The kind of ‘oppression’ I’d welcome

Published: November 4, 2011

The writer is a former journalist and currently director of The Green Economic Initiative at Shirkat Gah, a rights and advocacy group najma.sadeque@tribune.com.pk

In Qaddafi’s Libya, every citizen received a $1,000 yearly subsidy: it had already achieved what South Africa is still campaigning for — a basic monthly income for every citizen, working or not, coming from the profits of national resources as their fair share as equals.

In Qaddafi’s Libya, every unemployed adult received monthly aid of $730 each; all were entitled to one-time financial aid of $20,000 for starting up an enterprise; education, healthcare and electricity were free; newborns were welcomed with a gift of $7,000; newly-marrieds were gifted $64,000 to buy an apartment; oil, at about Rs10 per litre, was cheaper than water. Libya’s per-capita GDP was over $14,000 ! (All this is put in past tense because it is unlikely to prevail in post-Qaddafi Libya).

If this is ‘oppression’, I’d welcome it. So would the rest of our population — except the few who have appropriated our resources, money and power.

Under such near-ideal circumstances, why did some citizens turn against Qaddafi? Because of basic human nature: no one is perfect. There are always some who want more, by fair means or foul. That’s what makes it so easy to finance and mount ‘uprisings’ to justify foreign intervention and launch false flag wars.

But why the reputation of ‘mad-dog’ and a cruel and ruthless dictator? The old adage of giving a dog a bad name, then hanging it, applies here. It also underscores some non-western media shortcomings.

Most of our sources of world news and information come from the western corporate media, as powerful as the governments they buy, make or break. Too much is taken as unvarnished truth, which it isn’t. Only the internet has enabled independent thought and news to spread, but it has to be sought out, and only the interested computer-literate can access it.

This is not to say that dictators cannot be cruel and ruthless, absolute power does that to people — one just has to look at Bush and his Guantanamo cheerleaders and others around the world.

Our media people and analysts don’t get to personally visit and check ground realities in the non-western or Muslim world the way the western media does. The latter’s views are often coloured or suppressed to serve corporate policy and the status quo. Yet this can be largely overcome by modern communications; closer links with the media and independent institutions in non-western countries could make a tremendous difference in learning, correcting, interpreting and balancing information.

Of course, Qaddafi was not perfect, any more than Saddam or any of our own dictators, including civilian, were and are. Dictators tend to long overstay their welcome and often allow their children, relatives and friends unwarranted favours. Nepotism and corruption sets in; and once established at all levels, demolishing free speech and justice institutions, it’s hard to get rid of.

It was not only because Libya possessed the biggest oil reserves in Africa that America planned the same fate for it as Iraq (and is now fating for other countries). If one goes back a few decades and looks at America’s ‘strategic’ and ‘national interest’ planning, it was just a stage of a long-term hegemonic plan, partly already achieved.

Qaddafi was also pursuing the same dangerous goal as Saddam — dispensing with the gun-backed, worthless paper dollar which exacerbated the financial crash that America will not recover from soon. By the time the chips were down, Qaddafi had accumulated over 140 tons of gold to create a dollar-free zone to settle payments with other countries. He was too late.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th,  2011.

Reader Comments (14)

  • Cynical
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:27PM

    Couldn’t agree more, word for word.
    US and it’s allies have opened a can of worms in Libiya.
    Putting the lid back will be much more difficult tha getting rid of Qaddafi.

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  • John B
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:36PM

    The author should know that emancipation of world Economic system from precious metal to fiat currency is the greatest achievement of humans. In modern world, it is not how much gold a bankrupt country or new country has, but how much it can out put from the human capital. Fiat currency is only a method of keeping the accounts, honest accounts, and repaying them.

    Libya’s petroleum is purchased by Europe and not by US. If people of Libya were so happy, why would they rise against him, even before NATO intervention.

    There is a basic urge in humans, who are naturally born free. When that freedom is oppressed, money has no value. No empire in human history ever survived when that freedom is over looked.

    As much as the author would like to trash the western media of the all ills, the fact is different. Please go back to the archives and pick up the newspapers of Zia time to understand how miserably the PAK press failed in the duty.

    Libya should have been a prosperous country with her per capita income. Qadaffi failed Libya so people overthrew him with civil war with the help of Libyan army, and NATO support. There would have been procrastinated bloody civil war, europe going down the tube because of disruption in oil supply, and all the countries that export or import from Europe would have also gone down south.
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  • Sajid
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:02AM

    A samosa vender told me the same things. Either he is a genius, or you have wasted your time in academics.

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  • MarkH
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:31AM

    More of the typical Pakistani behavior towards other countries. As if you seem to know better than the rebels themselves in regard to how life was. NATO assisted, not started. One fact is, the traits of Qaddafi’s rule according to self absorbed bigots are obviously missing something. Nobody ends up with the fate he had without there being something seriously wrong.

    Just as long as it’s not you suffering, right?

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  • Salahuddin
    Nov 5, 2011 - 4:15AM

    Reality check- an excellent article.

