Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"China pillages Africa like old colonialists: Jane Goodall"

2014-02-18 from "AFP" newswire:
Johannesburg -
China is exploiting Africa's resources just like European colonisers did, with disastrous effects for the environment, acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall has told AFP.
On the eve of her 80th birthday, the fiery British wildlife crusader is whizzing across the world giving a series of lectures on the threats to our planet.
And the rising world power's involvement on the continent especially raises alarms when it comes to her beloved chimpanzees and wildlife habitats.
During the last decade China has been investing heavily in African natural resources, developing mines, oil wells and running related construction companies.
Activists accuse Chinese firms of paying little attention to the environmental impact of their race for resources.
"In Africa, China is merely doing what the colonialist did. They want raw materials for their economic growth, just as the colonialists were going into Africa and taking the natural resources, leaving people poorer," she told AFP in an interview in Johannesburg.
The stakes for the environment may even be larger this time round, she warns.
"China is bigger, and the technology has improved... It is a disaster."
Other than massive investment in Africa's mines, China is also a big market for elephant tusks and rhino horn, which has driven poaching of these animals to alarming heights.
But Goodall, who rose to fame through her ground-breaking research on chimpanzees in Tanzania, is optimistic.
"I do believe China is changing," she said, citing as one example Beijing's recent destruction of illegal ivory stockpiles.
"I think 10 years ago, even with international pressure, we would never have had an ivory crush. But they have," she added.
"I think 10 years ago the government would never have banned shark fin soup on official occasions. But they have."

- 'Small window of time' -
Her organisation Roots and Shoots, founded over two decades ago to instil conservation values in children, has also become involved in China.
"We work with hundreds of Chinese children, and they are not different from children we work with here. They all love nature, they love animals, they want to help, there's no difference because they're Chinese," she said.
Young people's enthusiasm to change the world is a major reason to hope, for this lady with seemingly inexhaustible energy who can still keep an auditorium hanging on her words for more than an hour.
"These young people will become the next parents, the next teachers, the next lawyers, the next business people and the next politicians, some of them."
"The biggest problem is that people understand but don't know what to do," she said.
"If you have one thousand, one million or eventually several million people all making the right choice, all thinking about the consequence of their behaviour, then we're going to see big change."
Another glimmer of hope is "this amazing resilience of nature," she continued, citing as an example the China's Loess Plateau on the Yellow River bouncing back after massive soil erosion.
"It was set to be the biggest totally destroyed ecosystem in the world," she said.
A $400-million project funded by the Chinese government and international donors introduced better farming methods in the area, which greatly reduced erosion and lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, according to the World Bank.
"That took a lot of money, but if you look at it now, it's all green, lush and farmland, and children have come back from the cities. It's even got a whole area for wildlife," said Goodall.
"We still have a small window of time to change things."

