Editor's Note: Axis of Logic columnist T.J. Coles begins his series on the destruction of Libya after one year of occupation of that country with an analysis of England's role, examining the reasons that belie the myth of a 'humanitarian war." In his letter, introducing this article he states: "I don't forget Britain's war crimes, and in this era of 'information' people move on too quickly."
- Axis Editor & Publisher
March 19, 2011 - RAF Tornado jets take off from Marham air base in Norfolk, UK to begin Britain's attack on the people of Libya. Photo: Chris Radburn/Press Association
In 2010, BAE Systems, Barclays Capital, and BP financed a Chatham House project called Rethinking the UK’s National Ambitions and Choices. The authors of one of the key reports, which laid the basis for the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, explained that “Voters [in the UK] will not actively call for a more effective foreign policy.” Therefore, “The government should define its international mission as managing risks on behalf of British citizens”, rather than on behalf of the sponsors of UK foreign policy.1
Also in 2010, the Ministry of Defence explained that out to 2040,
“Scrambles for energy, minerals and fertile land are likely to occur with increasing intensity. These scrambles may not always be motivated by immediate shortage, as many states compete for access to long-term supplies.”
In pursuing these aims, the MoD predicted “High numbers of civilian casualties, despite declining numbers of combatant deaths.” As a result, “Influence activity, the battle of ideas, and perceptions of moral legitimacy will be important for success” (emphases in original).2 Hence Westerners had to perceive that the destruction of Libya had to do with humanitarian intervention.
An earlier edition of the MoD study predicted a “latter-day Scramble” for Africa’s resources. A House of Commons paper, Energy Security, predicted “a new Scramble for Africa.”3 “With the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, and extensive gas reserves, Libya is potentially a major energy source for the future”, then-Foreign Secretary David Miliband explained in 2009.4 In 2000, in response to Euro-American liberalisation demands, Gaddafi agreed, in rhetoric but not in practice, to privatise the oil sector.5
At this point, MI6 switched from supporting anti-Gaddafi terrorists to supporting Gaddafi, shortly after which SAS mercenaries were authorised by the Gordon Brown government to train Gaddafi’s forces.6 Despite this new alliance, Gaddafi would not play ball. In 2004, the Libyan-British Business Council (LBBC) was established. The LBBC boasts a membership of over one-hundred-fifty major companies, including BAE, Barclays, and BP: the sponsors of the UK National Security Strategy.
|David Cameron & Nicolas Sarkozy join hands for the destruction of Libya at the Paris Summit on Libya on March 19, 2011. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA|
If you ever want the truth about international relations, just follow the money. The LBBC explained that in 2004, after the UN Security Council ended the international sanctions, “Libya embarked on a process of slow but fundamental economic change. It invited international oil companies to invest in the development and expansion of its oil and gas reserves.” All was not rosy, however:
"Foreign investors and other firms doing business in Libya continued to experience significant challenges: slow and arbitrary decision making, late or incomplete payments and an absence of transparency and predictability. The most business-friendly legal reforms were not introduced until 2009 and 2010 and even then, the IMF expressed doubts about their status."7
As a result, Gaddafi had to go. Indeed, a Chatham House meeting of over 100 “experts”, including many from the LBBC, met in June 2011—as NATO bombs continued to rain on Libyan children. Anti-Gaddafi collaborator Ashur Al-Shamis assured his Anglo paymasters that “The Jamahiriya – that’s Gaddafi’s model of state and statecraft – is in the last throws(sic). Nationally and internationally, it is going … this stinking, dying carcass.”8 Britain worked closely with the opposing National Transitional Council. The LBBC concluded that:
"... the National Transitional Council has committed Libya to genuine economic diversification and reform and to creating a business environment conducive to international partnership and private sector participation. After the country’s negative experience of centralised economic control, it is likely that future governments will also espouse diversification and reform. And geographical proximity makes Europe a major market for Libya’s oil and gas and a natural business partner."9
Thousands of mourners gathered one year after the UK, US and NATO attacked from the air, killing civilian men, women and children across Libya. The woman in the photo is holding a photo of a missing loved one at a funeral in Benghazi, Libya, Monday, March 5, 2012 for 155 Libyans found in buried in a mass grave, slain by the US/UK/European aggressors and their hired mercenaries. (Photo: Manu Brabo. Related comment: Axis of Logic)
The fact that the SAS trained Gaddafi’s forces in the preceding years, that the Cameron-Clegg regime had armed Gaddafi,10 that during the Arab Spring UK special forces trained Bahraini, Saudi, and Yemeni snipers,11 that David Cameron took an arms delegation on a tour of the region in late February,12 that Cameron authorised the Kuwaiti government to do whatever it takes to defend the Kuwaiti regime,13 and that UK special forces were arming and training anti-Assad rebels in Syria with the full knowledge that the regime would crack down harder on civilians,14 mean that we cannot take seriously any rhetoric about concern for human rights in Libya, and anyone who repeats such nonsense—like Yvonne Ridley—is essentially saying “I’m a shameless hypocrite and a puppet of the elite.”15
See Part II of this series:
Libya: One Year On: Recording NATO's War Crimes.
by T.J. Coles in the UK. Axis of Logic.
