Previous posts in this discussion:
PostLibya under Gaddafi (Randy Black, USA, 02/16/15 6:26 am)
Massoud Malek began his 15 February post with the claim that under the rule of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, "Libyans enjoyed one of the best welfare systems in the world." I must ask, "What else, anything, did they ‘enjoy?'"
Various sources from the Internet agree to a point with Massoud's claim of free medical care for Libyans.
Wikipedia notes that while healthcare became free to all citizens, the government was not able to produce adequate housing and much of the socialist package promised by Gaddafi.
As the dictator promised, along with the motto "freedom, socialism and unity," he also supported the PLO, the IRA, the Polisario Front and implemented "increased political repression" among his subjects.
He also ordered and caused an untold number of atrocities on his people coupled with wars on Chad and Egypt.
Wiki again: By 2011, it was illegal to speak English or French in Libya and public dissent was illegal from 1973. By 2009, the Freedom of the Press Index rated Libya the most censored nation in North Africa and the Middle East.
Gaddafi, talking about exiles in 1982: "It is the Libyan people's responsibility to liquidate such scums who are distorting Libya's image abroad."
Gaddafi ordered the assassination of many exiles and local police across the world from London to Mecca to Boulder, Colorado. Gaddafi employed his network of diplomats and recruits to assassinate dozens of his critics around the world. Amnesty International listed at least 25 assassinations between 1980 and 1987.
Gaddafi's agents were active in the UK, where many Libyans had sought asylum. After Libyan diplomats shot at 15 anti-Gaddafi protesters from inside the Libyan embassy's first floor and killed a British policewoman, the UK broke off relations with Gaddafi's government.
Even the US could not protect dissidents from Libya. In 1980, a Libyan agent attempted to assassinate dissident Faisal Zagallai, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The bullets left Zagallai partially blinded. A defector was kidnapped and executed in 1990 just before he was about to receive US citizenship.
Gaddafi asserted in June 1984 that killings could be carried out even when the dissidents were on pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca. In August 1984, one Libyan plot was thwarted in Mecca.
As of 2004, Libya still provided bounties for heads of critics, including $1 million for Ashur Shamis, a Libyan-British journalist.
All of this in order to support "free medical care?" Indeed.
Finally, Massoud began a sentence with "Before our air raids on Libya in 2011..."
Actually, the "our raids" were the United Nations, the French air and sea forces, the British Navy and components of the American Navy and Air Force. These UN-authorized attacks were the result of Gaddafi's attacks on his own people during the Arab Spring of 2011.
He referred to his people as rats, cockroaches and drugged kids. He also accused the dissidents as being part of al-Qaeda.
Other notable crimes committed by Gaddafi's "leadership": Confiscation of personal property and expulsion in the early 1970s of 20,000 Italians and 37,000 Jews in operation Day of Revenge, a Libyan national holiday.
And then there's the unforgettable matter of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103...
JE comments: There was a time, in the mid 2000s, when Gaddafi was viewed in the West as a more or less "reformed" sponsor of terrorism. Regardless, it seems to me that the question is not how bad things were under Gaddafi, but whether or not things have been better after his removal. With the weekend's developments especially, it's hard to argue that there's been an improvement.
Are there any lessons to be learned? Possibly one: Assad in Syria is the last secular strongman remaining in the Middle East. He's unsavory, yes--but what is the alternative?
One Week in Gaddafi's Libya
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
02/17/15 3:25 AM)
I assume that Randy Black (16 February) is fairly typical of the average American, always ready to bring democracy to the world using bombs without looking at the necessities inside the US, where in spite of the improvements in the financial markets the situation of the poor is not improving, while the big corporations are making ever larger profits, no matter what and how.
In the early '80s I spent one week in Tripoli and I found normal happy people. They were extremely friendly with a good level of income.
If Sarkosy and his British friends attacked Gaddafi, that had nothing to do with democracy but only with the almost exclusive exploitation of Libyan gas and oil by Italy.
About democracy I remember as a child asking my teacher: If the Americans treat their black population with contempt, why do they bomb us to teach democracy? Shouldn't they rather bomb themselves?
Of course, now the geopolitical situation with the Caliphate has deteriorated. This is not only the fault of the Islamists, but this time a wise action should be taken.
