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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/18/11

Intervention in Libya: Humanitarian or War Crime

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Message David Model
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April spring in Libya has resulted in the summer of their discontent.   An ostensible mission to protect civilians with the authorization of the Security Council has been bastardized into a mission to dethrone Colonel Gadhafi who is not sufficiently malleable and cooperative to sacrifice his country's needs in order to serve the interests of the United States.

There is a sharp distinction between the Arab Spring occurring in a number of North African and Middle Eastern countries and the rebellion in Libya.   Rampant popular discontent over unemployment, poverty and harsh rule had been smoldering beneath the surface in Egypt, Tunisia and a number of other countries in the region before it erupted into virtually spontaneous combustion.

On the other hand economic and social conditions were different in Libya and the rebellion there was orchestrated by many groups who had a long-standing hatred of Gadhafi and were supported by the U.S., France and Britain.

Economic and social conditions have been different in Libya due to the state-sponsored social safety net programs implemented by Gadhafi to protect Libyans from economic hardship.   Gadhafi has heavily subsidized education and health care benefits which are free to every citizen.   Libya ranks 53rd in the United Nations Human Development Index overall at .755 but its index is the highest compared to all other African counties where the average is .599.

A U.S. embassy cable to the State Department, sent on August 29, 2008, explains Gadhafi's delicate balancing act by describing the tacit pact between him and his people as an: "oil-revenue-financed, cradle-to-grave subsidies in exchange for political quiescence -- that has underpinned his regime for decades."

On the other hand, popular protests in Libya were largely motivated by the fierce animus to the brutal methods employed by Gadhafi to suppress any opposition to his dictatorship.   When non-violent protests broke out, Gadhafi violently crushed them and marched to the gates of Benghazi, the rebel's stronghold.

Groups who had been organizing against Gadhafi for years are at least partly responsible for provoking the protests.   The composition of forces opposing Gadhafi consists of a wide range of groups of people each with their own agenda but whose common purpose is his overthrow.   Some of these groups formed the National Transitional Council (TNC) in Benghazi on February 27, 2011 to act as the political face of the revolution.   Politicians, former military officers, tribal leaders, academics and businessmen from Eastern Libya created the Council to serve as a transitional government and to wrap the opposition in an aura of respectability.

Some of the groups opposing Gadhafi have been created and/or supported by either the CIA or one of the three principle countries acting on resolution 1973, namely France Britain and the U.S.

The National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) established on October 7, 1981, was trained and supported by the CIA and was involved in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Gadhafi on May 8, 1984.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), military wing of the NFSL, was founded on June 21, 1988 by Khalifa Hafter who, according to a Washington-based think tank, the Jamestown Foundation, had: "strong backing from the Central Intelligence agency".   The think tank also reports that the CIA arranged the entry of LNA officers into the United States where they established a training camp.   Hafter arrived in Benghazi in March 2011 to join the forces attempting to overthrow Gadhafi.

Another major organization engaged in overthrowing Gadhafi is the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who have close ties to al Qaida and has been designated as a terrorist group by the State department.

The LIFG was established in 1995 to oppose Gadhafi's secular state by Libyans who had fought in Afghanistan.    They have been committed to supporting jihadi groups everywhere and contributed a significant number of people to fight the U.S. in Iraq.

Not only did the U.S. support groups who were committed to removing Gadhafi from power but engaged in its own operation against Libya in 1986 when 30 U.S. Air Force and Navy bombers struck Tripoli and Benghazi in a raid code-named El Dorado Canyon.   The real purpose of the mission was to kill Gadhafi given that nine of the 18 F-111 bombers targeted Gadhafi's home killing one of his daughters and injuring his eight other children and wife.   The attack, lacking Security Council authorization, constituted a war of aggression and bombing Gadhafi's residence violated the Geneva Conventions.

The most probable motivation for the U.S. participation in the Libyan campaign pertains to the refusal of Gadhafi to support American plans for the region and his attempts to create an independent Africa free of American influence.   He has challenged the institutions of global capital such as the World Bank, IMF, and WTO and has refused to join U.S. military alliances.

Gadhafi worked assiduously to create an African monetary fund, an African central bank and an African investment bank.

An African monetary fund, replacing the IMF, was created in 2011 largely through the efforts of Gadhafi with a start-up capital of $42 billion.

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I have been a professor of political science at Seneca College in Toronto. I have published five books the last of which "Selling Out: Consuming Ourselves to Death" was released in May/08. As well, I have been featured in CounterPunch, Z (more...)
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