Money as a weapon in West’s war on Libya

As the violence continues in Libya, the US has been sending warships and more troops in that direction, fueling speculation of a military intervention. Some believe, however, that the West has already launched its war against Gaddafi’s regime.

­According to specialist in US sanctions Michael Krinksy, the latest freezing of Muammar Gaddafi and his family's foreign assets has been the main weapon in this war so far. “Most countries consider the freezing of their assets an act of economic warfare,” he said.

Some estimate that Libyan foreign assets amount to as much as US$ 100 billion, believed to be spread across the globe in investment. The question now is what happens to this fortune, especially the US$ 30 billion which the US has frozen, essentially cutting Libya off from the entire US banking system.

Despite the situation in Libya remaining unresolved, one thing is now certain: the president of the United States is now in control of the money, and this gives him a powerful tool.

“Maybe we will make a deal about this money, or some of this money, but it means ‘you have to do the following’, and whatever the US at that point is trying to accomplish. Presumably that he [Muammar Gaddafi] leaves,” Krinksy said.

“It is all about control, and profit, and domination,” said co-director of International Action Center Sara Flounders. “This is the center of an empire, and it is an empire where the greatest profits come from the military contracts and the oil contracts, so they will work overtime to aid those corporations and their interests.”

To enact the latest sanctions, the US president declared the situation in Libya “an unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security and foreign policy.” This statement comes in a situation where there has not been clear aggressive action taken by Libya against the US. As for Libya’s financial interests, analysts say you could look at the history of countries such as Iran. Their assets were frozen in the wake of the 1979 hostage crisis.

“The money that was seized from Iran back in 1979 has still not been returned to the Iranians,” said filmmaker and blogger Danny Schechter. “It is basically time for a plunder play: if we can take it away from them, we will.”

“We took their nuclear capacity away, made promises, did not live up to them, claimed there was a great victory for peace and now we are in the situation where it is clear oil is at stake,” Schechter added. 

Money in such situations is used most often to pay for the settlements of lawsuits against a leader or a government, or to recoup losses. It gives grounds for speculation that Muammar Gaddafi could most likely kiss his fortune goodbye. And while the future of the massive sums of money reaped from Libyan oil remains uncertain, so does the fate of the divided country it came from.

­Picture of violence in Libya painted by press is obscure – journalist

­Independent journalist Keith Harmon Snow says global media reports from Libya lack a fundamental thing – evidence of an all-embracing conflict.

“Recent reports have been saying that government forces, meaning Gaddafi’s forces, have bombed a weapons depot on the edge of one of the cities. The weapons depot had already been taken over by the rebels, and it was a government weapons depot to begin with – the rebels took it over – but when Gaddafi bombed it, then of course he was the enemy and he was the dictator and the terrorist,” he says.

The journalist says despite the outcry about violence in Libya, there are very little pictures of Libyan violence in the media.

“If Canadian forces marched into Washington DC and took over the Pentagon, and we responded, nobody would call the American government a terrorist government for protecting our own interests. But that’s what we are seeing with Gaddafi and some of these so-called bombings. It’s very interesting that there’s very little in the press in terms of pictures of actual violence.”

Keith Harmon Snow also claims that the military intervention has already occurred in Libya.

“Another theme that I’ve read in the reporting today was this idea that people in Washington are conversing with governments in Europe about what to do about this ‘rogue state Libya’ and the need for humanitarian aid instead of military intervention. Well, the military intervention has already occurred. By that, I mean Special Forces have been on the ground in Libya before February 26th, laying the groundwork for what’s going on there now,” he says. “And they’re all over the place; there’s Navy Seals coming in from the Mediterranean and there’s Special Forces coming in from Niger on the other side where the US has Special Forces training that has been openly advertised in American military journals.”