Qaddafi’s Bombardments Recall Mussolini’s

The strafing and bombardment in Tripoli of civilian demonstrators by Muammar Qaddafi’s fighter jets on Monday powerfully recalled the tactics of some decades ago of Benito Mussolini, who spoke of imposing a ‘Roman Peace’ on Libya.

In 1930, under Mussolini’s governor of Libya, Rodolfo Graziani, some 80,000 Libyans were removed to concentration camps, where 55% of the inmates perished. In 1933-1940, Italo Balbo championed aerial warfare as the best means to deal with uppity colonial populations. Between 1912 and 1943, half of all Libyans were killed, starved or chased from the country by the Italian colonial regime.

American pundits speak glibly of “Islamofascism,” thus deeply insulting Muslims by tying their religion to a Western political movement. What they do not know is that Libyan Muslims suffered mightily at the hands of the real fascists. The movement of Omar Mukhtar, the school teacher who turned anti-colonialist revolutionary, was repressed by Italian fascism.

Reuters has video of Qaddafi in the rain denying he is in Venezuela:

Aljazeera English has more on the massacres.

19 Responses

  1. Off topic but noteworthy:

    Let us suppose there were Pakistani mercenaries, employed by that country’s secret intelligence service, driving around the United States armed with semi-automatic pistols, with diplomatic immunity, hunting down extremist militants, or maybe calling in air strikes on them. That would mean, in the U.S., Christian dominionists, minutmen, the Michigan Militia, that sort of thing — people who don’t have a lot of support per se but who have ideological sympathy from a significant constituency.

    Or perhaps acting as agents provocateurs, or spying on the U.S. military?

    Suppose this was happening with the knowledge and tacit approval of the United States government? Suppose one of them shot and killed two U.S. citizens, and a vehicle from the Pakistani embassy, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, struck and killed a third citizen on the way to rescue him?

    Obviously, we would think that was perfectly normal and acceptable. What’s wrong with those wacky Pakistanis that they are upset about the identical situation? The Asiatic mind is sure obscure.

  2. BTW, I’m not getting wild and crazy about what he might have been doing. This is from ABC News:

    According to the intelligence consultant, Blackwater personnel have worked for the CIA in Pakistan since at least 2004, most as security guards, but some as paramilitary operatives working to target militants in the country’s tribal regions.

    (By “security guards” they mean people who act as clandestine bodyguards for CIA ops while they meet with contacts. The CIA fired Blackwater and then rehired all their personnel as independent contractors, Davis among them.)

  3. Not to take anything away from Balbo, but I believe the Brits pioneered aerial bombing of civilian populations in the 20s. The idea of dropping chemical bombs from planes popped out of Churchill’s giant humanitarian brain.

    Or maybe Gaddafi is learning from the masters of Shock-and-Awe, which, if memory serves, killed more people in Baghdad than were killed on 9/11.

    That “Can’t face the revolution cuz it’s raining” video, is that Gaddafi’s audition tape for the next SNL?

    • I don’t see the value of sneering at the British after nearly 100 years. All nations are duplicitous and hypocritical and it is naive to think otherwise.
      Nothing is added to the debate or the quest for solutions to this crisis by finger pointing.

      • What is added to the debate is the revelation that countries that dominate other countries or even the world are much more likely to do these nasty things more often in more places. Singh3 is pointing the finger to power, which corrupted the British while they had it, and has corrupted us now that we have it.

    • Actually, the Italians beat the Brigs in that race. The first aerial bombing was by the Italians in the Italo-Turkish War. In 1911. On an oasis town outside … Tripoli.

  4. I’m wondering how long it will be before we see not only more Mussolini style fascist attacks on protesters, but a full-out Guernica style attack on Lybians by their fellow countrymen (and mercenaries).

    I had to wonder when I saw the reports of mercenaries being used, if Quadaffi is worried about his military refusing to fire on their fellow countrymen and women (presumably potentially friends and family members), and if that was the reason he resorted to them.

    The problem for the mercenaries is that the rest of the Libyan military could turn on them next.

    I’m watching all of the countries involved – Algeria, Bahrain, etc.; I think it will be only a matter of time, a ‘when’ not an ‘if’ for most of them.

    Armed revolts tend to replace one despotic government with simply a different dictator, not make the changes they seek. Non-violent protest will be what succeeds, in the long run.

  5. Everywhere I look journalists are shocked by Qadaffi´s violence, particularly the bombing. How is it that the bombings carried out by the U.S.A, Germany, Great Britain, etc., are not considered so terrible? This happens every damned day in Afghanistan, Pakistan,until recently Iraq. This is rank cowardice. Hillary Clinton reminds me of Stalin´s Foreign Minister, Molotov. Her remarks are without morals. Who is she to preach? Otherwise, good luck to the peoples of North Africa.

    • Moral and US foreign policies do not mix together. Americans may not realize this but rest of the world do…..

      BTW, why do they hate us?

  6. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi when asked if he talked to Gaddafi said that his friend Gaddafi has a lot on his hand right now and doesn’t want to disturb him. Between not disturbing a friend while he is protecting your 32% share of oil and don’t disturb your enemy while it is destroying itself, the only lost will be libyan lives.

  7. Balbo was just following the lead of Churchill, who was all for bombing and gassing rebellious populations within British colonies. It should also be recalled that elites in both the US and British Empires were great admirers of the rise of Fascism and its champions Mussolini and Hitler. Too few know these words of Hannah Arendt: “Empire abroad means tyranny at home,” which ought to be modified in the cases of China and Russia whose Empires are within their borders, not overseas, and in the US Empire’s case where its both at home and overseas.

  8. Balbo Dr. in Chicago was the scene of the 1968 Democratic convention riots. Our holy roller politicans must have thought Balbo’s treachery was pretty cool.

  9. I always remember how Ronald Reagan received overwhelming support for his bombing of Lybia in 1986 – a bombing that killed Qaddafi’s infant daughter. Reagan called Qaddafi a “mad dog” and supporter of terrorism. Now the US government has to be prodded into expressing interest as Qaddafi is about to be overthrown and murderously clings to power.

    While Reagan was in power, Saddam Huseein was the tyrant nobody cared about, and few even knew about because he was a US ally. You have to marvel at the ability of the corporate media to manufacture villains on demand and also quietly convert villains into benign “statesmen” if need be.

  10. Juan – thanks for the history, I never heard this before. The North Africa campaign is famous among WWII buffs – Rommel vs. Monty & all that – but you never hear, even in major histories, about the local populations, as if the entire territory was empty of people.

  11. Another close parallel to Qaddafi’s aerial bombardment of protestors would be Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza’s bombing and strafing of Matagalpa in June, 1979. In this brutal and futile attempt to crush the Sandinista rebellion, Somoza’s warplanes attacked the civilian neightborhoods of Matagalpa for about a month’s time.

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