Destroying a Country's Standard of Living
What Libya Had Achieved, What has
been Destroyed -
by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
September 20, 2011
"There is no tomorrow" under a NATO sponsored Al Qaeda rebellion.
While a "pro-democracy" rebel government has been instated, the country has
Against the backdrop of war propaganda, Libya's economic and social
achievements over the last thirty years, have been brutally reversed:
The [Libyan Arab Jamahiriya] has had a high standard of living and a robust
per capita daily caloric intake of 3144.
The country has made strides in
public health and, since 1980, child mortality rates have dropped from 70
per thousand live births to 19 in 2009. Life expectancy has risen from 61 to
74 years of age during the same span of years."
(FAO, Rome, Libya, Country
According to sectors of the "Progressive Left" which have endorsed NATO's
"The mood across Libya, particularly in Tripoli, is absolutely
- like there’s just a feeling of euphoria everywhere. People are incredibly
excited about starting afresh. There’s a real sense of rebirth, a feeling
that their lives are starting anew.
(DemocracyNow.org, September 14, 2011)
After Gaddafi’s Fall
A Revitalized Libya Tackles Militarization
Reconciliation & NATO’s Presence
The rebels are casually presented as "liberators". The central role of Al
Qaeda affiliated terrorists within rebel ranks is not mentioned.
"Starting afresh" in the wake of destruction? Fear and Social Despair,
Countless Deaths and Atrocities, amply documented by the independent media.
No euphoria... A historical reversal in the country's economic and social
development has occurred. The achievements have been erased.
The NATO invasion and occupation marks the ruinous "rebirth" of Libya's
standard of living That is the forbidden and unspoken truth: an entire
Nation has been destabilized and destroyed, its people driven into abysmal
The objective of the NATO bombings from the outset was to destroy the
country's standard of living, its health infrastructure, its schools and
hospitals, its water distribution system.
And then "rebuild" with the help of donors and creditors under the helm of
the IMF and the World Bank.
The diktats of the "free market" are a precondition for the instatement of a
Western style "democratic dictatorship".
About nine thousand strike sorties, tens of thousands of strikes on civilian
targets including residential areas, government buildings, water supply and
electricity generation facilities. (See NATO Communiqué, September 5, 2011.
8140 strike sorties from March 31 to September 5, 2011)
An entire nation has been bombed with the most advanced ordnance, including
uranium coated ammunition.
Already in August, UNICEF warned that extensive NATO bombing of Libya's
"could turn into an unprecedented health epidemic“.
(Christian Balslev-Olesen of UNICEF's Libya Office, August 2011)
Meanwhile investors and donors have positioned themselves.
'War is Good for
Business'. NATO, the Pentagon and the Washington based international
financial institutions (IFIs) operate in close coordination.
What has been
destroyed by NATO will be rebuilt, financed by Libya's external creditors
under the helm of the "Washington Consensus":
"Specifically, the [World] Bank has been asked to examine the need for
repair and restoration of services in the water, energy and transport
sectors [bombed by NATO] and, in cooperation with the International Monetary
Fund, to support budget preparation [austerity measures] and help the
banking sector back on to its feet [The Libyan Central bank was one of the
first government buildings to be bombed].
Employment generation for young
Libyans has been added as an urgent need facing the country."
(World Bank to
Help Libya Rebuild and Deliver Essential Services to Citizens)
Libya's Development Achievements
Whatever one's views regarding
Moamar Gadaffi, the post-colonial Libyan
government played a key role in eliminating poverty and developing the
country's health and educational infrastructure.
According to Italian
Journalist Yvonne de Vito,
"Differently from other countries that went
through a revolution - Libya is considered to be the Switzerland of the
African continent and is very rich and schools are free for the people.
Hospitals are free for the people. And the conditions for women are much
better than in other Arab countries."
(Russia Today, August 25, 2011)
These developments are in sharp contrast to what most Third World countries
were able to "achieve" under Western style "democracy" and "governance" in
the context of a standard IMF-World Bank Structural Adjustment program
Public Health Care
Public Health Care in Libya prior to NATO's "Humanitarian Intervention" was
the best in Africa.
"Health care is [was] available to all citizens free of
charge by the public sector. The country boasts the highest literacy and
educational enrolment rates in North Africa. The Government is [was]
substantially increasing the development budget for health services..."
Libya Country Brief)
Confirmed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), undernourishment
was less than 5%, with a daily per capita calorie intake of 3144 calories.
(FAO caloric intake figures indicate availability rather than consumption).
The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya provided to its citizens what is denied to many
Americans: Free public health care, free education, as confirmed by WHO and
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), life expectancy at birth
was 72.3 years (2009), among the highest in the developing World.
Under 5, mortality rate per 1000 live
declined from 71 in 1991 to 14
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya General information
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (2009)
Total life expectancy at birth
Male life expectancy at birth
Female life expectancy at birth
Newborns with low birth weight (%)
Children underweight (%)
Perinatal mortality rate per 1000
Neonatal mortality rate
Infant mortality rate (per 1000 live
Under five mortality rate (per 1000
Maternal mortality ratio (per 10000
The adult literacy rate was of the order of 89%, (2009), (94% for males and
83% for females). 99.9% of youth are literate (UNESCO 2009 figures, See
Libya Country Report)
Gross primary school enrolment ratio was 97% for boys and 97% for girls
(2009) - see
The pupil teacher ratio in Libya's primary schools was of the order of 17
(1983 UNESCO data), 74% of school children graduating from primary school
were enrolled in secondary school (1983 UNESCO data).
Based on more recent date, which confirms a marked increase in school
enrolment, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in secondary schools was of the
order of 108% in 2002. The GER is the number of pupils enrolled in a given
level of education regardless of age expressed as a percentage of the
population in the theoretical age group for that level of education.
For tertiary enrolment (postsecondary, college and university), the
Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) was of the order of 54% in 2002 (52 for
males, 57 for females).
With regard to Women's Rights, World Bank data point to significant
"In a relative short period of time, Libya achieved universal access for
primary education, with 98% gross enrollment for secondary, and 46% for
tertiary education. In the past decade, girls’ enrollment increased by 12%
in all levels of education. In secondary and tertiary education, girls
outnumbered boys by 10%."
(World Bank Libya Country Brief)
Price Controls over Essential Food Staples
In most developing countries, essential food prices have skyrocketed, as a
result of market deregulation, the lifting of price controls and the
elimination of subsidies, under "free market" advice from the World Bank and
In recent years, essential food and fuel prices have
spiraled as a result
of speculative trade on the major commodity exchanges.
Libya was one of the few countries in the developing World which maintained
a system of price controls over essential food staples.
World Bank President
Robert Zoellick acknowledged in an April 2011 statement
that the price of essential food staples had increased by 36 percent in the
course of the last year. See
Robert Zoellick, World Bank.
The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had established a system of price controls over
essential food staples, which was maintained until the onset of the NATO led
While rising food prices in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt spearheaded
social unrest and political dissent, the system of food subsidies in Libya
These are the facts confirmed by several UN
"Missile Diplomacy" and "The Free Market"
War and Globalization are intiricately related. The IMF and NATO work in
tandem, in liason with the Washington think tanks.
The NATO operation purports to enforce the neoliberal economic agenda.
Countries which are reluctant to accept the sugar coated bullets of IMF
"economic medicine" will eventually be the object of a R2P NATO humanitarian
Déjà Vu? Under the British Empire, "gun boat diplomacy" was a means to
imposing "free trade".
On October 5, 1850, England's Envoy to the Kingdom of
Siam, Sir James Brooke recommended to Her Majesty's government that:
"should these just demands [to impose free trade] be refused, a force should
be present, immediately to enforce them by the rapid destruction of the
defenses of the [Chaopaya] river... Siam may be taught the lesson which it
has long been tempting - its Government may be remodeled.
A better disposed
king placed on the throne and an influence acquired in the country which
will make it of immense commercial importance to England"
(The Mission of
Sir James Brooke, quoted in M.L. Manich Jumsai, King Mongkut and Sir John
Bowring, Chalermit, Bangkok, 1970, p. 23)
Today we call it "Regime Change" and "Missile Diplomacy" which invariably
takes the shape of a UN sponsored "No Fly Zone". Its objective is to impose
the IMF's deadly "economic medicine" of austerity measures and
The World Bank financed "reconstruction" programs of war torn countries are
coordinated with US-NATO military planning.
They are invariably formulated
prior to onslaught of the military campaign...
Confiscating Libyan Financial Assets
Libya's frozen overseas financial assets are estimated to be of the order of
$150 billion, with NATO countries holding more than $100 billion.
Prior to the war, Libya had no debts. In fact quite the opposite. It was a
creditor nation investing in neighboring African countries.
The R2P military intervention is intended to spearhead the Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya into the straightjacket of an indebted developing country, under
the surveillance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions.
In a bitter irony, after having stolen Libya's oil wealth and confiscated
its overseas financial assets, the "donor community" has pledged to lend the
(stolen) money back to finance Libya's post-war "reconstruction".
Libya is slated to join the ranks of
indebted African countries which have driven into poverty by
since the onslaught of the
debt crisis in the early 1980s:
The IMF promised a further $35-billion in funding [loans] to countries
affected by Arab Spring uprisings and formally recognized Libya’s ruling
interim council as a legitimate power, opening up access to a myriad of
international lenders as the country [Libya] looks to rebuild after a
Getting IMF recognition is significant for Libya’s interim leaders as it
means international development banks and donors such as the World Bank can
now offer financing.
The Marseille talks came a few days after world leaders agreed in Paris to
free up billions of dollars in frozen assets [stolen money] to help [through
loans] Libya’s interim rulers restore vital services and rebuild after a
conflict that ended a 42-year dictatorship.
The financing deal by the Group of Seven major economies plus Russia is
aimed at supporting reform efforts [IMF sponsored structural adjustment] in
the wake of uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.
financing is mostly in the form of loans, rather than outright
grants, and is provided half by G8 and Arab countries and half by
various lenders and development banks.
(Financial Post, September