In 2011, widespread political protests in Libya developed into a civil war between rebel and loyalist forces. NATO supported the rebels by bombing loyalist troops, and establishing a no-fly zone over the country. With their help the rebels captured and killed Muammar Gaddafi, the erstwhile leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, on August 23rd. Reports claim that before his death, Gaddafi was shot in the chest and head, wounds which took half an hour to kill him. Mobile phone videos also show him stripped naked and sodomized by the ecstatic rebels. In June of that year, an investigation by Amnesty International showed that a large proportion of the allegations made by the rebels prior to NATO intervention were either inaccurate or entirely fabricated.
NATO should never have involved itself in this conflict. As Amnesty’s investigations have shown, the rebel forces almost certainly fabricated evidence against Gaddafi, and were far from the peaceful protestors the western media painted them as. Apart from anything else, they promulgated the myth that Gaddafi had enlisted mercenaries from Ghana, a rumour which led to the systematic lynching of black people by the rebel forces. These are the same rebel forces, incidentally, whose members had sometimes been captured under the Bush administration, and who had been delivered to Gaddafi for torture by the CIA. This whole operation was a lot more messy than it at first appeared, and that’s not to speak of the murder of Gaddafi himself, which hardly befitted the treatment of a captive of NATO-allied troops. Now those murderous rebels are in power – and we’re calling it a revolution? I don’t buy it.
If the insurgents had fought for and won their governance for themselves, that would have been fine. Whatever you might think of Gaddafi, he certainly lived by the sword, and if he’d died by it then there would have been little cause for surprise. But NATO helped, and that’s the problem here. China and Russia, among others, refused to join the NATO coalition, so this was very much a case of the west imposing its morality as if it were universal – which is to say nothing of the clumsy and haphazard fashion in which it was done.
There seems to be a desire in America and the UK to implement and defend democracy worldwide. What we’re forgetting is that we don’t choose democracy because it is right, but because it is effective. Communism is right, but it is ineffective; we therefore eschew it. Dictatorship is equally ineffective as a mode of governance, because it divides the dictator from the people they attempt to govern. Systems which are effective do not need to be enforced, because they will naturally be assumed over time. Trying to enforce them only encourages resistance. It is, in fact, the equivalent of a worldwide dictatorship.
In terms of Gaddafi’s own politics, his involvement in various terrorist attacks seems likely – not certain, but very likely. The countries of the UN, however, saw fit to overlook that involvement in return for monetary reparations to the victims’ families. If we can question the reliability of the UN’s moral compass in accepting that transaction as retribution, then how can we trust it to deploy NATO forces to the correct faction in Libya’s civil war?
The death of Gaddafi is nothing to be celebrated. If he was so bad that his crimes warranted him being put to death without trial, then the governments who cooperated with him (i.e. every government in the UN) severely compromised themselves by doing so. If he wasn’t that bad, then he was killed in error. The same applies to his deposing. Since I have faith in the UN leaders, I can only conclude that killing Gaddafi was a mistake which NATO, and the UN, regret their complicity in. Given that this is the case, and as we have seen that the so-called ‘revolution’ was driven by murderous animals prepared to lie to the ICC, I fail to see the cause for celebration – in the western media, or anywhere else.