Returning to my week in Tripoli, I was not on vacation but with the president/owner of the shipping agency where I worked.
We were there trying to get the job of supplying crew and boats for the new oil platforms. But the ENI/SNAM was too dominant and the contract went to them.
I desperately tried to get copies of Gaddafi's "Green Books," but it was impossible. Finally a representative of the Libyan Industry with whom we were negotiating gave me two of the three books in English, promising me that he would send the third one when found, but I never saw it. A very disappointing dictatorship.
A similar thing happened to me in Tenerife in 1972 when I stopped in several music shops to buy a cassette with "Cara al Sol." No one had it. In one shop a beautiful young girl asked me what band recorded the song, so she could locate the song that way. Finally I got it from Radio Nacional de España.
Another very disappointing dictatorship.
JE comments: I would never think of combining the words "disappointing" and "dictatorship," as they all strike me as depressing!
I can't imagine Spanish record shops in the early 1970s got too many requests for "Cara al sol." They might have confused it with George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun."
Returning to Libya, we should remember that there was an international hue and cry for NATO to come to the defense of the Arab Spring rebels who were facing extermination after rising against Gaddafi.
Luciano Dondero visited Gaddafi's Libya on two occasions, including shortly after Reagan's retaliatory bombing in 1986. Stay tuned for Luciano's fascinating account.
- Gaddafi and Philippines (Bienvenido Macario, USA 02/19/15 6:20 AM)
Randy Black wrote on 16 February: "As [Gaddafi] promised, along with the motto 'freedom, socialism and unity,' he also supported the PLO, the IRA, the Polisario Front and implemented 'increased political repression' among his subjects."
Under Muammar Gaddafi, Libya supported both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a Muslim secessionist movement, and the communist rebels in the Philippines. The Mindanao war between the Marcos administration and the MNLF started on March 29, 1969.
In 1976, Imelda Marcos asked Gaddafi to broker a ceasefire. This led to the Tripoli Agreement that includes the creation of the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), composed of thirteen provinces of Mindanao. Gaddafi made his book The Green Book: Part One: The Solution to the Problem of Democracy (The Authority of the People) required reading. When I was in the Philippines my friend gave me a copy and asked me to do a book report.
JE comments: Bienvenido Macario and Eugenio Battaglia both have copies of the Green Book. I'd like to know more. Who in WAISworld can walk us through the tenets of the Gaddafi political worldview?
I made this point a few years back, but no name in world history has more competing spellings. This book cover has "Qhadafi." ABC News published a list of 112 variants: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2009/09/how-many-different-ways-can-you-spell-gaddafi/
Gaddafi and the Sandinistas
(Timothy Brown, USA
02/19/15 2:10 PM)
I certainly can't get inside Gaddafi's head. But I can add a couple of things. Gaddafi also supported the FSLN. José "Pepe" Puente León, One of my post-Cold War friends, a second generation Marxist-Leninist, was a personal aide to Fidel Castro prior to Castro's departure for Cuba. He was later was a National Director of the FSLN, managed its main safe house in Mexico City and was liaison between several Central American revolutionary fronts and the Mexico City stations of the KGB and Cuban intelligence. In a videotaped oral history I did, he described his experiences while spending more than a year as a guerrilla warfare training instructor in Libya. You can read part of his story as he told it to me in Chapter Two of my book When the AK-47s Fall Silent--Revolutionaries, Guerrillas and the Dangers of Peace (Hoover 2001).
Puente was trained in Honduras in guerrilla warfare by the late Noel Guerrero Santiago, a founder of Nicaragua's communist party that had worked in the United States prior to WWII as a railroad union organizer under the direction of Earl Browder. Prior to that, Guerrero was the post-Cuba Revolution top confidential aide to Che Guevara on the organization of liberation movements in Latin America.
Don Noel also gave me his oral history, but on the condition that none of it be made public until after his death. He passed away a couple of years ago and you can find the only known published photo of him at page 52 in Diplomarine. Contrary to the official cover story, Guerrero, not Carlos Fonseca, was the first leader of the FSLN. This is confirmed by General Humberto Ortega in his "La Epopeya...," although Fonseca did later become the FSLN leader. By the by, Puente was best man at Carlos Fonseca's December 1965 wedding to María Haydee Terán Navas. (Copies of Fonseca and Terán's blood tests can be seen on page 38 of AK-47s.)
