The world was ushered into the present millennium with growing threats to its security; some countries face existential threats, others face threats to their economic hegemony. And those having military might at their disposal would prefer the use of naked force to neutralize even the threats to their economy. Normally, economic threats are minimized through economic measures but not when such threats emanate from places like Libya. It will, therefore, be a huge mistake to take the present crisis of Libya at its face value. Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator of 42 years, who had only recently become “darling of the west” after renouncing terrorism and making himself vulnerable, has suddenly fallen from grace. Not only that, the entire democratic world is after his blood and his country and government are facing wrath of the US and NATO and attack by their combined military might. It is obviously not a human rights issue alone as similar violations are taking place elsewhere in the Muslim world with the tacit approval of the champions of democracy and freedom. Why has it become necessary to single out Libyan dictator and get rid of him?
There are so many theories and the first and foremost is that his recent economic initiatives in the oil-rich African world could directly threaten economic hegemony of the US and Europe. Irrespective of the fact that this third major war during the last 10 years waged by the civilized world on flimsy pretext will destroy their economies, the very initiative for launching a single gold-backed currency was another matter. The world could not allow any currency to endanger US dollar or the Euro. Observers say implementing that vision would change the world power equation and threaten Western hegemony. In response, the United States and its NATO partners have determined “Gaddafi must go,” and assumed the role of judge, jury and executioner.
Analysts say introducing the gold dinar as the new medium of exchange would destroy dependence on the U.S. dollar, the French franc and the British pound and threaten the Western world. It would “finally swing the global economic pendulum” that would break Western domination over Africa and other developing economies. Attacking Col. Gaddafi can be understood in the context of America and Europe fighting for their survival, which an economically independent Africa jeopardizes. These moves are also bad for France because when the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank in Nigeria starts printing gold-backed currency, it would “ring the death knell” for the CFA franc through which Paris was able to maintain its neo-colonial grip on 14 former African colonies for the last 50 years.
“It is easy to understand the French wrath against Gaddafi,” said Prof. Jean-Paul Pougala of the Geneva School of Diplomacy.
“The idea, according to Gaddafi, was that African and Muslim nations would join together to create this new currency and would use it to purchase oil and other resources in exclusion of the dollar and other currencies,” said political analyst Anthony Wile in an editorial for The Daily Bell online.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Libya’s Central Bank is 100 percent state-owned and estimates that the bank has nearly 144 tons of gold in its vaults. If Col. Gaddafi changed the purchasing terms of his oil and other Libyan commodities sold on the world market and only accepted gold as payment; a policy like that wouldn’t be welcomed by the power elites who control the world’s central banks. Furthermore, pricing oil in something other than the dollar would undercut the pedestal of US power in the world. Although in trouble, the dollar is the reserve currency based on a deal made with Saudi Arabia in 1971 in which the Saudis, as the world’s largest oil producer, agreed to accept only dollars for oil. The Libyan affair has sparked a divide in the world community with the African Union and nations like Venezuela, China and Cuba—and until recently Russia—on one side as voices of reason, caution and respect for international law and honoring the UN mandate which set the parameters for engagement in Libya.
Blogosphere has another theory backed by classified cables unearthed by the Wikileaks. The leaked cable sounds the alarm of “growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism” by the Gaddafi government. This was almost identical language employed by the U.S. and British governments against Iranian Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh when he nationalized Iran’s oil field in 1951. Mossadegh was overthrown by a 1953 CIA coup that restored the Shah to the throne. It allowed US and British oil companies to re-take ownership over Iran’s oil until the 1979 revolution.
According to the cable, the US government was furious that Gaddafi was moving to rein in and limit the power and profits of the western-owned oil giants that he permitted to come back into the country after George W. Bush in 2004 lifted economic sanctions against Libya. The same cable refers to an angry speech that Gaddafi made in 2006 which was interpreted as a virtual act of war by the oil companies and the U.S. and western governments.
Qaddafi’s speech included these unacceptable words: “Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them—now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money.”
Libyan oil reserves are estimated to be the largest in Africa with 41.5 billion barrels.
According to an article in The National Interest, every American president seems to start at least one war. George W. Bush initiated two conflicts. He was ill informed, impetuous, and foolish. The casualties and costs of his actions were catastrophic. But he addressed significant issues. Barack Obama is different in almost every way. Knowledgeable, cool and reasoned, he has one new war on his record. America’s casualties and costs in Libya are likely to remain minimal. Although an embarrassing example of geopolitical FUBAR, the conflict is of little consequence. Whatever happens, the world will quickly go back to normal.
According to this article, three of the Senate’s leading hawks, John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, spent a pleasant time in Tripoli two years ago supping with the dictator and discussing the possibility of providing military aid. Britain sold the Qaddafi regime crowd-control technologies. And everyone bought his oil. However, earlier this year allied governments noticed that Qaddafi was vulnerable. He faced domestic revolt and—the naïve fool, as the North Koreans triumphantly observed—had agreed to abandon terrorism, limit the range of his missiles and drop his nuclear program. The Western powers decided to get ahead of the curve with a little democracy promotion. Particularly insistent was France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, down in the polls with an election scheduled next year. Why President Obama joined in is anyone’s guess. Maybe he really believed his rhetoric. Yet the claim of incipient genocide was merely the humanitarian equivalent of Bush’s missing WMDs.
According to an article in Foreign Policy Journal, Libya’s geographical location and terrain has the potential to play a key role in US-led operations in the region, as evident from the historic role of the Wheelus airbase during the Cold War. Libya’s vast desert expanses and good weather are ideal for setting up gunnery and target ranges. It has the largest southern Mediterranean coastline. The major highway runs in close proximity to the coast offering easy access to the sea. The Green Mountain overlooks Europe’s busy shipping lanes. The Mediterranean is home to the US’ Sixth Fleet, numerous US/NATO bases and important oil terminals. It is central to the US’ ‘Phased Adaptive Approach’ plan which involves deploying a land and sea based BMD (ballistic missile defense) shield of radars and interceptor missiles. The BMD system includes the SM-3 anti-ballistic missiles on board the USS Monterrey and the Aegis class warships. Air and Naval bases can contribute in projecting power far beyond the Mediterranean shores, apart from the back-up to the sea-based assets. Ports in the Gulf of Sidra can provide fueling and servicing facilities.
The articles says that the French and the British have their sights on lucrative oil contracts and big-ticket defense deals. The French government was outraged when Qaddafi din not opt for Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets and Areva’s nuclear reactors. BP’s oil deal with Libya, approved by Qaddafi after the disputed release of Al Meghrahi, was mired in bureaucratic delays. Whitehall saw the unrest as an opportunity to pounce on Qaddafi for dilly-dallying on the project. Sarkozy’s hawkish advocacy for intervention in Libya was with the motive to renew his popularity for a re-election gambit, after he came under fire for France’s discredited diplomacy in Tunisia, Paris was furious over Tripoli for cutting mega arms deals with Ukraine and Russia. Then what held back Russia from vetoing the resolution on Libya? Moscow could not afford to derail the ‘reset’ with the US. The Libyan turmoil jacked up oil prices and that brought a windfall for Russian oil. It leaves the door open for Russia to ‘intervene’ in the conflict zones in its sphere of influence under the rubric of ‘humanitarian intervention’.