Ibrahim. “I know every street in London. I know how decent the British people are.”
After the war began, the head of Libyan intelligence, Moussa Koussa, fled to Britain. Several members of his family members live there. Instead of putting him on trial and throwing him in jail, Britain allowed him to go to a meeting in Qatar. The families of the victims of the Lockerbie Bombing blasted Britain for allowing Moussa Koussa to leave the country. On March 14, the Telegraph reported that Moussa Koussa was still in Qatar, despite the fact that the conference had ended on the previous day. British officials said he might not return to Britain. Europe even removed him from the sanctions list. The fact that he fled to Britain and the fact that Britain later released him, suggests that he was a British agent all along.
Koussa wasn’t the only person involved in the Lockerbie Bombing that Britain released recently. Britain also released the Lockerbie Bomber himself. On August 20, 2009, Britain released Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie Bomber, much to the dismay of America. Britain claimed that Megrahi was dying of cancer, and released him because of that. In fact, Britain actually told Gaddafi how to use the cancer diagnosis to garner the release of Megrahi. It is now nearly two years after his release and he is still not dead. The fact that Britain is releasing people like Moussa Koussa and the Lockerbie Bomber strongly suggests that they were British agents.
Libya even got its nuclear program, indirectly, through Europe. Libya purchased the program from Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani. Khan, in turn, obtained his knowledge of centrifuges through universities and research labs in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands. While living in the Netherlands, Khan earned his engineer’s degree from Delft University of Technology and he subsequently worked on the uranium enrichment process at the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory in Amsterdam.
Interestingly, Libya never got the centrifuges working. In fact, many of the centrifuges were still in their packing crates when Libya handed them over. Perhaps Libya was never serious about developing its nuclear weapons program in the first place.
Not only was Europe indirectly responsible for the nuclear program to begin with, Europe also was responsible for bringing the program to an end.
“It was the British intelligence service that brought an end to Libya’s programme of weapons of mass destruction,” said David H. Dunn, an official at the University of Birmingham.
Several important Libyans also have connections to America. Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister of the National Transition Council, the person who leads the rebels in Libya, went to the University of Pittsburgh. The New York Times called Mahmoud Jibril the “most polished and savvy public figure” in Libya. I assume the Times had such nice things to say about Jibril because he is our man.
Khamis Gaddafi visited America right before the uprising began. After the uprising began, instead of arresting him, we allowed him to return to Libya. Perhaps he was visiting America to coordinate the Libyan response to the uprising with America officials. Or perhaps America did to him what it has been doing to me.
While the West seems to have unlimited influence in Libya, the East seems to have little or no influence. In fact, it appears that both Gaddafi and the rebels want to stick it to East Asia as much as possible. At the start of the war, rioters attacked Chinese workers. In response, China began a mad scramble to evacuate its 30,000 citizens who were working in Libya. The rioters also attacked a South Korean construction site in Darnah. About 70 South Korean construction workers had to evacuate the site due to the attack. Earlier this year, Gaddafi said that Libyans had the right to live in apartments built by foreign construction companies. Upon hearing those words, many Libyans raided the apartments built by Korean, Chinese, Turkish, and Malaysian companies. In 2010, Libya arrestedtwo South Koreans for violating its religious laws. Libya also accusedSouth Korea of spying and demanded that South Korea provide it with $1 billion worth of civil engineering work in compensation. In 2009, Libya prevented China from buying an oil company operating within its border. The fact that Libya keeps doing these things is further evidence that the West controls Libya and is using Libya for its own purposes, in this case, to strike out against East Asia.
Europe asks us to intervene
Despite its opposition to the war in Iraq, Europe has consistently demanded that America intervene militarily in what seems like every single country in existence.
“Most Europeans agree that the central tragedy of their history in the early and mid-twentieth century was the reluctance of the United States to participate in Europe’s affairs,” said Paul Johnson. “What they fear most is a return to American isolationism.”
During the Clinton administration, the Europeans demanded that we intervene in Bosnia and Rwanda. And they keep sending us journalists who try to convince us to intervene in these countries, journalists like Samantha Power and Christopher Hitchens.
Even France, who keeps complaining about America, wants America to do its dirty work for it. If you don’t believe me, watch the speechNicolas Sarkozy made last year at Columbia University.
“The world’s number one power must be precisely that – a leader,” said Sarkozy. “You must never turn your backs on the world. The world needs America.”
But he also added a caveat.
“In Europe, what we want is to be heard, to be listened to, by the United States of America,” said Sarkozy.
