Blog No. 54.
Refugees – where they come from and why. First story – Libya
The Refugee Crisis. The media is full of the plight of desperate refugees pouring out of the Islamic world and attempting to enter the apparently safe refuge of Western Europe. We are told more than sixty million have been displaced by war since the USA and UK’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan under the banner of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom.’ Most of these refugees have been displaced to other locations in their own countries, but several million have been forced to seek succour in other countries. How the Europeans cope with the current wave of displacements might provide an indication as to how they will attempt to deal with the far greater waves of economic and climate change refugees that will surely attempt to follow over the next few decades.
There are three great ironies in this situation. Firstly, the USA, the prime instigator of the problem, is relatively untouched by the mechanics of having to cope with it. Secondly, it is the European nations, with their feeble and subservient leaderships, who went along with the USA’s intervention policies (in the case of the UK and France, as willing, and in the case of Germany and most other NATO members, as more reluctant accomplices) are reaping as they and the USA have sown. Yet nowhere, do they seem to pause for thought that their own sins of commission and omission are the direct cause of the problems they and the poor refugees now face. The third and greatest irony perhaps, is that this crisis might well, in retrospect, mark the tipping point towards the breakup of the European Union and NATO. The unity of NATO and the EU, over which NATO enjoys such dominance, has the highest priority in the USA’s foreign policy objectives, but the USA’s Middle Eastern policies might well have placed a strain on it that proves intolerable.
Misinformation as to cause. The reaction of the European publics being impacted by the refugee crisis is restrained by their being buried under a mountain of deliberate misinformation fed to them by their political elites and the corporates, which control their media. Lies have been deliberately implanted in the public mind in regard to each of the great, Western induced, Islamic refugee disasters: Afghanistan, followed by Iraq, followed by Somalia, followed by Libya, followed by Syria and now, soon to be followed by Yemen.
In this blog I will attempt to deal with the Libyan crisis. As I have no axe to grind and no atrocity to conceal, this version of history will diverge considerably from the versions to be found in the columns and on the screens of the western media.
King Idris of Libya. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s immediate predecessor as ruler of Libya, was King Idris. Click: King Idris This was in the days when Britain maintained strong military links with the Kingdom and a permanent RAF base at el Adam. I well remember Triplex West, a 1964, rapid deployment exercise for the 3rd Infantry Division, which was flown out from England to exercise in the Libyan Desert south of Tobruk. Such exercises were mainly for the benefit of the top-brass and their staff officers and thus, the fighting units involved were left in a vast tented encampment in the desert with too much time on their hands.
Several of us young subalterns were given permission to take a Land Rover and go for a swim on the coast – but we were warned that we might encounter the King en route. Sure enough, as we drove West down the arterial coastal road that holds (or rather held) the East and the West of the country together, we saw a fast moving convoy approaching from the other direction. We did as instructed. We stopped the Vehicle and alighted. We lined the roadside, standing to attention, staring ahead and saluting, while the King in his black Rolls Royce and his motorcycle outriders drove past at some speed. Such is the pretence of politeness that power pays to the petty potentates it owns!
Enter Gaddafi. Just three years later, my path was to nearly cross that of poor King Idris’s future nemesis. In 1966 the young Major Gaddafi was learning English at the British Army’s school of languages at Beaconsfield, just outside London. A month or so after he had graduated and moved on to the British Army Air Corps training centre at Bovington, I arrived at Beaconsfield to learn Arabic. There were still some of Gaddafi’s colleagues studying at the school. They and our class of budding Arabists, would meet in the mess at mealtimes to communicate in broken English and broken Arabic In July 1969, I left the Middle East and the following month heard of Gaddafi’s, Nasser inspired, nationalist coup and his coming to power in Libya. After that I followed his career with interest. Click: Gaddafi
Gaddafi’s Libya. The prevailing lie about Gaddafi’s Libya is that it was some sort of hell on Earth ruled by a madman. This is what a theoretically objective handbook has to say on the subject: Click: Encylopedia. Life expectancy ranked at 67th out of a listing of 194 nations. Click: About Libya. Furthermore, it was ranked 55th out of 167 rankings on the UN’s Human Development Index. No other African country ranked below 100. The HGI is a composite standard taking into account a shopping-basket of life experience factors such as health, education, per capita income, gender-equality etc. Click: HDI. All these indicators will have dived dramatically since the 2011, Western engineered revolution, Gaddafi’s brutal murder and the failed installation of a fondly imagined pro-western puppet regime. Instead we have total chaos with Islamist fanatics fighting Western wannabe puppets and the Libyan ports crawling with refugees and their traffickers. Click: Gaddafi’s Libya destroyed.
