Monday, March 28, 2011

The Collapse of Globalization

The Collapse of Globalization
Posted on Mar 27, 2011

By Chris Hedges

The uprisings in the Middle East, the unrest that is tearing apart nations such as the Ivory Coast, the bubbling discontent in Greece, Ireland and Britain and the labor disputes in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio presage the collapse of globalization. They presage a world where vital resources, including food and water, jobs and security, are becoming scarcer and harder to obtain. They presage growing misery for hundreds of millions of people who find themselves trapped in failed states, suffering escalating violence and crippling poverty. They presage increasingly draconian controls and force—take a look at what is being done to Pfc. Bradley Manning—used to protect the corporate elite who are orchestrating our demise.

We must embrace, and embrace rapidly, a radical new ethic of simplicity and rigorous protection of our ecosystem—especially the climate—or we will all be holding on to life by our fingertips. We must rebuild radical socialist movements that demand that the resources of the state and the nation provide for the welfare of all citizens and the heavy hand of state power be employed to prohibit the plunder by the corporate power elite. We must view the corporate capitalists who have seized control of our money, our food, our energy, our education, our press, our health care system and our governance as mortal enemies to be vanquished.

Adequate food, clean water and basic security are already beyond the reach of perhaps half the world’s population. Food prices have risen 61 percent globally since December 2008, according to the International Monetary Fund. The price of wheat has exploded, more than doubling in the last eight months to $8.56 a bushel. When half of your income is spent on food, as it is in countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and the Ivory Coast, price increases of this magnitude bring with them malnutrition and starvation. Food prices in the United States have risen over the past three months at an annualized rate of 5 percent. There are some 40 million poor in the United States who devote 35 percent of their after-tax incomes to pay for food. As the cost of fossil fuel climbs, as climate change continues to disrupt agricultural production and as populations and unemployment swell, we will find ourselves convulsed in more global and domestic unrest. Food riots and political protests will be inevitable. But it will not necessarily mean more democracy.

The refusal by all of our liberal institutions, including the press, universities, labor and the Democratic Party, to challenge the utopian assumptions that the marketplace should determine human behavior permits corporations and investment firms to continue their assault, including speculating on commodities to drive up food prices. It permits coal, oil and natural gas corporations to stymie alternative energy and emit deadly levels of greenhouse gases. It permits agribusinesses to divert corn and soybeans to ethanol production and crush systems of local, sustainable agriculture. It permits the war industry to drain half of all state expenditures, generate trillions in deficits, and profit from conflicts in the Middle East we have no chance of winning. It permits corporations to evade the most basic controls and regulations to cement into place a global neo-feudalism. The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators. But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the Democratic Party, denounce the orthodoxies peddled in our universities and in the press by corporate apologists and construct our opposition to the corporate state from the ground up. It will not be easy. It will take time. And it will require us to accept the status of social and political pariahs, especially as the lunatic fringe of our political establishment steadily gains power. The corporate state has nothing to offer the left or the right but fear. It uses fear—fear of secular humanism or fear of Christian fascists—to turn the population into passive accomplices. As long as we remain afraid nothing will change.

Friedrich von Hayekand Milton Friedman, two of the major architects for unregulated capitalism, should never have been taken seriously. But the wonders of corporate propaganda and corporate funding turned these fringe figures into revered prophets in our universities, think tanks, the press, legislative bodies, courts and corporate boardrooms. We still endure the cant of their discredited economic theories even as Wall Street sucks the U.S. Treasury dry and engages once again in the speculation that has to date evaporated some $40 trillion in global wealth. We are taught by all systems of information to chant the mantra that the market knows best.

It does not matter, as writers such as John Ralston Saulhave pointed out, that every one of globalism’s promises has turned out to be a lie. It does not matter that economic inequality has gotten worse and that most of the world’s wealth has became concentrated in a few hands. It does not matter that the middle class—the beating heart of any democracy—is disappearing and that the rights and wages of the working class have fallen into precipitous decline as labor regulations, protection of our manufacturing base and labor unions have been demolished. It does not matter that corporations have used the destruction of trade barriers as a mechanism for massive tax evasion, a technique that allows conglomerates such as General Electric to avoid paying any taxes. It does not matter that corporations are exploiting and killing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for life. The steady barrage of illusions disseminated by corporate systems of propaganda, in which words are often replaced with music and images, are impervious to truth. Faith in the marketplace replaces for many faith in an omnipresent God. And those who dissent—from Ralph Nader to Noam Chomsky—are banished as heretics.

The aim of the corporate state is not to feed, clothe or house the masses, but to shift all economic, social and political power and wealth into the hands of the tiny corporate elite. It is to create a world where the heads of corporations make $900,000 an hour and four-job families struggle to survive. The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions. Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, feed the corporate beast at our expense. The decimation of labor unions, the twisting of education into mindless vocational training and the slashing of social services leave us ever more enslaved to the whims of corporations. The intrusion of corporations into the public sphere destroys the concept of the common good. It erases the lines between public and private interests. It creates a world that is defined exclusively by naked self-interest.

The ideological proponents of globalism—Thomas Friedman, Daniel Yergin, Ben Bernanke and Anthony Giddens—are stunted products of the self-satisfied, materialistic power elite. They use the utopian ideology of globalism as a moral justification for their own comfort, self-absorption and privilege. They do not question the imperial projects of the nation, the widening disparities in wealth and security between themselves as members of the world’s industrialized elite and the rest of the planet. They embrace globalism because it, like most philosophical and theological ideologies, justifies their privilege and power. They believe that globalism is not an ideology but an expression of an incontrovertible truth. And because the truth has been uncovered, all competing economic and political visions are dismissed from public debate before they are even heard.

The defense of globalism marks a disturbing rupture in American intellectual life. The collapse of the global economy in 1929 discredited the proponents of deregulated markets. It permitted alternative visions, many of them products of the socialist, anarchist and communist movements that once existed in the United States, to be heard. We adjusted to economic and political reality. The capacity to be critical of political and economic assumptions resulted in the New Deal, the dismantling of corporate monopolies and heavy government regulation of banks and corporations. But this time around, because corporations control the organs of mass communication, and because thousands of economists, business school professors, financial analysts, journalists and corporate managers have staked their credibility on the utopianism of globalism, we speak to each other in gibberish. We continue to heed the advice of Alan Greenspan, who believed the third-rate novelist Ayn Rand was an economic prophet, or Larry Summers, whose deregulation of our banks as treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton helped snuff out some $17 trillion in wages, retirement benefits and personal savings. We are assured by presidential candidates like Mitt Romney that more tax breaks for corporations would entice them to move their overseas profits back to the United States to create new jobs. This idea comes from a former hedge fund manager whose personal fortune was amassed largely by firing workers, and only illustrates how rational political discourse has descended into mindless sound bites.

