Libya: It’s Not About Oil, It’s About Currency and Loans
– World Bank’s Zoellick: Hopes Bank Will Have Role In Libya (Dow Jones):
April 26, 2011 – WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- World Bank President Robert Zoellick Thursday said he hopes the institution will have a role rebuilding Libya as it emerges from current unrest.
Zoellick at a panel discussion noted the bank’s early role in the reconstruction of France, Japan and other nations after World War II.
“Reconstruction now means (Ivory Coast), it means southern Sudan, it means Liberia, it means Sri Lanka, I hope it will mean Libya,” Zoellick said.
On Ivory Coast, Zoellick said he hoped that within “a couple weeks” the bank would move forward with “some hundred millions of dollars of emergency support.”
We listen to U.S. spokespeople try to explain why we’re suddenly now entangled in another Middle East war. Many of us find ourselves questioning the official justifications. We are aware that the true causes of our engagement are rarely discussed in the media or by our government.
While many of the rationalizations describe resources, especially oil, as the reasons why we should be in that country, there are also an increasing number of dissenting voices. For the most part, these revolve around Libya’s financial relationship with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and multinational corporations.
According to the IMF, Libya’s Central Bank is 100% state owned. The IMF estimates that the bank has nearly 144 tons of gold in its vaults. It is significant that in the months running up to the UN resolution that allowed the US and its allies to send troops into Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi was openly advocating the creation of a new currency that would rival the dollar and the euro. In fact, he called upon African and Muslim nations to join an alliance that would make this new currency, the gold dinar, their primary form of money and foreign exchange. They would sell oil and other resources to the US and the rest of the world only for gold dinars.
The US, the other G-8 countries, the World Bank, IMF, BIS, and multinational corporations do not look kindly on leaders who threaten their dominance over world currency markets or who appear to be moving away from the international banking system that favors the corporatocracy. Saddam Hussein had advocated policies similar to those expressed by Qaddafi shortly before the US sent troops into Iraq.
In my talks, I often find it necessary to remind audiences of a point that seems obvious to me but is misunderstood by so many: that the World Bank is not really a world bank at all; it is, rather a U. S. bank. Ditto, its closest sibling, the IMF. In fact, if one looks at the World Bank and IMF executive boards and the votes each member of the board has, one sees that the United States controls about 16 percent of the votes in the World Bank – (Compared with Japan at about 7%, the second largest member, China at 4.5%, Germany with 4.00%, and the United Kingdom and France with about 3.8% each), nearly 17% of the IMF votes (Compared with Japan and Germany at about 6% and UK and France at nearly 5%), and the US holds veto power over all major decisions. Furthermore, the United States President appoints the World Bank President.
So, we might ask ourselves: What happens when a “rogue” country threatens to bring the banking system that benefits the corporatocracy to its knees? What happens to an “empire” when it can no longer effectively be overtly imperialistic?
One definition of “Empire” (per my book The Secret History of the American Empire) states that an empire is a nation that dominates other nations by imposing its own currency on the lands under its control. The empire maintains a large standing military that is ready to protect the currency and the entire economic system that depends on it through extreme violence, if necessary. The ancient Romans did this. So did the Spanish and the British during their days of empire-building. Now, the US or, more to the point, the corporatocracy, is doing it and is determined to punish any individual who tries to stop them. Qaddafi is but the latest example.
Understanding the war against Quaddafi as a war in defense of empire is another step in the direction of helping us ask ourselves whether we want to continue along this path of empire-building. Or do we instead want to honor the democratic principles we are taught to believe are the foundations of our country?
History teaches that empires do not endure; they collapse or are overthrown. Wars ensue and another empire fills the vacuum. The past sends a compelling message. We must change. We cannot afford to watch history repeat itself.
Let us not allow this empire to collapse and be replaced by another. Instead, let us all vow to create a new consciousness. Let the grass-roots movements in the Middle East – fostered by the young who must live with the future and are fueled through social networks – inspire us to demand that our country, our financial institutions and the corporations that depend on us to buy their goods and services commit themselves to fashioning a world that is sustainable, just, peaceful, and prosperous for all.
We stand at the threshold. It is time for you and me to step across that threshold, to move out of the dark void of brutal exploitation and greed into the light of compassion and cooperation.
Do You believe Reuters Song “Libya has NO DEMOCRACY?”
ELOQUENT FACTS OF THE SOCIALIST LIBYA:
* GDP per capita – $ 14,192.
* Unemployment benefit – $ 730.
* Each family member subsidized by the state gets annually $ 1.000
* Salary for nurses – $ 1.000.
* For every newborn is paid $ 7.000.
* The bride and groom receive a $ 64 thousand to purchase flats.
* Major taxes and levies prohibited.
