Will the Libyan people ever see their $245 billion?

THROUGH MY EYES by Ron Edwards

During his address to the nation on Libya on Monday, March 28, 2011, at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., President Obama made mention of the $80 billion in Libyan funds that have been seized in the United States. This is in addition to the $165 billion seized so far from banks throughout Europe, led by the Swiss, French and British.
Our president said the Libyan people could rest assured that their money would be safe with the United States of America. This columnist respectfully disagrees, as we ask, “Safe for who?” and point out that the money will mostly go to protect oil, not citizens. Otherwise, why not the same “humanitarian” action in sub-Sahara Africa?
As Republican Senators McCain of Arizona, McConnell of Kentucky, and Sessions of Alabama have publicly stated, these seized funds and assets are to be used to pay for NATO’s latest crusade in North Africa.
$245 billion would get a lot of people health care in this country. Instead, Europe, including countries whose initials spell out PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain), will have clear, legal title to these seized assets with either the departure or death of Muammar Qaddafi.
Also on display last week, in Paris on March 28 and 29, was the old European arrogance of the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 that divided up Africa, the second largest continent, into European territories and “spheres” of influence and interest that exist today. Foreign Ministers of 30 countries, primarily European and Christian and now joined by the United States and Canada, met to establish a legal partitioning of Libya, especially assigning Libyan oil fields to this European coalition as well as some to Egypt to give it a Muslim-Arab face.
Is this economic adjustment for Libya to be the future of other North African oil fields? Is Europe, which once reduced a place of 10,000 peoples and tribes to 54 sovereign states and seven territories, now reducing it to six economic categories: oil fields, mines, deserts, savannas, migrating herds and coast lines? What’s next for Africa’s one billion people?
Contract law, extremely valued in the Western world, is often referred to as “civilized action among civilized people and nations.” Contract law understands the perceived need for transparency in taking other folks’ property. With the $245 billion already seized, we see major trans-American and trans-European oil companies doing business in Libya from the confines and safety of backroom economic plotting in order to bring additional windfalls for them.
But first of all, the current contracts must be adjusted to factor in the new provisional government for Libya (with oil fields in the West near Tripoli and the non-oil field of the Eastern Libyan town, Benghazi). In fact, the leadership of the new provisional government has been summoned to Paris after first being summoned to meetings in Ethiopia, the purpose being to make it appear there is transparency in dealing with the availability of Libyan assets to pay for the conflict in this North African nation.
It’s no accident the general public is not given significant details. Instead, we have all been invited to a pep rally centered around the doctrine that these 30 nations will provide for a new Libya. It sounds good on paper and on television to have it said that $245 billion in seized Libyan assets will be held in escrow for the little brown people of Libya.
But the partitioning of a nation and seizing of its assets is a serious, precedent-setting action in the ongoing debate on international norms. This column would certainly hope that after the Tomahawk missiles and the bombs have stopped raining down on Libya, the Libyan people will have returned to them their $245 billion. Let’s hope that within a couple of years we’ll all be able to praise a new, economically emerging Libya with a rising standard of living and a significantly changing quality of life that could not be achieved under Moammar Qaddafi.
Of course, we must assume that the Libyans will receive a bill for this Great War and for their new-found freedom. Our Congress is saying that if you want to enjoy freedom, you have to pay for it or wait for it.
Are you listening, Black America? Too many of our inner-city communities are still waiting for their 40 acres and a mule as new minorities push us further back in the line. Will Libya be another dream deferred by another 10-year war?
Stay tuned.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.Bea conOn TheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his archive of columns, solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.