That’s the reason why Europe opposed our intervention in Iraq – it wasn’t their idea.
After NATO began its intervention in Libya, Politico interviewed Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. He said his committee had no regrets about awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize because, after all, Obama was a multilateralist. Which, apparently, separates him from Bush in an important way – they both killed Muslims but Europe is only happy when America kills those Muslims with their consent. That’s what they mean by multilateralism. I am sure Europe loved the fact that President Obama went to the UN and got its approval for the war in Libya while he didn’t go to Congress to ask for its approval. By contrast, President Bush got Congress to approve the war in Iraq but didn’t get approval from the UN. We all know what the Europeans thought of that.
The European media seemed giddy about the operation in Libya. After Iraq, it seemed like no one would support military intervention anymore. Then came Libya.
“Whatever happens now, the Prime Minister has already achieved something remarkable, which is to reclaim the interventionist principle from the quagmire of Iraq,” said The Daily Telegraph.
War costs money
War can be expensive. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could cost America $4 trillion. That’s a lot of money. That’s why Europe would rather have America do its dirty work for it. Some Americans, such as James M. Dubik, a retired U.S. lieutenant general, are even dumb enough to take the bait. In an op-ed published in the New York Times, he argued that America needed to send in ground forces to save the day.
“Washington must stop pretending that we’ve passed the leadership for the Libyan operation on to NATO,” he said. “We did so in Bosnia, claiming Europe would take the lead, only to have the 1995 Srebrenica genocide jolt us back to reality.”
After deciding to intervene in Libya, but not send ground troops, and haven taken care not to assassinate Gaddafi or impose too many sanctions on his regime, Europe and America have done everything they could to create a stalemate between the regime and the rebels. For example, they have continually fought each other over who should take the lead in the operation.
“The Libyan campaign should really be called The War Nobody Wants To Lead,” said The Daily Telegraph.
America was heavily involved in the early stages of the war against Gaddafi, but later on, America scaled down its efforts and asked Europe to take a bigger role. That didn’t work out so well.
“As the Gaddafi forces shell the rebel-held city of Misrata, killing hundreds of civilians, NATO’s credibility is suffering, with critics saying it risks looking weak and ineffective — particularly in comparison with the blistering American-led attacks in the first weeks of the air campaign,” said the New York Times.
Instead of trying to be more effective, Europe seemed content to plead for more U.S. assistance. The French Defense Minister said that NATO needed the full participation of America to improve the situation in Misrata.
“Let’s be realistic,” said Carl Bildt. “The fact that the U.S. has left the sort of the kinetic part of the air operation has had a sizable impact. That is fairly obvious.”
Joe Biden didn’t seem to be too amused with the statements coming out of Europe.
“It is bizarre to suggest that NATO and the rest of the world lacks the capacity to deal with Libya — it does not,” said Joe Biden. “Occasionally other countries lack the will, but this is not about capacity.”
Regardless of what their capacity is, their behavior sure hasn’t been encouraging. On April 26, the rebels occupied a salt factory in Misrata. Despite the fact that the rebels told NATO that they had taken control of the factory, NATO bombed the factory on the next day. Twelve rebel fighters died. Interestingly, at first the rebels would not verify that NATO had in fact killed 12 of their members for fear that their complaints might reduce the number of airstrikes conducted by NATO.
Not only has the West made a mess of the air campaign, the West was also reluctant to provide the rebels with the equipment they need to win the war.
“It’s a more than 600-mile trip from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to Tripoli, and even if the rebels had air support on their journey, Gaddafi’s forces could clean their clocks as they advanced,” saidMicah Zenko. “To really tip the balance, you’d probably need sustained close air support and arms. Yet paragraph nine of the earlier resolution (1970) expressly forbids arming the rebel forces. So if we really want to tip the balance of power and arm the rebels, as the Egyptians seem to be doing, we need to recognize that we will be in violation of a U.N. Security Council Resolution.”
The Obama administration does not want to provide weapons to the rebels. But it is not the Security Council Resolution that is holding them back. When asked why we can’t provide weapons to the rebels, the administration replied that it did not know who the rebels were, meaning that the administration feared it might hand over weapons to members of Al Qaeda. On the other hand, the administration said it did not have a problem with the Europeans supplying weapons to the rebels. Interestingly, France had said it would supply weapons to the rebels. Apparently, our administration believes that the Europeans, in particular France, know which rebels are members of Al Qaeda. If France knows who Al Qaeda is in Libya, one wonders why France hasn’t taken action against those individuals. Perhaps France doesn’t want to take action against them because French intelligence controls them. In any event, finally, in June, France shipped some light weapons and ammunition to the rebels. It is not clear that these weapons are enough to shift the balance of power. For example, Press TV has reported that the rebels had been asking NATO to provide them with heavy artillery. NATO refused.
