Nov 082011

By Jonathan Hamilton Russell.

This is my third article on Libya over the seven month period of the ‘revolution’.

The reason that I have written these articles is the general silence and passive acceptance that has taken place on developments in Libya as they have unfolded, and my wish to raise awareness.

I am also greatly concerned in a period when we should have learnt from world wars and numerous conflicts across the world that war is not the solution and leads to untold misery.

Yet war has become our most favoured form of foreign intervention. My intention had been to leave writing a further article until a new government was formed however the atrocities that have taken place at the end revolution have led me to writing the present article. I  realise much of what I  report goes against what many people have come to believe, but feel it essential to report on what I  have read.

My previous arguments have been that rather than relying solely on military intervention, negotiations should have taken place with the prerequisite that elections were held under the auspices of the United Nations. Everyone could have had a say regarding the future of Libya: including those who supported Qaddafi’s green movement who have been effectively disenfranchised.

The African Union and Venezuela offered to broker negotiations and Qaddafi and the then Libyan government on frequent occasions wanted to have a cease fire and negotiations. I also argued that all those responsible for torture and war crimes whether Qaddafi’s regime, NATO or the revolutionary militias should be put before an international court for their crimes.

On the 4th February following International pressure the International Criminal Court have stated that they will be investigating war crimes perpetuated by Qaddafi Loyalists, the National Transitional Government and NATO. Interestingly this has not been reported in the British media but is whatever a significant step forward in terms of justice

If you do nothing else please watch the following video.

Journalist Lizzie Phelan was in Tripoli before during and after its fall. She explains the support for Qaddafi including a 1.7 million demonstration in Tripoli in support of Qaddafi  in July, of an entire population of around five million in Libya.

She also reports on how the media was falsely reporting, the democratic nature of Qaddafi’s regime, how many women took up arms and of mass murder by NATO. Have a look on You Tube and compare footage of the numbers demonstrating for Qaddafi and those for the revolutionary fighters.

Seamus Milne in the Guardian has argued that intervention by the West rather than saving public lives has in fact increased deaths at least tenfold. Off course we can never know what might have happened if the then Libyan Government tanks had reached Benghazi. What we do know is that in towns that Qaddafi’s troops did retake, reprisals if any were minimal.

We also know that that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that there have been considerable reprisals by the Revolutionary militias as well as the deaths inflicted by NATO bombing. Estimates of those killed range from 10,000 to 50,00 with  many more injured in a population of around five million.

Amnesty International has evidence of mass abduction and detention, beating and routine torture, killings and atrocities carried out by the revolutionary militias. Human rights watch have identified a number of mass graves and discovered 53 bodies with hands tied of Qaddafi fighter’s, some who had clearly been in hospital, near to the hotel used by Qaddafi loyalists just before he was he was murdered. In Sirte over 500 fighters and civilians were killed in the last ten days

There was knowledge by the revolutionary militia and NATO, as evidenced by militia fighters speaking on the BBC that Qaddafi was in Sirte in the last few days of fighting.

Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.

The statement by NATO that they did not now that Gaddafi was in the 80 strong convoy that was bombed while trying to escape Sirte was almost certainly untrue, as was the assertion that the bombings and drone attacks was done to protect civilians as they were fleeing not attacking anyone.

A reporter on the BBC said the carnage was horrific.

What I believe has happened has been a concerted attempt by the revolutionary militias and NATO to destroy Qaddafi’s Green movement supporters in Libya so that they cannot become a force in a future Libya. Mustafa Abdel Jalil the National Transitional Council Chairman and previously Qaddafi’s Justice Minister tried to put the blame of Qaddafi’s death onto Qaddafi’s own snipers despite the horrendous mobile footage that was published on the net all over the world.

Peter Boukaret the head of Human Rights Watch in Libya has seen revolutionary militias burning homes in Tawerga where the majority of people were black Libyans who were seen as supporters of the Qaddafi regime, so that they can never return to their home town.

