Lessons from Libya’s Destruction

By Tortilla Con Sal

The following article is based on this interview, conducted last weekend: The Destruction of Libya, Its Lessons and Meaning : Interview with Gerald A. Perreira


Later this month the outcome is expected of the completely unjust and incompetent show trials held in Libya over the last year or so of around 200 former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya. If that outcome is reported at all in North American and European media, its real meaning will be completely hidden in self-serving apologetics for NATO’s destruction of Libya in 2011. The same psy-warfare framework that justified NATO’s campaign of terrorist aggression will falsely present the show trials’ outcome as rough justice dealt out to individuals who deserve no better.

That outcome should put on high alert anyone defending the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas against very similar psychological warfare and terrorist subversion supported by NATO governments of the US and its allies. Not for nothing did Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega speak out in defense of Muammar al Gaddhafi and Libya against NATO’s terrorist war. They had already learned long ago the very same lessons to have emerged more recently from the utterly depressing human, moral and political catastrophe of Libya’s destruction.

In 2013, a study by a distinguished Harvard University academic acknowledged that the failure in Libya of the US government’s ostensible avowed policy in Libya and in North and West Africa was based on serial falsehoods. That fact-based, acerbic policy criticism from a source generally supportive of US government foreign policy should give much pause for thought. Along with support for Libya from outstanding revolutionary leaders like Ortega, Chavez and Nelson Mandela it amounts to a categorical indictment of received Western opinion about Libya which, across virtually the entire Western political spectrum, sided either openly or indirectly with NATO’s 2011 war.

No one genuinely concerned to defend progress towards an equitable, peaceful multi-polar world based on mutual respect between sovereign, autonomous nations and peoples should underestimate or forget the horror of what NATO did to Libya. Tens of thousands were killed and wounded in attacks by the bombers and helicopters of many NATO countries. Millions were displaced or forced into exile. Cities like Sirte and Bani Walid were devastated. Schools, universities, hospitals, factories producing food products and other essential civilian infrastructure were targeted and severely damaged or destroyed.
sirte-after-nato-bombardments

The destruction of Libya marked the categorical abandonment of whatever vestigial moral authority may still have remained to the European Union and its member governments. It demonstrated in the most humiliating way the impotence and irrelevance of the African Union. It put hard questions about the anti-imperialism of the Iranian and Syrian governments as well as highlighting the race supremacism of the governments of the Arab League and the already damaged integrity of the Palestinian authorities.

Almost all of them quickly recognized the overtly racist renegade Libyan CNT junta. For their part, the then governments of Russia and China weakly accepted NATO country assurances about the defensive nature of the air exclusion zone. The only governments to emerge with any real credit from the destruction of Libya were the governments of the ALBA countries and a few African governments like Zimbabwe.

Countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador have all been victims of comprehensive disinformation campaigns of demonization and caricature, although perhaps not so extreme as the final campaign against Libya’s Jamahiriya and Muammar al Gaddhafi. It is worth considering the basic component of that disinformation war against Libya. What is sometimes called 4th generation warfare is as old as warfare itself. Like Athens versus Sparta, or Rome versus Carthage the fundamental objective of NATO governments and their allies is to make their chosen target seem Other, creating a despised, outcast doppelganger anti-image of the West’s own phony self-image.

So Libya’s Jamahiriya was tagged as undemocratic by hypocritical Western governments, most of whom came to power with around just 20% to 25% of the vote of their electorates, thanks overwhelmingly to elite corporate funding. Libya’s democratic process was one that recognized its society’s contradictions and attempted continual self-renewal. By contrast, the Western corporate oligarchies offer virtually meaningless periodic elections obfuscated by public relations and organized on a yes-or-yes basis to favor politicians groomed and bankrolled by their countries’ anti-democratic elites.

