Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 27, 2018

Why Gaddafi contributed 50 million euros to Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 10:30 pm

Nicolas Sarkozy and Moammar Gaddafi

For supporters of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, the news that he had made illegal donations to Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 elections to the tune of fifty million euros has yet to lead any to examine how Africa’s leading anti-imperialist figure could have partnered with a man who was commonly regarded as stealing Marine Le Pen’s thunder by running a campaign filled with racist and xenophobic themes. He told prospective voters in 2007 that “We have too many foreigners on our territory” and that “[new arrivals] are not welcome if they’re only coming to receive welfare benefits”.

Surely Gaddafi was aware that when Sarkozy was the Minister of the Interior he visited Benin in 2006, where students protested him as a racist. But Gaddafi didn’t particularly care what radical African students thought. He was far more interested in connecting with a powerful French politician who was seen as a friend of Washington and Tel Aviv during a 4-day trip to the USA in September, 2006. Sarkozy met with President Bush, and Senators McCain and Obama. Also meeting with members of the Israel lobby, he denounced Hezbollah as a “terrorist” organization. Sizing him up correctly, the Times wrote: “Mr. Sarkozy is calculating that his courtship of America, and his affinity with some policies of the United States, may win him votes on the French right.” Wasn’t Gaddafi reading the NY Times? Probably not but maybe some of his anti-imperialist cohorts could have tugged his lapels.

In a speech following his nomination in November, 2007, he continued with his nationalist rhetoric. As the Times put it, “He evoked the classic images of French history, including the Crusades, the Enlightenment, the cathedrals and Joan of Arc, but said little that would appeal to France’s millions of Muslims.” In a dig obviously targeting Muslims, he said that it was unacceptable to “want to live in France without respecting and loving France” and learning the French language. One of his main campaign issues was the need to tighten immigration laws. He bragged that when he was Minister of the Interior,  tens of thousands of illegal immigrants were expelled. He also reminded voters of his 2005 pledge to rid France’s ethnic Arab and Muslim suburbs of “scum” after the banlieues erupted.

In other words, he was France’s Donald Trump.

On March 28, 2018 an article appeared in the ardently pro-Gaddafi Black Agenda Report titled “Another Reason Why Imperialism Wanted Libya Overthrown”. It was an attempt by Abayomi Azikiwe, a Workers World member in Detroit, to make sense of the revelations about Gaddafi’s campaign contributions. Only a year earlier, another Black Agenda Report article had Sarkozy pegged in an article about the French elections that Macron would win:

Even though Sarkozy belongs to the so-called establishment right, his thinking on Africa (see, for instance, his infamous Dakar, Sénégal, address at the Cheikh Anta Diop University, 2007) is more gratuitously racist and dehumanizing than anything Le Pen or, indeed, Jean-Marie Le Pen, her father, founder of front national, both members of the “non-establishment right”, have said or written on this very subject.

Yes, that 2007 speech was a humdinger:

The coloniser came, he took, he helped himself, he exploited. He pillaged resources and wealth that did not belong to him. He stripped the colonised of his personality, of his liberty, of his land, of the fruit of his labour.

The coloniser took, but I want to say with respect, that he also gave. He built bridges, roads, hospitals, dispensaries and schools. He turned virgin soil fertile. He gave of his effort, his work, his know-how. I want to say it here, not all the colonialists were thieves or exploiters.

Ah, the white man’s burden.

This fucking Sarkozy had the nerve to make this speech in Senegal, a country that was colonized by France in 1659 and that was drained of its wealth for the better part of 300 years and for what? That France could build a railroad to transport the plantation crops to a ship that would carry them back to France?

None of this mattered to Gaddafi. His sole interest in seeing Sarkozy elected was to get his hands on weapons, planes and other manufactured goods that were being blockaded. This included 21 Airbus planes and a memorandum of co-operation that Libya would negotiate exclusively with France for all future military purchases.

In fact, despite his reputation as being the fearless anti-imperialist, there is every indication that Gaddafi was considered someone you could do business with:

NY Times, November 21, 2008
The Libyan-American Thaw Gathers Pace
By Graham Bowley

Relations are improving between the United States and Libya.

President Bush telephoned the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, on Monday, after Libya had paid about $1.5 billion to the State Department to clear up terrorism-related claims from bombings and hijackings during the 1980s.

And Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice this week met with Colonel Qaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, who was also in New York for private meetings.

Ms. Rice visited Colonel Qaddafi in Libya in September, the first time in more than half a century that a sitting American secretary of state had gone to Libya. It was a visit that marked, from the American perspective, the rehabilitation of a man whom Ronald Reagan once famously called the “mad dog of the Middle East.”

But it doesn’t end there. Late Thursday, the Senate confirmed a new United States Ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, who will be the first American ambassador to the country in 36 years, according to The Associated Press.

The nomination of Ambassador Cretz had been held up over questions about the compensation payment, but those questions were answered when Libya paid the money, which will be divided up among hundreds of victims of Libya’s actions. Libya has also renounced its stockpiles of chemical weapons and its secret nuclear weapons program.

“We’re very pleased,” Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, told The Associated Press on Friday, referring to the confirmation of the new ambassador. “We’re anxious to get him out there.”

As one of The New York Times’s Moscow correspondents, Andrew Kramer, reported, Colonel Qaddafi’s visits were seen as a sign that despite the conciliatory steps he has taken toward Washington, the onetime pariah was still maneuvering to pit Russia and the United States against one another in offering commercial and political favors.

