Take Up the White Man’s Burden
by Eric Margolis: The
Era of Carriers Is Ending
up the White Man's burden –
Send forth the best ye breed –
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild –
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child."
~ Rudyard Kipling
gunmen rampage through Col. Muammar Gadaffi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound
– once Tripoli’s Forbidden City of Tripoli – was a strange experience
I spent an
evening there with Gadaffi in 1987, a year after it was bombed by
Leader" talked about the Mideast, Palestine, North Africa.
He led me by the hand through his ruined private quarters, still
reeking of fire and smoke, and showed me the bed in which an American
1,000 kilo laser-guided bomb killed his two-year old adopted daughter.
We sat in his
gaily colored Bedouin tent, talking into the night. He opened up
to me about his love for fancy dress and beamed happily when I told
him, tongue in cheek, how attractive he was to western women.
to August, 2011. CIA teams, British SAS and SBC special forces,
and French Foreign Legionnaires and Marine Commandos are searching
for Muammar Gadaffi.
Libyan forces are closing in on Garaffi’s birthplace, Sirte. There
are growing rumors Gadaffi and his family fled last week to Algeria,
whose brutal, western-backed military regime has long been allied
to the Libyan leader.
Few will miss
him. Gadaffi was a blight on Libya and an embarrassment to the Arabs.
But were I
western intelligence, the man I would want in my interrogation cells
is Gadaffi’s elusive brother-in-law, Abdullah Senoussi, the longtime
head of Libyan intelligence and alter ego of Gadaffi.
my interview with Gadaffi, I was awakened from sleep in my hotel
one night at 1030 by pounding on the door. My heart went into overdrive.
I was certain I was being arrested by the secret police. One of
them had accused me earlier in the day of being a CIA agent.
I was hustled
off in a car. Instead of prison, I was taken to a well-appointed
villa, ushered into a salon, and introduced to a "Mr. Senoussi,"
who told me he was Libya’s health minister and invited to dine with
him desert-style off a large copper tray on the floor.
I immediately identified as Libya’s spy chief and one of the key
"people of the tent" surrounding Gadaffi, chatted away
with me about the Mideast, Africa, and my life. He was handsome,
elegant, well-educated and very charming.
hails from Libya’s royal family, was also indicted for mounting
an assassination attempt against Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in
In 1994, French
magistrates indicted Senoussi for masterminding the 1989 bombing
of a UTA airliner over Niger. He was tried and convicted in absentia.
It seems certain
agents of France’s DGSE intelligence agency, a notoriously rough
outfit, are hunting down Senoussi – if he is unwise enough to remain
The files of
Libya’s intelligence and security agencies will be a primary target
for western special forces and intelligence agents. Seizing them
is vital since they show the deep level of western cooperation with
the now demonized Gadaffi. Like another former US ally, Saddam Hussein,
he must be silenced.
Libya is literally turning into a gold rush as the big western oil
firms pile into Libya and pay court to the new government in Tripoli,
the National Transitional Council. Police units and troops from
Britain, France and Italy may soon follow – all, naturally, as part
of the west’s new "humanitarian intervention" strategy
that has replaced "counter-terrorism."
Libya is in
semi-chaos and its economy devastated by six months of conflict.
The food distribution system has broken down. Thousands of heavily
armed "rambos" make their own law. There are barely any
state institutions aside from the national oil company and central
bank. The police have evaporated.
As a modest
historian, I am always delighted when history draws striking parallels.
We now see the fascinating spectacle of those old colonial powers,
Britain, France, and Italy, starting to move back into their former
overseas possessions while the United States looks on approvingly.
Libya until a young colonel named Muammar Gadaffi overthrew the
doddering old British puppet, King Idris. The US lost one of its
largest bombers bases at Libya’s Wheelus Field. Neither nation was
to forgive Gadaffi.
had seized Libya from Italy’s fascist regime in 1943. Italy colonized
Libya after tearing it away from the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Italy
used concentration camps and poison gas to terrorize Libyans into
colonial empire included neighboring Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco,
Chad, and Niger, long competed with Italy and Spain for regional
domination. Mussolini’s Fascist regime pressed claims to Tunisia,
Corsica, Nice and Cannes.
colonial border dispute over Chad’s Aouzou Strip dating from the
1920’s between France and Italy led to a nasty little Franco-Libyan
border war there in 1987.
Legionnaires in jeeps, disguised as Chadian nomads, drove the wretched
Libyan army from Aouzou in what became known as the "Toyota
War." Disguised French special forces and Legionnaires, as
well as Britain’s SAS, just used the same theatrical tactics in
Libya. The real fighting against Gadaffi’s troops was done by NATO
air, ground and naval forces. All those mobs of gun-waving Libyans
were merely extras.
The big question
now is which foreign power will dominate Libya. The United States,
which has waged this little war from well offstage? Italy, which
gets most of its oil from Libya? France, where President Sarkozy
has been hinting at a Mediterranean union – bien sure, under French
Oil is a potent
aphrodisiac. Libya has vast reserves of premium, low-sulphur oil
and gas, and a hundred-year supply of ancient artesian water. Energy-rich
Libya will become an important market for European consumer products
and industrial exports, as well as a huge major supplier of investment
funds from its estimated $50 billion worth of annual oil exports.
are more prizes to be had: Libya’s gold reserves, estimated at $4-5
billion; and its nearly $100 billion of foreign deposits and investments.
One thing is
increasingly clear: oil and gas are simply too important to be left
in the hands of Arabs, Iranians and Central Asians.
a few months ago that if he was overthrown, the west would grab
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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