Libya is rarely mentioned in the mainstream Western media, which is not surprising because the place is a catastrophic shambles as a result of the US-NATO Operation Unified Protector in 2011 during which the military alliance carried out 9,658 airstrikes and several hundred cruise missile attacks in seven months of war against the Libyan government. They didn’t lose a single aircraft and Human Rights Watch states that “NATO airstrikes killed at least 72 civilians, one-third of them children under age 18.”
On October 30 this year there were yet more civilian deaths from airstrikes, and Al Jazeera reported that “at least 17 people have been killed and more than 30 wounded in an air attack in Libya's eastern city of Derna.” Nobody admitted responsibility for the attacks and there are several countries with the means, motive and opportunity to blitz the place again, with, for example, the United States having carried out a series of “precision” drone strikes on September 22 which killed some savages of Islamic State, which has established bases in the country following the US-NATO war.
It is unlikely, however, that the October attack that killed Libyan civilians was carried out by the US or any other foreign country, and there is little doubt they were killed by aircraft belonging to General Khalifa Haftar, dual Libyan-US citizen, former CIA "asset" living in Virginia State for five years, and now chief of the Libyan National Army which is one of the brigand bands that have flourished in the years since the US-NATO war destroyed the country.
Being subjected to aerial attack is a not a new experience for Libya, because it is the first country ever to have been bombed from an aircraft.
This hideous precedent took place in November 1911 when, only eight years after the Wright Brothers took to the air, Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti of Italy wrote enthusiastically to his father back home that “I am ready. The oasis is about one kilometre away. I can see the Arab tents very well. I take the bomb with my right hand, pull off the security tag and throw the bomb out, avoiding the wing. I can see it falling through the sky for couple of seconds and then it disappears. And after a little while, I can see a small dark cloud in the middle of the encampment. I have hit the target! I then send two other bombs with less success. I still have one left which I decide to launch later on an oasis close to Tripoli. I come back really pleased with the result. I go straight to report to General Caneva. Everybody is satisfied.”
Of course they were satisfied. And you can imagine his descendants — the gallant air warriors of modern times — returning from their bombing and rocketing of some unseen but undoubtedly deserving target and sending an SMS or a Tweet to their nearest and dearest that “I hit the target... I came back really pleased with the result,” just like Lieutenant Gavotti.
And perhaps there were Gavottis in modern cockpits, because the Italian Air Force was heavily involved in the US-NATO blitz on Libya from March to October 2011. On the sidelines, however, Italy’s erratic President, Silvio Berlusconi, an earlier version of Trump, with the same vulgar tastes and salacious habits but more knowledge of the world, expressed doubt about the war. He said he was “against this measure. I had my hands tied by the vote of the parliament of my country... I am against this intervention which will end in a way that no-one knows.”
This was one of Berlusconi’s very few wise statements and was most unfortunately prophetic, although in the year after the blitz two distinguished intellectuals, Ivo Daalder, who was the US Permanent Representative on the NATO Council during the US-NATO war, and Admiral James G (“Zorba”) Stavridis, who was at that time US Supreme Allied Commander Europe (the military commander of NATO), wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs that “NATO’s operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention. The alliance responded rapidly to a deteriorating situation that threatened hundreds of thousands of civilians rebelling against an oppressive regime. It succeeded in protecting those civilians and, ultimately, in providing the time and space necessary for local forces to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi.”
The word ‘moron’ comes to mind.
Which brings us to the British foreign minister, Boris Johnson, who went to Libya in August to meet General Haftar and achieved nothing, although he did admit that the US-NATO military alliance had been “way over-optimistic” concerning the future of the country following its seven months of bombing and rocketing in support of rebels, including General Haftar who had been flown to Libya from the US in March 2011 by the CIA, just as the US-NATO strikes began.
The 2017 World Report by Human Rights Watch recorded that in Libya, “Forces aligned with all governments and dozens of militias continued to clash, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis with close to half-a-million internally displaced people. The civilian population struggled to gain access to basic services such as healthcare, fuel, and electricity. Militias and armed forces affiliated with the two governments engaged in arbitrary detentions, torture, unlawful killings, indiscriminate attacks, abductions, and forcible disappearances.”
But Boris Johnson told a British parliamentary group on October 3, 2017 that he regards Libya as “an incredible country. Bone white sands, beautiful sea... Incredible place... There’s a group of UK business people, actually, some wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte on the coast, near where Gaddafi was captured and executed as some of you may have seen.” He concluded his bizarre fantasy by gushing that “They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai. The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away.” And then he laughed.
Three weeks after Mr Johnson’s hilarious observation about Libyan corpses there were even more dead bodies littering the country, when General Haftar’s aircraft blitzed Derna. Johnson had declared that the general had a “role to play in the political process,” but it seems that Haftar has followed the example of his mentors and believes that bombing his political opponents is more effective than trying to negotiate with them. The war crimes committed by his Libyan National Army (LNA) have been atrocious and Amnesty International verified two videos in the first of which “an LNA fighter is seen shooting three captured fighters with what appears to be a Kalashnikov-type assault rifle as they kneeled on the ground facing a wall, with their hands tied behind their backs.” In the second video “a group of LNA fighters taunt, humiliate and drag a captured fighter along the ground before shooting him dead.”
As acknowledged by US-NATO, the destruction of Libya in 2011 was intended to overthrow the then president Muammar Gaddafi, who, they claimed, was about to kill lots of people. He had, in fact, incurred much disapproval by considering nationalisation of his nation’s oil resources, almost all of which were (and continue to be) owned by foreign companies, and an independent British Parliamentary inquiry determined that “Qaddafi was not planning to massacre civilians. This myth was exaggerated by rebels and Western governments, which based their intervention on little intelligence.” Which sounds familiar.
Before the war in 2011 the World Health Organisation recorded that “the country is providing comprehensive health care including promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to all citizens free of charge through primary health care units, health centres and district hospitals” and the CIA World Factbook noted that Libya had a literacy rate of 94.2% which was higher than in Malaysia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. According to the UN, life expectancy was 75 years, as against 66 in India, 71 in Egypt and 59 in South Africa. The country had a very strange leader but it was thriving.
The consequences of the war on Libya are that its infrastructure collapsed, with the effect, for example, of requiring the citizens of Tripoli to “drill through pavements in a desperate bid to find water.” Refugees from other African countries flood in to try to make their way to Europe, adding to the already calamitous humanitarian crisis. Countless thousands have perished and Islamic State has thrived, while civil war continues to be waged by groups of savages who receive varying degrees of support from western countries.
There is no solution to the catastrophe other than declaration of the country as a UN protectorate, which is impracticable. The lesson learned, however, is that the US-NATO military alliance must never again be permitted to carry out another “model intervention.”