Russ Baker: Now That Were Celebrating Qaddafis End, Can We Get A Little Truth?
September 1, 2011
A hard look at why the west is really involved in Libya.
By Russ Baker
As they say in law enforcement, follow the money. In the midst of a severe fiscal crisis, Pentagon spending alone on Libya through the end of July was $896 million. Will everyone who believes that the Western military establishment is spending such vast sums to further the aspirations of the Libyan people, please raise their hands?
At this juncture, it seems realistic to expect the U.S. and its allies to settle in, nice and comfortable, on Libyan assets for a very long time. Anyone who doubts that might want to check out US statements, not widely discussed, of intent for US troops to remain in Iraq well past the original troop departure date. Or a proposal for the same thing in Afghanistansee this report about a desire to keep substantial military personnel there through 2024. Then do a little reading on the potentially $1 trillion worth of minerals in Afghanistan which the U.S. says it only recently learned about. (Wink, wink.) As the New York Times reported in June, 2010 (the story generated little public reaction):
The previously unknown depositsincluding huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithiumare so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the Saudi Arabia of lithium, a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
Some will say that ascribing solely selfish motives to Western liberators is too cynical. For one thing, arent the rebels at least an improvement on Qaddafi in terms of human rights, liberties, and so forth?
For a possible answer, its worth reading the British journalist Patrick Cockburn. He nicely sums up the craziness, brutality and internecine murder taking place in the rebels ranks without proper Western media attention. They appear to have killed one or possibly two of their own commanding generals on suspicion of treacheryor at least being partial to the wrong faction. For example, weve been hearingin part via a seemingly well-informed individual inside Libyathat the reason the rebels killed their own commander-in-chief General Abdul Fatah Younis was his advocacy of negotiations with Qaddafi. If thats correctand these subjects need more reporting by the news organizations there on the groundthen wed like to know what position all those Western spooks took on the ouster and killing of this man.
Dead Black Libyans
Continuing on this score, we have the plight of black Libyans, generally among the poorest in the country. Weve seen a steady stream of indications that, almost by definition, anyone black in Libya (many African migrant workers but also some Libyan citizens) has been lumped in with Qaddafis non-Libyan African mercenaries, considered a suspected Qaddafi loyalist and therefore targeted for harassment, physical violence and death.
Meanwhile, the rebels have released, en masse, prisoners linked to extremist Islamic movements. And one analyst is currently asserting that an Al Qaeda-linked figure is the new military commander of post-Qaddafi Tripoli.
Heres another twist: The Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, released in 2009 from jail in Scotland and allowed to return home for health reasons, is now, according to CNN, on his death bed, said to be deprived of medicines due to the recent looting of Libyan pharmacies. Once the rebels had consolidated their hold over Tripoli, CNN found Abdel Basset al-Megrahi comatose, and while he has consistently maintained his innocence, it is unlikely the world will ever learn what he knows. With him and Qaddafi disappearing from the scene, any demand for a deeper inquiry into the bombing will likely evaporate.
But where is the West in all of this? A leaked plan for post-Qaddafi Libya shows how elaborately involved NATO has been in the entire operation. It includes a carefully thought-out proposal for avoiding the mistakes made in the Iraq occupationincluding embracing most of Qaddafis security forces, and an initial occupying force resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, with essentially no (visible) Western boots on the ground.
Doesnt this sound more and more like an invasion, for spoils? And one that couldnotwithstanding lessons supposedly learnedquickly get very messy?
Additional research by Charlotte Dennett