A Letter to Uri: About Libya

Share this post...

Submit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
 
Dear Uri Avnery
by Richard Lightbown
I disagree with your assessments and your opinion on Libya.
 
In your latest article on the subject you mention that you were sharply attacked for supporting NATO. Perhaps you deserved to be: both of your articles that I have seen on this subject have been patronising and intolerant of opinions at variance with your own. To be honest, I am surprised that you demeaned yourself by name-calling people like myself.

Let me start with some facts.
 
UN Security Council Resolution 1973 mandated NATO to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone, no more.
 
NATO stretched this into more than 9,600 combat sorties over six months, during which time they have always had special forces on the ground (despite denials from the likes of David Cameron).
 
They have gone on to carry out a regime change (unauthorised by the Security Council and therefore illegal under international law). It has been these supremely well-equipped and well-trained forces which overthrew Gaddafi and not, as you would have us believe, the ridiculous, rag-tag bunch of no-hoper cowboys shooting thousands of rounds at anything and everything from the backs of pick-up trucks.
 
Libya did not liberate itself: it has been conquered by the world’s most powerful military machine that was unleashed by Gaddafi’s friends of yesterday. And in the process they have bombed the hell out of the country, turning many towns and cities into something resembling immediate post-war Europe.

Also for the record, according to Debkafile, it was the special forces who found Gaddafi (after drones had been scanning Sirte for two weeks) shot him in the legs, and then told that ill-disciplined mob where to find him.

I am normally opposed to the death penalty, but in this instance I think what happened was the lesser of the evils. Gaddafi was going to be killed anyway. What happened was obscene but it was, I believe, fairly quick.
 
Better I would say than the fate that befell Saddam Hussein. Saddam suffered a prolonged mock trial in a kangaroo court where the charges were carefully selected to exclude his old accomplice Donald Rumsfeld. He was then executed in a public arena with people jeering at him like some public event in the Middle Ages. Utter bastard that he was I still respect the dignity in which he met his death surrounded by an uncivilized mob. This was typical of today’s real world US justice. That is to say the world that includes Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary renditions, and war crimes of the likes of Felujah.
 
Gaddafi was better off for having avoided such a fate.

I agree Gaddafi could be as ruthless as Saddam. There is no way of denying it. I had genuinely hoped that the incoming rulers would be better, but present evidence leaves no cause to believe it will be so. They are already accused of summary executions by Human Rights Watch, and are suspected of the execution of government troops in Benghazi that western media accused loyalists of killing.
 
Rebel forces are already hunting down black-skinned men and brutally dispatching them.
 
Amnesty International has reported that Tawarghas have been seized from hospitals and makeshift camps for IDPs. There has also been looting of loyalist homes.
 
The city of Tawergha, with a population of more than 31,000 has been emptied of its entire population, while areas of neighbouring Misrata are reported to have been ethnically cleansed. In short this has been a very unpromising start for the dawn of a bright new Libyan democracy. One is reminded of the Iraqi invasion and ensuing civil war and bloody chaos that followed: all of which was predicted by seasoned observers six months ago.

But the devastation that thousands of tonnes of bombs have wreaked on Libyan society is perhaps the greatest crime. Your grudging comment that Gaddafi spent “some money on building schools and hospitals” is a misleading understatement.
 
Disinfo.com listed the following benefits that were available to Libyan citizens: free electricity; zero interest bank loans; having a home considered a human right; $50,000 home grant for newlyweds; free education and medical treatment: 25 per cent of Libyans have a university degree and literacy at 83 per cent is the highest in Africa, (at independence in 1951 the literacy rate was 10 per cent, and had risen to 25 per cent when Gaddafi seized power in 1969.); substantial start up farming grants available to all; generous funding for overseas education and medical treatment if required (including accommodation and car allowance); fifty per cent subsidies on new cars; petrol at $0.14 per litre; average salary for their profession paid to unemployed graduates until employment was found; stipend from sales of Libyan oil paid into the bank accounts of all citizens; $5,000 birth allowance for mothers; cost of bread $0.15 per 40 loaves; the Great Manmade River project was the largest irrigation project in the world which provided fresh water throughout the country from huge natural underground aquifers. Costing more than $25 billion, it was financed entirely by the Libyan government without any outside loans; (along with much else of the country’s infrastructure this project was targeted by NATO which bombed the Brega pipe factory on 22 July. Human Rights Investigations has described this as a war crime. The project manager told journalists “If part of the infrastructure is damaged, the whole thing is affected and the massive escape of water could cause a catastrophe”.); Libya had no external debt (while foreign reserves of $150 billion have been frozen globally); Libyan women also had high status in society and the country had the highest degree of equality in the whole of North Africa and the Middle East for its large black population.

This is the pre-rebellion baseline against which the impacts of this military adventure must be compared.
 
Anyone wishing to justify recent events in Libya should now assess the extent of the enormous economic, social and environmental damage inflicted on the country and take into consideration any forthcoming estimates and forecasts for rebuilding the ravaged nation and its society. Can the pre-rebellion living standards be regained in five years or even ten years? This should be the basis of any ‘cost-benefit analyses’ for anyone justifying this war. Yet no pro-rebel commentator seems to have even considered this question so far.

In the fact the new Libyan overlords may have other priorities on their minds. It has already been suggested by British MP Daniel Kawczynski that Libya should be asked to pay for its own rape and destruction by refunding the “hard pressed British taxpayer”.
 
In an emotional speech to Stop the War Coalition supporters in London earlier this month Lizzie Phelan made the following observations following two visits to Libya since the rebellion began: She had witnessed both men and women volunteering to fight for the government in Tripoli; no evidence has been produced to support media claims that thousands had faced imminent death in Benghazi at the start of the rebellion; Russian intelligence satellites have shown that claims of Libyan government aerial attacks on civilians were impossible; there has been no evidence to back up claims of mercenaries fighting for the government; 1.7 million demonstrated throughout Libya on 1 July to pledge allegiance to Gaddafi’s government; the Abu Sheem district of Tripoli resisted rebel forces for five days until NATO attacks on 24 August targeted everything that moved; she referred to a Daily Telegraph (a British pro-establishment newspaper)article of the same week quoting Libyans who said they had not lived under a Gaddafi dictatorship, but that their lives had been good; she mentioned the resignation of the Director-General of pro-rebellion station Al-Jazeera after a Wikileaks cable revealed he had taken orders from the CIA; on leaving Tripoli she was distressed to find that the safe, welcoming city of only five days previous had been transformed to a badly ruined locale occupied by guns and heavy weaponry; many civilians were dead, thousands had fled and those who remained were traumatised and in a state of shock.

Uri Avnery, you have been working for peace for longer than I have lived. I respect your integrity, commitment and courage and I think you have supported the invasion of Libya for genuine reasons. I can only conclude that you are misguided and ill-informed in your opinion, and in your support of a similar attack on Syria where the death toll is reported to be more than 3,000 compared to estimates of civilian deaths in Libya of as many as 30,000.

I think your opinion is wrong, and I ask you to research and reconsider it.

In peace,

Richard Lightbown

 

Share this post...

Submit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn