“Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”
— US Secretary of State Pompeo addresses the UN Security Council on January 26, 2019.
Libya is in a state of anarchic turmoil, with various groups fighting each other for control of the country, and as the Wall Street Journal reported last September, “Islamic State is staging a resurgence in chaotic Libya, claiming more than a dozen attacks in the North African country this year and threatening to disrupt the flow of oil from one of the world’s most significant suppliers.” To such mainstream media outlets as the Wall Street Journal the fact that oil supply is being disrupted is much more important than the savage IS attacks that result in slaughter of so many innocent people who are only foreigners, anyway.
The UN Security Council said it deplored the Islamic State’s “heinous and cowardly terrorist attack . . . in Tripoli on 25 December 2018” and expressed “deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Libyan people and Government of National Accord, and wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured.”
It is laudable that the Security Council should express such sentiments, but if Libya was not “fractured by a six-year civil war”, there would be no need for sympathy from anyone.
The cause of the catastrophe in Libya in Libya was the seven month US-NATO blitzkrieg from March to October 2011 in which thousands of bombs and rockets smashed down on that unfortunate land which was governed by President Muammar Ghaddafi whom the West was determined to overthrow by assisting a rebel movement. In Ghaddafi’s Libya, as detailed by the World Health Organization, the government provided “comprehensive health care including promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to all citizens free of charge through primary health care units, health centers and district hospitals.” Life expectancy was 75 years (as against 66 in India; 71 in Egypt; 59 in South Africa), and the CIA World Factbook noted that there was a literacy rate of 94.2% which was higher than in Malaysia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Ghaddafi was far from being a saint. He dealt with his enemies in the most brutal fashion and was guilty of numerous offences against humanity. But so were (and are) many others like that around the world whose countries are not subject to US sanctions or seven months of strikes by US-NATO planes and missiles.
The US-NATO blitz was successful, and Gaddafi was overthrown and captured by rebel forces, whereupon, as reported, “the increasingly desperate and terrified 69-year-old Gaddafi was thrown on to the front of a white car bonnet, his blood-soaked head locked between the knees of a militiaman . . . He slipped off the bonnet, his ravaged body unable to cope with the constant battering.” Then, as can be seen in a particularly horrible video, he was further beaten mercilessly, sodomised with a bayonet, and murdered.
When she was informed of this, the news caused the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to giggle and announce with a laugh that “We came. We saw. He died.”
Trump is the worst president in US history, but at least we have been spared the global ascendancy of a person who cackles with mirth when told that someone had been murdered.
In any event, Libya was reduced to chaos amid the Clinton cackles, just as is happening in Venezuela at the moment. Its leader, Nicolas Maduro, is not unlike Gaddafi in many ways, being ruthless and arrogant, and there is no doubt the country has suffered under his regime — but just in Libya, it has suffered a great deal more because of vicious sanctions imposed by Washington.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is not regarded favorably by Washington’s sanctioneering warriors, simply because it points out the negative side of sanctions, in that it is always ordinary people who suffer — and especially the poor, the deprived, the sick, the lame, all those whom Trump says he loves.
These US sanctions have caused untold suffering. As Al Jazeera reported on February 8, “a [Venezuelan] hospital . . . has said 14 children have died this week following an outbreak of amoebiasis, a form of dysentery transmitted by contaminated food or water. Dozens of other children infected by the disease cannot receive adequate treatment due to a lack of medical supplies.” And on it goes, just as it did in Libya and pre-invasion Iraq which had suffered similarly evil sanctions for so many years. And in a particularly obscene twist of malevolence, Washington, having promoted suffering by sanctions in Venezuela had the cynical temerity to try to send “humanitarian supplies” to the country it tried to destroy.
Another compassionate person, US Secretary of State (1997-2001) Madeleine Albright, was a great believer in crippling a country and killing its citizens by imposing sanctions. In 1996, when she was Clinton’s ambassador to the UN she appeared on CBS News program Sixty Minutes and the interviewer said “We have heard that a half-million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And — and, you know, is the price worth it?” Madeleine Albright replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”
As to Iran, as pointed out by Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation, the US Administration “continues to use economic sanctions to target the Iranian people with impoverishment and death as a way of hopefully effecting another regime change within the country.”
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has urged everyone involved in the Venezuela crisis to “lower tensions” and begin speaking to each other, but there was no possibility that anyone would listen to him, least of all those intent on the overthrow of Maduro. The UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures as affecting human rights, Idriss Jazairy (an admirable and highly intelligent person), stated on January 31 that “coercion” by the US (without naming it) is a “violation of all norms of international law.” He said flatly that “Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela . . . precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis . . . is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes.”
But Washington doesn’t want a peaceful settlement of disputes, least of all, at the moment, in Venezuela. It wants to ensure that there is suffering, in order that Maduro can be overthrown by those whom it has deprived of the basic necessities of life. Further, it wants its own man to be at the Top.
So — enter Mr Juan Guaidó, a minor politician in Venezuela’s parliament.
According to the Wall Street Journal on 25 January, “The night before Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the opposition leader received a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence. Mr Pence pledged that the US would back Mr. Guaidó if he seized the reins of government from Nicolás Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution, a senior administration official said.”
As the New York Times noted on 8 February, “Mr. Trump said the oil sanctions were meant to punish Mr. Maduro for human rights violations and force him to cede power to Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader whom the United States has recognized as the rightful Venezuelan president.”
The entire “revolution” has been engineered from Washington, but at least, this time, they haven’t gone in with rockets and bombs. There is little doubt Washington will win, and that Maduro will leave in one way or another.
And my advice to him is : don’t wait too long before you give up and get out. Otherwise, Maduro, baby, They’ll Come. They’ll See. And You’ll Die. Washington reckons the price is worth it.
A shorter version of this piece appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on February 12, 2019.