The Libyan story in plain English

Hello again my dear reader,

I know that politics hasn’t been the topic of my posts so far. I also know that the Libyan situation has nothing to do with Bermuda, my current domicile. But, I need an outlet to vent my frustration about the situation and the actions of the Americans, British and French in Libya.

First things first, let’s get some things clear. The 3 nations attacking Libya at the moment don’t care about Libya or the rebels there. They care about oil. The price of unleaded petrol in the UK has been steadily rising for the last few weeks. It’s currently around £1.35 ($2.21) a litre, having reached almost £1.50 in recent times. This price is so high that people report a drop in traffic on the roads. Petrol has become expensive enough to keep people off the road. Libya sells about 85% of its 1,500,000 barrels of oil per day to European countries such as Italy, Germany, France and Spain. But, it’s not just direct sales to European countries that matter. The UK has a huge business presence in Libya and therefore a vested interest in the stability in the country. Interestingly, the USA buys more oil from Libya than the UK does.

Now for some history. Gaddafi has tried to buy nuclear weapons before, in the 70s and 80s from China, Pakistan and other places. He didn’t succeed in this but still stockpiled a bunch of mustard gas, just in case. In the late 90s, agreement was reached between Gaddafi and the international community not to start a nuclear weapons programme. This lead to the lifting of sanctions, the start of big business with Gaddafi. In all this time, Gaddafi was a dictator but European nations chose to ingore it. Why bother with whether he is a dictator or not, or whether he cares for the human rights of his people if you can make big money? Convenience and profit over human rights? That’s the way of big business, the way that the powerful European nations and the United States operate. In 2006, the United States also lifted its own sanctions against Libya, thus starting a new round of profitable business in Libya’s oil business.

Many countries have supplied Libya with weapons before this conflict. See this newspaper post to get an idea of the scale of the business transactions that took place between the EU and Libya since lifting the embargo in 2004. The UK is the biggest player in this game also. In a repeat of the irony in Afghanistan, the forces now operating in Libya will be facing weapons made by the same companies who make their own. It’s a game of MBDA StormShadow missiles against air defences probably manufactured and sold by the same UK and EU companies.

So, first the international community pushes Gaddafi in not having nuclear weapons and holds the carrot of favourable terms for weapons purchases and other business. Then, Libya is sold weapons. All this while the same man is running the show as is running the show now. Gaddafi didn’t suddenly become “evil”, he’s been pretty nutty for a while. But, he has no nukes so now Europe can go and play in his back yard and there is little he can do.

Now, you tell me, what does all this say to North Korea and Iran? It’s simple: buy or make nuclear weapons and you can do anything you like because the international community will be too scared to attack you. Is anyone surprised that North Korea and Iran are starting nuclear programmes? Who can trust the US and Europe when the facts speak for themselves?

Some will say that this imposition of a no-fly zone is legal because it was voted on by the UN security council. But, who’s in the NU security council? The list is:

  • China (permanent, business interests in Libya)
  • France (permanent, buys oil from Libya)
  • Russian Federation (permanent, business interests in Libya)
  • United Kingdom (permanent, buys oil and has huge business in Libya)
  • United States of America (permanent, buys oil, also big business)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (membership ends 2011)
  • Germany (membership ends 2012)
  • Portugal (membership ends 2012)
  • Brazil (membership ends 2011)
  • India (membership ends 2012)
  • South Africa (membership ends 2012)
  • Colombia (membership ends 2012)
  • Lebanon (membership ends 2011)
  • Gabon (membership ends 2011)
  • Nigeria (membership ends 2011)

I’m sure I don’t need to point it out but isn’t it obvious that these countries can behave like international bullies and pass resolutions as they please? All permanent members of the council have interests in Libya! Russia and China have as much if not more business as the UK, USA and France.

So, Gaddafi is not a nice man, that’s not news. What is news is that the governments of the countries in the list above have decided that they no longer like the man. Well, fair enough. But, watching the BBC World News, I’m sickened by how many times the reporters have to attach the adjective “international” to the coalition. They obviously can’t call it the coalition of the countries who have interests in Libya and have decided they no longer like Muammar Gaddafi. Not just because it doesn’t roll off the tongue but also because it makes the whole coalition sound like a corporation-driven enterprise, not an attempt to save the people of Libya. And Libya being a Muslim country means that we have to be nice, we have to make it sound like it’s in the interest of the Libyan people to set up this farcical coalition. But, it’s not, it’s in the interest of the governments involved.

The “international” coalition therefore has a go at Gaddafi. With what plan and to what end? We’re just going to take out his defences and then look after the sky in order to even the fight between Gaddafi and the rebels? Isn’t that like a bully holding a kid by the arms behind his back so another bully can punch him? Once the coalition is in the fight, it’s to be fought to an end. But, no clear end has been agreed upon. The Americans want to convince us that it’s not “regime change” that they want. They want to “take a back seat” in the fight because the can’t fight another Muslim country. If any of these governments really cared about the people of Libya, wouldn’t they clearly state that we’re in the fight to take gaddafi out and protect the Libyans?

But, doesn’t anyone see that tanks and anti-aircraft guns are manned? For every weapon that is destroyed by a precision munition, Libyan soldiers die. Sure, they work for a dictator but do they have a choice? Well, no. The holier-than-thou coalition can try all they like to convince us that it’s for the good of the people. But, they have to kill people in order to look after the other people, the rebels. Let’s just be honest: we (the coalition countries) have decided that we don’t like Gaddafi because we have too much vested interest in Libya that he doesn’t care for. So, we will take him out under pretence of saving the people and after convincing the UN security council that we run to do as we want.

To close, my point is this. A bunch of governments have decided to remove an evil dictator to support their own business interests. Why can’t we be honest about this? People will die on both sides, can’t they at least die for the right reason? Oh, and someone tell North Korea and Iran that their plans to get nuclear weapons are exactly correct. If they don’t manage to get them, they will also face the wrath of the “coalition” when the time comes.

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4 Responses to The Libyan story in plain English

  1. zzz says:

    Surely if Western countries simply wanted “stability” in Libya to support their oil and business interests, they would have *supported* Gaddafi against the rebels – the outcome would have been a lot more predictable and easier to achieve.

    • spiros says:

      Fair point, they could have. But, supporting a known dictator against his own people cannot be good for business long term, there is a stigma involved. Also, supporting Gaddafi is not guaranteed to stabilise the country, the rebels are pretty determined and seem to be armed pretty well too. The last thing the West needs is a divided Libya, that is even worse for business.

  2. John Lafayette says:

    I just wrote a long response. Then I realized that this couldn’t possibly be anything but a joke. Well played sir.

    • spiros says:

      I’m sorry, it’s not a joke, far from it. My facts are all verifiable and my opinion is my own, you don’t have to agree with me, of course.

      My point was and is simple. If Gaddafi had nuclear weapons, there would be no talk of a no-fly zone over Libya. The West would stand and watch the conflict, applying sanctions as they see fit. But, going into the country without a clear plan of who is in charge and whether the mission is to overthrow Gaddafi or not, that makes no sense.

      The situation in Libya makes me think back to other humanitarian crises (Zimbabwe, Darfur, North Korea) where worse atrocities took place and the West never intervened or eventually intervened to keep the peace and only that.