On hearing news of the Libyan leader colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s death, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton gleefully proclaimed — while paraphrasing the words of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, Vini, vidi, vici, `I came, I saw, I conquered’ — `We came, we saw, he died.’
These words, uttered in-between formal television interviews which were being recorded in Kabul, has been likened by some to the shouts of `Allahu Akbar’ which accompanied the actions of a large group of rebels, armed and directed by NATO, thousands of miles away in Sirte. The rebels beat, shoved, pushed and dragged a disoriented and bloodied Gaddafi, allegedly sodomised him, before shooting him to death.
I do not know whether drawing parallels between the US secretary of state’s response `We came, we saw, he died’ to the shouts of `God is great’ by NATO’s rebel forces, is appropriate, is justified.
What I do know however, is that secretary of state Clinton had called for the killing of Gaddafi while addressing Libyan students and others in a town-hall style gathering in Tripoli, “We hope he can be captured or killed soon” (Hillary Clinton details new aid package to Libya, The Guardian, October 18). But not even a whisper of outrage, not in The Guardian or in other western news outlets, unlike that which had followed the Iranian leader Khomeini’s call for the death of novelist Salman Rushdie, author, The Satanic Verses, in 1989.
What I also know, as I’m sure you do too, is that Gaddafi’s `death’ (read, murder) has been hailed by world leaders. Britain was “proud” of the role she had played in helping anti-Gaddafi forces in liberating the country, said prime minister David Cameron. The day marked “an historic transition for Libya,” said Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general. The American president Barack Obama termed it a “momentous day” in the history of Libya as the “dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted.” While the European Union president Herman Van Rompuy and Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement, Gaddafi’s death “marks the end of an era of despotism” (Sky News, October 20).
What some may not recall however, is that Washington’s arch enemy, the jihadists are working together with NATO in Libya, that “former” al-Qaeda affiliated brigades constitute the backbone of the “pro-democracy” rebellion. (NATO bombings, al-Qaeda and the Arab spring, New Age, October 3, 2011).
A fact that exposes the US-led war on terror against “jihadist Islam” for being what it is, an utter fabrication. One that is repeatedly manufactured by the mainstream western media; demonstrated yet again in the manner in which it reported the Libyan transitional leader’s recent declaration that Sharia law will become the “main source” of legislation in Libya, that Qaddafi-era legal restrictions on polygamous marriage will be done away with. How to explain this “sizable step backward” since polygamy in Gaddafi’s Libya was “limited and rare for decades”? The New York Times, while noting that the news is “unsettling” for Libyan women and its “allies abroad,” resolved its predicament by informing readers that Libya’s new leader Abdel-Jalil is known for his “piety.” (Hinting at an end to a curb on polygamy, interim Libyan leader stirs anger, October 29).
What occurred in Libya is patterned on a model, says Adrian Salbuchi, Argentinian author, financial analyst and founder of the Argentine Second Republic Movement. “First they target a country by calling it a rogue state; then they support local terrorists and call them freedom fighters; then they bring death and destruction upon civilians and they call it UN sanctions. Then they spread lies and call it the International Community?s opinion expressed by the Western media. Then they invade and control the country and call it liberation and finally they steal appetizing oil and call it foreign investment and reconstruction.” (Russia Today, October 21).
Hillary Clinton’s `We came, we saw, he died’ is a message to the world, says Salbuchi, about how the new world order actually works.
In any country, he says, and this includes Libya, there is always half of the country which is against its ongoing government. Does this mean we should invade Greece because of the way the government is handling the protests? Or, as a poster commented on a website, invade Britain? Because “its head of state is not elected.”
Ronald Reagan, while US president, had labelled Gaddafi the “mad dog” of the Middle East, but Bulent Gokay, professor of international relations and editor of Global Faultlines insists, if there is any mad dog in Libya now, it is the US/NATO supported “rebel force” who “brutally assaulted, tortured and murdered Gaddafi with two bullets to the head and one to the chest. After that, they splayed his body on the hood of a car – pulling his hair and banging his head before dragging his body into the street, kicking him like a football and displaying his corpse in a shopping centre meat locker” (The murder of Kaddafi by lynch mob and a dark start to `new’ Libya, October 27).
