March 4, 2011 - No. 32
Charges of Election Spending Violations
Conservatives Refuse to Be Accountable Under Canada's
Charges of Election Spending Violations
• Conservatives Refuse to Be Accountable Under
Canada's Electoral Laws - Anna
Legislation to Freeze Assets of Corrupt Regimes
• More Hypocrisy in the Name of Supporting
"Democratic Reforms and Accountability"
• NATO's Inevitable War (Part One) -
• As U.S. Warships Near Libya, Danger of
Imperialist Military Intervention Grows - Sara Flounders,
International Action Center
• When Historical Memory Is Erased -- In the
Square the Flags of King Idris Wave - Manlio Dinucci, Il
Charges of Election Spending Violations
Conservatives Refuse to Be Accountable
Under Canada's Electoral Laws
The day after the
Conservative Party was charged with violating the Canada Election
in the 2006 Federal Election, Prime Minister Harper carried on with his
refusal to admit the seriousness of the charges levelled against the
Conservative Party and 67 candidates, including Foreign Affairs
Cannon. Pretending the charges are frivolous, he told reporters: "We've
been repeatedly in court about this. The courts, to this point, have
ruled in our favour. All of these individuals acted according to the
rules that were in place at the time."
This can only be intended to mislead because in fact,
no court has
yet heard the charges against the Conservatives. These charges allege
that the Party and some of its officials deliberately violated the
election spending limits in the 2006 election and submitted false
and/or misleading election expense
returns to Elections Canada. The first court hearing will be on March
18 in Ottawa. (See TML Daily, March 2, 2011 - No. 30.)
Harper's attempt to disinform the public is typical
those who have no interest in the truth. When he says "the
courts...have ruled in our favour," he should clearly specify that he
is talking about a case before the Federal Court of Canada initiated by
the Conservatives in May 2007 against
the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. The Conservatives challenged the
authority of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (CEOC) to refuse to
authorize the reimbursement of elections expenses to candidates in a
situation where the CEOC is not satisfied that the expenses were
actually incurred by the candidates.
In particular, the Conservatives wanted the Federal Court to order the
CEOC to issue the election expense reimbursements that he had withheld
from the Conservatives.
But even the rulings of this court do Harper no good
barely hours after he boasted that "to this point, the courts have
ruled in our favour," the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in favour of
the CEOC. Neither ruling has any bearing on how the Ontario Courts will
rule on the alleged violation
of the Canada Elections Act by the Conservatives but this has
not stopped the Conservatives from carrying on with their attempts to
fool Canadians. Speaking like a true Enron executive or a Bernie Madoff
or Brian Mulroney after being caught with their hands in the cookie
jar, Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey responded to the ruling
by saying that the case concerns only minor disagreements over
"This is an administrative dispute with Elections
Canada that has
been going on for five years in regards to whether certain expenses
should be counted as local or national," he said. "We have a difference
of opinion on this and we maintain that our people acted under the law,
as they understood it
at that time," he said. Once "it was clear that Elections Canada had
changed its interpretation of the law, the Conservative Party adjusted
its practices for the 2008 election campaign," he added.
The response of the Conservatives to the charges they
how self-serving they are and that they knowingly stoop to corrupt
practices to take over power and stay in power. Their attempts to
belittle the electoral law and the bodies entrusted with its
implementation show how devoid of high
ideals the so-called democratic institutions have become and how hollow
is the claim that elections are the proof of the superiority of these
institutions because they provide these institutions with "legitimacy."
To claim to stand for "law and order" and then refuse to submit to laws
themselves enact, and to refuse to
recognize the authority of the referees the system itself has put in
place to hold public officials accountable is hooliganism plain and
The Conservatives have announced that they will
Federal Court of Appeal ruling at the Supreme Court of Canada. We only
hope that while they waste the funds the public treasury must use to
prosecute them, they are using Conservative Party funds to pay their
own legal bills.
Latest Federal Court Ruling
In the first Federal
Court ruling, on January 18, 2010, the judge was not convinced by the
evidence presented to him about the circumstances surrounding his
CEOC's decision, nor by his interpretation of the Canada Elections
that the CEO had
the power to withhold the reimbursement. He ruled that the CEOC had
erred. On February 28, 2011 a three-judge panel of the Federal Court of
Appeal struck down the earlier ruling. They posed the questions to be
determined as follows:
"Issue 1: Does the CEOC have the power to verify
election expenses claimed by candidates?
Issue 2: Was there sufficient material before the CEOC
on which he
could reasonably decline to state that he was satisfied that the
Respondents (the Conservatives) had incurred a portion of the cost of
the RMB (regional media buy) advertisements which they claimed as
Their ruling states:
"Section 16 entrusts the CEOC with the exercise of
powers and the
performance of functions ‘necessary for the administration of the Act.'