Regardless of how many rebels are members of Al Qaeda, there are other problems with supplying the rebels with weapons. By adding weapons to a civil war, you will be increasing the number of deaths during that war. This is another reason why NATO should not have intervened in the war. Unfortunately, now that NATO has decided to intervene on the side of the rebels, it must do what is necessary for them to win. That means NATO must give them weapons. Otherwise, the rebels will lose. Realistically, the rebels will probably have to use those weapons to take the cities held by Gaddafi, which will result in more civilian deaths. NATO claims that it does not want the rebels to use force to take the cities held by Gaddafi, but what else can they do? Realistically, only two other things can happen. Either Gaddafi can defeat the rebels (which NATO claims it does not want) or the fighting can lead to a stalemate and the partitioning of the country.
Not only do we not want to provide the rebels with weapons, we don’t even seem to want to provide them with money, not even the money owned by Gaddafi. As far as I can tell, we still haven’t given the rebels the Libyan assets we froze (the assets held by Gaddafi in western financial institutions).
The West has also been tardy and dysfunctional in providing the rebels with military advisers. Britain seemed determined to screw this up right from the beginning. On March 2, Britain sent six Special Forces soldiers, an MI6 operative, and one diplomat to Saluq. They had guns, explosives, and fake passports. The rebels detained them shortly after their arrival and sent them back to Britain.
“This is a huge embarrassment for the British government,” said Alan Fisher, a reporter for Al Jazeera. “Special Forces are highly regarded. But this is one incident that won’t get a great write up in their history. It’s also a propaganda victory for Colonel Gaddafi and the Libyan government. He’s been saying for a while that there are foreign influences among the protesters, that old colonial powers are desperate to get involved. Now he has something concrete to back that up.”
Britain didn’t make another attempt to send military advisers until over a month later, on April 19, when Britain announced it would send those advisers to help the rebels. France and Italy were equally as tardy in their efforts. Rather than aid the rebels, Europe seems content to bicker amongst themselves.
“The allies show little inclination or ability to lead in a tight spot,” said Daniel Byman. “In one of the first meetings of European powers to discuss the new arrangements, French and German representatives walked out halfway through. Getting the allies to decide on ultimate political objectives, shared rules of engagement and other tough issues will require constant cajoling by Washington.”
NATO did eventually do something that allowed it to attack the Libyan ground forces that were stationed near civilians. In particular, Britain and France sent their attack helicopters to help the rebels in Brega. Unfortunately, they waited until June 4, nearly three months after the NATO intervention began, to send those helicopters.
Thus far, NATO has done enough to prevent Gaddafi from winning but it hasn’t done enough to make him lose.
“Although we are prepared to ‘do something’ and pull out the most impressive kit in the U.S. toolbox -- military power -- we aren’t actually willing to get involved at the level required to win,” saidMicah Zenko. “This minimal engagement does more harm than good.”
NATO has created a stalemate. This stalemate is devastating for the people of Libya. The stalemate has shut down the economy of Libya. The stalemate has led to more death and destruction. And if the stalemate lasts long enough it will eventually result in the partitioning of the country.
Gaddafi wants a stalemate
Amazingly, based on his actions, it appears that Gaddafi also wants to create a stalemate. On February 16, he released 110 members of LIFG. The very next day, the civil war erupted with the so called Day of Rage. The fact that the Day of Rage would occur on February 17 was not a secret, but Gaddafi released those members of LIFG anyways. Gaddafi must have wanted a civil war. That’s the only way I can make sense of why he would release 110 members of LIFG right before the Day of Rage.
Gaddafi’s actions also suggest he wanted America to intervene militarily in Libya. On March 15, the G8 decided against imposing a no fly zone in Libya. On that same day, Libya abducted four journalists who worked for the New York Times. Two days later, on March 17, the UN passed a resolution calling for a no fly zone in Libya. Four days after that, Gaddafi released the four journalists. Essentially, Gaddafi punished America for not going to war with him by taking those hostages and he rewarded America for bombing his country when he released those hostages.