* To open a personal business a one-time financial assistance of $ 20.000
* Education and medicine are free.
* Educ.Internships abroad – at government expense.
* Stores for large families with symbolic prices for basic foodstuffs.
* Part of pharmacies – with free dispensing.
* Loans for buying a car and an apartment – no interest.
* Real estate services are prohibited.,
* Buying a car up to 50% paid by the State.
* No Payment for electricity for the population.
* Sales and use of alcohol is prohibited.
* Petrol is cheaper than water. 1 liter of gasoline – $ 0.14.
Libya: “The Price of Freedom” Highest Standard of Living in Africa
April 27, 2011
Translation from German by John Catalinotto
Original article: Libyen – Überlegungen zum drohenden „Preis der Freiheit“
Libya has the highest living standard in Africa. The “United Nations Development Program (UNDP) confirms that the country has excellent prospects for achieving United Nations development goals by 2015. NATO’s war will have already dashed those hopes. A collapse like the one in Iraq now threatens the country.
There has been little reaching the European public in the past few years about Libya, whose relationship with the West had normalized. European leaders met with their Libyan counterpart Muammar al-Gadhafi often and business flourished. In the course of preparation for war, the country was suddenly transformed into the most evil dictatorship. Even many war opponents accepted this characterization as their own and now want to overthrow the “tyrant.”
But if Libyan society can really be reduced to the “revolutionary leader” Gadhafi in Libya, is the situation really worse than in a hundred other countries and are there not many more factors that determine the living conditions of a country, besides Western-style “freedoms”?
For Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Palestine, the “degree of repression” in Libya is not “more pervasive and severe” than in other authoritarian countries. Even according to Amnesty International’s country reports of human rights conditions, that of Libya differs little from many other countries; regarding the Arab allies in the NATO war alliance, such as Saudi Arabia, it is even much worse.
The UN Human Rights Council has praised the country in its latest report on the “universal periodic review” of Libya, which was made late last year, even for its progress on human rights. Many countries — including Venezuela and Cuba, but also Australia and Canada — raised in their statements some aspects that still deserve special mention. (See also UN Praised Libya’s Human Rights Record, Mathaba, April 8, 2011)
For the Western media, this report, whose final debate has now been shifted abruptly from March to June, is a scandal (for them it’s the result of there being many “less civilized” members of the Human Rights Council, those from the world’s South). But what these countries did was to view living conditions from a different perspective, one that places a strong emphasis on the realization of social rights, i.e., the satisfaction of basic needs, including adequate income, food, housing, health care and education.
Also in this regard the situation in Libya is, from the point of view of corruption and high youth unemployment, thoroughly unsatisfactory. Compared with other countries, however, the Libyans are still in good shape and have a lot to lose from the NATO intervention. Although the media often refers to youth unemployment of 15 to 30 percent, it does not mention that in Libya, in contrast to other countries, all have their subsistence guaranteed.
The relatively high standard of living also explains why Gadhafi definitely still has support in the country — particularly, according to Libya expert Andreas Dittmann, among the older generations, who remember the old days.
“In Libya, there may be millions who dislike Gaddafi but like much of what he accomplished,” according to the famous Norwegian peace researcher Johan Galtung (The West’s War Against Gadhafi – Yet another long-lasting, tragic crime against humanity, IPS, Global Research , April 6, 2011)
Sanctions and low oil prices slowed development
When in 1969 the U.S. and the British-backed King Idris was overthrown, Libya was still a poor, undeveloped country weighed down by its colonial past despite ongoing oil exports that began in 1961. The gradual nationalization of oil production allowed for accelerated economic development and rapid improvements in living conditions.
With the sharp fall in oil prices 1985-2001, this development came to a standstill. The 1993 UN-imposed sanctions enormously aggravated Libya’s economic difficulties. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita declined from $6,600 in 1990 to $3,600 in 2002 (World Bank, World Development Indicators) and has grown only after the lifting of UN sanctions in September 2003. (The United States lifted its unilateral sanctions in stages from 2004 until June 2006.)
In 2008, the GDP per capita, expressed in purchasing power, according to UNDP Database, reached $16,200 U.S. (For comparison, the GDP of Egypt was in the same year $5,900, that of Algeria and Tunisia $8,000. Saudi Arabia had a GDP of about $24,000, Kuwait and Qatar of $72,000 and $51,500 dollars respectively.)
The economic sanctions blocked the modernization of Libya’s infrastructure and in especially brought all development plans, besides in the petroleum industry also in others, to a virtual standstill. (Jean-Pierre Sereni, The subtleties of Libyan crude, Le Monde diplomatique, April 8, 2011, free version at Counterpunch)
The economic decline accordingly slowed the development also in social sectors. In the measure of its “Human Development Index” (HDI), which investigates the root values of some basic indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and literacy development to evaluate the living standard of a country, Libya also slumped in the mid-1990s from 67th to 73rd place.