In our opinion, monitoring the accuracy of candidates' claims for
reimbursement from public funds, and their compliance with the
statutory limits on election expenses, are
functions necessary for the administration of the Act, and
thus within the CEOC's responsibilities.
We conclude that Parliament did not intend to
CEOC's role by confining him to the largely clerical function of
ensuring that candidates have submitted the documents specified in the Act
and, when satisfied that they have, to providing a certificate to
enable the Receiver
General to reimburse the claimed election expenses. [...]
It would surely be surprising if Parliament intended to
CEOC to provide a certificate entitling a candidate to obtain a
reimbursement of election expenses from public funds when the CEOC was
not satisfied that an expense claimed was statutorily permitted. To
limit the CEOC's function
in the manner urged by the Respondents (the Conservatives) is not
congruent with the broad powers and responsibilities of the office set
out in section 16."
Further, the judges state that acceptance of the
interpretation of the authority and powers of the CEOC "would weaken
compliance with the limits set by Parliament on the amount of money
that candidates may spend on their election and can recover by way of
reimbursement from public
funds. Abuses could well proliferate, and the statutory objective of
promoting a healthy democracy through levelling the electoral playing
In regards to the reasonableness of the CEOC's
decision, the appeal
judges had to decide "whether the CEOC committed a reviewable error
when, on the basis of the documentary evidence before him, he refused
to state that he was satisfied that the Respondents had incurred the
costs of the RMB
advertisements that they claimed as election expenses. We emphasize
that it was for the CEOC, not the Court, to be satisfied on this
The judges reviewed that portion of evidence which was
the CEOC at the time he refused to issue the expense reimbursement,
which is much less than the evidence now available after two years of
investigation by the Commissioner of Elections. They concluded that the
supports the reasonableness of the CEOC's refusal to state that he was
satisfied that the cost of the RMB had been incurred by the candidates
in accordance with the Act. Whether the evidence might have enabled the
CEOC reasonably to conclude that the costs had been duly incurred by
the candidates is irrelevant
in this application for judicial review of the exercise of the power
entrusted by Parliament to
him." (Emphasis in the original).
Legislation to Freeze Assets of Corrupt
More Hypocrisy in the Name of Supporting
"Democratic Reforms and Accountability"
On March 3, 2011, four days after announcing it was
assets of Moammar Gadhafi of Libya, the Harper government tabled
the Freezing Assets of Corrupt
in Parliament. The stated aim of the legislation is to freeze "assets
that former repressive foreign leaders may hold in
This legislation will enable the government of Canada to
assets of deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in
response to a request from
the current Tunisian government. It will be able to seize the assets
without imposing sanctions on Tunisia as would presumably currently be
required. According to the logic, Tunisia is in "democratic
transition" and sanctions would not "help," as opposed to the case of
Libya where we are told sanctions are warranted and the Harper
government has already imposed sanctions and given the green light to
the seizure of assets said to belong to Gadhafi..
Speaking to the announcement Foreign Affairs Minister
Lawrence Cannon stated: "Today I tabled the Freezing Assets of
Corrupt Regimes Act
in Parliament to give the Government of Canada new and more robust
tools in our fight against corruption and the misappropriation of state
funds by repressive foreign
According to a government news release the legislation:
Canada to act upon the request of a foreign state to freeze the assets
that their former leaders and members of their entourage, including
family members, senior officials and associates, may have placed in
Canadian financial institutions. It will
also give Canada the authority to seize any property such individuals
may own in this country."
With this legislation the Harper government claims to be
promote democracy and accountability. "This new legislation will allow
Canada to support democratic reforms and accountability by ensuring
that any misappropriated property can be frozen immediately once a
written request is received from
a foreign state," the news release says.
In other words, Canada can now claim to "help" countries
the U.S. and Canada have a clear self-interest to take over while it is
still able to impose sanctions to undermine a country as it sees fit.
It is license to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign
countries in the name of high ideals. It has nothing
to do with defending high ideals as the government pretends.
The Freezing Assets of Corrupt Regimes Act
of assets of named individuals can currently be done in Canada pursuant
to two different federal legal frameworks, namely (1) through the
imposition of an economic sanctions regime under the United Nations Act
or Canada's Special Economic
Measures Act, or (2) pursuant to a request for mutual legal assistance
in the context of the Mutual Legal
Assistance in Criminal Matters Act
(MLACMA) or under the Criminal Code.
Sanctions may not be an available or appropriate vehicle
freezing of assets. For example, if the state in question is in the
process of democratic transformation, sanctions could become an
obstacle to the provision of development or democratization assistance.
Proceedings under the MLACMA require a foreign state to
evidence of criminal activity or the existence of legal proceedings or
a court order, in order for Canadian authorities to be able to act on
assets situated in Canada. The new authorities of a foreign country in
a state of turmoil or political uncertainty
may find it difficult to provide such evidence on short notice, and the
time required to do so could potentially allow the foreign national in
question to conceal or deplete the assets.