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  • Aisha
    Nov 5, 2011 - 4:29AM

    It would quiet honorable if you check the facts before posting fabricating lies.

    In Gaddafis Libya, a family of ten lived on a less than 100 dinars a month
    In Gaddafis Libya, people were held hostage and tortured for merely being people.
    No medical care
    No education
    You dont even own the right to your own home.
    Just a glimpse of Gaddafis Libya , that you so cherish .

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  • Hmm
    Nov 5, 2011 - 5:12AM

    @ Sajid well then i guess it must be the case that before food people want “secularism” as the semi literate liberal crowd -of which you may be a member- of Pakistan on the internet seems to suggest. Hence the west supporting freedom and democracy. May God or Nietzsche bless Pakistan.

    @ the author.. Appreciate the clarity, in so far as the analysis is directed towards the real level of causality. Would also appreciate similar thought processes by other authors here on pk tribune to whom anything not buying into Western Discourse, or advocating freedom of thought from their own ideologies of enlightenment, which these false liberals love, is declared as being “anti freedom/secular, taliban, etc”. These same people think that Imran khan is a member of Lashkar -jhangvi and that Noam Chomsky works for Alquaida. Ciao.

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  • Kamal
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:33PM

    @ Aisha : I dunno where you get your facts from but how does a country boasting a Human Development Index better than Turkey, Russia, Brazil, India or Pakistan to name a few, would be devoid of all the things that you mentioned. Either the UN got their figures severely wrong or there is another side to this story.

    P.S I just hope that Libya doesn’t become another hell hole like Iraq – the last problem the so-called liberal, moral democracies of the world tried to solve.

    @ JohnB : I suppose this would be worth reading as to why representative money is better than fiat money : http://franktolstoieski.tumblr.com/post/774700113/the-current-crisis-decoupling-the-dollar-from-gold

    I’m sure the next logical step would have been to construct a currency backed by gold-reserves…

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  • Aljerrari
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:54PM

    With all the respect to the author of the article, non mentioned above is true whatsoever. I know you mean well but the facts by which you have based your arguments on are total fraud that Gaddafi propaganda machine has manufactured to deceive the public at large and you certainly were taken and mislead by it.
    It would have been more accurate article if you have visited Libya yourself, well it would have been another article because you will find out that most Libyans live below poverty line in a crumbling and nonfunctioning Infrastructure -Health, education and public service. In some areas You will see chanty towns and home made of muds and in all towns no sewage network exist including Benghazi, as a matter of fact you would have stayed in the main hotel were most of the foreigners and journalist stay. Hotel Tibesti which is located in front of a nice looking lake and does look beautiful in photos, the only thing is that you will have to keep your windows sealed off because most of the sewage is dumped in that lake. The examples are numerous , all of this while the brother leader and the king of kings i Africa is squandering the people money and wealth all over the world without looking after his people with the minimum of giving. Meanwhile his Sons are living it big palaces, private jets, yachts and parties with the like of 50 Cent ,Beyonce and Usher for one million dollars each.
    Add to this the jails and prisons and the continous killing for any one who dare to talk even in the mildest of terms. That’s why we fought not because of the inaccurate data that your article was based on. Also for the oil issue, already the west does get most of the oil in Libya before the war as a matter of fact just about every big oil company does business in Libya, they don’t need to go to war to get the oil they already got it.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:20PM

    What about the billions held abroad? Why wasn’t that money used for the welfare of the people?

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  • numbersnumbers
    Nov 6, 2011 - 9:28AM

    Why if so many of his people “loved” him did Gaddafii have to fly in Mercenaries to fight for him and kill his own people?

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  • Salahuddin
    Nov 7, 2011 - 8:58AM

    Lets see what great service is done to the Libyan nation by these NATO and US backed rebels, who will be running the show now. Thank you so much “Corporate world” for supporting a revolution for poor Libyans. US already did a good job in Iraq and today Iraqis are the happiest, wealthiest and most democratic nation of Arab world. I hope Libyans will be comparable to “happy” Iraqis sooner than later.

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  • Sajid
    Nov 8, 2011 - 2:08PM

    @Hmm:
    I don’t know how you can call me a “semi-literate” when you don’t even know my last name? Come on, with such exhibition of folly, do you think your opinion matters even a bit? No.

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  • Sanjay Singh
    Nov 9, 2011 - 5:48AM

    Blaming Western World or the “West” blindly is political correctness. Western foreign policy, financial system and media is effectively in the hands of ethnic-Jewish lobby.

    The Jewish lobby pursues ethnic-Jewish interests at the expense of Non-Jewish Americans.

    More than 8500 Americans have died in these wars. Annually 6000 American veteran soldiers are committing suicide. 550,000 have been wounded/disabled.

    The international media has so deeply indoctrinated American and European masses that their governments effortlessly shove them in wars which are of little benefit to them.

    Americans are now 4-Trillion $ in debt due to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya quagmires.

    Please visit costsofwar.org to see the gruesome costs of these wars to Americans.

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