Libya One Year On (Part 3): The Propaganda and the Law
Editor’s Introduction: We offered the following introduction to T. J. Coles second installment in this series, Libya: One Year On, Recording NATO’s War Crimes, Part II and it applies just as well to his entire 4 Part Series on NATO’s destruction of Sovereign Libya:
“It is utterly important that the details of the 2011 US/Israeli/NATO destruction and continuing occupation of this peaceful country be documented for the historical record. While many examples exist of the old adage, ‘The victor writes the history,’ the ‘victor’ no longer has control of the press as it once did. While they can continue to write their revisionisms (deceptions), the alternative media now has truth-to-power in producing permanent records of what has really happened in the imperialist barbarism executed against sovereign nations like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
“Humanity is indebted to T.J. Coles and other scholars for their pain-staking, exhaustive research and comprehensive coverage of these wars. The history being written today is not only in words but also in images. We include a few of them below and some are graphic (see Part II for the photos).
“The war crimes of the US, Israel and NATO in Libya are staggering and thus far have been carried out with impunity. But if this weary old planet survives their economic and environmental crimes, history will judge them, their decision-makers and the corporate cabal that funds their wars … and without mercy.”
– Les Blough, Editor
“We have a magnificent structure of ideas for justifying evil.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
In contrast to the long build-up to the occupation of Iraq, the assault on Libya happened quickly, giving the antiwar movement little time to mobilise. In selling the allied bombing to the world, NATO countries engaged in an unprecedented, cartoon-style propaganda campaign in which every Libyan was said to support intervention against the villainous Gaddafi. Meanwhile, the proxies armed and trained by British, French, and US intelligence were portrayed as freedom fighters. The media spun a myriad of lies in an effort to justify the allied bombing.
Barely reported was the fact that the West’s proxy militias deliberately targeted non-aligned journalists. The Voltaire Network reported that journalists Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and Thierry Meyssan were “entrenched in the Hotel Rixos, around which heavy fighting is taking place. Reportedly, the order was given to shoot them down.”1
Nazemroaya relayed extraordinary live footage to RT of being trapped in the Hotel, which, fortunately, was later evacuated by the Red Cross. He reported that NATO was supporting rebel snipers who were targeting the sequestered reporters. Global Research reported:
“The independent journalists are the target because they say the truth. The coverage of the war on Libya has centered on Gadaffi. Not a word has been mentioned regarding the devastation and loss of life caused by NATO’s bombings of civilian targets, including the intensive bombings of Tripoli.”2
ABC reported that “A sniper shot Mohammed Nabbous, a resident of Benghazi and founder of its first independent TV news channel Libya Alhurra.” Nabbous had previously given an interview to KPFA in which he noted the Western media’s support for the rebels.3 This is corroborated by Nazemroaya’s reports concerning snipers. CNN reported that “NATO acknowledged trying to silence Gadhafi’s broadcasts. NATO strikes killed three employees of Libya’s state broadcaster in Tripoli … and wounded 15 others.”4 Cynthia McKinney’s eyewitness and video reports dispel the Western lies that Gaddafi’s newscasts concerning NATO’s civilian victims were propaganda.5
Not for the first time, the British government expressed contempt for their own citizens when, a year after the coup and bombing, Amnesty reported that Nicholas Davies-Jones and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson “have been held by the Suweihli militia since their capture in Tripoli.” Only British journalists covering the egregious behaviour of Syria’s Assad were deemed worthy of governmental support.
The Suweihli militia operate throughout Libya. They “seized the men while they were reportedly filming in the capital.” The freelancers were mostly working for Iran’s Press TV which, along with Russia’s state-owned RT, has been one of the few news networks to accurately report Western- and Western-backed abuses.6
A British Parliamentary inquiry into the bombing found that:
“The apparent conflict between the military and political objectives meant that the Government failed to ensure that its communication strategy was effective in setting out the aims of the operation. In future, the Government’s communication strategy needs to be more effective so that the public are confident of the aims and goals of such operations.”7
Retired Navy Commodore Steven Jermy gave evidence to the Committee. Jermy had previously served in the Falklands, maintaining Britain’s illegal occupation of Malvinas.8 “[T]he Foreign Secretary made clear in public statements that the British would wish to see Gaddafi gone … The remarks of the Foreign Secretary have, at times, come perilously close to admitting this point.” Though not as close as the Commodore, who just admitted it himself.9
The word “admitted” follows the Ministry of Defence’s doctrine of deception, that the stupid public have to have “perceptions of moral legitimacy” in order to back wars waged in pursuit of securing strategic resources.10 That said, the media succeeded in confusing the British public into acquiescence:
A Reuters-Ipsos poll surveyed Euro-American public opinion (Reuters being an agency collaborating with the Orwellian Westminster Foundation for Democracy). “While most people (79%) think the UK cannot afford it, and half (51%) think the problems “are none of our business and we should not interfere”, two-thirds (63%) say the UK and allied forces should seek to remove Colonel Gaddafi.” As it is impossible to have “half” saying one thing and “two-thirds” saying another, it can only mean that many of those surveyed held two opposing viewpoints. This is the essence of Orwell’s doublethink, which is designed to neutralise rationality.
