Maximillian Forte. SLOUCHING TOWARDS SIRTE: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa. 2012. Baraka Books. Montreal, Canada

Review by Theresa Wolfwood


“NATO’s war in Libya was advertised as a humanitarian intervention- bombing in the name of ‘saving lives’.”


As Canada goes to war again in Western Asia, it is important to remember our humanitarian (read: military) intervention into Libya a few years ago. Forte’s book is valuable history of our unflagging enthusiasm for killing people somewhere else at the slightest nod from our occupiers, the USA; but it is important reading now as rumors spread that we may go to war in Libya (again) soon.


Many of us thought the assault was about resources and local power, but Forte sees further than that. His detailed research leads us through the human rights sham, the almost instantaneous recognition of rebels we normally label as ‘terrorists’ the money grab of Libya’s assets, the complete lack of diplomatic or political negotiations, and the speedy official legitimization of the ‘winners’ of the war we fought for them. Since that time we have seen Libya become a constant war scene with people desperately fleeing the chaos and conflict as more people are killed daily than ever before.


Forte teaches at Concordia University in Montreal. His book documents the background to our war on Libya, a country with oil resources that generated great wealth for its government under Gadhafi’s leadership who invested in and gave outright aid to other countries in Africa, building on a policy of pan-Africanism. This independence of action was a constant irritant to NATO leaders who saw Africa, as it sees the rest of the world, as a storehouse of resources for our use. The result to this perceived threat was “military humanism” which was marketed to us as “Responsibility to Protect”. Indeed we were protecting imperialism and its expansionism. The destruction of Sirte, once called the most beautiful city in Libya and the home of Gadhafi, is the symbol of our humanitarian.


Forte reveals all the sordid details of our war on Libya as a prelude to our new colonialism of Africa. THE USA’s military Africa Command, ARICOM was created by George Bush (but even earlier, remember our war on Somalia) and continues under the present government with the pledge to invoke a ‘global response’ if Africa posed a threat to American interests. As Forte puts it, “they construct Africa as a zone that needs to be patrolled, laws enforced, in other words tamed and civilized.” He quotes Vice Admiral Robert Moeller as saying, “Let there be no mistake, AFRICOM’s job is to protect American lives and promote American interests.”


An eager supporter of the war of Libya, French President of the day, Nicolas Sarkozy said,

 “…It is the world order, the style of international relations for the coming decades that we are in the process of defining.”  He was saying what Canada did not need to say, we were also eager to support the destruction of another nation which challenged “our interests.” We need to reflect on Forte’s analyses and to have a national public debate on our foreign policies and our constant military response to conflict elsewhere, to examine who really profits and who really suffers, to examine our own capacity for self- delusion and the long term neglect of Canadian social and domestic needs.


Forte ends by saying, “Once foreign military intervention occurs, it scorches the earth in a a way that unleashes new forces, and creates new deadly consequences that can be exploited for the purposes of further intervention.”


His final warning, more a plea, is, “The next time that empire  comes calling in the name of human rights, please be found standing idly by.”


Filed under Book Reviews, Maximillian Forte