Libya: Connect the Dots-You Get a Giant Dollar Sign
THE FAKE ARAB SPRING: It’s true that Arab Spring is a good thing. It’s true Qaddafi is a bad guy. But connect the dots, and you will see that he is being set up. The evidence points to a plan to create an “Arab Spring” for the Good Old Boys—CIA, banks, oil companies. Read and see if you don’t agree.
Now, more pieces are falling into place. Those pieces have names of your favorite players: oil companies, banks like Goldman Sachs, and they paint a picture of endless corporate intrigue. The sort that never seems to come out in the corporate media.
Let’s go for a ride.
This February, several days after Hosni Mubarak resigned in Egypt, civil protest began in neighboring Libya. Quickly, Muammar Qaddafi’s Justice Minister turned against him and became a rebel leader. And, he made the dramatic claim that his ex-boss was the culprit behind the bombing of Pan Am 103:
This story made it into major news media throughout the world, without anyone stopping to raise questions about the propaganda benefit of the statement, or of the timing. For example, the UK paper, The Telegraph, interviewed Jeleil/Jalil:
Since then, I haven’t seen any sign that Jalil’s evidence has been shown to anyone. So we don’t know that it actually exists, or that he was telling the truth. But the original headlines did the trick—anyone watching television or reading stories then would have been led to believe that Qaddafi was behind this dastardly deed.
A couple of days later, for the first time, President Obama called for Qaddafi to step down. And not long thereafter, the US, UK and their allies were getting ready to pitch military action against Qaddafi, originally characterized as solely humanitarian, “to protect civilians.” (Eventually, the top British military figure would indiscreetly admit that the relentless bombing was intended to remove the Libyan leader.)
We’ll get back to the propaganda machine and its effectiveness later, but let’s now examine the relationship between the Western governments and Qaddafi. Was it, as presented in the media, merely a case of doing the right thing against a brutal tyrant? One also accused of being behind the murder of those airline passengers?
This is not the place to recount the entire back history between Qaddafi and the alliance. Suffice to say that Qaddafi is one of a long string of foreign leaders who insisted on an independent course, including requisite regional bigfooting, and got in trouble. Specifically, we could look at some skirmishes with the US Navy during the Reagan-Bush administration, but there’s a long list of grievances. This, as in the case of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, is compounded by the fact that he sits on massive oil reserves. Add in his brutality, avarice and bizarre manner, and you’ve got an attractive target, and an easy one for his enemies’ publicity departments.
As animosity grew, Libya started being labeled a terrorist force, possibly with some truth, and then connected to a series of major outrages with which it may or may not have had anything to do.
One was the death of several US soldiers in a Berlin nightclub in 1986, and another the alleged sponsorship of a hijacking that same year. But the thing that turned much of the world against Qaddafi was the alleged role of Libya in blowing Pan Am 103 apart.
Most of us probably remember, vaguely, that Libya’s role in that is an established fact. If so, we’re off base. Let’s start with this 2001 BBC report, following the conviction of Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer:
For more on doubts about Libya’s role in the bombing, see the excellent summary of powerful evidence that the Libyans may have been framed, evidence not presented at trial, on Wikipedia. (While Wikipedia should not be considered a definitive source, it is often a good roundup of what may be found elsewhere and thus a starting point for further inquiry.) The troubling elements, which constitute a very long list, include an alleged offer from the FBI of $4 million for certain incriminating testimony, the subsequent admission by a key witness that he had lied, details of strange goings-on in the FBI’s crime lab, and indications that the bomb may have been introduced at an airport where the defendant was not present.
Nevertheless, Megrahi’s conviction, and the media’s dutiful reporting of it as justice done, meant that Libya, and Qaddafi, would continue under sanctions that had already isolated the country for a decade from the international community.
Qaddafi had sought to undo the cordon, including handing Megrahi over for trial in 1999. But that had not done the trick, and the January 31, 2001 conviction, coming 11 days after the inauguration of George W. Bush, threatened to make things worse—much worse. Qaddafi particularly had to worry about how it might impact his own survival.
By May 2002, with US troops in Afghanistan having ousted the Taliban and four months after Bush listed Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Syria as part of an “axis of evil” seeking “weapons of mass destruction”, Libya was feeling the heat. That month, it offered staggered payments to the Lockerbie victims’ families, as part of a trade for the cancellation of UN and US trade sanctions, and removal of Libya from the State Department’s list of states sponsoring terrorism. By August, 2003, several months after the invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi cut a deal, as reported in the New York Times:
It was a package deal, with many tentative aspects. Libya told the UN it “accepted responsibility” in the bombing—though, notably, it did not admit guilt. Indeed, as late as 2008, Qaddafi’s son Saif told a BBC documentary crew that the only reason Libya “admitted responsibility” was to get the sanctions removed. The documentary noted that several victims’ families had declined compensation because they felt Libya had not actually been behind the bombing.
The 2003 deal was enough, however, to begin welcoming Libya back into the family of nations. The Bush administration moved quickly to begin trade with Libya. By December, 2003, Libya had agreed to give up whatever WMD programs it purportedly had in return for the US lifting sanctions.
This heartened not only Libya, but also major Western companies, which had been champing at the bit for years to get a piece of Libya’s assets, including its vast oil reserves and the income they generated.
The inexorable trade machine kept grinding along. Within a few weeks, Bush signed an executive order restoring Libyan immunity from terror lawsuits and ended pending US compensation cases.
In 2007, strongly encouraged by the UK oil company BP, Britain began pushing for a transfer of Megrahi back to prison in Libya, resulting in a series of events that concluded with his 2009 release from incarceration—on purported medical grounds. (New information on BP’s role has come out recently, with Hillary Clinton and key US senators expressing outrage and declaring their intent to investigate–see here. No mention by the Dems of the doubts about his guilt, just indignation that a “murderer” had been freed.)
In 2009, the same year Megrahi was released, Qaddafi, faced with stiff ongoing Lockerbie payments, began pressing oil companies to pay more to help cover his debt.
We learned of the pressure on the oil companies during the recent propaganda effort to build support for military action against Qaddafi. In a New York Times article headlined “Shady Dealings Helped Qaddafi Build Fortune and Regime”—the crux of which was Qaddafi’s shadiness (though not necessarily that of the oil companies)—was this gem of an item. It was easily missed and as easily misconstrued:
Now why would Qaddafi be desperate for cash? The article didn’t say. But if I’m connecting dots correctly, I’d say that you have to read another paper, then link the two.
Here’s the Wall Street Journal with an exclusive from May 31 that is hugely important but has thus far been seen in isolation, unconnected to the oil demand above. I recommend reading the lengthy excerpt that follows:
The Journal goes on to describe Goldman’s response—which “audacious” doesn’t begin to describe. Goldman offered to make it all up to Libya by selling it a huge stake…in Goldman itself. That Journal piece is well worth reading, as is this essay from Rolling Stone, but a bit off our topic beyond the notion that Western companies loved rubbing this rube’s nose in it.
The point, at least to me, is that Libya had taken the advice of an American firm and invested, and lost, a huge amount of the funds that are supposed to generate profits used in governing Libya. Including providing the kinds of services that kept Libyans loyal to Qaddafi in the first place.
Is it any surprise that just as this banking disaster unfolded, Qaddafi in 2009 turned desperately to the Western oil companies, which were doing well by Libya, and wanted them to pay more royalties to fund the Lockerbie settlements? Settlements he perhaps should not have had to pay in the first place?
By December 2010, when a Tunisian man set himself on fire, the Arab Spring revolt was under way—in Egypt, Bahrain, and elsewhere. Pretty quickly, it was clear to everyone that the Western powers were in danger of losing crucial oil suppliers—and vital military bases.
It certainly was convenient that, right about that time, Libya showed signs of moving in the opposite direction—into the US camp. Read our piece here about the CIA ties to the Libyan uprising.
Then consider the timing of February’s ramped-up claim by the defecting Libyan official, that Qaddafi himself had ordered the Lockerbie bombing.
If that wasn’t enough in the propaganda department to get the global public worked up, next came the Libya rape story. The average person doesn’t have the time or appetite to follow the kinds of complex corporate maneuverings that fascinate us here, but they do understandably get upset about bombs on civilian aircraft and rape.
We wrote about that rape story back here. Our point, which still stands, is that it is highly unusual for rape victims and their families to come forward publicly. It is almost unheard of in Arab countries, where the consequences can be severe. (Update: the woman and her family are being relocated in the West¸ and she’s said she’d like to come to America.)
We noted the timing of the story, the alacrity with which the Western press grabbed it and spread it, and the simple fact that there’s no evidence tying Qaddafi in any way to any such act. Even the woman herself doesn’t claim that. Yet it infuriated untold millions and postings all over the Web show that it moved a lot of public opinion into the column supporting military action to remove the Libyan leader.
That the corporate media cannot see what is going on here, or refuses to see, tells us how far we have not come since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
Still, we can hear the other shoe dropping if we listen carefully enough. For example, the website Politico ran a little item the other day on a powwow between Hillary Clinton and corporate executives over business opportunities in Iraq.
Give it a couple of years, and they’ll be having the same party celebrating a more sympathetic regime in Libya.