By Eva Bartlett – Sep 24, 2023
If the country’s infrastructure hadn’t been destroyed in the 2011 bombings, the dams may have held
Just over a decade ago, Libya was in the news, with Western leadership celebrating the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, following a months-long NATO bombing campaign, all in the name of protecting the Libyan people. Now, the destroyed North-African country is back in the news after a devastating hurricane and flooding.
Hurricane Daniel hit northeastern Libya on September 10. Subsequent extreme flooding has caused the deaths of a reported 3,252 people, according to Libya’s health ministry as of September 17, with the UN reporting that almost three times more may have died. Following the collapse of two dams, the city of Derna bore the brunt of the disaster. Another 40,000 people are reportedly displaced.
Many of the same Western leaders who brought about Libya’s demise are now feigning concern for the people of the country they destroyed in 2011, and where they set the stage for an ensuing decade of chaos. Most notable is Barack Obama, whose foundation is raising money for Libya relief efforts. That’s very benevolent of him – and might not have been necessary if NATO hadn’t destroyed its infrastructure. It was, after all, Obama’s then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who cackled gleefully, “We came, we saw, he died,” of the sodomizing and killing of Gaddafi.
NATO set the stage for Libya’s current crisis
Only Western leadership and corporate media would have the audacity to not only pretend the 2011 bombing campaign never happened, but to blame Libya for the rupture of the dams near Derna.
The Washington Post did just that, stating, “The volatility of recent years meant the country’s separate regimes and their feckless officials have left critical infrastructure in a state of neglect.” This included the dams, which, it wrote, experts warned could soon fail. While it did briefly mention the extended NATO bombing of Libya, the thrust of its article was to absolve NATO nations of responsibility.
More honest reporting in Media Lens pointed out that those dams in 2007 began undergoing maintenance, which was interrupted precisely due to the West’s so-called humanitarian intervention. “These dams were built in the 1970s to protect the local population. A Turkish firm had been contracted in 2007 to maintain the dams. This work stopped after NATO’s 2011 bombing campaign. The Turkish firm left the country, their machinery was stolen and all work on the dams ended.”
The same article highlighted what nearly all Western corporate media obfuscated: That, prior to NATO’s war against Libya, it had been “one of Africa’s most advanced countries for health care and education,” which it ceased to be after NATO destroyed it.
In 2011, NATO (Britain, US & others) destroyed the modern state of Libya. Public services were a principal target. Lies were told; more than 10,000 people were killed. Now add the 10,000 killed at Derna, whose dam maintenance was a casualty of the attack.https://t.co/8XyWJmDJZs
— John Pilger (@johnpilger) September 20, 2023
Death-toll estimates for the 2011 Libyan war and NATO intervention vary widely, with some researchers placing it at over 20,000, hundreds of them civilians killed by NATO airstrikes. What’s worse, having deposed (and, indirectly, killed) Gaddafi, the Western powers created a power vacuum and triggered years of infighting that plunged the country into chaos and left key infrastructure – a lot of which was already damaged or destroyed by those same airstrikes – in disrepair and requiring maintenance.
Now, perhaps in an effort to whitewash its crimes against the Libyan people, the US said it will send $11 million in humanitarian assistance to Libya, which, in contrast to the $1.65 billion the US reportedly spent destroying Libya in 2011, is peanuts. Insult upon injury.
Canadian lawyer and journalist Dimitri Lascaris pointed out that Canada spent just shy of $350 million “to participate in NATO’s destruction of Libya” and will now spend “a paltry $5 million to aid Libyans in their moment of dire need.”
The hypocrisy of NATO member states is entirely expected and not at all surprising. However, Canadian journalist Yves Engler explained why Western corporate media has largely omitted mention, much less serious emphasis, of NATO’s destruction of Libya.
“To maintain public support for NATO’s proxy war with Russia, it’s important to erase its history of violence. The Canadian media’s refusal to mention NATO’s role in Libya’s instability partly reflects the requirements of Ukraine propaganda.”
Engler noted that Canadian media has done exactly this, whited-out NATO’s role in Libya. Particularly bold-faced is the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) which, Engler wrote, did a ten-minute-long report basically blaming Libya and failing “to even mention NATO’s six-month war, which included Canadian fighter jets, naval vessels, and special forces.”
Engler explains why global media and public figures have written NATO out of current reporting on Libya. “We’ve been bombarded with the claim NATO is a defensive alliance representing no threat to anyone. Repeated endlessly over the past 20 months, media personalities from Andrew Chang to Geoffrey York don’t dare mention NATO’s role in destroying Libya.”
Maintaining the “defensive alliance” myth goes hand in hand with propaganda supporting the proxy war in Ukraine: that Russia’s military operation there was an act of ‘unprovoked aggression’ and that Western powers hadn’t been aiding and abetting Kiev in its war against the people of Donbass in an effort to turn the country into a staging ground against Russia.
In the end, the Wests’ wars are never, ever, about protecting the population in question, much less “bringing democracy” to the countries targeted. Just look at Iraq, Libya, Syria…or Ukraine.
Eva Karene Bartlett is a Canadian activist and blogger who covers the Middle East, particularly Palestine and Syria. She writes op-eds for the Russian-funded television network RT. Bartlett describes herself as an "independent writer and rights activist.