USA & EU, through the G8 conference, pledges to economically colonize Africa

"G8 New Alliance condemned as new wave of colonialism in Africa;
Critics say landmark initiative to boost agriculture and relieve poverty favours big business to the detriment of small farmers"
2014-02-18 by Claire Provost, Liz Ford and Mark Tran for "The Guardian" [http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/18/g8-new-alliance-condemned-new-colonialism]:
A landmark G8 initiative to boost agriculture and relieve poverty has been damned as a new form of colonialism after African governments agreed to change seed, land and tax laws to favour private investors over small farmers.
Ten countries made more than 200 policy commitments, including changes to laws and regulations after giant agribusinesses were granted unprecedented access to decision-makers over the past two years.
The pledges will make it easier for companies to do business in Africa through the easing of export controls and tax laws, and through governments ringfencing huge chunks of land for investment.
The Ethiopian government has said it will "refine" its land law to encourage long-term land leases and strengthen the enforcement of commercial farm contracts. In Malawi, the government has promised to set aside 200,000 hectares of prime land for commercial investors by 2015, and in Ghana, 10,000 hectares will be made available for investment by the end of next year. In Nigeria, promises include the privatisation of power companies.
A Guardian analysis of companies' plans under the initiative suggests dozens of investments are for non-food crops, including cotton, biofuels and rubber, or for projects explicitly targeting export markets.
Companies were invited to the table through the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative that pledges to accelerate agricultural production and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022 [http://feedthefuture.gov/article/new-alliance-food-security-and-nutrition-0].
But small farmers, who are supposed to be the main beneficiaries of the programme, have been shut out of the negotiations.
Olivier de Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said governments had been making promises to investors "completely behind the screen", with "no long-term view about the future of smallholder farmers" and without their participation.
He described Africa as the last frontier for large-scale commercial farming. "There's a struggle for land, for investment, for seed systems, and first and foremost there's a struggle for political influence," he said.
Zitto Kabwe, the chairman of the Tanzanian parliament's public accounts committee, said he was "completely against" the commitments his government has made to bolster private investment in seeds.
"By introducing this market, farmers will have to depend on imported seeds. This will definitely affect small farmers. It will also kill innovation at the local level. We have seen this with manufacturing," he said.
"It will be like colonialism. Farmers will not be able to farm until they import, linking farmers to [the] vulnerability of international prices. Big companies will benefit. We should not allow that."
Tanzania's tax commitments would also benefit companies rather than small farmers, he said, adding that the changes proposed would have to go through parliament. "The executive cannot just commit to these changes. These are sensitive issues. There has to be enough debate," he said.
Million Belay, the head of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), said the initiative could spell disaster for small farmers in Africa. "It clearly puts seed production and distribution in the hands of companies," he said.
"The trend is for companies to say they cannot invest in Africa without new laws … Yes, agriculture needs investment, but that shouldn't be used as an excuse to bring greater control over farmers' lives.
"More than any other time in history, the African food production system is being challenged. More than any other time in history outside forces are deciding the future of our farming systems."
AFSA has also denounced the G8 initiative as ushering in a new wave of colonialism on the continent [http://www.acbio.org.za/activist/index.php?m=u&f=dsp&petitionID=3].
Barack Obama launched the New Alliance at the 2012 G8 summit at Camp David, following years of underinvestment in agriculture and the failure of donors to disburse millions of dollars in funding for global food security promised at the 2009 G8 meeting in L'Aquila, Italy.
Just eight African governments have met their own commitment, made under the Maputo accord in 2003, to invest 10% of their budgets in agricultural development [http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/feb/14/africa-farming-caadp-agriculture].
With traditional aid budgets under pressure, donors are increasingly turning to the private sector to fill the gap, sparking concerns that taxpayer money to help the world's poorest people is being diverted to programmes that raise the profile and promote the interests of commercial investors.
Six African countries signed up to the New Alliance at launch, and another four joined last year.
The initiative relies on the "personal commitment of top-level leaders", according to a document from its overarching leadership council, seen by the Guardian. The council brings African presidents together with the heads of donor agencies and top business executives. The CEOs of companies including Unilever and the agribusiness giants Syngenta, Yara and Cargill have had seats on the leadership council.
Companies have refused to make their full investment plans under the New Alliance available for public scrutiny, and freedom of information requests to the UK government were rejected on the basis of commercial confidentiality.
A consultant hired by donors to draft a co-operation agreement for the New Alliance in Malawi said it helped to raise the profile of private investors' needs at the most senior level of government.

Joint opportunities -
Øystein Botillen, manager of global initiatives at fertiliser giant Yara International, said the initiative helped donors and companies "pull in the same direction" and created space for "dialogues on where there are opportunities, how investments can be of mutual benefit".
Kavita Prakash-Mani, Syngenta's global head of food security, said it planned to develop a $1bn business in Africa by 2022 and was working closely with the US development agency (USAid) and the UK Department for International Development (DfID). "We have ongoing conversations to see where we may be able to find joint opportunities."
Prakash-Mani said the company was not involved in drawing up countries' co-operation frameworks, but added that policy reforms were "essential to ensure that investments made by Syngenta and others have the desired impact on the ground". She added that "better coordination between regulations across countries will also help speed up the introduction of much needed technology for use by African farmers".
Critics of the New Alliance have questioned how it will help poor farmers. A document seen by the Guardian shows the initiative is based on assumptions about how investment can reduce poverty and has set no specific targets for its stated goals of boosting food security and nutrition on the continent.
Colin Poulton, a research fellow at the centre for development, environment and policy at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, told the Guardian: "Without a clear theory of change indicating how increased investment in large-scale agriculture will lead to poverty reduction, improved food security or nutrition, and without clear plans to ensure that large numbers of outgrowers will be engaged in the new value chains, the New Alliance is so far primarily an initiative to commercialise agriculture in Africa."
Some civil society groups say the initiative has the potential to benefit farmers, but are concerned by the speed at which policy changes are being driven through, and the lack of consultation, particularly with groups based in Africa. Farmers the Guardian spoke to said they were unaware of the initiative or that laws were being changed.
Kato Lambrechts, Christian Aid's senior advocacy and policy officer, said: "Governments have signed on to promise to fast-track or implement policies, regulations or laws that need to be further discussed and debated in-country. The concern is that these are being pushed through in exchange for new private sector commitments to invest in agriculture value chains, which cannot be a substitute for well-developed and comprehensive policies that address the needs of poor farmers to allow them to move out of poverty."
Benito Eliasi, from the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, which has represented civil society on the leadership council, said: "The implementation of legislation is one of the biggest problems facing farmers in Africa. We need to safeguard farmers … Farmers need to be involved. If they are not involved, this will fail."
Gawain Kripke, Oxfam America's policy director, said insufficient consultation with civil society and farmers was a fatal flaw. "There's a 100-year history of failed development projects in Africa and around the world … It's not just about being nice."
The UK development secretary, Justine Greening, told the Guardian that smallholder farmers were "absolutely a core part of the New Alliance". She said: "Do medium and large corporations have a role to play? Of course they do, but it will not be an exclusive approach. I don't believe it will be.
"I think overwhelmingly we need to be careful that we don't come at all these key projects that ultimately involve the private sector with a sense of somehow they're going to be bad."
Tony Burdon, DfID's head of growth and resilience, admitted that more consultation could have taken place with civil society and farmers' groups, and that companies could be more transparent about their investment plans, which he described as "light on detail" in some cases.
But he added that focusing on civil society and issues of accountability was missing the point of the initiative. He said the New Alliance would help to increase agricultural growth and farmers' incomes, which would in turn improve food security and reduce poverty levels, something public sector funding alone had not achieved.
Britain's aid watchdog said last month that it would be examining the New Alliance as part of its wider investigation into whether UK funding for nutrition was achieving its aims.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Africa covered by Internet satellites owned by EU-associate Turkey

"Turkey launches satellite to increase Internet speed"
2014-02-15 from "UPI" [http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Technology/2014/02/15/Turkey-launches-satellite-to-increase-Internet-speed/UPI-11311392492216/]:
Ankara, Turkey -
Turkish authorities say the launch of a Turksat-4A Turkish communications satellite demonstrates the country's commitment to fast Internet service.
A Russia-built rocket carrying the satellite was launched from Kazakhstan Friday night, RIA Novosti reported.
The launch comes after the Turkish parliament passed a bill that would allow the government to shut down websites without court orders.
Turkish Communications Minister Lutfi Elvan said Turksat-4A -- the fifth satellite launched recently by Turkey -- is meant to increase internet speed in Turkey to 50 megabytes.
The launch "clearly demonstrates how important the internet is for the Turkish government," Elvan said.
Elvan said all of Africa will be covered by the Turksat-4A and the Turksat-4B will be launched this year.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Weapons companies look to capitalist Libya for sales