According to the poll, “All four countries”, Britain, Italy, France, US, “are fairly evenly split on whether the action being taken is effective in protecting Libya citizens”—which was never the objective — “and the end result is equally unclear to them.” The poll found that “Britons and Americans are the least convinced that the outcome will be a democratically elected government (17% and 20%).” Just 17% thought that the UN was in charge, and 57% disapproved of Cameron’s handling of the situation.11
Madeleine Moon (Labour MP) claimed that
“[what] I cannot understand is the almost dual-speak where one minute we are saying that regime change and targeting of individuals is part of our mission and then we are saying that it is not.”
Normally, politicians are actors, speaking lines given to them by speechwriters in a manner coached by PR specialists. So maybe when left to speak freely, they really are that stupid?12
“Perceptions of Moral Legitimacy”
Before, during and after the bombing, the Western media engaged in massive amounts of lying and omission in support of the assault. The most important examples are these:
The anti-Gaddafi demonstrations in February 2011 were peaceful. (This paints a picture of “good” demonstrators versus “evil” Gaddafi).
The demonstrations, which were primarily based in Benghazi, were part of the MI6-sponsored armed coup. Press reports revealed that MI6 agents had been training the opposition since late 2010.13 Added to which, the UK Elite Forces acknowledged supplying the anti-Gaddafi rebels with weapons in the early phases of the uprising.14 AFRICOM Commander, General Carter Ham, noted on 4 March that “the government of Libya continued its more than two-week campaign of attacking demonstrators and rebel groups” (emphasis added).15 This was not clarified in media reports.
The Statoil, Talisman Energy, Shell-sponsored International Crisis Group (ICG) noted that the opposing Transitional National Council,
“was headquartered in the eastern city of Benghazi, a traditional base of anti-regime activity that provided army defectors a relatively secure area of operations.”
The ICG quoted one Libyan as saying that “a big misconception is that the Libyan uprising was organised in the east; in fact, the online protest calls originated from Libyans abroad, in Switzerland and the United Kingdom.”16
The US State Department reported a year before the coup that its Middle East Partnership Initiative, which is part of the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, trained Gaddafi’s opponents in the use of the internet. One of the ten Libyan dissidents who received training commented: “This conference has opened my mind to all of the tools available, which I will use to promote various projects and engage different audiences.”17
This way, revolution seems indigenous and not a covert method of external regime change. (LIE #8, below, reveals that America’s newfound “reluctance” to engage in international affairs is part of its contemporary propaganda strategy targeted at the war-weary American public.)
Commodore Jermy said that the Libyan Army and Police Force “were forced from Benghazi by 18 February” by the rebels.18 Imagine if, during the Occupy London protests, Iranian intelligence had been arming and training the demonstrators with instructions to overthrow the unelected Cameron-Clegg regime, and had driven the Police Force out of London. Most Britons would expect the Army to be brought in to quell the insurrection. Yet, when the British secret services do exactly the same in Libya, the Gaddafi regime is expected to sit back quietly and wait to be overthrown.
Gaddafi’s air force bombed civilians. (This is a reflexive appeal to the emotions of Western media audiences, designed to get them to support military intervention.)
The ICG reported that “there are grounds for questioning the more sensational reports that the regime was using its air force to slaughter demonstrators.”19 In late February 2011, Russia Today (RT) reported that the Russian military had been closely monitoring the said area with satellites and found that no such attacks were taking place.20 On March 8, the US Ambassador to NATO—and “liberal interventionist”—Ivo Daalder informed the press that “to date, the overall air activity has not been the deciding factor in the ongoing unrest.”21
In a pro-No Fly Zone paper published weeks before the NATO bombing, Britain’s Royal United Services Institute acknowledged “Libya’s obsolete air defence systems and its depleted air force” and “an unprofessional military, shorn of many of its units.”22 At the commencement of the NATO bombing, the House of Commons Library acknowledged that “the Libyan air force … consist[s] mainly of ageing Soviet-era MiG and Sukhoi fast jet aircraft, a small number of Mirage F1s and 35 attack helicopters.” The report concluded that “Many of those aircraft are thought to be non-operational or currently in store.”23
Libyans asked for intervention. (By omitting all of the vested business and energy interests that the Western powers have in Libya, the media portrayed the bombing as a selfless act, driven by the request of helpless civilians to be saved from imminent slaughter. In the minds of the Western publics, this absolved their governments of guilt and provided a legal-moral veneer to the bombing).
The media reports quoting Libyans calling for military intervention came mainly from Benghazi—the very place where the Western-backed TNC were orchestrating an armed uprising. September-October 2010 Gallup polls found that 50% of Libyans in Tripoli were “satisfied” with “Freedom in your life”, compared to 29% who were not. Benghazi was more evenly split, but even there little indicates that most people sought regime change (thus armed intervention): 34% of Benghazis were “satisfied”, compared to 33% who were not. On the basis of the polls, it would appear that the Western powers decided to base the opponents in Benghazi because that is where Libyans were less satisfied with Gaddafi.24
The factual reports of a few newspapers were swamped by the relentless coverage of pro-war networks and newspapers. Although they were in the minority, sources as diverse as Al-Arabiya, Russia Today (RT), Eurasia Review, and the Guardian reported that the majority of Libyans did not want Western intervention, and contrary reports failed to acknowledge that the pro-interventionist calls were coming largely from Benghazi (almost certainly from the Western proxy militias).25 In his Chatham House speech attended by anti-Gaddafi rebels and Libyan-British Business Council delegates (how impartial), Channel Four’s Lindsey Hilsum, for instance, admitted to reporting primarily from Benghazi.26 This exemplifies the incestuous nature of the establishment and the media.
Gaddafi was about to commit an “ethnic cleansing” or a “genocide” in Benghazi. (In other words, Gaddafi was going to crush the Western-backed uprising, so the Western powers had to convince their domestic publics to support armed intervention in order to save them. In doing so, they had to pretend that the armed rebels were not only civilians, but civilians who represented the majority of opinion in Libya. Using the Iran example above, imagine if the British Army was on its way to London to quell the insurrection and Iran accused the Cameron-Clegg regime of planning an “ethnic cleansing.” In doing so, it passed a UN Resolution—imagine that Iran is on the Security Council—calling for a No Fly Zone over Britain to prevent the British Army from quelling the armed rebellion).
As noted, the ICG reported that “there are grounds for questioning the more sensational reports that the regime was using its air force”, adding: “let alone engaging in anything remotely warranting use of the term ‘genocide’.”27 The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman noted in Foreign Policy:
“Obama implied that, absent our intervention, Gadhafi might have killed nearly 700,000 people, putting it in a class with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. White House adviser Dennis Ross was only slightly less alarmist when he reportedly cited ‘the real or imminent possibility that up to a 100,000 people could be massacred.’ But these are outlandish scenarios that go beyond any reasonable interpretation of Gadhafi’s words. He said, ‘We will have no mercy on them” — but by ‘them,’ he plainly was referring to armed rebels (“traitors”) who stand and fight, not all the city’s inhabitants. ‘We have left the way open to them,’ he said. ‘Escape. Let those who escape go forever.’ He pledged that ‘whoever hands over his weapons, stays at home without any weapons, whatever he did previously, he will be pardoned, protected’ … I emailed the White House press office several times asking for concrete evidence of the danger, based on any information the administration may have. But a spokesman declined to comment. That’s a surprising omission, given that a looming holocaust was the centerpiece of the president’s case for war.”28
It is interesting that Gaddafi “left the way open” to the rebels: when Anglo-American troops bombed the Iraqi city Fallujah in 2004 with nuclear weapons, they sealed it off (in violation of the Geneva Conventions), preventing women and children from leaving.29
Returning to Gaddafi’s phantom “ethnic cleansing”, even the disgraceful University of Texas academic Alan J. Kuperman, who openly supports an act of Aggression against Iran in which “there is no question that some people would die”,30 had to admit that:
“Gadhafi directed this threat only at rebels to persuade them to flee. Despite ubiquitous cellphone cameras, there are no images of genocidal violence, a claim that smacks of rebel propaganda. … Indeed, Libya’s rebels started the war [read: Euro-American allied powers “started the war” via their proxies] knowing that they could not win on their own, and that their attacks would provoke harm against civilians.” 31
In contrast, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and the UN reported that the Western-backed rebels committed an actual ethnic cleansing against Sub-Saharan Africans in Libya, driving out the entire 30,000 residents of Tawargha, killing women and children, burning down their homes, and barring them from returning.32
Gaddafi employed mercenaries. (Like the allegations concerning Gaddafi using his air force, and the reports about an impending “ethnic cleansing”, these media rumours were designed to further demonise the Colonel, and by association garner support for the use of force).
The UN Human Rights Commission reported that:
“an organised group of Sudanese fighters were brought in by the Qadhafi government specifically to fight the thuwar [anti-Gaddafi rebels]. The Commission has not found that these fighters were promised or paid material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to local Qadhafi forces, a requirement for these individuals or groups to fall within the definition of a ‘mercenary’ under the United Nations Convention against Mercenaries or under Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention on Mercenarism. The Commission also determined that there were fighters within the Qadhafi forces who, though of foreign descent, were born in Libya or resident there. They would also fall outside the definition of mercenaries.”33
It is also worth remembering that when Britain and America employ mercenaries, the media describe them as “private security contractors.” In March 2011, Amnesty reported no evidence of the use of mercenaries by Gaddafi.34 In 2012, Amnesty reported “suspected foreign “mercenaries” – most of whom were in fact migrant workers.”35
By accusing black Libyans of being mercenaries for sole purpose of demonising Gaddafi in support of the bombing, the Western media were complicit in the ethnic cleansing, demonising thereby dehumanising black Libyans in the eyes of Westerners, as well as contributing to the racist positions of the anti-Gaddafi rebels. Amnesty reported: “Sub-Saharan Africans and black Libyans remain particularly vulnerable to arbitrary arrest on account of their skin colour and the belief that al-Gaddafi forces used African mercenaries.”36
What was not reported is the fact that the Olive Group, a UK mercenary firm, has been contracted to protect the Western businesspeople who have descended upon Libya.37 One of the most fervent pro-war politicians was the British MP Malcolm Rifkind, whom, as noted below, tacitly acknowledged that protecting civilians was not the UK’s concern. Rifkind is also the Executive Chairman of ArmorGroup, another mercenary firm which, along with Aegis, are continuing to occupy Iraq (with 20,000 mercenaries) in order to guard the Department for International Development personnel who are privatising Iraq’s businesses and resources.38
The Arab League was first to call for armed “intervention.” (A racist propaganda technique which made it appear to non-Arab Westerners that the very dictators whom the Western powers have backed for decades suddenly expressed concern for Libyan civilians, and that they were the real drivers of the war, asking the Western powers to help their fellow Arabs. Just like Lie #3, the technique was designed to give Western allied powers a veneer of “moral legitimacy” and to dissuade Western publics from thinking that the invasion was a war of imperialism.)
