Gaddafi’s Murder And International Law

This is an informative and sobering video by Real News Network on the extrajudical Nato/US killing of Gaddafi. This interview gives some background on what the US interests were and why Gaddafi, who for the previous five years had generally been a cooperative client, became a target.

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  1. Xavim

    That video was absolute gibberish. I thought it was going to be about the legality of the killing of Qaddafi. Instead it was nonsensical conspiracy theorizing.

    Instead of whining about how America (which wanted as little to do with this fight as possible) is going to steal Libya’s water, and how the US/France pulled the rug from under the noble intentions of Putin and Qaddafi, they should be celebrating the death of a man who:
    a)supported international terrorism.
    b)subjugated his own people to horrendous tortures and cared little for their well being.
    c)crushed all dissent with an iron fist.

    The revolutionaries should be commended, especially by an American. Have you forgotten your own history?

    For the past five years Qaddafi was being cooperative up to a point. Have you forgotten his interminable rant at the UN a couple of years ago? He was still a dangerous criminal.
    The revolution was purely homegrown, led by Libyans. The US didn’t kill Qaddafi, all the videos indicate that some irate revolutionary did it.

    What is the point if the video?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This was an extrajudicial killing. We had trials for the Nazis after WWII because we thought the rule of law was important. Milsevic and Saddam Hussein were tried, even though the Hussein trial was considered dubious in some circles from a procedural standpoint. So you’d rather have might makes right?

      And news reports confirm that Nato DID provide air support for this attack. So this is not conspiracy theory. The Financial Times has this in its coverage. Moreover, virtually all the news services are using the word “confused” to describe reports of what happened. The video released does not show the actual killing, so your confidence in how he was killed is misplaced. It probably was the militias, but given the NATO involvement, the extent of foreign support is not clear. From an international perspective, Gaddafi was on the run and no longer a threat to the population.

      All you’ve done is say he was a bad guy and you thought he should be killed. Belligerent statements are not sufficient justification for extralegal action. You have not presented a coherent argument as to why extrajudicial killings are justified. All it does is set a precedent of encouraging other countries to attack US officials and citizens using similar rationales.

      1. Xavim

        “We had trials for…” implies that this is our doing. This is a revolution, albeit backed by some Nato airpower.
        Nato was providing air support for the assault on Sirte. If you want to argue that Nato shouldnt have gotten involved in the first place, then fine. But that’s a different argument. Qaddafi was killed by bullet wounds shot by Libyan revolutionaries. More Mussolini than Goering.

        Also the video barely touched on Nato’s involvement in the death of Qaddafi, as the headline suggested. It was just ramblings of a talking head about oil, water, and how cuddly Qaddafi was.

        1. ambrit

          I believe the point underlying the concern about this event is that this killing, and the murder of Bin Laden, hav established a quasi-legal precedent for assasination as a ‘legitimate’ form of foreign policy.
          We can argue all we want about the causal chain behind the Quadaffi killing. What matters is the public perception. Now, the outright murder of ones opponents can be argued to be a legal act. This isn’t just a step down the slippery slope. It’s the start of a toboggan ride.

          1. gs_runsthiscountry

            A toboggan ride down Americas slippery slope, the Patriot act and Homeland Security act.

            Moreover, every piece of major legislation to come down the pipe in the last decade and a half has been a cluster-F.

            It is unfortunate people don’t write our laws or legislate on behalf of the American people any longer. However, Corporations are people now, so I guess that isn’t true is it.


          2. Blissex

            There is a large difference between binLaden and Qaddafi.

            While binLaden was a common criminal, to be arrested and tried, and not the military leader of a recognized state, and orders to kill him except in self defence would be conspiracy to murder, Qaddafi was the military commander, and was apparently killed after he surrendered, by enemy forces of his own country.

            That is a (civil) war crime, but as pointed out by others, it was a Libyan war crime, unless the executioners were under orders from others.

          3. Nathanael

            Blissex sums it up correctly.

            The subjects of war and violent crime are unfortunately not Yves’s strong points.

          4. Walter Wit Man


            Wrong! The U.S. attempted to kill the Libyan head of state. That used to be (and may still be and should be) a war crime. The Libyans REPORTEDLY are the onles responsible, but the NATO military so support the rebels that they may indeed even be considered “agents” of NATO. In any event, even if NATO were not involved they attempted to kill Kadafy and indeed killed his grand children and other innocent people.

            I would have to look into it a bit but my understanding is a head of state would have to be pretty much be involved in fighting to try to assasinate him. The U.S. has used the weasel argument before that it’s hitting “command and control” structures to try to legitimize this gray area of the law (and I don’t think it’s that gray–it’s just powerful states are changing the law and no one can stop them). It would be like Kadafy blowing up the White House and killing Obama’s kids and Kadafy saying that it was perfectly legal because this was a command and control center.

            But apart from the black letter law here, the U.S. is playing fast and loose with international law to pursue its narrow agenda. Clearly, there is no logical argument that Kadafy’s actions warrant a security counsel resolution while others (even the U.S.) don’t. This was an arbitrary application of the law even if it were a valid application of the law.

            The U.S. is picking and choosing which international law to apply and the end result is a mockery of international law.

          5. Peter T

            Nathanael and Blissex are right, I think. Gaddafi was still alive after the French (?) attack on his convoy, and was killed by Libyan forces afterwards – the Libyan forces did not need the allies to kill Gaddafi, and giving them air support doesn’t mean taking responsibility for all their action. The allies might even have preferred Gaddafi alive in court – only if there are indications that they had asked or bribed the Libyan forces to kill Gaddafi, there would be a crime.

            “The U.S. attempted to kill the Libyan head of state. That used to be (and may still be and should be) a war crime.”

            The supreme military commander is a legitimate target in war. Furthermore, Gaddafi was not head of state anymore, after he lost control of most of the land and most countries had accepted the transition committee as legitimate government.

          6. Walter Wit Man

            The international law on assassinations is in not clear, as I sort of admit. Here’s Foreign Policy’s take on the issue:

            “The law is vague. The long-standing reluctance of militaries to engage in the targeted killing of heads of state is based more on custom than codified regulation. (It’s not really in the interest of presidents and prime ministers for that sort of thing to become common practice.)

            The closest thing in international law to a ban on assassination is the 1907 Hague Convention on the laws of war, which prohibits signatories from attempting “To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army.” Treachery is a tough thing to prove in court and in any case, might not apply to this situation: Qaddafi has been given ample warning and a clear message that NATO and the United Nations want him out.”


            International law is based on custom and the great powers so I admit that when the U.S. and NATO adopt assassination policies they are actually changing the law to make them legal in the future. Plus, there is a different law for weak states and powerful states. The West controls the large institutions so Gaddafi gets prosecuted while U.S.-supported dictators don’t.

            I don’t like the use of assassination for moral reasons. It *should* be illegal AND there is a valid legal argument that it is illegal. But might makes right and there is no impartial forum or body to determine these legal issues. In fact, the U.S. and NATO have made international law even more suspect. It’s a club to use against one’s enemies and little else.

          7. Skippy

            @Blissex & Nathaneal,

            The hole impetus was US driven. The rationale had nothing to do with heads of state and their treatment of its citizens, save the servitude to western interests…cough… a business friendly attitude in a subservient posture.

            Skippy…whip kissers.

          8. Praedor

            People! That horse is already far out of the barn in well into the back 40. Worrisome precedent? C’mon! YEARS of snatch-and-grabs by the US on foreign soil, enemy and “friend” alike so the victim could be disappeared into black prisons never to be seen/heard again. YEARS of drone strikes hither and yon. YEARS of SpecOps troop drops into whatever country we feel needs a little internal makeover.

            What possible precedent is there left to set that hasn’t already covered the gamut of hilarity and mischief?

        2. M.InTheCity

          “This is a revolution, albeit backed by some Nato airpower.
          ” Hmm. Now this might be a revolution. However, considering the guy now in charge used to be Quadaffi’s Justice minister, you might wish to rethink that. “Justice” in that sort of country generally entails a lot of violence and torture, so yes. Right on!

          Also, your feeling that it was a revolution with “some” NATO bombing is quite missplaced. The Guardian UK had a story in August called: “SAS Troopers Help Co-Ordinate Rebel Attack in Libya”
          The SAS is the UK equivilent to the Navy Seals. They were HEAVILY involved on the ground from the get-go. There were stories in major UK broadsheets from March about SAS and other types of on-the-ground involvement.

        3. MG

          NATO did a hell a lot more than just ‘supply air strikes.’ The British/French officially had boots on the ground with lots of special forces on select missions along with special advisors while supplying munitions to the rebels.

          I would also bet that Obama is technically lying about the US not having ‘boots on the ground’ either. At the very least, CIA/US military special forces were acting in an advisory/training role there too even if they were directly involved in the actual fighting.

          There are a number of nations where there are despots and autocrats doing horrible things to their people. Most of the former Soviet republics have varying levels of political repression & doing harm to their own people. You should say the same about several African countries today.

          How are you not generally dismayed by an executive branch of government that can act unilaterally and use military assets to dispose another head of seat as he sees fit? You don’t see that as a horrible perversion of the Constitution.

          This was done for the sweet light crude oil and to help keep the wheels of our European allies economies moving. Nothing more. Without Libyan oil, the Italian and French economies would largely grind to a halt. Germany would take a serious hit too.

          US saw a chance to remove an old thorn in their side, help out their European allies, and potentially get a pro-Western ‘democracy’ installed in one of the countries with the most important oil reserves in Africa that will remain a critical supplier given how tight global supplies are.

        4. ssj12

          No, it was a CIA coup, not revolution. And NATO is controlled by the USA so if you ever see NATO “deciding” to interveen in some nation, its the US War Machine.

        5. rotter

          No one in that report charaterized him as “cuddly”. Your repsonse to a POV which is legally and morally unassaiable, that the arbritary killing of “enemy” govt officials is abhorrent to the American way of life, is hysterical.
          This new US “policy” of political murder should horrify anyone. The US is utterly alone in its outrageous claim that it can kill anyone it wishes in the name of “fighting terrorism”. No legally constituted state in all the history of western civilization has ever openly claimed that power.

        6. thelonegunman

          Do you really believe ‘we’ had nothing to do with this?

          Whywhywhy of ALL the so-called Arab springs did NATO (which is really the US) intervene here – and don’t say because of the atrocities committed by Qaddafi on his people because under that definition NATO / US should be all over Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria…

          One word why Libya and not those countries: oil. Libya has it and we want to control it… That’s why we’re not in Syria BUT exactly why we tolerate B’s and Y’s repressive regimes: they help us with our oil needs…

          I’m sorry it this next comment is rude but your comment sounds incredibly naive or uninformed.

      2. LucyLulu

        All it does is set a precedent of encouraging other countries to attack US officials and citizens using similar rationales.

        I’m confused as to how it sets a precedent for extrajudicial killings, even if NATO played an accessory role by flushing Ghaddafi out of hiding. The US has committed three extrajudicial killings in the last year and Ghaddafi was as much a terrorist to his people in terms of numbers of murders as Al Qaeda has been to the US, perhaps more. And it’s doubtful that Osama bin Laden was still a threat. It’d been reported he suffered from chronic renal failure when he was still hiding out in the caves of Afghanistan and its doubtful he had access to adequate treatment. His health was surely quite poor, it would be difficult to fathom that he was not being sustained on some type of dialysis several days weekly during his time in the compound. Don’t you think it would be rather hypocritical if the US were to complain of this violating Ghaddafi’s right to trial?

        1. ambrit

          That’s the point exactly. The U.S. is not complaining. The heritage of the Nuremberg Trials has been thrown away with both hands. America is now talking as well as acting like an Imperial Power. Can you explain how an Imperial Democracy works? (Tongue in cheek. I usually agree with your expressed views.)

          1. LucyLulu

            I actually don’t have a problem with Ghaddafi’s death because I believe the Libyans killed Ghaddafi. They play by a different set of rules, IMO, and what they do is not our business, and their actions are certainly understandable, particularly in the heat of battle. I DO have a problem with the previous three I mentioned, particularly the latter two. WE are the country that makes claims to giving all citizens the Constitutional right to a trial. I don’t see Ghaddafi’s death as setting any sort of precedent.

            The Al Qaeda killings, on the other hand,………

            Imperial democracy? Nah…. The US is merely filling the leadership vacuum left by the Brits after WWII. ;)

          2. ambrit

            Dear Maam;
            AArgh! Hoist on me own petard! As for Imperial powers and extrajudicial killings, the Matabele Wars come to mind.

          3. Walter Wit Man

            How do the Libyans play by a different set of rule? The U.S. engages in naked acts of vengeance and summarily executes its enemies and denies them trials and civil rights. If anything, the rebels are learning well from their U.S. puppet masters.

            The lynching of black Africans also has a nice American touch to it.

            Hell, these rebels deserve a medal of freedom!

        2. earnyermoney

          Let’s not forget the American cleric in Yemen or his son. Both killed in separate Drone strikes.

          On another note, I’m of the opinion that Obama gave the order to assassinate the leader in Yemen but the CIA failed to get their man.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            Why do you think this? It does look that the U.S. is willing to back another leader if their current puppet falls, a la Egypt. But it appears the U.S. still supports their current puppet. They made a big effort of bringing him back to the country after he recuperated from his injuires.

      3. Greyridge

        From the evidence,looks most likely that NTG/militia killed him. Seems he was lucky to survive the air strike, and without the air strike, might he have got away?

        But the point, as Yves says, is that the shambolic western ‘allies’ had no mandate for killing Gaddafi. This started as an ‘humanitarian’ mission to come to the aid of the citizens of Benghazi, and almost immediately David Cameron was talking about ‘regime change’. Gaddafi delenda est! Funny, he was the North African bastion against ‘al Qaeda’ until very recently…

        Yesterday Cameron welcomed Gaddafi’s death, highlighting Lockerbie, PC Yvonne Fletcher, and the IRA*. So is that what it was all about? As the ‘Sun’ says this morning ‘That’s for Lockerbie’. Nice. Viewing the mess through a rose tinted retrospectroscope from convenient moral highground, we see a nice clean fully justified western adventure: Goals defined(yeah, right); Libyans safe (yeah, right); Evil fruitcake dead (whoopee); Lockerbie avenged (take that, motherfucker. DC, you the MAN).

        (* oh yeah, and maybe some Libyans suffered too.)

        Would the headlines be the same if Sandanistas had murdered Reagan? Or if Iraqis had strung up Bush?

        1. Nathanael

          The Western powers were indeed utterly hypocritical.

          Had they been honest, they would have declared (early) that they considered the Transitional Government the legitimate government of Libya, moved to get Libya’s seat at the UN replaced, and then been invited in by the Transitional Government as allies in a civil war.

          The US Congress would also have had to declare war on the ‘rebel’ Qaddafi government for the US to get involved. In the UK, the power to declare war is held by the Queen, and in France I think it is held by the President, so I think they really were permitted to engage in such wars.

          The execution of Qaddafi after his capture was a war crime, but unless it was ordered by US/UK/French officers, it was a Libyan government war crime.

          Of course, the US government engages in repeated acts of cold-blooded first degree murder without attempting to apprehend suspects, such as the assassination of bin Laden and the assassination attempts in Yemen.

          But Libya is much more of an illegal *war* than an illegal *assassination*.

      4. Marko

        I thought that everyone knew the Nuremburg trails after WW2 were a farce. I mean think about all the war crimes the Soviets committed, with and no trials. Rape and Pillage etc. And bombing Dresden and Colonge etc by the allies targeting citizens. Legitimate? Please wake up to the real world, the people in power do whatever they think they can get away with

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Go back and review the record. The Nazis actually had maintained extraordinarily detailed information about the concentration camps. The lead prosector was shocked. The trial was, among other things, a vehicle for getting that information out.

          1. sgt_doom

            Freedom Lives, Gaddafi Dies

            The United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights opened two investigations today, one into the matter of how Gaddafi was murdered, and the other into why their breakfast crepes weren’t as fluffy as they normally had been.

            Nobel Peace Prize recipient, President Obama, announced he was happy that they whacked Gaddafi, especially as he will no longer be able to elaborate on those Wikileaks cables and secret arms deals.

            The president’s able VP, Joey bin Biden, concurred, although bin Biden said he thought the United Nations should investigate all Black people, unless they smelled nice like his boss, Barack Obama.

            (My suggestion for a Gaddifi memorial: chemically preserve his body, then hang it from a lamppost on the campus of the University of Tripoli as a reminder that his secret police did the same to some of the students there.)


      5. Ron

        During the 50’s and 60’s the U.S. in South America was active with the CIA/military intervention including the killing of various leaders most notable in Chile. These same tactics are now world wide our taste for military adventures seems to be endless.

      6. Gil Gamesh

        Waging war to effect regime change is clearly illegal under international law. The various commenters who argue that the late Colonel’s bad habits justify lethal force have made the case, unwittingly perhaps, for regime change here, in the U.S., the source of many and continuing war crimes abroad and repressive and illegal acts domestically. Before the rejoinder “Libyans killed Ghaddifi”, research the origins of the Libyan revolutionary movement. More facts need to come out, but that movement is not 100% home grown, and many of the actors have ties to Western powers. See, e.g.

      7. gruntled

        We started on this slippery slope a long time ago. After Lockerbie, we tried to kill him by bombing his palace and ended up killing one of his kids. Similarly, we repeatedly tried to kill Saddam, at some serious cost to the civilians caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only thing new here is that we succeeded in our extra-judicial attempts to kill a head of state.

      8. Jeff

        Here are two indisputable facts –

        1) UNSCR 1973 authorized the use of force by the international community for the purpose of protecting civilians in Libya.

        2) The ICC issued a warrant for Gaddafi’s arrest to stand trial for crimes against humanity due to his murder of civilians.

        So, Gaddafi was a fugitive from international justice due to his murder of civilians, and the UN authorized NATO to use force for the protection of civilians. That makes the NATO airstrike on Gaddafi’s convoy completely justified under international law – it’s the same principle that allows the police to use deadly force against a fleeing suspect who’s been charged with murder if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect presents a serious threat of death or injury to others. Given Gaddafi’s history, nobody could reasonably believe that he didn’t pose a serious threat to any civilians he may have happened upon if he had escaped.

        Now IF Gaddafi tried to surrender and IF the NTC forces killed him (the truth will probably never be known), that would constitute an illegitimate extrajudicial killing. But that’s on the Libyan forces, not NATO.

        At any rate, when the UN Secretary General says that Gaddafi’s death marked “a historic transition for Libya” and “In the coming days, we will witness scenes of celebration as well as grief for those who lost so much…Now is the time for all Libyans to come together. Libyans can only realise the promise of the future for national unity and reconciliation,” that doesn’t sound to me like he’s particularly concerned about the legality of Gaddafi’s death. If it’s good enough for the Secretary General of the United Nations, it’s good enough for me.

        1. gruntled

          “If it’s good enough for […], it’s good enough for me.”

          This logic is wrong, regardless of the context.

        2. Gil Gamesh

          The West was never interested in protecting civilians; that’s a bill of goods. Sarkozy and Obama made it clear from the outset that regime change was the order of the day. Not justified, excused, or any other defense. Look up the law. The ICC argument is ironic, given that the US refuses to submit to that court’s jurisdiction. Any theories why (hint: protecting the troops is not it. No one in power here gives a flying fuck about service people.) OK: he was subject to a warrant for arrest, not a decree of execution. But at least be consistent: when the tables are turned, and the US is the rogue nation, you will cheer the summary execution of Americans, correct?

        3. Walter Wit Man

          Very weak logic.

          1. Both the war crimes charge and the Security Council resolution will go to weaken the legitimacy of international law because they were clearly pretenses for western imperialism. There is no logical reason that Kadaffy’s actions deserves a security counsel resolution while worse repression in places like Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen garners U.S. support rather than bombs.

          2. The ICC charges occurred AFTER the U.S. had already attempted to assassinate him. Plus, the video evidence shows him in custody before he was summarily executed.

          These two points of yours are pretexts for naked aggression. It saddens me to see Americans so eagerly swallow justifications for war. How many Libyan’s died for these lies?

      9. Charlie Dodgson

        One quibble. Gaddafi wasn’t an immediate threat to the population, but he could have easily become one in another few months. He bought a lot of friends with oil money in sub-Saharan Africa (even among the general population, if you go by the ones who called in to the BBC “World, Have Your Say” special). That alone could get him a comfortable exile as a return of old favors — but that and a promise to resume the handouts when he had the oil wells back could have gotten him enough troops to at least be a threat to civil order, and possibly worse.

        Between that and the murky circumstances, well… so far, I’m a lot more troubled by the al-Awlaki killings (now including the son), and the OBL story (shot while unarmed, with his hands raised — but he *could* have surrendered!) than this particular incident.

      10. Salviati


        While I am in total agreement with you it should be noted that it looks like Gadhafi went out like Mussolini.

    2. Linus Huber

      Killing of a leader has major implications in regard to the feelings of other leaders, especially those in the Arab world. The US demonstrates that if they do not toe the line, they are not simply going to lose power but their life. This is the important message and allows continued domination via the presently established leaderships in all those other countries.

        1. ScottW

          “Virtually” called for his death–“”We hope he can be captured or killed soon,” she said — while in Libya, to Libyans. Sounds pretty direct to me. I am sure Sec. Rice is jealous of the power Clinton exerts without so much as a whimper of opposition.

      1. Antifa

        NATO’s current policy is “Your money AND your life.”

        One of the lessons other Arab and African leaders, warlords, drug barons and sundry scoundrels can see from NATO’s war in Libya is that there is no longer any hope of hard working strongman squirrelling away a few hundred billion of retirement monies in banking havens around the world. Piss off America or NATO and it all goes ‘poof’.

        A bad guy used to be able to escape to Paraguay or Argentina or Bahrain or some such place, and then live off his Swiss and Cayman bank accounts forever after.

        Those were the days, baby. And they’re gone forever.

        The first thing that happened to Quaddaffi is that all his foreign bank accounts were seized in various ways. Secret numbers and lock boxes and passwords be damned. Everything disappeared except what he could stuff in his pockets.

        Poor Muammar. Decades of exceptional, professional, really world class looting — all for naught. Gone in a cyber instant. Poof!

        And then, then — they shot the penniless bastard.

        Every mother’s son in the Middle East and Africa who has a secret foreign bank account is thinking about this.

    3. Jim3981

      I love it when the people involved in protecting the “conspiracy” come out and try and marginalize the argument by using conspiracy in a pejorative way. Don’t be a “useful idiot”.

      useful idiots:
      Term invented in Soviet Russia to describe people who blindly supported the likes of Lenin and Stalin while they committed atrocity after atrocity.

      1. Fíréan

        “Conspiracy theory” has become obsolete as a prejorative term (we know who conspires, we know that people do conspire and have done for a long time that’s how they get where they are and what they want: as for theories, the facts are out there). And yet resorting to the use of the terminology exposes more about the users lack of any substantial counter argument to the information being presented and sole reliance upon discrediting the character of the presenter of the information by use of blanket non specific terms which they believe be prejorative.
        It belittles the user, not the target.

    4. doom

      As it happens the intervention was also aggression, the highest crime, since NATO overstepped the objectives authorized by UNSC Res. 1973 (2011) when it took sides in a civil war and attacked civilian targets to render one side helpless. We made the Nazis swing for the crime of aggression. Obama and Sarkozy could as easily swing for the bombing of Sirte. But Zionazi shills with their criminal criminal criminal talk never seem to read the law. UN Charter Chapter VII is supreme law of the land here, but that’s our most classified secret.

      1. Eric

        Disclaimer: The previous comment was intended to be satirical. I apologize most abjectly if my intent was not clear. For some reason my humor is always funnier to me than to other people. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

  2. Kevin de Bruxelles

    The video takes a blatantly Western-centric view of the conflict. The commentators systematically efface the efforts of normal Libyans. Hardly any mention of the everyday people who first decided to stand up to oppression, and when this was met with massacres, decided to take up arms against their oppressor, and with the help of Western arms, ultimately were able to defeat the tyrant and impose their will on their country. Many, many simple Libyans died in this struggle. But in the video just about all we hear about is Europe and the US.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Gaddafi was killed by local fighters. That makes this not a violation of international law but a matter of Libyan domestic law. Airstrikes from NATO no doubt crippled the convoy and possibly wounded Gaddafi but the video clearly shows he was alive after this strike as he was marched off to be executed by local fighters. But these airstrikes were done under a UN mandate. Besides the gunshot that killed him, the last sounds Gaddafi heard were the joyous shouts of “Allahu Akbar”. People should stop infantilizing the Libyan people, they were the ones who executed Gaddafi and if anyone has a problem with that then they should aim their accusations towards the responsible parties.

    What the guy in the video does get right though is that the US has no problem working with Islamists. Given the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US, I am not sure why this would be a surprise to anyone.

    1. Jesse

      “What the guy in the video does get right though is that the US has no problem working with Islamists. Given the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US, I am not sure why this would be a surprise to anyone.”

      When people speak of “Islamists”, they’re speaking of groups like Hamas, AQ, Hezbollah, etc… – all enemies of the United States and/or Israel. The Islamists like AQ are actually strongly opposed to the relationship b/n SA and USA, because they view the SA regime as being hypocritical in its Islamic beliefs and selling out to the West.

      1. Kevin de Bruxelles

        The best way to explain it is that the US has no problem with pro-American Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the new governments of Iran and Afghanistan, etc) . They do most certainly have a problem with anti-American Islamists, AQ and Hezbollah as you mention, the status of Hamas may be changing due to their recent turn towards Egypt. So you see here in this equation, the fact of being Islamist is irrelevant – the attitude a group has towards the US is the deciding factor.

        The reference to “Islamists” in the video was not to Hezbollah or AQ but to the Islamists who are about to take control over Libya. Since the Islamists in both Egypt and Libya are pro-American, the US will have no problem working with them. It is in the US’ long term imperial interests to have a Middle East ruled by pro-American Islamists.

        1. Diogenes

          Kevin de Bruxelles, you’re getting just a wee bit ahead of yourself there when you reference the “new government… of Iran”. I don’t doubt that we’re headed in that direction, but we haven’t actually gotten there yet.

        2. liberal

          “They do most certainly have a problem with anti-American Islamists, AQ and Hezbollah as you mention, the status of Hamas may be changing due to their recent turn towards Egypt.”

          How have Hezbollah and Hamas been anti-American?

          1. Kevin de Bruxelles

            From the US point of view they are anti-American in that they belong to the Iranian bloc (with Syria) and actively resist US (pro-Israeli) policy objectives in the region. In fact of course Hezbollah and Hamas’ beef is with Israel and only indirectly with the US.

        3. Jesse

          It looks like you are right, I’d just never heard the term used that way before. Though I would take issue with the claim of Islamists being pro-American. Most foreign fighters in Iraq were from east Libya. Maybe they changed their mind after we intervened in Libya, or maybe they just make up a small portion of the Islamists. We’ll see.

    2. Peripheral Visionary

      Kevin, spot on.

      The problem with the conspiracy theorists (and let us be honest, much of the commentary here falls squarely within that realm) is that they have to ignore significant facts in order to make their preconceived theory fit the situation.

      In this case, the fixation with the Washington/New York nexus is such that many people have come to believe that not just a disproportionate amount of power, but literally all power is concentrated there; that no one outside of the U.S. political and financial leadership is capable of acting independently. That leads to absurd conclusions regarding events that are far out of the reach of the U.S. leadership; e.g., that because a U.S. warplane was in the area at the time, the U.S. leadership is therefore in complete control of the events on the ground. Any fair examination of the facts would reject such simplistic conclusions.

      Ironically, the end result of this line of thinking is an absurd and ethnocentric neo-imperialist view, where, as with the Imperialist apologists of the 19th century, it is believed that no one other than the educated elites of the Western world are capable of independent action. It reflects an extremely poor view of non-Westerners, particularly uneducated non-Westerners, as being hapless fools who are only tools in the hands of their Western masters. Again, any fair examination of the facts (such as, for instance, virtually the entire history of the Cold War) would reject such simplistic and narrow thinking.

      1. Barbyrah

        “Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that 70 times and you’re done… for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries. This new Pentagon power elite is waging a global war whose size and scope has never been revealed…”

        “How Many Secret Wars are We Fighting?” Aug. 4, 2011

        Translate: While it may be true there is some semblance of an “ethnocentric, neo-imperialist” view presented in the interview, that doesn’t mean covert operations via CIA operatives, special black ops units, etc. have just been sitting back twiddling their thumbs throughout the whole Libyan debacle (or even before the debacle began).

        There are a ton of books and papers out there, well reseached and foot-noted, that let us clearly know: If it’s about resource control and “strategic partnerships” focused on regional domination, you can pretty much be assured the Western world has been/will be messing around in it all (usually under cover until it becomes impossible to deny, then minimized like crazy), even if there are “naturally emergent rebels” suddenly taking up arms along the way.

        P.S. Me thinks that’s not so much ethnocentrism as it is applying historical fact to present day situations.

  3. Jesse

    I’m in partial agreement with the critical posts so far. I am grateful for news like TRN and DN!, but this guest felt like he was tossing conspiracies all over the place with no real proof (which the interviewer, to his credit, pressed him for.) First we took him down for banking reasons. Or wait, no, it was to station US troops in Libya which would be a total non-starter for Islamists despite his extraordinary assertions otherwise.

    And what kind of people are we allied with here?? Gaddafi’s death was brutal and as ugly as it gets and serves to show how much chaos there is in Libya’s future (that we will be partially to blame for). We were fools for not minding our damn business and staying out in the first place.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Jesse;
      My moneys on a mid term breaking up of Libya and the absorbtion of the kindred parts by neighboring countries. Africas old colonial borders have to go sooner or later.

      1. Nathanael

        Libya’s actually a fairly socially coherent country, apart from the southern desert regions (which are too low-population to have any voice in their own affairs). Accordingly its borders are likely to remain the same. Contrast the borders of states in much of sub-Saharan Africa, which carve ethnic groups in half and put longtime enemies in the same state; they are not viable.

    2. Mikhail Kropotkin

      The House of Saud, who are Islamists and an enormously repressive pro-US regime, have no problems with US bases on their soil. The US has a fondness for dictatorial client leaderships. They are good customers for US arms.

  4. LucyLulu

    All the news reports I heard, and they were several, were consistent in saying a drone flushed him out of where he was staying and he was subsequently found by ground troops, Libyan, in a sewer drain. Whether there were any NATO members participating in the ground troops or not, the Libyan people had made it clear they were intent on finding Ghaddafi and killing him, per the reports I’ve heard. My understanding of the culture is that capturing Ghaddafi and holding him for trial would never have happened for the types of crimes Ghaddafi committed, particularly in a war environment. Expecting anything but swift retribution would have been unrealistic. Ghaddafi also knew he would die, he said as much when he said he would die before he would give up (though he asked at the end for his life to be spared, people often change their mind when faced with the inevitable).

    This killing is on the Libyan people. Its what they wanted and who can blame them. Given the level of abuses and tragedies we have elsewhere in this world, and that Ghaddafi perpetrated on his own people, the US or NATO doesn’t need to be intervening to judge their actions or attempting to change their culture. We need to be cleaning up our own side of the street right now.

    1. Mikhail Kropotkin

      Yes, and cleaning up needs to start with staying the hell out of other peoples’ domestic politics!
      The UN authorisation was a fig leaf for blatant US aggression to establish a new client state. If you think US action in Libya was justified, why aren’t you calling for the same in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain?

      1. Nathanael

        Why do you think he isn’t?

        US support of the overthrow of the utterly evil Saudi Arabian government *would* be justified. Of course, the US government *loves* them some absolute dictators who hate human rights, so this will not happen unless the US has a revolution.

  5. FlyingKiwi

    In the light of the comments I haven’t bothered to watch the video as I thought the implication of the headline nonsensical to begin with – yes it is regrettable that Gaddafi won’t stand trial but I can give no credence to any suggestion that A) NATO/international ‘interests’ were so deeply embedded in the insurgency that there just happened to be operatives around in the particular location in which Gaddafi was found, B) the said operatives had instructions that if they happened to find Gaddafi he was to be killed outright and C) any local fighter who had been 30 years under Gaddafi and fought a war to get rid of him would be particularly concerned with the niceties of international law.

    Of course on this latter point anyone with a gun and a cause has had a shining precedent for the acceptability of extra-judicial execution since the one a few weeks ago, sanctioned by the Leader of the Free World/Nobel Peace Laureate, no less.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      All the evidence suggests that the “Libyan” fighters were controlled by NATO. They told the fighters where and when to fight. NATO had boots on the ground as well! I’ve seen video evidence and reports. Also, the U.S. uses drones and satellites so it can observe things.

      For instance, in this situation the U.S. has evidently claimed they used a drone to “flush” him out (I’m a little dubious of this claim b/c the U.S. military often gives self-serving descriptions of its drone use–e.g. the U.S. said it wouldn’t have to use cluster bombs on Yemeni villages if Congress would give them more drones to kill Yemenis with more precision). Then NATO bombed the convoy. NATO often uses spotters or intelligence on the ground so it’s very fair to assume there was some communication between the rebel fighters and NATO.

      Anyway, I don’t trust anything the U.S. or NATO says. They have been caught lying repeatedly and U.S. media is complicit because they uncritically regurgitate whatever is told to them and they engage in propaganda by not reporting that there are NATO boots on the ground, for instance.

  6. KFritz

    The interviewee includes one howler. The US already has a significant joint service military base in Djibouti. (The article is mediocre at best, but very clear on the base.)

    The assertions on water exploitation seem dubious, outside of potential privatization of Gaddafi’s intra-Libyan projects by greedy multinationals. Perhaps Egypt might be interested to import Libyan water?

  7. Michael Fiorillo

    Mostly ignored in the discussions about Libya is the reality that this was a resource grab, but not the one people reflexively assume.

    This was not just about petroleum, but water: Khadafy built a water supply system connecting the immense aquifers that underlay the southern deserts to the (relatively) populous north, and then had the temerity to dedicate them to the Libyan people as a public resource. That crime against Free Markets has now been rectified, as the water will no doubt be cheaply sold by the tankerful to the Saudis.

    Here’s a link:

  8. wunderbar

    The killing of Gaddafi was more like the killing of Mussolini at the end of the war than anything else.

    It goes under the heading of “sic semper tyrannis.”

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Sid Finster,

      Please inform NC readers of those cheaper forms of supplying water to the Saudis, who are already using immense amounts of energy to desalinate water.

      And if Khadafy was so amenable to cutting deals advantageous to trans-nationals, why had he not already done so in the case of Libyan water resources?

      That the rebellion against him had indigenous support does not eliminate the likelihood of this public resource being privatized, as is happening globally.

  9. SidFinster

    I am sure that there are cheaper ways to transport fresh water to Saudi, not to mention closer sources.

    Anyway, if significant proven oil reserves were discovered in hell, oil companies would not be clamoring for an invasion. Instead, they’d be taking the Devil out for a very nice lunch and trying to cut a deal.

    Ghadaffi was not adverse to cutting deals with western oil companies and on relatively favorable terms. I doubt water would be any different.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You clearly don’t hail from the the American Southwest or the Middle East. Water is a scarce resource and fought over. There was a huge fight in Southern Colorado in the late 1980s-early 1990s over a deal to exploit the second biggest aquifer in the US. Would have made the principals a fortune if they had succeeded in “perfecting” their water rights. But the famers in Alamosa county blocked them and it became an expensive bust. Look at the struggle now over who gets to use the water in the Colorado River.

      Fresh water is the most limited major resource in the world. Credible models project we run out of it by 2050. We can reuse water, unlike oil, but it is costly in energy and environmental terms.

      Israel is the world leader in desalination technologies, but desalination is problematic.

  10. Mikhail Kropotkin

    The most interesting thing is this is 2 for 2 for regimes that gave up nuclear aspirations. And both leaders are dead before they can tell any tales. Why would Iran or North Korea give up nuclear ambitions, if they are determined to not be US supplicants.

  11. Spade

    Dear Yves; I love your book and your blog…. But I must say that the common left wing diatribe and crude “anti-imperialist” analysis from marginal conspiracy theorists and fringe “intellectuals” should be well below the standard of your site and its readership. Not familiar with Real News, but judging from this interview, in content, it appears to be closer to Max Keiser’s show on RTN than the BBC.

    I believe the international law is being fudged in favor of expediency in the case of true monsters like Osama Bin Laden and Ghaddafi, but I would not shed a tear for perpertrators of 9/11 and Lockerbie… I would only worry if it starts to get fudged in our dealing with other more reasonable parties just because they are in conflict with “our interests” (such as the leaders of Iran or Venzuela).. But I would also refrain from getting my hopes high for what comes next in Libya. The “rebels” sadistic brutality in full display tells me they are closer to Taliban than say, the Sandinistas, and does not bode well for stability in North Africa…

    1. Contrariety

      The problem is where do you draw a line?

      I would rather the line be draconian at no extrajudicial killings by military forces. This does not seem to be the case here, where it was by Libyan rebels.

      Bin Laden and al-Awlaki are extremely troublesome precedents no matter what their crimes, because popular resentment by anyone should never be the judge, jury, and executioner. Keep in mind that al-Awlaki was not even officially accused of any crimes in particular, it was a ‘we don’t like you so we’re going to kill you’. Who has the authority to make that call? No one should.

    2. liberal

      “I believe the international law is being fudged in favor of expediency in the case of true monsters like Osama Bin Laden and Ghaddafi, but I would not shed a tear for perpertrators of 9/11 and Lockerbie…”

      That’s fine. However, the invasion of Iraq was a far, far greater crime than either 9/11 or Lockerbie. Hence, if you’re consistent, I assume you’d shed no tear if someone murdered everyone in the Bush administration who planned the invasion, plus everyone in Congress who signed the AUMF authorizing it.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Great point liberal. We are seeing entirely too much of this weak logic coming from the regime change/pro-war side.

        The American people have been whipped, propagandized really, into thinking Qadafy is the embodiment of evil, therefore all logic is thrown out the window and anything is justified.

        The same propaganda is happening vis a vis Iran as well. Americans can’t think straight on issues involving these countries.

    3. Barbyrah

      Dear Spade,

      You seem to make a pretty vast assumption re: what should be deemed “well below the standard of your site…” as well as an assumption regarding what an “intellectual” is.

      And I would say this:

      1. Just because I don’t agree with everything a person says or writes…doesn’t mean I need to categorize it as “beneath” me, or unintellectual. I’ve found incredibly important pieces of info offered by people who might be considered by the mainstream as “fringe.” Who even offer some things I strongly disagree with. Yet in most of my experiences, it’s the “fringe” stuff that usually gets exonerated years after, the “fringe” stuff that brings us new, essential information that nobody else dares touch, the “fringe” stuff that ultimtely takes us to a new level. Translate: Just because something doesn’t meet the current mainstream “tests” of validity (which sounds slightly snobbish, actually)…doesn’t make it unworthwhile to read through, listen to, consider.

      2. Personally, one of the main reasons NC has become a site I visit on a daily basis…is Yves’s willingness to post things other sites won’t, ESPECIALLY those items you seem to thing are “below standard.” I’m out here saying: “Whew! FINALLY someone with the guts to just go for it and put it out there for the rest of us to consider, contemplate, chew on.” (Something the BBC would never do, btw, because it’s been frightened into sticking with “safe, non-controversial” programming for the most part, programming that does little more than keep the same old lies and obfuscations flying.)

      P.S. In these times we’re in, continuing to go the denial route, or continuing to try and jam everything in to “fit” that same old party line…just ain’t gonna cut it for a lot of folk anymore. Including me. Because we know things are shifting. Big time. This ain’t chump change we’re talking…but a planetary transformation of mega-proportions. Which takes a willingness to step outside the party line. And see with fresh eyes.

      I wish you well. And perhaps you’ll stick around anyway…!

    4. Glenn Condell

      ‘it appears to be closer to Max Keiser’s show on RTN than the BBC’

      This is a criticism? Boil away the bombast and there is more hard truth and informed supposition in an hour of Max than in any month of BBC since they shafted Gilligan. Keep swimming in the MSM, it’s nice and warm; it helps you forget unpleasant things, or even better, fails to tell you about them in the first place.

  12. DC Native

    I wonder what average Libyans think of Gaddafi’s death. Keep in mind, the NTC is comprised almost exclusively of Benghazi-based separatists; folks who had been trying to violently secede from Libya for decades. There appears to be a very distinct East-West split in Libya, so it’s very possible (and perhaps likely) that many/folks in Tripoli aren’t entirely thrilled about these developments. It’s hard to tell from the one-sided news coverage.

    The only videos I’ve seen so far have shown about 25-50 armed Libyans jumping around in front of a camera. Behind them, life appears to be normal.

    1. DC Native

      Oh, and the National Transitional Council recently made an offer to the French government; 35 percent of Libya’s gross national oil production “in exchange” (the term used) for “total and permanent” French support for the NTC.

      If it’s a “conspiracy theory” that the Western power were pulling the strings behind this “revolution” in order to acquire resources, then someone forgot to tell the NTC.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Yes, Western governments have been quite openly fighting for the spoils. But yet many in the media use terms like “conspiracy” when these obvious motives are revealed.

      Our media is completely corrupted and they are working with Western governments to sell regime change and imperialism.

      They hid the boots on the ground. They didn’t focus on the illegality of Obama’s actions. I haven’t seen any major media even remind people that this action is clearly unconstitutional.

    3. Nathanael

      You just haven’t read the serious Libya coverage. Tripoli has a huge working class population (concentrated on the “east” side) and a smaller non-working-class population (on the “west” side). The working class population of Tripoli hates Qaddafi and rose up against him almost immediately. The population on the west side… didn’t much care either way.

      I could go city by city and neighborhood by neighborhood, but the only places where the average Libyans preferred Qaddafi to the Transitional Government were Sirt and a couple of other towns; the ones which fell last in the war, naturally.

      1. Glenn Condell

        ‘You just haven’t read the serious Libya coverage.’

        Of course not, that’s for Serious People like you. Close eyes, open mouth, swallow and repeat.

  13. timothy straus

    Please, Yves is absolutely correct.
    There was no way that the US was going to allow this man to live, period. The idea that NATO ran this intervention/invasion is a joke, NATO reports to only one master, with the French President as the front man–we founded, funded and equipped NATO, it is run, directed and totally controlled by the Unites States. Qaddafi would have been Toxic for the US and of course the British if left alive. I expected him to be killed. He was captured, was a prisoner, and shot in the head–he was murdered, given no rights and no chance. It is sickening that America has fallen so low that we have lost all of our respect for the rule of law. There is no justification, there is no rational that honors the principals of conduct and justice that this nation once held as a pillar of our myth of American Exceptionalism, of our self-respect as a morally unique people. We have succumbed to a lower standard, we have become as our enemies have hoped, and we have become them. When the last vestiges of our national respect for higher principals are covered in the same mud of moral and ethical relativism, we are lost.

    Unfortunately, ethical and moral relativism allows government unfettered freedom to disregard the rule of law, but it is the lack of objective civil passion on the part of the American people that consents to it; the lie is accepted as truth, war is humanitarian intervention and individual rights are subordinate to the National Security State.

      1. Glenn Condell

        Spot on.

        Might’s right alright and it decides the news that’s fit to print in the empire’s organs for Serious People, complete with semi-plausible but vacuous and hypocritical intellectual rationales that wouldn’t fly if the roles were reversed. There is always a market for this self-serving pablum, obviously.

        ‘Yes it is regrettable that Gaddafi won’t stand trial’

        Nice to see ‘regrettable’, that old standby, get another run. Jesus, if the US wanted Gaddafi alive he would be alive, no? The fact that he’s dead means they wanted him dead, unless you think it likely that they had expressed no preference one way or another. If you are a Serious Person I guess that comes easy.