We are seduced by this childish happy talk. Who wants to hear that we are advancing not toward a paradise of happy consumption and personal prosperity but a disaster? Who wants to confront a future in which the rapacious and greedy appetites of our global elite, who have failed to protect the planet, threaten to produce widespread anarchy, famine, environmental catastrophe, nuclear terrorism and wars for diminishing resources? Who wants to shatter the myth that the human race is evolving morally, that it can continue its giddy plundering of non-renewable resources and its profligate levels of consumption, that capitalist expansion is eternal and will never cease?

Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation. This is why these apologists for globalism continue to find a following. And their systems of propaganda have built a vast, global Potemkin village to entertain us. The tens of millions of impoverished Americans, whose lives and struggles rarely make it onto television, are invisible. So are most of the world’s billions of poor, crowded into fetid slums. We do not see those who die from drinking contaminated water or being unable to afford medical care. We do not see those being foreclosed from their homes. We do not see the children who go to bed hungry. We busy ourselves with the absurd. We invest our emotional life in reality shows that celebrate excess, hedonism and wealth. We are tempted by the opulent life enjoyed by the American oligarchy, 1 percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

The celebrities and reality television stars whose foibles we know intimately live indolent, self-centered lives in sprawling mansions or exclusive Manhattan apartments. They parade their sculpted and surgically enhanced bodies before us in designer clothes. They devote their lives to self-promotion and personal advancement, consumption, parties and the making of money. They celebrate the cult of the self. And when they have meltdowns we watch with gruesome fascination. This empty existence is the one we are taught to admire and emulate. This is the life, we are told, we can all have. The perversion of values has created a landscape where corporate management by sleazy figures like Donald Trump is confused with leadership and where the ability to accumulate vast sums of money is confused with intelligence. And when we do glimpse the poor or working class on our screens, they are ridiculed and taunted. They are objects of contempt, whether on “The Jerry Springer Show” or “Jersey Shore.”

The incessant chasing after status, personal advancement and wealth has plunged most of the country into unmanageable debt. Families, whose real wages have dropped over the past three decades, live in oversized houses financed by mortgages they often cannot repay. They seek identity through products. They occupy their leisure time in malls buying things they do not need. Those of working age spend their weekdays in little cubicles, if they still have steady jobs, under the heels of corporations that have disempowered American workers and taken control of the state and can lay them off on a whim. It is a desperate scramble. No one wants to be left behind.

The propagandists for globalism are the natural outgrowth of this image-based and culturally illiterate world. They speak about economic and political theory in empty clichés. They cater to our subliminal and irrational desires. They select a few facts and isolated data and use them to dismiss historical, economic, political and cultural realities. They tell us what we want to believe about ourselves. They assure us that we are exceptional as individuals and as a nation. They champion our ignorance as knowledge. They tell us that there is no reason to investigate other ways of organizing and governing our society. Our way of life is the best. Capitalism has made us great. They peddle the self-delusional dream of inevitable human progress. They assure us we will be saved by science, technology and rationality and that humanity is moving inexorably forward.

None of this is true. It is a message that defies human nature and human history. But it is what many desperately want to believe. And until we awake from our collective self-delusion, until we carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the corporate state and sever ourselves from the liberal institutions that serve the corporate juggernaut—especially the Democratic Party—we will continue to be rocketed toward a global catastrophe.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Libya: a legitimate and necessary debate from an anti-imperialist perspective

This post has a somewhat ponderous title and makes reference to the "Brest-Litovsk" treaty, something that may be obscure to many readers. Nevertheless, this is an important article and I have to say I agree with it. I especially like the article's taking on the ultra-purist "anti-imperialist" critics that studiously ignore the concrete facts of the situation as a part of their unsullied principles.

(Now about the Brest-Litovsk reference: In 1917 after the Bolsheviks had seized power Russia was still at war with Germany. One of the prime reasonsthe people supported for the Bolsheviks was that the post Czarist provisional government kept Russia's alliance with France and England and didn't drop out of the war, which was wrecking the country and killing masses of soldiers.

The Bolsheviks immediately opened negotiations with the Germans and ended up accepting a very unfavorable peace treaty in which they ceded a large amount of territory to end the war -- the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. Many Russian revolutionaries denounced the treaty as a surrender to the class enemy and criticizes Lenin and Trotsky (who negotiated the treaty) as sell-outs.)

By Gilbert Achcar

Friday, March 25, 2011
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"The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was indeed a compromise with the imperialists, but
it was a compromise which, under the circumstances, had to be made. ... To
reject compromises 'on principle', to reject the permissibility of compromises
in general, no matter of what kind, is childishness, which it is difficult even
to consider seriously ... One must be able to analyze the situation and the
concrete conditions of each compromise, or of each variety of compromise. One
must learn to distinguish between a man who has given up his money and fire-arms
to bandits so as to lessen the evil they can do and to facilitate their capture
and execution, and a man who gives his money and fire-arms to bandits so as to
share in the loot."
Vladimir I. Lenin
The interview I gave to my good friend Steve Shalom the day after the UN
Security Council adopted resolution 1973 and which was published on ZNet on
March 19 provoked a storm of discussions and statements of all kinds --
friendly, unfriendly, strongly supportive, mildly supportive, politely critical
or frenziedly hostile -- far larger than anything I could have expected, all the
larger because it was translated and circulated into several languages. If this
is an indication of anything, it is that people felt there was a real issue at
stake. So let's discuss it.

The debate on the Libyan case is a legitimate and necessary one for those who
share an anti-imperialist position, lest one believes that holding a principle
spares us the need to analyze concretely each specific situation and determine
our position in light of our factual assessment. Every general rule admits of
exceptions. This includes the general rule that UN-authorized military
interventions by imperialist powers are purely reactionary ones, and can never
achieve a humanitarian or positive purpose. Just for the sake of argument: if we
could turn back the wheel of history and go back to the period immediately
preceding the Rwandan genocide, would we oppose an UN-authorized Western-led
military intervention deployed in order to prevent it? Of course, many would say
that the intervention by imperialist/foreign forces risks making a lot of
victims. But can anyone in their right mind believe that Western powers would
have massacred between half a million and a million human beings in 100 days?

