Grand Theft Auto has long allowed the player have sex with prostitutes, but now all the
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In the game clip above, the player gets an enthusiastic blow job and then punches the prostitute in the face, knocking her out cold. Not quite Pac Man, eh? The comments on YouTube, at least on the first page or so, include these examples:
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By F. WILLIAM ENGDAHL
In a famous speech to the US Congress in March 1991, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US Gulf War victory over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a triumphant US President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the dawn of a “New World Order.”1 The term, with its ominous freemasonic connotations, raised many an eyebrow and Bush never again publicly used the term. However, what he meant became starkly clear to the world in the two decades following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Now that very US globalisation strategy is in a shambles and the outlines of possible alternative orders are slowly emerging.
The US financial crisis that exploded on the world with a vengeance in March 2007 was the beginning of the end of the Old New World Order as Bush had envisioned in 1991, even though US elites were in denial of that reality. The sole superpower after the end of the Cold War had embarked on a quest of global empire disguised under the rubric of “globalisation.” The Clinton presidency from 1992-2000 marked an era of financial deregulation unprecedented since the 1930s. Big banks were set free from virtually all restraints and became “Too Big to Fail” as a result. The Wall Street Gods of Money knew they could literally “get away with murder” after their follies in the 1997-98 Asia financial crisis, the 1998 Russian sovereign debt default and the subsequent bank bailouts by the IMF and various governments.
When Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan made it clear to Wall Street in 2002 after the collapse of the dot.com stock bubble that the Fed would provide bank liquidity in unprecedented volumes and encourage what Greenspan termed a “revolution in finance,” the Big Wall Street banks responded like piranha devouring a bleeding body.
They created an entirely new concept called Asset-Backed Securitisation in what soon became trillions of dollars of dodgy new financial assets called MBOs (Mortgage-Backed Securities). The only real collateral behind the new MBS bonds sold by Wall Street was a financial house of cards built by the Big Three credit rating agencies – Moodys, Standard & Poors and Fitch – together with a small group of specialised Wall Street asset insurers who ultimately became insolvent.
The ensuing financial crisis is well-known. The decision of former Wall Street mogul Henry Paulsen to deliberately let a major Wall Street investment bank, Lehman Brothers, go bankrupt triggered a global systemic panic that almost brought the world down with it. Since that day in September 2008, the Fed and the European Central Bank have been adding liquidity to financial markets via the big banks to keep the banks solvent, at taxpayer expense.
The consequence of the Wall Street banks’ crisis and the Washington pro-Wall Street response, has been the greatest rate of US federal debt growth in history. Since the US sub-prime real estate crisis emerged in 2007, US federal debt has increased by US$7.2 trillion or almost 80% in just five years. Since Bush’s New World Order speech and the end of the Cold War, US federal debt has risen by an incredible US$13 trillion to an alarming Third World debt-to-GDP level of 104% today. Government debt is growing at a rate of well over $1 trillion annually, and the recent fiscal “chicken game” with federal debt default in October 2013 and Congress’ unwillingness to grant a rise in the debt ceiling, have shattered confidence of governments and private investors around the world. As debt burdens force Washington to cut its budget, the footprint of Washington in global politics is also dramatically lessening. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum and others are moving to fill the US global political vacuum.
Paradoxically, the post-1991 US pursuit of a de facto global empire, ‘The American Century’, as Time-Life publisher Henry Luce named it in a famous 1941 editorial in Life magazine,2 has created precisely what it intended to eliminate. It has spawned the seeds of a multi-polar world, united in opposition to a new tyranny posing as “American democracy.” Nowhere is this better seen than in the alignment of both sides over Syria since March 2011 when Washington and NATO launched a full-scale regime change effort to topple Bashar al-Assad.
Obama chose to act in the “Arab Spring” through proxies, mindful of avoiding a new Iraq or Afghanistan debacle. That meant relying on the Islamist regime of NATO member Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party. It meant relying on Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, whose ambitions to dominate the natural gas market to the EU pitted him against Syria. It meant relying on Saudi Arabia, home to the ultra-feudal fundamentalist Wahhabite Islamic Royal House. All were Sunni Muslim and, until very recently, it seemed that all backed the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood that took power in Egypt in the so-called Arab Spring.
Here a new fault-line in global geopolitics began to emerge, a fascinating one. Defending the minority Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad, a bitter foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, were Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China, both UN Security Council veto members who blocked any US attempt to get a Security Council sanction for military intervention into Syria.
Russia’s stake is enormous. Her only Mediterranean naval base, Tarsus, is in Syria, an old Cold War ally. Russia’s entire natural gas geopolitics depends on blocking the Qatar gas domination. Qatar and Iran “share” the same giant gas field in the Persian Gulf. In March 2011, the month the Qataris, Turkey and others launched a full assault inside Syria, Assad had just signed an agreement with Shi’ite Iran and Shi’ite-dominated Iraq to build a gas pipeline from Iran’s Persian Gulf gas field ultimately to the Mediterranean, a direct rival to Qatar. Russia had interest in backing the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline.
At that point Qatar, Saudi Arabia and to a degree Erdoğan’s Turkey, launched a dirty war to topple the pro-Iran Assad regime. They financed various fanatical Islamic Jihadists who began invading the country from Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Germany, to die in the name of Holy War. They were for the most part paid mercenaries and ruthless in spreading terror and atrocities, blaming it on Assad’s army.
As the coalition of Russia, Iran and, to a limited degree a more cautious China, dug their heels in, Saudi Intelligence head Prince Bandar, an intimate of the Bush family, was put in charge of toppling the pro-Iran Assad regime. In August 2013 an increasingly desperate Bandar, according to Jordanian journalists inside Syria at the time, provided chemical weapons to the Saudi-financed terrorists in Ghouta, Syria to create a false flag pretext. It was designed to force Obama into a “red line” military intervention in Syria to break the deadlock.3
As we now know, the world was within a hair’s breadth of a potential World War by early September 2013, pitting Iran, Russia, China, Iraq and Syria against a US-led coalition. The rabid pro-war neo-cons in Washington, urged on by the anti-Iran Netanyahu regime in Tel Aviv, backed a bungling Obama into a dangerous corner where America’s very credibility as a Superpower appeared on the line. The last thing Obama wanted was another hapless US war in the Middle East.
At the last moment, as Deus-ex-machina, Russia’s Putin, who only days earlier had been diplomatically shunned by Obama ostensibly over the Snowden NSA affair, came forward with an OpEd in the New York Times. Putin offered to broker a diplomatic solution by removing Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov openly called US Secretary of State John Kerry a liar on Syria.
Surprising many, Obama grabbed the offer as a life preserver. War was off the agenda. Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Netanyahu were furious, with the Saudis threatening a new direction away from US satrapy to an as-yet-undefined new alliance.
The Putin initiative, backed by Iran and accepted by Assad, opened the way for Obama to move to the fore open negotiations after 34 years with the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Those talks, to further Israeli and Saudi anger, resulted in a breakthrough on 24 November 2013 in Geneva: The USA pushed through a Six-Power agreement with Iran to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, leading to lifting of economic sanctions.
France and Britain were arm-twisted into joining the US, China, Russia and Germany in the historic deal that, ironically, boosts the emerging pole of Eurasian power in what I have often referred to as a new “Iran Triangle” of mutual interests between Russia, China and Iran.
As Washington tries under Obama to reign in US military engagements in the Middle East and to an extent Afghanistan, a new power locus around the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan is emerging. Created in 2001 it is defining a new Eurasian economic space. Rail links are being built or expanded creating links from Beijing to Turkey, to Germany and beyond, enabling overland freight transport, creating new growth zones.
Barring World War, which is not to be ruled out, this Eurasian nexus will define the centre-of-gravity of the world economic growth for perhaps the next century or more. The new markets will become a magnet attracting EU economies led by the export-hungry Germany.
The political class of the EU in this context is in an existential dilemma of the first order. Its institutions are a relic of the Cold War and US domination. With the US economic power in shambles and its political leadership in question, the EU faces a Scylla and Charybdis challenge. If it hangs on to the post-1945 Atlantic Bridge, she risks economic disaster as the Eurozone depression deepens and Eurasian chances pass them by. If she “goes east” not West, she opens huge new potential markets in the world’s most populous region, Eurasia, but risks alienating the American Superpower.
The next several years in my view will witness epochal change as the world order begun with England’s Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s and spreading to North America gives way to new alignments in Eurasia and to an extent in the South led by Brazil in South America.
This new reality in a degree is reflected in the regular dialogue between the so-called BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – since 2010. Notable is their mutual efforts to shape their economic destinies independent of the former colonial masters in Europe or of the USA. Ultimately the emergence of independent regional groupings of nations bent on peaceful economic growth and cooperation offers the chance for a more peaceful and prosperous world. Naturally, not everyone is overjoyed at this prospect, least of all the trillion-dollar NATO arms industry which faces economic collapse if genuine peace were to “break out.”
Over the twenty years since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was privileged to have been invited to Russia, China, Iran and many parts of the former Warsaw Pact, as well as Turkey, Indonesia, Sudan. I met many responsible academics, military and political elites of those countries. It has become clear to me that the last thing Russia or China or Iran want at this point is a new world war.
We have a golden chance to move mankind a significant step closer to a world not ruled by the dogma “might makes right,” but by peace and attempts at mutual cooperation. It would be a refreshing change if we did not squander it as the world did in 1991 when Washington decided not to end the Cold War but try to control the entire world as a sole Superpower, what I call in my book, Full Spectrum Dominance – Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. We have a genuine chance today to build a “New New World Order” based on social justice and peaceful development of our planet.
F. William Engdahl has contributed an article on the recent major Middle East geopolitical developments to New Dawn Special Issue Vol 7 No 6.
If you appreciated this article, please consider a digital subscription to New Dawn.
1. George H. W. Bush, ‘Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the End of the Gulf War’ (March 6, 1991), accessed in http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3430.
2. Henry R. Luce, ‘The American Century’, LIFE magazine, 17 February 1941, accessed in www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6139.htm.
3. Phil Greaves, ‘The Syria Chemical Weapons Attack and the Role of Saudi Intelligence. The Mint News Report. New MintPress Statement Reveals Saudi Pressure on Reporter’, GlobalResearch, November 23, 2013, accessed in www.globalresearch.ca/the-syria-chemical-weapons-attack-and-the-role-of-saudi-intelligence-the-mint-news-report/52359154.
F. WILLIAM ENGDAHL is an award-winning geopolitical analyst, strategic risk consultant, author, professor and lecturer. He has been researching and writing about the world political scene for more than thirty years. His various books on geopolitics – the interaction between international power politics, economics and geography – have been translated into 14 foreign languages from Chinese to French, from German to Japanese. F. William Engdahl contributes regularly to a number of international publications on economics and political affairs including Asia Times, RT.com, RT TV, GlobalResearch.com, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Foresight magazine. He has been interviewed on numerous international TV and radio programs including USA Coast-to-Coast with George Noory, Al Jazeera, Channel 1 Russian TV. Websites: www.williamengdahl.com & www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.
The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 142 (January-February 2014)
© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.
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By RICHARD SMOLEY
Winston Churchill famously characterised Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” It’s apt, then, that the father of the Russian space program – perhaps of all space programs – was an ascetic librarian who taught that humanity should work for the physical resurrection of all the dead. Nikolai Fyodorov (whose name is also transliterated as Fedorov; 1829–1903) was the first man to seriously theorise about interplanetary travel. He also coined the term “spaceship Earth” to convey a sense of humanity’s interconnection with the cosmos.
Fyodorov, little-known in his lifetime, served as mentor and inspiration for an entire philosophical school known as the Russian Cosmists. These visionaries, often neglected, sometimes persecuted by the Soviet state, conceived of such advanced ideas as rocket travel, a prolonged human lifespan, and the use of electromagnetic energy to enhance vitality. And in many cases they produced the models and formulas that would make these far-fetched ideas a concrete reality.
The ideas of the Cosmists, always visionary, sometimes fantastic, seem closer to reality now than they did a hundred years ago, and the school of the Cosmists continues to this day in Russia, with conferences and papers dedicated to the propagation of these ideas and activities. It is time that their work became better-known.
The foremost authority on the Cosmists in the English-speaking world is George M. Young, author of The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and His Followers (published by Oxford University Press in 2012). Young grew up in Madison, Indiana, in the US and received a B.A. in English from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures from Yale University. He has taught Russian and general humanities at Grinnell College, Dartmouth College, and the University of New England, and for many years between academic positions directed a fine arts and auction business specialising in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American and European paintings. He is currently a research fellow at the University of New England’s Center for Global Humanities.
Young is the author of Nikolai F. Fedorov: An Introduction, published in 1979, and has published many essays and reviews on Russian literature and thought in academic and general magazines, journals, and edited collections. Other books include Hermotimus’ Voyages, a collection of poems, and Force through Delicacy: The Life and Art of Charles H. Woodbury, N.A. George and his wife, Patricia, live in rural southern Maine and are the parents of two grown children.
Richard Smoley (RS): The Russian Cosmists aren’t familiar to most English-speaking readers. Maybe you could begin by telling us a bit about who they were and why they’re important.
George M. Young (GY): In a recent issue of Quest magazine, Richard, you observed that over the centuries at crucial moments in history, small groups of people have emerged who were working from a higher plane of consciousness. Among these groups you mention the Pythagoreans, the Chartres school of cathedral builders, the late medieval Brethren of the Common Life, the Rosicrucians, and H.P. Blavatsky’s circle of Theosophists.
I think the Russian Cosmists, working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, may be another such group. They did not consider themselves a group, or even a school of thought, but individually addressed similar profound, cosmic problems, treating subjects usually considered esoteric or occult as matters suitable for serious scientific and philosophical investigation. The major Cosmists include the religious thinkers Nikolai Fyodorov, Vladimir Solovyov, Nikolai Berdyaev, Sergei Bulgakov, and Pavel Florensky; the philosophical scientists Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Vladimir Vernadsky, Alexander Chizhevsky, Valerian Muravyov, and Vladimir Kuprevich, each of whom was a broad, polymath genius, in no way able to be pigeonholed as simply “religious” or “scientific.”
