FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Skin in the Game: Obama and the Destruction of Libya

by

shutterstock_352808579
Of the many crimes committed in the name of humanitarian intervention by the West, the destruction of Libya in 2011 is among the most heinous. It was a classic example of ‘destroying the village in order to save it’ that will and must never be forgotten.

In 2016 seek not a truthful or accurate rendering of liberal democracy in the words of the US Declaration of Independence, US Constitution or Bill of Rights. Seek it not either in the grand statues and monuments that clog Whitehall in central London, nor in the stirring words of the Marseillaise, the national anthem of the French Republic.

No, for a truthful and accurate rendering of liberal democracy in 2016, cast your eyes over to Libya. For it is there, in a country reduced to a swamp of human despair, extremism, and primitivism – a once functioning society reduced to a failed state – that the true meaning of liberal democracy resides

So damning is the evidence of the crime committed against Libya and its people by those who claim to act in the name of freedom and civilization that one of those responsible, President Obama, is now seeking to deny his guilt. Indeed, how else are we to explain the President’s criticism of British Prime Minister David Cameron, and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, in his recent interview with the Washington-based Atlantic magazine, during which he discusses events in Libya, Syria, and his wider approach to US foreign policy and the use of military intervention.

“You have massive protests against Qaddafi (Gaddafi),” the President tells Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg. “You’ve got tribal divisions inside of Libya. Benghazi is a focal point for the opposition regime. And Qaddafi is marching his army towards Benghazi, and he has said, ‘We will kill them like rats.’”

The aforementioned supposed threat from Gaddafi to civilians in Benghazi is continually held up as justification for UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which mandated military intervention in Libya during the uprising on the basis of protecting civilians. However, as we know now, 1973 was used instead to enact regime change.

But even taking the claim that Gaddafi was intent on the wholesale massacre of civilians in Benghazi in March 2011 on its own terms, this in itself is disputatious. In an article titled ‘False pretense for war in Libya?’ which appeared in the Boston Globe in April 2011, US foreign policy expert and academic, Alan J Kuperman, asserts that prior to the Libyan army’s move on Benghazi Human Rights Watch had ‘released data on Misurata [Misrata] the next-biggest city in Libya and scene of protracted fighting, revealing that Moammar Khadafy [Gaddafi] is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government.’

Later in the same article Kuperman continues, ‘Nor did Khadafy [Gaddafi] ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The “no mercy’’ warning of March 17 targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away.” Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight “to the bitter end.”’

Returning to Obama’s interview with The Atlantic, the President’s critique of US allies Britain and France over Libya is startling for the disdain in which he holds some of Washington’s closest allies. “You’ve got Europe and a number of Gulf countries who despise Qaddafi, or are concerned on a humanitarian basis, who are calling for action. But what has been a habit over the last several decades in these circumstances is people pushing us to act but then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game.”

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of this quote is the way Obama sees fit to describe the intervention in Libya as a ‘game’. He should know that for the Libyan people, who saw their country and lives destroyed, what befell them was certainly no ‘game’.

Yet despite the lack of sensitivity over the language employed, the President is certainly onto something in his criticism of the role played by Britain and France. The political class in both countries has been the equivalent of that sniveling little boy in the school playground we all grew up with, the one who ingratiates himself with the biggest boy in order to compensate for his own weakness.

Cameron and Sarkozy, we should recall, extended themselves in basking in the glory of NATO’s Libyan intervention. In September 2011, a month before Gaddafi was killed trying to escape his home town of Sirte in the west of the country, both leaders arrived in Benghazi to give the new ‘democratic’ Libya their stamp of approval. In words that should forever haunt his legacy, David Cameron announced to a mob of admiring supporters that, “It is great to be here, in a free Benghazi and in free Libya.”

As for President Barack Obama, in 2016 as his presidency draws to a close we are dealing with a man who is in a hurry to clean up his legacy, one that is on target to place him among the most crisis prone presidents in the country’s recent history – something which given the field of candidates is no mean achievement.

The notorious drone program he inherited from the Bush administration in 2009 is one Obama embraced with the gusto of a man eager to conduct war on the cheap, placing an emphasis not on protecting innocent civilians, including children, but on keeping American soldiers and military personnel out of harm’s way at any price. Conducted without any transparency or oversight, instead of making any inroads against global terrorism, the President’s drone war has only succeeded in ensuring its proliferation, utilized by extremists as a recruiting tool. As if this isn’t bad enough, he has also presided over a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the devastation of Iraq and Syria by ISIS.

In the last analysis, no matter how hard he may try to distance himself from the destruction of Libya by blaming Washington’s European allies, Barack Obama bears ultimate responsibility.

That’s kind of how it works when you’re the CEO of an empire.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail