Sirte – the Apotheosis of “Liberal Intervention” 217

There is no cause to doubt that, for whatever reason, the support of the people of Sirte for Gadaffi is genuine. That this means they deserve to be pounded into submission is less obvious to me. The disconnect between the UN mandate to protect civilians while facilitating negotiation, and NATO’s actual actions as the anti-Gadaffi forces’ air force and special forces, is startling.

There is something so shocking in the Orwellian doublespeak of NATO on this point that I am severely dismayed. I suffer from that old springing eternal of hope, and am therefore always in a state of disappointment. I had hoped that the general population in Europe is so educated now that obvious outright lies would be rejected. I even hoped some journalists would seek to expose lies.

I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

The “rebels” are actively hitting Sirte with heavy artillery and Stalin’s organs; they are transporting tanks openly to attack Sirte. Yet any movement of tanks or artillery by the population of Sirte brings immediate death from NATO air strike.

What exactly is the reason that Sirte’s defenders are threatening civilians but the artillery of their attackers – and the bombings themselves – are not? Plainly this is a nonsense. People in foreign ministries, NATO, the BBC and other media are well aware that it is the starkest lie and propaganda, to say the assault on Sirte is protecting civilians. But does knowledge of the truth prevent them from peddling a lie? No.

It is worth reminding everyone something never mentioned, that UNSCR 1973 which established the no fly zone and mandate to protect civilians had

“the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution;”

That is in Operative Para 2 of the Resolution

Plainly the people of Sirte hold a different view to the “rebels” as to who should run the country. NATO have in effect declared being in Gadaffi’s political camp a capital offence. There is no way the massive assault on Sirte is “facilitating dialogue”. it is rather killing those who do not hold the NATO approved opinion. That is the actual truth. It is extremely plain.

I have no time for Gadaffi. I have actually met him, and he really is nuts, and dangerous. There were aspects of his rule in terms of social development which were good, but much more that was bad and tyrannical. But if NATO is attacking him because he is a dictator, why is it not attacking Dubai, Bahrain, Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, or Uzbekistan, to name a random selection of badly governed countries?

“Liberal intervention” does not exist. What we have is the opposite; highly selective neo-imperial wars aimed at ensuring politically client control of key physical resources.

Wars kill people. Women and children are dying now in Libya, whatever the sanitised media tells you. The BBC have reported it will take a decade to repair Libya’s infrastructure from the damage of war. That in an underestimate. Iraq is still decades away from returning its utilities to their condition in 2000.

I strongly support the revolutions of the Arab Spring. But NATO intervention does not bring freedom, it brings destruction, degradation and permanent enslavement to the neo-colonial yoke. From now on, Libyans like us will be toiling to enrich western bankers. That, apparently, is worth to NATO the reduction of Sirte to rubble.

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217 thoughts on “Sirte – the Apotheosis of “Liberal Intervention”

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  • Tom Welsh

    “I had hoped that the general population in Europe is so educated now that obvious outright lies would be rejected. I even hoped some journalists would seek to expose lies”.

    Even though education is probably not as corrupt in the average European nation as it is in the UK, I fear you are sadly deceived. Not only has “progressive education” tended to drive down standards; it has also assisted in the progressive brainwashing of each new generation, starting as soon as they go to secondary school. Even at one of Britain’s best public schools in the 1960s, I was heavily disinformed as to the nature of politics and international relations. It took decades of reading news and commentary and gradually piecing together the truth before I began to see the light.

    Any government has a powerful interest in keeping its people docile, and this does not necessarily mean uneducated. It is naive to keep women and children away from school, as Afghan and other fundamentalists strive to do. Far more effective to compel them to attend state schools where they can be imbued with politically correct views from the earliest age.

    As for the complaisance of journalists, I think David Edwards and David Cromwell explain that phenomenon perfectly in their excellent “Newspeak in the 21st Century”. Once again, no overt conspiracy or censorship is necessary. All that is required is for intelligent, ambitious journalists and editors to know which way lies promotion, fame and riches; and which way lies obscurity, mockery, and probable eventual unemployment.

  • Tom Welsh

    A propos my last comment, I can’t resist citing the following quotation. There’s probably no need to attribute it, is there?

    ‘When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community‚ÄĚ’.

  • Wikispooks

    Bloody good stuff Craig.

    Though, like Tom, I’m still somewhat perplexed at your seeming blind-spot concerning the perceptions of Western populations and their gross ignorance of foreign affairs and their resulting ‘biddability’.

    Post WWII ‘history’ was written by its ‘victors’. There is a narrative to be maintained and promoted and that is just what Western educational establishments, with some notable (and therefore marginalised) exceptions, have engaged in ever since.

