17 January, 1960, Republic of Congo. The Republic of Congo had finally gained independence from Belgium. In the first legal election the newly formed republic held, Patrice Lumumba was elected Prime Minister. He had a vision of a united Congo and an African continent united for the benefit of the African people. This desire – for all of Africa to be free of colonialism – cost him his life. The US and Belgium both attempted to assassinate him. Ten weeks after taking office, he was deposed by a CIA/Belgian coup, arrested and killed by firing squad. In an attempt to hide what they had done, the Belgians ordered that his body be exhumed, dismembered, and dissolved in acid. Lumumba was replaced with the preferred Mobutu, who ran the country, which he renamed Zaire, like a kleptocracy, looting billions over his thirty-plus years of rule.
In 1975, the Church Commission found that Allen Dulles, CIA Chief under D. D. Eisenhower, had ordered Lumumba’s assassination after receiving these orders directly from Eisenhower, and several attempts were made on Lumumba’s life prior to the final successful murder.
9 October, 1967, Bolivia. Che Guevara is killed by the government of Bolivia after being tracked and captured with the help of CIA operatives. Che desired a world revolution to end the inequalities and poverty resulting from colonialism and the capitalist system imposed globally by the Western countries. He was born in Argentina, although he is most frequently associated with the Cuban Revolution. To match the story already prepared by the Bolivian government, his executioners were told to “aim carefully” to make it appear as though he had died during a gun fight. While the US may have preferred that he be brought to trial, the Bolivian government felt such a trial would be a “drama”, and so his murder was allowed to take place clandestinely. His hands were cut off so as to allow fingerprint identification, and his body viewed by several official witnesses and then exhibited to the public of the small town where his body had been taken. He was buried in an unmarked mass grave with 6 of his comrades, who had also been killed at the same time as he was, but in 1997, the grave was found and his remains interred in a mausoleum in Cuba.
It would take months to chronicle such clandestine CIA operations around the world – I will stop at these two. How far we have come. We no longer operate in secret. Now, our government openly assigns killing operations to the CIA, who run our drone killing programs for us all around the globe. Gone are the days of ignorance, when the CIA practiced its black arts behind the scenes, killing presidents, senators, civil rights leaders and citizens at home (they have been implicated in the deaths of John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X) and hundreds abroad. It might be thought an odd thing for the CIA to be in charge of and running what are clearly military actions when they are not part of the US military and do not answer to the “commander in chief” or to Congress – if indeed one thought about these matters. We mere civilians do not think about much at all any more. They no longer hide what they do and what their aims are. They act in our names, however, so a differentiation between “them” and “we” is rather moot. Witness the murders of Anwar al Awlaki and his son, Abdel; both killed by drone bombs ordered by President Obama, both American citizens placed on the presidential “hit list”. We drone-bomb multiple “targets” in multiple countries every day. Everyone knows we are doing this – it is no secret, although the particular names of the “targets” and the actual numbers of civilians thus “accidentally” killed might be.
Witness the murder of Moammar Ghaddafi yesterday. We did not hide that our intent was to kill him. Even more, we did not hide the fact that we intended to take over his country by force and take control of Libya’s resources and money. Far from being a “humanitarian intervention”, the plan was very openly and plainly the forcible taking of a country and the killing of its leader almost before the ink dried on the UN resolution. Within a few months, the US and NATO had ended the pretense of protecting civilian lives in Libya. One by one, the depraved leaders of the various governments tested the waters, announcing little departures to the plan for Saving Libyan Civilians and Imposing a No-Fly Zone; with each new interpretation of the UN resolution, they hoped for what they in fact got: complete indifference from the global media and populations in their home countries.
