How NATO hijacked the uprising in Libya for its own purposes
There is almost universal confusion, even ignorance, over the true nature of the NATO intervention in Libya two years ago, carried out in the name of protecting the people against their own government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Review by Peter Arkell
What were the real aims of the Western Powers behind the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011? What inspired the uprising against Colonel Gaddafi that started in Benghazi and that gave France, Britain and the US the opportunity to pose as the saviour of the people?
How did NATO get away with transforming the limited mandate from the United Nations for a no-fly zone over Libya into a full-scale bombing campaign and an active collaboration on the ground with the militias that were fighting Gaddafi? And what has really happened in the country since the overthrow and brutal execution of Gaddafi and the ending of his 42-year-old rule?
The confusion is not surprising. It stems from the NATO characterisation of their war as a success and “a historic victory for the Libyan people”. The lie that NATO went to war in order to protect the Libyan people must be upheld. This is despite the subsequent killing of an estimated 30,000-50,000 people during the war, the destruction of the infrastructure of the country and the failure of the National Transitional Council and its successor government, the General National Congress, to control the different militias that have sprung up everywhere.
The current chaos in Libya, with striking army units blockading oil ports, widespread violence from the militias and with a wave of bombings and kidnappings, goes largely unreported. An excellent new account of the war, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, by Horace Campbell, places the NATO adventure firmly in the context of the global capitalist crisis. Western leaders were looking for an opportunity to intervene in North Africa.
They were thoroughly alarmed by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and the possibility that they would lose out to China or Russia in the new global scramble for resources and influence in Africa. Once the Arab Spring spread to Libya, with its vast oil reserves and the largest underground water deposits in the whole of Africa, the imperialist powers, this time led by France, saw the possibility of putting themselves at the heart of these upheavals and of hijacking a popular rebellion…