By Husayn Al-Kurdi
How can a country of less than five million people, located on Africa’s northern shores and harboring much of the inhospitable Sahara desert, become the object of an aggressive US-CIA campaign of destabilization, subversion, and attack for almost three decades? And why is its revolutionary leader, Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi, so relentlessly vilified and scorned in the media and by policy makers in Washington?
Let’s begin with the basics. Libya is seven times as large as Britain but sparsely populated. Over half of its citizens are under 15 years old, and most of the young firmly support the revolution and its charismatic leader. They and others have enjoyed the benefits of Libya’s vast reserves of top-grade oil. However, the use of these oil-generated revenues has angered the corporate-dominated New World Order and motivated much of US hostility.
From 1911 to 1932, the country underwent a harrowing and unsuccessful war of national liberation against its Italian colonizers in which over a million Libyans lost their lives. After World War Il, the country was held “in trusteeship” by massive US and British military presence. Wheehus Air Base, near the ancient capital of Tripoli, became one of the largest US military installations in the world. The Semlssi royal family was kept in power, its readiness to serve imperial interests guaranteeing its position. But the Senussis lost whatever prestige they gained from their support of the struggle against the occupation by cynically presiding over the destitution of their people, half of whom lived in makeshift housing. The discovery of oil and development of that lucrative industry in the l960s failed to change the situation.
The coup staged by Qaddafi and his comrades on September 1, 1969, may have preempted a similar CIA-approved initiative. Old King Idris and his entourage were sent to Saudi Arabia, and a new era began. Qaddafi espoused a new “third universal” theory for oppressed people’s liberation, enunciating three interconnected concepts of freedom: emancipation from want, ignorance, and injustice; Libya’s liberation from imperialists and neo-colonialism; and emancipation of the entire Arab world.
Qaddafi is clearly an internationalist and universalist. He calls for a “New World Order” in which “the house is for its occupant, the land is for everyone, and workers are partners and not wage earners.” This contrasts sharply with the NWO ushered in by George Bush as he presided over Iraq’s destruction in 1991.
Qaddafi has supported liberation movements worldwide without regard to national, religious, racial, or even ideological criteria. These include the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa, AIM and other militant Indian movements, the IRA, the Sandinistas in their revolutionary phase, and the Palestinian struggle. He is the only world leader to proclaim his support for Kurdistan self-determination, a decision which has assured his position as preferred villain for the US government and its allies. Only Fidel Castro has survived as many CIA-related murder plots. In the most well known example, Qaddafi’s home was bombed by US planes in an April 1986 raid on Tripoli and Benghazi which left hundreds dead or wounded. He lost his infant step daughter.
Libya has also committed the unforgivable sin of avoiding the IMF/World Bank debt trap, making it the only Maghribi (Arab North African) country without huge obligations. In fact, it’s created a socialist system that actually works. Once largely illiterate, Libyans now get free education through college and beyond. Against traditionalist opposition, Qaddafi has promoted equality for women, and rejected patriarchal and oppressive notions espoused by some Islamists. Internally, most of his opposition is generated by reactionary clerics, elements openly serving the West, and large landowners whose holdings were expropriated. Outsiders like Saudi Arabia and Egypt have long targeted him for overthrow.
Today, virtually every Libyan lives in her own home and the average person makes more in a week than she did in a year before 1960. No other African country has improved the well-being of its people more.
Nevertheless, Qaddafi and Libya are perennial targets of abuse in the discourse of world domination, blamed for many “terrorist” acts around the world. Most of the accusations have proved false, but only a careful observer could glean this fact, going beyond the propaganda transmitted by most media outlets. Many Leftists have joined the Right in pillorying Libya’s leader, some even developing labels such as ”Neo-Islamic Bonapartist adventurer.” Activists such as Robert Blake and David Brower express horror at the prospect of Libyans entering the US with nukes in their backpacks. On December 15, 1996, 60 Minutes ran a segment on the most recent, sustained action undertaken against Libya-UN sanctions and an embargo that took effect in 1992. The sole focus was Libya’s status as “suspect” in the Lockerbie case. Embittered relatives of crash victims repeated the usual descriptions of Qaddafi as the “mad outlaw terrorist.” The 60 Minutes punch line was simple: “They can’t get away with killing Americans.”
In the past, the US has falsely accused Libya of a variety of “terrorist” acts that were later revealed to be the work of other states’ agents or associates. The new accusation, certain to horrify a largely unsuspecting US population, was that Libya blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988. The evidence? A micro chip which US investigators claimed could only have come from Libya.
Using this pretext, the US imposed a total international ban on air travel to and from the country, until and unless Libya turns over two “suspects”-both Libyan Airline workers- for trial. The would-be defendants have agreed to be tried in a neutral third country, understandably skeptical about US or British justice. Meanwhile, the embargo has produced a dramatic increase in both road and airline accidents within the country. At least 10,000 lives have been cut short due to the sanctions, and Libya has lost over $1 billion in agricultural and livestock production.
All this is par for the course. The current “New World Order” must suppress those who get the radical notion that a country s resources belong to its own people. Whether that idea emerges in Chiapas or Kurdistan, Palestine or East Timor, it must be thwarted at any cost. Thus, US officials have announced their readiness to use nuclear weapons on selected Libyan targets. Rumors about chemical weapons development could provide the pretext for a devastating attack, nuclear or not. In short, the formula used for Iraq’s destruction is being repeated. Disinformation, defamation, demonization, and dehumanization are all tools in the campaign to destroy Libya and its revolution. The discourse of domination continues. Yet Libya, along with Cuba, 190 wars of liberation worldwide, and countless movements that confront the “New World Order,” continue to answer with their own thrusts toward freedom.
Toward Freedom magazine, February 1997
Libya vs the New World Order