This is not to claim that Libya is Rwanda: I'll explain in a moment why Western
powers didn't bother about Rwanda, or don't bother about the death toll of
genocidal proportions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but intervene in
Libya. Reference to the Rwandan case is given here only to show that there is
room for discussion of concrete cases, even though one adheres to firm
anti-imperialist principles. The argument that Western intervention in Libya is
bound to make civilian victims (I'd actually care even for Gaddafi's soldiers
from a humanitarian perspective) is not determinative. What is decisive is the
comparison between the human cost of this intervention and the cost that would
have been incurred had it not happened.

To take another extreme analogy for the sake of showing the full range of
discussion: could Nazism be defeated through non-violent means? Were not the
means used by the Allied forces themselves cruel? Did they not savagely bomb
Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing huge numbers of civilians? In
hindsight, would we now say that the anti-imperialist movement in Britain and
the United States should have campaigned against their states' involvement in
the world war? Or do we still believe that the anti-imperialist movement was
right innot opposing the war against the Axis (as it was right indeed
in opposing the previous one, the 1914-18 world war), but that it should have
campaigned against any massive harm purposely inflicted upon civilian
populations with no evident rationale of a necessity in order to defeat the

Enough now with analogies. They are always subject to endless debates, even
though they serve the useful purpose of showing that there can be situations
where there can be a debate, situations where you have to give up to bandits, or
call the cops, etc. They show that the belief that any such attitudes should be
automatically rejected as a "breach of principles," without taking the trouble
of assessing the concrete circumstances, is just unsustainable. Otherwise, the
anti-imperialist movement in Western countries would appear as only concerned
with opposing their own governments without giving a damn about the fate of
other populations. This is no longer anti-imperialism, but right-wing
isolationism: the "let them all go to hell, and leave us in peace" attitude à la
Patrick Buchanan. So let us calmly assess the concrete situation that we're
dealing with these days.

We shall begin with the nature of Gaddafi's regime. The facts here leave little
room for legitimate disagreement. It is only for the attention of those who
believe, in good faith and out of sheer ignorance, that Gaddafi is a progressive
and an anti-imperialist that I discuss it. True, Gaddafi started as a relatively
progressive anti-imperialist populist dictator, who led a military coup against
the Libyan monarchy in 1969 imitating the Egyptian coup that toppled the
monarchy there in 1952. His first hero was Gamal Abdel-Nasser, although his
regime was initially more right-wing ideologically, with much more emphasis on
religion (later, Gaddafi pretended to give a new interpretation of Islam). He
started very early on recruiting people from poorer countries as mercenaries in
his armed forces, initially for the Islamic Legion that he set up.

He proclaimed the replacement of existing laws with the Sharia in the early
1970s, just before embarking on an imitation of the Chinese "cultural
revolution," with his own Islamic version of Mao's Little Red Book: the Green
Book. He also imitated the pretense of the "cultural revolution" of instituting
"direct democracy," through the creation of a system of "popular committees"
supposedly turning Libya into a "state of the masses" -- actually one with a
record proportion of people on the payroll of the security services. More than
10% of the Libyan population were "informants" paid for exerting surveillance
over the rest of the society. Gaddafi extensively jailed or executed opponents
to his regime, including several of the officers who had taken part along with
him in the overthrow of the monarchy. In the late 1970s, he decided to turn the
Libyan economy into a combination of state capitalism in large enterprises and
private capitalism with workers' "partnership" in smaller ones and abolish rents
and retail trade (even hairdressers were nationalized!). He also devoted part of
the state's oil revenue to improving the living conditions of Libya's citizens,
a "revolutionary" version of the way in which some of the Gulf monarchies with
high per capita oil income cater to the needs of their own citizens in order to
buy themselves a social constituency -- while, as in Libya, mistreating the
immigrant workers who constitute a major part of their labor force and their

In the next decade, faced with the disastrous results of his erratic policies
and the crisis of the USSR, upon which he depended for his arms purchases,
Gaddafi pretended to imitate Gorbachev's perestroika, liberalizing Libya's
economy, but hardly its political life. His next major political turnabout took
place in 2003. In December of that year, he came to the political rescue of Bush
& Blair, announcing that he had decided to renounce his weapons of mass
destruction programs. This was badly needed boost for the credibility of the
invasion of Iraq as a way of halting WMD proliferation. Gaddafi was suddenly
turned into a respectable leader and was warmly congratulated, with Condoleezza
Rice citing him as a model. One after the other, Western leaders flocked to
Libya paying him visits in his tent and concluding juicy contracts. The one who
built the closest relation with him is Italian hard-right and racist prime
minister Silvio Berlusconi: his friendship with Gaddafi was not only very
fruitful economically. In 2008 they concluded one of the dirtiest deals of
recent times, agreeing that poor boat people from the African continent
intercepted by Italian naval forces while trying to reach European shores would
be delivered directly to Libya instead of being taken to Italian territory,
where they would have to be screened for asylum. This deal was so effective that
it reduced the number of such asylum-seekers in Italy from 36,000 in 2008 to
4,300 in 2010. It was condemned by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, to
no avail.

The idea that Western powers are intervening in Libya because they want to
topple a regime hostile to their interests is just preposterous. Equally
preposterous is the idea that what they are after is laying their hands on
Libyan oil. In fact, the whole range of Western oil and gas companies is active
in Libya: Italy's ENI, Germany's Wintershall, Britain's BP, France's Total and
GDF Suez, US companies ConocoPhillips, Hess, and Occidental, British-Dutch
Shell, Spain's Repsol, Canada's Suncor, Norway's Statoil, etc. Why then are
Western powers intervening in Libya today, and not in Rwanda yesterday and Congo
yesterday and today? As one of those who have energetically argued that the
invasion of Iraq was "about oil" against those who tried to outsmart us by
saying that we were "reductionists," don't expect me to argue that this one is
not about oil. It definitely is. But how?

My take on that is the following. After watching for a few weeks Gaddafi
conducting his terribly brutal and bloody suppression of the uprising that
started in mid-February -- estimates of the number of people killed in early
March ranged from 1000 to 10,000, the latter figure by the International
Criminal Court, with the Libyan opposition's estimates ranging between 6,000 and
8,000 -- Western governments, like everybody else for that matter, became
convinced that with Gaddafi set on a counter-revolutionary offensive and
reaching the outskirts of Libya's second largest city of Benghazi (over 600,000
inhabitants), a mass-scale slaughter was imminent. To give an indication of what
such repressive governments can perpetrate, just think of the fact that the
Syrian regime's 1982 repression of the uprising in the city of Hama, with less
than one third of Benghazi's population, resulted in over 25,000 deaths. Had a
massacre on a similar scale occurred with Gaddafi's rule consolidating as a
result, Western governments would have had no choice but to impose sanctions and
an oil embargo on his regime.