They [we] stole the funds from Libya’s nationalized bank owned by the people of Libya and from the African Union Bank, set up by Ghaddafi to put an end to IMF debt for several African countries. They put an end to the plans for Africa to own its own satellite system and be freed from onerous user fees imposed by the Europeans. Then they [we] began bombing. Not content with bombing the Libyan air force and other “military targets”, NATO forces began dropping depleted uranium bombs in sweeps, razing civilian homes, schools, hospitals, orphanages, television stations, power plants, food storage areas, mosques. Town after town was demolished, tens of thousands of people killed or maimed, infrastructure destroyed completely. The NTC, a small, motley group of CIA operatives, al Qaeda and former Ghaddafi ministers seeking power for themselves, was let loose to shoot, destroy, loot, and kill at will. Information was leaked early on that the rebels were, in fact, CIA assets. There was no outcry from the media at all. It was leaked that we were arming the rebels and had forces on the ground (had had since before the war started) against the limits of the resolution. No comment from the press. In fact, the No-fly Zone had become an all out rout of Libya, yet required no authorization from the US Congress. It was not a “war”, Obama said. And, indeed, it is not. It is simply the complete destruction of a sovereign nation, helpless in the face of the unified NATO countries determined to kill it off.
The rebels began an ethnic cleansing of the black Africans within Libya. This was blamed on Ghaddafi. Such a ridiculous accusation might have been scoffed at by a sane world: we are no longer sane. NATO bombed the Great Man-made River, leaving millions of Libyans without water, a war crime. The press passed on the chance to comment. International aid agencies were kept from entering decimated towns to bring food, water, and medical supplies, another war crime. No mention in the media.
In late July, the NATO countries “recognized” the NTC as the “legitimate government” of Libya, and in mid-September, the UN did the same. This made it so clear that regime change was the goal that several former diplomats warned against the illegal, forced imposition of a new, unelected government upon the people of Libya. Few, if any, listened to them. Apparently we no longer abide by international law. In August, the US announced it had put a two million dollar bounty on Ghaddafi’s head; wanted, dead or alive. Beyond any reach of law or legal niceties now, we had simply become global mafioso.
Sarkozy, Cameron, and Obama began dividing the spoils of the country while the bombing still continued. So much goes to the French companies (the country that bombs the most, gets the most), so much for British, Italian, and American corporations. Sarkozy and Cameron baldly stated that the “Libyan war provides a new model” for these sorts of interventions. While several towns were (and still are) being besieged (think Dresden, think middle ages, think illegal under international law), John McCain took a few select Senators on a tour to show off the winnings.
While Libyans were being picked off one by one as they tried to escape cities under constant bombardment and black Africans were being rounded up and taken to detention camps to be tortured and killed by the NTC, as they still are, the Pentagon AFRICOM commander, Gen. Carter Ham, was giving a press conference about the methods in use. “The question for us now is how we sustain that [the practice of dropping bombs and Tomahawks] so if we have to do this again, we’d start from a higher plateau.”
Two days ago in Tripoli, Hillary Clinton announced, in remarks that would have shocked diplomatic circles not many years ago, that this would not be over until Ghaddafi was captured or killed. It was assumed that she needed to give no reassurance that this was not an invasion begun for the purpose of regime change. The media no longer asks if this is all legal and above-board; they know it is not. And they are fine with that. They down wid it. It appears we all are. Upon receiving the phone call yesterday confirming Ghaddafi’s death, Clinton turned to some gathered reporters and cackled, “We came, we saw, he died.” She laughed giddily before turning away. [This scene was videotaped by a reporter and posted on youtube. It will doubtless be scrubbed from the internet shortly. See bottom of article for link to video.]
Yesterday, NATO bombed a convoy attempting to leave Sirte. No-one will ask why we were drone-bombing cars as they tried to evacuate the city – after the civilians had been told to leave by the besieging army of NTC. Ghaddafi was wounded in the air attack, captured alive, but quickly murdered rather than brought to trial on whatever charges the NATO countries could dream up. His death was videotaped. In the US and all across the internet, media outlets which had declined to show the photos of the hanging of Saddam Hussein as “too lurid”, wouldn’t show pictures of those tortured in Abu Ghraib for being “too disturbing” and lamented the release of pictures showing American soldiers playing with the remains of dead Afghans, displayed the tapes and photos of the wounded, dying, or dead Ghaddafi all day. Obama, members of Congress, and pundits all lewdly leered at the pictures and talked about what a stunning victory this was for Libya. A victory. This is so bizarre as to be incomprehensible. Ghaddafi was loved by the majority of Libyans. His approval ratings were constantly in the high 80’s (percentile). Born in a tent, he refused to live in a house until every Libyan had a house. He brought water to the desert and managed finances in Libya in such a way as to offer free education and healthcare to all of his countrymen. The living standards, literacy rate, and longevity of Libya’s people were the highest in Africa, the infant mortality rate the lowest. Libya surpassed the US and European countries in many quality of life standards. We thought they should no longer have these things. It was Ghaddafi who had the vision of a modern Libya and brought universities and hospitals, roads, businesses, and houses to the country. Yet, in words of propaganda so blatant as to make the mind reel, editorials in the US media now claim that we will “rebuild the infrastructure that Ghaddafi systemically tore down over his 46 years of rule”. How can any newspaper editor allow the printing of such a diametric opposite to the truth? It was Ghaddafi who built these things, and we who destroyed them. This is what we thought was better than what they had. This is the leader we thought we should murder.