The Freezing Assets
of Corrupt Regimes Act would permit the
Government of Canada to freeze the assets or restrain property of
foreign politically exposed persons (former leaders, their family
members, senior officials and close associates) upon receipt of a
written request from a state, where the Governor-in-Council
has determined that the country is in a state of turmoil or political
uncertainty. It would permit such an order without requiring evidence
of criminality or specific identification of assets. Assets would be
frozen for a period of up to five years in the interests of
international relations, such as to permit the foreign state
to initiate the necessary proceedings to allow for seizure and
forfeiture of assets situated in Canada. The time period is open to
The Freezing Assets
of Corrupt Regimes Act also provides that the
Minister of Foreign Affairs may recommend revoking or repealing an
order if the person does not meet the standard of a "foreign
politically exposed person"; may issue permits for dealings with
certain property; and may issue certificates in cases
of mistaken identity or provide exemptions for reasonable expenses.
NATO's Inevitable War (Part One)
As opposed to the situation in Egypt and Tunisia, Libya
occupies first place in the Human Development Index within Africa and
has the highest life expectancy rate on the continent. Education and
health receive special state attention. The cultural level of the
population is without a doubt higher. Its problems
are of another nature. The population is not in need of food or basic
social services. The country requires many foreign workers to implement
its ambitious production and social development plans.
Therefore it offers employment to hundreds of thousands
of workers from Egypt, Tunisia, China and other nations. It has an
enormous income and hard currency reserves deposited in the banks of
rich countries, with which it acquires consumer goods and even
sophisticated weapons, supplied by the very countries
which now want to invade in the name of human rights.
The colossal campaign of lies unleashed by the mass
media has created much confusion in world public opinion. Some time
will pass before what really has happened in Libya is reconstructed,
and real events are separated from the falsified ones which have been
Serious and prestigious broadcasters such as Telesur
have been obliged to send reporters and photographers to one group's
activities and then to the opposite side's, in order to report what was
Communications were blocked; honest diplomatic officials
risked their lives touring neighborhoods, observing activities day and
night to report what was transpiring. The empire and its principal
allies employed the most sophisticated media to disseminate falsified
information about the events, requiring one to
infer traces of the truth.
No doubt, the faces of young people protesting in
Benghazi, men and women, with veils and without, expressed real
The tribal component of this Arab country is noticeable,
despite the Islamic faith sincerely shared by 95% of the population.
Imperialism and NATO -- seriously concerned about the
revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world, which produces a large
portion of the oil sustaining the consumer economies of the rich,
developed countries -- could not miss the opportunity to take advantage
of Libya's internal conflict to promote a military
intervention. The statements formulated by the United States government
from early on were clearly in this vein.
The circumstances could hardly be more propitious. The
Republican right wing dealt President Obama, an expert in rhetoric, a
severe blow during the November elections.
The fascist "mission accomplished" group, ideologically
supported by the extremist Tea Party, has reduced the current
president's options to a merely decorative role, with even his health
program and the doubtful recuperation of the economy in danger, as a
result of the budget deficit and the uncontrollable increase
in the public debt, which has broken all historical records.
Despite the torrent of lies and the confusion created,
the United States was unable to drag China or the Russian Federation
into the UN Security Council's approval of military intervention in
Libya, although it did achieve its current objectives within the Human
Rights Council. As for a military intervention, the
Secretary of State declared in words which did not leave the slightest
doubt, "No option is off the table."
The fact is that Libya is involved in a civil war, as we
had foreseen, and there is nothing the United Nations could have done
to prevent it, except that its own Secretary General sprinkled a hefty
dose of fuel on the fire.
The problem which these actors perhaps never imagined is
that the very leaders of the rebellion have burst upon the complicated
scene, declaring that they reject any foreign military intervention.
Various news agencies reported that Abdel Hafiz Ghoga,
spokesperson for the Libyan National Council, stated on Monday
that "The rest of Libya will be liberated by the Libyan people."
"We can count on the army to liberate Tripoli," Ghoga
assured, announcing the formation of a "National Council" to represent
the country's cities in the hands of the insurrection.
"What we want is intelligence information, but in no
case that our air, land or sea sovereignty is affected," he added
during a meeting with journalists in this city 1,000km east of Tripoli.
"The intransigence of opposition leaders over national
sovereignty reflected opinions spontaneously expressed by many Libyan
citizens to the international press in Benghazi," according to an AFP
cable this past Monday.
That same day, Abeir Imneina, a professor of political
sciences at the University of Benghazi, stated, "There is a very strong
feeling of nationalism in Libya."
"Moreover, the Iraqi example scares everyone in the Arab
world," she stressed, in reference to the 2003 U.S. invasion which was
to have brought democracy to that country and then, by contagion, to
the region as a whole, a hypothesis totally refuted by the facts.
