Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oil Makes Enemies into Bedfellows

This post originally appeared on the Operation FREE blog ( on 31 March, 2011.

As the controversy over the Libyan intervention rolls on and American and allied bombs continue to drop on Qaddafi’s forces in Libya, one can’t help but reflect upon how the Colonel, such an evil and diabolical dictator, has gotten and paid for his foreign fighters and tanks. Oil is Libya’s largest economic sector, accounts for nearly all of its foreign trade, and is 80% of Qaddafi’s revenue. This means Libyan oil, particularly easy to refine, bought by America’s European allies such as the UK, France, Spain and Italy, most of which are also deeply involved in the intervention, has largely funded it. But America isn’t off the hook either; the 2006 decision by the Bush administration to take Libya off the list of state sponsors of terror also took Libya off the pariah state list and gave Qaddafi the all-important legitimacy he needed to shore up his rule. Additionally, many large American financial firms have traded in Libyan oil until as late as last month. Qaddafi has formed, fed, and funded Islamic militias loyal to him throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from neighboring Mali to Madagascar, and bought the cooperation of largely-poor governments throughout the region. A new $100 million government complex in Mali will even bare his name. Though the tradition of Islamic rulers buying the loyalty of less-troublesome foreign mercenaries dates back to the Caliphate, oil purchases have enabled Qaddafi to build and equip his forces this time around. Those oil purchases were made or aided by the very nations now intervening there. It doesn’t take much to see that our continued dependence on foreign oil is once again coming back to bite us. Former CIA Director James Woolsey’s now-famous words hold true here: “This is the first war since the American Civil War where the United States is funding both sides.”