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Libya – Making sense of the intervention

By Chris Clancy
web posted May 16, 2011

We're nearly two months into it now.

Like most people I was left scratching my head when the UN announced that it would intervene in Libya.

The history of such interventions is clear.

"It is useful to be reminded that revolutions in the modern sense are also, in fact, civil wars. If other nations want to make a successful adjustment to them, they cannot ignore the fact that a domestic fight is going on between people who are agitated by issues other than the general course of human history. For this reason direct intervention in one is generally the worst thing that a prudent nation can do – not because the revolution is unimportant either ideologically or to the world balance of power but because foreign intervention, if it fails, is bound to antagonize in the most direct manner the victorious revolutionary state." Chalmers Johnson – 1973 – "Autopsy on People's War".

After two months they are mired in what has become described as a "stalemate".

So what exactly was the point? Yes, of course, oil is a factor – but the oil still would have flowed regardless of whether Gaddafi was in power or not. Anyway, even if Libya stopped its supply it wouldn't make much difference – it accounts for less than 2% of the world's crude.

Many excellent commentators have tried to figure out what's going on.

The official justification was said to be "humanitarian". The object being to protect the civilian population from the impending onslaught from government forces against the rebels. Where was the hard evidence for this?

No, this was just nonsense and hypocracy of the highest order..

So what was it about?

Was Libya nothing more than a smokescreen – an attempt to distract attention from what is going on in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, to name just three?

Not in the age of mass communication.

Butler Schaffer in this article likens information dissemination before the internet to a pyramid. The elite at the top controlled what filtered down to the proles at the bottom. He says that what we now have is a sphere rather than a pyramid. I wouldn't go that far. Maybe the shape now is more like the top half of a hard-boiled egg!

So where are we with finding the real reason for intervention? It's not humanitarian, it's not just about the oil and it's not a smokescreen.

Is it about the military/industrial complex slurping the last dregs from the trough before it all comes to an end? Possibly. Is it about keeping emerging nations away from the oil? Possibly

Or is it just about the dollar? Almost certainly.


Because, just as I was coming to the conclusion that there was no rational explanation for the intervention – that it was yet another monumental blunder – I came across this article by Peter Dale Scott.

In the article he writes that Gadaffi planned to form an African Union with its own currency based on the gold dinar.

The beginnings of a return to sound money?

Oh no, the elite couldn't have that. Once the BRICS countries climbed on board It would have signalled doomsday for the dollar and the West.

In his article, Scott writes:

"Gaddafi's recent proposal to introduce a gold dinar for Africa revives the notion of an Islamic gold dinar floated in 2003 by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, as well as by some Islamist movements.19 The notion, which contravenes IMF rules and is designed to bypass them, has had trouble getting started. But today the countries stocking more and more gold rather than dollars include not just Libya and Iran, but also China, Russia, and India."

He quotes Ellen Brown who points out in this article that both Iraq and Libya were attacked shortly after announcing that they would stop selling all their oil for dollars:

"Kenneth Schortgen Jr, writing on Examiner.com, noted that "[s]ix months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, the oil nation had made the move to accept euros instead of dollars for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the dollar as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar." 

According to a Russian article titled "Bombing of Libya - Punishment for Ghaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar", Gaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Gaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency. … The initiative was viewed negatively by the USA and the European Union, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling Libya a threat to the financial security of mankind; but Gaddafi was not swayed and continued his push for the creation of a united Africa."

If this is all true then the elite had a concrete reason for "doing something"!

The cheapest and most expedient "something" would have been Gaddafi's assassination.

"Let's just pretend for a moment that the US government really does want to free the people of Libya from a wicked man. What is the right way to go about it? There is the assassination option, which I oppose but which would nonetheless be a much better choice than war. What of the US's legendary CIA hitmen that can take down anyone on the planet following a few orders from on high? Where are they now?" Lew Rockwell.

Indeed, where are they now?

Again, in his article, Scott writes:

"The initiative for the air attacks appears to have come initially from France, with early support from Britain. If Qaddafi were to succeed in creating an African Union backed by Libya's currency and gold reserves, France, still the predominant economic power in most of its former Central African colonies, would be the chief loser. Indeed, a report from Dennis Kucinich in America has corroborated the claim of Franco Bechis in Italy, transmitted by VoltaireNet in France, that "plans to spark the Benghazi rebellion were initiated by French intelligence services in November 2010". "

So they chose military intervention instead of assination - although they did target his military compound when it all started, in the hope of taking him out straight away.

They failed.

He's still there two months later, inspite of a second attempt to blow him to pieces - and now he's asking for a ceasefire.

Relatively speaking, "going in" is the easy bit, but without a credible exit strategy, "getting out" is the hard bit.

Maybe the assumption was that the regime would simply collapse once military intervention began. Well, it didn't happen and it won't. Gaddafi ain't going no-where. He's there for the long haul.

If Iraq and Afghanistan can be compared to trying to dig a hole in a swamp – Libya can now be added.

How will it all end? Who knows.

It's three dimensional chess on steroids

Too many variables. ESR

Chris Clancy, has been living and working in China for the last 7 years. He is currently employed as associate professor of financial accounting at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, PRC. © 2011


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