Friday, 25 March 2011

The Strategy for Destroying Libya

The judgment against Libya as a sovereign state was signed a long time ago. And the case did not concern the revolutionary movements inspired by Western intelligence services or the recent UN Security Council resolutions, but rather the totality of events that led up to the development and implementation of the strategy for destroying the country. Libya was red flagged on the “big chessboard” many years ago; it was designated as a target to be bombed, and now it is being bombed.

On September 1, 1969, a coup d’état staged by 12 officers led by a 27-year-old communications specialist, Captain Moammar Gadhafi of the Free Unionist-Socialist Officers organization, overthrew the monarchy, and the Western democracies supported him. However, they did not do so out of concern for the welfare of the masses suffering under the monarchy. Washington and London planned to use the young provincial officers, who had neither a serious long-term program, nor a broad social base within the country, nor political authority in the Arab world, to consolidate their influence in the country and in the region. Or as we would say today, their goal was to establish a protectorate. However, their plans failed. The anti-imperialist, anti-Western orientation of Libya’s revolution became manifest within the first few months of the new regime’s existence, and not just in terms of its rhetoric.

Libya’s first serious attack against the West was the October 7, 1969 speech at the UN General assembly’s 24th session by Libya’s permanent representative. That was where Libya first announced that it intended to eliminate all foreign military bases from its soil. Libya’s leadership subsequently informed the ambassadors of the United States and England that it was dissolving the relevant treaties.

I submit that the second and more painful blow against the West, which ultimately became the second line in Libya’s death sentence, was the attack on foreign capital in the country’s economy. That proved much more difficult than getting rid of foreign military bases. First off, all of the banks in Libya were nationalized in 1970 by order of the Libyan government. Then in 1973, Iraq, Algeria and Libya took over their oil industries, and they made sure the nationalization issue remained on OPEC meeting agendas until the end of the 1970s. That resulted in the nationalization of all foreign oil companies. Ironically, the Western companies had previously invested heavily in Libya, whose oil did not need to be shipped through the Suez Canal, in an effort to reduce their dependence on cheap Persian Gulf oil.

The third attack on capital was massive and ideologically grounded, and it affected the interests of the local bourgeoisie. In September 1977, Gadhafi proposed the principle of “self-government in the economy” as the basis for the country’s future economic development. Considering Gadhafi’s close contacts with Tito and way the theory of self-government was evolving in socialist Yugoslavia, I believe Libya’s leadership attempted to adopt those ideas. As a result, Libya began transferring companies to the collective control of their employees. Gadhafi outlined the ideological basis for this reform in the second part of his Green Book, which is fundamentally anti-capitalist. For example, he exposed wage labor as a form of slavery and declared that workers are entitled to the goods they produce. “A person must work according to his abilities and must be able to satisfy their needs, and all surplus should be directed to the accumulation of social wealth. The accumulation of surplus by one person reduces the needs of another person and is therefore unacceptable.”(1)

In addition, the slogan “Partners, not employees” started being enforced in the goods and services sector after November of that same year, and somewhat later the principle of “Real Estate—property of its inhabitant” was implemented. In May 1978, a law was passed prohibiting the rental of dwellings, and former renters became owners of the apartments and homes they had been renting. This nationalization was not tantamount to the direct expropriation that occurred in Russia after 1917 or in people’s democracies after World War II. Things were handled more politely in Libya. In addition to compensation, for example, former owners received the opportunity to participate in managing companies, but as equal partners with the workers. However, the upper and middle bourgeoisie could not accept this, and they regarded Gadhafi’s socialist reforms as expropriation by the people. Some Muslim authorities also opposed the political and economic innovations introduced by Libya’s leadership.

However, despite the resistance that was being actively fueled from abroad and even a number of assassination attempts, Gadhafi succeeded in implementing a significant part of his plans. Before the riots inspired by the West began, everyone in Libya received enough to meet their basic needs: bread and other foodstuffs were cheap; transportation and gasoline were virtually cost-free; and all of Libya’s people were given free housing.

Another reason behind the strategy to destroy Libya was the political course followed by the country’s leadership to create a special, non-capitalist, non-liberal model of development—the so-called “Third International Theory.” The main principles of this theory as outlined in the Green Book, which Gadhafi wrote between 1976 and 1979, were put into practice. A system of “direct people’s democracy” (Jamahiriya) modeled after the democracy of the ancients was based on three principles:

1. Direct government by the people through people’s congresses, where everyone participates in decision-making;

2. Popular ownership of social wealth, which is regarded as the property of all members of society;

3. The transfer of weapons to the people and training in their use with the goal of ending the army’s monopoly on arms. (2)

That last principle is the most difficult for me personally. History has repeatedly shown that bloody revolutions result when the people are armed. However, now is not the time to address that. The very concept of the Socialist People’s Jamahiriya infringed on the exclusive superiority of liberal democracy—that banner of the West that it hoists in territories it occupies and controls. And in contrast to other developing nations, Libya actually became a successful country. The figures speak for themselves.

Before the events of February 2011, Libya’s per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity was $13,800—more than twice that of Egypt and Algeria, and one half times greater than that of Tunisia. The country has 10 universities and 14 scientific research centers; and it has preschools, schools and hospitals that are up to world standards. Libya is ranked first among African countries in terms of human development and life expectancy—77 years. (By comparison, the average life expectancy in Russia is just over 69 years). Incidentally, Libya made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the country with the lowest inflation rate between 2001 and 2005—3.1%. The advantages of Libyan socialism would make for a long list. The main point is that human rights, if they are understood as the right to a dignified existence, have been realized in Libya to a much greater extent than in democratic Russia, Ukraine or Kazakhstan. So it was not concern for human rights that prompted the Western democracies to topple Libya’s government.

