The US ambassador to Tripoli tells US companies: “oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources”. Total victory promises 35% of Libyan oil concessions to the French oil company Total.

Assault on Sirte, the Libya map as of October 8, 2011 (WSJ)

[This] is the first time that the UN Security Council explicitly gave the green light … to armed intervention against a sovereign State … and that its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, played an active role in unleashing hostilities.

intervention has never been, and will never be, anything other than the intervention of the strong in the affairs of the weak

The action by the UN against Libya threatens the people and countries of every continent. When will the “international community” want our resources, and what will they do to us to get them? Who in my country may be coopted by them?

NATO forces arrayed against Libya. (WSJ)

Total victory

The pun is easy but unavoidable, especially since Libération published the letter in which the National Transitional Council (NTC) promised to grant 35% of concessions to the French petroleum giant Total “in exchange” (the term used) for French military engagement (a document which naturally triggered a hasty denial from the Quai d’Orsay). The fight for freedom is such a noble cause. The author nevertheless concluded his article by taking note of “the strong odor of petroleum hanging over the whole business.”

It is by themselves — and never from the outside — that peoples gain their freedom.

Beyond the case of Libya, that is the point, the most essential, which deserves to be discussed among all those who adhere to the right of peoples to decide their own destiny — what used to be called anti-imperialism.

Used to be? In fact, it was so up until the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact opened the way to the reconquest of the entire planet by capitalism, its dominations and its imperial rivalries. And that left no other choice to countries except to align themselves with the canons of “human rights,” the “rule of law,” and the “market economy” — three terms which have become synonymous — or else find themselves under fire from the cannons of the planetary policemen shamelessly calling themselves the “international community.”

Granted, when it comes to armed intervention against a sovereign State, the so-called “international community” is no beginner. But it is the first time that the UN Security Council explicitly gave the green light, and that its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, played an active role in unleashing hostilities. The full implications of such a situation need to be weighed: the brutal challenge to the sovereignty of States has been legalized — even if not legitimatized. The dominant planetary oligarchies, whose final horizon is “world governance” without borders, have thereby scored a major point: interventionism (“preventive” at that, according to Mr. Luck) can henceforth be the rule.

This conception, which explicitly contradicts the United Nations Charter, is a time bomb: it undermines the very foundations on which it was written and could mean a veritable return to barbarism in international relations.

For there is one obvious truth that should never be forgotten: intervention has never been, and will never be, anything other than the intervention of the strong in the affairs of the weak. The respect for sovereignty in international relations is what the equal vote is to citizenship: certainly no absolute guarantee, far from it, but a substantial asset against the law of the jungle. The latter is what could very well take over the world stage.
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology by Pierre Lévy

You cannot bomb a country into democracy, but of course democracy was never the true objective in Libya, no matter how humanitarian the justifications and rationalizations for the blatant aggression.

In the Wall Street Journal:

TRIPOLI, Libya—Six weeks after the fall of Tripoli, the palmy days of rebel unity have begun to disintegrate into a spiral of infighting, political jockeying and even the occasional violent flare-up threatening to derail Libya’s post-Gadhafi transition.

This is what everyone who knew anything about Libya predicted. Libya, with it multitude of factions and arms could devolve similar to Somalia.

US Ambassador Cretz appears to have a tin ear for the language of imperialism. Jewel in the crown was the part India played in Britain’s global empire. This is just one more indication of how naked and blatant the imperial aggression against Libya has been.
From the NYT:

Ambassador Gene A. Cretz … participated in a State Department conference call with about 150 American companies hoping to do business with Libya.

“We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources, … “If we can get American companies here on a fairly big scale, which we will try to do everything we can to do that, then this will redound to improve the situation in the United States with respect to our own jobs.”

His remarks were a rare nod to the tacit economic stakes in the Libyan conflict for the United States and other Western countries, not only because of Libya’s oil resources but also because of the goods and services those resources enable it to purchase.

Oil was never the “predominant reason” for the American intervention, Mr. Cretz said, but his comments … underlined the American eagerness for a cut of any potential profits.

The entire intervention against Libya was driven by potential profits. Pierre Lévy quotes a 2007 speech by Sarkozy:


“Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization. … America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow?
While Europe hesitates, others advance.”

Not wanting to be left behind, Dominique Strauss-Kahn around the same time expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South (. . .) and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.”

And Lévy reminds us:

After years of being subjected to embargo and treated as a pariah, Colonel Kadhafi undertook the rapprochement mentioned above with the West, which notably took the form in December 2003 of an official renunciation of any nuclear arms program in exchange for guarantees of non-aggression promised specifically by Washington. Eight years later, there is no getting around the fact that that commitment lasted only up until the day when they felt they now had reasons to trample it under foot. Suddenly, in the four corners of the earth everyone can measure the worth of the word given by the powerful and just how much they value the commitments they have made.

Sarkozy speaks in the voice of previous centuries, when Europe would supposedly bring the three Cs to Africa, Christianity, civilization, and commerce, with the unlimited arrogance to call Europe “the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization“. European and American development has been financed for centuries by Africa. France would have been a minor player in international affairs without the wealth of Africa. The west owes Africa for western development, instead it plans returning to take more. The doctrine of the self styled “international community”, the US and Western Europe, is our old nemesis: might makes right.

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Two articles sum up NATO’s accomplishments in Libya. NATO has instigated race war, and has so damaged the infrastructure of an independent economically successful developing country that it has created a failed (or soon to fail) state for the profit of NATO countries:

NATO’s Glorious Race War in Libya by Glen Ford
and
NATO’s War on Libya is an Attack on African Development by Dan Glazebrook

Tripoli Street in Misrata, photographed in 2007 and again in 2011. There is nothing freedom loving or humanitarian about what happened here.

From NATO’s Glorious Race War in Libya:

The western media find it more difficult to deny a pattern of murderous ethnic cleansing by the racist Libyan rebels they have treated as saints and heroes for the past six months. Thousands of black Libyans and sub-Saharan immigrants have been murdered by NATO-financed, heavily Islamist fighters who, as African Union chairman Jean Ping says, seem to “confuse black people with mercenaries.” In truth, the Libyan rebels are no more confused about the identity of their victims than South Carolina lynch mobs or German Nazis; they’re racist killers, pure and simple.

… now that the imperial mission is no longer seen to be at jeopardy – the corporate media are at last willing to acknowledge the racial aspects of the Libyan conflict. As long as the outcome remained uncertain, western correspondents, who had swarmed the rebels like shameless paparazzi since the armed outbreak began in Benghazi in late February, pretended not to notice that their heroes were behaving like rampaging Ku Klux Klansmen.

African media were alive with reports from the 1.5 million Black immigrant workers in Libya of mass killings, gruesome public lynchings, savage burnings, and organized rapes


As honorary (or acting) whites, the rebels were entitled to understanding and empathy, even as it became undeniable that their mission was ethnic cleansing, through terror and on-the-spot executions of darker-skinned people, including fellow Libyans. From the early days of the rebellion to the present, western media attempts to justify rebel anti-black bigotry and brutishness as a natural reaction to Gaddafi’s use of sub-Saharans as mercenaries. The black mercenary is deployed as the great justifier for rebel racism, just as the ubiquitous black rapists of the American South were what supposedly drove whites to “excesses” of violence. Of course, rapes of southern (or northern) white women by blacks were exceedingly rare, and genuine black mercenaries were not in evidence at all in eastern Libya, according to international investigators. But the idiots of CNN et al still endlessly chatter about black mercs, to put into “context” the horrors perpetrated on blacks in Tripoli under rebel occupation: … daily disappearances and kidnappings of blacks trapped in city neighborhoods; Arab gangs invading African worker encampments bent on raping women; hundreds of black Africans held incommunicado as suspected mercenaries, hundreds more acknowledged immigrant workers imprisoned, even as low level Arab Gaddafi supporters are set free.

Six months of the most intense western media attention – don’t dare call it “reporting” – have succeeded in transforming a purely theoretical, factually nonexistent government military massacre in Benghazi into a cause for actual mass murder of Libyan soldiers and civilians, destruction of the national infrastructure, and regime change. Whether the rebels, who are heavily weighted with jihadis, realize it or not, their country is on the path to become an international protectorate – a kind of Haiti-hood.

Racial pogroms, massacres and ethnic cleansing are on Libya’s immediate agenda, thanks to the civilizing influence of NATO, AFRICOM, and the First Black President of the U.S.A.

Dan Glazebrook provides a clear tight summary of western dependence on Africa, and how Libya is part of the continuing story. Centuries of economic development in the west have been financed and made possible by the labor and resources of Africa.

From NATO’s War on Libya is an Attack on African Development

African labour and resources- as any decent economic historian will tell you – has been key to global economic growth for centuries.

When the Europeans discovered America five hundred years ago, their economic system went viral. Increasingly, European powers realised that the balance of power at home would be dictated by the strength they were able to draw from their colonies abroad. Imperialism (aka capitalism) has been the fundamental hallmark of the world’s economic structure ever since.

The slave trade was devastating for African economies, which were rarely able to withstand the population collapse; but the capital it created for plantation owners in the Caribbean laid the foundations for Europe’s industrial revolution. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as more and more precious materials were found in Africa (especially tin, rubber, gold and silver), the theft of land and resources ultimately resulted in the so-called “Scramble for Africa” of the 1870s, when, over the course of a few years, Europeans divided up the entire continent (with the exception of Ethiopia) amongst themselves. By this point, the world’s economy was increasingly becoming an integrated whole, with Africa continuing to provide the basis for European industrial development as Africans were stripped of their land and forced down gold mines and onto rubber plantations.

After the Second World War, the European powers, weakened by years of unremitting industrial slaughter of each another, contrived to adapt colonialism to the new conditions in which they found themselves. As liberation movements grew in strength, the European powers confronted a new economic reality – the cost of subduing the ‘restless natives’ was starting to near the level of wealth they were able to extract from them.

Their favoured solution was what Kwame Nkrumah termed ‘neo-colonialism’ – handing over the formal attributes of political sovereignty to a trusted bunch of hand-picked cronies who would allow the economic exploitation of their countries to continue unabated. In other words, adapting colonialism so that Africans themselves were forced to shoulder the burden and cost of policing their own populations.

In practice, it wasn’t that simple. All across Asia, Africa and Latin America, mass movements began to demand control of their own resources, and in many places, these movements managed to gain power – sometimes through guerrilla struggle, sometimes through the ballot box. This led to vicious wars by the European powers – now under the leadership of their upstart protege, the USA – to destroy such movements. This struggle, not the so-called “Cold War”, is what defined the history of post-war international relations.

So far, neo-colonialism has largely been a successful project for the Europeans and the US. Africa’s role as provider of cheap, often slave, labour and minerals has largely continued unabated. Poverty and disunity have been the essential ingredients that have allowed this exploitation to continue. However both are now under serious threat.

Chinese investment in Africa over the past ten years has been building up African industry and infrastructure in a way that may begin to seriously tackle the continent’s poverty. …

To prevent this ‘threat of African development’, the Europeans and the USA have responded in the only way they know how – militarily. Four years ago, the US set up a new “command and control centre” for the military subjugation of the Africa, called AFRICOM. The problem for the US was that no African country wanted to host them; indeed, until very recently, Africa was unique in being the only continent in the world without a US military base. And this fact is in no small part, thanks to the efforts of the Libyan government.

Gaddafi had been actively working to scupper AFRICOM. …

Perhaps even more worrying for US and European domination of the continent were the huge resources that Gaddafi was channelling into African development. …

NATO’s war is aimed at ending Libya’s trajectory as a socialist, anti-imperialist, pan-Africanist nation in the forefront of moves to srengthen African unity and independence. The rebels have made clear their virulent racism from the very start of their insurrection, rounding up or executing thousands of black African workers and students. All the African development funds for the projects described above have been ‘frozen’ by the NATO countries and are to be handed over to their hand-picked buddies in the NTC to spend instead on weapons to facilitate their war.

For Africa, the war is far from over
.The African continent must recognise that NATO’s lashing out is a sign of desperation, of impotence, of its inability to stop the inevitable rise of Africa on the world stage. Africa must learn the lessons from Libya, continue the drive towards pan-African unity, and continue to resist AFRICOM. Plenty of Libyans will still be with them when they do so.

The NATO destroyers, calling themselves the Friends of Libya, are getting busy divvying up the spoils:

“Friends of Libya” meet in Paris for imperialist carve-up by Bill Van Auken, Sept 2, 2011.

The “Friends of Libya” conference held in Paris Thursday signaled the beginning of the imperialist carve-up of the oil-rich North African country.

Jointly chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the conference included participation by those countries which provided the fire-power under the umbrella of NATO and using a United Nations resolution as a cover to bring down the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in a six-month war for “regime change.” These include the US, France, Britain, Italy and Qatar. All of them are jockeying to reap the greatest possible return on their “investment” of bombs and missiles that have claimed thousands of lives and left much of Libya’s infrastructure in ruins.

Also attending will be Germany, Russia, China, India and Brazil, which abstained on the UN Security Council resolution utilized as a legal fig leaf for the colonial-style war. These countries all fear that their significant investments and deals in Libya will be lost to the intervening Western powers.

In all, the conference included 31 heads of state, 11 foreign ministers and the leaders of the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League, along with the chief figures in the NTC, Justafa Abdul-Jalil, who until February was Gaddafi’s justice minister, and Mahmoud Jibril, a free-market economist who was the Gaddafi regime’s point man on attracting foreign investment.

Meanwhile, reports of massacres and atrocities carried out by the guardians of the new “democratic Libya” continue to mount, many of them directed against the large numbers of sub-Saharan African migrant workers who have been killed, abused and detained solely on the basis of the color of their skin.

The “friends” came to Paris not to discuss aid to Libya, but rather
the lifting of economic sanctions imposed under the Gaddafi regime and the unfreezing of Libyan assets in foreign banks, measures designed to get money and resources flowing out of the North African country


Quoting an earlier statement of Sarkozy insisting that France was acting in accordance with a “universal conscience” simply to “protect the civilian population,” Liberation comments: “Be that as it may, the French oil corporations might benefit amply from the military campaign.”

Spelling out that France considered its part in the war an investment that would be rewarded with Libyan oil wealth

Libya’s oil reserves are the largest in Africa, estimated at 44 billion barrels. Before the war, Libya was producing about 1.6 million barrels of oil a day. France was its second biggest market, second only to Italy, with over 15 percent of its imports coming from Libyan oilfields.

France’s aggressive pursuit of the spoils of the Libyan war has given rise to evident tensions with its European NATO allies.

Media commentary in both Italy and Britain has been dominated by warnings that France is stealing a march on Italian and British oil and business interests with its drive to be the first to go to war as well as first to recognize the NTC and reopen its embassy in Tripoli.


The countries that stand to lose the most are Russia and China, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote and criticized NATO’s use of the UN resolution as a pretext for regime change.

Moscow hastily recognized the NTC on the eve of the conference in a transparent bid to protect its economic interests. The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement insisting that it expected “all previously agreed treaties and other mutual obligations will be implemented in good faith.”


Beijing … said it accepted the council’s “significant position and role” and sent a vice foreign minister to the Paris conference. The official People’s Daily carried an article Thursday warning “Western powers … not to turn the Paris conference into “another Versailles [referring to the colonial carve-up that followed World War I], with Western powers scrambling to promote their interests in a war-torn country.”

The article described China as “a long-term constructive player” in Libya, working on some 50 projects worth $18.8 billion and with 35,000 Chinese workers on the ground before the war began.

One of the strategic objectives of US imperialism and its Western European counterparts was precisely to counter growing Chinese influence in Libya and Africa generally, as well as Russia’s ambitions, which included talks with the Gaddafi government on acquiring a Mediterranean port for its navy in Benghazi.

The “Friends of Libya” conference was held on the 42nd anniversary of the coup by Gaddafi’s Free Officers Movement that overthrew the Western-backed regime of King Idris on September 1, 1969. The anniversary was noted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in their remarks. No doubt Washington and the other imperialist powers see more than a coincidence in the anniversary as they endeavor to return Libya to the status of semi-colony, under the thumb of the energy conglomerates and the direct military control of the US and NATO
.

Meanwhile,

US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, … the highest American official to visit Libya, praised the new regime, dismissed concerns about Islamist influence in the NTC and declared US “commitment to supporting the Libyan people as they chart their country’s future.”

Feltman’s cynical reference to the Libyan people determining their own path is belied by the neo-colonial character of NATO’s intervention and the NTC’s complete dependence on the Western powers—militarily, politically and economically. Like the other major powers making tracks to Tripoli, the US is primarily concerned about establishing a strategic outpost in North Africa and securing dominance over the country’s oil reserves.

The fragility of the new NATO-backed regime was underscored by its announcement yesterday that it would remain in Benghazi until after the seizure of the remaining pro-Gaddafi strongholds. The decision will delay the implementation of the NTC’s “roadmap,” which outlines plans for a new constitution and elections over a 20-month period, allowing the NTC more time to consolidate its grip on power.

The NTC, which is an unstable coalition of former top Gaddafi officials, CIA assets and Islamist tendencies, is already confronting divisions in its ranks.

Addressing a meeting in Misrata on Monday, Jibril gave the green light for further reprisals …
The espousal of vigilantism by the man likely to be the next prime minister is the sharpest indication of the draconian measures that the NATO-installed regime will employ to deal with any political opposition.

Things do not look good for Libya, a divided country, with little to offer it any promise of unity. It is now engaging in a race war that will further weaken it internally and externally. And race is hardly the only division. NATO imperial sponsors do not want a unified government that will stand up for the Libyan people. What they want is a failed state with a weak and powerless government, with unaccountable NGOs performing some rudimentary functions of government, and serial humanitarian disasters, very much in the manner of Haiti. They will be able to tut-tut about how weak, corrupt, and ineffective the Libyans are. That way the imperial powers can extract the resources with minimal responsibility or accountability to the Libyan people. The Qaeda linked Islamists in Benghazi will only assist the imperial narrative, requiring an AFRICOM base, constant fearmongering, and ongoing massive counter terrorist activities. Libya looks destined to be another state failed by imperial powers for imperial profit.

Added September 16:

Pepe Escobar observes, following the visit of Sarkozy and Cameron to Libya. For their photop in Benghazi “they went straight to the site at which the rebels publicly beheaded an alleged pro-Gaddafi “mercenary” only weeks before”:

[Sarkozy] felt the need to tell an unsuspecting world, “What we did was for humanitarian reasons. There was no hidden agenda.”

But just in case – and with Tripoli’s top two hotels swarming with multilingual contractors/vultures – the chairman of the dodgy Transitional National Council (TNC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, had to spell out the agenda: “allies and friends” would “have priority within a framework of transparency” in sharing the loot. So many juicy oil and gas (and water and uranium and reconstruction) contracts to bag, so little time.

NATO in Libya conquered essentially a strip of highway peppered with a few cities by the Mediterranean. Nobody knows what’s really going on in the desert. NATO’s real agenda is to wait and see while Gaddafi and his forces regroup and rearm in Niger and southern Algeria, and start a real guerrilla. That will be the perfect excuse for NATO to stay – like in Afghanistan.

There’s also the not small matter of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sub-Saharan Africans either harassed or massacred by the “NATO rebels” – something that guarantees large swathes of Africa actively backing Gaddafi.

There’s no evidence the TNC has the strength to disarm the current, already Iraqi-style, militia hell in Tripoli and beyond. If the TNC won’t do it, NATO will happily oblige. In this case, bets are on Libya turning not into Afghanistan 2.0 or Iraq 2.0, but Somalia 2.0.

Horace Campbell has written a brilliant piece of history and analysis of NATO and Libya, Global NATO and the recolonisation of Africa. He tells us:

This intervention clarified for many African military forces that their alliance with the United States and France will not spare them when it is in the interest of the NATO forces to dispense with former allies.

But the crux of the matter of the relationship between Africa and Libya can now be seen in the killing of Africans in Libya on the grounds that they were and are mercenaries. These racist actions by the so-called ‘rebels’ were reported from the start of this ‘humanitarian’ intervention

The African Union has condemned the racist attacks and maintained that political negotiations are still necessary. Jean Ping, chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, decried the attacks on black Africans and reiterated the reasons why the African Union wanted to see an inclusive government in Libya. Jean Ping declared, the ‘Blacks are being killed. Blacks are having their throats slit. Blacks are accused of being mercenaries. Do you think it’s normal in a country that’s a third black that blacks are confused with mercenaries?’

Ping continued, ‘There are mercenaries in Libya, many of them are black, but there are not only blacks and not all blacks there are mercenaries. Sometimes, when they are white, they call them “technical advisors”.’

This reminder, that Libya is in Africa and that a third of the country is black is for those forces who are celebrating the success of a NATO mission to protect Africans which has ended up killing Africans. Africans do not consider the NATO mission a success. In fact, this has been a disaster for peace and reconstruction in Africa. The Russians and Chinese do not consider this operation a success but the leaders of Africa and the leaders of the BRICS societies have awoken too late to the new form of imperial intervention using Global NATO.

The one positive impact of this new imperial adventure is to send alarm bells among all of the military forces in Africa aligned to the West. The other impact is to alert the popular forces to the reality that governments with big armies are literally ‘paper tigers.’ Proper organising, political education, and disciplined activity by the working people can shift the international balance of power and rid Africa of other long serving despots. There is a new scramble for Africa and the progressive forces will have to learn the lessons from the new multilateral imperial interventions that are now being planned by Global NATO.


