Russian political scientist Igor Panarin believes that the Libyan campaign, which ended October 31, demonstrated the weakness of NATO and revealed the military bloc’s potential to collapse. In his article for RT, the analyst explains his view. Commentary by Dennis South follows.
By Igor Panarin
10 November, 2011.
Will NATO still be there in 2016? Seems like a stupid question at first. Nothing is threatening NATO and nobody is questioning the bloc’s further existence. That, however, is just the first impression…
Driving up to the NATO campus in the outskirts of Brussels for the first time, I was slightly surprised to find that the image created over decades of zealous propaganda differed quite a lot from the real picture. In real life, this set of gray, drab-looking, totally identical buildings is puzzling at best. Are we looking at a ’paper tiger’, whose might has been overblown by the global media? Is it just that 5 thousand NATO bureaucrats simply need to make a living… and to justify their existence? Besides, they must like living in Brussels as well.
Tranquility, apathy even, reigns supreme in the NATO headquarters. Everybody inside walks slowly, as if drowsing. Laziness and complacency, regularity and cheerlessness are the first to catch your eye in the NATO HQ corridors.
Well, of course, the NATO bureaucrats do work; they organize military operations, the latest of which took place in Libya. Gaddafi was perfectly suited for the role of the ’bad guy’ to showcase the might and efficiency of NATO. After all, Gaddafi’s army had old weapons and virtually no aviation or air defense. A perfect case for NATO to step in, isn’t it? However, there were skeptics as well: Robert Gates, then Secretary of Defense, protested, saying that his country, already paying 75% of all NATO military expenditure, did not need another military venture. In the end, however, US leaders upheld the idea of intervention.
Key instigators of the military operation were the French, who had amassed quite a debt to Gaddafi. On March 19, they began bombing the government troops. Three independent operations began: the British, the French, and the American. Later, the allies were joined by air forces of Canada, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Greece, Holland, Norway, and those of non-NATO-members Sweden, Qatar, Jordan, and the UAE. The naval operation to block the Libyan coast also involved vessels from Turkey and even Bulgaria and Romania.
This patchwork coalition was initially coordinated by American leadership, but on 31 March NATO assumed overall command of the war effort, titled Operation Unified Protector (OUP). Once the air strikes commenced, many war planners and observers believed Gaddafi’s troops would break up and scatter in no time. However, this did not happen. The war was obviously becoming a protracted one, so NATO was forced to change its tactics.
Despite repeatedly denying it in public, the alliance shifted its mission objective to destroying the Libyan armed forces and killing Colonel Gaddafi. To this end, the coalition deployed attack helicopters and spec ops units in Libya, and on the eve of the Battle of Tripoli the rebel troops were secretly reinforced by battle-hardened military professionals from Britain, France, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. It was allied spec ops troops that stormed and captured the Gaddafi stronghold at Bab al-Azizia. Thus, a NATO-led operation that kicked off as a civilian protection effort unfolded into a full-scale military campaign.
Despite NATO’s eventual triumph, the war in Libya has revealed its weak spots and generally proved that the alliance is a paper tiger after all.
It became apparent, for instance, that should the United States ever withdraw from the alliance, the latter will soon collapse: challenged by limited American involvement in the campaign, the European allies took over six months to defeat an enemy as weak as Libya.
Quite a few NATO allies refrained from engaging in OUP altogether, or limited their participation to a purely symbolic contribution (e.g. Romania). The non-NATO members of the coalition, Qatar and the UAE, proved much more committed to the war effort than some of the allies combined. Therefore, the Libya campaign has revealed deep-seated disunity within the alliance.
Since NATO has little efficiency given a lack of US engagement, it does not live up to being an inclusive military alliance designed for the protection of the Euro-Atlantic community. Instead, it comes across as a detachment of the US military machine, as well as a front for Washington to use whenever it needs to pass its own military gamble for a well-meaning international effort.