Florensky, for example, wrote seminal papers in mathematics, developed crucial processes for the electrification of Russian industry, taught in revolutionary schools for workers while wearing his priest’s cassock, and wrote The Pillar and Ground of Truth, one of the great classics of Russian Orthodox contemplative spirituality.
Others were similarly multitalented. They addressed topics such as the infinite extension of the human life span, the overcoming of death, the physical resurrection of the dead, the reconstitution of the human organism, the recreation of whole human individuals from particles of identity, the exploration and colonisation of cosmic space, the reversal of time, and the practical realisation of universal human brother-sisterhood.
The Cosmists show us today how it is possible to overcome dichotomies and bridge gaps. Theory and practice, science and religion, esoteric and exoteric, ideal and real – the Cosmists found ways to unify apparent opposites. Another quality of theirs that we might take note of is the confidence with which they addressed the most enormous, apparently insoluble questions. Can we, should we attempt to overcome death? Can we, should we attempt to remake humanity? Explore and colonise space? Yes, the Cosmists said, with a conviction not much in evidence elsewhere today, we can and should, and here is how to start!
RS: Could you talk a little bit about Nikolai Fyodorov and his work? If I understand it correctly, he coined the term “spaceship Earth” back in the nineteenth century.
GY: Nikolai Fyodorov was the prime exemplar and source of Russian Cosmism. Born in southern Russia, the illegitimate son of a Russian prince and an unknown local woman, Fyodorov led an ascetic, eccentric life, first as a rural elementary school teacher, and then as a Moscow librarian of legendary erudition. That he was also a highly original thinker was known to only a few contemporaries, but this handful included Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Russia’s leading philosopher, Vladimir Solovyov.
Fyodorov’s central idea was that everything we now do leads toward division, destruction, and death. Our “common task” as humans is join together in a grand “project” to use all our god-given intelligence to counter nature’s force of division and death, leading eventually to universal immortality and the resurrection of all the dead. Individual parts of the “common task” included travel beyond earth to collect the dispersed particles of our ancestors (“dust of the fathers”) in order to restore them to wholeness and life, the reconstitution of the human organism to allow us to survive in space under conditions now unable to support human life, and human control over gravity, allowing us to liberate our planet from its natural orbit and guide it through space on courses of our own choosing. More than a century before Buckminster Fuller, Fyodorov argued that we should no longer ride as idle passengers but must become “captain and crew of spaceship Earth.”
Fyodorov did not know exactly how the spiritual-scientific workers of the future would solve the technical problems of biological engineering and interplanetary voyage, but he knew what the goals should be and he believed that if humanity undertook the “common task,” future expertise would be able to find solutions.
For Fyodorov, as early as the 1860s, space colonisation was not an optional fantasy, but a necessary human step toward fulfilment of a divine plan. Dust of our ancestors is dispersed throughout the universe. The human task is to gather and revive this dust, to find homes beyond Earth for the resurrected multitudes that otherwise would overcrowd our planet, to populate the uninhabited and currently uninhabitable places in the universe, to spiritualise all the currently dead matter in the cosmos. In a sense, Fyodorov was the ultimate alchemist, attempting to turn all human knowledge and labour, all science, religion, and art, into a single task of transmuting currently dead or dying matter into eternal, universal life. His posthumously published writings seemed ridiculous to most of his early readers – perhaps less so today.
RS: I gather that Konstantin Edouardovich Tsiolkovsky, a pupil of Fyodorov’s, laid some of the groundwork for what became the Russian space program. Could you tell us a little bit about him and what he accomplished?
GY: Even before Fyodorov’s writings were published, a handful of listeners and readers recognised in him a mind far ahead of his time. Tolstoy wrote that he was proud to have lived in the same century as Fyodorov. And Solovyov wrote that since the appearance of Christianity Fyodorov’s “project” was the first forward movement of the human spirit along the path of Christ.
But the follower who did most to realise a portion of Fyodorov’s “project” was Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935), a mostly deaf but precocious seventeen-year-old boy from a small village who moved to Moscow to educate himself and came under Fyodorov’s tutelage at the library. As Tsiolkovsky would later write, Fyodorov guided his readings, taught him to take notes, and served as his one-man university. After a few years studying with Fyodorov, Tsiolkovsky returned to his village to teach. After school hours he built wooden model rockets and spaceships, and developed and published the mathematical formulas that eventually led to the launching of the world’s first artificial satellites. In addition to his seminal scientific papers, for which he received recognition as the grandfather of the Russian space program, Tsiolkovsky published science fiction tales about space exploration that inspired generations of young Russian readers to dream of becoming cosmonauts. And though he could not publish them through official Soviet outlets, he wrote and sometimes printed and circulated numerous esoteric and theosophical speculations concerning higher sentient beings and energies alive throughout the cosmos.
RS: What does it mean to be a “Cosmist” in this context?
GY: I think one of the main features of Cosmist thought is what Fyodorov called the shift from a Ptolemaic to a Copernican comprehension of the universe. Intellectually, we have long realised that our planet is not the centre of the universe, but emotionally, culturally, aesthetically, and in almost every other way, we cling to a Ptolemaic cosmology. The Cosmists urge us not only to think but to feel and in every way realise that we are citizens of the entire universe. Not only the planet, but the cosmos is our home, and our lives are meant to span not merely seventy-odd years, but forever. The Cosmists propose that we are not the end product, but are still in the early stages of evolution. We are still children, or at best, adolescents, with all the characteristics and problems of that age, and have a long way to go to attain maturity. The insecurities, appetites, and needs – sexual, gustatory, etc. – that now drive and dominate our lives will eventually subside. We will be greatly changed from what we now are. As Fyodorov wrote, we need to realise – to make real in every way – that we are already “heaven dwellers.”
RS: How did the Cosmists conceive of interplanetary travel?
GY: Tsiolkovsky developed formulas and designed rockets for human beings as we are today. But he, Fyodorov, and others also imagined possible interplanetary, even intergalactic travel for more advanced levels of humanity. A step in that direction would be the cessation of what Fyodorov called “cannibalism” (i.e., that we stop eating organic matter, all of which he believed is made up of particles of our ancestors), and the attainment of an autotrophic way of life, in which, like certain plants and other organisms, we would feed on air, sunlight, and other elements. In Cosmist thought, we must direct our own evolution. Instead of taller, heavier bodies, we should choose to develop smaller, lighter bodies, and eventually perhaps eliminate all our mass and become bodiless minds, free from gravity, god-men able to be anywhere and everywhere in the cosmos. At that stage, interplanetary travel would be automatic and instantaneous: decide to go to Jupiter and you’re there.
RS: It seems that the Cosmists were among the first thinkers to conceive of human possibilities beyond the limits of the physical earth. What do you think were some of their most important contributions in this regard?