The professor continues, "We know very well what
happened in Iraq, which is in the throes of instability. Following in
those footsteps is not appealing at all. We don't want the Americans to
come and then to have to regret (the end of the rule of) Gadhafi ." But
according to Abeir Imneina, "There is also the
feeling that this is our revolution and that it is up to us to forge
Just a few hours after this cable was published, two of
the major U.S. newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington
Post, hastened to provide new versions on the subject, as reported
by the DPA news agency the following day, March 1, "The Libyan
opposition could ask the West
to undertake air strikes on the strategic positions of forces loyal to
Moammar al Gadhafi, the U.S. press states today."
The issue is being discussed within the Libyan National
Council, according to online editions of the New York Times
and the Washington Post.
The New York Times notes that these
discussions reveal the growing frustration of the rebel leaders at the
possibility of Gadhafi retaking power.
"In the case of air strikes being executed within the
framework of the United Nations, they would not imply international
intervention," explained the Council spokesperson, quoted by the New
"The Council is composed of lawyers, academics, judges
and prominent members of Libyan society."
The cable states:
"The Washington Post quoted rebels who
recognize that, without Western support, battles with forces loyal to
Gadhafi could last a long time and cost a large number of human
It is striking that the cable does not mention one
single industrial, agricultural or construction worker, anyone linked
to material production or the young students or combatants who can be
seen in the demonstrations.
Why the effort to present the rebels as prominent
members of society demanding U.S. and NATO air strikes to kill Libyans?
Some day the truth will be known, through people like
the professor of political sciences at the University of Benghazi, who
narrated with such eloquence the terrible experience which killed,
destroyed homes and left millions of people in Iraq jobless or forced
Today, Wednesday, March 2, the EFE news agency presents
the known rebel spokesperson making statements that, in my view,
simultaneously affirm and contradict those of Monday: "Benghazi (Libya)
March 2. The Libyan rebel leadership today asked the UN Security
Council to launch an air strike 'on mercenaries'
from the Moammar al-Gadhafi regime."
"Our army cannot launch attacks on the mercenaries,
given its defensive role," stated rebel spokesperson Abdel Hafiz Ghoga
at a press conference in Benghazi.
"A strategic air strike is not the same as an
international intervention, which we reject," emphasized the
spokesperson for the opposition forces, which have consistently
expressed opposition to any foreign military intervention in the Libyan
Which of the many imperialist wars would this one
That of Spain in 1936, that of Mussolini against
Ethiopia in 1935, that of George W. Bush against Iraq in 2003 or any
one of the dozens of wars promoted by the United States against the
peoples of the Americas, from the invasion of Mexico in 1846 to that of
the Malvinas in 1982?
Without excluding, of course, the mercenary invasion of
Girón, the dirty war and the blockade of our homeland during 50
years, the anniversary of which is next April 16.
In all of those wars, such as that of Vietnam, which
cost millions of lives, justifications and the most cynical measures
For those harboring any doubt as to the inevitable
military intervention which is to take place in Libya, the AP news
agency, which I consider well informed, led with a cable published
today affirming, "Some NATO countries are drawing up contingency plans
modeled on the no-fly zones over the Balkans in
the 1990s in case the international community decides to impose an air
embargo over Libya, diplomats said."
It goes on to conclude, "The diplomats, who could not be
named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the options being
looked into are modeled on the no-fly zone which the Western military
alliance imposed over Bosnia in 1993 that had a UN mandate and NATO's
aerial offensive against Yugoslavia
[via Kosovo] in 1999, WHICH DID NOT HAVE IT."
I shall continue tomorrow.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 2, 2011
As U.S. Warships Near Libya, Danger of
Military Intervention Grows
The worst thing that could happen to the people of Libya
is U.S. intervention.
The worst thing that could happen to the revolutionary
upsurge shaking the Arab world is U.S. intervention in Libya.
The White House is meeting with its allies among the
European imperialist NATO countries to discuss imposing a no-fly zone
over Libya, jamming all communications of President Moammar Gadhafi
inside Libya, and carving military corridors into Libya from Egypt and
Tunisia, supposedly to "assist
refugees." (New York Times,
This means positioning U.S./NATO troops in Egypt and
Tunisia close to Libya's two richest oil fields, in both the east and
west. It means the Pentagon coordinating maneuvers with the Egyptian
and Tunisian militaries. What could be more dangerous to the Egyptian
and Tunisian revolutions?
Italy, once the colonizer of Libya, has suspended a 2008
treaty with Libya that includes a nonaggression clause, a move that
could allow it to take part in future "peacekeeping" operations there
and enable the use of its military bases in any possible intervention.
Several U.S. and NATO bases in Italy,
including the U.S. Sixth Fleet base near Naples, could be staging areas
for action against Libya.
President Barack Obama has announced that "the full
range of options" is under consideration. This is Washington-speak for
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Geneva on Feb.
28 with foreign ministers at the UN Human Rights Council to discuss
possible multilateral actions.