Muammar al Ghaddafi was labeled a dictator even though his policy initiatives were not infrequently rejected within Libya’s system of popular congresses. In 2009, during a policy conflict between Muammar al Gaddhafi and pro-Western so-called reformers, these could not get their way in Libya’s popular assemblies so they chose staging a violent putsch to achieve the regime change their Western government backers wanted. Venezuela’s experience has been almost identical, although, to date, the country has avoided the kind of coup d’état and subsequent NATO driven war that destroyed Libya

Libya was portrayed as a systematic human rights violator. But Libya’s response to the constant terrorist attacks and subversion it suffered from the very start of its Revolution in 1969 was no different to that of any Western government faced with a similar threat. The British government tortured and murdered alleged subversives all through the Irish war, colluding with sectarian paramilitary death squads. The same pattern of torture and extrajudicial murder also consistently marked the Spanish authorities’ campaign against Basque separatists.

Guantanamo’s torture camp symbolizes the brutality and illegality of the US government’s response to terrorist threats. Libya’s Jamahiriya probably conformed as closely to international human rights norms in relation to fighting terrorism as the three Western governments that led NATO’s war of destruction. Human rights protection in Libya was certainly superior to Western allies like Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the other quasi-feudal Gulf State tyrannies. All the pretexts for the Western assault on Libya’s legitimate government were completely bogus.

In any case, as Gerald Perreira points out, the fundamental objective achieved by the destruction of Libya was to shut down the decisive impetus towards African integration led by Muammar al Gaddhafi. CNT leaders like Mustafa Abdul Jalil were Arab supremacists who fiercely resisted the Pan-African policies advocated by Muammar al Gaddhafi. Arab supremacism, phony neoliberal reformism and the treachery of repressive human rights abusers like Mahmoud Jibril made a lethal reactionary cocktail perfectly suited to ruthless NATO government manipulation.

On cue, Western corporate and alternative media presented the corrupt political project of these viciously reactionary elements as a “revolution”, part of the absurdly hyped “Arab Spring”. As if NATO country governments, dedicated to the service of their countries’ corporate elites, have ever promoted genuine democracy or comprehensive human rights around the world. From Ukraine and Greece, to Yemen and Syria, to Haiti and Honduras, what the Western powers and their allies want is access to natural resources, control of strategically important territories and decisive advantages for their trade and finance.

Destroying Libya effectively removed a real threat to Western control and domination in Africa. Currently, the NATO country elites’ political sales staff, for the moment President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel, are battering Greece into submission. But those leaders and their allies are using economic and psychological warfare to attack many other targets, not just Greece.

They do so against Venezuela and other stubbornly independent countries around the world. That is why the leaders of Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela very publicly welcomed the No vote in the Greek referendum. Unlike Libya, in their different regions Syria and Venezuela are part of regional alliances backed at long last by firm leaders in Russia and China, strong enough to face down any likely economic or military threat from the United States and its allies.

But it would be a mistake to forget Libya. Defending the people of Libya represents an important self-defense measure against Western predators in their global psychological warfare assault on the free, anti-imperialist world. As a leading force in that free world, ALBA country governments should urgently consider challenging the governments of North America and Europe to protect the thousands of political prisoners in Libya who have been tortured and denied due process.

The ALBA country governments and their allies have infinitely more moral and political authority than Western leaders to speak out in defense of fundamental human rights. They should make outspoken use of that authority now to expose the sadism and hypocrisy of Western governments in Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. In Libya, they may perhaps yet help to save the lives of as many as 200 former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya at risk from quasi-judicial murder by the West’s corrupt terrorist proxies in a country they have devastated with merciless cynicism.


Political Prisoners:
Da’esh-run Tripoli Court to Deliver Verdict on Saif Gaddafi and Former Jamahiriya Officials July 28
Libya : Widespread Torture in Detention Facilities Within HoR Jurisdiction
NHRCL Demands Immediate Halt to All Trials of Jamahiriya Officials
NHRCL Report on the Trials of Jamahiriya Officials, Military and Security Personnel
Abdullah Al Senussi : Defense Statement Judges Refused to Let Him Present at Final Hearing
LPNM Statement by the Coordinator of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
بيان اللجنة الوطنية لحقوق الإنسان بليبيا الخاص بمناسبة اليوم الدولي لمساندة ضحايا التعذيب.