Global NATO has awakened many leaders to the reality of the ways in which third parties and private military forces will be used to invade Africa. Even the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has had to speak out forcefully against NATO in Libya. While these leaders are speaking, the rank and file in Africa are paying attention to the fact that France, Britain and the USA will go to all lengths to invade Africa in the new scramble for resources. General Carter Ham of AFRICOM has already travelled to Nigeria to enact the drama on the stage that had been set up by former US ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell who predicted that Nigeria will break up within 16 years. General Carter Ham urged partnership between the government of Nigeria and AFRICOM knowing full well that such a partnership would be to fulfil the wishes of those who do not want to see the unity and peace of Nigeria and Africa.

China, Russia, Brazil and India will have to make a choice. They will either be integrated into the spoils of the current scramble for land, oil water and seeds or will join with the people of Africa to democratise the United Nations and support the forces of peace and reconstruction. China has sent one signal by becoming the principal paymaster for Europe becoming the stopgap for the crisis in the Eurozone.

Campbell says much more and the entire article is key to understanding what is going on and what may follow:
Global NATO and the recolonisation of Africa.

__________

Added October 20, 2011

Here is a picture of Sirte now, not much R2P involved here, unless it is the Right 2 Plunder.

Sirte in October 2011, damage from the NATO sponsored assault

As this comment, 6, put it:

Lybians can say good bye to health care, free studies, marriage stipends, etc. Westerners like to say that was all paid for by oil revenues, which is in part true, they sure help, but contrast with Saudi, Venezuela or Nigeria. Lybia under Khadafi had a functioning central bank and had no (or almost no) sovereign debt. None of its citizens / municipalities / local entities had significant debts of any kind, and ‘never’ to foreign entities. (Compare with Iceland or Greece..) I guess Austerity measures had to be implemented at bomb and gun point…

And Pepe Escobar was scathing following the death of Gaddafi:

The US power grab in Africa

A few hundred soldiers and no less than 80,000 civilians have been bombed for weeks by NATO and the former “rebels”. Only 20,000 civilians have managed to escape. There’s no food left. Water and electricity have been cut off. Hospitals are idle. The city – under siege – is in ruins. Sirte imams have issued a fatwa (decree) allowing survivors to eat cats and dogs.

What Gaddafi never did to Benghazi – and there’s no evidence he might have – the TNC is doing to Sirte, Gaddafi’s home town. … Sirte is being destroyed in order to “save it”. Sirte, the new Fallujah, is brought to you by NATO rebels. R2P, RIP.

Unified Protector, Odyssey Dawn and all other metaphors Homeric or otherwise for the Africom/NATO 40,000-plus bombing of Libya have yielded the desired result; the destruction of the Libyan state (and much of the country’s infrastructure, to the delight of disaster capitalism vultures). It also delivered the lethal unintended consequence of those anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists – a supremely convincing reason for the “war on terror” in northern Africa to become eternal.

Washington couldn’t care less about R2P; as the Libyan Clinton hop shows, the only thing that matters is the excuse to “securitize” Libya’s arsenal – the perfect cover story for US contractors and Anglo-French intel ops to take over Libyan military bases.

The iron rule is that “free” Libya should be under the control of the “liberators”. Tell that to the “irregular militias”, not to mention the Abdelhakim Belhaj gang and his al-Qaeda assets now in military control of Tripoli.

The big picture remains the Pentagon’s Africom spreading its militarized tentacles against the lure of Chinese soft power in Africa, which goes something like this: in exchange for oil and minerals, we build anything you want, and we don’t try to sell you “democracy for dummies”.

The Bush administration woke up to this “threat” a bit too late – at Africom’s birth in 2008. Under the Obama administration, the mood is total panic. For Petraeus, the only thing that matters is “the long war” on steroids – from boots on the ground to armies of drones; and who are the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department to disagree?

In Libya, the objective is to occupy an absolutely strategic crossroads between the Mediterranean, northern Africa and the Middle East, with the added (nostalgic?) benefit of the West – as in Paris, London and Washington – finally getting to hold military bases as when King Idris was in power (1951 to 1969). As a whole, control must be established over northern Africa, central Africa, eastern Africa and – more problematically – the Horn of Africa.

The trillion-dollar question ahead is how China – which plots strategic moves years in advance – is going to react.

NATO is allowing refugees from the Libyan civil war and NATO bombardment to drown and die of thirst in the Mediterranean. NATO members feel no compassion and no humanitarian impulse to help these refugees. NATO knows where the refugees are and simply ignores them. NATO is letting them dehydrate and letting them drown, although it is NATO that has sponsored and prolonged the Libyan civil war and their suffering. NATO ignores its genuine legally codified responsibility to protect civilians.

NATO allows Libyan refugees to drown in the Mediterranean
By Peter Schwarz
13 August 2011

“According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, 1,500 Libyan refugees have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe since the beginning of the war against Libya in March. On August 4, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported a death toll of 1,820 since the beginning of the year.

Refugees from the NATO bombardment and Libyan civil war

The victims are people from Libya and other African countries trying to flee economic hardship, political persecution or escape the war, risking their lives in the process. Penned into small, unseaworthy boats by unscrupulous traffickers, they drown or die of thirst at sea.

The distance between the Italian island of Lampedusa, the goal of most refugee boats, and Tunisia, the nearest point on the African coast, is just 130 kilometers. The distance to the Libyan coast is about twice as far.

On 26 March 2011, ETNA rescued a stricken boat off the Libya coast with 300 migrants, and carried out 2 medvac to Lampedusa, the first to take ashore a mother with her just born children and the second for a pregnant young woman that unfortunatelly lost her children. The Italian ETNA contributes to the enforcement of the arms embargo under Operation Unified Protector. All NATO vessels abide with the International Maritime Law regarding Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS).

This relatively small area of sea is currently filled by one of the largest navies in the world. About 20 warships from 10 NATO countries, including several aircraft and helicopter carriers, are supporting the assault on Libya. They are equipped with radar and other advanced technology and can easily detect any movement on the sea. The region is also constantly monitored by NATO AWACS aircraft, which can detect minute vessels.

In addition, there are the boats and planes of the Italian border police and the European border agency Frontex, which patrol the waters between Lampedusa and the North African coast in order to detect and send back refugee boats.

Vulnerable refugees therefore could have been easily detected and rescued. The many deaths were entirely avoidable. They are the victims of the failure to provide aid to those in distress—a criminal offence. NATO forced them to flee with its war against Libya and when it transpires that their escape route is a deadly trap, NATO has left them to their fate.

NATO has not merely “overlooked” the refugees. It has also refused to provide shipwrecked refugees assistance when alerted.

Just last week, such a case came to light, in which the culpability of NATO was so obvious that even the Italian government, which conducts its own persecution of refugees, felt obliged to protest and demand an investigation.

The Italian Coast Guard on August 4 retrieved a wrecked, 20-meter-long wooden boat with nearly 300 refugees from the waters south of the island of Lampedusa. The wreck had drifted at sea for a week with a faulty engine. Conditions on the boat were appalling. According to the survivors, 100 people had died of thirst and exhaustion, and had been thrown overboard. The refugees themselves were severely dehydrated, many in critical condition, and were flown to hospital on the Italian mainland.

As it turned out, the damaged boat had already been detected by a Cypriot tug, which sent an SOS signal but then proceeded on course. The Italian Coast Guard then alerted NATO. NATO refused to help the refugees, however, although one of its ships was just 27 nautical miles (50 km) from the stranded boat.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has accused NATO of failing to provide assistance and requested an investigation into the incident. At the same time, he proposed extending the NATO mandate in such a way that NATO is made responsible for the rescue of civil war refugees. This is all smoke and mirrors, however. Under current international law every civilian and military ship is bound under all circumstances to help the shipwrecked.

This is not the first time NATO has been accused of negligence. At the end of March NATO ships are alleged to have ignored distress calls from a damaged refugee boat from Libya. A military helicopter spotted the boat but merely tossed the victims water bottles and crackers. The refugees waited in vain for rescue. According to the British Guardian newspaper an aircraft carrier in the vicinity also failed to respond. In the end, 61 people died of thirst.

The NATO operation against Libya bears the name “Unified Protector” and is officially justified as a mission aimed at the “protection of civilians” from attacks by the Libyan government. If any further proof were necessary, the fate of Mediterranean refugees delivers the final blow to this cynical excuse for an imperialist war. The life of refugees and civilians is the least of the priorities of NATO.

European governments also have no interest in helping the refugees. It would be easy to equip ships to track down and rescue the refugees in the Mediterranean, and such an operation would cost only a fraction of the daily costs of the Libyan war. This is politically undesirable, however, with EU countries fearful of an increase of refugees. The entire European refugee policy is aimed at deterrence.”

Boat filled with refugees from Libya

Rescue and assistance are required by international law. NATO is not requiring its members to obey international law. NATO’s criminal negligence condemns people who could be our friends or even our family members to die a hideous death at sea, by drowning or from dehydration. R2P means the Rush 2 Plunder, not the Responsibility 2 Protect. NATO kills with bombs or kills by deliberate and intentional neglect. It does not rescue or assist. The only thing NATO is protecting is rapacious Western greed.

This is what NATO members, and people of all countries, are required by international law to do for any people in distress at sea:

Customary international law recognizes the duty of a mariner to come to the assistance of a vessel in distress at sea. (116) Article 98 of UNCLOS III states:

Every State shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, in so far as he can do so without serious danger to the ship, the crew or the passengers:

(a) to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost;

(b) to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance, in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him

Articles 18(2) and 45 of UNCLOS III further authorize a ship to stop and anchor in the territorial sea of another State if necessary to render assistance to persons or aircraft in danger or distress.

This is the true Responsibility To Protect, R2P, that is firmly established in law. NATO participants care nothing for their responsibility or their legal obligations. NATO participants care nothing for the suffering and death of hundreds and thousands of civilians that those same NATO participants have forced into harms way.

For more, see the earlier post: R2P – Rush To Plunder in Libya

R2P is the Rush To Plunder Africa. R2P protects Africans by killing them and stealing their resources. We have already lived through an earlier version of R2P known as the three Cs, Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization, now recognized as imperialism, racism, and economic self interest. R2P is the latest code name for the same imperialism, racism, and economic self interest. President Obama has joined with the President of France and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to once again take up the White Man’s Burden, another name for R2P, following the call of that original hymn to US imperialism:

To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride.

US/NATO veil the threat of terror by supporting terror, supporting al Qaeda sympathisers in Benghazi and calling them fighters for democracy. US/NATO will check the show of pride by destroying the infrastructure and economic success, the pride of the Libyan people, who are not beholden to the US or NATO for their success. The US and NATO seek to end Libyan independence and with it to undermine the African Union and African independence at the same time.

This building was destroyed by the NATO bombing of the North African state of Libya. It housed a civil society council with a school for special needs children next door.

If R2P had anything to do with protecting civilians, some of that protection would be given to the black Libyans and immigrants who are being massacred by the rebels. Ethnic cleansing committed by the rebel groups is a big risk for black Libyans and African migrants. Hundreds have already been murdered.

Boats adrift and filled with African families, men, women, and children, refugees fleeing from the violence, have been ignored and abandoned by NATO participants, left to drift until hundreds of passengers died of thirst and starvation. European participants in the assault ignored pleas for help, and the French Navy ship Charles de Gaulle sailed right by the sick and dying, ignoring even the babies held up in supplication as people begged for help. Many boats of refugees have been lost, including the one described below:

NATO ships, planes left African refugees stranded in Mediterranean to die
The wave of migrants fleeing Libya has intensified since the US, France, Britain and NATO launched their war against Libya on March 19.

The response of NATO and the European powers to the influx of African asylum seekers has been one of unadulterated hostility and racism.

On March 29 or 30, the boat drifted near an aircraft carrier—“so close that it would have been impossible to be missed,” writes the Guardian. The newspaper continues: “According to survivors, two jets took off from the ship and flew low over the boat while the migrants stood on deck holding the two starving babies aloft. But from that point on, no help was forthcoming. Unable to manoeuvre any closer to the aircraft carrier, the migrants’ boat drifted away. Shorn of supplies, fuel or means of contacting the outside world, they began succumbing one by one to thirst and starvation.”

The newspaper concludes from its investigation that the carrier was the French ship Charles de Gaulle

The US and NATO don’t even pretend to exert their responsibility to protect those civilians. Protection of civilians has nothing to do with the assault on Libya. Does anyone think the massive numbers of bombs dropped on the Tripoli area have left civilians magically untouched? There have been 9,183 sorties flown so far. Those bombs are not protecting civilians.

… targets are being bombed, and then hit again if BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment) reveals that total destruction was not achieved.

NATO bomb exploding

the Pentagon is the true epicenter of American policy toward the Arab Reawakening. Briefly paralyzed early in the year by the specter of resurgent Arab nationalism in the planet’s most vital energy reservoirs, Washington quickly launched a massive military assault on Libya in collaboration with European mini-imperialists to show the Arab world who’s really the boss. In the Persian Gulf region, the Saudi Arabian monarchy gathered up their fellow emirs, sultans and sheiks to safeguard the common patrimony of royal families against democratic or nationalist subversion.

Moammar Gaddafi was drafted as imperialism’s designated demon in North Africa

… the shock of seeing the empire’s death pass in front of its eyes in the form of a democratic – and, by definition, anti-U.S. imperialism – Arab nationalist oil dominion caused the Obama administration to kick the U.S. military’s Full Spectrum Dominance machinery into high gear. The world needed to know that this president will not allow American spheres of hegemony to shrink on his watch, and that he has the means and the inclination to kill at will (Black Agenda Report)

Oil and Arms, Libya and Europe (click to enlarge enough to read) A range of Libyan business and investment is deeply intertwined with both Europe and the US, including arms.

From the end of April:

The Murder of Muammar Qaddafi Is Planned For May 2, 2011. The linked article informs us that the Italian coalition government was about to fall apart over the bombing of Libya. It also informs us that the people of Benghazi are sick of the lawlessness of the rebels and are organizing against them. Keep in mind that the people in Libya have the right to own guns and carry arms. Failing support from Italy, and dissension in Benghazi put the heat on the coalition of the recolonizers. They need decisive action before the Italian government changes, and before it becomes clear that the residents of Benghazi are not united behind the “rebels”. Huge bombing raids targeted Gadaffi’s compound at the very beginning of May and killed his grandbabies. As Glen Ford points out:

The grandkids, ages 6 months to two years, were, of course, totally apolitical and, presumably, quite cute. But vaunted American “compassion” does not extend to the grandbabies of evil Arab cartoon-men. … Killing Gaddafi’s son and three grandchildren was no crime, since in American eyes they are no more than satanic versions of Daffy Duck’s cartoon nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Hillary Clinton went to Italy during the first week of May and was able to persuade the Italians to continue Italian support for the bombing.

