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Issue #1524      26 October 2011

Culture & Life

Death in Libya

So Muammar Gaddafi, former leader of Libya, is dead at the hands of NATO and its “Libyan rebel army”, an army armed, financed and to an extent manned by NATO itself. There were of course plenty of Libyans who eventually joined the NATO-backed opposition, especially when it became clear that they had the greater firepower and would be the winning side.

Muammar Gaddafi.

But these “rebels” also included US, British and French special forces, as well as fighters from the armed forces of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. And let us not forget the formidable contribution of the US, British and French air-forces, responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Libyan soldiers and civilians.

In fact, Colonel Gaddafi was leaving Sirte in a convoy of several dozen vehicles according to the French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet, when the convoy was fired on by at least one French Mirage fighter-bomber, bringing the convoy to a stop. The NATO forces then directed “rebel” ground troops to the stationary convoy and Gaddafi was captured, brutalized and then shot dead.

In the US, President Obama lazily congratulated the US itself for the killing of Gaddafi, but then seemed to realise that such direct endorsement might suggest that the US had had some involvement in devising and carrying out the whole invasion of Libya, so he hastily tacked on a “congratulations to the people of Libya” too. He was unable to keep from gloating over the destruction of a regime which had defied the US and US oil companies for decades.

By insisting that the oil giants paid a reasonable fee for the oil they got out of Libya, the Gaddafi government had set a bad example for other oil producers, and by spending that oil revenue on public welfare projects (like health care) it had set a bad example for other US client state governments. And, worst of all, it had made deals to sell oil to the Russians and the Chinese, acts that were unmistakably hostile to US “strategic interests”. Clearly, it had to go.

Gaddafi had led the national democratic revolution in Libya in 1969 that overthrew the country’s “Royal family”. The royals fled to London where they had salted away some of their spare loot just in case the locals at home ever got restive and decided to remove the royal boot from their collective neck. When they did, and Gaddafi with other progressive and pro-socialist officers ousted the royals, the latter were decidedly miffed. Not surprisingly, the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government has been welcomed by the present “Crown Prince”, Muhammad al-Senussi, who announced from London that Gaddafi’s death was “a victory for peace, freedom and reform” in his homeland.

“Reform” is such an ill-used word these days, don’t you think? Both Howard and Gorbachov were big on “reform”, and we know how progressive they were, in their apparently different but ultimately identical ways.

And isn’t it funny the way all royal families today are such dedicated proponents of democracy? If they really supported democratic rights wouldn’t you think they’d abdicate in favour of a democratic republican government?

Meanwhile, US President Obama took the opportunity to once again seek to justify the US/NATO war on Libya: “Faced with the potential of mass atrocities, and a call for help from the Libyan people, the United States and our friends and allies stopped Gaddafi’s forces in their tracks.” Apparently, the bombing of Libyan civilians who were deemed too supportive of Gaddafi, was not considered a “mass atrocity” – at least by the US and NATO.

Mixing a stiff upper lip with crocodile tears, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague declared that his country does not approve of “extrajudicial killing” but will not mourn Gaddafi.

Responding to journalists’ questions, Hague said it was wrong to speculate about exactly what happened despite British television stations showing video of a bloodied Gaddafi alive and walking as he was being manhandled by Libyan fighters shortly before his death was announced.

Western news sources have identified not only NATO special forces units among the Libyan “rebels”, but also elements of Al-Qaeda and units of the CIA. The brutal murder of Gaddafi before he could defend his regime in a court of law is typical of these right-wing elements: compare the similar murders of Che Guevara, or Najibullah in Afghanistan, or numerous others.

Echoing the self-congratulatory tone of all imperialist governments over the elimination of a troublesome “non-aligned” state, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France is “proud” to have helped bring freedom to Libya, referring to the role of French forces in NATO action in the North African country during the seven-month conflict there.

“It’s the beginning of a new period, of democracy, freedom and the rebuilding of the country.

“France is proud to have helped the Libyan people,” he added. Of course, he neglected to mention that the country wouldn’t need rebuilding if it hadn’t been for French, British and US bombers! And these are the people who always maintain that Communists advocate “violent revolution”.

Senior US Senator John McCain, a man who is close to the oil lobby, said the death of Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of “the first phase” of Libya’s revolution and (significantly) called for closer ties between Washington and Tripoli.

Meanwhile the victorious “rebels” rejoiced over the deaths of their enemies: “We have taken revenge. Let him go to hell,” said one. “We did it! We did it!” chanted others against a backdrop of intense celebratory gunfire. “We finished Gaddafi and his people,” said fighter Ali Urfulli.

The leaders of European imperialism also rejoiced: “I am happy I will be visiting a country fully liberated from a dictator who has imposed his iron fist for more than 40 years. Now Libya can truly turn the page,” says European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek, who will begin a visit Libya on Saturday.

And, the death of Muammar Gaddafi marks the “end of an era of despotism”, European Union president Herman Van Rompuy said in Brussels.

More down to Earth and also more accurate, is a comment posted by “Thalidomide” on the Internet: “NATO’s coup d’état is now complete and the oil companies can breathe easier and get a better deal from the new gang of thugs.”  

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