At the beginning of the war, Gaddafi even seemed to want NATO to bomb his military. That’s the only way I can explain his actions at the start of the war. On March 17, he had his forces stationed around Misrata.
“Rebels in Misrata said that Gaddafi forces had so far appeared to hold back, though electricity, water and telecommunications remained severed a day after fighters held the town against an onslaught of tank and artillery fire,” said the New York Times.
So right before NATO began attacking, Gaddafi had his forces positioned outside Misrata, where NATO could attack them. And they just sat there, waiting for the attack. As far as I can tell, only later did he move those forces into the cities to prevent them from being bombed.
Nevertheless, the rebels have not been able to defeat Gaddafi. Perhaps they have been unable to do so because of their military leader, Abdul Fatah Younis. He has a notorious reputation.
“Abdul Fatah Younis, a former interior minister whose work included suppressing dissent, now directs opposition military operations, hardly a promising sign,” said Daniel Byman.
Younis “defected” from the regime on February 22, five days after the civil war began. This has led some to believe that he is still loyal to Gaddafi and he has been screwing up the military operation on purpose.
Of course, it is unclear whether or not that is true. Most of the allegations seem to be coming from Khalifa Haftar and his associates.
“All of what happened there resulted from the command of Abdul Fattah Younes,” said Khalifa Haftar. “That’s why I came back to take charge, and in the next couple days I will take charge of every unit, not one unit. I am getting ready to lead the forces from now on.”
Khalifa Haftar spent most of the last 20 years of his life in Virginia. Unfortunately, Haftar also used to be a top military officer under Gaddafi. He switched to the opposition after the Libyan incursion into Chad in the late 80s.
On March 26, McClatchy reported that Haftar had become the new head of the rebel army because the rebels didn’t trust Younis. Nevertheless, the rebels decided to keep Younis as their chief of staff. That move had me baffled. How could the rebels say they didn’t trust Younis but keep him on as the chief of staff?
Amazingly, the rebels seemed to have a change of heart again the following month. On April 19, the New York Times reported that the Libyan rebels couldn’t seem to decide on who was in charge of the military. Haftar insisted he was in charge. However, the National Transitional Council said Younis was in charge.
I’m not sure what to make of this, other than everyone on the rebel’s side seems determined to screw everything up and make a mockery of the entire process. I bet this makes Gaddafi happy.
The real reasons for intervention
Three things can happen in Libya. The rebels can win. Gaddafi can win. Or there can be a stalemate. By UN mandate, NATO must protect civilians, but it must not arm the rebels, it must not send in ground troops, and it must not remove or assassinate Gaddafi. This is a recipe for a stalemate, which is, in fact, what we have. It is impossible that our leaders don’t realize this. They must want a stalemate, at least for a while. The fact that the West has a great deal of influence over Gaddafi combined with the fact that Gaddafi seems to also want a stalemate, reinforces this point.
The fact that we want a stalemate explains why we refused to assassinate Gaddafi when we had the chance. We didn’t want to kill Gaddafi because then either one of two things would have happened, neither of which we wanted. The war could have ended with his death, but we obviously didn’t want the war to end that quickly. On the other hand, the war could have continued, which we wanted, but Gaddafi’s death would have proven wrong our theory that Gaddafi had no support and was the only thing standing in the way of a rebel victory.
We must want Libyans to kill each other, at least for a while. Unfortunately, we have a history of doing things like this. In the Iran-Iraq War, we supplied weapons to both Iran and Iraq. At the start of the war, we allowed Israel to sell American made weapons to Iran (Israel needed our approval because before other countries can buy weapons made in America, they must first agree to the following restriction – if they ever decide to sell those weapons to another country, they must first obtain our consent). In total, Iran managed to buy billions of dollars of weapons manufactured by America.
At the same time, America also authorized Jordan and Saudi Arabia to sell American made weapons to Iraq. Not only that, but America also provided Iraq with cluster bombs, the vital ingredients for manufacturing chemical weapons, and biological agents, including anthrax. America provided Iraq with those chemical weapons ingredients, despite knowing that Saddam Hussein was attacking Iran with chemical weapons.
In an attempt to explain U.S. policy, one State Department officialhad this to say, “We wanted to avoid victory by both sides.”
That sounds like our Libya policy. More broadly, it sounds like our policy for the Jasmine Revolution. Prior to the revolution, we have not only supported the regimes that are now under pressure, we have also been supporting the groups that are trying to overthrow those regimes.
“While we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us,” said Bashem Fathy, an Egyptian who participated in the Jasmine Revolution.
The West has a history of tearing countries apart by making the inhabitants of those countries hate each other. We did that in Rwanda. We did that in Sudan. We did that in Iraq. And we are doing that in Afghanistan. Even if Libya doesn’t split in half right now, the seed is already in place for a future war. We don’t, it seems, like Muslims, or other minorities for that matter.
War has other benefits for the West. After the war in Libya, much of its military will probably be destroyed. Libya will need to buy new military equipment. It will probably buy that equipment from America, Europe, and Russia, as they own the major weapons companies. Furthermore, Libya will also probably look to the West to help it rebuild the infrastructure destroyed in the war. No wonder why Britain argued strenuously for the targeting of Libyan infrastructure.
There is another reason why we wanted a stalemate in Libya. We wanted to drive up oil prices, at least for a while. The war in Libya has decreased the amount of oil produced in the country. Speculators have used that fact to jack up the price of oil. They claim that, with the loss of production in Libya, worldwide production of oil is insufficient. This is false. Although the conflict in Libya has reduced its oil production, that loss of production should not increase the price of oil because the world has plenty of spare oil production capacity right now. Even Saudi Arabia blamed the rise in oil prices on speculators. On April 9, the Saudi Oil Minister said that the current level of oil production was high enough to meet the current level of demand and that consequently, the rise in oil prices was due to speculation.
“Global supply is adequate,” said Andrew Lebow, a broker at MF Global. “This is really a fear trade.”
The West seems to be playing some sort of twisted game, in which it lets the rebels make progress when it wants oil prices to go down, and it has them get stymied when it wants oil prices to go up.
“Libya is the key,” said Jonathan Barratt, the managing director of Commodity Broking Services. “The market tends to flow with what the rebel forces are doing. When the rebels are getting on top of things, crude oil starts to come under pressure, and as Gaddafi tries to gain control, there’s more concern for the region.”
The West wanted to drive up oil prices for several reasons. The West owns most of the major oil companies in the world. When the price of oil rises, those companies make a killing.
The other reason why the West wanted to raise the price of oil was because the West wanted to increase inflation worldwide, particularly in China. The West has used the higher rates of inflation to try and get China to raise its interest rates. If China raises interest rates, several things will happen. The first thing that will happen is that the Chinese economy should slow down. The West fears that China will soon have the most dominant economy in the world and wants to do everything it can to prevent that from happening. Furthermore, as long as interest rates in the West remain stable, which they have, if the interest rates in developing countries rise, that means that dollars created by the Federal Reserve and converted into foreign currencies, such as yuan, will earn American investors more money than the dollars that China receives in exchange. For example, the Fed recently printed another $600 billion as part of its QE2 program. Let’s say that America convert that money to yuan. Now, China will now have that $600 billion while America will have 3.88 trillion yuan. Both sides will have to invest that money. They will probably use that money to create loans. Because the interest rates in China are higher than the interest rates in America, America will earn more money on the yuan it loaned out China than China will earn on the dollars it loaned out it America. America is essentially earning money by doing no work.
Of course, the rise in oil prices has managed to increase inflation in the West. Nevertheless, the West has been much more reluctant to raise interest rates (surprise, surprise). Western commentators have come up with all sorts of lame excuses as to why the West shouldn’t raise interest rates while the developing world should. For example, Martin Wolf said that developed countries shouldn’t raise interest rates because inflation expectations are well anchored, as opposed to developing countries where those expectations are less well anchored.
The speculators have not limited themselves to the price of oil. They have driven up commodity prices across the board, including food prices. Due to the recent spike in food prices, another 44 million people have been driven into poverty.
In the end, I’m not sure whether Gaddafi will stay or go. I don’t think it matters much. If he stays, I imagine things will return to the way they used to be. If he goes, the rebels will presumably take control of the country. Most of them seem to be just as indebted to the West as the Gaddafi regime. They don’t seem to want to get a better bargain for their country than the existing regime, as they have apparentlyagreed to honor the existing treaties between Italy and Libya. I’d be curious to see what was in those treaties and if they are fair to Libya. I doubt it.
This is awful. This is what you get when you have a government of hypocrites who only care about enriching themselves. This is what you get when you have a compliant news media that refuses to tell the public the truth.
The other day, Henry Kissinger gave CNN a particularly apt description of President Obama.
“When he speaks, he often sounds as if he were in the world of ideas alone,” said Kissinger. “When he acts, he is very conscious of reality.”
That sounds like a very polite way of calling someone a hypocrite.