Follow the Money in Libya – A Response to the Ellen Brown Article

I find Ellen Brown’s argument to be specious at best.  According to her “Web of Debt” website , there simply isn’t enough gold in the world in order to back-up the currency in circulation.  She asserts that there is “hundreds of trillions of dollars” of un-backed currency circulating as a result of huge investments made by private banks.  She also points out that the US debt is at 12 trillion dollars.  Given these amounts and the financial reasons given by Brown for the intention of military intervention in Libya, one might think that Libya is the lost city of gold!

However, let’s look at Libya’s assets:

Libya ranks about 24th in the world in gold reserves holding almost 144 tonnes of gold bullion < www.gold.org> cited by < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_reserve>.

144 tonnes of gold at the going value of gold bullion (32.15 million per tonne according to gold.org) equals about $4.6 billion in gold reserves – not even enough to pay for the $33 billion dollar water project that Gaddafi planned.  Furthermore, the EU – the largest holder of gold bullion – holds $347 billion worth of gold, the US $262 billion, the IMF $92 billion.  France, the biggest advocate for military action in Libya holds $78 billion.  Libya’s holdings are less than 6% of France’s holdings.

If one were to take into account that there is already “hundreds of trillions” of dollars in unbacked currency being invested and traded, and $4.6 billion in gold wouldn’t even register a drop in the bucket of that amount (.0046%) then Brown’s argument that financial motivations motivated intervention in Libya becomes less convincing.

Yes, Libya has substantial gold reserves along with oil and natural gas – hopefully these will provide the necessary financial leverage in order to rebuild the country after its civil war.  The reason the National Transitional Council has set up a central bank is to sell the oil it controls in order to fund its attempted overthrow of Gaddafi – who, one ought to remember, is a bad guy.

Brown paints a picture of Libya as a Shanghri-La where Libyans lived in peace, security, and prosperity.  Although Libya ranks higher than most in terms of Human Development among the Arab states , Gaddafi has brutally suppressed all political opposition through extrajudicial imprisonments and torture http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11480/section/2.

Brown also seems to admire Libya for their lack of integration into the global banking system and its ability to fund its own development projects without relying on funds from the IMF.  However, she fails to recognize that Libya had to fund its own projects and not integrate into the global banking system because of sanctions put upon it as a result of its sponsorship of terrorist acts like the Pan Am 103 bombing.

Here are some other facts about Libya civil society according to the Arab Human Development Report from 2009:

  • Libya prohibits the formation of political parties.
  • Libya is the only Arab country to prohibit the formation of civil associations
  • 27% of Libyan male youth are unemployed, even more so for the women which is not an indication of financial or economic prosperity.  The Libyans have to rely on subsidies from the government in order to live as witnessed by the $50,000 wedding gift from the Libyan government to newly wed couples.

Since the uprisings against Gaddafi began, his regime has ruthlessly killed Libyans.  Gaddafi has had to employ mercenaries to do so due to high rates of defection among Libyan military and diplomatic personnel.  Gaddafi’s forces have fired indiscriminately into Libyan cities where rebels are based, killing civilians and non-combatants.  Prior to the multilateral effort to enforce a no-fly zone, Gaddafi and his sons threatened to raze the city of Benghazi.  Obama justified military action by wanting to avoid another massacre on the level of genocides witnessed in Darfur, Rwanda, and Congo.

Brown’s argument that the military action in Libya is about oil or gold is an insult to the Libyan people who are risking their lives in order to exert their own political will and right to self-determination – values that Brown paradoxically seems to espouse by touting Libya’s lack of integration into the global economy.  Ironically, prior to the uprisings in the Middle East, there was a strong chance that Libya would eventually be integrated into the global banking system.  The US was in the process of normalizing diplomatic relations with Libya contingent upon its progress in areas of human rights.  Libya had been highly cooperative with the US in its fight against terrorism and was looking to open up economically and have sanctions against it lifted as a reward < http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/05/opinion/05iht-edmcnamara_ed3_.html?scp=1&sq=%22why%20qaddafi%20turned%20his%20back%20on%20terror%22&st=cse>.

About networkforpeace

Network for Peace through Dialogue (formerly the Center of International Learning) was begun in 1985 by sociologists, theologians, and educators from Germany, the Philippines and the United States united by their world view and wanting to participate in transformative change. The Center was to provide ongoing learning, analysis and collaboration between people of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. There were two specific goals: to promote democratic processes and to work toward de-militarization. Thus since 1985 The Network for Peace through Dialogue has been dedicated to connecting grassroots communities, both local and global in order to identify and research common issues and solutions in the areas of making peace and promoting just action. Our objective is to provide a platform so that communities and societies can expand understanding and discuss their differences within a dynamic environment to help resolve conflicts and cooperate more fully. In all our programs we do so by analyzing, facilitating, and fostering dialogue, identifying solutions and sharing information.
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