The conditions of the oil market that prevailed in the 1990s were characterized
by a depression in prices, at a time when the US was going through its longest
economic expansion ever, the bubble-sustained boom of the Clinton years. It was
very comfortable for Washington and its allies to maintain an embargo on Iraq
during that decade (at a quasi-genocidal cost). It is only at the end of the
decade that the oil market started moving out of depression into a rise of
prices that everything indicated to be of a structural nature, i.e. a long-term
rising tendency. And it is no coincidence that George W. Bush and his cronies
came out then in favour of "regime change" in Iraq. For it was the condition
without which Washington wouldn't tolerate lifting the embargo on a country
whose major oil deals had been granted to French, Russian and Chinese interests
(the three leading opponents of the invasion at the UN Security Council --
surprise, surprise!).

The present conditions of the world oil market are indeed conditions where oil
prices, after falling briefly under the shock of the global crisis, have resumed
their upward movement, several months before the revolutionary wave in North
Africa and the Middle East. This, in a condition of unresolved global economic
crisis, with an extremely fragile fake recovery. Under such conditions, an oil
embargo on Libya is simply not an option. The massacre had to be prevented. The
best scenario for Western powers became the fall of the regime, thus relieving
them of the problem of coping with it. A lesser evil option for them would be a
lasting stalemate and de facto division of the country between West and East,
with oil exports resumed from both provinces, or exclusively from the main
fields located in the East under rebel control.

To these considerations one should add the following: it is nonsensical, and an
instance of very crude "materialism," to dismiss as irrelevant the weight of
public opinion on Western governments, especially in this case on nearby
European governments. At a time when the Libyan insurgents were urging the world
more and more insistently to provide them with a no-fly zone in order to
neutralize the main advantage of Gaddafi's forces, and with the Western public
watching the events on television -- making it impossible that a mass-scale
slaughter in Benghazi would go unseen, as it was so often the case in other
places (like the above-mentioned Hama, for instance, or the Democratic Republic
of the Congo) -- Western governments would not only have incurred the wrath of
their citizens, but they would have completely jeopardized their ability to
invoke humanitarian pretexts for further imperialist wars like the ones in the
Balkans or Iraq. Not only their economic interests, but also the credibility of
their own ideology was at stake. And the pressure of Arab public opinion
certainly played a role in the call by the Arab League of States for a no-fly
zone over Libya, even though there can be no doubt that most Arab regimes were
wishing that Gaddafi could put down the uprising, and thus reverse the
revolutionary wave that has been sweeping the whole region and shaking their own
regimes since the beginning of this year.

Now, what do we do with that? A mass uprising, facing an all-too-real threat of
large-scale massacre was requesting a no-fly zone in order to help them resist
the criminal regime's offensive. Unlike the anti-Milosevic forces in Kosovo,
they were not calling for foreign troops to occupy their land. On the contrary,
they had good reason for having no confidence in any such deployment: their
awareness, in light of Iraq, Palestine, etc., that world powers have imperialist
agendas, as well as their own experience of the way the same world powers cozied
up to the tyrant oppressing them. They very explicitly rejected any foreign
intervention on the ground, only asking for an air cover. And the UNSC
resolution excluded explicitly upon their request "a foreign occupation force of
any form on any part of Libyan territory."

I won't dwell on the unacceptable arguments of those who try to shed doubt on
the nature of the uprising's leadership. They are most often the same as those
who believe Gaddafi is a progressive. The leaders of the uprising are a mix of
political and intellectual democratic and human rights dissidents, some of whom
have spent long years in Gaddafi's jails, men who broke with the regime in order
to join the rebellion, and representatives of the regional and tribal diversity
of the Libyan population. The program they are united on is one of democratic
change -- political freedoms, human rights, and free elections -- exactly like
all other uprisings in the region. And if there is no clarity about what a
post-Gaddafi Libya might look like, two things are certain: it can't be worse
than Gaddafi's regime, and it can't be worse than the quite more obvious likely
scenario of a crucial role of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in
post-Mubarak Egypt, given by some as an argument for supporting the Egyptian

Can anyone claiming to belong to the left just ignore a popular movement's plea
for protection, even by means of imperialist bandit-cops, when the type of
protection requested is not one through which control over their country could
be exerted? Certainly not, by my understanding of the left. No real progressive
could just ignore the uprising's request for protection -- unless, as is too
frequent among the Western left, they just ignore the circumstances and the
imminent threat of mass slaughter, paying attention to the whole situation only
once their own government got involved, thus setting off their (normally
healthy, I should add) reflex of opposing the involvement. In every situation
when anti-imperialists opposed Western-led military interventions using massacre
prevention as their rationale, they pointed to alternatives showing that the
Western governments' choice of resorting to force only stemmed from imperialist

There was a non-violent solution out of the Kosovo crisis: for one, the offer
made by Yeltsin's Russian government in August 1998 of an international force to
implement a political settlement jointly imposed by Moscow and Washington. It
was relayed by then US ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow, and just ignored
in Washington. The same could be added about February 1999. The Serbian and NATO
positions were different, but negotiable, as was shown after 78 days of bombing,
when the UN resolution was a compromise between them. There was a non-violent
solution to get Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops from Kuwait in 1990: aside
from the fact that he could not have withstood for long the tight sanctions that
were imposed on his regime in order to force him out, he was offering to
negotiate his withdrawal. Washington preferred to destroy the country's
infrastructure and send it "back to the stone age," as the reporter for the UNSC
described the country's situation after the war in 1991.

What then was the alternative to the no-fly zone in the Libyan case? None is
convincing. The day when the UNSC voted its resolution, Gaddafi's forces were
already on the outskirts of Benghazi, and his air force attacking the city. A
few days more, they might have taken Benghazi. Those who are confronted with
this question give very unconvincing answers. A political solution could have
been contemplated had Gaddafi been willing to allow free elections, but he
wasn't. He and his son Saif gave the uprising no choice other than surrender
(promising them an amnesty that nobody could have trusted), or "civil war." I'll
ignore those who say that the population of Benghazi could have fled to Egypt
and taken refuge there! It is not worthy of comment. I'll also ignore those who
say that Arab armies only should have intervened, as if an intervention by the
likes of the Egyptian and Saudi armed forces would have caused fewer casualties,
and represented less imperialist influence on the process in Libya. The answer
that sounds more convincing is the one advocating arms delivery to the
insurgents; but it was not a plausible alternative.

Arms delivery could not be organized and become effective -- especially if we're
thinking of sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles -- in 24 hours! This could not
have been an alternative to a massacre foretold. Under such conditions, in the
absence of any other plausible solution, it was just morally and politically
wrong for anyone on the left to oppose the no-fly zone; or in other words, to
oppose the uprising's request for a no-fly zone. And it remains morally and
politically wrong to demand the lifting of the no-fly zone -- unless Gaddafi is
no longer able to use his air force. Short of that, lifting the no-fly zone
would mean a victory for Gaddafi, who would then resume using his planes and
crush the uprising even more ferociously than what he was prepared to do
beforehand. On the other hand, we should definitely demand that bombings stop
after Gaddafi's air means have been neutralized. We should demand clarity on
what air potential is left with Gaddafi, and, if any is still at his disposal,
what it takes to neutralize it. And we should oppose NATO turning into a full
participant of the ground war beyond the initial blows to Gaddafi's armor needed
to halt his troops' offensive against rebel cities in the Western province --
even were the insurgents to invite NATO's participation or welcome it.

Does it mean that we had and have to support UNSC resolution 1973? Not at all.
This was a very bad and dangerous resolution, precisely because it didn't define
enough safeguards against transgressing the mandate of protecting the Libyan
civilians. The resolution leaves too much room for interpretation, and could be
used to push forward an imperialist agenda going beyond protection into meddling
into Libya's political future. It could not be supported, but must be criticized
for its ambiguities. But neither could it be opposed, in the sense of opposing
the no-fly zone and giving the impression that one doesn't care about the
civilians and the uprising. We could only express our strong reservations. Once
intervention started, the role of anti-imperialist forces should have consisted
in monitoring it closely, and condemning all actions hitting at civilians where
measures to avoid such killings have not been observed, as well as all actions
by the coalition that are devoid of a civilian protection rationale. One article
of the UNSC resolution should definitely be opposed though: it is the one
confirming the arms embargo on Libya, if this means the country and not the
Gaddafi regime alone. We should on the contrary demand that arms be delivered
openly and massively to the insurgents, so that they no longer need direct
foreign military support as soon as possible.

A final comment: for so many years, we have been denouncing the hypocrisy and
double standard of imperialist powers, pointing to the fact that they didn't
prevent the all-too-real genocide in Rwanda while they intervened in order to
stop the fictitious "genocide" in Kosovo. This implied that we thought that
international intervention should have been deployed in order to prevent or stop
the genocide in Rwanda. The left should certainly not proclaim such
absolute "principles" as "We are against Western powers' military intervention
whatever the circumstances." This is not a political position, but a religious
taboo. One can safely bet that the present intervention in Libya will prove most
embarrassing for imperialist powers in the future. As those members of the US
establishment who opposed their country's intervention rightly warned, the next
time Israel's air force bombs one of its neighbors, whether Gaza or Lebanon,
people will demand a no-fly zone. I, for one, definitely will. Pickets should be
organized at the UN in New York demanding it. We should all be prepared to do
so, with now a powerful argument.

The left should learn how to expose imperialist hypocrisy by using against it
the very same moral weapons that it cynically exploits, instead of rendering
this hypocrisy more effective by appearing as not caring about moral
considerations. They are the ones with double standards, not us.

Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon, and is currently Professor at the School of
Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London. His books
include The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder, published
in 13 languages, Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy,
co-authored with Noam Chomsky, and most recently The Arabs and the Holocaust:
The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From Al Jazeera -Richard Falk on Libya

Gaddafi, moral interventionism and revolution
Intervening in Libya now will set a poor precedent on when the use of force is justified.
Richard Falk Last Modified: 23 Mar 2011 13:53

Although the use of force in Libya is now legally binding due to a UN security council resolution, it may well be an act of imprudence, setting a poor precedent for potential future interventions [GETTY]

Long ago, Gaddafi forfeited the legitimacy of his rule, creating the political conditions for an appropriate revolutionary challenge.

Recently he has confirmed this assessment, referring to his own people as "rats and dogs" or "cockroaches", and employing the bloodthirsty and vengeful language of a demented tyrant.

Such a tragic imposition of political abuse on the Libyan experience is a painful reality that exists beyond any reasonable doubt, but does it validate a UN authorised military intervention carried out by a revived partnership of those old colonial partners – France and Britain – and their post-colonial American imperial overseer? I think not.

Let us begin with the unknowns and uncertainties.


There is no coherent political identity that can be confidently ascribed to the various anti-Gaddafi forces, loosely referred to as 'rebels'.

Just who are they, whom do they represent, and what are their political aspirations. It is worth observing that unlike the other regional events of 2011, the Libyan rising did not start as a popular movement of a spontaneous character, or a specific reaction to some incident as in Tunisia.

It seemed, although there is some ambiguity in the media reports, that the Libyan oppositional movement was violent from the start, and was more in the nature of a traditional insurrection against the established order than a popular revolution inspired by democratic values.

Such a political reaction to Gaddafi's regime seems fully justified as an expression of Libyan self-determination, and likely deserves encouragement from world public opinion.

By and large, the international community did not resort to interventionary threats and actions until the domestic tide turned in favour of Tripoli, which means that intervention was called upon to overcome the apparent growing likelihood that Gaddafi would reestablish order in his favour.

The main pretext given for the intervention was the vulnerability of Libyan civilians to the wrath of the Gaddafi regime.

But there was little evidence of such wrath beyond the regime's expected defence of the established order, although admittedly being here undertaken in a brutal manner, which itself is not unusual in such a situation.

How is this different than the tactics relied upon by the regimes in Yemen and Bahrain, and in the face of far less of a threat to the status quo, and even that taking the form of political resistance, not military action.

A difference in resistance

In Libya the opposition forces were relying almost from the outset on heavy weapons, while elsewhere in the region the people were in the streets in massive numbers, and mostly with no weapons, and in a few instances, with very primitive ones (stones, simple guns) that were used in retaliation for regime violence.

It may have been the case that the Libyan governmental response was predictably brutal and militarist, and that the rebel opposition felt that it had no choice.