        The whole idea that US preferences were or even might have been tangential to all this flies in the face of all the evidence we have for a decade and more. Their fingers are in EVERY pie on earth, and sometimes despite their best efforts a fingernail pokes through for all to see. This is a slightly tidier effort than the OBL affair, but to imagine a degree of autonomy for local forces which gave them enough room for a Gaddafi trial is I’m sorry just ludicrous. It might read well or scan OK in theory but a moment’s reflection nixes it.

  14. Blissex

    «proven oil reserves were discovered in hell, oil companies would not be clamoring for an invasion. Instead, they’d be taking the Devil out for a very nice lunch and trying to cut a deal.»

    In that case I’d advise the devil to use a long spoon to soup with oil executives. But I guess he already has several in care so he has learned about them the hard way. :-)

  15. skippy

    A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother, As kill a king, and marry with his brother.

    Skippy… any thing else new under the sun?

  16. LAS

    The only thing surprising about the Qaddafi assination is that people seem surprised by it.

    International law has never really been enforceable. It’s always been by gentleman’s agreement or reciprocity considerations and so, yes, this is a meaningful sign post for the future. In particular, the US is still feeling fairly unilateral, not a diminished empire, despite the financial crisis and the Iraqi war.

    Qadaffi’s death should have been predicted because targeted assasination by drones is already regularly practiced by the US overseas. When drone use as a way of policing the United States goes mainstream media, we will experience another big sign post of the times. But we’ve already got hidden judges determining who shall live and die; then the military going out to make it so.

    Last 20-30 years, laws have been breaking down, both at home and abroad, and they are being replaced by authority and power brokers that use law to extract compliance from others while changing laws that impede their power. It is justified as being efficient, pragmatic, economic and for your own protection, health, job’s program, etc.

    Authority might have permitted a little blowing off of steam at home by OWS these past few months (“see folks we are a democracy”) … But how are they going to react if/when OWS exceeds a threshold and authority figures actually feel threatened?

    First there will be every means tried to discredit OWS to the public. Then it will get violent. At best, we will have a period of civil unrest.

  17. patricia

    However you want to parse out the details, Gaddafi was a dictator of lesser evil (because there are levels of evil, as we well know) than some of the others that are happily continuing to torment/kill their people with US arms and full support. Moreover, the US military went into that country without even cursory approval of our representative gov’t. Illegal. And wrong.

    In the last half year, the US military killed Osama Bin Laden, then Al-Awlaki, then his son. Each in different countries with which they are not at war. And we have drones everywhere over there, killing more and more “terrorists”, with constant “collateral damage”. We have destroyed Iraq and done what we could to Afghanistan. Yep, illegal and wrong.

    And now we have Clinton arrogantly barging into Pakistan, threatening them for not being good-enough little soldiers any more. We are setting up to go into Iran–that meme has been worming its way into our national psyche for years.

    And these are only a few of the things that are not hidden behind an ever-thickening curtain of secrecy. Once again, illegal. And wrong

    Anyone who doesn’t rest their tentative conclusions about this specific situation in an examination of overall pattern is being foolish. If tentative conclusions come up looking uncomfortably awful and bizarre, so be it. Have the courage to be honest. The proposals of Firoze Manji hang together better than anything I’ve seen on this thread so far, and much better than the crap I hear the US government say through our MSM.

    What is certain is that we are the citizens of an out-of-control aggressive empire. Our taxes support a military that has spread across the globe, torturing and murdering with the same abandon as any rampaging tribe ever did. The US government is no longer our government, and neither is it’s arm, the US military. What will we do about it?

    I am deeply grateful for the Occupy movement. It is hope. As Firoze Manji said.

    1. another

      “What is certain is that we are the citizens of an out-of-control aggressive empire.”

      And closer to being ‘subjects’ than ‘citizens’ with each passing day.

    2. Glenn Condell

      Very well said Patricia.

      ‘And these are only a few of the things that are not hidden behind an ever-thickening curtain of secrecy’

      Yes, tips of icebergs. Wikileaks revealed a few too, but they are in the process of being covered again by a new layer of darkness.

      ‘Anyone who doesn’t rest their tentative conclusions about this specific situation in an examination of overall pattern is being foolish. If tentative conclusions come up looking uncomfortably awful and bizarre, so be it. Have the courage to be honest.’

      That’s it in a nutshell.

  18. Jim3981

    I can see a bunch of useful idiots have jumped all over the commentary to help control public opinion. The dang brainwashing is everywhere.

    About the article.

    General Wessley Clark was notified by higher ups 10 days after 911 all these countries would be taken over.

    the reality is this is about global governance and needing to change leadership in all those mideast countries to create “concensus”.

    “A manifesto for regime change on behalf of all humanity
    Inspired by demonstrations from Tunis to New York, activists and people’s assemblies have collaborated on a vision for a new global governance ahead of worldwide protests on 15 October 2011”

    You think the US demolishing a building with 3000 of it’s own citizens was bad on 911? Just wait until they get control of the world.

    1. Barbyrah

      1. Thanks for offering a “Bigger Picture” perspective/information (and yes, this whole ME/north African overtake has been years in the making – see Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “The Grand Chessboard.” Published in 1997, he lays it all out just as it’s unfolding now);
      2. I would offer a different take on the worldwide “Occupy” movement, however – I don’t sense it’s part of the chessplayer’s game of establishing a domineering, hierarchical, resource-controlling elite of the world. (Besides, we’re pretty much already there.) Translate: Me thinks it’s possible to work cooperatively with each other throughout the world, possible to link together throughout the world – in thoughtful, heart-based ways – without it being part of a NWO plan.

      Appreciate your comments.

      1. Basil

        I wouldn’t be so sanguine about Occupy. Much coming out of it does sound eerily similar to the “neoliberal hawk” school of rhetoric.

        I am quite leery of a mass movement that uses a lot of soaring but vague left-wing language, whose few specific pronouncements have a distinctly rightish tinge, claims to be post-political (much as BHO claimed to be post-partisan), and refuses to take a clear stance on any current issue, not even the neo-NAFTAs or the austeritarian “super-congress”, a movement that forbids its members from discussing “politics”, a movement which is flying the banner of popular dissatisfaction with the government even though it has more-or-less stated that it intends to sit out this electoral cycle entirely.

        After the Obama fiasco the last thing the left needs is another pig-in-a-poke.

  19. Philip Pilkington

    Let’s just see where Libya goes now. Gaddafi did keep the wolves of neoliberalism at bay for a while. Let’s see if they can make inroads now.

    My guess is: they will. Without Gaddafi’s disturbingly strong arm in Libya I’d say neoliberalism will spread across the country tearing its major institutions apart and getting it all tender for international plunder.

    The only thing that might hold this off is the game-change taking place in the West where neoliberalism is seen increasingly as a dead dog. But I’d say that’ll only be for the West. It’ll still be assumed that it, erm, ‘works’ in places like Libya.

    Now, queue the moaning about me looking at Gaddafi’s regime somewhat objectively. “He was a nasty dictator,” they will moan. Yes, that he was — and you can be sure he will be replaced by another. But the new Gaddafi won’t be as innately hostile to the West and he’ll give dodgy policymakers free reign.

    “But what about democracy?” they will ask. Well, democracy is a great system… where it works. It won’t work in Libya. I can tell you that for damn sure. They either get a neoliberal dictatorship or some basically social democratic dictatorship ala Gaddafi. We’ll soon see which is preferable… or more to the point we won’t, because the Western media will ignore the new regime once their ‘democracy party’ is over.

  20. Ishmael

    Twenty-five years ago I was doing work in Libya. It finally got so hot for Americans (I was not there when Reagan bombed Tripoli but a guy I work with was) that the firm I worked for pulled us out and put in Candadians.

    Qaddafi was a terribly repressive ruler. In recent times he was killing his own people in the streets. NATO and the US sided with rebels. I have mixed feeling about that, but hey Britian and Italy have been deeply involved in Libya for years.

    Let’s face it, Qaddafi issued his own death warrant when he refused to leave Libya several months ago. Was this a US ordered kill or just the final fight to the death act I do not know.

    However, the one thing I will agree with Yves on is the US has truly lost its way when it comes to law and order. Years ago we were respected around the world for what we stood for. I went lots of places which would raise eyebrows and never worried about it because once I pulled my US passport people would hesitate in bothering you. That is no longer true and the US is just seen as another thug on the block.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      He may not be a good guy but you are using very bad logic here. He signed his own death warrant?

      Are you kidding me? Sounds a bit like the school bully using some kid’s own hand to smack him in the face and then blame the kid for hitting himself.

      1. Ishmael


        This more than anything else is a tribal conflict. Kill members of another tribe it is then a blood feud. Once Nato became involved Qaddafi’s goose was cooked. A smart man knows when to fold his tent and get out of town. Now you can argue all you want but when you are dealing with this type of enemies the end game is predetermined.

        A few years ago I was consulting for some wealthy people in the ME and they laid it out for me. This is pretty much the quote while flying with them, “Ish, we like you but you will never be one of us.” My response was I know! The point here is you need to know the rules of the game and who are you dealing with. You can argue that you do not like the rules but it is just a waste of breath. I have lived and worked lots of places and succeeded. In summary, one high up person said, “You are the first expat who did not come here and tell us how you would do it in the US.”

        If you are surprised that the end game was a bullet to the head that is your problem. I always thought it was a forgone conclusion.

        As I said, the sad part if that US is lost the moral high ground by being a part of it.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          He has been in conflict with these other tribes for longer than the last few months. The thing that has changed in the last few months is the world’s largest powers have decided to support the rebels militarily. You raise some good points . . . but it was U.S. and NATO military support that is the predominant cause for the events that led to this bullet to Gaddafi’s head.

          His fate may have been determined a few months ago . . . but I seem to remember him trying to make a Mubarak-style deal to leave with his life, with other African leaders trying to broker deals, but NATO said no (oh, excuse me, the rebels said no).

          1. Ishmael

            I have not been following it closely the last few weeks, but Qaddafi did have an opportunity early on and leave. Instead he decided to stay and start killing his people. At that point and Nato came in I figured his fate was sealed.

            His choice was to sneak off let’s say to Italy or something with a billion or two or start a mass execution of his people. Which one would a smart person have chosen.

  21. Evan

    I have to agree that the video was a load of bollocks. If NATO hadn’t gotten involved in Libya, these people would be whining about how “the West” had abandoned a genuine secular revolution in the Arab world because of its cuddly, close ties to an authoritarian dictatorship, and that we had thrown the Arabs under the bus yet again. It’s predictable.

    I haven’t seen any convincing connection between Gaddafi’s murder and NATO. Until a direct link arises to suggest *NATO* killed Gaddafi, he was murdered by Libyan revolutionaries. It may not be pretty, but it’s at least understandable, and hardly an unusual fate for tyrants.

    At least now Libya can move on.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Tell me why so many medial outlets in the West are pointing up the NATO involvement. You would not expect them to take that line since it is better for the US and UK to portray the killing as a strictly domestic affair.

      And I don’t buy your line that people would be calling for US/Nato involvement in a domestic revolution. We refuse to get involved in bona fide humanitarian disasters in Africa when there are no important resources involved.

      And the video highlighted the importance of the water resource, a point not well covered in the US media.

      1. Steve (the other Steve)

        I won’t miss Qaddafi, but I find myself in agreement with Yves here.

        We (US/NATO) would have been far better off demanding of the Revolutionaries in Libya Qaddafi’s arrest and detention as a condition for helping them with air support. Maybe they would have shot him anyway, but at least we could have claimed that his extra-judicial death was not our explicit goal.

        A Milosevic-like trial in the Hague would have upheld the rule of law and set a better precedent for future interventions (although I don’t like them in general).

      2. Nathanael

        Wrong about the motivations of Western media outlets.

        Think about the way the Egyptian uprising was reported — “It’s all thanks to Anonymous, and Google executives, and the Internet!”

        Uh, suuuure.

        The Western media wants to make it *all about the West*, so that they can deny that those foreign brown-skinned rabble ever do anything important on their own.

        Unfortunately, you need look no further than that.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Wow. I am astounded that so many have swallowed U.S. and NATO propaganda that this mostly native Libyan forces.

      Clearly, these rebels would not have succeeded without NATO. NATO illegally targeted civilian infrastructure, had many boots on the ground, and was obviously motivated by regime change rather than protecting civilians.

      This interview may not be perfect but it raises valid points of view. I don’t see how any reasonable person can be hostile to these critical views about NATO’s intentions knowing the basic facts we know and it astounds me that people simply swallow NATO rationales whole and don’t ask any critical questions.

      The media said these guys were Libyans and weren’t associated with NATO at all eh? And you are foolish enough to simply accept their word? When we have caught them lying before? Remember the video of the British secret forces helping the rebels and most of the media hides those facts and lets the NATO countries lie with impunity about “boots on the ground” and who is really running the rebel show.

      It’s not a conspiracy theory to assert that NATO is using proxy forces, in part, because they have plausible deniability when they commit crimes.

      1. Philip Pilkington

        I heard rumours that NATO were probably handing out laser targeting designators to rebels:

        Yes, just like the one in Gears of War, you gaming nerds.

        Anyway, weapons like this — where you essentially ‘point and click’ to target an enemy tank or building and the air forces level it — make the ideas of ‘air support’ or ‘no fly zone’ a total joke. You give a single rebel a laser designator and send him into an occupied town and goodnight gracy!

        Whoever on the left doesn’t see the Libyan ‘intervention’ as the regime change that it is is deluding themselves…

      2. Nathanael

        Oh, your theory is *possible*, but why do you discount the alternative, more likely, theory that a native Libyan group is simply using the US/UK/France/NATO for foreign assistance?

        After all, your reading of events would have concluded that the American Revolution was actually a plot concocted by the French King in order to create a puppet state for his long-standing war against Britain.

        And while that may have been the motivation of the French King, *that isn’t how it actually went down*.

        I believe Libya deserves to be analyzed similarly, rather than shallowly assuming that the Libyan transitional government are mere puppets. They’re actually canny old soldiers, and they’ll play the Great Powers off of each other as it seems wise to them to do.

        1. Walter Wit Man


          I seem to recall a little bit of public controversy about whether to rely on local fighters to do spotting. I can’t remember where I read this but my assumption was they were working with the rebels to get information rather than simply giving them the lasers but it totally makes sense to just give them the lasers (and helps with the plausible deniability). This is way above my knowledge base (and security clearance) but I remember having suspicions about what was going on the ground when that Brit pilot was shot down and then someone directed fire at rebels who were rescuing him. Anyway, we can’t trust our press to tell us the truth. They lie to the American people about these issues.


          Yes. The rebels probably have an agenda different from NATO. But it seems pretty clear they would never have succeeded with their coup without NATO help. Plus, they have been amazingly deferential to NATO, as mentioned above, they offered to simply give huge amounts of oil concessions to NATO countries in exchange for their support.

          A sovereign country does not freely give huge amounts of its oil wealth to its former colonial masters. Maybe the rebels will back out of their deal with NATO . . . but I suspect the same thing will happen to them that happened to Kadafy and U.S. propaganda will turn on a dime and these rebel heroes will turn into “Al Qaeda” terrorists.

          I think the U.S. prefers a low grade civil war and a weak corrupted state.

          1. Philip Pilkington

            It was just a rumour — it could have been speculation. But it makes the point clearly. In modern warfare ‘giving air support’ can’t be thought of as simply being assistance. It’s 95% of the battle. When NATO ‘assist rebels’ what they’re really doing, most of the time, is regime change.

            We can have the debate about whether regime change should be undertaken, but let’s not call a cat a dog.

            As I said above, I think the Libyans — or whatever subsection make up the rebels (it was a pissed off ethnic group, if I remember correctly) — have done something that will prove detrimental to their long-term interests.

            This never looked to me like the Iranian revolution. It looked more like the Kurds fighting Hussein. I don’t think we’ll see the move toward democracy here (well, whatever passes for democracy in the Middle East — Iran being a case in point), we’ll probably see a very Western friendly quasi-dictator installed.

            People need to look at their history. All the successful revolutions etc. in the Middle East in the past 60 years were nationalist. Once the imperialist powers were thrown out these governments solidified — mostly into dictatorships of varying stripes. Now these dictatorships are being overthrown by the West (in Iraq, in Libya etc). Will the result be democracy? I’m going to say: no. The result will be more dictators that are far more friendly to the West. That will open their industries and resources where the old guard would not.

            And the Left will support them all the way as they project their own democratic fantasies on a region that will never govern itself in that way.

            Viva la Revolution!

  22. Susan the other

    I’m pretty sure the Cold War never ended. The tidbit about the Italians frontrunning for Russian oil concerns in Libya sounds like the great game all over again. But it has lost its game status. It is now brutal. It might not yet be a hot war but it is certainly a wet one. When you see those bloody awful clips of another fallen dictator it does not make you believe in your country. It does somewhat the opposite. This isn’t encouraging. But now I have a new question: Did the Russians and their mideast allies transgress in Libya and attempt to oust the USA and UK intentionally to distract resources and attention while they firmed up their own alliances. Libya is certainly a prize, but the Caspian is a much bigger prize. If war breaks out over Iran it is going to be hell.

  23. Paul Tioxon

    Poor Donald Trump, he can’t catch a break. He really tries to fit in as powerful member of the establishment and he winds up looking more and more like the candidate who was rejected as the president of the hair club for men. The deceased dictator was being rehabilitated to be brought into the good graces of at least one faction of our rich and powerful 1%, by being invited to camp his tents on Trumps estate while visiting the UN a few years back. But the entire Arab spring required a real politik rethink of the entire Southern shore of the Mediterranean.

    It was the European component of NATO that took the lead here, because it is the Europeans that suffer the fall out of this immediate political disaster, with over 1 million refugees spilling into Europe after island hopping across the sea, and landing in France and Germany were there is a chance for a job. Needless to say, the French people are not holding their breath to greet more Muslims.

    Then there is the oil which goes almost exclusively to
    Italy and France. So the Europeans had to do something for a lot of reasons, least of which worrying about legalities, as if anyone will sue NATO, ewww, Maybe Goldman Sachs will roll out its mighty divisions, they do own and control the world, right day traders?? So, here is a short bring you all up to date on the very serious people who have been meeting in a very serious manner, just so they would not be empty handed when the day came to answer very serious questions about what right they had to do what nation state has to do, just to get by in the world these days.

    “The Labyrinthian International Geopolitics of the Libyan Conflict”

    Peter Lee
    “Western self-regard was on full display in a United States headline describing the Libya Contact Group (LCG) meeting in Istanbul over the weekend of July 15. It read: World leaders open Libya talks in Turkey.1 Well, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was there. Much-diminished leaders of 19th-century world powers Britain and France – and Italy – were there, too. But attendance from the BRIC countries was patchy: Russia, boycotted the talks. China declined to send a representative. Brazil and India only sent observers, which meant they had no vote in the proceedings. South Africa didn’t attend, and blasted the outcome of the meeting.2

    It is indicative of the desultory reporting on Libya that there has been little effort to determine the Libya Contact Group’s constituting authority, its decision-making processes, or even its membership, let alone the legitimacy of its pretensions to set international policy on Libya at a time when the US may be moving toward involvement in yet other wars in Libya and beyond.

    The LCG was formed in London on March 29 under the auspices of the United Kingdom, at a conference attended by 40 foreign ministers and a smattering of international organizations. Its declared mission was to “support and be a focal point of contact with the Libyan people, coordinate international policy and be a forum for discussion of humanitarian and post-conflict support”.3 Since then, the group has met three times and its attendance seems to have stabilized around a core of 20 or 30 countries, mostly drawn from members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), conservative oil-rich states in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and GCC cadets Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. Dutiful ally Japan has also tagged along.
    The unambiguous American template for Libya – and the LCG – is Kosovo, another humanitarian bombing campaign cum secession exercise led by NATO while sidelining the United Nations to a subordinate role.
    US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg invoked the Kosovo precedent – and a prolonged diplomatic and sanctions campaign that grew out of a “humanitarian military action” – in testimony before the US Congress on Libya:

    Our approach is one that has succeeded before. In Kosovo, we built an international coalition around a narrow civilian protection mission. Even after Milosevic withdrew his forces and the bombing stopped, the political and economic pressure continued. Within two years, Milosevic was thrown out of office and turned over to The Hague.4″

    What this article points out is the need for some formal, legal justification that will not rile up the multi polar world. BRIC was not on board, but Saudi Arabia was front and center. However, despite the ongoing chaos of the Arab spring, Libya has so far, resulted in some sort of order rising out of the chaos that is acceptable to UK, France, Italy and the US. So far. It shows that the US, will work with its close allies and not act unilaterally. I guess this is an improvement over the American Century stated goal of preventing anyone from supplanting the USA as the sole military super power. In other words, the China containment policy of controlling Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the Arab world for its oil, failed. The Arab spring makes matters worse, and NATO is trying to salvage what domination it can over its nearby oil trading partners.

    The Real News does an excellent job in getting to the heart of the matter in bringing forward the explicit economic drivers of committing a war effort into Libya, vs ignoring Syria. Nothing to gain but misery from the latter. Plenty to gain if it can create a respectable Arab country, that is livable, enjoyable, and will keep Muslims from beating down the door to get into France or Germany for a job, to avoid a beating or worse from the domestic dictator’s security squads.

  24. barisj

    With everyone piling on the shot-up corpse of Moammar Qaddafi,it surely is worthwhile to point out that only a few years ago, he was effusively “rehabilitated” by Bush, Blair, et al, for publicly renouncing his country’s alleged “nuclear weapons program”, and praised for his “statesman-like actions”, contrasting Qaddafi with “madman Saddam Hussein”, who – as we know – “has nuclear weapons”, according to Dick Cheney’s many statements in 2003. Also, let us not forget the role of BP in leaning on the FO to persuade Scotland to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the erstwhile “Lockerbie bomber”, on “compassionate grounds”, i.e., help BP with off-shore oil concessions. The “West’s” involvement with Qaddafi over several decades has been rife with hypocrisy, self-interest, and willful ignorance of his domestic policies, regardless of how despotic. Qaddafi is but the latest of many “strong men” running resource-rich countries who were indulged by Western commercial and political interests as long as the contracts kept flowing; if a better deal could be obtained by the removal of a particular dictator, no problem, send in the cleanup crews to install someone else. The fact that Great Britain, France, and Italy all quickly “reinterpreted” UN Resolution 1973 to embrace “regime change” is a testimony to how so-called “international law” only exists in the minds of the winners, and any form of blatant aggression against the target of the month can be justified ex post facto. The notion of “national sovereignty” is obviously quite fluid, and no number of fig-leaf UN resolutions can change this brutal fact of international relations.

    Can Buy Me Love
    Mar 6, 2011
    Before Libyans rose up against him, Muammar Gaddafi used money, and well-timed diplomatic overtures, to worm his way into the West’s good graces. How Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi gave the brutal dictator a makeover.

    The tale is a sordid one, but let’s at least begin in relatively pleasant surroundings, among the leather armchairs of the Travellers Club in London. Its rooms have been a favorite rendezvous since the 19th century for gentlemen of international intrigue—and it’s where Libya’s urbane, white-haired spymaster, Musa Kusa, met with representatives of the British and American intelligence services in December 2003. Their purpose was to hammer out a deal to bring Kusa’s boss, Muammar Gaddafi, in from the cold.
    It was a deal none of them could resist. Libya’s oilfields would be fully opened up to the West, and U.S. and European banks and corporations could resume tapping the country’s revenue stream. And Gaddafi would publicly renounce his putative nuclear-development program (much of which had never even been uncrated). Having invaded Iraq in search of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration could claim that in Libya, at least, its efforts were bearing fruit. The plan seemed to have something for everyone—everyone, it eventually turned out, except the Libyan people.
    Big oil prospered. The American firm Occidental wound up with more acreage than any other corporation in Libya, but the big winners were BP and the Italian national oil company ENI. Italy buys some 80 percent of Libya’s petroleum, and Berlusconi warmly welcomed Gaddafi on 11 state visits to Rome, each more bizarre than the last. Of particular note were the lectures on Islam the Libyan leader delivered to audiences of hundreds of young women who were hired by a modeling agency for the purpose. As oil prices skyrocketed, Gaddafi and his family suddenly had more money than they knew what to do with. In 2006, belatedly emulating other big oil producers, they created a sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, and started buying interests in everything from Pearson, which owns the Financial Times and The Economist, to major banks and even the Juventus football team in Italy.
    But the really critical moment of excess came in 2009. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the sole Libyan intelligence officer convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, was serving a life sentence in Scotland, but had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, supposedly with three months to live. The Libyans, who had stalled a vast oil deal with BP (where Sir Mark Allen worked) let the government of then-prime minister Brown know in no uncertain terms that they wanted to be able to be repatriate prisoners—they didn’t have to be specific about which ones—held in British jails. When Megrahi was sent back to Tripoli, he was greeted as a hero. And BP’s $900 million deal was safe. Saif didn’t bother to disguise the ransom deal. Megrahi’s release was always on the table, he said. Kusa’s role in the release is unclear. After all, when Kusa was deputy director of the Libyan intelligence service in 1988, Megrahi had been one of his men.


    BP admits ‘lobbying UK over Libya prisoner transfer scheme but not Lockerbie bomber’
    BP is facing fresh scrutiny into whether it was involved in the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, after the oil giant admitted lobbying the British government over a prisoner agreement with Libya.BP said it pressed for a deal over the controversial prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) amid fears any delays to negotiations would damage its “commercial interests” and disrupt its £900 million offshore drilling operations in the region.

    1. Nathanael

      Oh, I remember that. Yeah, the US and UK governments were fawning all over Qaddafi.

      I really consider this a case of the Great Powers following events rather than leading them. For once, they managed to get on the popular side of a regime change, rather than the US’s standard policy of fighting against the tide.

      From a realpolitik point of view, this is a very wise move and reduces “blowback”. It is kind of a pity (for the interests of US imperialists) that in almost every other instance, the US government doesn’t seem to know when to change sides. If the US government were smarter, for example, it would have been backing al-Shabaab in Somalia long ago and would have a happy indebted ally there.

  25. Bakasone

    Hillary’s gang didn’t want Ga-da-fee to talk after an arrest. That’s all. What makes me wonder is why they want to strengthen religious madmen all over the region.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      The guy in the video clip argues that the U.S. simply wants to create failed states like Somalia and I have to say this is his best observation. It certainly seems to be the case.

      1. Nathanael

        Never attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity.

        There is no benefit to the US government, or its large corporate owners, in creating failed states like Somalia; it would always be better for them to create a friendly puppet regime, and would usually even be better to create an unfriendly independent regime (who they could still sell stuff to).

        The creation of failed states like Somalia *is* the standard result of US policy. I attribute this to stupidity. Specifically, to a bad habit of fighting against the tide, trying to maintain puppet governments which have already lost control. The opposite, smarter, foreign policy is to figure out which man is going to be the winner after the puppet leader falls, and support him.

        1. Bakasone

          Maybe it’s not stupidity. The US has no interest in a strong Europe. Putting its oil supply in the hands of jihadists might be of interest for Hillary and her friends.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          Good point Nathaneal,

          But maybe their goals are a range of these options? Just like in Yemen or Egypt? Choice number one is a puppet you can trust. If the old puppet is unreliable (like Kadafy or S. Hussein) or is no longer able to pull off the act (like Mubarak), then you try to find a new puppet.

          The next best thing then would be to have an obvious puppet run the country (like in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalis, or Yemen, for instance), and then to have long-term violence that justifies even more U.S. presence.

  26. Bakasone

    Militant Islam certainly does the trick. But who’s going to believe that this bunch of losers managed to find Ga-da-fee by themselves?

  27. barrisj

    Well, after a wildly successful “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, can Assad’s Syria be far behind? Surely there are “reformers” and their organisations based in London or Paris that can quickly be anointed as a catch-all “National Transition/Unity Government”, or whatever. Dr Drone can be reliably persuaded to send in the Hellfire missiles directed at Assad and his family, and a new regime will immediately announce the expulsion of any Hezbollah, Hamas, or Iranian officials not dronified or assassinated by Special Ops personnel in the meantime. Glory, glory, ain’t democracy fun!

  28. Hugh

    There seems to be this idea that because Gadhafi was a bad guy the people who took him out must be good guys. This is wrong on all counts.

    The US involvement was illegal from the get go. It was another in a long list of undeclared unconstitutional wars. It violated even the weaker standard of the War Powers Act in that 1) Libya never posed an imminent threat to us and so Obama’s use of force contravened the Act from the beginning and 2) even if you overlook point 1, Obama failed to get Congressional approval for his military adventure within the Act’s 60 day timeframe. Nor can you use the UN Security Council resolution as a justification for US and NATO actions in Libya. The resolution (and it is important to remember that the US, UK, and France are permanent members of the Security Council and brought great pressure to bear) was very limited in scope and did not envision regime change or the removal and/or murder of Gadhafi.

    The initial phase of the attacks on Libya were carried out almost entirely by US forces. These destroyed Libya’s air defenses and degraded its command and control structure. Even after the US supposedly handed off operations to mainly British and French forces, it provided the logistics that made their participation possible as well as continuing its own direct actions. The French, in particular, through SoCal had non-humanitarian reasons for their involvement. The British have been a dependable US client. Italy is the former colonial power. Humanitarian concerns have never ranked high in terms of their interests or policies.

    There is the historical context. Gadhafi was a dictator who abused his people for 42 years. If the US and NATO were acting on humanitarian grounds why did it take them so long to intervene? What about Gadhafi’s ties to terrorism? Lockerbie happened in 1988, 23 years ago at the end of Reagan’s second term. If there was going to be an intervention why did it not occur then? Indeed why after the start of the Iraq war to the events of the Arab Spring did the Western powers do so much to rehabilitate Gadhafi? Why have they intervened in Libya but not in Syria? Why in Libya but not in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain? You can of course come up with reasons in each case for why we have acted or not acted, but what you will not find is any consistency in those reasons. Take Syria for example it’s anti-American, but still cooperates with the US in the War on Terror and in torture. It is ruled by a repressive dictator who has been killing thousands of his citizens. Well, you might say that the reason is that Syria has little oil. But then look at Saudi Arabia. Its monarchy runs a harsh dictatorship. It has lots of oil. It is pro-American on the surface but is the world’s leading backer and bankroller of terrorism aimed at us.

    I think a better way to look at this is as a variation on the Great Game. The US acting as an imperial power favors some regimes and disfavors others. What actions it takes depend upon the specific circumstances and the overarching goals of the Game. Sometimes a little instability is seen as a bad thing (Libya) or as a good thing (Syria). We are willing to see some dictators be killed (Gadhafi), deposed (Mubarak), be challenged (Assad), or supported no matter what (the Saudis). Some of these are our guys. Some aren’t. And what is the Game? It is what it has always been about, resource extraction and the maintenance of imperial power.

    A final brief note on Libya. Revolutions are often followed by civil wars. Indeed the distinction between the two is often not clear. In Libya, it wasn’t primarily Gadhafi against the “people”. It was the tribes around Sirte to which Gadhafi belonged against the rest. When the “revolution” happened, it was a contest between various tribes. The tribal nature of the conflict was epitomized by the assassination of the rebel military commander, not by Gadhafi forces, but by members of a different tribe who were also part of the rebellion. Western powers would like Libya weak and compliant. What they do not want, but what they risk having is a country which disintegrates amid tribal infighting.

    As for dictators, they seldom know when the jig is up, sometimes they really would rather go down guns blazing, sometimes they don’t have the choice. In Gadhafi’s case, he might have fled early and even kept a lot of his loot. But he never appeared to want to. Nor is it clear that his tribal allies would have allowed him to. Anyway, to play it out to the end seems to be the role he chose for himself. But how he saw his role, going down fighting, and how the world and the PTB characterize it are as we know vastly different. Whether it is the Ceausescus or Saddam Hussein or Gadhafi, the ends of dictators on the run are always ignominious. Certainly, they are portrayed to be.

  29. barrisj

    On another front, Dr Drone just announced this morning that “all US troops will leave Iraq by the end of this year”…well, all but several hundred combat-ready military “guarding” the grotesque medieval fortress that is the US Embassy in the Green Zone, and several thousand “contractors” seconded to the State Dept., to be scattered all across Iraq, and all of whom will NOT have diplomatic immunity. Check out Spencer Ackerman’s story in the Wired blog for more info:

    The Iraq War Ain’t Over, No Matter What Obama Says

  30. Aquifer

    Hmmmm, the thought occurred to me while watching this video, (which “charges re setting up African banks to counteract IMF influence and nationally controlling important resources like water, i had heard before in other venues) that perhaps the US had learned a lesson in SA, where Chavez was doing the same thing – that ignoring this sort of move for regional independence was a big mistake from an American multinational point of view. While we were distracted in Iraq/Afghanistan, we let the ball drop in SA, and dang it, lost our “right” to run SA economies. We weren’t going to let that happen again in another resource rich continent, and any hint that another “dictator” might have the balls or delusions of grandeur to try it needed to be nipped in the bud post haste – “we” ignore such activity at “our” peril …

    Not that Chavez is comparable to Gaddafi in any other way – but in this, the potential parallel was too “threatening” to take a chance on. The same thing happened with Saddam, IMO, he got too big for his britches.