GY: Fyodorov and the other Cosmists tried to make literal sense of ideas such as “resurrection of the dead,” “heaven on earth,” “eternal life,” “oneness with God,” “manna from heaven,” etc. They believed that we should not merely dream and pray for “heavenly peace,” but could and should take the actualisation of such concepts as our human duty and task. So the first step for them was a shift in consciousness, changing speculations about things “not of this world,” into tasks to be realised in this world, turning metaphysics into engineering projects. Writers like Jules Verne, Prince Vladimir Odoyevsky, and others had written entertaining speculative fiction about a future with space travel, but the Cosmists said: “Let’s not just talk about these things, let’s do them.”
As far as results are concerned, Tsiolkovsky published the formulas enabling man-made objects to escape Earth’s gravity. Solovyov developed a philosophy of active love pointing humanity toward a higher, spiritually mature, androgynous level of existence. Bulgakov countered Marx’s earthly, materialist philosophy of economics with a Cosmist, spiritual “Philosophy of Economy” that casts man as responsible owner and regulator of the universe. Vernadsky developed the idea of the noösphere, a sheath of mental energy as real and influential as the stratosphere, ionosphere, and other spheres of energy surrounding our planet. Muravyov proposed new socioeconomic structures that would facilitate mass human control over time. Chizhevsky invented devices that focused electromagnetic energy to invigorate workers and increase animal productivity, and further discovered correlations between periodic solar storms and cycles of mass human activity. And Kuprevich laid the foundation for remarkable Russian advances in gerontology and human longevity research that is now being conducted. I think, then, that one of the major contributions the Russian Cosmists have made is to take seriously the idea that humans are made for infinite space and infinite time.
RS: Tsiolkovsky held not only that life is distributed throughout the universe, but that the most advanced forms of life are not to be found on Earth. How did he conceive of, and portray, these forms of life?
GY: Tsiolkovsky was a panpsychist, recognising life and sensitivity throughout the universe. He believed that a spiritual atom (atom dukh) inhered in every particle of the material universe. Tsiolkovsky’s cosmos, moreover, is teleological, rationally organised, and hierarchical. Lower life forms, consisting mainly of matter in which spirit is dormant, evolve into higher ones, in which spirit is awakened and more dominant, and eventually as we approach perfection we will outgrow our material envelopes and join the rays of cosmic energy that constitute something like the pleroma of the Gnostics.
For Tsiolkovsky, integral life is distributed throughout the universe, and the most advanced, most highly developed life forms are not to be found on earth. In cosmic evolution, higher life forms move on, leaving lower forms behind, and the higher life forms guide and shape the evolutionary paths of the lower forms. So in Tsiolkovsky’s view, we are being guided and shaped by higher life forms from somewhere beyond our planet. The past is endless, and many universes have come and gone before the present one, and the processes and forces that guide and shape our paths are real and intuited, but beyond our present rational understanding.
RS: There has been an enormous amount of interest in extraterrestrials and UFOs over the past two generations. Do the Cosmists have anything to contribute to this conversation?
GY: Most Cosmist speculation focuses on our human role in and toward the cosmos, but some attention has also been given to how cosmic beings or forces interact with us. Tsiolkovsky, as noted above, thought that higher life forms beyond Earth guide and shape our evolution. And his younger colleague Alexander Chizhevsky (1897–1964), who lived and worked in the same town as Tsiolkovsky, devoted most of his scientific research (he was also an artist and a poet) to the influence of solar and other cosmic waves and particles of energy on earthly life. He won recognition and honours for his “Chizhevsky Chandelier” – an electromagnetic device that produced negatively charged aero-ions for curative and therapeutic uses and to stimulate more productive animal and human output in henhouses. But his best-known work today is his discovery of correlations between solar and human cycles of activity. In a series of charts and graphs covering two millennia of human history, he demonstrated – though not entirely convincingly – that wars, revolutions, and other examples of mass upheaval coincided almost perfectly with the eleven-year cycle of solar eruptions, and that during the middle, less active years of the solar cycle, peace, prosperity, and creative mass movements flourished.
Chizhevsky’s argument might make sense in a general way: human life and history may well be influenced more than we now recognise by unseen, unmeasured forces from the sun and from other sources beyond our planet. But Chizhevsky’s charted and graphed correlations seem too neat for the little we actually know about “universal” mass activity in remote places and eras. A more nuanced presentation of the same overall data might be more convincing.
As for UFOs, Cosmist thinkers have little to contribute, perhaps assuming that entities wishing to interact with us and our planet would probably have passed beyond physical planes of existence, and if they did appear to us as visible entities, it would only be as illusions – adaptations dumbed down for our convenience.
RS: Could you say something about Vladimir Vernadsky (1863–1945) and his ideas of the noösphere?
GY: Of all the Cosmists, Vernadsky had the most conventionally productive life. Others were exiled, imprisoned, even executed for their Cosmist ideas, considered heretical at the time. Vernadsky, thanks in part to his international reputation and to his apolitical devotion to pure science, but perhaps mainly because of the economic and military value of his work in atomic energy, was permitted to conduct and publish his research through even the worst periods of Stalinist repression.
He is best known today for his formulation of the “biosphere” as the planet’s sheath of “living matter,” and the emergence of the “noösphere” (from nous, the Greek word for “mind”) as the biosphere’s sheath of “thinking matter.” Though better known in the West through the writings of his French colleagues Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Edouard Le Roy, who probably developed their ideas while attending seminars taught by Vernadsky at the Sorbonne, the idea of the noösphere is most extensively developed by Vernadsky in Russian. Like Chizhevsky, Vernadsky emphasised the importance of cosmic forces on the shaping and development of our planet. The biosphere serves as a transformer converting cosmic radiation into active energy in electrical, chemical, mechanical, thermal, and other forms. Radiation from all stars affects the biosphere, but we measure and are aware of only a small portion, mainly from the sun. The noösphere, emerging through the biosphere, is a new geological phenomenon, as important as the earlier emergence of the biosphere on our inert planetary rock.
Humanity, for the first time, becomes a major geological force, and thinking matter will change the planet as thoroughly as did the emergence of living matter. Vernadsky insists that we can and must alter our habitat by labour and thought. Like other Cosmists, he is confident that our efforts are more likely to improve than destroy our environment. The noösphere is not the final, but merely the latest stage of biological evolution in geological history. He writes that many stages have preceded and many will follow but this is our present stage, and its course is only beginning to be apparent to us.
RS: Where do you think the ideas of the Cosmists can take us in the twenty-first century?
GY: The ideas of the early Cosmists have been further developed in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. In Moscow, the Nikolai Fyodorov Museum and Library sponsors seminars, publications, research presentations, and other activities for today’s Cosmists. In Kaluga, the town where Tsiolkovsky and Chizhevsky lived and worked, the Tsiolkovsky Museum of Cosmonautics also sponsors wide ranging research and publishing projects. Other centres in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and elsewhere engage in studies and activities related to but not directly linked to the Fyodorovian tradition of Cosmism.
Some of the most intense activity related to Cosmism is in the field of human longevity and immortology – the science of immortality. One scientist, Igor Vishev, has predicted that technology is advancing so rapidly that there are already people alive today who will never die. Others, of a transhumanist orientation, emphasise the coming union of man and computer, human and artificial intelligence. Other researchers have investigated alternative realities, developing mechanical devices to induce states of altered, perhaps higher, consciousness.