Under International law combatants should be released at the end of a civil war but the Washington Post has reported that 1,000 Qaddafi loyalists are packed in dingy jails and have faced abuse and even torture. Amnesty International have criticised the EU for leaving 5,000 Sub-Saharan refugees camped in appalling conditions on Libya’s border

Will Self on the BBC has pointed out that arms are still being sold to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco who have equally poor human rights records. He also pointed out that arms on both sides of the Libyan conflict were supplied by Britain.  Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.

It could be suggested that it was in the interests of Western Leaders for Qaddafi not to live as at any court hearing he could have informed the world of the arms and human rights deals brokered with the likes of Sarkozy and Blair.

The future of Libya is most certainly in the balance. Abel Hakim Belhaj kidnapped by MI6 and tortured in Libya is threatening legal action against the UK Government, and who is the leader of the militias in Tripoli, has already warned that they will not be taking orders from the National Transitional Council.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil Chairperson of the National Transitional council’s attempts to mollify the Islamic militias is to say that a future state will be based in Shariah law and that polygamy not allowed previously in Libya would be allowed.

The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians.

This in itself would suggest that women’s role in Libya will take a considerable backward step. Kevin Rudd the Australian Foreign minister has warned that Libya could become another Iraq. There could well be further conflict before any elections take place.

What I would conjecture is that though there will be on-going violence, it is more likely that what will happen is that elections will eventually take place and the winners will be those that are sympathetic to the west. However as corruption increases as in Afghanistan and many people’s living standards fall,  that within ten years the Islamic parties as the only alternative will gain electoral or even military victory.

One factor not reported in our media is that Qaddafi through the African Union and with other Middle Eastern states had been pushing for a new currency – the Gold Dinar.  This would have been a threat to the Euro and the Dollar. This would have soon come into effect and would have enriched African countries and had a negative effect on western countries. This in itself was a major reason as to why they wanted to get rid of Qaddafi as he had large stocks of gold.

Britain’s new defence secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC:

 “I would expect British Companies to be packing their suitcases for Libya”

UK trade and Investment a British Government body has estimated that oil, gas and reconstruction works will be worth over 320 billion dollars over the next ten years.

Daniel Kaczynski a conservative MP and Chair of the parliamentary Libyan committee who has written extensively on Qaddafi  and who has been a major influence on British Policy on Libya has suggested that Libya pay back the costs of British military intervention. Previous to the revolution the majority of contracts were going to Russia and China.

There are already significant land and property claims being made by Libyans who lost their property under Qaddafi this will have a significant knock on effect pushing those who have lived in the property and land into poverty

The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians. It has been about regime change and a grab for lucrative resources and ending Qaddafi’s nearly met aim of creating a Gold Dinar as an alternative currency to threaten the Euro and the Dollar. 

In carrying out this policy the revolutionary militias aided extensively by NATO have carried out and continue to carry out genocide of ideological nature against those many Libyans who continued to support Qaddafi.

Dec 032010

By Alan Gatt.

Last week Aberdeen Voice brought you part 2 of Alan Gatt’s examination of where Aberdeen and Aberdonians are going wrong, and focussed on the Dutch disease, Affluenza and Hyperreality. This week, in part three Alan Takes a look at General Well-being and Reality Distortion Field.

In Powell and Pressberger’s 1945 classic “I Know Where I’m Going”, Wendy Hiller’s stranger-in-a-strange-land banker’s daughter is treated to a lightbulb moment via the indulgence of Roger Livesey’s Hebridean laird:

Hiller: People around here are very poor I suppose.

Livesey: Not poor, they just haven’t got money.

Hiller: It’s the same thing.

Livesey: Oh no, it’s something quite different.

When he was in opposition our new PM David Cameron was keen to promote a similar message. Speaking at the Google Zeitgeist Europe conference in 2006 he said:

Too often in politics today, we behave as if the only thing that matters is the insider stuff that we politicians love to argue about – economic growth, budget deficits and GDP.