But it should have been clear from the experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan that military intervention against a hated and brutal regime is not the end of the story, and before the ending is reached violence cascades to heights far beyond what would have likely resulted had there been no intervention producing heavy civilian casualties and massive displacements among the population.

In effect, overall historical trends vindicate trust in the dynamics of self-determination, even if short-term disasters may and do occur, and similarly underscores the problematic character of intervention, even given the purest of motivations, which rarely, if ever, exists in world politics.

But it can be asked, what about Rwanda and Bosnia (especially, the massacre at Srebrenica)? Are these not instances where humanitarian intervention should have been undertaken and was not? And didn't the NATO War in Kosovo demonstrate that humanitarian intervention does sometimes spare a vulnerable population from the ordeal of genocidal ethnic cleansing?

With respect to Rwanda and Bosnia, the threat of genocidal behaviour was clearly established, and could likely have been prevented by a relatively small-scale intervention, and should have been undertaken despite the uncertainties.

The facts surrounding the alleged genocidal threat in Kosovo remain contested, but there was a plausible basis for taking it seriously given what had happened a few years earlier in Bosnia.

But just as the Libyan rebels raise some suspicion by seeking Euro-American military intervention, so did the KLA in Kosovo engage in terrorist provocations that led to violent Serb responses, allegedly setting the stage in 1999 for NATO's "coalition of the willing".

NATO went ahead in Kosovo without the benefit of a Security Council mandate, as here, for military action "by all necessary means".

But with respect to Libya there is no firm evidence of a genocidal intention on Gaddafi's, no humanitarian catastrophe in the making, and not even clear indications of the extent of civilian casualties resulting from the fighting.

We should be asking why did Russia signal its intention to veto such authorisation in relation to Kosovo, but not with respect to Libya.

Perhaps, the Russian sense of identification with Serb interests goes a long way to explain its opportunistic pattern of standing in the way or standing aside when interventionary forces gather a head of steam.

Debating the use of force

One of the mysteries surrounding the Libyan intervention is why China and Russia expressed their opposition by abstaining rather than using their veto, why South Africa voted with the majority, and why Germany, India, and Brazil were content to abstain, yet seemed to express reservations sufficient to cast 'no' votes, depriving the interventionist of the nine affirmative votes that they needed to obtain authorisation.

Generally the veto is used promiscuously, as recently by the United States, to shield Israel from condemnation for their settlement policy, but here the veto could have prevented a non-defencive and destructive military action that at this stage seems imprudent and almost certain in the future to be regarded as a poor precedent.

The American debate on the use of force was more complex than usual, and cut across party lines.

Three positions are worth distinguishing: realists, moral interventionists, and moral and legal anti-interventionists.

The realists, who usually carry the day when military issues arise in foreign policy debates, on this occasion warned against the intervention, saying it was too uncertain in its effects and costs, that the US was already overstretched in its overseas commitments, and that there were few American strategic interests involved.

The moral interventionists, who were in control during the Bush II years, triumphantly reemerged in the company of hawkish Democrats such as Hilary Clinton and Joseph Biden, eventually prevailed in the debate, probably thanks to the push from London and Paris, the acquiescence of the Arab neighbours, and the loss of will on the part of Moscow and Beijing.

It is hard to find a war that Republicans do not endorse, especially if the enemy can be personalised and demonised as Gaddafi has been, and there is some oil in the ground!

The anti-interventionists, who doubt the current effectiveness of hard power tactics, especially under Western auspices, were outmanoeuvred, especially at the United Nations and in the sensationalist media that confused the Gaddafi horror show for no brainer/slam dunk reasoning as to the question of intervention, treating it as a question of 'how', rather than 'whether', again failing to fulfil their role in a democratic society by giving no attention to the anti-intervention viewpoint.

Finally, there arises the question of the UN authorisation.

Upholding the charter

The way international law is generally understood, there is no doubt that the Security Council vote, however questionable on political grounds, resolves the legal debate within the UN.

An earlier World Court decision, ironically involving Libya, concluded that even when the UN Security Council disregards relevant norms of international law, its decisions are binding and authoritative.

Here, the Security Council has reached a decision supportive of military intervention that is legal, but not legitimate, being neither politically prudent nor morally acceptable.

The states that abstained acted irresponsibly, or put differently, did not uphold either the spirit or letter of the Charter.

The Charter in Article 2(7) accepts the limitation on UN authority to intervene in matters "essentially within the domestic jurisdiction" of member states unless there is a genuine issue of international peace and security present, which there was not, even in the claim, which was supposedly motivated solely to protect the civilian population of Libya.

But such a claim was patently misleading and disingenuous as the obvious goals, as manifest from the scale and character of military actions taken, were minimally to protect the armed rebels from being defeated, and possibly destroyed, and maximally, to achieve a regime change resulting in a new governing leadership that was friendly to the West, including buying fully into its liberal economic geopolitical policy compass.

Using a slightly altered language, the UN Charter embedded a social contract with its membership that privileged the politics of self-determination and was heavily weighted against the politics of intervention.

Neither position is absolute, but what seems to have happened with respect to Libya is that intervention was privileged and self-determination cast aside.

It is an instance of normatively dubious practise trumping the legal/moral ethos of containing geopolitical discretion with binding rules governing the use of force and the duty of non-intervention.

We do not know yet what will happen in Libya, but we do know enough to oppose such a precedent that exhibits so many unfortunate characteristics.

It is time to restore the global social contract between territorial sovereign states and the organised international community, which not only corresponds with the outlawry of aggressive war but also reflect the movement of history in support of the soft power struggles of the non-Western peoples of the world.

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge, 2008).

He is currently serving his third year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Return of Colonial Theology

From Haaretz

* Published 01:10 22.03.11

The return of colonial theology
Our political map, with its constant shift to the right, reflects precisely this colonial logic, which has become the logic of our lives: The West is allowed what the natives are not.
By Yitzhak Laor

Two other Arab uprisings are going on aside from the civil war in Libya. But no one in Washington has called on Bahrain's government to step down, and Saudi Arabia, which cuts off the hands of thieves, has been allowed to invade the emirate to take part in the suppression there. Protesters are being slaughtered daily in Yemen, and the West is helping. As always, Arab blood, high octane, is on sale.