    Africa is the last “prize” continent left for the big powers, any excuse to invade, as this one was, will be used.

    I have read several arguments about how the next set of wars WILL be about water – if Libya indeed has one of the biggest sources of it on the continent – it was important to not let anyone keep it out of the hands of mutinationals. If Gaddafi had shown the requisite deference to the TPTB in this regard, I suspect he would still be around …

    i completely agree with the commenter who said that this will be another demonstration of how not having nukes is a big disadvantage if you do want to run your own country …

    I think folks who disparage the concept about wars for resource control have simply not become as cynical as necessary to understand what is really going on – the amount of money to be made is too “ginormous” to be ignored as a “sufficient” reason for all this crap …

    This video was “dead” on, from what i have seen over the years …

  31. Mike M

    Christ, after reading a lot of these comments, I’m just a wee bit closer to understanding why it takes years to try a world class tyrant in the World Court. What a bunch of bull. Thank God that horrible man and his family is gone. Let’s set our sights on Assad now. I’d like to see him and his clan dragged through the streets ASAP.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      You thank God NATO bombed his 3 grandchildren? [it’s *funny*–the Western media reports I just found from Google don’t report the children’s age but clearly they are young children]

      You really would like to see someone dragged through the streets? Even if someone harmed my family I don’t think I would want that to happen or to witness it. Is it just the joy of seeing someone you think is evil suffer?

      1. Mike M

        Trust me, sir, the Assad clan is a bit more nervous tonight after watching that video of that miserable man splayed on a truck hood. Unfortunately, the people of Syria may see even more brutality as they realize they have nothing to lose. War is a bitch. Read some history books. Collateral damage has happened in every one fought in history. What makes us any different?

        1. Walter Wit Man

          You purposely avoided my question. I asked you if you thanked God for killing Gaddafi’s three little grandchildren. Your response didn’t mention anything about these children. Instead, you told me to get over it, basically.

          I foolishly thought you would amend your prayer of thanks to God so you weren’t praising him for killing those children.

  32. felix

    After reading some of the comments here I feel compelled to write mine to make two points clear: First, the CIA had no role in the killing of Chile’s Allende–a death has been proven beyond any doubt to have been a suicide after all. The only role of the CIA in Chile was to try to prevent him from taking power in Sept-Oct. 1970, after his election, a job that went very wrong after the Chilean right refused to collaborate, which made the CIA resort to arming a few right wing wackos so they’d kidnap the Chief of the Army and precipipate a coup d’Etat. Everything went wrong, Nixon and the CIA got eggs on their faces and Allende got a long honeymoon with Chileans because of that. The only CIA role in Allende’s fall was in fact later in the game, 1973, when it handed over some $8 millon to the oposition, to finance their strikes, but that was when Allende he was already dead meat, with the country paralized by strikes. That was actually an end of a regime 99% Made In Chile. The other point I wanted to make is that I see many here discussing of the legality of the Ghadaffi murder, when the political consequences of it are far more important. NATO took a mug nobody cared about, a guy the world had already forgotten, and made of him an Arab Che Guevara. That’s something that’s gonna explode in their faces badly. For generations young arabs have hanged their heads in shame because they have never had a true hero, a martyr, a legend with which feed their imaginations. All their supposed leaders have been either phonies, cowards or traitors–Nasser, Hussein, Arafat, etc. Now they have a rallying figure and a ralying cry, like Remember El Alamo, see, or Remember Stalingrad. That will be Remember Sirte or Remember Ghadaffi. Wait and see.

  33. orionATL

    jeez – step back and look at just how empty the “angels on the head of a pin” argument some of you are making can be.

    quaddifi was a monstrous ruler.

    any person who had lost family to him (over 40+ years of autocracy) would likely have had no compunction in killing him had they the opportunity. had i been one such, i certainly should not have.

    quaddifi’s murder is one of those instances in which arguments to law and ethics look effete, if not simply stupid.

    yes, there ARE limits to sensible arguments to law and ethics – quadfifi’s murder was one of those,

    unless one wants to argue that all humans, no matter what their conduct in life has been, deserve precisely the same consideration from us with regard to law and ethics.

    if you believe that, go argue it with the young soldiers from western libya who found quaddafi and ( possibly) executed him.

    good riddance, i say.

  34. KFritz

    The actual, tangible murder is being treated as an ordered, deliberate act, presumably of cynical statecraft. It looks to me like a near-spontaneous, possibly vengeful, spur of the moment occurrence amidst the ‘fog of war.’ There was no certainty that the convoy was Gaddafi’s, only a high probability. There may (repeat may) have been an exchange of gunfire between Gaddafi’s remaining men and NTC fighters who happened to be near the spot his convoy came to a halt. It will be surprising to learn that a professional killer was on hand to do the deed in an ersatz setting. If it was a deliberate act, bet on someone who lost a friend or relative to the beast.

    To borrow analogies fr/ famous American crime stories, it looks less like the murder of Joe Colombo and the knockon murder of Joe’s assassin than it looks like Popeye Doyle’s loose cannon killing of another police officer in the confusion of a big drug raid.

  35. tdraicer

    NATO chose (for whatever reasons, and led by France rather than the US) to support one of the Arab spring revolutions, which in the end worked to overthrow a nasty dictator, who was then killed by some of those revolutionaries, and we are supposed to be outraged because…why exactly? Law and justice have always been different, if related, concepts, and international law (lacking an international enforcement agency) exists only to the degree nations accept it. It matters, but it is not the be-all and end-all, nor are the legal issues in this case clear cut. So much for law.

    Another argument is motive, but good things happen for bad reasons just as bad things happen for good reasons. I don’t think the Libyan people, the majority of whom are clearly glad to see their dictator gone, really care what France’s motive was.

    As for our not going after other just as bad or worse dictators, that is the lamest argument of all: the ultimate reason not to go into Iraq was not that Saddam didn’t deserve to be removed but that the practical costs, for us and the Iraqis, were too high. Likewise intervening in Syria (or Saudi Arabia) has severe practical problems that can’t be ignored. That is not a reason not to interven in places like Libya (or Bosnia or Kosovo) where the costs are low. And I would remind everyone that more innocent people died from our failure to intervene earlier in Yugoslavia and at all in Rwanda than have died from intervening where we shouldn’t have in Iraq.

    Finally, it may make you feel ethically superior, but politically this is stupid ground on which to make a stand, particularly at a time when the OWS movement is winning over people not normally inclined to the Left.

  36. Franklin

    please…don’t try to smear the politics of any nation, because Gaddafi’s death was ancient and primitive and exactly right for the man. America and Europe facilitated it for perfectly good reasons… Gaddafi actually had a good death, surrounded by hysterical crowds screaming “God is great” and celebrated as an arch-villain. He was bloody but it didn’t really hurt… he was somewhat cowardly… if you want to see a real tragic figure, look at his lanky son who died the same day… I happened to have been reading Greek legends of battles last night, and the kind of bloody crowd scene enacted in Libya strikes me as timeless and instinctual… don’t try and blame Hillary Clinton or any nation’s politics… the politics of Gaddafi’s death is local, with angry warriors from Misrata screaming “This is for Misrata” in Gaddafi’s face.

  37. Tom

    Why is everyone concerned about the legality of Gaddafi’s death? The real question should be Nato’s support for the assault on Sirte. Search for pictures on the internet, many areas of the city are completely devastated, apparently the ‘rebels’ had massive artillery and air support to storm it. Wasn’t Nato’s plan to protect civilians? Gaddafi’s storm of Bengazi could have hardly been worse than that. Any media reports of the hypocrisy? none.

  38. avgJohn

    Take a good look at these savage murderers in the video’s of Gaddafi and his family’s executions. Look into the eyes of these Libyans as they dance and sing and celebrate murder.

    Folks, these people are us. We are no different. Under the skin we are all the same. We share the same DNA and the same history of violence. If civil war comes to America, and it just might, these murderers could be your neighbors or members of your family, or you.

    When violence erupts, and you lose your sons to enemy gun fire, when your daughters are raped, and when your family members suffer cruel atrocities and unspeakable acts of violence, it well might be you who becomes an irrational mad man(woman), with a heart full of hate, revenge and murder.

    From the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, Stalins and Hitlers, and into the present day, this has bee our history. Long before there was a U.S of A and a CIA, man has been slaughtering man, throughout the ages. If the U.S. and the CIA disappeared tomorrow, you couldn’t convince me everything would be rosy and the world would be at peace. Some other country would step in to fill the void.

    Was the U.S. and CIA involved in Gadaffi’s murder? Well, let’s see, with hundreds of billions of dollars directed to war (excuse me defense) efforts each year, and active wars in 3 countries, and being the biggest arms dealer in the world, it wouldn’t surprise me. But to suggest, that all the violence in the world would stop if we could control U.S. military involvement or eliminate the CIA is nonsense. It’s our own human nature that will have to change, and given the collective history of mankind, I think we have a long way to go.

  39. jack nichols

    The United States should never have been there in the first place. Since when did we start invading soverign states. The Answer recently under Clinton, Both Bushes, and this joker Obama. We have no business in foreign lands. Secondly Our country has murdered its own citizens in foreign lands without a trial. Our Constitution forbids all of this. Without the Constitution we have no rule of law. We have rule of the oligarchs, Banksters and The President. I am embarassed to be an American Citizen under these sickening circumstances. I want my Country back under the rule of law. Anyone that condones this current rubbish labeled american democracy is a fool and unAmerican.

  40. tdraicer

    >We have no business in foreign lands.

    Right, because the US is an island unto itself with no connection to the rest of the world. A philosophy that worked so well in the 30s.

    History doesn’t teach that we should intervene or not intervene abroad-it teaches us we shouldn’t be stupid. Often it is stupid to intervene (especially with military force); sometimes it is stupid not to. Telling the difference is difficult, which is why starting with non-intervention as one’s default position is reasonable. Simply leaving it at that, isn’t.

  41. shenali

    The West seem to be totally clueless about how these “rebellions” have been fabricated all of a sudden…how come these “rebels” are wearing bullet proof vests, how come they are being sent halal food & scores of weapons & ammunition – they are all supplied by the West…to do the dirty work on behalf of the West..they are nothing but mercenaries…paid to kill..they are not concerned about Libya…or Libyans…
    this was what was done in Iraq, Afghanistan …the West should be ashamed..for bombing civilian infrastructure & totally destroying cultures since they dont have a culture to be proud of ….US is afterall a country where the British sent prisoners…thats where true americans come from

    1. Brian

      Shenali… you’re mistaking America with Australia ;) The British sent their prisoners down under… not accross the pond.

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