Christian Tuner, Middle East and North Africa Director of the UK Foreign Office, confirmed that “12 March  is the key moment at which the Arab League was calling for that no-fly zone to be implemented and, in terms of the diplomatic co-ordination [between Allied nations] … that was what led to a strong call for action which the League was supporting.”39 Indeed, if one checks the chronology of reporting, David Cameron’s speechwriters announced that Britain was considering imposing a No Fly Zone as early as 28 February, not long after Clinton’s speechwriters and the rebels announced that they would not negotiate with Gaddafi.40
The anti-Gaddafi militias, represented by the Transitional National Council, were popular and represented the majority of opinion in Libya. (This thickens the veneer of “moral legitimacy.”)
The oil company-funded International Crisis Group noted that:
“the NTC has had to struggle with internal divisions, a credibility deficit and questions surrounding its effectiveness … Formation of a new cabinet was supposed to curb militia-on-militia violence as well as defiance of the National Army; it has done nothing of the kind. Instead, violence in the capital if anything has escalated, with armed clashes occurring almost nightly. … Many Libyans felt that a disproportionate number of committee members were from eastern regions which were the first to escape regime control. … [R]esponding to criticism, the NTC announced that it would “systematise representation” on the basis of population and area size, though this initiative seems never to have fully materialised.”41
A Chatham paper, commenting on a debate attended by rebels and Western businesspeople, conceded that “participants disagreed over the degree of support for the TNC in the streets of Benghazi.”42 Under the Orwellian appellation Stabilisation Response Team (read: occupation force), the UK sent a coterie of taxpayer-funded propagandists to support the TNC, which indicates the extent of the TNC’s popularity among Libyans. The report reads:
“Continuing to develop communications and ensuring transparent decision-making can help contribute to maintaining and deepening understanding and acceptance of the NTC. … Strong communications are critical to maintaining popular support for the NTC and to explain what is already being done. Delivering concrete action, and being seen to do so, is also important in meeting already high expectations of the Libyan people and in sustaining their support.”
The document goes on to offer suggestions on how to deceive the Libyan public.43
The Obama regime were reluctant to “intervene.” (This technique is designed to portray the US as a “reluctant” interventionist in order to deny the fact that its primary foreign policy objective is accessing resources and imposing favourable climates for business, as well as Presidential posturing on the side of a war-weary public).
In 1997, the Pentagon committed the United States to achieving Full Spectrum Dominance of land, sea, air, space, and information by the year 2020, “to close the ever-widening gap between diminishing resources and increasing military commitments.”44 With the largest known oil reserves in Africa, Libya, along with Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, and the Caspian, is key to Full Spectrum Dominance. Indeed, numerous establishment reports—from Anthony Cordesman, the European Council on Foreign Relations, etc.—noted the presence of dozens of international, mainly US, energy companies in Libya dating back to 2004, when Gaddafi agreed to economically liberalise the country.45
Oxford specialist, Professor M.J. Williams, testified to the British Parliamentary Committee that:
“On the surface it looked as if the US was largely not engaged in the operation, the reality is quite different. The plan was to pursue a “covert intervention” strategy rather than an overt one. The US was involved in all planning and deliberations regarding the campaign for the duration of the operation. This reflects a new US approach to international affairs, one that will remain the de facto course under the Obama Administration and may reflect a wider change due to mounting domestic pressure from the US electorate to save money buy [sic] cutting back on foreign adventures. … The reality is that this war, just like the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, was largely an American operation.”46
UK Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey wrote that:
“The majority of effective strike power has been provided by the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the United States Marine Corps Harriers (until withdrawn for political reasons by President Obama—too visible involvement for the American public to stomach) and, quietly and with no fanfare, by United States naval and air force aircraft (3,475 sorties—approximately 1/3rd of the total).”47
NATO’s role in Libya was humanitarian intervention.
NATO’s self-appointed mission is energy “security” (a.k.a. theft). In 2007, NATO’s then-Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer informed a NATO meeting that:
“it was the oil companies which already quite some time ago approached NATO – not exclusively NATO, also the European Union – to see how these international organizations could be helpful … I can tell you that the present strategic concept of NATO, of dating back, as you know, to 1999, is already talking about the free flow of energy … Let’s be glad that the gas is flowing again [referring to Kosovo].”48
Kosovo makes for an interesting comparison. British House of Commons Library papers published at the commencement of NATO’s bombing in 1999 acknowledged that, like Gaddafi in more recently years, Serbia’s Milosevic was not carrying out an ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians, that 2,000 people on both sides had been killed in the “civil war”—not ethnic cleansing—from 1998-9, and that the Finnish forensic team could find no evidence to prove who committed the Racak massacre. (Given that British Special Forces had been in Kosovo since at least October 1998, we may guess the identity of the real culprits).49
Added to which, the mercenary construction company Kellogg, Brown & Root was the first to arrive in Kosovo in 1998 to construct Camp Bondsteel—the world’s biggest US military base—right on the Former Yugoslavia’s main energy pipeline junction.50 Returning to NATO’s role in energy “security”, its website explains that:
“NATO looks to protect critical energy infrastructures, transit areas and lines, while cooperating with partners and other organisations involved with energy security. .. NATO leaders recognize that the disruption of the flow of vital resources could affect Alliance security interests. … Some 65 per cent of the oil and natural gas consumed in Western Europe passes through the Mediterranean each year, with major pipelines connecting Libya to Italy and Morocco to Spain. Since October 2001 NATO ships have been patrolling in the Eastern Mediterranean .”51
NATO’s mandate was to protect civilians.
