The Anti-Empire Report
Not very long ago, Iraq and Libya were the two most modern and secular states in the Mideast/North Africa world with perhaps the highest standards of living in the region. Then the United States of America came along and saw fit to make a basket case of each one. The desire to get rid of Gaddafi had been building for years; the Libyan leader had never been a reliable pawn; then the Arab Spring provided the excellent opportunity and cover. As to Why? Take your pick of the following:
• Gaddafi’s plans to conduct Libya’s trading in Africa in raw materials and oil in a new currency — the gold African dinar, a change that could have delivered a serious blow to the US’s dominant position in the world economy. (In 2000, Saddam Hussein announced Iraqi oil would be traded in euros, not dollars; sanctions and an invasion followed.) For further discussion see here.
• A host-country site for Africom, the US Africa Command, one of six regional commands the Pentagon has divided the world into. Many African countries approached to be the host have declined, at times in relatively strong terms. Africom at present is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. According to a State Department official: “We’ve got a big image problem down there…. Public opinion is really against getting into bed with the US. They just don’t trust the US.”5
• An American military base to replace the one closed down by Gaddafi after he took power in 1969. There’s only one such base in Africa, in Djibouti. Watch for one in Libya sometime after the dust has settled. It’ll perhaps be situated close to the American oil wells. Or perhaps the people of Libya will be given a choice — an American base or a NATO base.
• Another example of NATO desperate to find a raison d’être for its existence since the end of the Cold War and the Warsaw Pact.
• Gaddafi’s role in creating the African Union. The corporate bosses never like it when their wage slaves set up a union. The Libyan leader has also supported a United States of Africa, for he knows that an Africa of 54 independent states will continue to be picked off one by one and abused and exploited by the members of the Triumvirate. Gaddafi has moreover demanded greater power for smaller countries in the United Nations.
• The claim by Gaddafi’s son, Saif el Islam, that Libya had helped to fund Nicolas Sarkozy’s election campaign6 could have humiliated the French president and explain his obsessiveness and haste in wanting to be seen as playing the major role in implementing the “no fly zone” and other measures against Gaddafi. A contributing factor may have been the fact that France has been weakened in its former colonies and neo-colonies in Africa and the Middle East, due in part to Gaddafi’s influence.
• Gaddafi has been an outstanding supporter of the Palestinian cause and critic of Israeli policies; and on occasion has taken other African and Arab countries, as well as the West, to task for their not matching his policies or rhetoric; one more reason for his lack of popularity amongst world leaders of all stripes.
• In January 2009, Gaddafi made known that he was considering nationalizing the foreign oil companies in Libya.7 He also has another bargaining chip: the prospect of utilizing Russian, Chinese and Indian oil companies. During the current period of hostilities, he invited these countries to make up for lost production. But such scenarios will now not take place. The Triumvirate will instead seek to privatize the National Oil Corporation, transferring Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands.
• The American Empire is troubled by any threat to its hegemony. In the present historical period the empire is concerned mainly with Russia and China. China has extensive energy investments and construction investments in Libya and elsewhere in Africa. The average American neither knows nor cares about this. The average American imperialist cares greatly, if for no other reason than in this time of rising demands for cuts to the military budget it’s vital that powerful “enemies” be named and maintained.
• For yet more reasons, see the article “Why Regime Change in Libya?” by Ismael Hossein-zadeh, and the US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks — Wikileaks reference 07TRIPOLI967 11-15-07 (includes a complaint about Libyan “resource nationalism”)
A word from the man the world’s mightiest military powers have been trying to kill
“Recollections of My Life”, written by Col. Muammar Gaddafi, April 8, 2011, excerpts:
Now, I am under attack by the biggest force in military history, my little African son, Obama wants to kill me, to take away the freedom of our country, to take away our free housing, our free medicine, our free education, our free food, and replace it with American style thievery, called “capitalism,” but all of us in the Third World know what that means, it means corporations run the countries, run the world, and the people suffer, so, there is no alternative for me, I must make my stand, and if Allah wishes, I shall die by following his path, the path that has made our country rich with farmland, with food and health, and even allowed us to help our African and Arab brothers and sisters to work here with us … I do not wish to die, but if it comes to that, to save this land, my people, all the thousands who are all my children, then so be it…. In the West, some have called me “mad”, “crazy”. They know the truth but continue to lie, they know that our land is independent and free, not in the colonial grip.
The state of our beloved capitalist system, early 21st century
I pay attention to the fat content of my food, so I was pleased to find a can of Pam canola oil cooking spray that had 0 grams fat per serving. Great, can’t do better than zero fat, can you? I used it often for a few months … until one day I took a closer look at the “Nutrition Facts” … Yes, it said 0 grams fat per serving. A serving. How big was that? Let’s see … “Serving Size about 1/4 second spray” … Hmmm, how does one press down on a button for 1/4 second? Is it humanly possible? Even the manufacturer had to say “about”. I had been taken. My hat is off to you Capitalist Robber Barons — You’re good!
The Dow Jones industrial average of blue-chip stocks fell 635 points on Monday August 8.
On Tuesday it rose by 430 points.
Wednesday, the market, in its infinite wisdom, decided to fall again; this time by 520 points.
And on Thursday … yes, it rose once again, by 423 points.
The Dow changed directions for eight consecutive trading sessions.
Upon such marvels of mankind, countless people build careers, others wager their life savings, philanthropic foundations and universities risk much of their endowments, and conservative sages deliver sermons to the world on the wisdom and sacredness of the free market.
Main Street is the climax of civilization.
That this Ford car might stand in front of
the Bon Ton store, Hannibal invaded Rome
and Erasmus wrote in Oxford cloisters.
– Sinclair Lewis, “Main Street”, 1920
Do the economic fundamentals really change dramatically overnight? Or is our economic system as psycho as our foreign policy? The Washington Post’s senior economic columnist, Steven Pearlstein, wrote on August 14th of the four days described above: “I suppose there are some schnooks who actually believe that those wild swings in stock prices last week represented sober and serious concerns by thoughtful, sophisticated investors about the Treasury debt downgrade or European sovereign debt or a slowdown in global growth. But surely such perceptions don’t radically change each afternoon between 2 and 4:30, when the market averages last week were gyrating out of control.”
Last month “Pope Benedict XVI denounced the profit-at-all-cost mentality that he says is behind Europe’s economic crisis” as he arrived in hard-hit Spain. “The economy doesn’t function with market self-regulation but needs an ethical reason to work for mankind,” he declared. “Man must be at the center of the economy, and the economy cannot be measured only by maximization of profit but rather according to the common good.”8
“I am a Marxist,” said the Dalai Lama last year. Marxism has “moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits.”9
“I don’t believe in anything,” said Barack Obama. “At least not really strongly.” (No, I made that one up.)
Perhaps the worst outcome of the United States “winning the Cold War” is that countless progressive people think there’s no alternative to the capitalist system. Seventy years of anti-communist education and media stamped in people’s minds a lasting association between socialism and what the Soviet Union called communism. Socialism meant a dictatorship, it meant Stalinist repression, a suffocating “command economy”, no freedom of enterprise, no freedom to change jobs, few avenues for personal expression, and other similar truths and untruths. This is a set of beliefs clung to even amongst many Americans opposed to US foreign policy. No matter how bad the economy is, Americans think, the only alternative available is something called “communism”, and they know how awful that is.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party USA has endorsed Barack Obama for re-election.10
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” — Frederic Bastiat, (1801-1850) French economist, statesman, and author
1. For example, see: The Telegraph (London), August 30, 2011: “Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.” There is a plethora of other reports detailing the ties between the rebels and radical Islamist groups.
2. Washington Post, August 31, 2011
3. McClatchy Newspapers, February 20, 2011
4. Wikipedia, Timeline of the 2011 Libyan civil war, February 19, 2011
5. The Guardian (London), June 25, 2007
6. The Guardian (London), March 16, 2011
7. Reuters, January 21, 2009
8. Associated Press, August 11, 2011
9. Agence France Presse, May 21, 2010
10. “Yikes! Look who just endorsed Obama for 4 more years“, WorldNetDaily, August 3 2011