The British prime minister, David Cameron, places great emphasis on how he is regarded by the public at home and internationally. His personal promotion machine is extensive and highly-paid and his staff feed the media diligently with what they imagine to be positive slants on his character and actions (and with carefully selected photographs of his pretty wife). They provide advance copies of his speeches to favoured journalists with the annoying consequence that news broadcasts rarely report what the prime minister has just said on a topic. They are futuristic and use the infuriating phrase “the prime minister will say today that” he will propose something or other.
The reason for this is that if there should be adverse reaction to whatever sparkling new initiative he wants to put forward to the public, then the spin-doctors can make hasty amendments in order to avoid upsetting people. It is school playground stuff, but then a great deal of British politics is playground oriented.
Unfortunately for his image, Cameron sometimes says things without first putting a finger in the water to test the temperature, and he also says things that betray his appalling ignorance of life.
One of the unrehearsed things he said that he may well regret in future concerns his unscripted policy on bombing people. It was reported on 27 July that he said “he was ready to order air strikes on Islamist militant targets in Libya and Syria to prevent attacks on the streets of Britain as he stepped up his rhetoric against Islamic State insurgents.” From this it is clear the British prime minister wants his country to go to war again and bomb Libya as it did last time he ordered air strikes on that ill-fated country.
It was Cameron who was responsible for Britain’s enthusiastic participation in the 2011 aerial bombing and rocketing that destroyed Libya. In March 2011 he declared that “Tough action is needed to ensure that people in Libya can lead their lives without fear and with access to the basic needs of life. That is what the Security Council requires, that is what we are seeking to deliver.” And he and his fellow thugs delivered catastrophe.
When the US-NATO onslaught ceased, after the murder of Libya’s president, we were told that the war had been successful in achieving democracy by bombing. It might be summed up in the sniggering proclamation of Ms Hillary Clinton, on CBS on 20 October 2011 that so far as the killing of Gaddafi was concerned “We came, we saw, he died.” What a truly civilised statement from the likely next president of the United States.
Two weeks before Ms Clinton’s humorous observation Mr Cameron said “I’m an optimist about Libya; I’ve been an optimist all the way through and I’m optimistic about the National Transitional Council and what they are able to achieve. I think when you look at Tripoli today, yes, of course, there are huge challenges — getting water to that city, making sure there is law and order — but actually so far, the cynics and the armchair generals have been proved wrong.”
The “cynics and armchair generals” — who might be better described as experienced realists — were right in predicting that the country’s collapse was inevitable; just as they had been right about forecasting chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, two highly placed intellectuals, Ivo Daalder, who was the US Permanent Representative on the NATO Council during the US-NATO war, and Admiral James G (“Zorba”) Stavridis, who was at that time US Supreme Allied Commander Europe (the military commander of NATO), agreed wholeheartedly with Cameron and wrote in 2012 in the journal Foreign Affairs that:
“NATO’s operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention. The alliance responded rapidly to a deteriorating situation that threatened hundreds of thousands of civilians rebelling against an oppressive regime. It succeeded in protecting those civilians and, ultimately, in providing the time and space necessary for local forces to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi.”
According to these expert analysts, Libya was liberated and became a free country thanks to US-NATO. And they were supported by columnists like Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times who wrote that “Libya is a reminder that sometimes it is possible to use military tools to advance humanitarian causes.” What a bunch of buffoons. Their statements would be hilarious were they not so obscenely bizarre, because Libya has collapsed into anarchic ruin — as forecast by the “armchair generals” so despised by Cameron and all the others who have never heard a shot fired in anger.
In April 2015 the saintly International Red Cross observed that “The violence shows no sign of abating. Libya remains a patchwork of conflict, fuelled by a plethora of armed groups with varying allegiances and diverse agendas. Thousands have been killed; hundreds of thousands more have been displaced. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.”
The unelected rabble that is supposed to be a government in Libya has its very own set of Guantanamo Bays in which Human Rights Watch reported that “the Libyan Army and the Interior Ministry’s Counter Terrorism Unit are holding about 450 “security detainees” in connection with the current conflict. Of those visited, 35 detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were tortured on arrest, under interrogation, or during their detention. Thirty-one said interrogators forced them to “confess” to crimes; four said that the authorities then broadcast their “confessions” on TV, leading to reprisal attacks on their families. All of the detainees Human Rights Watch interviewed said they had not been given access to lawyers, taken before a judge, or formally charged despite many months of detention.” From what freedom-loving democracy could the Libyans have learned to keep people in detention indefinitely without trial?
There have been no comments on the anarchic shambles in Libya by such as Nicholas Kristoff who rejoiced in 2011 that he had “Just arrived in Tripoli, Libya, after a wild ride from the Tunisian border. But Tripoli is festive, joyful and reasonably secure, its streets full of shoppers and honking cars, celebrating the end of Ramadan and the end of dictatorship. People are hugely welcoming to an American, and very grateful.”
When Gaddafi ruled Libya its citizens had ample water from many sources, not least being his “Great Man-Made River” which brought water from southern aquifers to the dense population of the coastal north. But the US-NATO blitz damaged or destroyed so many power stations and pipeline facilities that this supply has all but ceased.
Amnesty International reports savage religious persecution (unknown in Gaddafi’s time) and records that “the international community has stood and watched as Libya has descended into chaos since the 2011 NATO military campaign ended, effectively allowing militias and armed groups to run amok.” The Christian organisation Open Doors records that “Since the downfall of Gaddafi, the situation for Christians in Libya has deteriorated. The government claims all Libyans are Sunni Muslims; it is illegal to bring Arabic Bibles into the country or to evangelise.”
So much for David Cameron’s idiotic statement that “I’ve been an optimist all the way through” about Libya. This is the man who declared in 2011 that his bombing would ensure that Libyan citizens would have “access to the basic needs of life.”
During their war on Libya, Obama and Cameron jointly declared that “We are convinced that better times lie ahead for the people of Libya.” Tell that to the millions of Libyans whose lives have been wrecked by NATO’s “model intervention” as it’s described by the two imbeciles, Daalder and Stavridis, who did so much to destroy a nation.
Yet David Cameron imagines that more bombing will solve all the problems, and on 26 July the UK’s Daily Telegraph, whose editors and journalists are in the pockets of Cameron’s spin-doctors, was happy to disclose that “Mr Cameron has ordered officials to begin planning for a new intervention in Libya, which has become a haven for Isil jihadists.” Cameron “was asked if there was a case for strikes on Isil in Libya, where the gunman who massacred Britons in Tunisia was trained,” and replied “That is my job, my duty as Prime Minister if there is a specific threat and you can act to stop it, you should act to stop it wherever it is and you are allowed under international law to do exactly that. I think that is very important.”
The reason Libya has become a haven for fanatical loonies is because it was struck mercilessly in a seven month aerial blitz that destroyed its government and social infrastructure. And the solution, according to those who attacked it in 2011, is to bomb, bomb and bomb again.
We live in a world of madness.
A version of this piece appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation online journal on August 15.