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Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

Afterword by Ali A. Mazrui
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya
    Book Description:

    In this incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya. He traces the origins of the conflict, situates it in the broader context of the Arab Spring uprisings, and explains the expanded role of a post-Cold War NATO. This military organization, he argues, is the instrument through which the capitalist class of North America and Europe seeks to impose its political will on the rest of the world, however warped by the increasingly outmoded neoliberal form of capitalism. The intervention in Libya - characterized by bombing campaigns, military information operations, third party countries, and private contractors - exemplifies this new model.Campbell points out that while political elites in the West were quick to celebrate the intervention in Libya as a success, the NATO campaign caused many civilian deaths and destroyed the nation's infrastructure. Furthermore, the instability it unleashed in the forms of militias and terrorist groups have only begun to be reckoned with, as the United States learned when its embassy was attacked and personnel, including the ambassador, were killed. Campbell's lucid study is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand this complex and weighty course of events.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-419-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Preface
    (pp. 9-16)
  5. 1 Introduction. The NATO Intervention in Libya: A Lesson of Colossal Failure
    (pp. 17-34)

    When the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings erupted in Africa in the first two months of the year 2011 with the chant, “The people want to bring down the regime,” there was hope all over the continent that these rebellions were part of a wider “African Awakening.” President Ben Ali of Tunisia was forced to step down and fled to Saudi Arabia. Within a month of Ben Ali’s departure, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was removed from power by the people, who mobilized a massive revolutionary movement in the country. Four days after the ousting of Mubarak, sectors of the Libyan people...

  6. 2 The Independence of Libya and the Birth of NATO
    (pp. 35-38)

    The history of Libya has been intertwined for thousands of years with the social and economic transformations of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. With a location in the north of the continent of Africa, the peoples of the region west of the Nile Valley were engulfed in the fortunes of trade, ideas, and religious expansion. Europeans along the Mediterranean coast interacted with the peoples of Libya for millennia, suffering major invasions from this region. Two of the more well-known forays from North Africa were by Hannibal and another by the Moors, who occupied the Iberian Peninsula as part of...

  7. 3 The Collapse of the Soviet Union And the Emergence of Global NATO
    (pp. 39-46)

    Historically, when an alliance is formed for a specific purpose—in this case, halting the spread of communism—it is folded when the mission is complete. Hence, after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was the expectation of many that the mission of NATO would be scaled down, as a “peace dividend.” Instead, NATO expanded, adding new members seven times, and now it is composed of twenty-eight nations. Joining the original signatories were Greece and Turkey (1952); West Germany (1955; from 1990 as Germany); Spain (1982); the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland (1999); Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,...

  8. 4 Muammar Gaddafi and the Elusive Revolution
    (pp. 47-54)

    Gaddafi came to power as the leader of Libya after acoup d’étatremoved King Idris on September 2, 1969. This bloodless coup was orchestrated by the Union of Free Unionist Officers under the leadership of its chairman, then Captain Muammar Gaddafi. King Idris’s rule was replaced by that of a “Revolutionary Council,” but Gaddafi emerged from the ranks of the free officers and over the following years asserted his authority to become the new head of state.⁵⁴ In the forty-two years that Gaddafi was in power, the politics of the society went through many twists and turns but remained...

  9. 5 The Neoliberal Assault on Libya: London School of Economics and Harvard Professors
    (pp. 55-62)

    Although Gaddafi publicly proclaimed himself a revolutionary, he was spending millions of dollars supporting centers for Libyan studies in Europe and the United States. Many of the Libyans who came out of Western institutions were loyal supporters of the most conservative sectors of the Anglo-Saxon culture. They studied and worked in North America and Europe, but they eschewed the politics of social justice. Britain held a special place in the consciousness of educated Libyans, and British leaders worked hard to emerge as interlocutors in Libya. While he was Britain’s prime minister, Tony Blair had been one of the supporters of...

  10. 6 UN Security Council Resolution 1973 and the Responsibility to Protects
    (pp. 63-76)

    In Libya under Gaddafi, political opposition took a religious form and one of the more well-known opposition organizations was the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.⁷⁷ This organization included members who had aligned with the United States to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Some of its functionaries were named as beneficiaries of Saudi funds in North Africa and the Middle East. According to George Tenet, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, “One of the most immediate threats [to U.S. security] is from smaller international Sunni extremist groups that have benefited from al-Qaida links. They include . . . the...

  11. 7 Libya and the Gulf Cooperation Council
    (pp. 77-84)

    An IMF study of the banking sector in the Gulf Cooperation Council drew attention to the fact that Bahrain was the top banking center in the GCC and the Arab Banking Corporation was at the forefront of wholesale banking for the region. In the words of the study, “Bahrain also has a vibrant wholesale banking sector—the largest of which is the Arab Banking Corporation—which provides off-shore, investment banking, and project finance services to the rest of the region.”¹⁰⁵ By December 2010, Libya had become the dominant shareholder of the Arab Banking Corporation, and Muhammad Layas, a confidant of...