In remote areas of Russia and Siberia, utopian groups have emerged, attempting, as Fyodorov and Florensky did, to create an alternative human communal future by looking deeply into the Russian past. For Fyodorov and Florensky, the spiritual past with a future lay in pre-Petrine Russian Orthodox Christianity. For the communal Cosmists of today, the spiritual past with a future lies for the most part in pre-Christian Slavic paganism. At academic conferences on Cosmism, a feature of many presentations and discussions is the interdisciplinary character of the research. Since Fyodorov’s day, the division of knowledge into narrow specialties, along with the separation of thought from action, has been viewed as an example of modern intellectual decline and death. Today’s Cosmists follow their classic predecessors in fearlessly addressing the big questions and proposing bold, active, comprehensive solutions. The Cosmists are aware that the problems and solutions they discuss today may not be the ones they will be discussing tomorrow. But they are also aware that Cosmists past and present have made an important start, and the discussion will continue.
The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and His Followers by George M. Young (Oxford University Press, 2012) is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.
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RICHARD SMOLEY has over thirty-five years of experience of studying and practicing esoteric spirituality. His latest book is Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History. He is also the author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity; The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe; The Essential Nostradamus; Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism; and Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (with Jay Kinney). Smoley is the former editor of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions. Currently he is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America and of Quest Books.
The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 140 (September-October 2013)
© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.
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By MAHDI DARIUS NAZEMROAYA—
In 2011, as the entire world watched the Arab Spring in amazement, the US and its allies, predominately working under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), militarily overran the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
The peaceful civilian protesters they claimed to be intervening to protect were not really what the US and its cohorts presented to the world. Many of these so-called “protesters” were armed, and when this became apparent they eventually began to portray themselves as “rebel forces.” These so-called “rebels” in Libya were not a military force that emerged spontaneously for the most part, but an insurgency movement cultivated and organised before any opposition activities were even reported in Libya.
After Libya’s rapprochement with the US and the European Union, it was unthinkable to many that Washington and any of its allies could even have been preparing to topple the Libyan government. Business and trade ties between Libya and the US, Britain, Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey had bloomed since 2003 after Colonel Muammar Qadhafi opted for cooperation with Washington. No one imagined that Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi’s “New Libya” with its neo-liberalism could be on a collision course with NATO.
Yet, the US and its EU partners for several years made preparations for taking over Libya. They had infiltrated the Jamahiriya’s government, security and intelligence sectors. Longstanding imperialist objectives existing since the Second World War, aimed at dividing Libya into three colonial territories, were taken out of government filing cabinets in Washington, London, Paris and Rome, and circulated at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
In league with these colonial plans, the US and its allies had been cultivating ties with different members of the Libyan opposition and had always reserved the option of using these opposition figures for regime change in Tripoli. Putting together their colonial designs and mobilising their agents, the US and its allies began organising the stage for establishing the Transitional National Council (TNC) – simply called the Transitional Council – and similar bodies to govern Libya as its new puppet leadership. The British and French even held joint invasion exercises months before the Libyan conflict erupted with the Arab Spring in 2011, while various intelligence services and foreign military commandos from NATO and GCC countries were also on the ground in Libya helping to prepare for the destabilisation of the North African country and the toppling of the Jamahiriya’s government and institutions.
Realities have been turned upside down and the victims were grossly portrayed as the aggressors in the conflict. While the Transitional Council’s forces, augmented by mercenaries and foreign fighters, were torturing, raping, and murdering civilians and those that were standing in their way with the aid of NATO and the GCC, Muammar Qadhafi was inflexibly and exclusively blamed for all the violence inside Libya. Nor were the atrocities an exclusively Libyan versus Libyan matter. During the conflict, NATO committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity in its effort to overrun and control the North African country. Not only did foreign journalists help justify and sustain the war, but they played major roles in assisting NATO’s war effort by passing on information about Libyan targets and checkpoint locations to the Jamahiriya’s enemies. The war, however, did not go as planned and Libyan resistance proved far stronger than the Pentagon and NATO initially imagined.
In the course of the confrontation and at the international level, a series of human rights organisations and think-tanks were utilised for preparing the stage for the conflict in Libya and the toppling of its government. These organisations were mostly part of a network that had been working to establish the mechanisms for justifying interventionism and creating the net of individuals and public faces needed for creating a proxy government in Libya in the false name of “democracy.” When the time came, these bodies coordinated with the NATO powers and the mainstream media in the project to isolate, castrate, and subjugate the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. These so-called human rights organisations and the mainstream media networks worked together to propagate lies about African mercenaries, Libyan military jet attacks on civilians, and civilian massacres by Muammar Qadhafi’s regime. International news networks extensively quoted these human rights organisations in what would amount to a self-fuelled cycle of misinformation, while the same human rights organisations continued to make claims on the basis of the media’s reports. In other words, each side fed the other. It was this web of lies that was presented at the Human Rights Council in the United Nations Office at Geneva and then handed to the United Nations Security Council in New York City as the basis for the war in Libya. These lies were accepted without any investigation being launched by the United Nations or any other international bodies. Any Libyan requests for international investigation teams were ignored. It was from this point onward that NATO used the UN Security Council to launch its war of aggression against Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians and enforcing a no-fly zone over the Arab country. Although not officially accepted by the United Nations Security Council, the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine was being showcased as a new paradigm for military intervention by NATO.
All known advocates of Pentagon militarism and global empire demanded this war take place, including Paul Wolfowitz, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Elliott Abrahams, Leon Wieseltier, John Hannah, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the neo-conservative crowd was the realist foreign policy camp in Washington. The entire US establishment lined up to pick off Tripoli and reduce it a weak and divided African protectorate.
Libya & the New “Scramble” for Africa
To put NATO’s war in Libya within the framework of historic analysis, one only needs to be reminded that the main thrust of the sudden physical European colonisation of Africa, called the “Scramble for Africa,” started when an economic recession originally called the “Great Depression,” but in retrospect renamed as the “Long Depression,” hit much of Europe and North America from roughly 1873 to 1893. In this period the entire tempo of Western European contact with African nations transformed.
Prior to this economic recession, Western European companies and enterprises were content dealing with African leaders and recognising their authority. Few Western European colonies in Africa had existed aside from a few coastal strips based on strategically-placed trading posts in Sierra Leone and Lagos in the possession of Britain; Mozambique and Angola in the possession of Portugal; and Senegal in the possession of France. At this time the biggest external force in Africa was the Ottoman Empire, which was beginning its long decline as a great power.
Even with Western European colonial incursions into Africa by Britain, France, and Portugal, most of the African continent was still free of external or alien control. Intensified European economic rivalries and the recession in Western Europe, however, would change this. Britain would lose its edge as the world’s most industrialised nation as the industrial sectors of the USA, France and Germany all began to increasingly challenge British manufacturers. As a result of the recession and increased business rivalries, the corporations of Western European countries began to push their respective governments to adopt protectionist practices and to directly intervene in Africa to protect the commercial interests of these corporations. The logic behind this colonial push or “scramble” was that these Western European governments would secure large portions of Africa as export markets and for resource imports for these corporations alone, while these African territories would effectively be closed off to economic rivals. Thus, a whole string of Western European conquest began in Africa to secure ivory, fruits, copal (gum), cloves, beeswax, honey, coffee, peanuts, cotton, precious metals, and rubber.
Although appropriating Libya’s financial and material wealth were objectives of the NATO war in 2011, the broader objectives of the criminal war were part of the struggle to control the African continent and its vast wealth. The “Scramble for Africa” was repeating itself. Just like the first time, recession and economic rivalries were tied to this new round of colonial conquest in the African continent.
The emergence of Asia as the new global centre of gravity, at the expense of the nations of the North Atlantic in North America and Western Europe, has also primed the United States and its allies to start an endeavour to close Africa off from the People’s Republic of China and the emerging centres of power in Russia, India, Brazil, and Iran. This is why the Pentagon’s United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM/AFRICOM) played a major role in the war.
The London Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group was formed on 29 March 2011, was a modern version of the Berlin Conference of 1884, which attempted to solidify the gains made by European colonial powers in their first rush to control African societies and territory. The Istanbul Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group met for the fourth time on 15 July 2011, was virtually a declaration of the intentions of the US and these countries to appropriate Libya’s vast wealth. This is a template for usurping the wealth of other countries in Africa and beyond. In this regard, the Transitional Council has served as nothing more than a proxy that was designed to help embezzle Libya’s vast wealth.
Moreover, Libya had to be neutralised in line with the intentions of this project to reclaim Africa, because of Qadhafi’s pan-African ambitions to unify the African continent under Libyan leadership. Libya and its development and political projects were effectively erecting a barrier to the re-colonisation of the African continent. In this regard, the war was launched by “Operation Odyssey Dawn.” This name is very revealing. It identifies the strategic intent and direction of the campaign in Libya. ‘The Odyssey’ is an ancient Greek epic by the poet Homer that recounts the voyage and trails of the hero Odysseus of Ithaca on his voyage home. The main theme here is the ‘return home’. In other words, the military assault’s codename meant that countries like the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey were on their own odyssey of ‘return’ into Africa.
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The Crown of Africa
Libya is a lucrative prize of massive economic value. It has immense oil and gas resources, vast amounts of underground water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, important trade routes, substantial foreign investments, and large amounts of liquid capital. Up until 2011, Libya was blessed with a rare gift in regard to its national revenue in that it saved a significant amount. In fact Libya possessed more than US$150 billion in overseas financial assets and had one of the largest sovereign investment funds in the world at the start of 2011.
Until the conflict in Libya ignited, there was a very large foreign work force in the Jamahiriya. Thousands of foreign workers from every corner of the globe went to Libya for employment. This included nationals from places like the Philippines, Turkey, sub-Saharan Africa, China, Latin America, Belarus, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and every corner of the Arab world. For years, these jobs inside Libya were an important source of economic remittances in the cases of some African economies, such as Niger. Moreover, many foreign workers from places like the Philippines and Italy even chose to make their lives in Libya and open their own local businesses.
Before the NATO war, Libyan society had come a long way since 1951 when it became an independent African country. In 1975, the political scientist Henri Habib described Libya on the dawn of its independence as a backward country saying:
When Libya was granted its independence by the United Nations on December 24, 1951, it was described as one of the poorest and most backward nations of the world. The population at the time was not more than 1.5 million, was over 90% illiterate, and had no political experience or knowhow. There were no universities, and only a limited number of high schools which had been established seven years before independence.
According to Habib, the state of poverty in Libya was the result of the yoke of Ottoman domination followed by an era of European imperialism in Libya that started with the Italians. He explained that, “[e]very effort was made to keep the Arab inhabitants [of Libya] in a servile position rendering them unable to make any progress for themselves or their nation.” This colonial yoke, however, began its decline in 1943 after Italy and Germany were defeated in North Africa during the Second World War.
In 1959 Libya’s oil reserves were discovered. Despite political mismanagement and corruption, since 1969 these Libyan oil reserves were used to improve the standard of living for the country’s population. In addition to the revenue from Libyan energy reserves, the Libyan government played an important role in maintaining Libya’s high living standards. Although never fully nationalised, Libya’s oil would only, in progressive steps, fall under the control of Libyans after the 1969 coup against the Libyan monarchy by Qadhafi and a group of young military officers. Before 1969 most of the country’s oil wealth was actually not being used to serve the general public. Under Qadhafi’s leadership this changed and the National Oil Company was founded on 12 November 1970.
To a certain extent the isolation of Libya in the past as a pariah state played a role in insulating Libya economically and maintaining its standards of living. From an economic standpoint, most of the Arab world and Africa have become globalised as components of an integrated network of regional economies tied to the United States and the European Union. Libyan integration into this global economic system was delayed because of the past political isolation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya when Washington, London, and Paris were openly at odds with Tripoli.
Despite having vast sums of money stolen and squandered by Qadhafi’s family and their officials, social services and benefits, such as government housing and numerous subsidies, were available to the Libyan population. It has to be cautioned too that the apparatus of a modern welfare state does not mean that neo-liberal restructuring and poverty were not afoot in Libya, because they very much were. What this means is that economics was not the driving force for the internal dimension of the fighting in Libya. For years, up until 2011, Libya had the highest standards of living in Africa and one of the highest in the Arab world. There is an old Libyan proverb, “if your pocket becomes empty, your faults will be many.” In this regard, Libya’s faults were not many in economic terms.
In 2008, Libya had protests that were reportedly caused by unemployment. Most protests in Libya from 2003 to 2011, however, did not have any real economic dimension dominated by breadbasket issues. This set the Jamahiriya apart from Arab countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan where breadbasket issues were important factors behind the protests that erupted during the same period in 2011. This, of course, does not mean the protest movements in the latter Arab countries were strictly the result of breadbasket issues and economics either. Demands for personal freedoms and backlashes against corruption were major motivating factors behind the fuelling of public anger in all these Arab states. In Libya, if anything, the frustration tied to the rampant corruption rooted amongst Jamahiriya authorities and officials had created shifting tides of resentment towards the government.
As briefly mentioned, Libya also has vast amounts of underground water stored in the ancient Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, which is situated under the territories of Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Libya and Egypt hold the largest shares of this water source. In a joint initiative, called the Nubian Aquifer Project, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the financial organisation Global Environment Facility (GEF), have all worked with the governments of these four African countries to study this vast source of underground water beneath the Sahara Desert. Using isotopes, the IAEA three-dimensionally mapped the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.
In the Jamahiriya, the Great Man-Made River Project was initiated under the orders of Colonel Qadhafi followed by the establishment of the Great Man-Made River Authority in 1983 to exploit the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System for the benefit of Libya and the other regional countries in the Sahara and the Sahel regions. The project was domestically funded mostly by taxes on fuel, tobacco, and international travel, with the remainder of funding provided directly by the Libyan state. Up until 2008 the Libyan government had spent about US$19.6 billion dollars on the water project.
