Or should it be called ‘the clusterfuck of R2P Libya’ forevermore?
In his July 7, 2017 ‘Hiding US Lies About Libyan Invasion; Joe Lauria at consortium news writes that as he was doing research to answer a critic of his book on Clinton’s losing the presidential election (How I Lost), he’d delved into US mainstream media coverage of the ‘2016 British parliamentary report’ on the lies that Secretary of State Clinton and other Western leaders had told in order to justify the massive ‘humanitarian’ attack on Libya in order to stave off an ‘imminent’ genocide.
What Lauria discovered was that not only few US corporate media organizations had covered the report (pdf, 53 pages), but the ones that did covered it only in their international editions, and failed to mention any critique of the many egregious US lies. All fingers pointed to France and the UK.
“It is a black mark on the Congress’s two foreign affairs committees that neither undertook a similar inquiry (although congressional Republicans did obsess over the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which occurred about a year after the Obama administration facilitated the military overthrow and brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi).
A thorough online search shows that The Nation magazine and several alternative news sites, including ConsortiumNews and Salon, appear to be the only U.S.-based media that accurately covered the blockbuster story that undermined the entire U.S. narrative for leaving Libya a failed state.”
Given that all three of the linked sites above, plus New Eastern Outlook coverage of the report quotes much of the same language from the blistering report, in the main I won’t specify which bits came from which reporters, and hope that pasting things in willy-nilly works for you.
One exception is Robert Parry’s Oct. 6, 2016 ‘The Forgotten Libyan Lessons and the Syrian War’ at consortiumnews.com, in which he wisely notes that ‘past is prologue’.
“Most intelligent Americans – Republicans as well as Democrats – now accept that they were duped into the Iraq War with disastrous consequences, but there is more uncertainty about the war on Libya in 2011 as well as the ongoing proxy war on Syria and the New Cold War showdown with Russia over Ukraine.
Today, many Democrats don’t want to admit that they have been manipulated into supporting new imperial adventures against Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Russia by the Obama administration as it pulls some of the same propaganda strings that George W. Bush’s administration did in 2002-2003.
After a frenzied media reaction to Gaddafi’s supposedly genocidal plans, Western nations argued that the world had a “responsibility to protect” Libyan civilians, a concept known as “R2P.” In haste, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution to protect civilians by imposing a “no-fly zone” over eastern Libya.
But the subsequent invasion involved U.S.-coordinated air strikes on Gaddafi’s forces and European Special Forces on the ground working with anti-Gaddafi rebels. Before long, the “no-fly zone” had expanded into a full-scale “regime change” operation, ending in the slaughter of many young Libyan soldiers and the sodomy-with-a-knife-then-murder of Gaddafi.”
Some findings of the report: (proving the tweaked old adage that ‘New Hitler’ propaganda can circle the globe three times before the truth has even had time to lace up its boots.)
The report’s findings are a devastating indictment of the leadership of then–Prime Minister David Cameron (who declined to cooperate with the committee) as well as his foreign secretary, William Hague, and defense minister, Liam Fox (who did). The report puts a stake through the heart of the reigning establishment narrative that intervention was justified because Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was about to unleash a massacre on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi—an untruth that has been endlessly repeated by the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, who was a driving force behind the intervention. The new report should—but probably will not, given the sorry state of the 2016 campaign—draw attention to Clinton’s long record of supporting military interventions in lieu of diplomacy.
“We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya,” the report states. “UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”
The Foreign Affairs Committee concludes that the British government “failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element.”
“Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence,” the Foreign Affairs Committee states clearly.
“While Muammar Gaddafi certainly threatened violence against those who took up arms against his rule, this did not necessarily translate into a threat to everyone in Benghazi,” the report continues. “In short, the scale of the threat to civilians was presented with unjustified certainty.”
On March 17, 2011, the report points out — two days before NATO began bombing — Qaddafi told rebels in Benghazi, “Throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.”
The Foreign Affairs Committee adds that, when Libyan government forces retook the town of Ajdabiya in February, they did not attack civilians. Qaddafi “also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops,” the report adds.
In another example, the report indicates that, after fighting in February and March in the city Misrata — Libya’s third-largest city, which had also been seized by rebels — just around 1 percent of people killed by the Libyan government were women or children.
“The disparity between male and female casualties suggested that Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians,” the committee says.
Senior British officials admitted in the Parliament investigation they did not consider Qaddafi’s actual actions, and instead called for military intervention in Libya based on his rhetoric.