GDP. Gross domestic product. Yes it’s vital. It measures the wealth of our society. But it hardly tells the whole story. Wealth is about so much more than pounds, or euros or dollars can ever measure. It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money, and it’s time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB – general well-being. Well-being can’t be measured by money or traded in markets. It can’t be required by law or delivered by government. It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture, and above all the strength of our relationships.

Improving our society’s sense of well-being is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times. It’s a challenge foreshadowed by one of Britain’s most famous economists – though not someone whose work I usually agree with. Writing in 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that by now, society would have “solved its economic problem” – that is, worked out how to create permanently rising standards of living.

Aspiration is insecurity. So we volunteer to place the shackles around our own ankles

In his essay, Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, he argued: “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem – how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.”

In that essay of Keynes’ which Cameron mentioned, Keynes suggested that by 2030 we’d be about eight times better off economically than we were in 1930. And that once we’d achieved that level of affluence, we’d only find it necessary to work about 15 hours per week. The rest of the time, we could be humans; free to “do one thing to-day and another to-morrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner” as Marx would have it.

Well, since about 1986 Marx has been unmentionable and in our neocon times (which started in 1979) Keynes is perennially unfashionable, but the fact is that we achieved that ‘eight times better off’ quite some time ago. Of course – Keynes posited – there would still be some individuals who would work harder and for longer hours than others in pursuit of greater monetary wealth, but most wouldn’t – seeing the love of money as “one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities”.

So what’s going on? Why do we feel we must work so hard? It seems that as we aspire to the next level on the upgrade cycle – (best not fall behind our neighbours, colleagues, friends and family!) our anxieties are played upon and our insecurities are exploited, and so we give up our freedom to hours greatly in excess of the working time directive, let alone Keynes’ 15 hours. Aspiration is insecurity. So we volunteer to place the shackles around our own ankles. “Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty”.


So, where’s Aberdeen going wrong? Hyperreality? Dutch Disease? Affluenza? Resource Depletion? All of these things are present. But what I percieve in Aberdeen is a sort of un-founded self-belief. A vainglorious boastfulness which ill-serves us when compared with our peers. In “A Big Boy did it and Ran Away” Scottish author Christopher Brookmyre spells it out as the protagonist mulls the Aberdonian condition:

Europe’s Oil Capital. Honestly. The first time he heard the expression, he’d assumed it was a bit of self deprecatory humour. That was before he learned that there was no such thing as self-deprecatory humour in Aberdeen, particularly when it came to the town’s utterly unfounded conceit of itself. It was a provincial fishing port that had struck it astronomically lucky with the discovery of North Sea oil, and the result was comparable to a country bumpkin who had won the lottery, minus the dopey grin and colossal sense of incredulous gratitude. The prevalent local delusion wasn’t that the town had merely been in the right place at the right time, but that it had somehow done something to deserve this massive good fortune, and not before time either.

So even with all these things going wrong all around – the visible decay and the social exclusion; the decline of our elder industries and the planning blight despoiling the town centre – we still think we’re Ertchie! A couple of weeks ago I had an argument with an Aberdeen blogger who claimed that the North East “contributed 24% of all corporation tax to the UK exchequer”. What he’d actually heard at a “business breakfast briefing” was, that, following the recent budget Aberdeen “City and Shire” businesses will be paying UK Corporation tax at the rate of 24%. He grabbed a hold of the wrong end of the stick. And then proceeded to wave it about drawing attention to himself. This sort of thing – this sort of thinking – is typical.

So I think that the biggest thing going wrong in Aberdeen is a sort of self-regarding reality-distortion-field. A shame. Because it is actually a really attractive modestly-sized town that needs no overenthusiastic boosterism. We should recognise and celebrate Aberdeen for what it is; not for what the reality-distortion-field of some has convinced them it should be.

The affluenza-driven self-regard of the pompous reality-distortion-field is trapping us in an illusion of Aberdeen which is compounded by our condition of hyperreality. That vainglorious self-reverence which confuses surface with substance is yet another example of our lack of freedom. Voltaire said something like: “It’s hard to free people from the chains they revere”.

Obama said: “Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty”.