So why did the West decide to take out Gaddafi and turn Libya from being a profitable trading partner into a hellish failed state?
History. In the initial phase of his rule Gaddafi, took as his role model – the Arab Nationalist and anti-colonial Egyptian President Abdul Gamal Nasser, who like Gaddafi, had staged a successful military coup against his royal family. Gaddafi made a genuine attempt at bettering the lot of Libyans and mankind in general. He tried to develop a political theory, which would enable him to do this. Despite a veneer of releasing control to the people, he ensured that as the father figure, he kept absolute power in his hands. He was a dictator, but by no means as ugly as the West’s propaganda would make out. The Web is full of calumny against the Gaddafi regime, in search of justification for its own criminal involvement in his demise and the subsequent trashing of his country. Seeking the truth, beyond the relative neutrality of the Wikipedia, is almost certain to result in your exposure to a load of codswallop. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muammar_Gaddafi
In accord with his ideas of socialism, early in the four decades of his rule, Gaddafi nationalised the foreign-owned oil companies, curtailed the profits and offended the wealthiest sector of Libyan society. Much as Castro had done, he drove many of the disgruntled wealthy elite into exile – from where they could gain the eager ear of his enemies. There was no shortage of those in the corridors of western power. In keeping with his ‘revolutionary’ vision of himself, he used Libya’s extensive oil revenues to support ‘anti-imperialist’ movements such as the IRA, ETA (the Basque National Liberation Front) the Sandinistas and Mandela’s African National Congress. He offered particular support to the more violent wings of the Palestinian resistance, including providing funding for Black September and Abu Nidal. He made enemies of the conservative ‘royals’ in the Arabian Peninsula and the more extreme among the Islamic movements in the Arab World.
USA’s Hostility. Where he did make friends was among the chronic victims of colonialism in Africa. In trying to unite the continent against its post-colonial looting by the West, he made enemies of all the major western powers on whose financial toes he was treading. Ensuring that he was a member of neither camp in the Cold War, he bought arms from the Soviet Union, among others and was thus classified by Reagan as a Russian puppet and fair game for the Pentagon. In 1986 two Libyan aircraft were monitoring a deliberately provocative US naval exercise in the Gulf of Sirte, which Libya claimed as its territorial waters. Both were shot down. Two weeks later, three US servicemen were killed in the bombing of a Berlin disco frequented by US servicemen. For obvious reasons, suspicion fell on Gaddafi. On the strength of that suspicion, Reagan, ordered airstrikes against Libya to be launched from bases in the UK and in which the RAF participated. It is alleged that among the several score of Libyans killed was Gaddafi’s four year old daughter. In 1989, the USA shot down another two Libyan aircraft over the Gulf of Sirte. Click: US provocation. Given that history is written by the winning side, it is improbable that the combat details reported in this wiki are entirely accurate.
Lockerbie and UN Sanctions. A major incident that followed two years after the bombing attack on Libya, was the destruction of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988. There are multiple stories behind this event, but having read Susan Lindauer’s “Extreme Prejudice” Click: Susan Lindauer. it would seem unlikely that Gaddafi was to blame. More recently, according to the West’s propaganda requirements of the time, reports have made it into the media and blogosphere casting the blame on either, or both Syria and Iran. Nevertheless, using its well tried and tested techniques, in 1992, the USA arranged for the UN to punish Libya for the outrage and impose sanctions on Libya. These inflicted considerable domestic hardship on the Libyan population and undermined Gaddafi’s political popularity.