Meanwhile, adding to the drumbeat for military
intervention is the release of a public letter from the Foreign Policy
Initiative, a right-wing think tank seen as the successor to the
Project for the New American Century, calling for the U.S. and NATO to
"immediately" prepare military action to help
bring down the Gadhafi regime.
The public appeal's signers include William Kristol,
Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith and more
than a dozen former senior officials from the Bush administration, plus
several prominent liberal Democrats, such as Neil Hicks of Human Rights
First and Bill Clinton's "human
rights" chief, John Shattuck.
The letter called for economic sanctions and military
action: deploying NATO warplanes and a naval armada to enforce no-fly
zones and have the capability to disable Libyan naval vessels.
Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman while in Tel
Aviv on Feb. 25 called for Washington to supply Libyan rebels with arms
and establish a no-fly zone over the country.
Not to be overlooked are calls for UN contingents of
medical and humanitarian workers, human rights monitors and
investigators from the International Criminal Court to be sent to Libya
with an "armed escort."
Providing humanitarian aid doesn't have to include the
military. Turkey has evacuated 7,000 of its nationals on ferries and
chartered flights. Some 29,000 [35,000
Note] Chinese workers have left via ferries,
chartered flights and ground transportation.
However, the way in which the European powers are
evacuating their nationals from Libya during the crisis includes a
military threat and is part of the imperialist jockeying for position
regarding Libya's future.
Germany sent three warships, carrying 600 troops, and
two military planes to bring 200 German employees of the oil
exploration company Wintershall out of a desert camp 600 miles
southeast of Tripoli. The British sent the HMS Cumberland warship to
evacuate 200 British nationals and announced
that the destroyer York was
on its way from Gibraltar.
The U.S. announced on Feb. 28 that it was sending the
huge aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and the amphibious
assault ship USS Kearsarge from the Red Sea to the waters off
Libya, where it will join the USS Mount Whitney and other
battleships from the Sixth
Fleet. U.S. officials called this a "pre-positioning of military
UN Vote on Sanctions
The UN Security Council -- under
U.S. pressure -- on Feb.
26 voted to impose sanctions on Libya. According to studies by the UN's
own agencies, more than 1 million Iraqi children died as a result of
U.S./UN-imposed sanctions on that country that paved the way for an
actual U.S. invasion. Sanctions are criminal and confirm that this
intervention is not due to humanitarian concern.
The sheer hypocrisy of the resolution on Libya
expressing concern for "human rights" is hard to match. Just four days
before the vote, the U.S. used its veto to block a mildly worded
resolution criticizing Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the
The U.S. government blocked the Security Council from
taking any action during the 2008 Israeli massacre in Gaza, which
resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 Palestinians. These
international bodies, as well as the International Criminal Court, have
been silent on Israeli massacres, on U.S. drone
attacks on defenseless civilians in Pakistan, and on the criminal
invasions and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The fact that China went along with the sanctions vote
is an unfortunate example of the government in Beijing letting its
interest in trade and continued oil shipments take precedence over its
past opposition to sanctions that clearly impact civilian populations.
Who Leads the Opposition?
It is important to look at the opposition movement,
especially those being so widely quoted in all the international media.
We must assume that people with genuine grievances and wrongs have been
caught up in it. But who is actually leading the movement?
A front-page New York Times article of Feb. 25
described just how different Libya is from other struggles breaking out
across the Arab world. "Unlike the Facebook enabled youth rebellions,
the insurrection here has been led by people who are more mature and
who have been actively
opposing the regime for some time." The article describes how arms had
been smuggled across the border with Egypt for weeks, allowing the
rebellion to "escalate quickly and violently in little more than a
The opposition group most widely quoted is the National
Front for the Salvation of Libya. The NFSL, founded in 1981, is known
to be a CIA-funded organization, with offices in Washington, D.C. It
has maintained a military force, called the Libyan National Army, in
Egypt near the Libyan border.
A Google search of National Front for the Salvation of Libya and CIA
will quickly confirm hundreds of references.
Also widely quoted is the National Conference for the
Libyan Opposition. This is a coalition formed by the NFSL that also
includes the Libyan Constitutional Union, led by Muhammad as-Senussi, a
pretender to the Libyan throne. The web site of the LCU calls upon the
Libyan people to reiterate a
pledge of allegiance to King Idris El-Senusi as historical leader of
the Libyan people. The flag used by the coalition is the flag of the
former Kingdom of Libya.
Clearly these CIA-financed forces and old monarchists
are politically and socially different from the disenfranchised youth
and workers who have marched by the millions against U.S.-backed
dictators in Egypt and Tunisia and are today demonstrating in Bahrain,
Yemen and Oman.