To claim that this is a double standard is like complaining that a missile has a warhead and a tail. For two decades now, states have been taken apart in the name of "human rights": Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and now Libya, using human-rights missiles deployed against humans. Western media outlets are already producing a global discourse about "a war with values" and "contradictions between values and strategy," as if strategy didn't include "values."
Libya France jet

Once again the West is quoting Homer and dropping business and partnership with Muammar Gadhafi in favor of ratings, oil and especially the use of the machinery of war. The public likes this, until it has to pay in blood and money. After the graves are covered, the mood can change. In general, indifference - the progeny of the malls, reality TV and beach vacations - takes control.

Something is rotten there. Not only the corruption of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi or French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Not only the dismantling of the welfare state, the disappearance of the left, but - in place of all this - the return of colonial theology. It begins at home with the great hostility toward Arabs and Muslims, and now, with the help of Gadhafi's drugged image, another "no-fly zone," which has turned, with a great global wink, into a tremendous, high-tech shooting gallery.

The destruction of Iraq - a crime with the scope of genocide - began with aerial attacks and a siege that went on for more than a decade. No one planned the moves at the time. So there's no point asking what the goal of the attack on Libya is. Saving human lives? As in Iraq? Maybe democracy? As in Saudi Arabia? Those who possess giant war machines with funding for research and development prefer trial and error. There are no goals. Will Al-Qaida also get there quickly? Well, there's a huge arsenal that needs refreshing, once in the name of "human rights," once in the name of "the war on terror." Something will come out of this. Ratings, oil, a peace conference, photo-ops, Sarkozy next to Angela Merkel, Berlusconi next to David Cameron and Barack Obama. A smile. Speeches.

The rush in Israel doesn't come from concerns about the lives of Libyan opposition fighters, and even the "values" have received no warm words. Since the Sinai Campaign, Israel has learned to get excited only as long as Arabs are getting killed by Western intervention. And what about Operation Cast Lead, a naive person might ask. What did the West have against Cast Lead? Well, the fact is, they didn't get in our way, a cynical person from the silent majority might respond. That's Israel's loss, historically speaking.

How many generations can recognize truth along the lines of "the main thing is that the killing benefits us" and not be damaged? Can humanism really be built on disgust over one racist rabbi from Safed or over Avigdor Lieberman and wax enthusiastic about wars like those in Iraq or Libya? Our political map, with its constant shift to the right, reflects precisely this colonial logic, which has become the logic of our lives: The West is allowed what the natives are not.

For the blink of an eye, we thought Obama would change our lives, but the U.S. presidential election - the author Gore Vidal once said - is like vying to become manager at a big bank. The customers don't care who's in charge. And from the Middle East, it's easy to see how right he was.

Hezbolla leader Nasrallah says Libyan rebels have the right to accept help from the West

Nasrallah: 1000 salutes to the Libyan fighters that are standing and fighting across Libya
Mar 21, 2011 10:50 am | Seham

I urge everyone to watch Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's speech from March 19th, he speaks a lot about Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Lebanon and Palestine. Nasrallah manages in an hour to discuss current events across the Arab world, succinctly, accurately and honestly. While he usually uses tempered language to discuss Arab regimes, especially those that have consistently aligned themselves against Hezbollah and Shia in the Middle East he used this opportunity to let loose on Qadhafi and express his support and solidarity with the brave Libyan people that are fighting against this madman.

I felt it was important to point out what he said and did not say about Libya in light of the conversation taking place on this website, I am paraphrasing: These revolutions are not being instigated by Americans or Al Qaidah, they are popular uprisings that come from the people. Any American talk about protecting the people in the region has no credibility because of American policy towards Palestinians which has always been one that protects Israelis by arming them and using their veto power to protect their settlements at the UNSC, therefore any such talk of American humanitarianism is a lie. Americans may be attempting to rehabilitate their image, make sure that oil does not get into the hands of loyal and nationalistic Libyans or they may be interfering so that they can control who the future leadership of Libya will be. Hezbollah will reconsider their position on Americans when Americans reconsider their unjust position on Palestine. He said that everyone in the entire world that can provide assistance to the Libyan people must do so. But that Libyans should also be aware of the motivations behind some of the people helping. He reminds Libyans that the West gave enough time to the regime so that they could crush the uprising and had Qadhafi succeeded in crushing it that the whole world would have kept buying oil from Qadhafi. Perseverance of the Libyan people is what changed the equation. Nasrallah did not deny the Libyans the right to accept help from whoever offers it, he merely warned them to be vigilant about the intentions of those that have stepped up to help them. Nasrallah, like Azmi Bishara before him also told Egyptians that many Arabs are pinning their hopes on them and they should not let us down.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Livin' in a Fool's Paradise: Sam Cooke and Mose Allison

compare & contrast

Libya, the rebels, antiimperialism, the fraud named Qaddafi.... nothing is ever simple to figure out

from the blog Qunfuz (Hedgehog)

Robin Yassin-Kassab
Infantile Leftism

It certainly feels uncomfortable to watch American, British and French planes enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, bombing Libya’s anti-aircraft defences and destroying Libyan tanks. Certainly the hypocrisy of the West and the Arab dictators is as galling as ever. There’s no chance of a no-fly zone over Palestine and Lebanon, nor over Saudi-occupied Bahrain. I can understand very well the fears of some that the West will overstay its welcome – although I think this is very unlikely indeed.

I am pleased, however, that the joint British-French-Lebanese (with Hizbullah in government in Lebanon) resolution for the no-fly zone has been adopted by the United Nations, that the massacres of the Libyan people may be minimized or stopped, that liberated Benghazi will probably not now fall to the tyrant.

If Britain, France and others are seeking influence in post-Qaddafi Libya by pleasing the Libyan people, that’s fine by me. Perhaps they fear their companies being banned from Libya as a punishment for supporting the dictator, and they are taking this opportunity to make amends. Again, fine. This is how things are done between strong, free countries which respect each other. It’s not the same as, for instance, Western powers arming and politically supporting the Saud family in return for military bases which are hated by the Saudi Arabian population.

Europe also has legitimate reasons, beyond oil, to be worried about ongoing massacres in Libya. A quarter of a million (mainly non-Libyans) have fled the country so far. I’m not somebody who thinks there are too many immigrants in Europe, but if Qaddafi were to wrest back control, there could be hundreds of thousands pouring out all at once, many across the Mediterranean.

