Faced with the humiliating defeat in the Lebanon, President Reagan’s government was desperate to shore up the vision of a moral world where a good America struggled against evil. And to do this they were going to create a simple villain. An imaginary enemy, one that would free them from the paralysing complexity of real Middle-Eastern politics. And the perfect candidate was waiting in the wings. Colonel Gaddafi, the ruler of Libya.
The Americans were going to ruthlessly use Colonel Gaddafi to create a fake terrorist mastermind. And Gaddafi was going to happily play along, because it would turn him into a famous global figure. Colonel Gaddafi had taken power in a coup in the 1970s but from the very start, he was convinced that he was more than just the leader of one country. He believed that he was an international revolutionary whose destiny was to challenge the power of the West.
When he was a young officer, Gaddafi had been sent to England for training and he had detested the patronising racism that he said he had found at the heart of British society. Once in power, Gaddafi had developed his own revolutionary theory, which he called the Third Universal Theory. It was an alternative, he said, to communism and capitalism. He published it in a green book, but practically no-one read it. He had sent money and weapons to the IRA in Ireland to help them overthrow the British ruling class. But all the other Arab leaders rejected him and his ideas. They thought that he was mad. And by the mid-1980s, Gaddafi was an isolated figure with no friends and no global influence.
Then, suddenly, that changed. In December 1985, terrorists attacked Rome and Vienna airports simultaneously, killing 19 people, including five Americans. There was growing pressure on President Reagan to retaliate. President Reagan immediately announced that Colonel Gaddafi was definitely behind the attacks. But the European security services who investigated the attacks were convinced that Libya was not involved at all and that the mastermind behind the attacks was, in fact, Syria – that the terrorists had been directed by the Syrian intelligence agencies.
But what made it even more confusing was that although there seemed to be no evidence that Gaddafi had been behind the attacks, he made no attempt to deny the allegations. Instead, he went the other way and turned the crisis into a global drama, threatening suicide attacks against America.
Gaddafi now started to play a role that was going to become very familiar. He grabbed the publicity that had been given to him by the Americans and used it dramatically. He promoted himself as an international revolutionary who would help to liberate oppressed peoples around the world, even the blacks in America.
The Americans and Gaddafi now became locked together in a cycle of mutual reinforcement. In the process, a powerful new image was created that was going to capture the imagination of the West. Gaddafi became a global supervillain, at the head of what was called a “rogue state” – a madman who threatened the stability of the world. And Gaddafi was loving every minute of it.
Then, there was another terrorist attack at a discotheque in West Berlin. A bomb killed an American soldier and injured hundreds. The Americans released what they said were intercepts by the National Security Agency that proved that Colonel Gaddafi was behind the bombing and a dossier that they said proved that he was also the mastermind behind a whole range of other attacks. President Reagan ordered the Pentagon to prepare to bomb Libya. But again, there were doubts – this time, within the American Government itself. There were concerns that analysts were being pressured to make a case that didn’t really exisτ, and to do it, they were taking Gaddafi’s rhetoric about himself as a global revolutionary and his manic ravings and then re-presenting them as fact. And, in the process, together, the Americans and Gaddafi were constructing a fictional world.
The European intelligence agencies told the Americans that they were wrong, that it was Syria that was behind the bombing, not Libya. But the Americans had decided to attack Libya because they couldn’t face the dangerous consequences of attacking Syria. Instead, they went for Gaddafi, a man without friends or allies.
In April 1986, the Americans attacked Libya. Their targets included Colonel Gaddafi’s own house. Immediately after the attack, Gaddafi appeared in the ruins to describe what had happened. Many other children were killed in the raid because the American bombing was so inaccurate. Gaddafi realised that the attention of the whole world was now focused on him and he grabbed the moment to promote his own revolutionary theory, The Third Way, as a global alternative to democracy.