According to the Times
article, the military wing of the
NFSL, using smuggled arms, quickly seized police and military posts in
the Mediterranean port city of Benghazi and nearby areas that are north
of Libya's richest oil fields and are where most of its oil and gas
pipelines, refineries and its liquefied
natural gas port are located. The Times and other Western media claim
that this area, now under "opposition control," includes 80 percent of
Libya's oil facilities.
The Libyan opposition, unlike the movements elsewhere in
the Arab world, from the beginning appealed for international
assistance. And the imperialists quickly responded.
For example, Mohammed Ali Abdallah, deputy secretary
general of the NFSL, sent out a desperate appeal: "We are expecting a
massacre." "We are sending an SOS to the international community to
step in." Without international efforts to restrain Gadhafi, "there
will be a bloodbath in Libya in the
next 48 hours."
The Wall Street
Journal, the voice of big business, in a
Feb. 23 editorial wrote that "The U.S. and Europe should help the
Libyans overthrow the Gadhafi regime."
U.S. Interests -- Oil
Why are Washington and the European powers willing and
anxious to act on Libya?
When a new development arises it is important to review
what we know of the past and to always ask, what are the interests of
U.S. corporations in the region?
Libya is an oil-rich country -- one of the world's 10
richest. Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, at least
44 billion barrels. It has been producing 1.8 million barrels of oil a
day -- light crude that is considered top quality and needs less
refining than most other oil. Libya also has large
deposits of natural gas that is easy to pipe directly to European
markets. It is a large country in area with a small population 6.4
That is how the powerful U.S. oil and military
corporations, banks and financial institutions who dominate global
markets see Libya.
Oil and gas are today the most valuable commodities and
the largest source of profits in the world. Gaining control of oil
fields, pipelines, refineries and markets drives a great part of U.S.
During two decades of U.S. sanctions on Libya, which
Washington had calculated would bring down the regime, European
corporate interests invested heavily in pipeline and infrastructure
development there. Some 85 percent of Libya's energy exports go to
European transnationals -- in particular BP, Royal Dutch
Shell, Total, Eni, BASF, Statoil and Rapsol -- have dominated Libya's
oil market. The giant U.S. oil corporations were left out of these
lucrative deals. China has been buying a growing amount of oil produced
by Libya's National Oil Corp. and
has built a short oil pipeline in Libya.
The huge profits that could be made by controlling
Libya's oil and natural gas are what is behind the drum roll of the
U.S. corporate media's call for "humanitarian intervention to save
Manlio Dinucci, an Italian journalist writing for
Italy's Il Manifesto, explained on Feb. 25 that "If Gadhafi
is overthrown, the U.S. would be able to topple the entire framework of
economic relations with Libya, opening the way to U.S.-based
multinationals, so far almost entirely excluded
from exploitation of energy reserves in Libya. The United States could
thus control the tap for energy sources upon which Europe largely
depends and which also supply China."
Libya was a colony of Italy from 1911 until Italy's
defeat in World War II. The Western imperialist powers after the war
set up regimes across the region that were called independent states
but were headed by appointed monarchs with no democratic vote for the
became a sovereign country in name, but was firmly tied to the U.S. and
Britain under a new monarch -- King Idris.
In 1969 as a wave of anti-colonial struggles swept the
colonized world, revolutionary-minded Pan-Arab nationalist junior
military officers overthrew Idris, who was vacationing in Europe. The
leader of the coup was 27-year old Moammar Gadhafi.
Libya changed its name from the Kingdom of Libya to the
Libyan Arab Republic and later to the Great Socialist People's Libyan
The young officers ordered the U.S. and British bases in
Libya closed, including the Pentagon's large Wheelus Air Base. They
nationalized the oil industry and many commercial interests that had
been under U.S. and British imperialist control.
These military officers did not come to power in a
revolutionary upheaval of the masses. It was not a socialist
revolution. It was still a class society. But Libya was no longer under
Many progressive changes were carried out. New Libya
made many economic and social gains. The conditions of life for the
masses radically improved. Most basic necessities -- food, housing,
fuel, health care and education -- were either heavily subsidized or
became entirely free. Subsidies were used
as the best way to redistribute the national wealth.
Conditions for women changed dramatically. Within 20
years Libya had the highest Human Development Index ranking in Africa
-- a UN measurement of life expectancy, educational attainment and
adjusted real income. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Libya was
internationally known for taking strong
anti-imperialist positions and supporting other revolutionary
struggles, from the African National Congress in South Africa to the
Palestine Liberation Organization and the Irish Republican Army.
The U.S. carried out numerous assassination and coup
attempts against the Gadhafi regime and financed armed opposition
groups, such as the NFSL. Some U.S. attacks were blatant and open. For
example, without warning 66 U.S. jets bombed the Libyan capital of
Tripoli and its second-largest city,
Benghazi, on April 15, 1986. Gadhafi's home was bombed and his infant
daughter killed in the attack, along with hundreds of others.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the U.S. succeeded in
isolating Libya through severe economic sanctions. Every effort was
made to sabotage the economy and to destabilize the government.