Yesterday, Senator Lindsay Graham found a reporter with a camera to film him announcing in grave tones that Libya’s new [unelected] government has promised to “repay every dime we spent bringing them to this day”. The IMF and World Bank have promised loans with interest to help the Libyans rebuild what we destroyed (now that they have no money because we stole it all) and we are assured that the Libyans will pay us for the bombs we used to tear down the entire infrastructure of their country. Not content with invading and destroying Libya, and killing their president, we now warn other nations that this is the new way forward, that they are next in the Pentagon’s planned Long War. We are not hiding this; in fact, we strut and brag like gladiators after a particularly savage kill.
The Guardian reports today:
President Barack Obama hailed the lifting of the “dark tyranny” over Libya after the new government confirmed Muammar Gaddafi had been killed, issuing a warning to other dictators in the Middle East – and particularly Syria – that they could be next.
Although Obama did not name Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, it was he Obama had in mind when he said the rule of the iron fist in the Middle East is inevitably coming to an end. Those leaders that try to deny the push for democracy will not succeed, he predicted…
The death of Gaddafi immediately raised speculation in the US that the same military model – the use of US air power combined with rebel forces on the ground and special forces from Europe – could be used again in Syria.
Vice-president Joe Biden described the military model as a “prescription” for the future, while White House spokesman Jay Carney, when asked about Syria, said Assad had lost his legitimacy to rule.
The former Nato commander, Wesley Clark, asked if the same strategy could be used in Syria, replied: “Could be.” He told CNN that every country had to be approached differently: “Syria is going to be different from Libya, but it shows Nato is capable of a sustained effort.”
Obama, facing re-election next year, chalked up Libya as another foreign policy success to place alongside the killing in May of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden..
Biden, speaking hours before Obama, adopted a clearly partisan approach to news of the dictator’s death, bluntly contrasting the approach of the Obama administration to Libya with George Bush’s in Iraq.
“In this case, America spent $2bn total and didn’t lose a single life. This is more of the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past,” he said…
This is where we let ourselves be led. We are in a circle of Hell heretofore reserved for the rapists and child molesters and murderers. We ogle death porn, while accepting as a given that the country we just ruined will pay us back for the very bombs we ruined it with.
Libya will descend into civil war now, the warring factions of “rebels” seeking primacy in the New Libya. We will next turn to Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Iran, to bring the same gifts of death and destruction, debt and corporate looting. Having gotten away with the brazen savage attack on Libya, we will not even seek a UN “resolution” for the next country we set ablaze.
In the meantime, Sirte is still under siege. There is no electricity, food, or water. The hospitals report at least a thousand deaths a day due to lack of medicine and supplies and a shortage of doctors – many of whom fled weeks ago. The Red Cross and international aid groups are blocked from entering the town. The religious leaders issued a fatwah (a religious statement) two days ago, saying that in these unusual and unexpected times, the people trapped within the town will be forgiven for eating their dogs and cats to avoid starvation – such acts usually considered sin by followers of Islam.
How far we have come. As we Americans cheer and leer at the death we have wrought, we lose our collective humanity and become something else. Something far short of human. Incapable of feeling shock or shame, unburdened by law or diplomacy, gleeful in our blood lust. We are the ones who cheer now when politicians promise to end Social Security for the elderly and we clap wildly when someone suggests that the uninsured should be allowed to die in the streets. We laugh when protesters are maced by overzealous police and beg our leaders to take away any monetary aid, scant though it may be, for the unemployed and poor. Depraved and indifferent, led by the insane and cruel.
Update: video of H. Clinton; “We came, we saw, he died.”