Gaddafi in from the cold. The effects of the sanctions were nothing like as severe as those inflicted by the UN sanctions against Iraq, which were imposed in 1990, which were in time, to result in an accumulated death toll of something approaching 500,000 Iraqi children. Click: 500,000 dead children. Nevertheless, they seem to have persuaded Gaddafi to bring Libya in from the cold and make peace with the Western powers. Of equal, or more significance than sanctions in Gaddafi’s mind, must have been the spectacle of what the USA and its coalition partners did to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on the strength of trumped up charges for possessing imaginary weapons of mass destruction. Shock and Awe struck Iraq in March 2003. Five months later, Gaddafi admitted (was persuaded to admit) Libyan responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. In December of the same year, Gaddafi admitted to having had and renounced his embryonic plans to develop nuclear weapons with the assistance of Abdul Kadeer Khan, the notorious Pakistani nuclear proliferator.
There followed a period in which Gaddafi became the ‘good example’ of the prodigal son exhibited for Iran to follow. In 2003 the UN imposed sanctions were lifted. In 2004, Blair visited and embraced, in 2007 it was time for Nicolas Sarkozy to cosy up, Condoleeza Rice visited in 2008 and Silvio Belusconi the following year. It would have appeared that the Gaddafi regime had become the darling of the western world.
Knife in the back. Two years later, as a Quixotic and eccentric supporter of under-dogs, Qaddafi was to have his throat torn out by the over-dogs. Fresh US and UN sanctions were imposed and NATO, with the French leading the action and UK and US support, was bombing Libya in support of an Islamist and heavily al-Qaeda influenced revolution. What had happened?! Click: NATO intervention.
The old adage, that the West wanted to get its hands on Libyan oil, is rubbish – the oil was available at market prices and Libya had embarked on a major privatisation programme of all business sectors. An equally unlikely reason was the R2P (Responsibility to Protect) argument that the West was intervening in order to protect rebellious civilians from a dictator’s wrath. It is hard to believe that the stone hearts of the western elites should have started to bleed uncontrollably on this largely fabricated excuse, while not having done so on so many other occasions – including those in which the CIA reditioned al Qaeda suspects to Gaddafi for further interrogation and torture. (Google Gaddafi CIA torture.)
Searching the blogosphere for the rationale for this seemingly dysfunctional change of direction in western policy, one comes up with three main explanations.
Even though the main attack dogs were junior NATO members, France, the UK and Canada, with several bit players, such as Qatar, arming and funding Islamist rebels, the main motivating actor, without whose active encouragement and control over Security Council decisions, no other nation would have dared intervene, was the USA.
The USA and Africa. The USA now has oil of its own and is no longer interested in Middle East oil, most of which goes to Europe and Asia. However, oil is not everything an advanced industrial society requires. The poorest continent with the greatest mineral riches is Africa. The looting of Africa’s natural resources used to be a European preserve. Since then the Europeans have had to make increasing room for the Chinese and the Americans. After initially losing much influence in Africa to Chinese commercial interests, the USA has countered this by building up its military presence. In 2007 it formed AFRICOM. The Pentagon’s Africa Command is responsible for all US military activities in 53 African countries. Its role is generally to support existing regimes that express willingness to cooperate with US policy objectives (read corporates.) On the surface, Gaddafi’s regime appears to have been an exception to this rule. However, in two crucial respects, Gaddafi, despite giving every impression of being a newly loyal member of the Western flock, was still guilty of misbehaviour.
Naughty Gaddafi. Despite his rapprochement with the West, not only was Gaddafi continuing to push for a United States of Africa, a continent in which the USA did not appreciate rival claimants for power, Click: United Africa. but he was also pushing for the replacement of the US dollar, as the common currency between African states. Gaddafi was proposing that the common currency of all African states should become a gold dinar based on the large (140+ tonnes) gold reserves Libya had been able to accumulate. (One cannot help wondering where those reserves might have got to by now?) Click: The Gold Dinar. The thought of the possible ousting of the US dollar in favour of locally printed currencies, backed by Libyan gold, would not have thrilled the Fed. Click: Gaddafi’s gold U-tube. (Interesting 3 minutes – but from Russia Today – so not an impeccable source.) Here is another, this time US based, anti-establishment source (It seems almost impossible to find establishment sources prepared to even mention this subject.) Click: Gold dinar threat.
