Labor and US Politics

The Butchering of Gaddafi Is America’s Crime

By Glen Ford

Last week the whole world saw, and every decent soul recoiled, at the true face of NATO’s answer to the Arab Spring. An elderly, helpless prisoner struggled to maintain his dignity in a screaming swirl of savages, one of whom thrusts a knife up his rectum. These are Europe and America’s jihadis in the flesh. In a few minutes of joyously recorded bestiality, the rabid pack undid every carefully packaged image of NATO’s “humanitarian” project in North Africa—a horror and revelation indelibly imprinted on the global consciousness by the brutes’ own cell phones.

Nearly eight months of incessant bombing by the air forces of nations that account for 70 percent of the world’s weapons spending, all culminating in the gang-bang slaughter of Moammar Gaddafi, his son Mutassim and his military chief of staff, outside Sirte. The NATO-armed bands then displayed the battered corpses for days in Misurata—the city that had earlier made good on its vow to “purge Black skin” through the massacre and dispersal of 30,000 darker residents of nearby Tawurgha—before disposing of the bodies in an unknown location.

The saner sections of America’s psychological operations machinery—including their collaborators in the corporate media—were doubtless as horrified as anyone at the Libyan jihadis’ insistence on revealing so graphically to the entire planet the barbaric character of the “revolution.” The months of gushing, ad nauseam press reports of near-universal jubilation in Tripoli and elsewhere at rebel “victories”—always under cover of NATO bombs—now made great sense. Who but those in search of instant martyrdom would voice displeasure at the NATO-jihadi triumph, with murderous fiends such as this roaming the streets?

The United Nations Human Rights Office and Amnesty International found themselves compelled to ask for investigations into Gaddafi’s death—as if the immediate circumstances were not excruciatingly apparent to anyone with eyes and ears. Although the same U.S. domination of the UN that enabled NATO’s regime-change operation will ensure that the neocolonial powers escape legal liability for the results, the world still sees the executioners, correctly, as monsters in league with Washington, Paris, London and Riyadh. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who gave a snarling thumbs down to Gaddafi just days before his death, appeared like ghoulish despots at a Roman Coliseum, reveling in their Libyan gladiators’ butchery. Their hands and gums ooze blood—a lasting impression on decent world opinion.

The assault on Libya began as a desperate bid by the West and Persian Gulf royalty to bludgeon their way into the dangerous (for them) dynamic of the Arab Spring. The “rebels” (now, ludicrously, the “revolutionary” government) are their guys, just as the Afghan “Mujahideen” were the foot soldiers of the Saudis and Washington from 1979 through the Eighties and (for the Saudis) beyond. Here lies the certainty of catastrophic “blowback.” As Trinity College political scientist Vijay Prashad points out, Tripoli may soon resemble 1996 Kabul, a place of mass carnage between rival warlords.

The Libyan jihadis are far more Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s brethren, than the West’s. The Arab Spring has both emboldened and frightened the wealthy Persian Gulf despots, who have their own agendas in the Arab world that are not necessarily consonant with the U.S. and Europe (the same applies in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region). All reactionaries are not alike. The oil-rich monarchs are fighting to preserve legitimacy in their own, Muslim milieu, not for Western-based corporate hegemony, and will cause at least as much problems for Washington as the accommodating Gaddafi they set out to depose at the beginning of the Arab Spring.

But that is secondary. As always, U.S. imperialists cannot resist the temptation to overreach. John Pilger writes, “With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.” It is by no means certain that Libya will remain “secure” or under American sway. And President Obama’s all-out offensive to the south—now centered in East and Central Africa, but soon to become generalized—takes place with the cell phone imagery of Gaddafi’s demise fresh in the minds of tens-of-millions of Africans. Obama may believe the pictures send the message that resistance is futile, but it is likely to have the opposite effect. As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said, of the Americans, “The most lamentable thing is that in their determination to dominate the world…they are setting it alight.”

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Black Agenda Report, October 26, 2011