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.


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

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  • Quelcrime

    To go back to the article cited earlier. I do think people here are giving it too much credence. For example, this:

    “His reality testing is episodically faulty. While most of the time Qaddafi is “above the border” and in touch with reality, when under stress he can dip below it and his perceptions can be distorted and his judgment faulty.”

    Seems to be based on taking literally Gadaffi’s assertion that his people love him. Well, consider the following:

    1. Many of them do – he may be exaggerating but there is some basis for what he says.
    2. He is justifying his position in an interview, not speaking to his psychiatrist about his mental state. Is it so uncommon for politicians to tell journalists things which they know are not entirely true? Yet the writer assumes he means it literally.
    3. If he truly believed that every single Libyan without exception supported him, he wouldn’t have stayed in power very long, would he? Of course he knows some of them don’t like him.

    So, it seems to me that article was written for political effect, not as a serious analysis. This is pretty elementary stuff.

  • Quelcrime

    On the Juan Cole article cited:
    Again, it seems to me the bias here is quite blatant. He uses phrases like ‘duly constituted authorities’ (to pick just one example). Well, this is ridiculous. There is as yet no procedure in post-Gadaffi Libya for duly constituting authorities. There are a lot of groups, some working together, some not, some of whom have declared themselves to have some sort of authority. Cole is using this sort of phraseology to give a rather heavy and rather false veneer of legitimacy to one side, and using other terms and phrases to imply illegitimacy of the other side. His writing does not read persuasively.

    To turn to the substantive content of what he writes; his notion that, in effect, the rebels did it all and NATO were just backing them up is a distortion which simply doesn’t fit reality. The rebels were on the point of annihilation in March. since then NATO has flown thousands of sorties and dropped tens of thousands of bombs. Although of course there are are no definitive figures available I’ve seen estimates that NATO bombs and missiles have annihilated around half the personnel of the Libyan armed forces (pre-conflict total approx 120,000). Then there are the government ministries, police stations, TV stations – my point is that what NATO have done is effectively to destroy the security apparatus of the state. When that is destroyed, anyone can march in and take over. If it’s destroyed thoroughly enough one man with a big stick could take over. If anyone supporting the government is destroyed, it can only be the other side that takes over.

    When Cole writes, for example,
    “the people threw off Qaddafi in key cities like Zintan and Yefren, and, again, NATO raids just stopped the tanks and artillery from crushing them”
    what he’s saying is quite clear. There were rebel forces (‘the people’) and government forces (‘the tanks and artillery’). NATO destroyed the government forces, so the rebel forces were able to take over. Casting the rebels as ‘the people’ and applying the word ‘just’ to NATO’s destruction of the other side doesn’t change the fact – there were two sides; Nato destroyed one; the other prevailed. How is this not NATO’s doing?

    Of course, in some towns (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, in some tribal regions) there will be clear popular opposition to the government; in others clear support. Elsewhere it may be mixed. So in some areas it may be correct to describe the anti-government forces as ‘the people’; not everywhere though. The fact is, if you love Gadaffi and take up a gun and go to fight, NATO are likely to drop something heavy on you. If you hate him and take up a gun and go to fight, they probably won’t.

    The outcome in Libya is NATO’s doing, and NATO (for which, read the USA) will call the shots in post-Gadaffi Libya. Look at them already bullying South Africa and Algeria for not falling into line.

  • Quelcrime

    I left a comment on the Cole site querying his terminology. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t make it past the moderation.

    Incidentally, I don’t recall seeing other professional, employed academics soliciting donations on their blogs. I notice he also carries ads for bankruptcy lawyers.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Quelcrime, absolutely. When politicians in the UK are asked whether they think they will win an election, they hardly ever say, “Uhm. I don’t thunk so.” They say, “We are fighting this election to win. Polls are a lot of rubbish. People love us and we need to communicate our policies effectively. We know that. On the day, they will vote for us.” That does not make them delusional. It’s makes them acolytes of the Religion of PR. Tony Blair, for example, would make an interesting character study. As would Margaret Thatcher.
    .
    Just about everything that is said about the supposed mental states of enemy leaders proceeds through a not dissimilar instrumental propaganda rubric. This does not necessarily make the purveyors of that propaganda delusional, nor the content necessarily incorrect, but it ought to make us exceedingly wary of accepting such ‘analyses’.

  • ingo

    Missile hits on Sirte? No reports of casualtiesw, because the whole town is surrounded. If NATO does not put their oar in and stops the all out assault at the end of the week, appatrently they are trying to get cuivilians out, we will witness one unholy massaker ala Fallujah, with the difference being that NATO is pounding from the air and our ground troops helping those hapless rebells.

