Libya: Obama’s Pyrrhic Victory

In what could well be a premonitory moment, they evacuated the Pentagon when the Richmond earthquake hit. The Capitol was also cleared out, for fear its pylons would crash down upon the heads of our shaken solons. Perhaps it was His way of deflating the hubris of our Washington elite, as they giddily proclaim of the “victory in Libya” narrative that has taken hold in the Imperial City even before America’s housebroken “rebels” take power.

As the rebels march into Tripoli, and Gadhafi is nowhere to be found, the unelected National Transitional Council (NTC), which claims to be the only legitimate government, has already issued a draft “constitution,” one replete with references to all sorts of “rights” – free speech, assembly, democratic elections, etc. There’s just one little provision – stated right up front, in Part 1, Article 1 – that could throw a monkey-wrench into the new regime’s public relations campaign. It reads: “Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).”

As Lachlan Markay, over at the Heritage Foundation, notes:

“Under this constitution, in other words, Islam is law. That makes other phrases such as ‘there shall be no crime or penalty except by virtue of the law’ and ‘Judges shall be independent, subject to no other authority but law and conscience’ a bit more ominous.”

That isn’t the only thing that’s ominous about the rebel “victory.” You’ll recall that little matter of the murder of their commander-in-chief, Gen. Abdel Fatah Younes, who was pulled out of his tent, along with two aides, and shot – no, not by Gadhafi loyalists, but by the rebels, who claimed he was a “double agent” and a “traitor.” Oddly enough – or, perhaps, not so oddly – his “mysterious” death was prematurely announced by the rebel media outlet al-Bawaba a few days before it actually happened: Younes denied he was dead, but his fate was apparently sealed from that point. A few days later he was arrested and detained, and shortly after that he really was dead. While the NTC denies it had anything to do with it, and now even claim the judges who issued the arrest warrant had no authority to do so, what happened is clear enough: the real rebel leadership – not the NTC Potemkin village of civilian and Western-oriented “intellectuals” – ordered his execution, and their orders were carried out.

The question is now: who will be their next victims? The NTC established an “internal security” force long before reaching the gates of Tripoli: their thugs took care of Younes, and they’ll take care of whomever gets in the way of the NATO-crats’ Benghazi-based sock puppets. The Islamists with links to al-Qaeda – they are, in effect, al-Qaeda’s Libyan franchise – are concentrated in the NTC’s “military wing.” In any revolutionary situation, it’s the “military wing” that usually has the most clout.

Next on the outs: Libya’s monarchists, who want to restore one of two pretenders to the “throne,” The one with the most support, Crown Prince Sayyid Muhammad al-Rida bin Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi al-Senoussi, is active in Libyan exile circles and says he’s ready to serve. A rival claim is being pursued by Prince Idris bin Abdullah al-Senussi, who has the advantage of a shorter name – although maybe in Libya size matters in more areas than we might imagine.

Be that as it may, the monarchists are calling for a return to Libya’s 1951 Constitution, which differs from the current draft on a crucial point – religion. While both state “Islam is the religion of the state,” the NTC draft goes much further, institutionalizing Sharia law as “the principal source of legislation.”

No doubt the Libyans will go through the sham of “democratic” elections, although you can bet there’ll be no Green Party on the ballot. In reality, however, the outcome is being decided in advance. After all, why bother having elections to a legislative body if the laws have already been written?

The resemblance of all this to what happened in Iraq is eerie: the first public face of the Iraqi opposition was Ahmad Chalabi, the trickster-embezzler and “hero-in-error,” who funneled fake “intelligence” to the Bush White House and was paid to lie us into war. Chalabi never talked religion, but only about “democracy” and “liberty.” Chalabi’s group, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), was swept aside in the elections, in which the Islamist parties divided up the vast majority of votes. Chalabi made his peace with them and was appointed to high office: today Iraq is Iran’s best friend in the region, and is making sympathetic noises at poor beleaguered Bashar al-Assad of Syria, an Iranian ally, while Washington demands his ouster.

Can we expect a repeat in Libya, where – as in Iraq – a secular “socialist” authoritarian regime is overthrown, and the ostensibly secular elements of the opposition quickly go over to the Islamists? Such a question must surely have occurred to our all-wise policymakers in Washington: no doubt it was quickly brushed aside in order to facilitate the Obama administration’s harebrained scheme to hijack the “Arab Spring” and turn it into the engine of Western imperialism in the region.

This seems to have “succeeded” only in the most superficial sense: the Egyptians are already at loggerheads with the Israelis, and it isn’t over in Bahrain – although perhaps giving Cairo something to worry about on Egypt’s Western frontier is Washington’s way of reducing pressure on its most important regional ally. (It works out that way, regardless of Washington’s intention.)

As many have noted, we are facing yet another “Mission Accomplished!” moment, with a “victory” hailed, this time, by the more rabid Obama-ites. War fever blows particularly hot over at MSNBC, whose full-throated cheerleading is surely a major embarrassment for “progressives” who still cling to their anti-interventionist principles. Rachel Maddow declaring that war skeptics have been “proven wrong” by the apparent taking of Tripoli is like Jonah Goldberg hailing Iraqis “dancing for joy” at the “liberation” of their country by the US. You’ll have to dig way back in the archives to find that one, but isn’t it downright weird how a Maddow can turn into a Goldberg?