  12. 8 Libyan Resources
    (pp. 85-92)

    Prior to the major discoveries of fossil fuel by U.S. oil companies in the 1950s, Libya was considered a poor country whose economy was based on poor farmers and herders who were marginally integrated into the international capitalist system. So many tanks and artillery pieces had been deployed in the Second World War battles that the principal export was scrap metal. After the discovery of oil, the petroleum sector in Libya was dominated by British and U.S. oil companies. By 1957, there were about a dozen companies operating on some sixty different concessions in Libya. They included the seven majors...

  13. 9 France and Libya
    (pp. 93-104)

    At the moment of the Libyan intervention, French society was glued to a long-running scandal about the history of corrupt practices and the financing of elections in France by African leaders. For years there had been trials in France on the role of the French oil company ELF in Africa. ELF managers had been found guilty in one of France’s biggest corporate crime trials. Former Elf Aquitaine executives were sentenced to five years in prison for using company money as bribes. In the 45,000 pages of documents for the trial there were reams of information on the role of ELF...

  14. 10 Libya and the Financialization of Energy Markets
    (pp. 105-114)

    The history of the financialization of energy markets followed the trail of the explosion of new financial products that were being invented by Wall Street in the aftermath of deregulation. During the period after the “Reagan revolution,” there were a series of mergers and acquisitions, and financial institutions increased their influence and power over the political process. The general term of “financialization” describes the process when value can be generated mainly by financial instruments like derivatives, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), and credit default swaps (CDSs), all of which are controlled by the financial sector. In the book 13Bankers: The...

  15. 11 The NATO Campaign
    (pp. 115-132)

    Very few reports have linked the Libyan dominance in the Arab Banking Corporation to the seismic events in Libya since February 2011. Those writers and analysts from Wall Street with links to the think tanks that Wall Street financed were front and center in the call for war. Although Samantha Power was pushing for war from within the National Security Council of the Obama administration, the military top brass and the Pentagon were not on board. The division within the national security establishment in the United States was on full display when Defense Secretary Gates told West Point officers in...

  16. 12 The African Union and Libya
    (pp. 133-140)

    When the African Union was formally inaugurated in Durban, South Africa, on July 8, 2002, the international relations experts were dismissive of this new international organization. They had been taken aback by the speed with which the constitutive act had been drafted, debated, and finally ratified. Gaddafi had been supportive of the process and the Sirte Declaration of 1999 had laid the foundations for the transition from the Organization of African Unity to the AU. The establishment of new organs, including the Peace and Security Council, the Pan-African Parliament, and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOC), had added some...

  17. 13 NATO in Libya as a Military Information Operation
    (pp. 141-154)

    From the start of its campaign in Libya, control over information was crucial to the mission of Global NATO. It was in this war that the differences among Al Jazeera, CNN, the BBC, and French media became less intense, and there was agreement between these news organizations that they would cooperate with those who were poking the fires of war. For the few days when the top sections of the U.S. military hesitated and there was equivocation from the White House, the corporate media vacillated. But Al Jazeera and the political establishment in the Gulf Cooperation Council understood the stakes...

  18. 14 Who Took Tripoli?
    (pp. 155-162)

    The infighting and intrigue among the militias compounded the weaknesses of NATO in Libya. Despite the coordination with special forces, the rivalries between the militias ensured that there could be no effective planning among them. NATO had been bombing Libya for nearly five months and the demands for ending the bombing had been growing louder. Opinion inside Africa for a negotiated settlement intensified, with African writers calling for the AU road map to be the basis for negotiations. The UN mandate for “the responsibility to protect” ran only until the end of September. Russia was calling for the reconvening of...

  19. 15 Tawergha and the Myth of the African Mercenaries
    (pp. 163-170)

    The fighting in Tripoli went from neighborhood to neighborhood, with NATO planes and Apache helicopters supporting the ground forces that were in the process of seizing the city of Tripoli. Once the Western media focused on the Libyan leadership that led the assault on Green Square and on the Gaddafi compound, the leader who emerged as head of the Tripoli Military Council was Abdelhakim Belhadj (or Abdul Hakim Belhadj). Here was another contradiction for states that had been fighting jihadists.

    Belhadj had been a military commander of the Libya Islamic Fighting Group who received his first military training from U.S.-supported...

