John Pilger: Libya’s independence, not the nature of its regime, is intolerable to the West
The Euro-American attack on Libya has nothing to do with protecting anyone; only the terminally naive believe such nonsense. It is the West’s response to popular uprisings in strategic, resource-rich regions of the world and the beginning of a war of attrition against the new imperial rival, China.
President Barack Obama’s historical distinction is now guaranteed. He is America’s first black president to invade Africa. His assault on Libya is run by the US Africa Command, which was set up in 2007 to secure the continent’s lucrative natural resources from Africa’s impoverished people and the rapidly spreading commercial influence of China. Libya, along with Angola and Nigeria, is China’s principal source of oil. As American, British and French planes currently incinerate both “bad” and “good” Libyans, the evacuation of 30,000 Chinese workers is under way, perhaps permanently. Statements by western officials and media that a “deranged and criminal Colonel Gaddafi” is planning “genocide” against his own people still await evidence. This is reminiscent of fraudulent claims that required “humanitarian intervention” in Kosovo, the final dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the establishment of the biggest US military base in Europe.
The detail is also familiar. The Libyan “pro-democracy rebels” are reportedly commanded by Colonel Khalifa Haftar who, according to a study by the US Jamestown Foundation, set up the Libyan National Army in 1988 “with strong backing from the Central Intelligence Agency”. For the past 20 years, Colonel Haftar has been living not far from Langley, Virginia, home of the CIA, which also provides him with a training camp. The Mujihadeen, which produced al-Qaida, and the Iraqi National Congress, which scripted the Bush/Blair lies about Iraq, were sponsored in the same time-honoured way, in leafy Langley.
Libya’s other “rebel” leaders include Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Gaddafi’s justice minister until February, and General Abdel-Fattah Younes, who ran Gaddafi’s interior ministry: both with formidable reputations for savagely putting down dissent. There is a civil and tribal war in Libya, which includes popular outrage against Gaddafi’s human rights record. However, it is Libya’s independence, not the nature of its regime, that is intolerable to the west in a region of vassals; and this hostility has barely changed in the 42 years since Gaddafi overthrew the feudal king Idris, one the more odious tyrants backed by the west. With his Bedouin hyperbole and bizarre ways, Gaddafi has long made an ideal “mad dog” (Daily Mirror), now requiring heroic US, French and British pilots to bomb urban areas in Tripoli, including a maternity hospital and a cardiac centre. The last US bombing in 1986 managed to kill his adopted daughter.
What the US, British and French hope to achieve is the opposite of a people’s liberation. In undermining efforts Libya’s genuine democrats and nationalists to free their country from both a dictator and those corrupted by foreign demands, the sound and fury from Washington, London and Paris has succeeded in dimming the memory of January’s days of hope in Tunis and Cairo and distracted many, who had taken heart, from the task of ensuring that their gains are not stolen quietly. On 23 March, the US-backed Egyptian military issued a decree barring all strikes and protests. This was barely reported in the west. With Gaddafi now the accredited demon, Israel, the real canker, can continue its wholesale land theft and expulsions. Facebook has come under Zionist pressure to remove a page calling for a full scale Palestinian uprising – a “Third Intifada” – on 15 May.
None of this should surprise. History suggests nothing less than the kind of machination revealed by two senior diplomats at the United Nations, who spoke to the Asia Times. Demanding to know why the UN never ordered a fact-finding mission to Libya instead of an attack, they were told that a deal had been done between the White House and Saudi Arabia. A US “coalition” would “take out” the recalcitrant Gaddafi if the Saudis put down the popular uprising in Bahrain. The latter has been accomplished, and the bloodied King of Bahrain will be a guest at the Royal Wedding in London.
The embodiment of this reaction is David Cameron, whose only real job has been as PR man to the television industry’s asset stripper, Michael Green. Cameron was in the Gulf selling arms to the British-invented tyrannies when people rose up against Yemen’s Abdullah Saleh; on 18 March, Saleh’s regime murdered 52 demonstrators. Cameron said nothing of value. Yemen is “one of ours”, as the British Foreign Office likes to say. In February, Cameron revealed himself in an attack on what he called “state multi-culturalism” – the code for Muslims. He said, “We need a lot less of the past tolerance of recent years.” He was applauded by Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s fascist National Front. “It is exactly this kind of statement that has barred us from public life for 30 years,” she told the Financial Times. “I can only congratulate him.”
At its most rapacious, the British empire produced David Camerons in job lots. Unlike many of the Victorian “civilisers”, today’s sedentary Westminster warriors – throw in William Hague, Liam Fox and the treacherous Nick Clegg – have never been touched by the suffering and bloodshed which, at remove in culture and distance, are the consequences of their utterances and actions. With their faintly trivial, always contemptuous air, they are cowards abroad, as they are at home. War and racism and the destruction of Britain’s hard-won social democracy are their gift. Remember that when you next take to the streets in your hundreds of thousands, as you must.