The Lust for Libya: How a Nation Was Torn Apart

The Lust for Libya: How a Nation Was Torn Apart

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This is a two part documentary about the 2011 US/UN invasion of Libya, which triggered its descent into civil war.

Part 1 is about pre-independence Libya and Muamar Gaddafi’s rise to power during the 1969 revolution. Prior to Gaddafi’s 2011 overthrow, Libya had no history as an independent state. It was continuously occupied from ancient times, by Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Italians and eventually a French/British and a British/US consortium.

Inspired by the pan-Arab movement started by Egyptian president Gamal Nasser, in 1969 Gaddafi led a successful revolution to oust the pro-US government. He went on to close the US/UK military bases and nationalize their oil companies and the Italian banks that controlled Libya’s economy.

With the 1973 oil embargo, the value of Libya’s oil doubled overnight. Gaddafi used the country’s new found wealth to rapidly build up Libya’s decaying infrastructure, as well as to provide free health care, housing and education (through university) for all residents.

Following Nasser’s death in 1970, Gaddafi sought to enshrine himself as the “man of the masses” who would unite the Arab world. In this role, he supported numerous international liberation struggle, including the Irish Republican Army, the African National Congress and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. He also developed a bizarre and grandiose habit of claiming responsibility for terrorist bombings (including CIA/NATO Operation Gladio false flag bombings*).

In 1973 he revoked the Libyan constitution and ruled independent decree. Although he established thousands of Jamahiriya (people’s committees), they had no real power independent of the Libyan  military. The analysts interviewed here view Gaddafi as a benevolent dictator who was genuinely concerned about the Libyan people but lacked any education or training in setting up democratic institutions of power.

Worried a prolonged Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) would hinder US access to Middle East Oil, the US would launch its first covert regime change operations against Gaddaffi in 1981. These included a 1981 assassination attempt (by bombing his palace) in 1981, as well as an effort to frame Libya for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am passenger jet over Lockerbie Scotland.

The incident would lead to UN sanctions against Libya from 1992 until 2003, when Gaddafi signed an agreement he would end his nuclear program, assume financial responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and assist the CIA in fighting global terrorism.


*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations in Cold War Europe. The goal of these operations was to justify repressive government legislation against grassroots anti-capitalist organizers. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary. See 1965-75: The Decade that Nearly Dismantled Capitalism

 

The “Troubles*” in Northern Ireland: The Whitewashed BBC Version

 

The Story of Ireland Part 5

BBC (2011)

Film Review

Caveat: I have serious problems with the BBC’s portrayal of the 30-year civil war in Northern Ireland as a battle of “religious identity.” This analysis conveniently whitewashes a longstanding pattern of social and economic discrimination against Northern Ireland’s Catholic underclass.

Part 5 of the Story of Ireland covers 1900 to the present – including the “Troubles*” in Northern Ireland from 1969 until the Good Friday Peace Accord negotiated under Tony Blair in 1998.

The filmmakers attribute the early 1900s rise in Irish nationalism to global nationalistic fervor that simultaneously gave rise to the African National Congress, the Chinese nationalist movement led by Sun Yat Sen (1911) and the Serbian nationalist movement that triggered World War I.

In 1913, the British parliament was preparing to grant home rule for Ireland, which was violently opposed by the protestant Ulster Volunteer Force. The latter feared losing their autonomy to a majority Catholic Ireland.

On Easter Sunday 1913 (Bloody Sunday), Irish revolutionaries seized the post office in Dublin and declared an Irish Republic. The brutal British reprisals radicalized many civilian nationalists into joining the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

After winning a sweeping majority in the 1918 elections, Sinn Fein** declared an independent Irish republic. In 1921 Sinn Fein leader Michael Collins negotiated a peace treaty with Prime Minister Lloyd George granting southern Ireland and the six protestant counties of Ulster the status of free states within the British union.

Because it stopped short of home rule for Ireland, the civil war continued until Ireland won full independence in 1923. Northern Ireland would remain part of Great Britain.

Although Sinn Fein remained committed to the reunification of the two Irelands, for 40 years Irish heads of state opted for peace and political stability over political union. During World War II, Ireland declined to join the allied forces and remained neutral. It also supported Red China’s application to join the UN in 1949.

Thanks to membership in the Common Market and European Union, Ireland was one of the richest countries in Europe by the late 90s. Yet according to the filmmakers the so-called Celtic Tiger was accompanies by skyrocketing inequality and massive political corruption.


*”The Troubles” is a euphemism for the conflict between Northern Ireland Catholic paramilitaries fighting for greater civil rights and eventual reunification with southern Ireland, protestant paramilitaries and British troops deployed to suppress the Catholic insurgency.

**Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party formed in 1905 in support of Irish independence and unification.