After he courted the Kremlin, it remains to be seen what form his diplomacy will take if or when he turns up in Turtle Bay. But Colonel Qaddafi is not known for underplaying his advances: After all, the Libyan leader once professed his “love” for Ms. Rice, whom he called “my darling black African woman.’’

Speaking to the network Al Jazeera last year, he continued: “Yes, Leezza, Leezza, Leezza — I love her very much.’’

As the article should make clear, Gaddafi was not forced to do business with a scumbag racist like Sarkozy. He could have bought planes and weapons from Russia if his overarching purpose was to advance the interests of the anti-imperialist bloc.

Returning to the Black Agenda Article by the Workers World member, he only offers up the boilerplate analysis of such groups: “This crisis extends beyond the legal issues facing Sarkozy. Moreover, it is a problem of modern-day imperialism which is seeking new avenues of conquest for purposes of exploitation and profit-making.” Yes, we understand that but where’s the explanation of why Gaddafi helped to get France’s Donald Trump elected?

This has been a problem with the Gaddafist left from the beginning. It has failed to see that he was a typical North African strong man, having the same narrow class interests as every other dictator in the region, including Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. People like Abayomi Azikiwe are not very deep thinkers. They see the world as divided between the Evil West and the Good East and South. It is devoid of contradictions. My suggestions to such simple-minded people is stop calling themselves Marxists unless they are able to understand that the class struggle is primary, not geopolitical rivalries. Anybody who took the trouble to look closely at Libya and Syria prior to 2011 would have seen that these were not the countries they fantasized about. The epoch of the Tricontinental and Baathist radicalism was long gone. I invite you to read a New Yorker article on Libya published in 2006. It would make it crystal-clear how Sarkozy and the Libyan bourgeoisie saw things eye to eye that year. No wonder Gaddafi paid him off:

[Prime Minister Ghanem] Dr. Shukri, as he is called by those close to him and by those who pretend to be close to him–he has a Ph.D. in international relations from the Fletcher School, at Tufts–has a certain portly grandeur. With a neat mustache and a well-tailored suit, he exuded an effortless cosmopolitanism that seemed more conducive to facilitating Libya’s reentry into the world than to winning over the hard-line elements at home. When I arrived, he was sitting on a gilded sofa in a room furnished with Arabic reimaginings of Louis XVI furniture, before many trays of pastries and glasses of the inevitable mint tea. In the Libyan empire of obliquity, his clarity was refreshing, and his teasing irony seemed to acknowledge the absurdity of Libyan doubletalk.

I mentioned that many of his colleagues saw no need to hasten the pace of reform. This was clearly not his view. “Sometimes you have to be hard on those you love,” he said. “You wake your sleeping child so that he can get to school. Being a little harsh, not seeking too much popularity, is a better way.” He spoke of the need for pro-business measures that would reduce bureaucratic impediments and rampant corruption. “The corruption is tied to shortages, inefficiency, and unemployment,” the Prime Minister said. “Cutting red tape–there is resistance to it. There is some resistance in good faith and some in bad faith.”

Nor was he inclined to defer to the regime’s egalitarian rhetoric. “Those who can excel should get more–having a few rich people can build a whole country,” he said. Qaddafi’s “Green Book” decreed that people should be “partners, not wage workers,” but it is not easy to make everyone a partner, the Prime Minister observed. “People don’t want to find jobs. They want the government to find them jobs. It’s not viable.”

1 Comment »

  1. I say that a terrible crime was committed when Pinochet overthrew Allende and killed tens of thousands of people in the aftermath of that coup. But if Allende had arrested Pinochet and tens of thousands of his followers on the tenth of September 1973 and then killed them without trial I would have called that good effecient police work.
    For the sake of Argument assume that Ghaddafit and Assad are two birds of the same feather. They are clearly not same kind of bird as an Allende. A gifted archeological ornithologist such as myself would say that Gadhaffi and Assad are a cross between a Saddam Husseini and a General Jarzuleski. Then there is Erdogan who seems to be a paler version of this type of bird.
    Then there is the Algerian military that annulled the early 1990s elections that had produced a victory by Islamic Parties who the military claimed would support elections one time. The one time that the Islamic parties won. But the inflexibiltiy of the Algerian military might have created the inflexibilty of the Islamic parties in the middle east by showing that western countries would go to great lengths to prevent independent Islamic parties from ruling. Then there is the Irish Republican Army that according to the information that I have did not really start to make progress in its war of independence from the UK until it started executing suspected collaborators.
    Then there is the example of Ireland which 100 years after the war has a population that does not really live any differently than the people that they were killing from the UK. Then there is the example of Northern Ireland in which the losing Catholic side of that war still is not integrated in to the economy of the UK according to my DW influenced perceptions anyways.
    Then there is the example of the USA which fought to free itself from an overseas empire only to go on to create an even bigger overseas empire. Then I decided that was enough thens.
    I think that is enough to establish that opinions of historical leaders or events changes over time. Do these opinions become more or less accurate over time? Maybe that is not a legitimate question. Even if information is lost or comes to light over time if it is the people who change then the changing assements of the past are not more or less accurate only different.
    Now I am no doubt skipping a few steps here but I see a distinction between calling Assad a murderer who deserves to die a horrible death and calling someone who does not agree with that assessment as morally deficient because they do not agree with that assessment. It might be legitimate to say someone who does not agree with the assessment that Assad is a murderer who deserves to die a horrible death is morallly deficient but there would have to be other reasons for it. The reasons could include the reasons that such a person would use to defend Assad or Erdogan.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — June 10, 2018 @ 11:49 pm


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