President Assad didn’t want stability. He wanted revenge. In December 1988, a bomb exploded on a Pan Am plane over Lockerbie in Scotland. Almost immediately, investigators and journalists pointed the finger at Syria. “The bombing had been done,” they said, “in revenge for the Americans “shooting down an Iranian airliner in the Gulf a few months before.” And for 18 months, everyone agreed that this was the truth. But then, a strange thing happened. The security agencies said that they had been wrong. It hadn’t been Syria at all. It was Libya who had been behind the Lockerbie bombing. But many journalists and politicians did not believe it. They were convinced that the switch had happened for the most cynical of reasons. That America and Britain desperately needed Assad as an ally in the coming Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. So, once again, they blamed Colonel Gaddafi as the terrorist mastermind.
The attacks in September 2001 were suicide bombs, but now on a huge scale. They demonstrated the terrifying power of this new force to penetrate all defences. They had come to kill thousands of Americans on their own soil. 20 years before, President Reagan had been confronted by the first suicide bombers. They had been unleashed by President Assad of Syria to force America out of the Middle East. But rather than confront the complexity of Syria and Israel and the Palestinian problem, America had retreated and left Syria – and suicide bombing – to fester and mutate. They had gone instead for Colonel Gaddafi and turned him into an evil global terrorist. And after 9/11, this led to a new, and equally simple, idea. That if only you could remove these tyrannical figures, then the grateful people of their country would transform naturally into a democracy, because they would be free of the evil.
Both Tony Blair and George Bush became possessed by the idea of ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. So possessed that they believed any story that proved his evil intentions. And the line between reality and fiction became ever more blurred.
Iraq was imploding. While, at home, they were being accused of lying to their own people to justify the invasion. What they desperately needed was something that would show that the invasion was having a good effect in the Arab world. So, they made an extraordinary decision. They turned for help to the man who they had always insisted was one of the world’s most dangerous tyrants: Colonel Gaddafi. And, instead, they set out to make him their new best friend. A man who had been created by the West as a fake global supervillain was now going to be turned into a fake hero of democracy. And everyone, not just politicians, would become involved. Public relations, academics, television presenters, spies, and even musicians were all going to help reinvent Colonel Gaddafi. It would show just how many people in the Western Establishment had, by now, become the engineers of this fake world.
Colonel Gaddafi confirmed that Libya has, in the past, sought to develop weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities. Libya has now declared its intention to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction completely. Colonel Gaddafi now became, for Western politicians, a heroic figure. His decision to give up his weapons of mass destruction seemed to prove that the invasion of Iraq could transform the Middle East. And Tony Blair travelled to meet Gaddafi in his desert tent. To welcome him back into what one journalist called, “The community of civilised nations.” But, as in the past, nothing was what it seemed with Colonel Gaddafi.
In reality, Gaddafi did not really have the terrifying weapons of mass destruction that he was promising to destroy. His nuclear programme had stuttered to a halt long ago and never produced anything dangerous. But now, he had to pretend to have a terrifying arsenal of weapons. And the West had to pretend that they had avoided another global threat.
And then the made-up stories became even more complicated. As part of the deal, the West said that if Gaddafi admitted that Libya had done the Lockerbie bombing, then they would lift the sanctions. But many of those who had investigated Lockerbie were still convinced that Libya hadn’t done it. That, really, it had been Syria. But Colonel Gaddafi confessed. His son, Saif, was interviewed about this confession. He said that his father was simply pretending that he had been behind the Lockerbie bombing to get the sanctions lifted. That new lies were being built on top of old lies to construct a completely make-believe world.
So, the Western hypocrites eventually decided that puppet Gaddafi should change role and become again the 'bad guy'. Do not forget what Hillary Clinton said when Gaddafi brutally murdered: 'We came, we saw, he died'. You know the rest: Libya sunk in chaos, but the neocolonial hyenas didn't care that much. They just started a race for country's resources on behalf of their beloved corporate monsters.