"As Libya trains new army, defense industries hope for contracts"
2014-02-14 from "UPI.com" newswire [http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2014/02/14/As-Libya-trains-new-arm-defense-industries-hope-for-contracts/UPI-58281392402835/]:
Tripoli, Libya -
The United States and Europe are training recruits for Libya's post-Gadhafi military, raising expectations it will revive stalled defense procurement.
Western defense companies looking for sales in Libya are increasingly reliant on export sales because of hefty military spending cuts in their home countries.
But those arms contracts may not materialize for some time as oil-rich Libya -- it has reserves of 76.4 billion barrels, the largest in Africa and the fifth largest in the world -- grapples with restoring stability 2 1/2 years after the eight-month conflict to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Libya's oil exports, the country's economic lifeline, have been drastically reduced since July, when eastern militias blockaded three terminal ports to reinforce their demand for autonomy for the region, known as Cyrenaica.
The shutdown reduced oil production from around 1.5 million barrels per day to some 200,000 bpd. That eased in January when the Tripoli government succeeded in ending the closure of a southern oilfield.
But the state, the country's largest employer, has lost more than $10 billion in oil revenues and has had to dip into its foreign reserves to the tune of at least $7 billion, leaving it unable to pay salaries, or place orders for military equipment to replace the big losses in the NATO-backed insurrection that ended Gadhafi's 42-year rule.
Besides that, years after Gadhafi was toppled and killed, Libya remains wracked by lawlessness, marauding ethnic or tribal militias and political tension between the three main regions, Cyrenaica in the east, Tripolitania in the west and Fezzan in the south.
The transitional government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is powerless to bring these militias to heel because it has no effective military or security forces.
Even so, the U.S. and Britain, having destroyed much of Gadhafi's armed forces during the 2011 bombing campaign, are spearheading the effort to rebuild Libya's military.
In January, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency at the Pentagon announced it had notified Congress it has approved foreign military sales to Libya worth several million dollars. It also disclosed that Tripoli had requested the sale of training and expertise for 6,000 to 8,000 troops.
"The training includes services for up to eight years for training, facilities sustainment and improvements, personnel training and training equipment, 637 M4A4 carbines and small arms ammunition, U.S. government and contractor technical and logistics support services, organizational clothing and individual equipment, and other related elements of logistical and program support," the DSCA said.
Meantime, 340 Libyan recruits arrived in Italy in January for a basic, 14-week training course at an Italian army base outside Cassino, south of Rome. Italy will train 2,000 Libyans over two years.
Libya paid Britain $2.5 million to reopen an old military base at Bassingbourn in eastern England to train another contingent. Turkey's also providing facilities.
Building a military force is the first priority, but at some point Zeidan's government will have to address the need for new weapons systems as well as radar, communications networks and other equipment. During much of Gadhafi's rule he was at odds with the U.S. and Europe over his support for terrorism. Libya was under a U.S. and European arms embargo until October 2004 when Gadhafi surrendered his secret nuclear weapons program.
So most of Libya's military hardware was Russian, although Gadhafi bought French and German weapons systems after the embargo was lifted. A lot of this weaponry was destroyed during the NATO air campaign supporting the rebels.
Libya has not disclosed what systems it needs, although the list is likely to be extensive.
Tripoli may switch from Russian to Western weapons systems. That will pretty much mean re-equipping Libya's armed force from the ground up, an expensive proposition.
Otherwise, Moscow may find itself with a golden opportunity to sell Libya new Russian aircraft, tanks, warships and other equipment.
So far, the Europeans appear the most aggressive in selling arms to Libya. U.S. companies have been inhibited by the post-war anarchy in Libya, particularly the Sept. 11, 2012, killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four other Americans at the consulate in Benghazi.
However, the U.S. publication Defense News reports Col. Ibrahim el Fortia, the Libyan defense attache in Washington, recently told a American Chamber of Commerce gathering on Libya: "We'd like to see priority go to American companies."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

EU France invades jurisdiction of the Central African Republic

"France in race to find troops for EU C.Africa mission"2014-02-13 from "AFP" newswire:
Brussels -
The race is on to find hundreds of troops for the EU's military mission in the troubled Central African Republic, the French head of the operation said Thursday.
"We are working with a sense of urgency," said General Philippe Ponties who took up his post as the mission chief for the force earlier this week.
The objective is to deploy the first soldiers "as quickly as possible" in the capital Bangui to help French and African Union troops already there, Ponties said.
"But at this stage, there are still many unknowns," he added.
EU foreign ministers cleared the 9-month mission on Monday but without resolving who would contribute an estimated 500 troops.
Major EU powers such as Britain and Germany have refused to commit soldiers but have offered logistics support.
Negotiations among the 28 member states are difficult, with many willing to support France in its former colony but reluctant to get drawn into a bloody sectarian conflict between majority Christians and the Muslim community.
Diplomats say Georgia -- anxious to cement good ties with the EU -- could supply up to 100 troops while Estonia has offered 55.
Finland and Luxembourg are other possibilities while Belgium seems uncertain, worried about financing a troop contribution when its state budget is so tight.
The mission approved Monday includes funding of 25.9 million euros but that does not cover the cost of troop contributions which member states would be responsible for.
French President Francois Hollande urged in December for solidarity with France, which had intervened with 1,600 soldiers to prevent CAR becoming a failed state.
In this case, a small EU ground contingent might be enough to satisfy Paris which would then complete the numbers.
Ponties said the EU troops would take up position at Bangui airport, home to up to 100,000 refugees living in "extremely precarious conditions."
The aim is to establish "a very visible presence ... to get tangible results as quick as possible," he said.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