Additional USA motivations. An additional reason for Obama to intervene in the Libyan civil war is well articulated in this article. Click: Obama’s Arab spring. The basic argument being that it was the time of the Arab spring. President Obama wished to appear sympathetic to the new democracies that then seemed about to take over much of the Middle East. By intervening in Libya, with its relatively small population and its lack of ties to other significant international players, it could demonstrate the USA’s solidarity with reform movements and, what he naively assumed would be, future Arab governments, without too much risk. One would like to assume that the US administration was simply naïve and ignorant of the true nature of the reform movements to be assisted (The ISIS wolf in the al Qaeda wolf’s clothing.) However, it is impossible to believe that factions within the CIA were unaware of the facts on the ground. No doubt, Obama and Cameron would have received additional encouragement from the USA’s and UK’s extremely powerful Israeli lobbies. Gaddafi was an old foe of Israel and Israel has a long established policy of encouraging maximum dysfunction among its Middle Eastern neighbours.
French motivations. For the French, Gaddafi’s increased advocacy of a pan-African currency based on Libyan gold must have been a far more worrying threat. The financial system France has established in francophone Africa allows it to extract African wealth and deploy it within the EU financial system. This in turn, allows France to retain its status as a more or less equal partner with Germany. Click: French servitude. Gaddafi would have suddenly come to be seen as a major threat to this little money-go-round of post-colonial exploitation.
And for Sarkozy there was the domestic political situation also to be taken into consideration. Click: Immigration and Le Pen. He was engaged in a desperate political struggle with Marine Le Pen and could not afford to appear weak to the electorate in terms of his approach to coloured immigrants.
Finally, if Sarkozy had indeed accepted under-the-counter political payments from Gaddafi, (rumoured at as much as 50 million Euros) he would prefer him discredited and dead than alive and potentially garrulous. Click: Sarkozy bribes Perhaps it is not simply a coincidence that it was French aircraft that destroyed the convoy Gaddafi was travelling in immediately prior to his capture and murder.
For the other members of NATO, who went along with the assault, it was merely a question of demonstrating their loyalty to the super-power to which it was owed (with non-NATO member, Qatar, having an interest in furthering the rule of the Moslem Brotherhood.) Click: Qatari contribution.
What is wrong with my analysis. Two factors worry me about all the above. Firstly, though the industrial nations’ relentless exploitation of Africa has led to a continual push factor for economic refugees to head north to the Mediterranean coast and onto Europe, Gaddafi had it in check. Click: Gaddafi immigration control. Gaddafi’s Libya even offered (mostly undocumented and highly exploitative) employment to two million or so Africans from other states. These, on his demise, were immediately to become unemployed, subject to racist abuse and expelled. Many of them would have had no choice but to attempt the Mediterranean crossing. Though Gaddafi was developing a plan to charge the Europeans for his services in restraining this human flood, surely, even the most short-sighted European leaders could see that it would be better to pay his price, than to destroy him and leave the flood gates open?
The second factor that worries me, which I fail to understand, is what appears to be the deliberate creation of a failed state and the consequent metastasizing of Islamic terrorism into other African states such as Mali. Click: Wanton destruction. It is almost as though NATO set out to create a flood of refugees into Europe and to destabilise Libya’s African neighbours. I fail to see how this could be in any European interest, or how the Europeans could be so naïve as to set the process in motion. After all they had a perfect example in Iraq of what happens when you destroy a nation with no thought of the down-stream consequences. The only actor not to reap adverse consequences is the United States. Are the American decision makers as extraordinarily stupid as the Europeans, or is there something even nastier hidden in the woodshed in which US foreign policy is cobbled together?
If anyone who reads this believes there is no alternative to a world ruled under the current arrangements by the current elites, they suffer from a deficit of imagination.
Digestif: The consequences of the intervention in Libya: