Recently by Michael S. Rozeff: Renouncing Empire
Outside powers in the West stirred up and blessed the rebellion against Gaddafi. Through NATO and the UN, they are now aiding these same rebels.
They want to get rid of Gaddafi. They want him removed from power. This article explains why they want this.
The basic reason is simple. Gaddafi confronts their power. He confronts the status quo of the Empire. He demands greater power for Africa and the African Union. He demands greater power for smaller countries in the United Nations. Gaddafi calls for investigations of past wars. He is calling for a new way forward that reduces the powers of any one or a few countries to dominate the world.
For the sake of appearances, the Western allies are fighting the war in Libya within self-chosen limits. They need to maintain the facade of a legitimate and neutral NATO that is acting with UN approval. These organizations are under their control. They calculate that they can get rid of Gaddafi within those limits, while still not appearing to be the aggressors against him that they are.
Gaddafi's relations with the West have always been rocky and filled with mutual distrust. They have followed many twists and turns. A documentary that interviews many of the major government players is "Gaddafi: Our Best Enemy." This excellent production reviews the history between 1969 and 2009. A lengthy Wiki piece on Gaddafi appears here. See also here for other views.
Pointing out some of the truths in what Gaddafi has said about the West does not imply approval of Gaddafi's own violence and statism. We may disapprove of what these men of power say and do, but we still can examine what they say and do in order to understand them and understand what is going on in their power plays and disputes.
Gaddafi is a shrewd man of power, who has shown pragmatic flexibility in doing what it takes to stay in power. He likes being in power. He knows how to use power, with brutality when he deems that necessary. However, no man of power is purely good or evil. He is no exception.
Like those who run Western states, Gaddafi is a statist. They all think entirely in terms of the system of states. Although this system has violence and immorality at its heart and throughout its breadth, these leaders all employ a rhetoric of justice as well as a rhetoric of utilitarianism (that they do evil things at times for the sake of a greater good).
The differences among these leaders are ones of degree and process, not kind. They are birds of a feather. Some leaders are more ruthless and brutal than others. Some are more open, others more secretive. Some operate as dictators while others operate under cover of democracy. George Bush and Dick Cheney brand Gaddafi as a terrorist and the West accepts this as gospel, but when they attack Iraq and kill far more people than Gaddafi has, the West mostly approves or looks the other way. Gaddafi is criticized for overseas assassinations, but Obama is lauded for his.
Before Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program and made amends for past terrorist activities, he wanted to be sure that the U.S. would keep its part of the bargain. He distrusted the U.S. He thought that the U.S. might stab him in the back after he gave up these valuable bargaining chips. After they reached agreement, the U.S. did see to it that the U.N. sanctions were removed and it normalized relations with Gaddafi and Libya. All the major powers did the same. All sorts of high officials visited Libya, and Gaddafi visited Paris where he pitched his tent. Soon oil contracts were being signed. A period of sweetness and light followed.
Even before that agreement was being shaped between 2003 and 2008, Gaddafi was pursuing cooperation with the West because the sanctions had been hurting Libya so badly. He repeatedly warned the West about al-Qaeda in the two years prior to 9/11. The West didn't listen. For two years after 9/11, he provided the West with rich intelligence about al-Qaeda, which was one of his enemies.
Why then has the West now done an about face after the period of good relations? Why have Gaddafi's worst fears come to pass after a rather brief period of friendship? After Gaddafi's most friendly embrace and adoption of Obama as his African son, why has Obama turned against Gaddafi?
It is not because Gaddafi met rebellion with force. It is not because the West has humanitarian concerns. The West has done nothing against the force used by Saudi Arabia in Bahrain and the force being used by the government in Syria against Syrians in rebellion.
It is not because of a concern for democracy. In fact, Gaddafi proposed a radical form of social democracy that the Libyan government rejected. He proposed to nationalize and distribute oil revenues directly to Libyans. This placed Gaddafi at odds with members of his own state bureaucracy and with the Libyan National Oil Company. This friction between Gaddafi and the government may be one of the factors that brought about a civil war.
There are two reasons why the West is now trying to uproot Gaddafi. The first is oil contracts. In the negotiations in which Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program and compensated the families of bombing victims, Gaddafi held out the prospect of oil concessions going to Western oil companies. As early as March 25, 2004, a deal was done:
"A deal was signed by Shell on 25 March 2004 covering the establishment of a u2018long-term strategic partnership' between the oil company and the local state-owned energy group. It was penned during a ground-breaking visit by the then prime minister, Tony Blair, and was followed up by meetings during July between Shell and foreign minister Baroness Symons and then the foreign secretary at the time, Jack Straw."
In 2007, British Petroleum (BP) was the beneficiary of another British-Libyan deal in which Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison, where he had been imprisoned for the Lockerbie bombing. The profits to BP were slated to be very large as reported in September of 2009.
But in January of 2009, prompted by a crash to low oil prices, Gaddafi made known that he was considering nationalizing the foreign oil companies in Libya. During the oil price runup to $150 in 2008, Gaddafi had put in place infrastructure projects that depended on a high oil price. The breaking of the bubble was causing him problems, and so he seemed to be pondering a way of getting more from the oil companies. By June of 2009, Libya had renegotiated its contract with France's leading oil company. It had already renegotiated with other international oil companies. See here and here.
This public threat to nationalize may have been a bargaining ploy, but combined with the renegotiated contracts, it was bound to cause the oil companies and their government friends to become somewhat uneasy about what Gaddafi's next moves would be. Furthermore, Gaddafi had another bargaining chip, which was the prospect of utilizing Russian, Chinese and Indian oil companies. He could expand their interests in Libyan oil. In fact, during the current period of hostilities, he invited them to make up for lost production.
Prior to this war, Gaddafi had a multi-decade record of leaving the Western oil companies alone and honoring the contracts. For that reason, it is unlikely that the Western governments launched a war with the only reason being to gain firmer control over the oil, i.e., oil operations less subject to nationalization threats and more profitable for the foreign oil companies.
Libyan oil has to be viewed in the broader context of African oil. It is not a well-known fact, but African oil rivals or even surpasses Middle East oil as a supplier to the U.S. There have been large oil discoveries in several regions of Africa. There is competition to secure this oil among the U.S., Europe, China, Russia, India, and South Korea.
This leads into and is connected with the second reason for the West's desire to remove Gaddafi, which is his bid to organize African nations politically so as to have greater power as against the major powers in the world, East and West. Under new conditions, the world is unfolding another chapter in the rivalries over African resources, reminiscent of earlier colonial-imperial rivalries. In this case, the West is still interested in controlling these resources, but it is facing competition from nations from the East.
Although the popular press makes Gaddafi appear to be an unlikely person to unite Africans, the Western powers are not hesitating to chop him down, if they can. The reason for their opposition to Gaddafi shows up in high relief in Gaddafi's extraordinary U.N. speech of Sept. 23, 2009. There is a video with accompanying translation of his speech, here and here. There is also a reasonably good transcript of that translation that is available.
In this speech, Gaddafi stood up against the West. He openly and pointedly criticized the U.N.'s structure. He told many uncomfortable truths. He raised many uncomfortable questions. He proposed global political changes that reduce the powers of the big countries and raised the powers of smaller countries, African countries, and Islamic countries.
Ironically, this war against him again shows the truth in some of his harshest criticisms of the U.N.'s behavior and political structure. But this time not because of his supporting what the West calls terrorism, but for his striving to change the world's balance of powers. The West turned against Gaddafi because of this challenge.
As it turns out, Gaddafi's critique of the Security Council and the U.N. was precisely on target, although he surely didn't expect that he would be the one to provide another example so quickly. His distrust of the U.S. and its allies also proved to be warranted.
Important elements of the mainstream press did Americans their usual disservice by ineptly, ignorantly, and superficially dismissing Gaddafi's speech as ranting, halting, rambling, and off the cuff. They played up the length of it, comparing it with Castro's speech. They preferred to report on his attire in detail rather than to provide details of his criticisms of U.S.-led wars in Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan.
The best way to understand why the West is putting down Gaddafi is to read his speech in its entirety. Discard that which is frivolous or speculation or personal. Retain that which is serious. Be patient with the inadequacies of the translation.
This speech challenges the American Empire. It challenges the West. It challenges the dominance of a few major powers. The West wants to suppress this kind of thinking. The West is suppressing this kind of thinking. The West is in the process of removing Gaddafi and replacing him with their puppets. That is why NATO is bombing Libya. The West is attacking Gaddafi to reduce the influence of his ideas among other nations.
The West cannot put up with a leader who says
"It should not be called the Security Council. It should be called the u2018Terror Council'.
"The American presidents used to say to us, they shall terrorize us….And we shall lead the world, and we shall punish anyone whether they like it or not. We shall punish anyone who will be against us.
"Then we come to the Suez Canal war in 1956. The file should be opened. Why three countries who have permanent seats in the Security Councils enjoyed the right, the veto of the Security Council’s attack, a member state in this General Assembly?
"A country that is Egypt in this case, that was a sovereign state, was attacked and the army was destroyed. And thousands of Egyptian people were killed, and towns, villages were destroyed.
"How could such a thing happen during the era of the United Nations? And how can we guarantee that such a thing will not be repeated unless we redeem the past?
"And this is a very dangerous thing. The Suez Canal war, the Korean War, we should open the files.
"And then we come to the Vietnam War. Three million victims of the Vietnam War. During 11 days, bombs were used more than the bombs used during the whole war. And during the Second World War, all the shells and the bombs that were used, or bombed during the four years of the war, the bombs that were used in the 12 days were more than.
"This was a fierce war. And this war took place after the establishment of the United Nations. And we decided that there would be no wars.
"This is the future of the mankind, and we cannot keep quiet. How can we be how can we be safe? How can we feel accomplished? How can we feel complacent, I mean. This is the future of the world and this is the General Assembly of the world, and we have to make sure that such wars will not be repeated in the future.
"Then Panama was attacked, even though it was an independent state, a member state of the General Assembly, of the United Nations. And 4,000 peoples were killed, and the president of this country was taken as a prisoner and was taken put in prison.
"And Noriega should be released, and we should open the file. And how we give the right to a country that is a member state of the United Nations to go and wage a war against a country and take the president of such a country and take him as a criminal and put him in prison? Who would accept that?
"This may be repeated. And we should not be quiet, and we should make investigations, and we should each one of us may face the same destiny. Each member state of us may face the same, especially if this aggression is made by a member state that is has a member seat in the Security Council and supposed to look and maintain the world peace security.
"Then we have the Grenada war. This country was attacked, was invaded even though it was a member state, by 7,000 – 5,000 warships and using 7,000 troops. It is the smallest country in the world.
"And after the establishment of the Security Council, after the establishment of the United Nations, and the (inaudible). And the president of this country, Maurice Bishop, was assassinated. How this can be done with impunity? This is a tragedy.
"And then how can we guarantee that the United Nations is good or not, that the Security Council is good enough? Can we be safe and happy about our future or not? Can we trust the Security Council or not? Can we trust the United Nations or not?
"Then we have to check and investigate the bombing of Somalia.
"Somalia was a member state of the United Nations. It is an independent country. And (inaudible).
"Why? Who allowed that? Who gave the green light for such a country to attack to be attacked?
"Then the Yugoslav war. No country that is peaceful country like Yugoslavia, that was built that was built step by step, piece by piece, after it was destroyed by Hitler. We destroy it as if we are doing the same job like Hitler.
"Hitler after the death of Tito and he built this country step by step and brick by brick, and then we come and dismember it for imperialist personal interests. How can we be satisfied? How can we be happy? If a peaceful country like Yugoslavia faced this tragedy, the General Assembly should make investigations and the General Assembly should decide who should be tried for the (inaudible).
"Then we come to the Iraqi war, the mother of all evils. The United Nations also should investigate.
"The General Assembly presided by (inaudible) should be investigated by the General Assembly, the invasion of Iraq itself. This was in violation of the United Nations charter without any justifications made by several countries who have member seats in the Security Council.
"Iraq is an independent country, member in this General Assembly. How this country is attacked and how this country how we have already read in the general in the in the charter that the United Nations should have interfered and stopped."
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.