- Alex Evans and David Stern, “Organizing for Influence”, Chatham House, June, 2010, London: Chatham House.
- Ministry of Defence, “Strategic Trends Programme: Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2040”, 9 February, 2010, London: MoD.
- Ministry of Defence, “Strategic Trends: 2007-2036”, 23 January, 2007, London: MoD and House Commons Library, “Energy Security”, 9 May, 2007.
- David Miliband cited in Ben Smith, “UK relations with Libya”, Standard Note SN/IA/ 5886, 2 March, 2011.
- Gaddafi said, for example: “Libya wants to encourage foreign capital investment and partnership, not only for the benefit of this country but for the entire African continent to which Libya is the gateway for Europe.” In doing so, Gaddafi drafted a Constitution. However, “The constitution never saw the light, reportedly because Qaddafi rejected it, claiming it tampered with the fundamentals of the Jamahiriya. … [T]he reform process was highly orchestrated, in effect an affair of marginal and cosmetic rather than radical or wholesale changes.” International Crisis Group, “Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (V): Making Sense of Libya”, Crisis Group Middle East/North Africa Report N°107, 6 June 2011, Brussels: ICG.
- Secret files were uncovered by Human Rights Watch—which has shameless ignored NATO’s war crimes in Libya—in the abandoned offices of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, revealing extensive links between Gaddafi, the CIA and MI6: Reuters, “CIA, MI6 helped Gaddafi on dissidents”, 3 September, 2011. On the SAS, see Thomas Harding, “SAS trains Libyan troops”, Telegraph, 11 September, 2009.
- Libyan-British Business Council, “About Libya Trade and Investment in the New Libya”, undated.
- Alistair Burt MP, Sir Richard Dalton, Lindsey Hilsum, Ashur Al-Shamis, and Claire Spencer, “Libya: Prospects and Challenges”, 8 June, 2011.
- Libyan-British Business Council, “About Libya Trade and Investment in the New Libya”, undated.
- The Campaign Against the Arms Trade reported that Cameron-Clegg-approved weapons were flowing to Gaddafi until just weeks before the opposition uprisings. Ben Smith, “UK relations with Libya”, Standard Note SN/IA/ 5886, 2 March, 2011.
- See, for instance, Jerome Taylor, “How Britain taught Arab police forces all they know”, Independent, 19 February, 2011. Jamie Doward and Philippa Stewart, “UK training Saudi forces used to crush Arab spring”, Guardian, 28 May, 2011; Britain’s support for Yemen’s forces was not reported, but can be found here: House of Commons, “Yemen: Military Aid”, 30 November, 2011, Column 919W.
- BBC, “Cameron Middle East visit ‘morally obscene’ says Lucas”, 25 February, 2011.
- Cameron’s speech is an exercise in hypocrisy, and is similar to one delivered by former Prime Minister John Major to the regime in Kurdistan in 2011, indicating that they have the same speechwriters. Cameron said, for instance: “It is not for me, or for governments outside the region, to pontificate about how each country meets the aspirations of its people.” Cameron, “Full Transcript: David Cameron Speech to the National Assembly, Kuwait”, The New Statesman, 23 February, 2011.
- See my, “Britain’s Secret Proxy War in Syria”, Axis of Logic, 8 February, 2012, . In a BBC interview, Hillary Clinton acknowledged that outside “interference” would provoke Assad into escalating violent retaliation. Neither she nor the BBC reported that that is exactly what has been going on since at least November 2011, when CIA and MI6 forces began arming and training the opposition.
- For a small sample of the grotesque, widespread apologetics for state violence, see Yvonne Ridley, “I was wrong to oppose military intervention in Libya – wrong, wrong, wrong”, Redress.cc, 30 April, 2011, Nick Cohen, “EU support for Arab rebels is shamefully late”, Observer, 13 March, 2011. Cohen’s article attempts to garner support for violence by evoking “white guilt” over Europeans’ lack of concern for “olive-skinned” people, failing to note that Europe’s role is not a lack of concern, it is active participation in oppression. See also Professor Michael Clarke, Professor Malcolm Chalmers, Dr Jonathan Eyal, Shashank Joshi, Mark Phillips, Elizabeth Quintana and Dr Lee Willett and Saqeb Mueen and Grant Turnbull (eds), “Accidental Heroes: Britain, France and the Libya Operation,” An Interim RUSI Campaign Report, September 2011.