Demonization of Qaddafi
It is up to the people of Libya, of Africa and of the
Arab World to evaluate the contradictory role of Gadhafi, the chair of
Libya's Revolutionary Command Council. People here, in the center of an
empire built on global exploitation, should not join in the racist
ridicule and demonization of Gadhafi that saturate the corporate media.
Even if Gadhafi were as quiet and austere as a monk and
as careful as a diplomat, as president of an oil-rich, previously
underdeveloped African country he still would have been hated,
ridiculed and demonized by U.S. imperialism if he resisted U.S.
corporate domination. That was his real crime and
for that he has never been forgiven.
It is important to note that degrading and racist terms
are never used against reliable U.S. pawns or dictators, regardless of
how corrupt or ruthless they may be to their own people.
U.S. Threats Forces
It was after the U.S. war crime billed as "shock and
awe," with its massive aerial bombardment of Iraq followed by a ground
invasion and occupation, that Libya finally succumbed to U.S. demands.
After decades of militant, anti-imperialist solidarity, Libya
changed course. Gadhafi offered to assist the U.S. in its "war on
Washington's demands were onerous and humiliating. Libya
was forced to accept full responsibility for the downing of the
Lockerbie aircraft and pay $2.7 billion in indemnities. That was just
the beginning. In order for U.S. sanctions to be lifted, Libya had to
open its markets and "restructure" its economy.
It was all part of the package.
Regardless of Gadhafi's many concessions and the
subsequent grand receptions for him by European heads of state, U.S.
imperialism was planning his complete humiliation and downfall. U.S.
think tanks engaged in numerous studies of how to undermine and weaken
Gadhafi's popular support.
IMF strategists descended on Libya with programs. The
new economic advisors prescribed the same measures they impose on every
developing country. But Libya did not have a foreign debt; it has a
positive trade balance of $27 billion a year. The only reason the IMF
demanded an end to subsidies
of basic necessities was to undercut the social basis of support for
Libya's "market liberalization" meant a cut in $5
billion worth of subsidies annually. For decades, the state had been
subsidizing 93 percent of the value of several basic commodities,
notably fuel. After accepting the IMF program, the government doubled
the price of electricity for consumers. There
was a sudden 30 percent hike in fuel prices. This touched off price
increases in many other goods and services as well.
Libya was told to privatize 360 state-owned companies
and enterprises, including steel mills, cement plants, engineering
firms, food factories, truck and bus assembly lines and state farms.
This left thousands of workers jobless.
Libya had to sell a 60-percent stake in the state-owned
oil company Tamoil Group and privatize its General National Company for
Flour Mills and Fodder.
The Carnegie Endowment Fund was already charting the
impact of economic reforms. A 2005 report titled "Economic Reforms
Anger Libyan Citizens" by Eman Wahby said that "Another aspect of
structural reform was the end of restrictions on imports. Foreign
companies were granted licenses to
export to Libya through local agents. As a result, products from all
over the world have flooded the previously isolated Libyan market."
This was a disaster for workers in Libya's factories, which are
unequipped to face competition.
More than $4 billion poured into Libya, which became
Africa's top recipient of foreign investment. As the bankers and their
think tanks knew so well, this did not benefit the Libyan masses, it
But no matter what Gadhafi did, it was never enough for
U.S. corporate power. The bankers and financiers wanted more. There was
no trust. Gadhafi had opposed the U.S. for decades and was still
considered highly "unreliable."
The magazine US Banker
in May 2005 ran an article titled
"Emerging Markets: Is Libya the Next Frontier for U.S. Banks?" It said
that "As the nation passes reforms, profits beckon. But chaos abounds."
It interviewed Robert Armao, president of the New York City[-based
U.S.-Libya Trade and Economic
Council: "All the big Western banks are now exploring opportunities
there." said Armao. "The political situation with [Gadhafi] is still
very suspect." The potential "looks wonderful for banks. Libya is a
country untouched and a land of opportunity. It will happen, but it may
take a little time."
Libya has never been a socialist country. There has
always been extensive inherited wealth and old privileges. It is a
class society with millions of workers, many of them immigrants.
Restructuring the economy to maximize profits for
Western bankers destabilized relations, even in the ruling circles. Who
gets in on the deals to privatize key industries, which families, which
tribes? Who is left out? Old rivalries and competitions surfaced.
Just how carefully the U.S. government was monitoring
these imposed changes can be seen in recently released Wikileaks cables
from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, reprinted in the Britain-based Telegraph
of Jan. 31. A cable titled "Inflation on the rise in Libya and sent on
Jan. 4, 2009,
described the impact of "a radical program of privatization and
"Particular increases were seen," the cable said, "in
prices for foodstuffs -- the price of previously subsidized goods such
as sugar, rice, and flour increased by 85 percent in the two years
since subsidies were lifted. Construction materials have also increased
markedly: prices for cement, aggregate, and
bricks have increased by 65 percent in the past year. Cement has gone
from 5 Libyan dinars for a 50-kilogram bag to 17 dinars in one year;
the price of steel bars has increased by a factor of ten.