High standard of living achieved
After government revenue, supported by rising oil prices, richly flowed once more, living conditions have clearly improved. The country now ranks 53rd on the HDI index, better than all other African countries and also better than the richer and Western-backed Saudi Arabia. Using “Government subsidies in health, agriculture and food imports,” along with “a simultaneous increase in household income,” could “extreme poverty” be virtually eliminated, stated the UNDP in its monitor of the millennium development goals of the UN. (Millennium Development Goals: Goal 1 – Goal 8, UNDP Libya Office)
The life expectancy rose to 74.5 years and is now the highest in Africa. It is now almost one and a half years higher than in Saudi Arabia, which was the reverse of the situation in 1980 (UNDP Database) The infant mortality rate declined to 17 deaths per 1,000 births and is not nearly as high as in Algeria (41) and also lower than in Saudi Arabia (21). (WHO, Global Health Indicators 2010) Libya is also ahead in the care of pregnant women and the reduction of maternal mortality. Malaria was eradicated completely.
According to the UNDP, a lack of human resources in health care still presents a problem, but “the gradual reintegration of the country into the international economy after the lifting of sanctions” is leading “to better availability of health care. The government provides all citizens with free health care and achieved high coverage in the most basic health areas.”
The illiteracy rate dropped to 11.6 percent in Libya, and is well below that of Egypt (33.6 percent), Algeria (27.4 percent), Tunisia (22 percent) and Saudi Arabia (14.5 percent). (See Human Development Report 2010)
The UNDP-calculated Education Index, which in addition to literacy also includes the number of pupils in secondary schools and university students, is even higher than that of small super-rich emirates Kuwait and Qatar, which can hardly be compared with the Arab territorial states. (See UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 2009 and UNDP, Human Development Report 2009)
The UNDP certified that Libya has also made “a significant progress in gender equality,” particularly in the fields of education and health, while there is still much to do regarding representation in politics and the economy. With a relative low “index of gender inequality” the UNDP places the country in the Human Development Report 2010 concerning gender equality at rank 52 and thus also well ahead of Egypt (ranked 108), Algeria (70), Tunisia (56), Saudi Arabia (ranked 128) and Qatar (94). Even Argentina (ranked 60) seems worse in this regard.
In view of these achievements, the positive Human Rights assessment of developments in Libya should hardly be a surprise.
The example of Iraq
In 1980, Iraq also had a relatively high living standard, even higher than that of Libya. This collapsed massively under the murderous UN embargo [1990-2003]. Their “liberation” from Saddam Hussein then toppled Iraqi society completely into the abyss. The collapse is still going on.
Millions of Iraqis are starving, and the lack of food is still increasing. Half of the nearly 30 million people are now living in extreme poverty. Some 55 percent have no clean drinking water, 80 percent are not connected to the sewage system. Electricity is available only an hour here, an hour there; the once good health and education systems are flattened. Had the development of the conditions in the 1980s continued, the infant mortality rate would now well below 20 per 1000 births. In fact, according to a study by the aid agency Save the Children, by 2005 it had increased to 125. Iraq had been recognized by UNESCO in 1987 for its education system; illiteracy had been almost eliminated. Now, the illiteracy rate has already increased to over 25 percent in some areas it is already 40-50 percent among women. In general, Iraqi women have lost their once very good position in society. According to UNDP’s index, they fell to the level of Saudi Arabia. (See Iraq – The Forgotten Occupation)
There is no reason to assume that a “regime change” in Libya enforced by the NATO states would come out much better for the country (not to mention a long civil war and partition of the country altogether). Finally, the attacking forces and their agenda is almost identical and in many ways the leadership of the insurgency resembles the Iraqis that the U.S. set up in the government there — that is, radical Islamic organizations and pro-Western, neo-liberal advocates of a complete opening to imperialism, and privatization of the economy of the country.
Wikipedia is only partially useful regarding access to statistical data. As soon as it is playing a role in a current political debate, there is a danger of manipulation. After David Rothscum published on Feb. 23, 2011 his article, “The World Cheers As The CIA Libya Plunges Into Chaos” published in which he and others wrote that living in Libya, a lower percentage of people below the poverty line than in the Netherlands, the information in the Wikipedia article “List of countries by percentage of population living in poverty” to which Rothscum referred were changed. According to the Article-History on Feb. 15 a value of 7.4 percent could be found, since March 6 a reference is made in a footnote, without any listing of a source, that “around a third of the Libyans live at or below the national poverty line.”
Source: Global Research