According to the Isotope Hydrology Section of the IAEA, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is the world’s largest fossil aquifer system and will be “the biggest and in some cases the only future source of water to meet growing demands and development” amongst Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. As fresh water supplies become limited globally, it was forecast Libya’s water supplies will be of greater value domestically and regionally. Huge water multinationals in the US, France and elsewhere were salivating at the idea of privatising Libyan fresh water and controlling the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) had shares and invested in major international corporations such as oil giant British Petroleum (BP), the world’s largest aluminium producer United Company RUSAL in Russia, the US conglomerate General Electric (GE), the Italian bank and financial giant UniCredit, the Italian oil corporation Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI), the German engineering and electronic conglomerate Siemens, the German electricity and gas company Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), British publishing giant Pearson, and British telecommunications giant Vodafone (UK). Libya had purchased Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary in the Kingdom of Morocco, Mobil Oil Maroc, and bought half of Kenya’s oil refinery. The LIA bought all of Royal Dutch Shell’s service stations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan in 2008. Tripoli announced in the same year that it was buying a major share of Circle Oil, an international hydrocarbon exploration company with operations in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. A Libyan agreement was also made with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to build a pipeline in the western part of its territory. Large investments were made by Libya in agricultural, industrial and service projects in Africa from Egypt and Niger to Mali and Tunisia.
In 2008 Goldman Sachs was given US$1.3 billion dollars by the Libyan Investment Authority. In unfathomable terms, Goldman Sachs told the Libyans that 98% of their investment was lost overnight, which means the Libyans lost almost all the money they gave Goldman Sachs. To Tripoli and other observers it was clear Goldman Sachs had merely appropriated the Libyan investment as a cash injection, because it needed the funds due to the global financial crisis. Afterwards, Jamahiriya officials and Goldman Sachs executives tried negotiating a settlement under which Goldman Sachs would give Tripoli huge shares in the Wall Street financial giant. These negotiations between Libya and Goldman Sachs for a settlement finally ended in 2009 with both sides failing to agree on a formula to replace the Libyan money that Goldman Sachs had effectively appropriated from Tripoli.
Goldman Sachs was not alone in filching Libyan investment funds: Société Générale S.A., Carlyle Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, and Lehman Brothers Holdings were also all in possession of vast Libyan investments and funds. In one way or another, NATO’s war on Libya and the freeze of Libyan financial assets profited them all. They and their governments were also not happy with Qadhafi’s ideas and proposal to the United Nations that the former colonial powers owed Africa almost US$800 trillion dollars.
The fact that Libya happened to be a rich country was one of its crimes in 2011. Oil, finance, economics, and Libyan natural resources were always tempting prizes for the United States and its allies. These things were the spoils of war in Libya. While Libyan energy reserves and geopolitics played major roles in launching the 2011 war, it was also waged in part to appropriate Tripoli’s vast financial holdings and to supplement and maintain the crumbling financial hegemony of Wall Street and other financial centres. Wall Street could not allow Tripoli to be debt-free, to continue accumulating international financial possessions, and to be a creditor nation giving international loans and investing funds in other countries, particularly in Africa. Thus, major banks in the United States and the European Union, like the giant multinational oil conglomerates, had major roles and interests in the NATO war on Tripoli.
An Overview of the African Geopolitics of the War on Libya
NATO’s operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya have helped erode Libyan political unity, which has had clear implications for the North African country’s spatial unity and all the nations bordering Libya. Libya and its region have been destabilised. The domino effect can clearly be seen at work in Niger, Mali, and the Central African Republic where there has been fighting as a result, at least in part, of the NATO war on Libya.
Within a strictly African context, Libya sits at an important geographic point. The country is a geographic gateway into Africa and connects the northeast and northwest sections of the continent. Libya’s national territory falls within the Sahara and Sahel regions and events in Libya directly influence Sudan, Egypt and the regions of the Maghreb, West Africa, and Central Africa. Libya is also one of the states that provide access to the open sea for landlocked Chad and Niger. Aside from Tunisia, all of the countries on Libya’s borders touch and connect the bulk of Africa’s regions with the exception of the southern region of the continent. Casting out the Tunisian Republic, these bordering African states are Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, and Algeria. Libya’s position is very special in this regard and this territorial embrace with these other large African states bordering multiple countries and regions is very important and would be pivotal if the Libyan project to connect the continent through a north to south and east to west transportation and trade corridor were to be developed fully.
From a socio-cultural standpoint, Libya has tribal and cultural ties to all of the bordering countries. Ethnic differences in Libya exist too, but are minor in degree. Libyans predominately consider themselves to be Arabs. The largest Libyan minority are the Berbers, which can roughly be divided into northern groups and southern groups. There was always awareness that tribalism in Libya, if given antagonistic political connotations, could be a very dangerous thing for Libya and the bordering countries. The tribes that Libyans belong go beyond Libyan borders and form a chain in an overlapping tribal network extending all the way from Niger into Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Tribal fighting in Libya could destabilise countries like Senegal and Mali in West Africa, Chad in Central Africa, Algeria in North Africa, and Sudan in East Africa. It is in this context that NATO powers began speaking about an Arab-Berber divide in North Africa in 2011. Regime change in Tripoli has left a political vacuum where politics has fuelled tribalism and regionalism in Libya, which is now warily watched by all of the countries bordering Libya and affecting them.
“A New Beginning” in Cairo: Obama’s attempts to Manipulate Islam
Identity politics and faith have also wound up as factors in the competing exchange of geopolitical currents governing the sea of events surrounding Libya. The questions of what is a Libyan and what is an ethnic Arab have been superimposed as factors in the war on the Jamahiriya as a means of attacking the pan-African movement and separating Libya, and North Africa in broader terms, from the rest of Africa. Faith and religiosity have also been mounted as dynamics that are being sought as geopolitical tools and weapons of influence.
President Barack Hussein Obama was elected by tapping into the hopes of the US public and presenting himself as a “prince of peace” and “messiah of hope.” Amongst his elegant speeches, he claimed to have a desire to reengage with the so-called Muslim World. Since 2009 Obama has consistently tried to utilise what he sees as both his African and Muslim credentials on the basis of having a Kenyan father who was a Muslim, to present himself as a “Son of Africa” and as someone sympathetic to Muslims. As part of his outreach to Muslims, President Obama gave a highly promoted speech at Cairo University on 4 June 2009. Obama’s presidential speech was named “A New Beginning” and was supposedly meant to repair the damages in the relationship between the US and the so-called Muslim World. The speech is described as such by the White House:
On June 4, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama proposed a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. Specifically, the President said that the U.S. would seek a more comprehensive engagement with Muslim-majority countries, countries with significant Muslim populations, and their people by expanding partnerships in areas like education, economic development, science and technology, and health, among others, while continuing to work together to address issues of common concern.
Many people in predominantly Muslim states were fooled by his pledges of peace and mutual respect. In his actions, Barack Obama proved to be no less of a war hawk than his predecessors in the Oval Office. His Cairo speech was significant because it actually marked the start of a new campaign by the US to geopolitically use Muslims and their hopes and aspirations. In the same timeframe as his speech, the US State Department began to engage with the Muslim Brotherhood and even prior to the speech asked for members to attend Cairo University to hear him.Almost as if foreshadowing the coming of the so-called Arab Spring, the speech in Cairo’s fourth point was about the rise of democracy and the instability of regimes suppressing democratic values. Many of the organisations and figures that became involved in the Arab Spring and supportive of the war in Libya would all hasten to Obama’s calls for a “New Beginning.” Amongst them was Aly (Ali) Abuzaakouk, who helped found the Transitional Council.