Libya was a success story before the bombing:

How was Libya doing under the rule of Gadaffi? How bad did the people have it? Were they oppressed as we now commonly accept as fact? Let us look at the facts for a moment.

Before the chaos erupted, Libya had a lower incarceration rate than the Czech republic. It ranked 61st. Libya had the lowest infant mortality rate of all of Africa. Libya had the highest life expectancy of all of Africa. Less than 5% of the population was undernourished. In response to the rising food prices around the world, the government of Libya abolished ALL taxes on food.

People in Libya were rich. Libya had the highest gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita of all of Africa. The government took care to ensure that everyone in the country shared in the wealth. Libya had the highest Human Development Index of any country on the continent. The wealth was distributed equally. In Libya, a lower percentage of people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.

So where does this sudden uprising come from? The answer is that the same groups the US has been funding for decades are now taking their chance to gain control over the nation. A group recently arrested in Libya consisted of dozens of foreign nationals that were involved in numerous acts of looting and sabotage.

Great Britain funded an Al Qaeda cell in Libya, in an attempt to assassinate Gadaffi. The main opposition group in Libya now is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. This opposition group is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the CIA, and French Intelligence. This group unified itself with other opposition groups, to become the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition. It was this organization that called for the “Day of Rage” that plunged Libya into chaos on February 17 of this year.

Why is the United States so opposed to Gadaffi? He is the main threat to US hegemony in Africa, because he attempts to unite the continent against the United States. This concept is called the United States of Africa.

Please remember at all times that the violent Libyan civil war unfolding now is not comparable to the revolutions seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Both of these revolutions involved peaceful protesters suffering from poverty, in opposition to their corrupt governments. The chaos in Libyan consists of a mixture of tribal conflicts, conflict over oil revenue (since most oil is in the east of the country), radical islamists opposed to Gadaffi’s system of government, and outside destabilization by Western funded exile groups. (David Rothscam Reports)

Susan Lindauer writes:

Don’t kid yourself. Nobody gives a damn about suffering in Libya or Iraq. You don’t bomb a village to save it. The U.S., Britain and NATO are the bullies of the neighborhood. The enforcers for Big Oil.

At Black Agenda Report Glen Ford writes:

[The] Pentagon is the true epicenter of American policy toward the Arab Reawakening. Briefly paralyzed early in the year by the specter of resurgent Arab nationalism in the planet’s most vital energy reservoirs, Washington quickly launched a massive military assault on Libya in collaboration with European mini-imperialists to show the Arab world who’s really the boss. …

Moammar Gaddafi was drafted as imperialism’s designated demon in North Africa, while Shi’ite Iran served as the scapegoat for royal reaction in the Gulf. The monarch-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council, acting through a confused Arab League, gave moral cover to the Euro-American bum-rush of an equally confused United Nations Security Council. “No-fly” Resolution 1973 landed on the heads of Libyan soldiers amidst the methodical destruction of the country’s infrastructure. Thousands of miles to the east, the Saudis and lesser royals brutally smashed the democratic aspirations of Bahrain’s Shia majority, and schemed to save Yemen from a peaceful people’s uprising.

No sooner was the UN Security Council resolution to “protect” Libyan civilians issued, than it was mangled into a mandate for regime change and political assassination at NATO’s discretion. International law became its opposite. R2P is now wholly discredited in the eyes of the conscious world –which, unfortunately, excludes most Americans.

The International Criminal Court, to which the United States is not a signatory, but which it deploys to indict selected Africans – and only Africans – for human rights offenses, has been eclipsed by Obama’s imperial offensive. Why go through the motions of indicting designated enemies, when Full Spectrum Dominance enables the U.S. to execute them at leisure.

Pepe Escobar writes:

In resource-rich Africa, a complex subplot of the New Great Game in Eurasia is already in effect. It’s all about three major intertwined developments:

1) The coming of age of the African Union (AU) in the early 2000s.

2) China’s investment offencive in Africa throughout the 2000s.

3) The onset of the Pentagon’s African Command (Africom) in 2007.


The Pentagon has in fact been meddling in Africa’s affairs for more than half a century. According to a 2010 US Congressional Research Service study, this happened no less than 46 times before the current Libya civil war.

Among other exploits, the Pentagon invested in a botched large-scale invasion of Somalia and backed the infamous, genocide-related Rwanda regime.

The Bill Clinton administration raised hell in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone, bombed Sudan, and sent “advisers” to Ethiopia to back dodgy clients grabbing a piece of Somalia (by the way, Somalia has been at war for 20 years).

The September 2002 National Security Strategy (NSS), conceived by the Bush administration, is explicit; Africa is a “strategic priority in fighting terrorism”.

Yet, the never-say-die “war on terror” is a sideshow in the Pentagon’s vast militarisation agenda, which favours client regimes, setting up military bases, and training of mercenaries – “cooperative partnerships” in Pentagon newspeak.

Africom has some sort of military “partnership” – bilateral agreements – with most of Africa’s 53 countries, not to mention fuzzy multilateral schemes such as West African Standby Force and Africa Partnership Station.

American warships have dropped by virtually every African nation except for those bordering the Mediterranean.

Jonathan Stevenson writes in Foreign Affairs:

AFRICOM will have a hard time reestablishing its bona fides with African governments, which were fairly tenuous even before the Libyan intervention.

and concludes, inaccurately I believe:

Although regaining African countries’ trust will be difficult, it is not impossible.

In word as well as in deed, the idea should be to cast the Libyan operation not as a mistake but as an exception.

Unfortunately Libya is not an exception, as Pepe Escobar points out, it is just the latest of close to 50 US military interventions in Africa going back approximately 50 years. Libya is just the latest military intervention in a long line of military interventions. Like Groucho Marx, Mr. Stevenson is asking Africans not to believe their own lying eyes.

Pepe Escobar writes in Asia Times:

This “kinetic activity” took place after former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger had been hammering his endgame for Libya on at least three different occasions; at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs; at an Aspen Institute session on “Values and Diplomacy”, also in Washington; and at the Bretton Woods II conference in New Hampshire.

Kissinger’s plan: invade Libya and keep this thing going until at least the spring of 2012. The (wacky) agenda; keep MENA (Middle East/Northern Africa) in total disarray as a diversionist tactic/pretext for Washington to attack Iran on behalf of Israel – to the benefit of the military-industrial complex. …

Gaddafi is the perfect villain for this Anglo-French-American farce unworthy of French playwright Georges Feydeau. For all his dictatorial megalomania, Gaddafi is a committed pan-African – a fierce defender of African unity. Libya was not in debt to international bankers. It did not borrow cash from the International Monetary Fund for any “structural adjustment”. It used oil money for social services – including the Great Man Made River project, and investment/aid to sub-Saharan countries. Its independent central bank was not manipulated by the Western financial system. All in all a very bad example for the developing world.

Breaking up Libya would be just the hors d’oeuvres for breaking up other parts of Africa where China has sizable investments. Yes, because if Western boots hit the ground in northern Africa, the “footprint” will reach the Sahel – which is already in turbulence; Mali and Niger are receiving weapons from the “rebels” in Libya that are ending up in the hands of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). The powers that be in Algeria and Morocco – where pro-democracy protests continue non-stop – are already freaking out.