    The west has grudgingly released a billion, they are realising that Tripoli’s population has nothing for Eid, their banks are empty and they will blame the rebells and gaddafi for that.

    Libya does not want so called peace keepers, just help with a police force and elections, which will in turn stop the money they will receive, thats my guess. Until the US is guaranteed a base in Libya, they will procrastinate the moneyflow and use it as a lever.
    The value of the petro-dollar does not represent its real value and countries asking to be paid in a basket of currencies for their goods and resources, rather than chocolate money, run the risk of having their economy interfered with.
    Libya can survive by selling its oil to Europe, it does not need to sell it for dollars and why should it be forced to? their needs are far more important now than that of fat cats.

  • Nextus

    QuelCrime: “Seems to be based on taking literally Gadaffi’s assertion that his people love him.” I don’t think his assessment of Gaddafi’s psychology is based on one pronouncement, one broadcast, one trait, or even one phase of leadership. The evaluation is complex, and so it should be. The example is cited as an illustration, not as a complete roundup of all the available evidence. Of course it doesn’t prove the point on its own. There are a lot of other factors relevant to the evaluation: the rambling, incoherent nature of Gaddafi’s video broadcasts, the testimonies to his extreme behaviour from his commanders, the odd tics and eccentric demeanour reported by people who have met him, the idiosyncratic and brutal decisions that have come to define his leadership – which all have to be judged together. I think the article shows that Post has considered these in his analysis too.

    I agree that the article can be given too much credence; for the reasons stated above. It’s a remote diagnosis, from arguably the least reliable witness who is flouting the Goldwater Rule. I think more emphasis should be placed on direct observation and the testimony of credible eye witnesses.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I see that Gaddafi’s daughter had a baby immediately after crossing into Algeria. Just as well, then, that she wasn’t locked-up. I see that the ‘papers are reporting that the rebels have found (shock, horror!) “children’s books in the library” of her house, as well as “children’s toys”. Crumbs. She is a lawyer, so I guess there must be a few law books too. And a kettle and some cups, perhaps.
    .
    This attempt by the MSM to portray Gaddafi and his family as ‘golden taps’ Milton Obote or ‘Jimmy Choo’ Marcos is backfiring, as it becomes evident that, whatever else they might have been, the Gaddafis do not seem to have lived particularly lavishly (by Head of State standards and certainly by Middle Eastern potentate or even oil executive standards; many of the guys ‘n’ gals kicking around Knightsbridge seem to live far more opulently, it seems to me). The Gaddafis may well have a mountain of solid gold stashed away somewhere, who knows, and bank accounts in various on-and-offshore sites – no doubt, we shall see.

    Look. General Zia ul Haq, the brutal military dictator of Pakistan from 1977-88, lived relatively frugally and as with, say, the (for many Iranians, deeply embarrassing) Ahmedinejad (Hey! I sleep in my socks on the floor!), this became part of his PR.
    .
    That the Gaddafi regime was brutal in its oppression is not in doubt; the MSM does not need to make him conform to their off-the-shelf stereotype of ‘Third World Dictator, Mark 3’. Their seeming need to do so illustrates firstly, their lack of hard journalistic analysis, secondly their profound lack of imagination and thirdly lends credence to the criticisms of those who assert that in the USA and UK, most of the MSM has become simply a propaganda mouthpiece for the MI Complex.

  • Nextus

    ”Aisha, a lawyer in her mid-30s, ran a charitable foundation in Libya but also worked on the legal team defending former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
    Before fleeing to Algeria, she lived in Tripoli in a two-storey mansion with an indoor pool and sauna.
    DVDs found at her home included action and mystery films and one on getting back in shape after childbirth.
    A playroom was strewn with toys and party hats and streamers were piled up in an entrance hall.
    Her library contained a number of children’s books.”

    .
    – How many rooms in this “two-storey mansion with an indoor pool and sauna”? It’s probably not a standard 2-up 2-down, but I wonder if it warrants the title “mansion”. Anyone got more specific information?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, Nextus, that was the one I read, too. They tone of the piece is not neutral – the quote you’ve pasted here seems neutral, but remember it was lifted from a longer article and indeed a series of articles – the tone (and the pics) are very much along the lines of ‘Look at this opulent lifestyle! Isn’t it a scandal?! We were right to take him down!’ I thought the same about their use of the word, ‘mansion’. But it seems that even with this spin, the pics, etc. do not seem to match-up. We have a little bathroom of the sort one might find in any decent hotel. Even Gaddafi’s jet was pretty functional – grey in colour, a couple of comfortable seats, two tables. And so on. I think the news reports of all this are being hoist on their own petard. If they could’ve found something, they would have, one would have thought?