In February, Qaddafi gave a heated speech threatening the rebels who had taken over cities. He said “they are a tiny few” and “a terrorist few,” and called them “rats” who “are turning Libya into the emirates of Zawahiri and bin Laden,” referencing the leaders of al-Qaeda.
At the end of his speech, Qaddafi promised “to cleanse Libya, inch by inch, house by house, home by home, alley by alley,” of these rebels. Many Western media outlets, however, implied or reported outright that his remark was meant as a threat to all protesters. An Israeli journalist popularized this line by turning it into a song called “Zenga, Zenga” (Arabic for “alleyway”). The YouTube video featuring the remixed speech was circulated throughout the world.
The report categorically states:
“….the international community turned a blind eye to the supply of weapons to the rebels. Lord Richards highlighted “the degree to which the Emiratis and the Qataris…played a major role in the success of the ground operation.” For example, Qatar supplied French Milan antitank missiles to certain rebel groups. We were told that Qatar channelled its weapons to favoured militias rather than to the rebels as a whole.”
Who were the “rebels”?
While it is largely believed that that crisis in Libya were linked to a general uprising linked with the so-called “Arab Spring”, this is far from the truth. For one thing, a general popular uprising against an autocrat regime could not possibly have descended into a pure chaos but for the involvement of foreign funded extremist groups. This is precisely what happened in Libya. The critical question, therefore, is: were the Libyan rebels really “rebels”? The report disputes the Western official narrative that it was a general uprising and that extremists got involved at some alter stage. Contrary to the official narrative, the report concludes:
“It is now clear that militant Islamist militias played a critical role in the rebellion from February 2011 onwards. They separated themselves from the rebel army, refused to take orders from non-Islamist commanders and assassinated the then leader of the rebel army, Abdel Fattah Younes.”
“Émigrés opposed to Muammar Gaddafi exploited unrest in Libya by overstating the threat to civilians and encouraging Western powers to intervene,” the report notes, summarizing Joffé’s analysis.
Pargeter added that Libyans who opposed the government exaggerated Qaddafi’s use of “mercenaries” — a term they often used as a synonym for Libyans of Sub-Saharan descent. Pargeter said that Libyans had told her, “The Africans are coming. They’re going to massacre us. Gaddafi’s sending Africans into the streets. They’re killing our families.”
“I think that that was very much amplified,” Pargeter said. This amplified myth led to extreme violence. Black Libyans were violently oppressed by Libyan rebels. The Associated Press reported in September 2011, “Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa.” It noted, “Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers.” Many were put in cages, tortured, and made to eat flags.
That the West had “turned a blind eye” to the support certain militias were receiving from Arab countries is, in fact, an indication of the Western complicity in facilitating the rise of Islamist groups in Libya. And as the report states yet again:
“We asked Lord Richards whether he knew that Abdelhakim Belhadj and other members of the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were participating in the rebellion in March 2011. He replied that that “was a grey area”. He added that “a quorum of respectable Libyans were assuring the Foreign Office” that militant Islamist militias would not benefit from the rebellion. He acknowledged that “with the benefit of hindsight, that was wishful thinking at best.”
The Foreign Affairs Committee notes in its report that, despite its lack of intelligence, “the UK Government focused exclusively on military intervention” as a solution in Libya, ignoring available forms of political engagement and diplomacy.
The U.K. report also exposed how the original goal of protecting civilians merged seamlessly into a “regime change” war. The report said:
“The combination of coalition airpower with the supply of arms, intelligence and personnel to the rebels guaranteed the military defeat of the Gaddafi regime. On 20 March 2011, for example, Muammar Gaddafi’s forces retreated some 40 miles from Benghazi following attacks by French aircraft. If the primary object of the coalition intervention was the urgent need to protect civilians in Benghazi, then this objective was achieved in less than 24 hours.
“The basis for intervention: did it change? We questioned why NATO conducted air operations across Libya between April and October 2011 when it had secured the protection of civilians in Benghazi in March 2011. … We asked [former chief of defense staff] Lord Richards whether the object of British policy in Libya was civilian protection or regime change. He told us that ‘one thing morphed almost ineluctably into the other’ as the campaign developed its own momentum. … The UK’s intervention in Libya was reactive and did not comprise action in pursuit of a strategic objective. This meant that a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means.”
This is consistent with reporting by The Washington Times, which found that Qaddafi’s son Saif had hoped to negotiate a ceasefire with the U.S. government. Saif Qaddafi quietly opened up communications with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened and asked the Pentagon to stop talking to the Libyan government. “Secretary Clinton does not want to negotiate at all,” a U.S. intelligence official told Saif.