  • Kevin Boyle

    Well said Craig.

    I hope that the public at large are getting a clearer idea of what NATO is all about. This venture was never ‘humanitarian’. It was about replacing Gaddafi and placing Libya in the hands of western stooges from day one.

    It is hard to see anything other than an Iraq-stlye occupation at the end of this horrible process. We can already see the beginnings of a ‘Green Zone’ in Benghazi.

    The ‘rebels’, mercenaries and tribal gangs will melt away as a single grouping and begin warring amongst themselves. Some people who see themselves (perhaps correctly) as Libyan nationalists, those now supporting Gaddafi, will continue a guerrilla war against occupiers, new government, rebel tribes etc…….

    ……..and we, from the goodness of our loving humanitarian hearts, will have created this hellish nightmare.

    Our supremacist masters are determined to control it all. The fraudulent stooges in Westminster who are supposed to represent us represent this supremacist elite.

    They deceive us into being passive partners in the great crimes committed against the people of Libya.

    If you were an Iranian might not possession of a nuclear arsenal seem like a very sensible precaution against the murdering degenerates that prowl the middle east.

  • ingo

    Tom, agree with every word, it is amazing to see how our youngsters, after having only been indoctrinated for soem years fall into the consumer/establishment role allocated for them, without grudge or so much of a whimper.
    When I visisted Essex University, once the hot bed of radicalism in Britain, it was the most calm and oprdered student society I have ever visited, not much scrutiny and questions applied.

    Ghadaffi is not showing himself and the NTC’s propaganda machine is muisled by NATO freakeries. For the last two weeks they should have amplified and broadcast that Muhammar is responsible for the continued fighting, it is his hiding that stops negotiations progressing and a hand over to the Libyan people, but not even the simplest of eyewashes is applied here, just sheer NATO brutality.

  • exiledlondoner


    Being a liberal isn’t easy – it has none of the certainties that other political creeds can offer.
    When this started I reluctantly supported intervention – the alternative seemed to be to leave Gaddafi in place, eventually to hand over to his sons. Realisically there was no prospect of the Libyan people ever being able to overthrow the petro-dollar funded Gaddafi regime.
    The problem is that supporting his overthrow raises a lot of other questions – particularly the motives of the outside forces which may not be the same as the Libyan rebels, and what was to follow Gaddafi.
    While I understand why you focus on NATO, who have clearly gone way beyond the UNSC remit, the problems stem as much from the disfunctional UN and the bad joke that calls itself the Arab League. NATO are not acting as the agents of the UNSC – they are acting as the agents of western business interests who want a share of a “liberalised” Libyan economy.
    While you and I might see Gaddafi as a despot and tyrant, western business sees him as a dangerously independent figure. While he and his family might have had their fingers in the till, it is for denying western financial a share of the booty that he is being punished.
    It is in this light that the attack on Sirte is taking place. The interests behind NATO’s involvement are not patient people – they want to call in their favours. To get what they want the victory must be absolute – a negotiated deal at this stage might see them come away with far less than they want. The plan is for total victory to be swiftly followed by the arrival of the “reconstruction advisors” – a motley crew of the usual suspects fresh from Iraq.
    As with Cuba, I hope that the baby doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater, but I fear the worse. The new Libya needs a strong, independent Government that puts Libyan interests first, and preserves what is good about Gaddafi’s Libya (and there are things that are good, notably a level of social provision unmatched in the region). What it doesn’t need a client Government eager to pay off their foreign benefactors, and dragging Libya into the neo-liberal fold.
    I guess that I may live to regret my support for intervention – I never kidded myself that it was risk-free, and the NATO route wasn’t my preferred option. Time will tell whether the new Libya will be any improvement on the old Libya.
    If it isn’t, I’ll hold up my hands and say I was wrong, but I won’t be any closer to knowing what was the right course to take. As I said, being a liberal isn’t easy.

  • anno

    Some say that the Arab Spring was initiated and organised by the by the CIA. And that Libya is the spearhead of a US/NATO offensive against Africa, competing with China for a resource-grab.
    And they claim that Usama bin Laden’s joint operation with the CIA to attack the twin towers has passed its sell-by date as an inspiration for Muslims. On the contrary, the new youth movements are a direct creation of the planned youth sacrifice which Usam planned.

    The lesson from history is that the West constantly tries to change Islam, from being a religion of total integrity to a religion of fanaticism. The scholars of Islam in Delhi and India were exterminated by the British, in order to change Islam.
    There is no integrity in fighting for its own sake. In demonstrating or fighting and changing governments for its own sake. But a significant number of the the influential and the easily-influenced have swallowed the Usama plan hook line and sinker, playing straight into the power of the enemies of Islam.

    They love the destruction of society, prosperity, rule of law, and see it as a necessary tool for the destruction of Western world-domination. Dis-rule is loathed by Islam and loved by mad mullahs whose political minds see rich pickings in the grain thrown down to them from Western powers. These political minds see human beings as no more than a pile of ballast for them to make the building blocks of their own personal political careers.

    When Disney land comes to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc, as an economic progression for western advantage, these betrayers of Islam and Muslims will be doing very nicely thank-you under the Western controlled governments they helped to form.

  • Syd Walker

    For the most part Craig a fine article that says what needs to be said.

    That’s until this bit:

    “I have no time for Gadaffi. I have actually met him, and he really is nuts, and dangerous. There were aspects of his rule in terms of social development which were good, but much more that was bad and tyrannical. But if NATO is attacking him because he is a dictator, why is it not attacking Dubai, Bahrain, Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, or Uzbekistan, to name a random selection of badly governed countries?”

    A deconstruction…

    “I have no time for Gadaffi”. This’s a meaningless remark which, however, probably helps keep you (just) on the right side of ‘reality’ for western media/establishment (handy for to make sure speaking invites keep coming in and you’re not black-listed by the BBC…)

    “I have actually met him, and he really is nuts, and dangerous.” I see. Or rather, I don’t. Do you always make judgements about someone’s sanity when you meet them? Why not share with us the specifics of your personal meeting that led you to draw that conclusion? Dangerous was he? Did he threaten you with a sabre? Or say ‘Boo’ in Arabic? Do explain.

    “There were aspects of his rule in terms of social development which were good”. Really? How odd that a dangerous crazy-man could achieve much at all. Why not explain what you mean? Did you have in mind, for instance, that over four decades, despite long periods of harassment and sanctions by the west, he led his nation from deep poverty and high illiteracy to the best UNDP Human Development Index ranking in Africa, with the lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy in Africa, free healthcare and free education (including fees paid for tertiary students overseas). Or did you have in mind the remarkable fresh water system set up on his watch, or Africa’s satellite coms which he funded, or provision of decent housing for all Libyans? Was it the 100 billion dollar pledge to support African development free from western usury? Why be so coy about these “good aspects” of his governance?

    “Much more that was bad and tyrannical”. Quite so, quite so. So very unlike the track record of good democrats such as Sarkosy, Cameron, Obama, Bush, Blair etc. Good to have one good reason for bombing the hell out of his nation, I guess?

    “If NATO is attacking him because he is a dictator, why is it not attacking Dubai, Bahrain, Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, or Uzbekistan, to name a random selection of badly governed countries”.

    If I hear this argument put one more time I think I may scream. It implicitly concedes that it’s acceptable for an unaccountable cabal in far-away places to bomb ANY nations into ‘regime change’. I beg to differ. IT IS NOT! So why don’t we say that for all those other nations too – rather than leave the door wide open for one of them to be next?

    Ghadafi is doubtless not a saint. I have yet to meet anyone who is (are you, Craig?). Most people, however, do not have to demonstrate sainthood in order to justify their continuing existence on this planet. The Zionist media has set up a narrative to make it seem that Ghadafi DOES need to demonstrate that. By this tawdry paragraph in what was otherwise a fine article, you make a concession to that demented idea, which has been used so very successfully to rationalize the murderous bombing of Libya.

  • Frank Day

    On the BBC morning news this week, Bill Turnbull stated that many Libyan ‘rebels’ were out demonstrating in Green Square, waving flags and so on. What he and the BBC failed to mention was that the flags were actually those of India and the ‘rebels’ looked decidedly Indian and not Libyan. No Kalishnikovs firing into the air either. Oops! Another BBC clanger to go with their huge boo-boo over WTC7 when they declared its fall some 30 minutes before it actually fell. Sounds like another prepared script that went awry.

  • jay

    Leak of a 70 page Criminal NATO Plan to Occupy Libya UAE Would Occupy Tripoli in Post-Gadhafi Libya.

    “The document includes proposals for a 10,000-15,000 strong “Tripoli task force”, resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Libyan capital, secure key sites and arrest high-level Gaddafi supporters.”
    “The authors of the report also believe the escalation of NATO attacks to an “unbearable” level is a strong possibility.”

  • Jon

    Keep it coming – either someone responds to you before I log on, and I leave your comments be so we can laugh at your silliness; or I log in before a substantive reply comes your way, in which case I delete you at the flip of a coin. In the last few months I think you are the only person I’ve had to delete, so it’s really no trouble. Moderate mouse-clicking keeps RSI at bay, I hear :D.
    I should love to know your motivations, when you’re done hiding under your rock. Mental illness, unhealthy obsession or career? I am not sure if there are any other options, since you repeatedly refuse to explain your abusive comments.

  • Steve Faraday

    Are “the people of Sirte” being “pounded into submission”?
    Aren’t NATO hitting only military targets?
    Aren’t highly dangerous and inaccurate Scuds being fired from Sirte to the city of Misrata?

  • judith weingarten

    It certainly pays to plan ahead:

    This week’s toppling of the Qaddafi regime in Libya shows that the Obama administration’s multilateral and light-footprint approach to regime change is more effective than the troop-heavy occupation-style approach used by the George W. Bush administration in Iraq and Afghanistan, a top White House official told Foreign Policy today in a wide-ranging interview.

    “The fact that it is Libyans marching into Tripoli not only provides a basis of legitimacy for this but also will provide contrast to situations when the foreign government is the occupier,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for communications, in an exclusive interview on Wednesday with FP….

    Despite criticism from Congress and elsewhere, President Barack Obama’s strategy for the military intervention in Libya will not only result in a better outcome in Libya but also will form the basis of Obama’s preferred model for any future military interventions, Rhodes said.

    That’s all right, then.

    The whole report at Foreign Policy.

  • Amber

    Syd Walker -Spot on comment.
    Clark, yep I saw that youtube vid. Shameful. The complicit media are desperately trying to indicate a mass Libyan peoples’ revolt agaisnt Gadaffi, but they are struggling to find any images/videos of large scale protests at all. Even the front page newspapers pics are of a few of the ragtag rebel army.
    I have no doubt that the whole thing has been driven by foreign secret service agents.

  • Jon

    I think it is fine to criticise Gaddafi, and I don’t see that doing so adds anything to the wall of propaganda from the MSM. I myself said something very similar in comments here recently; that the social programs in Libya are laudable if they are widespread, but they are eclipsed by the totalitarianism of despotic rule. Would recognising those things have made it more likely, all other things being equal, that Libya was next to be invaded instead of Uzbekistan? I don’t see that it would (and no-one who is most at risk of being influenced by mainstream propaganda is likely to be here to read it anyway!).
    I would caution you against supporting Gaddafi unconditionally – democracy in its true form should be the right of every person, and a society is unlikely to be well without it. (I don’t necessarily mean multi-party democracy – one can have soviet democracy or initiative and referendum democracy without it (hat-tip to Evgenui for the latter)).
    I don’t know Craig’s mind, but am not at all of the view that he has one eye on BBC panel invitations. I am fairly sure he has been irrevocably blacklisted already, which is most regrettable.

  • gus

    I’m not getting into the rights/wrongs of the entire campaign. They are well rehearsed on either side. However, you ask a question – why here and not other perverse regimes? The fact is that Gadaffi sealed his own fate with his move on Benghazi and his threat of a massacre which any reasonable person would have expected him to carry out with zeal. Contrary to your assertion, this supposed ‘imperialist’ war has been prosecuted by a lack of enthusiasm by its main protaganists; Britain, France and the US. But once you start something like this you HAVE to finish it. NATO gave Gadaffi umpteen opportunties to do a deal or go into exile. They stayed their hand for almost six months. Liberating everywhere else and leaving Sirte a besieged stronghold of the old regime is militarily and politically not a sustainable position. Whether or not we should have stepped in to help Benghazi in the first place – and i think YES! – the die was cast at that point.

  • Donny Darko

    I have not met any of the general population in the UK, Austria or the US that actually agree with what NATO is doing in Libya. The problem is,you cannot stop it.They went in there for 1973 and now we have an undeclared war against one side of the civil war. There are British , Qatari and probably US and French boots on the ground ,as well as weapons smuggled in by NATO countries and Qatar.1973 has been largely ignored because it limited the countries to humanitarian protection.The UN is complicit , and just as in past actions in Gaza, we remain silent !!!! Its shocking and totally against International Law and it’s not the first time. Had Britain tried to go it alone, our population might have had a chance to say NO, but it was NATO, and there is no-one you can say NOTO.All our political parties seem to be quite happy with what is going on and there isn’t a demonstartion on the street.What’s that joke ? How low can you get ? A corgi !! naw, David Cameron

  • Jon

    @Clark – the video of “Green Square” – I think that’s more likely to be a balls-up rather than knowingly lying. Sounded like the presenter (who admittedly was making propagandist assumptions subconsciously) was just ignorant, and was umming-and-ahhing her way to a coherent statement. Autocue borked, perhaps? ūüėČ
    Proper propaganda is always more subtle than this, in my view.

  • jay


    Gadaffi had been culling the rebels for years and we chose to ignore his activities. In point of fact, we armed him to those ends!
    Unfortunately, he wanted a bigger and bigger slice of the pie from the Oil companies. Big mistake.
    As usual, it’s all about oil and money is and as humanitarian as Ebola.

    “Britain sold weapons to Libya and other dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East just four months before Colonel Gaddafi‚Äôs regime slaughtered hundreds of protesters, a damning report reveals today.”

    Read more:

  • Ruth

    I totally agree with Craig that NATO intervention is selective and as Exiledlondoner says ‘are acting as the agents of western business interests who want a share of a ‚Äúliberalised‚ÄĚ Libyan economy.’ And again as Exiledlondoner says without outside help Libyans would never have been able to overthrow the petro-dollar funded Gaddafi regime.’

    However,a negotiated deal between the rebels and Gaddafi regime would not ever have been possible except in the most dire circumstances and that’s questionable. The rebels wanted the regime out, Gaddafi would not go. Say if a deal had been reached and the Gaddafi family left with some power, inch by inch with their wealth they would have clawed their way back and resumed brutalising and terrorising the people .

    So maybe after all NATO is compliant with UNSCR 1973 ‘which established the no fly zone and mandate to protect civilians ‘

    Without the Gaddafi regime extinguished the Libyan people will be in danger.

  • dan J

    What you are saying is a possiblity Ruth. And Gus I also agree with you.
    For my own part, I would say that many anti-NATO commentators, including the author of the blog, have been badly wrong in their predictions about this Libya issue before – NATO was losing; deals were being cut to keep Gadaffi in power etc. – yet there has not been any admission of previous fault; therefore, how can we tell that the possiblity of error is something that it is acknowledged, and if it is not acknowledged then are we not dealing with fixed beliefs rather than with supple judgements about facts? I think that too often on this blog the cart is put before the horse and really this whole exercise is about ideological affirmation.

    At least Scouse Billy with his references to PRAVDA has not popped up so far on this thread.

  • Lockman

    Agree with every word, West was baffled with the power of change in Egypt but they made up their minds quickly. It is very sad that Libyan people cannot see what we are able to see. Since when British and French have been that sensitive about humanitarianism and human right abuses? Since Rwanda Genocide Mr Sarkozy? Was Ivory Coast not enough for your greed? Shame!

  • Ben

    How astonishing that a former diplomat sounds more like an activist from the Stop the War coalition than an educated, reasonable mind.

    “‚ÄúLiberal intervention‚ÄĚ does not exist. What we have is the opposite; highly selective neo-imperial wars aimed at ensuring politically client control of key physical resources.”

    Really. Sounds like a line from an anti-Iraq protest back in 2003. So we didn’t have access to Lybian oil before the intervention? Tell us, Mr Murray, how does a nation most effectively secure physical resources: by labouriously spending billions and billions of money we will never get back on establishing *actual* material control through our military over the resources – or by sitting down with a dictator who is only too happy to accept greenbacks so he can buid himself lavish palaces and let his family live a life of decadence, and sign a contract with him?

    FYI: the Chinese in Sudan, that’s how you secure resources. Whilst the West has embargoed Sudan out of humanitarian concerns. Your theory is utterly false.

    Your belief that from now on, ‘Lybians will toil to support the bankers like us’ betrays a Marxist logic that is more suited to a Cuban than a former British diplomat.

    Lastly, the irony of reading a blog *opposing* humanitarian intervention – an intervention in support of people who are desperately struggling to free themselves from the cluthes of a ruthless, crazed dictator who has reigned a reign of terror for decades – by a self-declared ‘human rights activist’ is very rich indeed. Yes, war is bloody and cruel, but Sirte is the last bastion of support for Gaddafi’s dictatorship, and has to fall.

    You oppose this. Being a left-wing ‘anti-imperialist’ does not make you humanitarian, it makes you an illiberal proto-Marxist whose ideal of social relations has far more in common with totalitarianism than with liberalism. Which explains the implied defence of Gaddafi’s top-down imposition of socialist policies back in the 80s: ‘There were aspects of his rule in terms of social development which were good.’

    It is shameful that you once had the honour of representing our free nation abroad when you yourself are of a fundamentally anti-democratic inclination.

  • Wikispooks

    Syd Walker
    Forgive a personal post on Craig’s blog but I can find no contact facility on your blog.
    With insights like those in your post above, Wikispooks could use your input. Failing that I’d like to put some of your stuff up myself.
    Contact info through my posting link above

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