An absolute violation of Geneva Conventions as historian Vijay Prasad and many others remind us: “Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity” (The Third Geneva Convention, article 13). They are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect. For “their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs.” They should be humanely treated, protected especially against all acts of violence or threats and against insults and public curiosity (Fourth Geneva Convention, article 27). (Gaddafi, from beginning to end, Counterpunch, October 21-23).
Allegations of Libyan rebel forces having violated the Geneva Conventions have become yet more grave, as latest news indicates that a truce and surrender had been worked out between some rebel leaders and Gaddafi’s entourage. That Gaddafi’s convoy of 70 vehicles was heading west, reportedly with white flags atop some of the vehicles. That it was not engaging in fire with rebel or NATO forces. Why else would the convoy leave in broad daylight, except so that the white flags be visible to all? “If Qaddafi wanted to make a break for it, he would have done so at night with headlights out” (Wayne Madsen, America?s Death Pornography Culture: Celebrating brutal deaths of Qaddafi and Saddam, October 29, 2011). And one must bear in mind that NATO Special Forces, consisting of mercenaries, paramilitaries and gunmen, were already operating within the rebellion. Covertly. They were on the ground (Michel Chossudovsky, NATO boots on Libyan ground to protect oil interests? Press TV, September 5).
The French president Nicolas Sarkozy had reason to want Gaddafi dead, for, as the latter’s son Saif al-Islam outed in March this year, Libya had helped finance Sarkozy’s successful election campaign in 2007. Saif had threatened to reveal details of bank transfers (The Guardian, March 16). It was probably fitting then, that it was a French Mirage-2000 which fired the warning shot at Gaddafi’s fleeing convoy, as acknowledged by the French defence minister.
Gaddafi’s execution has “backfired.” NATO’s disinformation attempts to pass off Gaddafi’s execution as being not-an-execution, as Gaddafi having been killed in “crossfire,” by a “stray bullet,” has failed. But it is now increasingly clear, writes professor Campbell, that the manner in which he was killed was aimed at “humiliating” him. Under international law and the Geneva Conventions Hillary Clinton could be held to account for her statements in Tripoli on 18 October when she called for Gaddafi?s capture or killing. “Security planners and military strategists of the Obama Whitehouse are now cowering in shame on the fallout from the failure of the Libyan quagmire.” At the exposure of American military and imperial logic’s bankruptcy (Horace Campbell, The execution of Gaddafi and the attempted humiliation of Africa, Pambazuka News, October 27).
An attempt at extrication is now being sought with Libya’s new rulers vowing that Gaddafi’s killers will be brought to trial.
The manner in which he was killed was aimed at `humiliating’ him. True, and, most brutally. For, according to Global Post’s frame by frame analysis of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s capture, obtained from a rebel fighter who had recorded the moment, another sodomised him as he was being dragged away from the drainpipe where he had taken cover. According to the website’s correspondent Tracey Shelton, the instrument was possibly a knife from the end of a machine gun, which Libyans call a Bicketti, or some kind of stick.
The “hyperdissemination of digital culture” made these images go global, presumably, before the NATO chain of command could intervene. Could confiscate them, could ensure that they remain unseen.
Unseen like photographs of Abu Ghraib’s prisoners, including video footage, involving rape, and even death, which have been shown only to members of the US Congress, but not made publicly available (Nicholas Mirzoeff, Invisible empire: visual culture, embodied spectacle, and Abu Ghraib, Radical History Review, spring 2006).
Mirzoeff writes, sustaining America’s place as the leading nation within empire depends on the doubled performance of feminised consumers and masculine soldiers of all genders.
How better to humiliate Gaddafi than by sodomising him, thereby rendering him defenceless. At the absolute mercy of his captors. Incapable of defending even the orifices of his own body.
America’s quest for asserting “full spectrum dominance” has led to the emergence of new imperial masculinities, “masculine soldiers of all genders” (Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, to name two of the “second sex”). It has also created the conditions for the construction of new native masculinities. In the hierarchy of nations in the new global world order, they are imperialised and must remain so, but it is a subjection rendered pleasurable by performing “masculinity” on other, native, men.