Get ready for the downing-of-the-statue moment US psy-war strategists no doubt have been planning for months. Surely there’s a suitably gargantuan statue of Gadhafi readily available, the toppling of which will provide a suitable level of drama for the cameras. The parallels with Iraq are coming fast and furious: soon we’ll have photos of Gadhafi in chains, or perhaps being dragged before the International Kangaroo Criminal Court in the Hague, for a dose of victor’s “justice.” Although I rather doubt they’ll risk keeping him alive long enough to stand trial: the old monster knows too much about his fellow monsters in the capitals of Europe and the Americas to spare him a fate similar to that visited upon at least one of his sons.

When Gadhafi took power in a 1969 military coup, the treatment he handed out to the Libyan royal family is quite different from what he and his family can expect at the hands of the NATO-crats and their rebel proxies. King Idris was in Turkey at the time, and was sentenced to death by the “People’s Revolutionary Court” in absentia, but the Crown Prince, who was left behind with the rest of the Libyan royals, was merely placed under house arrest. As one pro-royalist account reports:

In 1984 Qaddafi released the Royal Family from house arrest and tossed them onto the street. The family lived for a period in a cabin on a public beach. Crown Prince Sayyid Hassan, suffering from poor health, was allowed to travel with most of the family to London for medical treatment, where they settled. The Crown Prince died in 1992, and was succeeded by his son, Prince Sayyid Muhammad bin Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Senussi.”

One wonders if the Prince and his supporters will call for the same merciful treatment to be granted to Gadhafi’s family as was given to his.

Somehow, I doubt it.

With Western “private military contractors,” i.e. the US government’s international network of spooks and thugs-for-hire, crawling all over that country, Libya is already under military occupation by the West. Now we’ll have to see what kind of an “international” façade they can manage to put on it. Meanwhile, it’s only a matter of time before Maddow’s victory lap seems more than a bit premature.

How long before the goals of the NATO-crats and the Islamist radicals they’ve unleashed explode in violence? How long before the rebels take out another one of their own top officials? How long before we get the real bill – not the measly $1 billion being touted as the cost. Mind you, that’s just the initial bill, and doesn’t include the other costs buried deep in the “black budget” we aren’t allowed to even know about, let alone question. America owns Libya now, and you can be sure we’ll be paying top dollar for it. Empires cost money, and most of us ordinary folk will wind up getting the check, while others feast on the spoils.

Juan Cole derides the oil angle as a “conspiracy theory”: funny, he didn’t hesitate in blaming Greedy Capitalists for the plundering of Iraq’s oil, now did he? But of course the Libyan rebels are already threatening Chinese, Russian, and Brazilian oil concerns with expulsion from the country for not recognizing the new government in advance of their still-to-be-confirmed victory. Whom does Professor Cole expect will take their places?

This is “progressive” politics, Juan Cole-style: an international campaign to install crony capitalism by force. Cole once made the mistake of citing me as a source, and had to do penance by allowing some incredibly pretentious fellow professor to post a long screed on his blog explaining just why Justin Raimondo is a reactionary tool of the capitalist class and no one should ever listen to a thing he says. Look who’s the reactionary tool of the capitalist class now!

To see Professor Cole on Maddow’s war-fest – smirking as he exulted in the advance of the rebel army – was to see, super-imposed on the television screen, the ghostly figure of Bill Kristol smirking his way through an interview on Fox News, hailing the “great victory” of the “Iraqi people.”

This is really one of the most interesting aspects of this whole story, aside from the geopolitics: what motivates ideologues of one sort or another to take this or that position when it comes to war. For most of these groups, except the neocons and the pacifists, there is no principled reason for their stance either for or against. While the neocons are always for war all the time, and pacifists are opposed, most other groups are positioned according to their prejudices and the political opportunities of the moment.

Will a war “unite” the nation, and make people forget how miserable they are – even if only for a few moments? Will it keep the pressure on the Federal Reserve to keep printing that funny-money? That’s enough for war cheerleaders Maddow and Cole, and their dwindling fan club on the left. Besides, they’re having fun getting back at their Republican rivals by playing the “patriot” card to their advantage for once: Maddow’s obsession with gays in the military turns out to be have real practical application here. Let’s hear it for equal opportunity imperialism.

Let the pro-war “progressives” have their moment of faux-glory: let them celebrate their Pyrrhic “victory” to their heart’s content. If history is any indication, it’s going to be a very short-lived party.


I want to thank all those who sent letters of support in response to my column on the FBI’s absurd contention that is “a threat to National Security” and that webmaster Eric Garris and I are “agents of a foreign power.” There’s just one foreign power involved here, as we libertarians know, and it’s in Washington D.C., –where they’ve usurped the Constitution, taken over the government, and are using law enforcement agencies as their political police.

I have to say, however, that I am quite shaken by this pronouncement on the FBI’s part, so shaken that I have decided to abjure traveling by plane, or on any government-run train, after having been so accused. After all, can you imagine the following conversation:

“Hi, I’m a Threat to National Security and an agent of a foreign power – do you mind if I sit here?”

“Well, uh, gee – I don’t know …”

Under the circumstances, I am forced to cancel my Autumn Campus Tour, which I’ve had in the works for a while: just like last year, I planned to take our message to campuses and other venues all across the country. Until the FBI issues an official retraction, however, the risk of being hauled off an airplane and subjected to god knows what kind of treatment by the infamous TSA, is too great. Therefore, all speaking engagements which require me to travel any great distance are now cancelled. Please keep in touch, though: if we can force the FBI to issue a retraction, I’ll be back on the road again.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].