From Jakarta, Indonesia, in late-2010, Obama would go on with his themes of engagement with the Muslim World and speak about democracy, faith, and economic development in his second speech addressing Muslims. From that point on Al-Qaeda faded from the spotlight of US foreign policy and, well into the upheavals of the Arab Spring, the US worked to put the ghost of Osama bin Laden to rest by declaring in statements that were altered several times that the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by a team of CIA agents and US Navy commandos on 2 May 2010. What this all amounted to was the preparations for the fielding of US agents amongst opposition groups in the predominately Muslim countries of the Arab world and an attempt to subordinate the faith of Islam as a tool of US foreign policy by using fighters and proxy political parties that used the banner of Islam. Thus, Washington’s alliance with deviant militant groups claiming to fight under the banner of Islam was rekindled in 2011. This alliance manifested itself in the fighting in Libya and later further east on the shores of the Mediterranean in Syria and Lebanon.
Libya Now: Destitute, Divided, & in Conflict
The historic project to divide Libya dates back to 1943 and 1951. It started with failed attempts to establish a trusteeship over Libya after the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa during the Second World War. The attempts to divide Libya then eventually resulted in a strategy that forced a monarchical federal system onto the Libyans similar to that established over Iraq following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. If the Libyans had not accepted federalism in their relatively homogenous society they could have forfeited their independence in 1951.
During the Second World War the Libyans aided and allowed Britain to enter their country to fight the Italians and the Germans. Benghazi fell to British military control on 20 November 1942, and Tripoli on 23 January 1943. Despite its promises to allow Libya to become an independent country, London intended to administer the two Libyan provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica separately as colonies, with Paris to be given control over the region of Fezzan, which is roughly one-third of Libya, the area to the southwest of the country bordering Algeria, Niger, and Chad (see map on page 60). Following the end of the Second World War, the victors and Italy attempted to partition Libya into territories that they would govern as trust territories. The American, British, French, and Soviet governments referred the matter to the UN General Assembly on 15 September 1945. There, the British and the Italians made a last-ditch proposal on 10 May 1949, called the Bevin-Sfora Plan for Libya, to have Libyan territory divided into an Italian-controlled Tripolitania, a British-controlled Cyrenaica, and a French-ruled Fezzan. This failed because of the crucial single vote of Haiti, which opposed the partition of Libya.
The British then turned to King Idris to softly balkanise Libya through the establishment of a federal emirate. A National Assembly controlled by King Idris and an unelected small circle of Libyan chieftains was to be imposed. This type of federalist system was unacceptable to most Libyans as it was intended to be a means of sidestepping the will of the Libyan people. The elected representatives from the heavily populated region of Tripolitania would be outweighed by the unelected chieftains from Cyrenaica and Fezzan.
This did not sit well with many Arab nationalists. Cairo was extremely critical of what the US and its allies were trying to do and called it diplomatic deceit. Nevertheless, even with the opposition of most Libyans, federalism was imposed on Libya in 1951 by Idris. Libyans popularly viewed this as Anglo-French treachery. Idris was forced to abolish the federalist system for a unitary system on 27 April 1963.
The imperialist project to divide Libya was never abandoned; it was just temporarily shelved by different foreign ministries in the Western bloc and NATO capitals. In March 2011, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. testified to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that at the end of the conflict in Libya, the North African country would revert to its previous monarchical federalist divisions and that it would have two or three different administrations. NATO’s Supreme Commander, Admiral Stravridis, also told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in the same month that Libyan tribal differences would be amplified as the NATO war carried on. There were even multilateral discussions held about dividing the country, but the exact lines were never completely agreed upon and negotiations kept on waxing and waning with the frontlines in the desert and mountains.
US plans to topple the Libyan government that were put together in 1982 by the US National Security Council under the Reagan Administration were also revised or renovated for NATO’s war in 2011. One can clearly see how these plans played out through the dual use of an insurgency and military attack. According to Joseph Stanik, the US plans involved simultaneous war and support for CIA-controlled opposition groups that would entail “a number of visible and covert actions designed to bring significant pressure to bear on Qadhafi.” To execute the US plan, Washington would first have to encourage a conflict using the countries around Libya “to seek a casus belli for military action” while they would take care of the logistical needs of CIA-controlled opposition groups that would launch a sabotage campaign against the economy, infrastructure, and government of Libya. The code name for these secret plans was “Flower.” In the words of Stanik:
The NSC restricted access to the top-secret plans to about two-dozen officials. Flower contained two subcomponents: “Tulip” and “Rose.” Tulip was the code name for the CIA covert operation designed to overthrow Qadhafi by supporting anti-Qadhafi exile groups and countries, such as Egypt, that wanted Qadhafi removed from power. Rose was the code name for a surprise attack on Libya to be carried out by an allied country, most likely Egypt, and supported by American air power. If Qadhafi was killed as a result of Flower, Reagan said he would take the blame for it.
It also just so happened that the Obama Administration’s US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who was the deputy director for intelligence at the time, endorsed Rose, the military subcomponent of Flower.
Since NATO toppled the Jamahiriya government, this is exactly what has happened in Libya. A free for all has come about, which has spilled over into neighbouring states such as Niger. There are multiple factions and different administrations including the Transitional Council in the District of Tripoli, the Misrata Military Council in the District of Misrata, several self-styled Emirates in Cyrenaica, and Jamahiriya loyalist and tribal governments in the Western Mountains and Fezzan. There have even been fusions where Jamahiriya loyalists and anti-Jamahiriya militias have joined to fight all others. The end product has been lawlessness and Somali-style civil war. The state has basically been “failed” by the US and its allies. Post-Jamahiriya governmental authority is only exercised by those in power outside of their offices and a few spaces. Violent crime has proliferated. Tripoli and other major cities are being fought for by different factions and Libyan weapons are being smuggled into different countries. Even US officials, which helped midwife the groups running rampant in Libya, have not been safe from the turmoil they helped create; the murder of US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens in Benghazi on 12 September 2012 is testimony to this.
Oil and gas production has been stopping. National assets have been sold off to foreign corporations and privatised. Libya is no longer a competitive economic power in Africa anymore. Nor is Libya a growing financial power. Tripoli virtually transformed from a debtless country to an indebted one overnight.
There is also a great irony to all this. The warplanes of the US-supported Libyan regime that has replaced the Jamahiriya began bombing Libyan citizens in 2014 as battles for control of Tripoli raged. The US, European Union, and NATO have said nothing about this whereas in 2011 they started a bombing campaign and war on the basis of false accusations the Jamahiriya government was doing exactly this. The deceit of these players is more than evident.
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An award-winning author and geopolitical analyst, MAHDI DARIUS NAZEMROAYA is the author of The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy.
The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 8 No 5.
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