The question is, will the United States remain in a position to afford paying for this expensive fig leaf when faced with a resurging crisis? Or will they abandon it and stick to relying on themselves and fighting strictly for their own purposes, the way they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan, where NATO’s engagement is effectively limited to sentry duties, while American GIs and local security forces take all the heat?
On top of all that, it seems that some of the Europeans are starting to realize how much of a smoke screen NATO is. How long till they get fed up with having to waste their money on backing American military adventures in places that have nothing to do with European security?
Therefore, the Libya campaign has unearthed a crisis festering within the world’s longest-standing military alliance. Given the severe economic downturn ravaging the Western economies, this systemic crisis may trigger a self-destructive process and eventually cause NATO to disintegrate.
Commentary by Dennis South
At the beginning of the NATO aggression against Libya, I "predicted" that NATO, as an institution, would not last another two years. I openly admit that my "predictions" are sometimes purely wishes. At other times, those predictions are based on a combination of gut instincts, as well as observation.
After two months of NATO aggression had passed, it was clear to almost anyone that NATO was a paper tiger, to use the expression that was once used by Mao Zedong (Mao Tse Tung). Its date of completion of its operations in Libya kept shifting from day to day, week to week, as it faced the fact that the Libyan Defence Force was not a paper tiger, but was a formidable and professional military force.
Those Libya-lovers who were carefully watching NATO’s ineptness were greatly encouraged that the war would soon end; that NATO would be forced to pull out, because of its deep failures, week after week. In the beginning, the people in Libya were walking around almost jovially, still conducting their business, as well as their pleasure. No one could have possibly believed that such an inept and murderous alliance could continue to embarrass itself in Libya.
But we all underestimated a few of things about NATO:
1. The cold viciousness, barbarity, depravity, and immorality of the leaders of the NATO countries, especially Obama, Sarkozi and Cameron, including their easy willingness to bomb civilian dwellings, schools, hospitals, clinics, fisherman who were in the sea, in their boats, fishing, camels (in an attempt to starve the Libyans, who eat lots of camel meat), infrastructure;
2. The extent, or depth of the desperation of the failed NATO alliance (which had not won a single war in its existence) to "prove" both its relevance and its capacity to work as an effective military unit;
3. The very large extent to which NATO would use the media to, a.) totally hide from the public the true situation on the ground, that situation being that NATO was losing the war, and b.) the large extent to which NATO would use psychological operations, through the mainstream news media organs, that projected total falsehoods to the reading public, such as the proclaimed "fall" of cities, such as Brega, that had either never occurred, or that had occurred for only part of a day, after which the LDF (Libyan Defense Forces) would take the city back over rapidly.
To everyone’s great disappointment, rather than cut its losses, in terms of its military assets, as well as its already pitiful standing as an inept military alliance, NATO continued its operations. Having been defeated, NATO threw all caution to the wind (in terms of any concern over the possibility of accusations being lodged against it, regarding its violations of UN Resolution 1973), and deployed mercenaries on the ground.
There are three prime reasons for this shift in NATO tactics, in its decision to use mercenaries:
1. Ineptitude. Recall NATO’s own self-evaluation of its performance in Libya as being "ineffectual" and "pathetic."
2. Arrogance. NATO demonstrated its arrogance from Day 1, bragging that it would defeat the LDF (Libyan Defence Force), "within 3 days." Due to its arrogance, it was not possible for NATO to admit what everyone that had been watching the war closely, knew: that NATO had been defeated by the Libyan Defence Force.
3. The brilliant military expertise of the Libyan Defence Force.
NATO’s arrogance had caused them to assume that the LDF did not have a snowball’s chance in hell to withstand, for more than three days, the onslaught of the "most powerful" military alliance in human history. But, not only did the LDF withstand the onslaught of NATO, but the LDF effectively defeated NATO militarily. The war against NATO had ended. But NATO cheated, violating Resolution 1973 left and right, by importing mercenaries from Colombia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Qatar, Britain, France, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates. In short, putting troops on the ground, which was a direct violation of NATO’s mandate. NATO knew that it could not allow the world to see that it had gone down to defeat to a tiny little nation that turned out to be a mighty mouse. So, it cheated.
