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The NATO military campaign in Libya is a pointed example of imperialism as the last stage of capitalism, Amy Niang argues. It is a travesty of international law, whose goal is conquest of economic resources.

As thousands of NATO bombs and a NATO-aided ‘rebel’ insurgency have got the better of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime, French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minster David Cameron can exult. Sarkozy can thrust out his chest, as the prophet who momentarily extolled and extended the virtues of fraternal embrace and humanitarian solidarity, in an opportunistic manoeuvre towards a law-oriented concern for democracy and freedom as the philosophical foundation of French Enlightenment.

In a way, right-wing politics within France has had a huge spill over effect and extended into an imperialist campaign. A few months ago an unpopular, domestically battered president facing public discontent from all possible fronts, Sarkozy has succeeded in reincarnating himself as a modern-day saviour. His war of aggression is a fledgling attempt to succeed where the Italians failed; in other words, to finish the ‘Italian job’ started in 1910. Interestingly, at that time, the Italians claimed their invasion of Libya was motivated by their desire to liberate the Ottoman Wilayats from the yoke of Constantinople.

Rumours, perceptions and facts have meticulously been distilled and dutifully disseminated by consumerist mainstream media across the far-reaching corners of the world, forcing the public to ingest the pill of Western propaganda. Media coverage presents a dualistic world of good and evil in which Qaddafi is the absolute demon and Sarkozy the life-saving superhero.

By any measure, the Libyan war has become the stage of the most forceful deployment of the capitalist apparatus, the quintessential example of imperialism as the last stage of capitalism. The almighty market has bombed its way through an unwilling, recalcitrant regime; it will not stop until it has penetrated its deepest recesses. The ruthless exercise of geo-economic leverage by Western powers has once more advanced ‘rationalised imperialism’; as Amilcar Cabral would say, it has extended the militarised conquest of economic resources.

Democracy and liberation are merely hollow concepts, misused and abused by their proponents who have found a new way of instituting them in ‘rogue’ states through ‘strategic’ bombings and proxy wars. Western propensity for and obsession with bombing weaker countries with minimal harm to their own populations has caused unspeakable bloodshed, distress, trauma, and deep resentment in Afghanistan, Iraq and will in Libya.

But the war against Libya is criminal in so many ways, first of all because it is illegal. The NATO process afoot in Libya is a well orchestrated, carefully planned operation of elimination. It is a travesty of international law and it violates UN Resolution 1973 in so many different ways:

(1) The resolution did not give mandate to France and allies to overthrow a government just because they could do so
(2) The resolution did not give mandate to France and allies to actively arm a ‘rebellion’ and take sides in a civil conflict
(3) The resolution did not give mandate to France and allies to hunt and murder Qaddafi and to institute a puppet regime forever beholden to their Western liberators.

On the other hand, France and allies are quick to condemn the sluggishness and apathy of the African Union (AU). They repeatedly ignored calls by the AU to prioritise discussion over aggression. Now that the difficult task of reconstruction will entail a long, possibly hindered process, they are showing signs of wanting to involve the AU. From the very beginning, NATO’s objective was to discredit the AU as the ever ineffective organisation just because the latter advocated a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The AU, of course, looses a generous and vocal ‘pan-African’ ally in a defeated Qaddafi and the organisation is even losing its ability to defend its narrow continental interests. Qaddafi may be an incurable tyrant, but he’s nonetheless a generous tyrant who has many times lent a helping hand to many African states and leaders, even if this was at times for self-aggrandizement and for political recognition.

Besides, he galvanised a concept of African unity which has made inroads into policy-thinking within the AU. As inoperative as it tends to be, AU for once has indicated a sense of willing engagement to find an African solution to an African problem. But its roadmap to peace is not worth the paper it’s written on in the eyes of Sarkozy, Obama and Cameron.


A wonderful hypocrisy underlies the entire campaign. Qaddafi is no more dictatorial and repressive than the leaders of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. Given their ties with these countries, Sarkozy, Obama and Cameron are not in a position to grant and distribute dispensations. The brand of democracy that is being promoted, with powerful psychological techniques through a colluding media, is one we have too often seen at work. It is the democracy ‘granted’ by the barrel of the gun: in Iraq and Ivory Coast where it was duly applied by the lackeys of Western capital.

Very seldom has NATO been on the side of morality and legality. The Atlantic treaty has a long history of bullying and of imperial manoeuvres, of supporting the wrong people like the fascist government of Salazar whose innumerable crimes in Portuguese Africa (Angola, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Mozambique) contributed to a culture of unending oppression and bloodshed in these countries to this day.

So much impunity is dispiriting and infuriating. But more infuriating is the fact that over 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are dealing with an unprecedented famine without any power intervening to ensure their basic human rights to food and dignity are respected. No matter what criticism is levelled against Qaddafi, he provided his people with one of the highest living standards in the whole of Africa.

The media hype, astonishingly biased, has pacified the Western public, as well as scores of sceptic observers, of the necessity to remove the tyrant who ‘massacres his own people’. This unprecedented propaganda has been designed to smother dissenting and discordant voices. Even the most respected news outlets have actively become an embedded asset in NATO’s campaign of misinformation.


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