AFRICANGLOBE – Femi Akomolafe writes on the disaster that is Libya today, three years after NATO’s leaders and their planes brought “democracy” and “freedom” to the North African country.
On July 28, the BBC assembled a panel to discuss the tragic situation in Libya. According to these “experts”, Western intervention has not worked and Libya is now a “failed state”. But one could ask if the colonial project that killed Muammar al Gaddafi and replaced him with Libya’s current leaders was designed to work in the first place.
Was Vietnam invaded to build stability?
And do we need “experts” to tell us that conquerors throughout history did not set out to improve the societies/countries they invaded? Does it require more than casual intelligence to know that economic/material gain is the only reason countries invade other countries?
It was the great Africanist and historian, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, who said that the desire of every European, whatever his pretension, is world domination. The colonial wars the West has been engaged in over the years, including Libya, were designed to further Western domination, and no one should try and pretend otherwise.
Until 2011 when NATO planes, authorised by NATO member-countries, bombed Libya back into the Stone Age, the country was a relatively stable one with an impressive standard of living. Gaddafi had his bad side, but the oil guaranteed his people one of the highest living standards in Africa. This is why a large number of Africans trooped to Libya to look for work.
Listening to the Western media, one will not see any context to the ongoing tragedy in Libya at all
The story why the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, ably supported by Britain’s David Cameron and Nato planes, decided to overthrow Gaddafi and killed him in the process, will one day be told. But let no one pull the wool over our eyes and pretend that it had anything to do with the promotion of human rights or democracy.
The sad condition of Libya today cannot but distress patriotic Africans. It confirms a pattern: invaders will invade and destroy a society/country; they will loot all they can, sack what they cannot cart away, and they will leave. A few years later, their chroniclers will arrive and write about the people’s wretched existence, without mentioning the role the invaders played to reduce the people to penury.
A good example followed the visit of Olfert Dapper, a Dutch traveller to the West African coast in the 19th century. He visited Benin City (now part of modern Nigeria) and compared the city’s sophistication to the best of Amsterdam.
Then the British came, ransacked the city, and looted all the beautiful artefacts they could find. Today, British hagiographers talk about how they brought light to an uncivilised people in Benin City, other parts of Africa and the world.
Listening to the BBC “experts” and those of the other Western media, one will not see any context to the ongoing tragedy in Libya at all. No mention is ever made of the type of society the country was before Nato abused a UN resolution to launch its aggression and destruction of the country.
No mention is made of the fact that a US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, flew to Tripoli on October 19, 2011 and effectively gave the order for the killing of Gaddafi.
Speaking to students at the University of Tripoli, Clinton said: “The most important thing to do right now is to make sure that Gaddafi and his regime are finally prevented from disrupting the new Libya . . . But we hope he can be captured or killed soon, so you don’t have to fear him any longer.”
Secretary Clinton was speaking about a sitting head of an African state. No one questioned the source of her legitimacy to so callously and flippantly give the order to execute a ruler of a sovereign African state.
A day after Clinton’s order, Gathafi was captured and killed near his hometown of Sirte. Today, with Libya having become a “failed state” (the description of BBC experts), all of these facts are being glossed over by the Western media as they attempt to rewrite history.
Today, they say Islamic partisans have sundered Libya into fiefdoms, where the centre has become a vacuum. African culture enjoins us not to rejoice at other people’s calamity, but it galls greatly that Libyans refused to be guided by the lessons of history. They allowed the duplicitous West to lure them into destroying their own country.
I have no access to the huge resources available to the BBC, but I more or less predicted the mayhem that would follow the NATO invasion of the country.
For example, I sent a letter with a list of questions to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, asking why The Netherlands deemed it necessary to join a war to destroy Libya. Aad Meijer of the Press and Information Department of the Dutch foreign ministry wrote back to me, saying:
“The Dutch government is very concerned about the situation in Libya. It condemns the use of force by Qaddafi (his spelling) against peaceful demonstrators, his own people. In doing so it considers Qaddafi to have lost his legitimacy. Qaddafi should step down and give space to a negotiated inclusive political solution by all of the Libyan people who respect human rights, minorities and the rule of law.”
Meijer went on: “The NATO mission, Unified Protector, is mandated by UN Resolution 1973 to protect the Libyan population from attacks by the Libyan authorities. The Netherlands supports this goal and contributes to the protection of the Libyan population.”
Responding to my question why the Western powers decided to ignore the publicly-stated position of the African Union on Libya, Meijer said: “The Netherlands believes that the crisis in Libya will not be solved through military means alone and calls for a political process.
It welcomes all diplomatic efforts, including those of the African Union to broker a political solution and underlines the importance of international coordination of initiatives. In order for a political process to come to fruition the Netherlands believes that a real cessation of hostilities and pull-back from beleaguered cities is required.”
And what would be the response of the Dutch government to accusations that Africa is being re-colonised? Meijer responded: “The Netherlands believes that the future of Libya should only be decided upon by the Libyan people themselves.
“It stresses that the conferences on Libya do in no way purport to provide the Libyan people with an outside political solution. The conferences but serve as an international focal and coordination point to ensure effective international support to the Libyan people.”
The lack of restraint
It was a Dutch man, Hugo Grotius who, in his seminal work, titled De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres (Of the Laws of War and Peace) published in 1623, wrote:
“Throughout the Christian world, I observed a lack of restraint in relation to war, such as even barbarous races should be ashamed of. I observed that men rush to arms for slight causes, or no cause at all, and that when arms have once been taken up, there is no longer any respect for law, divine or human; it is as if, in accordance with a general decree, frenzy had openly been let loose for the committing of all crimes.
“Confronted with such utter ruthlessness many men, who are the very furthest from being bad men, have come to the point of forbidding all use of arms to the Christian whose rule of conduct, above everything else, comprises the duty of loving all men.”
Today, we look at Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and see that not much has changed since 1623. So I asked the Dutch foreign ministry if we could look forward to a time when the West would, in the words of the Bible, turn its swords into ploughshares, and attempt to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, rather than military violence?
Meijer replied: “The Dutch government seeks to end conflict by peaceful means. The promotion of international rule of law is part of its constitution.”
Last month, Spain hosted 21 government and international organisation representatives at a conference to tackle issues of stability in Libya. Representatives of the Arab League, UN, AU, EU and the Mediterranean Union were present.
The meeting in Madrid took place a day after heavy clashes broke out between a former Libyan general’s forces and Islamist fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing at least nine people. Yet, diabolical as it might seem, it is difficult not to speculate that the destruction and ensuing chaos we are witnessing, was what was planned for the country. Libya provides Africa with a lot of lessons to learn from.
By: Femi Akomolafe