  • mary

    Like Iraq, like Afghanistan, Libya and its ‘liberated’ people have already paid the highest of all prices for their ‘deliverance’ from Gaddafi. Now, as a broken, indentured, client state, beholden to their political-military-corporate masters, they are about to feel the harsh effects of what our media dutifully call ‘Western-led reconstruction’.
    .
    As with all the other neutralised language of Western aggression and exploitation, such jargon hides a multitude of ‘liberal interventionist’ sins. Which, as ever, proves the vital role of our default-line media, particularly its liberal variant, in conditioning the public for more ‘necessary’ wars and ‘humanitarian’ regime change.
    ~~~~~
    These are the concluding paragraphs of John Hilley’s blog. His words are wise as usual.
    .
    http://johnhilley.blogspot.com/2011/08/libyas-deliverance.html
    .
    Craig is quoted.

  • Quelcrime

    One thing the media are doing is using the houses and transgressions of some of the children to create an impression, and then slyly allow the reader to apply it to Colonel G himself. It’s a bit like blaming the Queen for Prince Andrew’s inappropriate friendships. It’s really not surprising (or unreasonable) that Gadaffi’s children had nice houses, but even though their houses are a bit more luxurious than the father’s residences, they don’t seem all that remarkable to me.

    As for Gadaffi himself, there were pictures early on in the conflict of a residence outside Benghazi, and more pictures recently from his place in Tripoli. In each case, some unimpressive rooms with cheapish-looking armchairs, and a fairly ordinary swimming pool. There were some amusement-park type things in the grounds in Tripoli. He has lots of grandchildren, though less now, of course.

    The New York Times has a few articles and slideshows. Even though it’s fully in on the US/NATO agenda, its journalists are professional enough to allow occasional glimpses of the truth.

  • oddie

    when tens of millions marched against the illegal attack on iraq, it did not mean the protesters supported saddam.

    so where are the antiwar protests against the illegal NATO war on libya? what NATO is doing is not within the remit of the UN resolution, yet there is no public outrage. the US “progressive left” is not concerned at all (juan cole, democracy now, etc). they have no problem with democrat wars of aggression, even if the allies (sarkozy, cameron) are rightwing governments!

    thank you craig murray, for your consistency.

  • ingo

    Thanks for that 8th. October date, Quelcrime, once again, in easy to police and hard to get to London, not in many british City’s. By then we might be well into another flagration.

    remind us what was jemima Khan’s role in all this? what is her claim to fame apart from being rich, sexy and marrying a cricketer with political ambitions?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Excellent, powerful link, Oddie. Everyone should check out Oddie’s link to this interview the independent journalist, Mahdi Nazemroaya. Watch it all, right to the end.

  • Levantine

    “Everyone should check out Oddie’s link to this interview the independent journalist, Mahdi Nazemroaya. Watch it all, right to the end.”

    Watch the older videos, too (they’re reasonably short), to get a better sense.

  • Levantine

    One problem I notice among Brits and Americans is the scarcity of media outlets they use. Same old Robert Fisk, same old Juan Cole, same old Democracy Now and Z stable. As if there are no other people in the world who write. Even if these were geniuses, a half dozen people couldn’t get everything right. They’re just like professional seducers.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Well, other reports would seem to suggest that NATO Special Forces/ spies may be harassing and targetting independent journalists in Libya. This also happened in Iraq, where independents were shot and killed. This serves two purposes:
    .
    1) It deters other independent journalists from going there.
    .
    2) It prevents the independent journalists who are already there from being able to move around, gather news, etc. Prevents them doing their job.
    .
    3) It allows for the effective monopolisation of of the flow of information, esp. that flooding the airwaves across the NATO countries.
    .
    4) It facilitates the adoption of both ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ positions in any conflict/struggle by trusted corporate and/or miltary embeddeed journalists. Writers who have learned just how far they are allowed to go and who stop there (or they lose their jobs, and worse). This is not dissimlar to the tactics adopted by liberal foundations in the funding of potentially ‘oppositional’ groups.
    .
    News management has become increasingly sophisticated over the past 30 years. Each war sees a further fine-tuning of this process. The internet has simply diversified this process.

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