NATO had no UN mandate. Added to which, under the Geneva Conventions, “civilians”, or non-combatants, is a loose term. That means that the UK-armed and trained rebels were classified as “civilians” by the allied powers. When the media and the Security Council discussed protecting “civilians”, they were not referring to the unarmed men, women, and children of Libya who were not participating in hostilities. Rather, they were referring to the armed, Western-backed rebels. This point was not explained to the public in the media’s version of events. This gave the false impression that allied powers wanted to protect the unarmed men, women, and children of Libya, when in fact they wanted to provide air support to the rebels.
An unreported House of Commons Library paper explained that Resolution 1973 “offers protection to a wide category of people in Libya, even if they are or have been fighting. In humanitarian law,” the authors added, “A ‘civilian’ is ‘any person not a combatant’; but the definition of combatant is narrow and does not cover rebel forces,” unless they abide by the Geneva Conventions (carrying arms openly, wearing uniforms, etc). The allied powers took it upon themselves to designate the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and other proxies, civilians (non-combatants).52
There were no alternatives to the use of force.
That UK Special Forces were training and arming the opposition as early as 2010 proves that the allied powers had no interest in peace: they wanted to overthrow Gaddafi, impose a Western-friendly regime, and do so under a humanitarian pretext. The US had no intention of finding a peaceful solution either: On March 7, United Press International reported that US General David Petraeus was caught asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates if he was “Flying a little bigger plane than normal — you gonna launch some attacks on Libya or something?”, to which Gates replied, “Yeah, exactly.”53
A day later, following previous peace efforts made by Hugo Chavez (rejected outright by the rebels as “a trap”),54 ABC News Australia reported that “Gaddafi this morning offered to meet rebel leaders in a “people’s conference” and step down with certain guarantees.”55 Again rejected. This important story was not reported at all in Britain or America. We will never know what the “certain guarantees” were, but we can assume that Gaddafi wanted to step down in a way that would allow him to save face (and his life).
The International Crisis Group reported that “The complaint that Qaddafi cannot be trusted is one that can be levelled at any number of leaders on one side or another of a civil war.”56 Given that the British secret services were working with the opposition in the 1990s, then with Gaddafi from 2000 onwards, then with the rebels again, and that the US is formally committed to Full Spectrum Dominance, the real question is: could Gaddafi trust the West? Obviously not:
“To insist that he [Gaddafi] both leave the country and face trial in the International Criminal Court is virtually to ensure that he will stay in Libya to the bitter end and go down fighting”, the ICG reported. This was precisely the idea. A Chatham House paper published in June acknowledged that the goal was to “maintain the status quo” in order to “deplete the regime’s resources.”57
The ICG commented that:
“the longer Libya’s military conflict persists, the more it risks undermining the anti-Qaddafi camp’s avowed objectives. Yet, to date, the latter’s leadership and their NATO supporters appear to be uninterested in resolving the conflict through negotiation. To insist, as they have done, on Qaddafi’s departure as a precondition for any political initiative is to prolong the military conflict and deepen the crisis. Instead, the priority should be to secure an immediate ceasefire and negotiations on a transition to a post-Qaddafi political order.”58
Knowing his days were otherwise numbered, Gaddafi continued to offer to negotiate and honour the ceasefire demanded by UNSCR 1970, which the rebels rejected. On 17 March, the UK’s Ambassador to the Security Council, Mark Lyall Grant, referred to Gaddafi’s compliance as “a grotesque offer of amnesty.”59 In the Western intellectual culture, dropping bombs on children is exercising a “responsibility to protect”, whereas abiding by Security Council Resolutions is “a grotesque offer of amnesty.”
Gaddafi violated the ceasefire demanded by UNSCR 1970.
In February 2011, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1970, which forbade foreigners from arming Libyan factions or supplying proxy finances. Britain immediately violated the Resolution by failing to withdraw the covert special forces already in Libya, by funnelling money to the rebels through Kuwait, and by meeting with them to provide training and arms (which the UK Elite Forces acknowledged).
Despite an effort by Gaddafi to negotiate, it was clear that both America and the rebels would not accept a peaceful settlement: “The United States is not negotiating with Gaddafi,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 27 February, mirroring the rebels: “there is no room for negotiation” (27 Feb).60
UNSCR 1970 “Demands an immediate end to the violence,” a demand which the rebels ignored. Gaddafi, on the other hand, was expected to abide by the Resolution as armed thugs were tearing the country to pieces. “What will happen if Gaddafi not only announces a ceasefire, but is forced to respect it, as is likely in the next few days?,” asked Malcolm Rifkind MP on 21 March (emphasis added). “Does that mean it is all over? I do not think that that would be an appropriate interpretation of the resolution,” proving that Britain had no interest in peace, that the goal was “regime change.”61
The allied powers had a problem, however: if Gaddafi was allowed to step down early, how could the allied powers continue justifying bombing the country to smithereens? The goal was to wreck the country so that the IMF and World Bank could loan Libya’s new puppet regime “reconstruction” money, and to enable Euro-American businesses to establish themselves in the country.62 Short of using nuclear, weather, or seismic weapons, this takes time.63
The Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa announced that Libya would abide by the ceasefire, but the rebels would not. A day before the NATO bombing began, the Associated Press reported that “A Libyan rebel spokesman has dismissed the cease-fire announcement, claiming Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are still attacking key cities in the east and the west”, providing no evidence.64
When asked for evidence by the Today programme that Gaddafi had violated the ceasefire, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague provided none, replying: “I think we will know a ceasefire when we see it.” Natascha Engel MP informed Parliament that “those words did not fill me with complete confidence that we know what we are doing.”65 Agence France Presse reported that the rebels “said they were coordinating with Western nations on targets for air strikes against Qadhafi’s forces, as a coalition of countries geared up to launch attacks.” In other words, while the allied powers prepared to bomb, Gaddafi was expected to cease firing.66
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 authorised the use of force. (Perhaps the biggest lie of all).
“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,” the US-UK-France-drafted Resolution 1973,
“Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians.”
Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970 prohibited arming any faction in Libya and prohibited the deployment of ground forces. As noted, the UK had violated the Resolution since its inception, and continued to do so. Returning to UNSCR 1973, which explicitly “Act[ed] under Chapter VII of the [UN] Charter”, Chapter VII does not authorise the use of force. Chapter VII begins at Article 39:
The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations. [Emphases added]. …”
“Use of force” is not included, and certainly not specified or authorised in Article 42. The British government appears to be aware that they committed Aggression—the supreme international war crime—against Libya. A Tory-Liberal-Labour committee report concerning Operation Ellamy states:
“We commend the Government for publishing a summary of the Attorney General’s legal advice and respect the decision not to publish the advice in full but are disappointed that the Prime Minister felt unable to share the advice with us on a private and confidential basis.”67
Why, other than concealing an admission of a war crime, would the government publish only parts of the Attorney General’s statement, and withhold the rest from an in-house committee?
Added to which, NATO is not mentioned in UNSCR 1973, which makes NATO’s use of force a war crime. Commodore Jermy testified that,
“the use of NATO air power to support offensive operations by rebel forces against those of Gaddafi falls outside UNSCR 1973’s authority, and thus do not appear to comply with international law.”
Former UN Legal Advisor, Patrick M. Lavender, testified:
“The use of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to implement United Nations’ Resolution 1973 (2011), adopted by the Security Council at its 6498th meeting, is ultra vires” (beyond legal power). The Ambassador to the Security Council Mark Lyall Grant affirmed that “The authorisation in the resolutions is for member states and organisations as appropriate; it does not mention NATO.”68
NATO engaged in unprecedented “precision air strikes” and made unprecedented efforts to avoid civilian casualties and civilian infrastructure.
A 5,000-word account of NATO’s bombing of civilians and civilian targets—drawing on coalition documents and mainstream press reports—has been published elsewhere.69 In addition to the information provided in that article, here are some facts dispelling the “precision air strikes” propaganda.
During the Parliamentary vote on the motion of whether or not to attack Libya, which, in keeping with the British concept of democracy, happened two days after the bombing had started, Madeline Moon (Labour MP) noted that “We must be up front and acknowledge that civilians will die.”
Likewise, Diane Abbott (Labour) stated that “There will be civilian casualties—there always are in such deployments,” adding that “The British people are very humane”—an example of the doublethink which so perplexed Moon. Both Abbott and Moon voted for the bombing. Other MPs spoke of “post-war reconstruction.” If the bombing was so precise, why would the country need World Bank and IMF “reconstruction” money?70
UK ambassador to NATO, Mariot Leslie, informed the post-war Parliamentary Committee that “you cannot say with honesty and certainty “I know for a fact that I have not killed a civilian.”” Strange, then, that the “unbiased” media would claim the opposite. “[Britain has] a higher respect for life than Gaddafi,” claimed Defence Secretary Liam Fox, before he was disgraced for betraying national secrets. Presumably that’s why Fox’s government armed Gaddafi until just weeks before the insurrection? Presumably that’s why the SAS were training Gaddafi’s forces in the previous years? Presumably that’s why Mariot Leslie informed the Select Committee that “We will never know whether some civilians have been accidentally killed by NATO because we have nobody on the ground to do the post-strike assessments.” We care so much about human life that we don’t investigate the deaths we cause. Major General Capewell acknowledged that “it’s difficult to determine who is a soldier and who is not.” According to the Parliamentary Committee:
“From the official MoD [Ministry of Defence] Libya updates, it would appear that a disproportionate amount of effort has been expended upon attacking structures that may or may not have contained Libyan military planning/intelligence units. … [T]he urban targeting problem should have been one of the prime considerations affecting the decision to enter into this Operation. … Damage or destruction of legitimate military targets has been achieved only once for every five sorties flown.”71
The International Crisis Group gave a few examples:
“Rebels waited in vain for Bani Walid residents to rise up against regime security forces. In the end, the town’s capture on 17 October was the result of another month of bloody battle and a combination of sustained NATO attacks, exchanges of ground missile fire … The battle for Sirte unfolded in a similar manner.”
Added to which, NATO’s self-appointed mission was to provide air support to the rebels, who were committing major war crimes (frequently via the use of indiscriminate firepower.) The ICG:
“Without sufficient numbers of local residents facilitating their entry, rebel forces used enormous amounts of heavy weaponry – including antiaircraft guns, recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, Grad rockets and tanks – against buildings in civilian residential areas. Local residents eyed rebels with suspicion, fearing they would engage in retaliation – and fearing, as well, actions by determined pro-Qadhafi forces in their midst. … The battle for Qadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound took two days and the southern district of Abu Slim took three. Rebels unleashed anti-aircraft guns, recoilless rifles and rocket-propelled-grenades against retreating fighters in Abu Slim’s Hayy Nasr and Umm Durman districts, reducing Hayy Nasr’s carpet market to a smoking ruin.”72
AP reported that “as time went on, NATO airstrikes became more and more precise.” This tacitly concedes that up to August, the air strikes were largely indiscriminate, and evidence suggests that the bombings were indiscriminate throughout the operations.73
READ MORE ANALYSES & ESSAYS BY
T.J. COLES, AXIS OF LOGIC COLUMNIST
1. Joe Wolverton, “Has the U.S. Issued Kill Orders Against Reporters in Libya? ”, The New American, 30 August, 2011,
2. Global Research, “Libyan Rebels Threaten Canadian Journalist”, 26 August, 2011,
3. Cited in Joe Wolverton, “Has the U.S. Issued Kill Orders Against Reporters in Libya?”, The New American, 30 August, 2011,
4. Jomana Karadsheh and Ivan Watson, “Libya says NATO strikes targeted state broadcaster”, CNN, 30 July, 2011,
5. The Examiner, “Human rights fact-finders show Libyan deaths, injuries not ‘propaganda’”, 7 June, 2011,
6. Amnesty International, “Libya: Release or transfer British journalists and Libyan colleagues”, 28 February, 2012,
7. House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume I: Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office,
8. For the legal details, see my “Britain Threatens Nuclear Attack on Argentina”, Axis of Logic, 29 February, 2012,
9. House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume II, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office,
10. Ministry of Defence, “Strategic Trends Programme: Out to 2040”, 4 February, 2010 (3rd), London: MoD,
11. Ipsos-Mori-Reuters, 13 April 2011,
12. House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume I: Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office,
13. Tim Shipman and David Williams, “SAS rounded up and booted out as Libyan mission turns to farce”, Daily Mail, 7 March, 2011,
14. Elite UK Forces, “British Special Forces In Libya”, 24 October 2011,
15. General Carter Ham, AFRICOM, 4 March, 2011,
16. International Crisis Group, “Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (V): Making Sense of Libya”, Crisis Group Middle East/North Africa Report N°107, 6 June, 2011, Brussels: ICG,
17. Middle East Partnership Initiative (US State Department), “MEPI Highlights North African Activists Use New Media Technology to Engage Citizens”,
18. House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume II, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office,
19. International Crisis Group, “Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (V): Making Sense of Libya”, Crisis Group Middle East/North Africa Report N°107, 6 June, 2011, Brussels: ICG,
20. RT, ““Airstrikes in Libya did not take place” – Russian military”, 2 March, 2011,
21. Julian Borger, “Nato weighs Libya no-fly zone options”, Guardian, 8 March, 2011,
22. Shashank Joshi, “ARGUMENTS FOR a No Fly Zone over Libya”, Royal United Service Institute,
23. Claire Taylor and Ben Smith, “Establishment of a Military No-Fly Zone over Libya”, House of Commons Defence Library, Standard note SN/IA/5909, 21 March, 2011,
24. Julie Ray, “Ahead of Protests, Many Libyans Discontent With Freedom, Jobs”, Gallup, 25 February, 2011,
25. Guardian, “Libya is united in popular revolution – please don’t intervene”, 1 March, 2011; Eurasia Review, “Libyans Want The World To Keep Out”, 9 March, 2011; Al-Arabiya, “Libya rebels form council, oppose foreign intervention”, 27 February, 2011,
26. Alistair Burt (member of the LBBC), Sir Richard Dalton (member of the LBBC), Lindsey Hilsum, Ashur Al-Shamis, and Claire Spencer, “Libya: Prospects and Challenges”, 8 June, 2011. Hilsum:
“I spent about six weeks in Benghazi. I got to Tubruq on 23 February – that was just under a week after the uprising – athen [sic] spent that time in Benghazi, Ajdabiya and along that shifting frontline around Brega and Ra’s Lanuf.”
These areas are where MI6 had been training the rebels. See footnote 13.
27. International Crisis Group, “Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (V): Making Sense of Libya”, Crisis Group Middle East/North Africa Report N°107, 6 June, 2011, Brussels: ICG,
28. Steve Chapman, “Did Obama avert a bloodbath in Libya? Panicking over a dubious threat”, Foreign Policy, 3 April, 2011 (details in the Chicago Tribune)
29. Courageously, Oxfam stayed in the city: Oxfam, “Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq”, July, 2007, Briefing Paper, London: Oxfam, On the use of nuclear weapons, the US-UK governments have not admitted this, but there were higher levels of radiation found in Fallujah than in Hiroshima: Chris Busby et al., “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009”, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6 July, 2010 and Patrick Cockburn, “Toxic Legacy of US Assault on Fallujah ‘Worse Than Hiroshima’”, Independent, 24 July, 2010,
30. Kuperman on “Crosstalk”, RT,
31. Alan J. Kuperman, “5 things the U.S. should consider in Libya”, USA Today, 22 March, 2011,
32. For the shocking details and sources, see my “One year on. Why we attacked Libya”, Axis of Logic, 28 March, 2012,
33. Human Rights Council (UN), “Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya”, 8 March, 2012, A/HRC/19/68 Advance Unedited Version,
34. Amnesty International, “Q&A” , 21 March, 2011,
35. Amnesty International, “Militias threaten hopes for New Libya”, Index: MDE 19/002/2012, February, 2012,
38. Ian Bruce, “Charity urges Westminster to regulate UK mercenary firm”, Herald Scotland, 14 February, 2008,
39. House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume I: Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office,
40. Alex Stevenson, “UK military prepares for Libyan no-fly zone”, 28 February, 2011, politics.co.uk,
41. International Crisis Group, “Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges After Qadhafi”, Middle East/North Africa Report No. 115, 14 December, 2011,
42. Chatham House, “Libya’s Future: Towards Transition”, May, 2011,
43. International Stabilisation Response Team, “Libya”, 20 May-30 June, 2011,
44. US Space Command, “Vision for 2020”, February, 1997,
45. Anthony H. Cordesman, “Libya: Three possible outcomes and the role of governance, money, gas, and oil”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 22, 2011 and Daniel Korski, “What Europe needs to do on Libya”, European Council on Foreign Relations, 25 February, 2011,
46. House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume II, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office,
48. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, “Transatlantic leadership for a new era: Speech by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Security and Defence Agenda”, NATO, 26 January, 2009,
49. Tim Youngs, M. Oakes and P. Bowers, “Kosovo: NATO and Military Action”, House of Commons Library, Research Paper 99/34, 24 March, 1999,
50. Dan Briody, 2004, The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money, NY: Wiley.
51. Once one accesses the website, one needs to click on the subheadings. NATO, “NATO’s role in energy security”, undated,
52. Ben Smith and Arabella Thorp, “Interpretation of Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya”, House of Commons Library, SN/IA/5916, 6 April, 2011,
53. Roger L. Wollenberg, “Petraeus, Gates joke about Libya strike”, United Press International, 7 March, 2011,
54. Associated Press, “Chávez proposes ‘committee of peace’ to mediate between west and Gaddafi”, Guardian, 3 March, 2011,
55. ABC, “Rebels say Libya peace talks offer a trap”, 8 March, 2011,
56. International Crisis Group, “Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (V): Making Sense of Libya”, Crisis Group Middle East/North Africa Report N°107, 6 June, 2011, Brussels: ICG,
57. Alistair Burt MP, Sir Richard Dalton, Lindsey Hilsum, Ashur Al-Shamis, and Claire Spencer, “Libya: Prospects and Challenges”, 8 June, 2011,
58. International Crisis Group, “Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (V): Making Sense of Libya”, Crisis Group Middle East/North Africa Report N°107, 6 June, 2011, Brussels: ICG,
59. Mark Lyall Grant, Statement to the Security Council on UNSCR 1973, 17 March, 2011,
60. Al-Arabiya, “Rebel Libyan army in east ready to help Tripoli, Offers ‘any kind of assistance’ to Libya uprising”, 27 February, 2011 and Mohammed Abbas, “Libya rebels form council, oppose foreign intervention”, The Windsor Star, 27 February, 2011,
61. British Parliament, “United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973”, 21 March, 2011,
62. See footnote 37 of my “Libya one year on (Part 2)”, Axis of Logic,
63. For primary sources on weather and seismic weapons, see my “Weather Weapons and Earthquake Bombs”, Axis of Logic, 6 January, 2012,
64. Associated Press, “Libyan rebels dismiss cease-fire declaration”, March 18, 2011,
65. Hague and Engel in British Parliament, “United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973”, 21 March, 2011,
66. Agence France Presse, “Libya accuses rebels of breaching truce”, 19 March, 2011,
67. House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume I: Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office,
68. Jermy, and Lavender in House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume II, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office ; Lyall Grant in House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume I: Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office.
69. See my “Libya one year on (Part 2)”,
71. Leslie and Fox in House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume I: Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office. On Fox’s betrayal of national “secrets” by employing his friend, see Robert Verkaik, “MI6 warned Werrity that he was jeopardising British policy in Iran”, 22 October 2011; Capewell and Committee report in House of Commons Defence Committee, “Operations in Libya”, Ninth Report of Session 2010–12, Volume II, 8 February, 2012, London: Stationary Office.
72. International Crisis Group, “Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges After Qadhafi”, Middle East/North Africa Report No. 115, 14 December, 2011.
73. Hadeel Al-Shalchi and Rami Al-Shaheibi, “NATO, sleeper cells drove rebels‘ Tripoli push,” Associated Press, 24 August, 2011.
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