While NATO was cheating, Muammar Gaddafi was [perhaps mistakingly, I do not know] fighting honorably. There were thousands and thousands of African fighters, from all over Africa, begging Muammar to allow them to come fight. He refused them, stating that their trek across the desert would be too difficult; that they should stay in their own countries and prepare to defend those countries, as the Euro-American empire would one day be heading their way. Muammar wanted the Libyan people to win their own fight against NATO, without any help from outside. Notice that I have not mentioned "the rebels." The rebels were of no consequence, and even NATO often expressed its frustration, even in the mainstream media, with the uselessness and ineptitude of the rebels—a case of the blind leading the blind.
It became clear to those watching the war, even cursorily, that the war was not between the LDF and the rebels. The war was between the LDF and NATO. The existence of the rebels was only a convenience for NATO and the NATO governments: The rebels provided the front, or excuse, for NATO aggression in Libya, i.e., to "bring democracy" to the Libyan people, despite the fact that Libya already had a strong democracy.
The rebel battlefield performance was worse than the pathetic performance of NATO. For new-comers, here was the pattern before NATO decided to cheat and use mercenaries: NATO would bomb the hell out of a city during the day, while the rebels did nothing. The LDF would leave the city to protect itself. Then the rebels would walk into the city and proclaim "victory," usually not having fired a shot. They would take photographs of each other, standing on hills, and send those photographs to Al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera would write an article proclaiming, "Rebels take Brega," when in fact the rebels had done nothing. All the work had been done by NATO. Other mainstream news organs simply regurgitated what Al-Jazeera had regurgitated from the lying rebels.
At night, after NATO bombing stopped, the LDF would retake the city within as little as two hours—sometimes less. Then you would not hear a single word in the mainstream news organs for as much as a week, sometimes. This was because Brega, or whatever city, had been taken back by the LDF, and the media, a tool of the northern countries and NATO, would not mumble a word about that in their news organs.
In fact, those of us who watched closely began to know precisely when the LDF was having success on the ground: the media would not mumble a word about Libya. This silence in the mainstream media would cause us to check the "Green blogs" (blogs that support Muammar and the Jamahiriya, and that were reporting on-the-ground battle information), and we would discover that the LDF had made remarkable progress during that week of silence by the mainstream news media..
It is also likely that Muammar did not want to import African fighters, due to the fact that he would have been accused of importing "black mercenaries," illegally, despite the fact that NATO was doing everything illegal under the sun. This was extremely frustrating for many Libya-lovers. But, perhaps Muammar was right: His concern for Africa caused him to tell the African fighters to remain where they were, to protect their territory.
I wrote the above to sort of fill in, for new comers, spaces that might exist in the above article by Professor Panarin. But there is another reason that I wrote the above: to point out the utter depravity of the northern countries and their murderous, inept organization, NATO.
They speak in terms of military victories, or military defeats. They do not see their moral degeneracy as a defeat—their defeat of themselves. Their assault on Libya; their murder of 90,000 Libyan civilians; their destruction of Libyan infrastructure; their depraved war against a tiny population of 6 million people; their support for the attempted genocide of black Libyans; their support of the rape of Libyan women; their use of paid murderers to impose themselves upon a people who were living very successfully, and in peace—All of these things demonstrate the moral blindness, or moral defeat of the northern countries against themselves.
Despite the fact that they know that they have murdered tens of thousands of human beings, their moral degeneracy is so complete that not one single mainstream news organ has reported the murder of 90,000 Libyans; not one single news organ has reported the genocide of 30,000 black Libyans of Tawerga. Not one single news organ has reported on the savagery associated with the fact that every single dwelling in Sirte was demolished by NATO bombs, leaving the people of Sirte homeless, wandering in the desert. Before this war, there was no homelessness in Libya, one of the high marks of achievement of Muammar Gaddafi and the Libyan Jamahiriya.
The sad and disgusting thing is that the Euro-American empire seems to believe that it has no other form of achievement to demonstrate other than its self-perceived "achievements" in the ’art’ and skill of mass murder; in the destruction of countries, cultures, and peoples; in its ability to create chaos, and in its special and high-tech ability to bully the world into submission to its desires.
Where is its art? Where are its skilled diplomats? What enlightened political vision does it have to share with us? What enlightened economic vision does it have to share with the world?
As time goes by, its societies become more and more crude and vulgar. Its most popular movies are those that display war and bloodshed and "heroes" who are no more than professional murderers. Its religion, in Europe, virtually doesn’t exist. Its expression of religion in the U.S. takes the form of "prosperity" mega-churches, where the principal sermon is how to become monetarily wealthy, not how to love your neighbor; not how to have concern for the people of other countries; not how to serve the poor.
It has no conception of the idea of cooperation with other countries. Its only conception regarding relationships between countries is dominance—that it must dominate every other country on earth.
Its hypocrisy has reached the high heavens, as it preaches to North Korea, Iran, and other countries that those countries must not obtain nuclear weapons, when the U.S. maintains an arsenal of 5,113 nuclear warheads. This is astonishing beyond belief. And the incredible thing is that the U.S. will admonish other countries about nuclear weapons, and do so with a straight face.
When has there ever been a real victory for the United States? When has the United States sustained a society, as did the Muslims who ruled Spain for 800 years, of peace and harmony and high cultural pursuits? In the U.S., were it not for a large police force, national guard, and army, the JDL (Jewish Defence League) and the Ku Klux Klan would be out in the streets murdering each other, just as the Al-Qaeda brigades are murdering each other in Libya right at this moment.
Compare that to Muslim Spain. According to Abba Eban, a former ambassador of Israel and hardcore Zionist, the most peaceful time for the Jews in all of their history was under the rule of Muslims in Spain. He stated that explicitly in his book, History and the Jews, which also became a PBS television series.
How disgusting it was to see mainstream news organs (also a part of the rot of northern society) gloat over the deaths of 90,000 Libyans, bragging of NATO’s "success." This is the state of the northern countries, and this is their true defeat.
Those of us who have been watching this war from Day 1 recall comparing the cultured, sophisticated, honest and straightforward press conferences of Dr. Musa Ibrahim. He became noted for his truthfulness. He spoke the truth about the situation in Libya, even if the LDF was experiencing difficulties at any particular time.
Compare that to what we’ve just learned, and that was reported in the mainstream media the last couple of days, but had suspected all along: the mainstream news reporters that were allowed, by the Jamahiriya, to live in luxury in the Rixos Hotel, were not news reporters at all. They were paid informants of NATO, that supplied NATO with the coordinates of facilities and LDF positions in Libya.
And this is what one calls a victory? NATO failed militarily, and was soundly defeated by the Libyan Defence Force. But, more importantly, NATO and the northern countries were defeated morally. Despite the fact that not one single news reporter at the Rixos Hotel reported the truth of what was happening daily in Libya, or even reported nothing, the Jamahiriya demonstrated morality, courage, dignity, and adherence to accepted international protocol by continuing to allow them to stay in the hotel.
Dr. Musa Ibrahim always (and it was astonishing to witness!!) treated every single person at his news conferences with dignity and respect. NOT ONCE did he snap at a reporter. NOT ONCE did he show any disrespect. NOT ONCE did he even so much as make a sarcastic remark during his press conferences. He kept his dignity, and continued to implore the mainstream media journalists to do their jobs honestly.
But, they were morally bankrupt. They had no sense of morality, because that is much of the nature of the countries they come from.
The winner of this war, hands down, are the Libyan people, the Libyan Jamahiriya, and Brother Leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, all of whom showed great dignity, as well as great military prowess, while NATO and the countries it represents have gone down in defeat, both militarily and morally.