Another Nicaragua Sandinista trained by Guerrero alongside Spent, was Dr. Manuel de Jesús Andara y Ubeda. Andara y Ubeda was later sent to the USSR, where he was trained in Line FA Sabotage for one year before returning to Mexico where, according both to personal letters from Andara y Ubeda and documents in the Mitrokin archives, per Andrew's The Sword and the Shield p. 385, he became the head of a Soviet sabotage sleeper cell located in Ensenada on the US-Mexico border.
Another Marxist friend, Plutarco Hernández, a Costa Rican who was at my 1958 wedding in San José, was later educated at Patrice Lumumba University, trained in guerrilla warfare for one year in Cuba at Campamento Cerro, for an additional six months in North Korea and then spent 14 years as a National Director of the Sandinista Front. His comments are at Chapter Five of AKs. Separately, he described to me in a videotaped interview the role the PLO played in supporting the FSLN's combat operations against Somoza.
Hernández's first cousin, José Eduardo Sancho Castaneda, Comandante Fermán Cienfuegos, was the military commander of El Salvador's Faribundo Martí Front. He made it possible for me to review some of the archives of that front. Those archives confirmed that more than 20% of the FMLN's cadre were trained in Cuba. He separately confirmed that the FSLN's headquarters in Managua after 1979 cooperated closely with several other revolutionary movements, including the PLO and ETA. In fact he was once married to an ETArrista.
I could go on. But, to believe that there were only arrangements of convenience but never organic, operational links between Cold War revolutionary movements and the Soviet Bloc, is to deny the physical evidence in favor of Cold War propaganda tales. Gaddafi was just one of many players in the "game."
JE comments: How reliable a Soviet ally was Gaddafi? I always had the impression that the Kremlin saw him as a loose cannon, but put up with him as he could be useful for "dirty jobs."
(Note to Tim: my copy of Diplomarine is on order!)
- Gaddafi's Green Book in PDF (Massoud Malek, USA 02/19/15 3:27 PM)
Here is link to the Green Book:
Have a good day!
JE comments: This is a useful link, but I wanted somebody else to read it for me and send the highlights! Here's a teaser quote from Chapter 1: "The GREEN BOOK presents the ultimate solution to the problem of the proper instrument of government."
Are you listening, Political Scientists? No one ever accused Gaddafi of modesty.
Gaddafi's Green Book; A Meeting in Mindanao, 1982
(Bienvenido Macario, USA
02/21/15 7:48 AM)
What stands out in reading Gaddafi's The Green Book is his criticism of the democratic elections. He cited as an example a presidential election where you have three candidates getting 40%, 30%, and 30% of the votes. While the candidate who garnered 40% of the total votes is the winner, the genuine majority is in fact represented by votes of the two losing candidates.
Another aspect of the poll he questioned was the plebiscite, referendum or propositions. He wrote that it is not enough for the voters to simply vote "yes" or "no," but they must explain why they are voting for or against an initiative. This should demonstrate how familiar the voters at large are with the very important issues of the day.
From here I thought in the list of candidates and propositions, why not have an option that says: "None of the above"?
Of course during one of the book gatherings where MNLF [Moro National Liberation Front] commanders were present, I dared not criticize Gaddafi's Green Book for fear of starting a new war in Mindanao. That was back in 1982, and I remember meeting a certain Commander "Jimmy" of the MNLF who was around 38 to 40 years old. His real name was Hashim. He was wearing a printed two-tone polo shirt like a Hawaiian shirt.
While it was not in the book, I did mention to Commander "Jimmy" that Gaddafi's favorite US presidents were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Gaddafi admired Washington for leading the American revolution. And Abraham Lincoln for declaring martial law and resorting to force to save the union.
JE comments: One can find many holes in democratic elections, but it's bizarre to use that as a justification to do away with them. Interestingly, unrepentant Confederate types in the US tend to cite Lincoln's use of martial law (suspension of habeas corpus) as a reason for disliking him.
I hope Bienvenido Macario will tell us more of his encounters with the MNLF in the early 1980s.
- Gaddafi's Green Book in PDF (Massoud Malek, USA 02/19/15 3:27 PM)
- Gaddafi and Philippines (Bienvenido Macario, USA 02/19/15 6:20 AM)