"By 2003, the Libyan government had entered into relations with the International Monetary Fund, privatizing a number of state-owned enterprises. In 2004, Libya opened up 15 new offshore and onshore blocs to drilling. Campbell also chronicles the burrowing actions of the “Western-educated bureaucrats [who] worked to bring Libya into the fold of ‘market reforms,’ and the deepening commercial relations with British capital.” In 2007, British Petroleum inked a deal with the Libyan Investment Corporation for the exploration of 54,000 square kilometers of the Ghadames and Sirt basins. It also signed training agreements for Libyan professionals, helping create a base for neoliberalism within the government. By 2011, 2800 Libyan professionals were studying in the United Kingdom, learning “Western values” of destatization and thus the removal of the possibility for production and power to be responsive to the demands of the people. 

Libya under Qadhaffi was mercurial, but against the ambitions of the plotters who would later depose him in a coup d’état, it was not a country sold to Western capitalists and their domestic helpers, the “reformers” who had “internalized neoliberal economic thinking and wanted Libya to become like Kuwait or the Gulf States – basically client states of Western capital,” as Campbell puts it.

Ibrahim el-Meyet, told the U.S. embassy that there would be “no real economic or political reform in Libya until [Qadhaffi] passes from the political scene,” something which would “not occur while [Qadhaffi] is alive.” Taking that advice to heart, the imperial core set in motion its plan to turn the country which he governed into ruin.

Campbell has provided an important glimpse into the massive segment of that responsibility most relevant to a U.S. readership: its own. Indeed, counter-intuitively, he perhaps underplays that responsibility. For the deterioration of the Qadhaffi government happened not through purely internal decay, but through processes in which Western financial institutions, corporate organs, universities, and the insistent specter and reality of U.S. violence played a major part. And what is inescapable is this: their ability to do so rests on the inability of Western resistance forces to destroy such mechanisms."

Notes on Libya

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty