As certain NATO powers are exploiting the recent flood of refugees from the Middle East and Africa to push for more military action in Syria, it is essential to further illustrate the deceptive and nefarious nature of a previous war conducted by the military alliance, namely the 2011 war in Libya.
“We came, we saw, he died”
These are the repugnant words of the former US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, in an apparent reference to the famous words attributed to Julius Caesar: “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Clinton was gloating following the brutal murder of the Libyan leader,Muammar al-Qaddafi, by the Libyan rebels in October 2011.
NATO powers exploited the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 which established a “no fly zone” in the country to bomb Libyan government positions and force regime change. As Paul Joseph Watson succinctly summed it up, “a “no fly zone” is merely a euphemism for aerial bombardment and aggressive regime change.”
Supported by Western intelligence agencies – most notably the CIA and MI6 – the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan rebels worked alongside NATO to overthrow the Libyan government, plunging the country into intolerable chaos which has never halted since 2011. Many fighters from Libya then travelled to fight alongside the Syrian rebels in the proxy war against Bashar al-Assad.
NATO’s intervention turned an advanced country which had the highest standard of living on the African continent, into a failed state devoid of leadership, cohesion and structure.
In a policy brief written in September 2013 by Alan J. Kuperman, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, who also holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kuperman outlines that NATO’s only objective in Libya was to force regime change in the country. Despite the inverted narrative promulgated by the Western establishment that the war was a “humanitarian intervention”,
Kuperman details how NATO overthrew the Qaddafi regime even at the expense of civilian life.
The policy brief was based on an earlier article by Kuperman which was published in the summer 2013 issue of the International Security journal, titled: “A Model Humanitarian Intervention? Reassessing NATO’s Libya Campaign“, a project of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.
Kuperman writes in his policy brief, Lessons from Libya: How not to Intervene, that NATO’s so called “humanitarian intervention” in the North African nation actually “exacerbated humanitarian suffering”:
NATO’s action magnified the conflict’s duration about sixfold, and its death toll at least sevenfold, while also exacerbating human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors. If Libya was a “model intervention,” then it was a model of failure.
The author continues to dispel the mainstream narratives on the war by documenting that the Libyan government did not “initiate Libya’s violence”, but instead “responded” to violence perpetuated by the protestors:
The conventional account of Libya’s conflict and NATO’s intervention is misleading in several key aspects. First, contrary to Western media reports, Qaddafi did not initiate Libya’s violence by targeting peaceful protesters. The United Nations and Amnesty International have documented that in all four Libyan cities initially consumed by civil conflict in mid-February 2011—Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, and Misurata—violence was actually initiated by the protesters. The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed.
It was not just the media that was pushing this narrative however, US President Barack Obama asserted in a March 2011 speech that “Qaddafi began attacking his people”, and the US responded by assigning forces “to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger.”
Other assessments of what actually transpired in Libya starkly differ from the President’s words though, as Kuperman argues that NATO was belligerently attempting to force regime change in Libya at any cost, “even at the expense of increasing the harm to Libyans”:
The conventional wisdom is also wrong in asserting that NATO’s main goal in Libya was to protect civilians. Evidence reveals that NATO’s primary aim was to overthrow Qaddafi’s regime, even at the expense of increasing the harm to Libyans… NATO continued to aid the rebels even when they repeatedly rejected government cease-fire offers that could have ended the violence and spared civilians. Such military assistance included weapons, training, and covert deployment of hundreds of troops from Qatar, eventually enabling the rebels to capture and summarily execute Qaddafi and seize power in October 2011.
Kuperman also notes the potential “crimes against humanity” committed by the rebels after they had overthrown the Libyan regime:
The victorious rebels perpetrated scores of reprisal killings and expelled 30,000 mostly black residents of Tawerga on grounds that some had been “mercenaries” for Qaddafi. HRW reported in 2012 that such abuses “appear to be so widespread and systematic that they may amount to crimes against humanity.” Ironically, such racial or ethnic violence had never occurred in Qaddafi’s Libya.
Regime Change in Libya was a Premeditated Geostrategic Objective
Contrary to many mainstream news outlets, the overthrow of the Libyan regime was not a spontaneous decision by NATO powers in response to the Libyan government ‘savagely attacking their own people’. Instead, it was part of a much grander geostrategic plan by Western powers to destroy any nation-state that could resist Western hegemony.
In addition to being named on the neoconservatives hit list in 2000, Libya was targeted for regime change in a 2001 plan circulating around the Pentagon. The plan was revealed by retired four star general and former NATO commander, Wesley Clark, in a speech in 2007 at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. Clark recites a conversation he had with an official at the Pentagon in 2001, who had received a classified memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office:
I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office, it says we are going to attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years. We’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”
In 2014, three years after the war in the country, Libya joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), an organisation which is a corporate member of one of the most preeminent organisations within the Western establishment – the Royal Institute of International Affairs (or Chatham House).
In the future, the EBRD will offer un-payable loans to the North African nation. This will result in Libya being in debt to an organisation that will ensure the country will be subservient to the interests of Western imperialism, whilst experiencing a sustained period of chaos induced by NATO’s war in 2011. This is 21st century imperialism par excellence.
It is clear that for many political leaders in Western capitals, humanitarianism is merely a euphemism for imperialism. Today’s Western elite unimaginatively use the same propaganda over and over again to justify perennial wars. David Cameron recently regurgitated the slogans we heard ad nauseam in 2011, when he claimed the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “butchered his own people”.
Libya provides a window into Syria’s future if the West ousts Assad, as NATO strategists have no intention of stabilizing Syria if they succeed in ousting the government in Damascus. The Western overthrow of Assad will most probably result in Syria being balkanized into small autonomous regions whilst experiencing a sectarian bloodbath. We can be assured it won’t transition into a democratic utopia (but that doesn’t stop Western propaganda pushing this fairytale).
Thankfully however, Russia will not allow the West to butcher Syria in the same manner they butchered Libya.
Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.