  20. 16 The Execution of Gaddafi
    (pp. 171-178)

    The details of the escape of Colonel Gaddafi from Tripoli and the bombing of the convoy ferrying him from Sirte have been provided for posterity by Mansour Dhao Ibrahim, an aide to Gaddafi who survived the NATO attack on the convoy. Dhao, who was then the head of the People’s Guard, was with Gaddafi during his final days and told Human Rights Watch officials on Saturday, October 23, 2011, how he was wounded and Gaddafi was killed. According to Dhao:

    The decision for Gaddafi to stay in Sirte was based on Muatassim, the colonel’s son. . . . Gaddafi’ s...

  21. 17 NATO’s Libyan Mission: A Catastrophic Failure
    (pp. 179-186)

    Was there morality to the insurrection? It is important not to be misdirected by this philosophical detour from Bernard-Henri Lévy:

    There is, in the spectacle of Gaddafi’s lynching, something revolting. Worse, I fear that it will pollute the essential morality of an insurrection that had been, up to that point, almost exemplary. And anyone who knows something about revolutionary history knows that this could be the tipping point at which a democratic uprising begins to degenerate into its opposite.²²⁹

    This expression of revulsion by one of the architects of the Western “humanitarian” mission to Libya—Bernard-Henri Lévy—was one indication...

  22. 18 European Isolation in Africa
    (pp. 187-192)

    The heightened instability in Africa consequent to the destruction of Libya by NATO was strengthened by new calls for accountability. Within Africa, the media reported on the dislocations and the consequences of NATO military actions. New voices emerged from within the left in the United States, energized by the African commitment to the opposition to NATO. Vijay Prashad argued,

    The scandal here is that NATO, a military alliance, refuses any civilian oversight of its actions. It operated under a UN mandate and yet refuses to allow a UN evaluation of its actions. NATO, in other words, operates as a rogue...

  23. 19 Failure Begets Failure: The NATO Quagmire Consumes the U.S. Ambassador to Libya
    (pp. 193-220)

    Before the end of October 2011, the spokespersons for NATO were proclaiming victory and that the intervention had been a resounding success. Ivo H. Daalder, then the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, and Adm. James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and commander of the United States European Command, joined together to write forForeign Affairsunder the title, “NATO’s Victory in Libya: The Right Way to Run an Intervention.”²⁴⁶ Earlier, these same authors had written for theNew York Timeson “NATO’s Success in Libya,” stating that

    Monday, October 31st, seven months after it started, NATO’s operation in Libya...

  24. 20 “Libya All In”: A Culture of Dysfunctionality in the U.S. Military and Its Explosion in the U.S. Political System
    (pp. 221-254)

    It was announced by the Pentagon on October 18, 2012, that U.S. Army General Carter F. Ham was to be replaced as head of AFRICOM. Eight days later, the U.S. Navy reassigned Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette as the commander of the USSJohn C. StennisStrike Group. Two weeks later, on November 9, 2012, David Petraeus, a former four-star general in the United States Army, resigned from the Directorship of the Central Intelligence Agency. Petraeus had been sworn in as head of the CIA on September 6, 2011, when the CIA was the main coordinating force for the NATO...

  25. 21 Conclusion: NATO and the Processes of Failure and Destruction in Libya
    (pp. 255-266)

    The NATO intervention in Libya, under the mantle of “responsibility to protect,” came at a crucial turning point in the history of the world. Multiple crises—economic, ecological, political, military, and social—were demanding new modes of social and economic management. Exploitation, alienation, and dehumanization had deepened in Africa after years of structural adjustment and IMF economic principles. Libya escaped the worst aspects of this market system by seeking to organize a distributive economy. Under the Gaddafi leadership, all students had access to higher education and Libya had the lowest infant mortality rate in Africa. A lower percentage of people...

  26. Afterword: From the Lockerbie Air Crash to the Libyan Revolution
    (pp. 267-272)
    Ali A. Mazrui

    In the Libyan war of 2011 was NATO an ally of the “Arab Spring”? Or was it a rogue policeman engaged in war crimes? This book by Horace Campbell strips the Atlantic Alliance of some of its moral pretensions when it intervened in an African civil war. It was not an intervention without precedent in North Africa. There had been a similar intervention in the Suez war of 1956 when France and Britain invaded Egypt in defiance of the United States. In 2011 France and Britain invaded Libya with the involvement of the United States. This book addresses this second...

  27. APPENDIX 1. Libya, Africa, and the New World Order
    (pp. 273-277)
  28. APPENDIX 2. Communiqué of the 265th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union
    (pp. 278-280)
  29. APPENDIX 3. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
    (pp. 281-288)
  30. APPENDIX 4. Chinese Businesses in Libya
    (pp. 289-289)
  31. APPENDIX 5. “This Is My Will,” by Muammar Gaddafi
    (pp. 290-290)
  32. Notes
    (pp. 291-314)
  33. Index
    (pp. 315-320)