… Gates had already misled the US Congress a few weeks ago, saying that the US role in Libya would end once NATO was in command.

Here are some things the Hellfire missiles will be up against in Libya. A gross domestic product per capita of US$14,192; unemployment benefits of around $730 a month; nurses being paid $1,000 a month; no major taxes; free education and medicine; interest-free loans for buying a car and an apartment. Quite a few unemployed Americans wouldn’t mind a one-way ticket to Tripoli.

The attack of the drones is on so Washington may pretend it’s not by any means expanding its “kinetic military action” – which is not a war.

And we are seeing a lot of AFRICOM military activity in North Africa, particularly directed at Algeria and Morocco. The US/NATO Libyan intervention is more the rule than the exception, a clear precedent for future “kinetic actions”.

Stability operations means protecting US/NATO client regimes, or installing new and more compliant client regimes:

The predatory and criminal character of the US-NATO operation becomes ever more apparent the longer it drags on. Washington, London and Paris hope to not only seize control of Libya, but also increase their influence in neighbouring states that have been convulsed by revolutionary uprisings. The NATO powers aim to use Tripoli as a centre of operations throughout North Africa, preventing any further erosion of their strategic and economic interests in the region.

Hague pointed to these calculations when he referred to the “stabilisation” of Tunisia and Egypt as an aim of the war against Libya (wsws)

Jean-Paul Pougala writes in Pambazuka:

It was Gaddafi’s Libya that offered all of Africa its first revolution in modern times – connecting the entire continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and several other technological applications such as telemedicine and distance teaching. And thanks to the WMAX radio bridge, a low cost connection was made available across the continent, including in rural areas.

It began in 1992, when 45 African nations established RASCOM (Regional African Satellite Communication Organization) so that Africa would have its own satellite and slash communication costs in the continent. This was a time when phone calls to and from Africa were the most expensive in the world because of the annual US$500 million fee pocketed by Europe for the use of its satellites like Intelsat for phone conversations, including those within the same country.

An African satellite only cost a onetime payment of US$400 million and the continent no longer had to pay a US$500 million annual lease.

This is how a symbolic gesture of a mere US$300 million changed the life of an entire continent. Gaddafi’s Libya cost the West, not just depriving it of US$500 million per year but the billions of dollars in debt and interest that the initial loan would generate for years to come and in an exponential manner, thereby helping maintain an occult system in order to plunder the continent.

The US$30 billion frozen by Mr Obama belong to the Libyan Central Bank and had been earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects which would add the finishing touches to the African federation – the African Investment Bank in Syrte, Libya, the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Yaounde with a US$42 billion capital fund and the Abuja-based African Central Bank in Nigeria which when it starts printing African money will ring the death knell for the CFA franc through which Paris has been able to maintain its hold on some African countries for the last fifty years. It is easy to understand the French wrath against Gaddafi.

The African Monetary Fund is expected to totally supplant the African activities of the International Monetary Fund which, with only US$25 billion, was able to bring an entire continent to its knees and make it swallow questionable privatisation like forcing African countries to move from public to private monopolies. No surprise then that on 16-17December 2010, the Africans unanimously rejected attempts by Western countries to join the African Monetary Fund, saying it was open only to African nations.

It is increasingly obvious that after Libya, the western coalition will go after Algeria, because apart from its huge energy resources, the country has cash reserves of around €150 billion. This is what lures the countries that are bombing Libya and they all have one thing in common – they are practically bankrupt.

It is disconcerting to say the least that for the first time in the history of the United Nations, war has been declared against a people without having explored the slightest possibility of a peaceful solution to the crisis.

In Asia Times Ellen Brown asks Libya all about oil, or central banking?

Several writers have noted the odd fact that the Libyan rebels took time out from their rebellion in March to create their own central bank – this before they even had a government.

In it [a 2007 “Democracy Now” interview of US General Wesley Clark] he says that about 10 days after September 11, 2001, he was told by a general that the decision had been made to go to war with Iraq. … they planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

What do these seven countries have in common? In the context of banking, one that sticks out is that none of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland.

The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked.

According to a Russian article titled “Bombing of Libya – Punishment for Ghaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar”, Gaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Gaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency.

During the past year, the idea was approved by many Arab countries and most African countries. The only opponents were the Republic of South Africa and the head of the League of Arab States.

Libya not only has oil. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its central bank has nearly 144 tonnes of gold in its vaults. With that sort of asset base, who needs the BIS, the IMF and their rules?

All of which prompts a closer look at the BIS rules and their effect on local economies.

In a 2002 article in Asia Times Online titled “The BIS vs national banks” Henry Liu maintained:

BIS regulations serve only the single purpose of strengthening the international private banking system, even at the peril of national economies. The BIS does to national banking systems what the IMF has done to national monetary regimes. National economies under financial globalization no longer serve national interests.

… FDI [foreign direct investment] denominated in foreign currencies, mostly dollars, has condemned many national economies into unbalanced development toward export, merely to make dollar-denominated interest payments to FDI, with little net benefit to the domestic economies.


That would explain where Libya gets the money to provide free education and medical care, and to issue each young couple $50,000 in interest-free state loans. It would also explain where the country found the $33 billion to build the Great Man-Made River project. [… the largest and most expensive irrigation project in history, the US$33 billion GMMR (Great Man-Made River) project. Even more than oil, water is crucial to life in Libya. The GMMR provides 70% of the population with water for drinking and irrigation, pumping it from Libya’s vast underground Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System in the south to populated coastal areas 4,000 kilometers to the north.] Libyans are worried that North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led air strikes are coming perilously close to this pipeline, threatening another humanitarian disaster.

So is this new war all about oil or all about banking? Maybe both – and water as well. With energy, water, and ample credit to develop the infrastructure to access them, a nation can be free of the grip of foreign creditors. And that may be the real threat of Libya: it could show the world what is possible.

The murderous bombing continues:

NATO extends authorisation for Libya bombardment to September
Washington and its European allies are clearly readying an intensified campaign aimed at ousting the government led by Muammar Gaddafi and installing a client administration in Tripoli.

NATO leaders now make little effort to conceal the reality that military operations are centrally aimed at removing Gaddafi from power—a goal that is not authorised under the “mandate” supposedly provided by UN.

American, British, and French leaders have deliberately sabotaged any possibility of a negotiated end to the civil war in Libya between the Gaddafi regime and the opposition forces based in the eastern city of Benghazi. Italian government efforts to resolve the situation by allowing Gaddafi to make a “political exit” were derailed by the demand for war crimes charges against the Libyan leader issued last month by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor.

It now appears likely that the timing of NATO’s 90-day bombing authorisation is at least partly aimed at scuttling the African Union’s demands for a “roadmap” that involves an immediate ceasefire, including an end to NATO bombing. South African President Jacob Zuma visited Tripoli on Monday to meet with Gaddafi; afterwards he said that the Libyan leader was ready to implement the African Union’s roadmap. NATO responded by unleashing fresh airstrikes immediately after Zuma flew out of the Libyan capital.

According to NATO figures, American and European air forces have conducted 9,183 sorties since March 31.

The mounting death toll exposes NATO claims about “protecting the people of Libya.” A further escalation is being prepared

James Petras, in Washington’s long war against Africa reminds us:

The Obama regime’s invasion and bombing of Libya is a continuation of a longstanding imperial practice designed to enhance U.S. power via the installation of client regimes, the establishment of military bases and the training and indoctrination of African mercenary forces dubbed “collaborative partners.” There is no question that there is a rising tide of imperial militarism in the U.S. over the past several decades.
Most of the U.S.’ African empire is disproportionally built on military links to client military chiefs. The Pentagon has military ties with 53 African countries – including Libya prior to the current attack.

AFRICOM, despite its assigned role as a vehicle for spreading imperial influence, has been more successful in destroying countries than in gaining resources and power bases. The war against Somalia, displacing and killing millions and costing hundreds of millions of dollars, enters its 20th year, with no victory in sight.

Apart from the longest standing U.S. neo-colony, Liberia, there is no country willing to allow AFRICOM to set up headquarters. Most significantly, AFRICOM was unprepared for the overthrow of key client regimes in Tunisia and Egypt – important “partners” in patrolling the North African Mediterranean, the Arabian coast and the Red Sea.

The continent-wide presence of AFRICOM has been matched by its incapacity to convert “partnerships” into effective proxy conquerors. The attempt to foster “civil-military” programs has failed to secure any popular base for corrupt collaborator regimes, valued for their willingness to provide imperial cannon fodder.

The continuing North African uprising overthrew the public face of the imperial backed dictatorships. As the popular Arab revolt spreads to the Gulf and deepens its demands to include socio-economic as well as political demands, the Empire struck back. AFRICOM backed the assault on Libya, the crackdown on the prodemocracy movement by the ruling military junta in Egypt and looks to its autocratic “partners” in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula to drown the civil society movements in a blood bath.

The growing militarization of U.S. imperial policy in North Africa and the Gulf is leading to a historic confrontation between the Arab democratic revolution and the imperial backed satraps; between Libyans fighting for their independence and the Euro-American naval and air forces ravaging the country on behalf of their inept local clients.

Twice the African Union has tried to resolve the Libyan conflict peacefully, and both times it has been resoundingly ignored and rebuffed. Whether the subject is banking or oil or water or China, it is quite clear that US/NATO sees Libya’s successs and independence as bad example for the rest of Africa and a threat to US hegemony. Ordinary citizens and leaders in Africa should view the Libyan intervention as a serious threat to their independence and success, now and in the future, a threat to the well-being of the entire continent. R2P, the Rush To Plunder is on, for banking, for oil, for minerals, for water and for land.

Gazprom billboard near Russian parliament, and map of Libya

Gazprom billboard near Russian parliament, and map of Libya

Asia Times has a story about how Russia is outmanuevering US energy policy in Africa and around the globe.

Russia’s energy drive leaves US reeling
By M K Bhadrakumar

… But what has truly incensed the Bush administration are Gazprom’s dramatic inroads into Africa.

Russian giant Gazprom, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world, has announced plans to build a pipeline across the Mediterranean to pump Libyan gas to Europe. This is the final lap of a Kremlin strategy that involves Gazprom handling the entire output of Libya’s gas, oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) designated for export to Europe and the US.
Look at Gazprom’s terse announcement in Moscow on July 9, “The Libyan side positively evaluated Gazprom’s proposal to buy all future volumes of gas, oil and liquefied natural gas assigned for export at competitive prices.” … Putin visits Tripoli in April, less than a month before he left office, and the two erstwhile colonels decided to jointly handle all of Libya’s energy resources.

And Gazprom seeks to buy exploration licenses in Nigeria and proposes to build a pipeline from there to Algeria, and with Algeria, Gazprom is developing a proposal on “joint” marketing of gas in Europe. US officials have gone ballistic. “The monopolistic Gazprom is behaving like a monopolist does. It tries to gain control of the market as much as possible and to stifle competition. And that’s clearly what is going on,” thundered Matthew Bryza, US deputy assistant secretary of state for Eurasian affairs. “The Kremlin wants Gazprom to be a dominant force in global energy, and the dominant force in global gas. Tying up gas resources in Central Asia and Africa is part of that,” he added. The plan is for Gazprom to dominate “in every corner of the planet”, he alleged.

This is pretty funny coming from a country that seeks Full Spectrum Dominance (wikipedia definition) of the planet, in large part to dominate the oil markets.  It is also pretty funny to hear the representatives of Big Oil, the Bush administration, complaining about energy monopoly.

Washington was relieved to see the back of Putin’s presidency, but it now transpires that Gazprom may have only stepped up the pace of overtures under Medvedev’s astute guidance. Besides, with its new assets in Africa, Gazprom will soon be knocking for access to the US market through supplies of LNG. The European and international companies which have been traditionally present in the African market will be compelled to play a role alongside Gazprom.

… Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller suddenly arrived in Tehran on Monday and discussed with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad the setting up of an organization of gas-producing countries.

… During the visit, an agreement was signed on the development of Iran’s oil and gas fields by Russian companies; on Russian participation in the transfer of Iran’s Caspian Sea crude oil to the Oman Sea; cooperation in the development of Iran’s fabulous North Azadegan oil field; and, possible participation of Gazprom in the planned Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. Evidently, Moscow took a deliberate decision to press ahead with Iran in energy cooperation in the full glare of world publicity in complete disregard of US displeasure. Tehran loved it.

… By now it must be obvious to the Bush administration that the youthful-looking, post-communist lawyer-president who took over from Putin has lost no time drilling a hole through the entire US strategy to weaken Gazprom’s grip over the supply of gas to Europe.

… The geopolitics of energy security are a highly sensitive subject for the Bush administration, whose profound links with Big Oil are legion. It is a tremendous loss of face for the Bush-Cheney-Rice combine that Moscow is outwitting the US on the energy front.

Showing its inability to learn, the Bush administration continues its plans to address unrest in the Niger Delta with AFRICOM, expanding and militarizing the conflict. From Michael Klare:

… Although department of defence officials are loath to publicly acknowledge any direct relationship between Africom’s formation and a growing US reliance on that continent’s oil, they are less inhibited in private briefings. At a 19 February meeting at the National Defence University, Africom deputy commander Vice-Admiral Robert Moeller indicated that “oil disruption” in Nigeria and West Africa would constitute one of the primary challenges facing the new organisation.

Britain seems to be planning to join in this military approach: Britain to train army in Nigeria to combat delta rebels.  Every military ruler of Nigeria trained at Sandhurst, except Abacha.  Military training and cooperation does not have a positive history relative to democracy.  The UN envoy who was supposed to negotiate with MEND and the rebels in the Delta, Ibrahim Gambari, was revealed to be a close crony of Abacha.

It was Gambari who told the United Nations that Ken Saro-Wiwa should be hung because he was “a mere common criminal”. It is therefore a certain sign of the bad faith of Nigeria’s negotiation that they pressed for Gambari to be appointed mediator with the rebels.

Gambari has resigned because of the resulting controversy, and plans for talks in the Delta have been suspended.

Supporting bad faith negotiation and military bullying will not win hearts and minds, or even control on the ground.  The US needs to rethink its approach, especially if energy security remains a US goal.

The rebellion in the Niger Delta is not a spontaneous evil, a mindless outbreak of anarchic violence that must be met with still more violence. It is paused by the grinding poverty and economic ruination of one of the most economically productive regions on earth, with the profits channelled to billionaires in Nigeria and to big oil.

As the Asia Times article points out, the energy action is global, and the players are big.  The US does not necessarily have the advantage.  So the US needs to take some of the actual facts into account, and to smarten up its approach.