Another impetus for launching the plan to destroy Gadhafi and therefore Libya as an integrated and self-sustaining state was his September 2009 speech at the 64th session of the UN General assembly. Gadhafi severely criticized the policies of the world’s leading powers for 75 minutes instead of the 15 he was allotted, during which he accused them of actual racism and terrorism. In particular, Gadhafi called the UN Security Council a “terror council.” Holding the UN charter in his hands, Gadhafi said that according to it the UN only authorizes the use of military force with the consent of all UN member nations. He pointed out that large countries have waged 64 wars against small ones during the time the UN has been in existence, and the UN has done nothing to prevent them. He defended the right of the Taliban to establish an Islamic emirate and the rights of the Somali pirates, and he called the countries using Somalia’s territorial waters the real pirates. He also said US president George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair personally participated in the execution of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and he left the platform with the words, “You gave birth to Hitler, not us. You persecuted the Jews. You organized the Holocaust!” (3) The West could not forgive such public accusations.

However, I believe the main reason for Libya’s death sentence is its hydrocarbon resources. I would even argue that the virus of “Jasmine revolutions” was inflicted on the Arab world largely with the goal of destroying and dismembering Libya.

When Libya’s last large oil fields were discovered in 1988, the country’s oil reserves were estimated at 3 billion tonnes—meaning it then ranked number one in the world. The largest oil fields—Serir, Bahi, Nafoora, Raguba, Intisar, Nasser, Waha and Samah—are located south of the Gulf of Sidra and are linked to the coast by pipelines. The oil is exported through five oil tanker terminals in the Mediterranean Sea ports of Es Sider, Ras Lanouf, Marsa Brega, Marsa el-Hariga and Ez Zuetina. Libya has Africa’s third-largest natural gas reserves (657 billion cubic meters). Hateiba, with 339 billion cubic meters, is Libya’s largest gas field. New natural gas deposits were found in the Sirte Basin in the early 1990s.

Russia was prominent among the economic factors that interested the West in Libya. The attack on Libya will automatically affect Russia. The destabilization of Libya has already resulted in huge losses for the Russian economy. Here are just a few figures. Russia and Libya concluded several deals for $2.2 billion worth of Russian arms in 2008, and then again in January 2010 for the sum of $1.3 billion. Those deals have now been broken. Several other agreements were being negotiated when the sanctions were imposed. Libya was expected to buy 12 Su-35 multirole fighters; 48 T-90S tanks; and several Pechora S-125, Tor-M2E and Favorit S-300PMU-2 air defense missile systems; as well as Kilo Class Project 636 diesel-electric submarines and other arms. Finally, Russia was planning to sell Libya spare parts and perform maintenance and upgrades on previously acquired military hardware, including its Osa-AKM air defense missile systems and T-72 tanks. The Libyan crisis has cost Russian defense companies alone about $4 billion in profit. In addition, Russia had canceled Libya’s $4.6 billion government debt left over from Soviet times in exchange for large contracts in various areas, including electric power, construction and defense (5). They should also be counted as a loss, as should blown contracts for Gazprom, Russian Railways and telecommunications companies.

Considering the current drama over Japan and the future of nuclear energy, there can be no doubt that traditional hydrocarbons will remain important for the near future. I even suspect that the explosion at Fukushima-1 was the final straw that convinced Western strategists of the need intensify operations against Libya. The fact that Gadhafi was a “tough nut to crack” and did not break when pressure was first applied, as did the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, derailed the strategists’ plans. As we see, however, they did not intend to give up.

UN SC resolutions 1970 and 1973 are less an indication that every international law has been violated—they have been long dead and it would be useless to appeal to them—than evidence that the ideologues and strategists of “manageable chaos” are determined to destroy Libya. As a citizen, I am primarily interested in getting an answer to the following question: in a world where there is only one law—the law of force—are there other morally and politically healthy forces that can prevent the destruction of yet another stable and prosperous country?

I am convinced that such healthy forces exist. They are primarily the countries that did not support UN SC Resolution 1973 and abstained from voting in the Security Council—Brazil, Germany, India, China and Russia. However, it is not enough to abstain—they need to get cracking. Radio, television, news feeds and the Internet are filled with descriptions of the hysteria accompanying preparations to bomb Libya—why are we not hearing the official voices of those who doubt, who oppose all aggression!?

I believe that if Russia’s leadership strongly condemns any aggression and calls for an urgent international conference or summit meeting by the heads of the world’s leading states it could facilitate peaceful resolution of the Libyan issue. If Russia’s Western partners refuse, the point of the open interference in Libya’s internal affairs on behalf of the armed separatists will be clear even to Gadhafi’s staunch opponents. This was how the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was destroyed and the quasi-state of Kosovo created, and how Afghanistan and Iraq were crushed. The main thing is that if most countries tacitly approve and the powerful states are indecisive, virtually any country in the world that is not part of the liberal scene and has any sort of useful resources may be next on the list.

So shall we wait, or shall we do something about it?

Source: Elena Ponomareva at New Eastern Outlook