Posts Tagged ‘Saleh Suhbi’

The Death Toll from Italian Colonialism: Why Johnson’s Comments about Libyan Corpses Is Not Funny

October 7, 2017

Mike yesterday and today has put up two pieces, reporting and commenting on condemnations of Boris Johnson’s remarks about British investors turning Sirte in Libya into ‘the next’ Dubai, as soon as they’ve cleared the bodies away’. Mike reported yesterday that a member of the Libyan House of Representatives, Saleh Suhbi, criticized the remark, saying

“It is cruel and unacceptable that the head of British diplomacy speaks and behaves in such a manner.

“Is this is a reflection of the British Government’s current views on Libya? Because this is not the UK that I know.”

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/06/pm-reporters-litany-of-idiocy-shows-why-boris-johnson-shouldnt-be-in-politics-let-alone-the-cabinet/

Today Mike’s reported that the Libyan House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has demanded a clarification from the government and an apology for Johnson’s remarks, stating that they are a violation of the sovereignty of the Libyan people.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/07/theresa-mays-failure-to-sack-boris-johnson-is-risking-an-international-incident/

Mike makes the point in the title and text of his article that by her refusal to sack Johnson, May is risking an international incident.

Clearly she is. And Mike’s article also has another great Tweet about Johnson’s crass remark from Owen Jones, and Johnson’s audience having a good guffaw at his ‘joke’. Or rather cavalier disregard for mass death.

The Libyans, whose country is still torn apart by civil war six years after Gaddafy was overthrown, don’t think Johnson’s comments about a battle with Islamists in which hundreds of police officers and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire died. I dare say that Johnson probably thinks this is another case of ‘foreign johnnies’ or whatever other disrespectful term he has for citizens of another country being touchy or oversensitive.

They aren’t. And if we had their history, we’d be exactly the same.

From the late 19th century until the 1950s, Libya was ruled by Italy, including the period of Fascist rule from 1921-1942 or so. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the exact dates. During this period, the country lost 1/3 of its people in resisting the Italians. The Italians, especially under Fascism, used the full arsenal of modern warfare on them, including poison gas. They also sterilized some of those they considered particularly dangerous, though Roman Catholic morality prevented them from carrying out this policy to the same extent as the Nazis in Germany.

I was also told at school by a former member of my old school, who had gone to work over there in the oil industry, that while Gaddafy was a brutal dictator, he had given his country independence and prosperity. The oil companies could extract the oil, but they had to pay for it. Thus the country had schools and proper roads, which it had lacked previously, when the country had been exploited by the oil industry, and kept desperately poor. Other things I’ve read recently have said that in Libya, schooling and healthcare were free.

Libya and its people under Gaddafy therefore had self-respect, something like a welfare state and prosperity. They were also a major power in African politics, and while the Mad Dog of the Middle East was quite prepared to use Islamist terror groups to assassinate his African and Arab enemies, they were firmly kept out of the country itself.

Now, with the country still mired in a bloody civil war, the last thing its people need is a return of European imperialism. And the last thing its democratic politicians need is to be seen to be collaborators with another set of European imperialists, who find the deaths of their citizens nothing more than a joke.

Johnson’s comment was never funny. It was crass and insensitive. But when you find out a little about the way the country’s people were maltreated under Italian imperialism, and the colossal death toll this took, it becomes deadly serious.

Johnson isn’t a lovable oaf. He’s a right-wing thug, who cares only for the bloated prosperity of his own class, and is entirely indifferent about the sufferings of the poor and marginalized in Britain, and the feelings of the peoples of foreign nations. His comments in Myanmar show he’s so obsessed with his rosy Kiplingesque view of empire, that he’s incapable of understanding that the peoples of former colonized countries may find them insulting and offensive.

This insensitivity is actively harming British interests abroad. They may have very serious consequences as this country tries to build business and trading relationships after Brexit. May has to sack him. Now.

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