The French left as well as the the right have dreams of imperial expansion.  A number of NATO participants share a vision of the Mediterranean as a NATO lake, an internal sea, surrounded by Europe.  The dream is to extend Europe around the entire coast of the Mediterranean and over North Africa.  The French decision to send troops to Mali must be considered in this context. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of the leaders of the French Socialist party expressed this vision:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn … 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.”
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology

Sarkozy spoke of this in 2007.

On that occasion, he glorified “the shattered dream of Charlemagne and of the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, . . .” Thereupon continued Nicolas Sarkozy: “Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization.” He went on to conclude: “I want to be the president of a France which will bring the Mediterranean into the process of its reunification (sic!) after twelve centuries of division and painful conflicts (. . .). 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.”

And as Boubacar Boris Diop points out about the current conflict in Mali:

Whether we like it or not, the Arab Spring is completely detaching north Africa from the rest of the continent, and in some respects, the “new border” is northern Mali. This is a clear and coherent strategy that the west is in the process of implementing.

Between 1960 and 2005, France launched 46 military operations in its former colonies in Africa“. Since then the total number of military interventions has grown. The pattern continues, most notably with the assault and seizure of Gbagbo in Ivory Coast and the installation of Ouattara as President there, and the current operation in Mali.  The current French intervention is called operation Serval, after the species of cat, but has been nicknamed operation hissyfit by some. The US has engaged in military training in Mali since 2003, but it does not seem to have helped Mali’s army much. So far the only accomplishment of US training has been to train Captain Sonogo, who then made a coup in Bamako which weakened the country and helped enable the Islamists to take over in northern Mali.

Map of conflict in Mali, Jan 14, 2013

Map of conflict in Mali, Jan 14, 2013

MOPTI, MALI -- A Malian airmen set up a cordon around a helicopter box as part of the air drop recovery training with the 2/19th Special Forces as part of operation Atlas Accord 2012, near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. This is one of a lengthy series of US training programs for Mali's military. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

MOPTI, MALI — A Malian airmen set up a cordon around a helicopter box as part of the air drop recovery training with the 2/19th Special Forces as part of operation Atlas Accord 2012, near Mopti, Mali on Feb. 13, 2012. The US has announced plans to renew military aid and training in Mali. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mark Henderson)

Areva Mining operations in  Niger, source of most of the uranium for France's nuclear power industry

Areva uranium mining operations in Niger

Bruce Whitehouse provides valuable background to the present political situation in Mali. He describes how Mali’s democracy had been hollowed out over time, and that the majority of the people in Bamako supported the coup when it occurred in March 2012.  Most people saw the government as corrupt.

Touré’s ‘rule by consensus’ became a euphemism for the suppression of political debate and a trend towards absolutism. Checks and balances existed only on paper. Journalists were afraid to challenge the president’s agenda, especially after five of their colleagues were arrested in 2007.

He also informs us that the conflict in Mali is not strictly speaking a civil war.  Mali is being invaded from the north as well as from the south.  Much of the funding for the salafist jihadi militias comes from the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC (nicknamed the Gulf Counter-revolutionary Club by Pepe Escobar.)  The GCC works closely with NATO.  As @IfyOtuya said on Twitter “It is this same GCC-West petro tyranny hegemony that runs colonialism in North, East and West Africa.”

Whitehouse continues:

Moreover, I’m not sure how accurate it is to call the forces fighting against the French “Malian rebels” or to describe the conflict as a “civil war“–the command structures of AQIM and MOJWA in particular are dominated by Algerians and Mauritanians. Malians widely perceive these groups as foreign invaders, motivated by racism and greed as well as a perverted, even ignorant view of their faith.

We cannot say that the war in Mali is primarily about natural resources, Western meddling, or religion. We can say, however, that it is a direct consequence of state failure, which as I have argued elsewhere came about largely due to factors internal to Mali. My experience as an anthropologist has made me suspicious of reductionist theories and grand narratives of history, from Marxism to dependency theory to modernization theory. The notion that what’s today playing out in Mali is the product of a “great game” between major powers ignores the realities on the ground there.

It is not a product of a great game, but the near collapse of Mali’s governance provides an enticing playing field for the gamers.  France, the UK, and US, and other NATO countries are happy to engage with the conflict in Mali one way or another. Their motives are all about resources and geopolitical fantasies, taking advantage of state failure, the chaos, and Mali’s weakness, to advance their national and corporate interests. They are unlikely to be able to control the results.  The people of Mali are not simple pawns to be moved around at the direction of outsiders.  Imperialists may think they are playing the great game.  In the long run things are most unlikely to turn out as they desire or expect, especially when so many of their expectations are based on ignorance of country, people, and history.  Unfortunately,  far too many lives will be wasted and destroyed in the process.   Captain Sonogo’s coup is an excellent example of unexpected consequences.  It was an unexpected result of the realities on the ground in Mali, partially enabled by Captain Sonogo’s IMET training and ties with AFRICOM.

Bruce Whitehouse writes about Understanding Mali’s “Tuareg problem”. It is far more complex than you will hear in most accounts. He makes several points, please see the article for more explanation of each of these points:

Even in northern Mali, the people we call “the Tuareg” are a minority.
Most of the people we call “the Tuareg” are black.
The people we call “the Tuareg” are not united on anything, least of all separatism.
The people we call “the Tuareg” have not been excluded from Mali’s government.
Innocent civilians identified as “Tuareg” have been abused and murdered.
The label of historically oppressed minority does not easily fit the people we call “the Tuareg.”

He concludes with:

I’m no expert on the Tuareg or northern Mali in general, and I don’t claim to offer any solutions. But I know three things. One, whatever the “Tuareg problem” is, an independent or autonomous state for “the Tuareg” is unlikely to solve it. Two, simplistic categories used to describe these people and their relations with neighboring groups actually keep us from understanding, let alone preventing, the race-based injustices that have occurred in Mali and throughout the region. And three, until Malians of all backgrounds can meet for open dialogue about the crimes they have endured — and carried out — they will continue talking past each other, and their divergent views of their common history will only grow further apart.

This does not look like a problem that war is likely to solve. It is, as with so many governance problems in Africa and globally, a political problem that is being treated to a military solution that cannot solve, or even address, the real issues.

Gregory Mann writes that the invasion was necessary against a formidable enemy. He writes that the intervention was popular and at the request of Mali:

This is not a neo-colonial offensive. The argument that it is might be comfortable and familiar, but it is bogus and ill-informed. France intervened following a direct request for help from Mali’s interim President, Dioncounda Traore. Most Malians celebrated the arrival of French troops, as Bruce Whitehouse and Fabien Offner have demonstrated. Every Malian I’ve talked to agrees with that sentiment.

In contrast, the French client state Central African Republic asked for French intervention this year as rebels neared its capitol, but the French declined to intervene despite the precarious position of the CAR government and the proximity of rebels to the capitol.  The French jumped into Mali, but avoided involvement in the CAR.

It is very difficult to get accurate information on what is going on now in Mali. Bamako is rife with rumors. And the French are carefully controlling any coverage of their military movements and actions.  Reporters are kept far away from any action.  Bruce Whitehouse is an excellent source of information and commentary on Mali, particularly the capitol, Bamako.  He writes “These days You can believe whatever you want and find reporting to back you up.

A young child runs through a deserted side street in Gao, northern Mali, on Jan. 28, 2013, the day after French and Malian troops secured a strategic bridge and the airport.

A young child runs through a deserted side street in Gao, northern Mali, on Jan. 28, 2013, the day after French and Malian troops secured a strategic bridge and the airport.

Pepe Escobar describes some of the geopolitical features of the conflict in Mali.

It’s now official – coming from the mouth of the lion, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, and duly posted at the AFRICOM site, the Pentagon’s weaponized African branch. Exit “historical” al-Qaeda, holed up somewhere in the Waziristans, in the Pakistani tribal areas; enter al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In Dempsey’s words, AQIM “is a threat not only to the country of Mali, but the region, and if… left unaddressed, could in fact become a global threat.”

With Mali now elevated to the status of a “threat” to the whole world, GWOT [Global War On Terror] is proven to be really open-ended. The Pentagon doesn’t do irony; when, in the early 2000s, armchair warriors coined the expression “The Long War”, they really meant it.

Follow the gold. A host of nations have gold bullion deposited at the New York Federal Reserve. They include, crucially, Germany. Recently, Berlin started asking to get back its physical gold back – 374 ton from the Bank of France and 300 tons out of 1,500 tons from the New York Federal Reserve.

So guess what the French and the Americans essentially said: We ain’t got no gold! Well, at least right now. It will take five years for the German gold in France to be returned, and no less than seven years for the stash at the New York Federal Reserve. Bottom line: both Paris and Washington/New York have to come up with real physical gold any way they can.

That’s where Mali fits in – beautifully. Mali – along with Ghana – accounts for up to 8% of global gold production. So if you’re desperate for the genuine article – physical gold – you’ve got to control Mali. Imagine all that gold falling into the hands of… China.
Now follow the uranium. As everyone who was glued to the Niger yellowcake saga prior to the invasion of Iraq knows, Niger is the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium. Its biggest customer is – surprise! – France; half of France’s electricity comes from nuclear energy. The uranium mines in Niger happen to be concentrated in the northwest of the country, on the western range of the Air mountains, very close to the Mali border and one of the regions being bombed by the French.

The uranium issue is intimately connected with successive Tuareg rebellions; one must remember that, for the Tuaregs, there are no borders in the Sahel. All recent Tuareg rebellions in Niger happened in uranium country – in Agadez province, near the Mali border. So, from the point of view of French interests, imagine the possibility of the Tuaregs gaining control of those uranium mines – and starting to do deals with… China. Beijing, after all, is already present in the region.

All this crucial geostrategic power play – the “West” fighting China in Africa, with AFRICOM giving a hand to warlord Hollande while taking the Long War perspective – actually supersedes the blowback syndrome. It’s unthinkable that British, French and American intelligence did not foresee the blowback ramifications from NATO’s “humanitarian war” in Libya. NATO was intimately allied with Salafis and Salafi-jihadis – temporarily reconverted into “freedom fighters”. They knew Mali – and the whole Sahel – would subsequently be awash in weapons.

No, the expansion of GWOT to the Sahara/Sahel happened by design. GWOT is the gift that keeps on giving; what could possibly top a new war theatre to the French-Anglo-American industrial-military-security-contractor-media complex?

Well-wishers gather to greet French President Francois Hollande during his two-hour-long visit to Timbuktu, Feb. 2, 2013.

Well-wishers gather to greet French President Francois Hollande during his two-hour-long visit to Timbuktu, Feb. 2, 2013.

Boubacar Boris Diop, Senegalese writer and intellectual, has reservations and grave doubts about the French intervention in Mali. He was interviewed by Souleymane Ndiaye for the Senegalese paper Le Pays au Quotidien. From the translation in The Guardian:

it is, in fact, a stroke of genius on the part of Paris that France can be depicted as an enemy of the “villains”. I use this word deliberately because international politics often reminds me of a Hollywood movie in which the whole plot depends on us being conditioned to be on the side of the good guys. When you learn that narco-terrorists occupy two-thirds of Mali, and that they destroy mosques and the tombs of saints, set fire to the Ahmed Baba Library and cut off people’s hands, your first impulse is to approve of those trying to help innocents out of harm’s way.

After Qaddafi was killed, under appalling circumstances, the French government believed the time had come to entrust the outsourcing of war against AQIM [al-Qaida in the Maghreb] and MUJAO [Movement for Unity and Jihad in west Africa] to the Tuareg rebellion. As Ibrahima Sene recently pointed out in his response to Samir Amin, Paris and Washington then decided to help the Tuareg in Libya return, heavily armed, to Mali – but, more interestingly, not to Niger, where they did not want to take any risk because of Areva [uranium mines]. The Tuareg were delighted to finally realise their dream of independence through the new state of Azawad, an ally of the west.

Some French media were then asked to “sell” the project of the “blue men of the desert” who were willing and ready to go to war against Mali. Just take a look in the archives of France 24 and RFI … France clearly occupies the role of a pyromaniac firefighter. Everything suggests that the French will defeat the jihadists, but this victory will cost the Malians their government and their honour.

BBD: I just want to say that this is the end of independence for Mali for a long time, and for its relative territorial homogeneity. It would be naive to imagine that, after having worked so hard to liberate the north, France will hand over the keys of the country to Dioncounda Traore and to the Malians and be satisfied with effusive farewells. No, the world does not work that way. France has put itself in a good position in the race for the prodigious natural resources of the Sahara, and it would be hard to imagine that the French will just drop the Tuareg rebellion, which has always been their trump card. There is an episode in this war that has gone unnoticed, yet deserves some consideration: the capture of Kidal. We initially conceded that Kidal was “captured” by the MNLA, which no longer has any military presence, and a few days later, on January 29th, French troops entered the town alone, not allowing Malian forces to accompany them. Iyad Ag Ghali, head of Ansar Dine, discredited by his affiliation with AQIM and MUJAO, is already almost out of the game and his “moderate” rival, Alghabasse Ag Intalla, head of MIA (Islamic Movement of Azawd) is in the best position to find common ground with Paris. As a matter of fact, after this military debacle, the Tuareg separatists are going to have political control over the north, something they have never had before. It’s a great paradox, but it is in the interest of the west that Mali has no hold over the northern part of it’s country. Traoré is already being pressured to negotiate with the moderate Tuareg backed by Paris, and it is unlikely that we are going to see a president as weakened as Dioncounda trying to resist Hollande. Whether we like it or not, the Arab Spring is completely detaching north Africa from the rest of the continent, and in some respects, the “new border” is northern Mali. This is a clear and coherent strategy that the west is in the process of implementing.

SN: What did you think when you saw young Malians waving French flags?

BBD: Some say it has been fabricated. I don’t agree. I think these pictures reveal the immense relief that the Malians feel. They are particularly disturbing images, and this is why should have the guts to confront them. The real question is not so much what we, as African intellectuals and politicians, should think of the French. More importantly, the question is how is it that our people are left in such a state of abandonment? The question that these images really raise for us is how is it that the French troops who occupied Mali for centuries as barbaric colonisers have come back 50 years later to be greeted as liberators? Does this not leave us seriously perplexed? What is Malian independence really worth?

The outpouring of affection towards French soldiers is from the heart, but it is temporary. The real aims of the war will become clearer for Malians, and time will not be on the French’s side. Benign foreign forces don’t exist anywhere.

it must be extremely hard these days to be in the Malian military. Here is a national army fighting in its own country, and its soldiers’ deaths do not even count, unlike that of the French helicopter pilot, Damien Boiteux, who was shot on the first day of fighting. All these humiliations will show Mali that a certain democratic comedy, aimed at pleasing foreign backers, is meaningless. Mali is a case study, cited everywhere as an example. Very little is needed for the country to collapse. We already see the mechanisms of exclusion in the works, and these create more and more murderers: All Tuaregs and Arabs will come to be seen as accomplices of jihadists or of the Tuareg separatist movement. Already aware of this danger, intellectuals like Aminata Dramane Traoré of Mali have repeatedly sounded the alarm in recent months, but nobody wants to listen. Relations between the different communities in Mali have always been fragile, and the threat of racial hostilities has never been as grave.

the procrastination of the African states has been rightly criticised, but you have to understand that it is ultimately suicidal for them to engage in a complex war with their bare hands. Yet this is precisely the criticism we can dole out to our countries: A failure to have the means to defends ourselves, collectively or individually.

Dan Glazebrook writes in The West’s War Against African Development Continues

… it is the West that is reliant on African handouts. …

Gold and uranium are the handouts of particular interest in Mali, Algeria’s oil and independence are also of interest.

As long as Gaddafi was in power [in Libya]  and heading up a powerful and effective regional security system, Salafist militias in North Africa could not be used as a ‘threatening menace’ justifying Western invasion and occupation to save the helpless natives. By actually achieving what the West claim to want (but everywhere fail to achieve) – the neutralization of ‘Islamist terrorism’ – Libya had stripped the imperialists of a key pretext for their war against Africa. At the same time, they had prevented the militias from fulfilling their other historical function for the West – as a proxy force to destabilize independent secular states (fully documented in Mark Curtis’ excellent Secret Affairs). The West had supported Salafi death squads in campaigns to destabilize the USSR and Yugoslavia highly successfully, and would do so again against Libya and Syria

With NATO’s redrawing of Libya as a failed state, this security system has fallen apart. Not only have the Salafi militias been provided with the latest hi-tech military equipment by NATO, they have been given free reign to loot the Libyan government’s armouries, and provided with a safe haven from which to organize attacks across the region. Border security has collapsed, with the apparent connivance of the new Libyan government and its NATO sponsors, as this damning report from global intelligence firm Jamestown Foundation notes …

The most obvious victim of this destabilization has been Mali.

As Escobar points out above, the flood of arms and militias out of Libya were foreseen by Western intelligence.    Algeria is rich in oil and borders the Mediterranean, another target in the Long War as well as a target of those who envision the Mediterranean as a European internal sea with Europe extending over North Africa.  The “French-Anglo-American industrial-military-security-contractor-media complex” do very nicely by continuing the GWOT.   Glazebrook continues:

…  disaster zones can be tolerated; strong, independent states cannot.

It is, therefore, perceived to be in the strategic interests of Western energy security to see Algeria turned into a failed state, just as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have been. With this in mind, it is clear to see how the apparently contradictory policy of arming the Salafist militias one minute (in Libya) and bombing them the next (in Mali) does in fact make sense. The French bombing mission aims, in its own words, at the “total reconquest” of Mali, which in practice means driving the rebels gradually Northwards through the country – in other words, straight into Algeria.

…   Like a classic mafia protection racket, the West makes its protection ‘necessary’ by unleashing the very forces from which people require protection. Now France is occupying Mali, the US are establishing a new drone base in Niger and David Cameron is talking about his commitment to a new ‘war on terror’ spanning six countries, and likely to last decades.

Bill Van Auken writes:

Both Paris and Washington have justified their military incursions into the African continent in the name of defeating Al Qaeda and associated organizations in Africa. British Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in last month, warning that the prosecution of this war in Africa could span “decades.”

The glaring contradiction between this pretext for war in Africa’s Sahel region and the line-up of these imperialist powers behind Al Qaeda-linked militias in the sectarian-based war to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria is passed over in silence by the media and the political establishments in all three countries.

Behind the incoherence of the pretexts for imperialist intervention, the real forces driving it are clear. Washington finds itself being economically eclipsed in Africa by China, which has emerged as the continent’s leading trade partner. Increasingly in competition over strategic resources—West Africa is soon expected to account for 25 percent of US petroleum imports—US imperialism is relying on its residual military superiority to combat this economic challenge.

In the prosecution of this predatory strategy, Al Qaeda serves a dual purpose—providing shock troops for the toppling of regimes seen as obstacles to US hegemony, and serving as a pretext for other interventions carried out in the name of combating “terrorism” and “extremism.”

A Malian man dressed in green walks between green doors of closed shops in Gao, Feb. 5, 2013.

A Malian man dressed in green walks between green doors of closed shops in Gao, Feb. 5, 2013.

In Foreign Policy Gordon Adams describes a Continental Shift in US policy towards Africa.

U.S. engagement in Africa is shifting from a focus on governance, health, and development to a deepening military engagement. And while the Pentagon portrays this expanding military engagement as a way to empower Africans, it is actually building security relationships that could backfire, harming our long-term foreign policy interests.

A focus on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations has driven this engagement forward …

[T]he U.S. plans its security assistance programs in a strategy and policy void and, with a focus on “security” but not “governance,” they are largely implemented to meet the bureaucratic, regional, and program priorities of the Defense Department, in this case, Africom. The choice of countries, programs, and individuals to receive support in Africa is driven largely by the military — the regional combatant commander, the military services, and DOD policy officials.
U.S. security assistance, especially after Iraq and Afghanistan, does put “security” first and “governance” second, which is characteristic of these Africa programs.  …  The downside is that by putting security first …  too many [African countries] will end up insecure in another way: hostage to a strongly developed military-paramilitary-gendarme-police force which is the only effective form of political power. As the Perry report said in its subdued way: “In many countries, whether intended or not, the U.S. is choosing sides in the partner nation’s political process when it provides assistance to security forces.”

Gordon Adams is describing what I and others have been writing about since 2007 and before.  The US choice to invest the  money and attention it devotes to Africa on military development is to choose sides in the political process of the nations it engages.  Africans want to move away from military governments.   US national interests are not being served when the Department of Defense, DoD, bureaucratic, regional, and program priorities drive national foreign policy.  The US military remains on the wrong side of history in Africa.   There is a long US history of military assistance and covert intervention in Africa throughout the cold war and particularly in the lengthy US support for apartheid.  In the course of those conflicts the US was party to the introduction of state sponsored terrorism into African conflicts.  The US has been party to coups and assassinations against the most progressive and visionary of Africa’s leaders, including Nkrumah, Lumumba, and Sankara.  US support for Savimbi and manipulation of the electoral process precipitated an extra decade of war in Angola. The US installed and maintained Mobutu in Congo, DRC, for decades of theft and misrule.  The US arms and supports Rwanda and Uganda as they loot the Eastern Congo.   It would behoove US long term interests in Africa to avoid looking like the leader among those who would recolonize the African continent. Mali’s current fractures make it vulnerable to military opportunism. France, the UK, and US (fukus) along with NATO and the GCC, are engaged in a short sighted Long War of neocolonialism.

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.

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