The report states:
“When the then Prime Minister David Cameron sought and received parliamentary approval for military intervention in Libya on 21 March 2011, he assured the House of Commons that the object of the intervention was not regime change. In April 2011, however, he signed a joint letter with United States President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy setting out their collective pursuit of “a future without Gaddafi”.
There was also the consequence of the Libyan conflict, spreading disorder around the region because Libyan military stockpiles were plundered. The report said: “Libya purchased some £30 billion [or about $38 billion] of weapons and ammunition between 1969 and 2010. Many of those munitions were not issued to the Libyan Army and were instead stored in warehouses. After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, some weapons and ammunition remained in Libya, where they fell into the hands of the militias. Other Libyan weapons and ammunition were trafficked across North and West Africa and the Middle East.
“The United Nations Panel of Experts appointed to examine the impact of Resolution 1973 identified the presence of ex-Libyan weapons in Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Gaza, Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Syria. The panel concluded that ‘arms originating from Libya have significantly reinforced the military capacity of terrorist groups operating in Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Tunisia.’ …
“The international community’s inability to secure weapons abandoned by the Gaddafi regime fuelled instability in Libya and enabled and increased terrorism across North and West Africa and the Middle East. The UK Government correctly identified the need to secure weapons immediately after the 2011 Libyan civil war, but it and its international partners took insufficient action to achieve that objective. However, it is probable that none of the states that intervened in Libya would have been prepared to commit the necessary military and political resources to secure stocks of weapons and ammunition. That consideration should have informed their calculation to intervene.”
The report also notes that the primary reasons France pushed for military intervention in Libya were Qaddafi’s “nearly bottomless financial resources,” the Libyan leader’s plans to create an alternative currency to the French franc in Africa, “Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa” and the desire to “Increase French influence in North Africa.”
Explaining France’s motivations, the report cites an April 2011 email to the U.S.’s then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which noted that “Qaddafi has nearly bottomless financial resources to continue indefinitely.”
“Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” Clinton’s assistant Sidney Blumenthal wrote, citing “sources with access to advisors to Saif al-Islam Qaddafi,” Muammar Qaddafi’s son.”
[wd here: given that one of SoS Clinton’s first actions in Libya was to create a central bank, I’ve always wondered where all the gold and silver are by now.]
This gold “was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar,” Blumenthal said, citing “knowledgeable individuals.” He added, “This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc.”
This bit from The Guardian is almost too much to bear:
“It concurs with Barack Obama’s assessment that the intervention was “a shitshow”, and repeats the US president’s claim that France and Britain lost interest in Libya after Gaddafi was overthrown. The findings are also likely to be seized on by Donald Trump, who has tried to undermine Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy credentials by repeatedly condemning her handling of the Libyan intervention in 2011, when she was US secretary of state.”
Obomba paraphrased: “See, it was them guys, the Frog and the Brit; me and the Three Harpies had a fantastic post-Gaddafi plan!”
“Hillary Clinton, who according to leaked emails was the architect of the attack on Libya, said four days earlier: “When the Libyan people sought to realize their democratic aspirations, they were met by extreme violence from their own government.”
Sen. John Kerry, at the time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chimed in: “Time is running out for the Libyan people. The world needs to respond immediately.”
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of a transitional council that the U.S., U.K. and France recognized as the legitimate Libyan government, pleaded for a no-fly zone. The University of Pittsburgh–educated Jalil was playing the same game as Ahmed Chalabi had in Iraq. They both sought U.S. military might to bring them to power. He said that if Gaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi they would kill “half a million” people. “If there is no no-fly zone imposed on Qadhafi’s regime, and his ships are not checked, we will have a catastrophe in Libya.”
“Downplaying or omitting the adversary’s side of the story is a classic case of Americans explaining a foreign people to other Americans without giving a voice to those people, whether they be Russians, Palestinians, Syrians, Serbs, Iranians or North Koreans. Depriving a people of their voice dehumanizes them, making it easier to go to war against them.
One can only conclude that U.S. corporate media’s mission is not to tell all sides of an international story, or report news critical of U.S. foreign policy, but instead to push an agenda supporting U.S. interests abroad. That’s not journalism. That’s instead the job Winston Smith did.”
We were reminded recently that Kim Jong Un understands the cautionary tales of Saddam and Gadaffi having given up their weapons of mass destruction. ‘The Disarmament of Libya’, wikipedia.