EU France military role in Africa is valued by USA war planners

"US hails French role in stemming African conflicts"2014-02-11 from "AFP" newswire:
Washington -
The United States Tuesday praised France's "key" role in helping to quell unrest and extremist violence in parts of Africa as French President Francois Hollande was welcomed on a state visit.
"The French role has been key to achieving success in Mali, and the French role in trying to bring about security and peace in CAR is very, very important," the US top diplomat for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
Washington was "very supportive" of France's efforts in Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR), she added, denouncing "horrifying" reports of recent lynchings in the latter country plagued by Christian and Muslim revenge attacks.
"It just highlighted for me and others how urgent the situation is there," she said.
Hollande held talks at the White House with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
He was greeted with a 21-gun salute and full military honors on the chilly South Lawn of the White House, before discussions on issues ranging from Iran to climate change, trade to combating Islamist threats.
Washington backed fresh moves to boost the number of European and African forces working in Central Africa, said Thomas-Greenfield, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
When she visited the country in December with US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Thomas-Greenfield said, "we started to see the rising level of frustration that people express because of the lack of security."
The African peacekeeping force MISCA has already sent some 5,400 of 6,000 planned troops, and some 1,600 French soldiers are on the ground in the CAR. The EU has promised to deploy 500 troops to the capital Bangui at the beginning of March.
"We agree that the number of troops in CAR need to be increased to address the very complex security situation," said Thomas-Greenfield, in an online discussion with reporters from around the continent.
More security forces and in particular "foreign police units" were needed to help secure Bangui.
The US "will continue to work with the French government and partners in the European Union to ensure we bring about a level of support that will bring peace and security to CAR."
While the United States has not provided any forces on the ground, it has helped airlift French troops both into Mali and the Central African Republic.
It has given some $100 million to support the military efforts to end the violence in CAR and also given some $45 million in humanitarian aid to the people.
Top US spy chief James Clapper also praised France before US lawmakers, saying "they have a great access and they have a strategy in which they want to pursue terrorism."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Goldman Sachs coordinated economic warfare against Jamahiriya of Libya

"How Goldman Sachs Rescued Libya"2014-02-03 by Joshua Brown [http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/03/how-goldman-sachs-rescued-libya.html]:
(Intro) If a new lawsuit by the Libyan sovereign investment fund is to be believed, Wall Street bankers were able to accomplish what decades of sanctions could not—Gaddafi’s downfall.
“Geopolitics is now a game best played with financial and commercial weapons. The new geoeconomic game may be more efficient and subtle than past geopolitical competitions, but it is no less ruthless and destructive.” - Juan C. Zarate
In October of 2011, Libya was finally freed from autocratic rule after 42 years of oppression under the dictator Muammar Gaddafi. There were many contributing causes to the fall of the Colonel, from the rebellious uprising of National Transitional Council (NTC) armed forces to the sanctions imposed by the West, including the freezing of bank accounts and the boycott of the nation’s oil exports.
But of all these factors in the liberation of the Libyan people, none are quite so unsung as those made by the American investment bank, Goldman Sachs.
Goldman, you see, may have actually been instrumental in the fall of the dictator, in an operation so devious and brutally effective that we can only assume it had been carried out at the behest of the Department of Defense or, at least, with their tacit approval. While no proof of this cooperation between the bank and the United States exists (officially), it is hard to witness the effectiveness with which the bankers neutralized their target and not conclude some sort of intentionality.
Thanks to a new lawsuit filed in London’s High Court this week, we are finally hearing of these deeds of financial derring-do [http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/libyan-investment-fund-files-suit-against-goldman/].
If these new allegations are anywhere within the realm of truth, then we may just have a new model for dealing with enemy nations and stubbornly unreasonable governments overseas—we simply send in the bankers.
The Libyan sovereign investment fund is claiming that Goldman Sachs helped bring about $1 billion in losses for the nation between 2007 and 2011, whilst spiriting away $350 million in profits from the endeavor. From the point of view of Libya’s financial officials, the aggressor against the Mideast country bore no guns, nor missiles, nor bombs in the course of the assault. It sent very few troops, at least none who were identified as such, unless one were to conflate Canali suits with camouflage. Instead, Libya faced a 21st-century arsenal unlike anything it had been prepared for from its long, arduous history of bloodshed.
This time, you see, the enemy came armed with derivatives.
From The New York Times: [begin excerpt]
The suit, filed by the Libyan Investment Authority last week but detailed on Thursday, says that Goldman Sachs abused its relationship “of trust and confidence” in entering into the trades, adding that the bank did not keep adequate records about the trades. Throughout the suit, the sovereign fund describes an imbalance between its young and inexperienced staff and Goldman’s savvy bankers, an imbalance, the fund says, the firm abused.
[end excerpt]
"Trust and Confidence”—a lethal combination of subterfuge, especially when employed with the unctuous haughtiness of an Ivy-educated, world-wizened veteran of Wall Street culture.
The Libyan Investment Authority (L.I.A.) goes on to detail the ways in which confidence was gained by Goldman personnel, an advisory relationship was established and mesmerizingly complex transactions were entered into. This process included the now well-known tactic of U.S. bankers hiring the family members of government officials to capture the opportunities that inevitably arise when unsophisticated bureaucrats are entering into 10- and 11-figure transactions with Harvard MBAs. It’s not bribery, after all, so long as somebody’s getting new business cards printed.
In 2003, the United Nations began lifting sanctions against Libya as a result of its anti-terror cooperation pledge in the wake of 9/11. We are told that both the UK and the United States encouraged their banking elites to embark upon business dealings with the formerly untouchable regime, an invitation that surely needed not be proffered twice. By the fall of 2007, we are told, Goldman had made a presentation to the Libyans about establishing a partnership with the sovereign fund, training its employees and “offering it strategic long-term advice and opportunistic investment options.” They had given the LIA the ol’ tried-and-true we’re your partners pitch and it had worked.
And that’s when the trading began.
You already know what happens next… The same thing that went down from Iceland to Ireland to Jefferson County, Alabama. “While Goldman Sachs was orchestrating these unjustly exploitative transactions,” says the chairman of Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, “it repeatedly told the L.I.A. that it sought a long-term relationship with the L.I.A. as a strategic partner. This was untrue.”
From another report at The Telegraph, we see that swiftness with which Goldman was able to subdue its Libyan “customer” and relieve it of its funds shows a formidability that our armed forces can only dream of…
The first trade, a $100m derivate bet on the share price of global bank Citigroup, was entered in to on January 25, with the others following over a three month period.
But by the end of 2008, the trades had “lost substantially all of their value,” and expired worthless during the course of 2011.
Godspeed, you magnificent bastards! What defense can there possibly be against the likes of such valor and unstoppable investment banking prowess?
If these new allegations are anywhere within the realm of truth, then we may just have a new model for dealing with enemy nations and stubbornly unreasonable governments overseas—we simply send in the bankers. While Goldman Sachs’s possibly intentional attempt to relieve the Libyan investment fund of its strategic wealth would certainly be a novel approach, it should be noted that American history is filled with examples of U.S. corporations aiding the war effort (and plenty of examples in which they’ve aided our enemies, but that’s another tale for another time).
Goldman’s particular brand of counterparty-combat, well documented in the press since the financial crisis, seems to have helped bring about what ages of negotiation and sanctions could not. While Goldman’s banker-warriors went about bleeding the country’s war-chest of wealth as hunters pursue a wounded elephant, the Libyan finance minister, Abdulhafid Zlitni, was telling the press that it would all be over soon. By April, Zlitni was restricting the amount of money that Libyans could withdraw from the state-run banks and was openly discussing a doubling in interest rates.
“This won’t take long—maybe a few months,” the country’s financial chief ominously said, without elaborating. I like to think he was mousing through the balances of his country’s investment account at Goldman as he uttered it. It would only be a few more months before his boss Muammar would be shot while attempting to escape through a drainage pipe.
Thus, the Libyan revolution ended, thanks in no small part to Goldman’s masterful manipulation of the men holding the national purse strings. The people were ultimately freed, their shackles broken after decades of isolation and submission.
It is highly probable that we’ll never hear a fully detailed account of Goldman’s courageous maneuvers in the business district of Tripoli, working from the inside to bring about the final days of Gaddafi’s reign. It is also unlikely that the firm will ever even take any credit, its stoicism on the matter yet even more proof of the firm’s innate nobility.
Not all soldiers carry guns or pilot tanks and planes. Not every war is won on a physical field of battle. The integral role of Goldman’s bold, besuited bankers in the destabilization of this despotic regime ought to be told to future generations, in both story and song, so that their heroic actions aren’t soon forgotten.