In 2011 Western leaders and the media were celebrating a humanitarian victory for NATO, now the silence is deafening.
In October of 2011, shortly after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was murdered after being taken prisoner by Libyan rebels, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared in an interview on national television to celebrate. "We came, we saw, he died!" loudly joked Clinton. At the time the US state and corporate controlled media was filled with gushing enthusiasm for what the Washington Post described in a Pravda style article as "Hillary's War". With reverent praise, journalist Joby Warrick's article described Clinton's genius and ability to bring the NATO countries together for this wholesome humanitarian cause,
What emerges from these accounts is a picture of Clinton using her mixture of political pragmatism and tenacity to referee spats among NATO partners, secure crucial backing from Arab countries and tutor rebels on the fine points of message management.
The article talks about how Clinton, "was loath to see Gaddafi trouncing aspiring democrats in his country and menacing fledgling governments in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia."
One would think that Clinton's credentials as a passionate humanitarian would be called into question by UNICEF's estimate that her husband's sanctions on Iraq killed more than 500,000 children. Or that her sympathy for Egyptian democracy might not be genuine given that she once said of Egypt's former dictator Hosni Mubarak that, "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family." Or the the long history of US support that was given to the Mubarak regime. Apparently these issues were of no bearing on Clinton's supposed humanitarianism and were left out of Warrick's article and replaced with unending praise for the 2011 bombing campaign.
What about the idea that Gaddafi was trouncing "aspiring democrats"? This shows a commonly held pre-school level understanding of the conflict, similar to the one that would be held for years about the Syrian conflict. The idea that the civil war in Libya was simply about bad guy Gaddafi and good guy rebels is absurd. The qualities of both Gaddafi and the rebels was neither universally benign nor demonically evil, they were complicated and needed to be looked at seriously and carefully. Those who did not take the commitment among the rebels to radical Islam seriously were surprised when one of the first proposals of the transitional government was to reverse the ban on polygamy. Instead of looking at this complex matter with a maturity the media chose to portray the conflicts of both Libya and Syria with a logic more befitting the Star Wars universe rather than real life.
Now the "political pragmatism and tenacity" of our leaders, and their strong commitment to democracy is coming to fruition. Militias in Libya, " hold 8,000 people in prisons, many of whom say they have been tortured. Some 40,000 people from the town of Tawergha south of Misrata were driven from their homes which have been destroyed." 42 protesters were killed in Tripoli last year by militiamen. Kidnappings and assassinations are constant and today a truck bomb killed 65 at a police training center near Tripoli. All of this while Islamists operating under the banner of ISIS continue to gain power as the violence spills over into nearby Mali and Niger.
However, one wouldn't easily find this narrative of US incompetence in the US state and corporate controlled media. Reading the CNN coverage of the truck bombing today that killed 65, CNN fails to even once mention that Gaddafi was unseated by NATO intervention instead writing simply, "Demonstrations against Gadhafi in 2011, as part of the broader populist Arab Spring movement, led to a civil war that climaxed with Gadhafi's October 2011 killing by rebel forces in his hometown of Sirte." Anyone who is familiar with the situation in Libya in 2011 knows that rebels would not have lasted a month without NATO intervention, however for some reason CNN doesn't feel that this information is relevant to their readers. Following suit, NBC's article on the truck bombing mentions only that "Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi."
Similarly, the BBC fails to mention any NATO involvement in Libya,, "Libya has been hit by instability since his overthrow in 2011, and there is concern Islamic State (IS) militants are gaining a foothold there." Instead of mentioning that the NATO plans of replacing Gaddafi with a neo-liberal Western state are failing catastrophically, the BBC instead writes in a passive tone, as if to suggest some natural disaster is befalling Libya that we in the West have no control over.
When it came time to bomb the media positively gushed with enthusiasm and dutifully played its part as a propaganda outlet. A report of mass rape by the Libyan army was widely circulated uncritically. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Doctors Without Borders would later prove that the reports were unfounded. Similarly videos were released purporting to show the bodies of Gaddafi soldiers killed for trying defect. Later, video footage was found of the men as prisoners of the rebels before they were killed, meaning that the rebels had killed prisoners and then blamed the Gaddafi regime.
And while we are on the subject of media mistakes in Libya, it went below the radar of most everyone that a recent Al-Jazeera documentary has finally proven once and for all that Gaddafi was not responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing which killed 270. A high level Iranian defector has confirmed what was always suspected, that the Iranian regime, working through the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, carried out the bombing as a retaliation for the downing of Pan Am flight 103 by the US navy.