"The [Libyan government's] termination of subsidies and
price controls as part of a broader program of economic reform and
privatization has certainly contributed to inflationary pressures and
prompted some grumbling.
"The combination of high inflation and diminishing
subsidies and price controls is worrying for a Libyan public accustomed
to greater government cushioning from market forces."
These U.S. Embassy cables confirm that while continuing
to maintain and finance Libyan opposition groups in Egypt, Washington
and London were also constantly taking the temperature of the mass
discontent caused by their policies.
Today millions of people in the U.S. and around the
world are deeply inspired by the actions of millions of youths in the
streets of Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and now Oman. The impact is
felt even in the sit-in in Wisconsin.
It is vital for the U.S. political and class-conscious
movement to resist the enormous pressure of a U.S.-orchestrated
campaign for military intervention in Libya. A new imperialist
adventure must be challenged. Solidarity with the peoples' movements!
U.S. hands off!
When Historical Memory Is Erased --
In the Square the
Flags of King Idris Wave
Flag of the Kingdom
of Libya, 1951-1969
Benghazi captured, the rebels have lowered the
green flag of the Republic of Libya, hoisting in its place the red,
black and green banner with crescent and star: the flag of the monarchy
of King Idris. The same flag was hoisted by protesters (including those
of the Partito democratico and the Rifondazione
comunista) on the gate of the Libyan embassy in Rome, raising the cry:
"Here's the flag of democratic Libya, that of King Idris." It was a
symbolic act, rich in history and burning current events.
The Emir of Cyrenaica
Already the emir of Cyrenaica and Tripoli, Sidi Muhammad
Idris al-Mahdi al-Senussi was put on the throne of Libya by the British
when the country gained independence in 1951. It had been an Italian
colony since 1911. Libya became a federal monarchy, in which King
Idris was head of state, with the right to pass it on to his heirs. It
was always the king who would appoint the prime minister, the Council
of Ministers and half the members of the Senate, which had the right to
dissolve the House of Representatives.
According to a twenty-year treaty of "friendship and
alliance" with Britain, in 1953, King Idris granted to the British, in
exchange for financial and military assistance, the use of air, naval
and land bases in Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. A similar agreement was
concluded in 1954 with the United States, which obtained
the use of the Wheelus Air Base just outside Tripoli. It became the
main U.S. air base in the Mediterranean. In addition, the United States
and Britain were able to use firing ranges in Libya for their military
aviation. With Italy, King Idris in 1956 concluded an agreement which
not only wiped Italy clear of all damages
to Libya, but allowed the Italian community in Tripoli to maintain its
assets practically intact.
Libya became even more important for the U.S. and
Britain when, in the late 1950s, the U.S.-based company Esso
(ExxonMobil) confirmed the existence of large oil fields and others
were discovered soon after. The major companies, such as the U.S.'s
Esso and Britain's British Petroleum, got advantageous concessions
that ensured their control and the bulk of the profit from Libya's oil.
The Italian company Eni also obtained two concessions, through Agip. To
better control the deposits, the government's federal form was
abolished in 1963, eliminating the historical regions of Cyrenaica,
Tripolitania and Fezzan.
The protests of Libyan nationalists, who accused King
Idris of selling out the country, were stifled by police repression.
The rebellion grew, however, especially in the armed forces. It
resulted in a coup -- whose chief architect was Captain Muammar
-- carried out without bloodshed in 1969 by just 50
officers, calling themselves "Free Officers" on the Nasser model.
The monarchy abolished, the Libyan Arab Republic in 1970
forced the U.S. and British forces to evacuate their military bases
and, the following year, nationalized the properties held by British
Petroleum and forced other companies to pay the Libyan state a much
higher share of the profits.
The Propaganda of 1911
The flag of King Idris, which is flying again now in the
civil war in Libya, is the banner of those who, by manipulating the
struggle of those genuinely fighting for democracy against the regime
of Gadhafi , plan to bring Libya back under control of the powers that
dominated it. Those forces, headed by the United States, are preparing
to land in Libya under the cover of "peacekeeping." Meanwhile, in
concert with the Pentagon, the Italian Defense Minister Ignacio La
Russa announced that from Sigonella military base [Sicily] military
airplanes will fly directly to Libya for "purely
humanitarian purposes." The same "humanitarian intervention" that the
pacifists and those who waved the flag of King Idris are demanding in
an "urgent appeal," but they forget history. They should remember that
a century ago, in 1911, the Italian occupation of Libya, prepared by
incessant propaganda, was supported
by majority public opinion, while in the cabarets they sang, "Tripoli,
sing land of love come sweetly where the syrup runs." Times and
language change, but the rhyme remains, "to the roar of guns."