Liberalizing Libya: The return of colonial rule

Earlier this year, just as “liberation” was getting under way in Libya, McClatchy Newspapers reported that “As gasoline soars, Libyan rebels pay 46 cents a gallon.”

And with health care and education free in the north African country (which has radically increased the quality of life in the country), as well as having a nationalized bank that gave out interest-free loans and 60,000 Libyan dinars to newly married couples, considerable subsidies for cars, a national irrigation system that allowed the desert to bloom, and much more, it is no wonder that Libya was ranked first in human development for Africa, and 53rd for the world.

In order for that last fact to really carry its weight you have to understand that in 1951, when Libya gained independence from Italy, it was one of the poorest countries in the world. In sixty years, especially starting with the Green Revolution in 1969, the country has become such a success story that migrant workers fled to the country for jobs and wealth to send back home.

Shortly before the 2011 civil war Gaddafi again announced plans for an African gold dinar to challenge the Dollar and Euro as part of his plans for creating a United States of Africa. France’s President Sarkozy responded by saying such a move was a threat to the financial security of humanity. Two years ago I interviewed Demba Moussa Dembélé, a Senegalese economist who worked for Senegal’s Ministry of Economy and Finance back in the 1980s, about the United States of Africa and Gaddafi’s role in it where he told me that the Libyan leader was “the main driving force” behind it and was “committed” to integrating the continent in order to defend itself from the West.

Much of this story is similar to that of Iraq who, under Saddam Hussein, was able to turn a very poor country into a relatively rich one, especially in terms of human development. Iraq was a secular country that, like Libya, dramatically increased literacy and health standards while providing considerable economic assistance to the population. The kind of economic rights Iraq and Libya enjoyed are unheard of in the U.S. where the government has resisted cultural and economic rights tooth and nail.

This is all the more revealing of the U.S.’s “humanitarian” intervention in both countries when in July of 2006 U.S. General Caldewell told reporters in one of the most under-reported stories of the war:

We’ve got what we call ministry advisory teams that work with the ministries to help them think through some of these challenges and issues [i.e. liberalizing the economy]. Price liberalization is a key aspect. Part of the World Bank’s requirements, as they move on for their monetary fiscal responsibility they have to establish here in this country, and they have certain gates where they’re supposed to be going through the liberalization of gas prices. They haven’t always been well-announced in advance, which leaves people to believe sometimes it’s a last-minute decision, but it’s not at all. You can actually lay that out and see when that should be occurring by what they had — they, the Iraqi government, had worked out with the World Bank and others.

When the U.S. went into Iraq they quickly turned the economy over to the “World Bank and others” for the purpose of undoing the social welfare policies that were distributing the wealth of the country to the general population in ways unacceptable to the powers that be so that international cartels could exploit the country for the profit. This was also a major part of Paul Bremer’s edicts, many of which still remain in place.

The same is also true for NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, as admitted by John Norris, a senior Clinton official who was part of a team led by Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, for the Americans in tripartite negotiations, where he wrote in his eyewitness account Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo that, “It was Yugoslavia’s resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform—not the plight of Kosovar Albanians—that best explains NATO’s war.”

So it was no surprise to read that not only had the Libyan rebels created a central bank that CNBC said “reveals that foreign powers may have a strong influence over the rebels,” but that even before Gaddafi was brutally murdered, and Sirte was “liberated,” the rebels had begun talks with the IMF.

How we are to believe the Libyan rebels are a liberatory force when they are led by former regime officials  who now say Gaddafi was so intolerable that he had to be beaten, tortured, sodomized and then executed without due process by their Islamic jihadists and racist minions—who are apparently so unpopular they needed NATO to propel them to power by nearly 10,000 aerial attacks on nearly 6,000 targets—which included government buildings (in an illegal effort to overthrow the government), state media centers, and civilians in general (i.e. Sirte, where the rebels openly admitted they were fighting civilians who supported Gaddafi and thus had to be bombed, shelled and denied humanitarian aid in order to demoralize them to the point that they would accept “liberation”)—is something to think about. Not to mention the attacks, rapes, lynches and ethnic cleansing of black Africans.

Regardless of what we think about Gaddafi, the facts are that Libya was, at least in terms of human development, a paradise in Africa and was moving towards the kind of regional integration that is badly needed to protect the continent from what will be a severe worsening of an already bad situation as resource wars escalate (see President Obama’s recent “intervention” in Uganda).

Not just for Africa, but for the Arab world too. It was in Gaddafi’s 2008 speech to the Arab League Summit that he talked about it not being in their interest to make an enemy out of Iran, that it made no sense to turn on one another, that if they really had a problem they should take it to the International Court of Justice where those disputes should be resolved. He also talked about the Iraq War and the hanging of an Arab government, and how if the Arab League doesn’t unite it could be any one of them hanging from their necks next time. But he said that kind of solidarity is impossible because:

We are the enemies of one another, I’m sad to say. We all hate one another, we deceive one another, we gloat at the misfortune of one another, and we conspire against one another. Our intelligence agencies conspire against one another, instead of defending us against the enemy. We are the enemies of one another, and an Arab’s enemy is another Arab’s friend. If only we used such ferocity against the enemy.

As for Libya, the success of the last sixty years will likely deteriorate dramatically as the country is “liberalized” and rejoins the rest of Africa as a source of wealth for the West—which is precisely what is happening according to the New York Times and their recent article “Western Companies See Prospects for Business in Libya.” Just as Iraq went from one of the most developed countries in the region to a place of hell, following the US-sponsored Iran-Iraq War, Gulf War, genocidal sanctions, and the 2003 invasion and occupation that led to US military officials openly talking about creating “military advisory teams” to guide the new government in “liberalizing” the economy.

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