I’m sure the West, and the dictators of the Gulf, are trying to force promises from the transitional authorities. And it’s true that the transitional leadership is not particularly impressive, containing plenty of ex-regime people. The fact is that the Libyans have not had the leisure to discuss politics and choose good leaders – their priority now is to get rid of the tyrant and to simply stay alive. It goes without saying that the revolution must continue once Qaddafi has gone, that elected representatives of the people must decide on the nature of future relations with foreign powers. If Libyans end up handing over economic control to the West, it will be the fault of the Libyans, not of the no-fly zone resolution.

It’s interesting to observe, as the world abruptly changes, how many people are crippled in judgment by their ideology: leftists who think Qaddafi is an anti-imperialist hero, non-Arab soft Islamists who have a problem admitting the Arabs are connected to each other beyond the borders drawn by imperialists, Zionists who tell themselves the revolutions have nothing to do with Palestine, Americans who tell themselves that the invasion and destruction of Iraq started the democratic ball rolling…

It’s the stupid fringes of the left who have the most to answer for at the moment, as they not only express logical concerns about the extent of Western intervention but actively support Qaddafi. They say the UN ‘aggression’ is designed to ease Western access to Libyan oil, as if Western companies did not already exploit Libyan oil under Qaddafi’s regime. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanism’ as if his funneling of the Libyan people’s money to African dictators and militias were somehow beneficial to the African masses. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘socialist’ credentials and completely ignore the expensive decadence of his sons and his own penchant for calling himself ‘King of Kings.’ They talk about Qaddafi’s great ‘victories’ against imperialism – here I can only guess they mean his squalid sponsorship of terrorist attacks against civilians, which serve to distract attention from the sufferings of occupied and oppressed peoples. Or perhaps they mean his murder of Lebanese revolutionary Musa Sadr. Or maybe his willingness to torture rendered suspects on behalf of the United States.

Talking to the Western media recently, Qaddafi excused his cold-blooded murder of thousands thus – “Even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists.” So he compares himself to Israel and the Libyan people to Palestinians, who are ‘extremists.’ Please explain that, O leftist followers of the Brother Leader.

These leftists are ignorant of the stagnation of Arab societies under dictatorial regimes and of the enormous suffering of those – often the very best and brightest – who have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered. If they are not ignorant, they simply do not care. They are the kind of people who supported Soviet interventions in eastern Europe in 1956 and 1968, who think the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was a liberation, that Mao’s cultural revolution was progressive, that Louis Farrakhan is a great historian. These people are posers, for whom ideas and facts are useless except as adornments for the sexy self. They are an insult to leftism and anti-imperialism. Fortunately, their residence in fantasy land makes them entirely irrelevant to the real world.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

West weighs in with Air Strikes in Libya, but in who's interest?

West overzealous on Libya
Al Jazeera's senior political analyst discusses the risks and opportunities inherent in UNSC Resolution 1973.
Marwan Bishara Last Modified: 18 Mar 2011 14:02

Now that the United Nations Security Council resolution for a no-fly zone has been passed, how will it be implemented?

The UNSC Resolution 1973 has made it legal for the international community to protect the Libyan people from Muammar Gaddafi's lethal and excessive force - by, among other things, imposing a no-fly zone and carrying out military strikes and other military action short of occupation.

However, the overzealousness of certain Western powers like Britain, France and, as of late, the US, to interpret the resolution as an open-ended use of force, is worrisome. With their long history of interference and hegemony in the region, their political and strategic motivation remains dubious at best. Likewise, their rush to use air force individually or collectively could prove morally reprehensible - even if legally justified - if they further complicate the situation on the ground.

This sounds like 'damned if they do, damned if they don't'?

Well, the onus is on these Western powers to prove that their next move and actions are based on a strictly humanitarian basis and are not meant as a down payment for longer-term interference in Libyan and regional affairs.

They need to demonstrate how their 'change of heart' from supporting the Gaddafi dictatorship over several years to condemning him as a war criminal and acting to topple him, is not motivated by more of the same narrow national and Western strategic interest.

Unfortunately, the Libyan dictator's statements and actions (and his recent cynical and contradictory threats and appeals) have played into Western hands, making it impossible for Libyans, like Tunisians and Egyptians before them, to take matters into their own hands.

Those who abstained at the UN Security Council, including Germany, India and Brazil, wanted to co-operate in charting a brighter future for Libya, but are also suspicious of the overzealous French and British eagerness to jump into a Libyan quagmire with firepower.

What then should Libyans, Arabs and other interested global powers do to help Libya avoid a terrible escalation to violence or a major humanitarian disaster?

Now that the international community has given the Libyan revolutionaries a protective umbrella that includes a full range of military and humanitarian actions, it is incumbent upon the Libyan opposition to mobilise for mass action in every city and town both in the east and west and challenge the regime's militias.

As the Libyan regime loses its civilian, tribal and international legitimacy, so will his security base be shaken over the next few days and weeks.

In fact, if the Libyan revolutionaries avoid complacency and exploit their newly gained legitimacy and protection in order to work more closely with their Arab neighbours and to demonstrate their political and popular weight in the country, the regime could very well implode from within.

The most effective and constructive way to use the newly mandated use of force by the UN Security Council is to use as little of it, as accurately, as selectively as possible, and ideally not use it at all. It is still possible for the threat of the use of international force, coupled with domestic popular pressure, to bring down the weakened regime.

An escalation to an all out war is in no one's interest, especially Libya's.
Al Jazeera

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Palestinian film shown at UN -- Israel objects, quel shock!

De Niro and Penn back Palestinian film at UN

(AFP) – 12 hours ago

UNITED NATIONS — Sean Penn and Robert De Niro joined stars who appeared at the UN headquarters for the US premiere of a contested movie on the Middle East conflict that Israel tried to get canceled.

Penn, De Niro, Josh Brolin and Steve Buscemi on Monday turned out to support award-winning American-Jewish director Julian Schnabel at the premiere of "Miral," the story of two Palestinian women after the creation of Israel in 1948.

The Israeli mission to the UN had said that showing the movie in the UN General Assembly hall was "clearly a politicized decision" that "shows poor judgment and a lack of even-handedness."

But UN General Assembly president Joseph Deiss of Switzerland turned down the Israeli request to cancel the event. A spokesman said Deiss hoped that showing the film would "contribute" to a settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Schnabel, who was awarded the best director at Cannes in 2007 for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," praised the UN decision at the start of the film and called his film a "cry for peace."

The film, with Indian actress Freida Pinto of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame in the lead role, is based on an autobiographical novel by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal that traces the Arab-Israeli from a Palestinian perspective.

Like Jebreal, the lead character Miral grows up in an orphanage in East Jerusalem set up by a socialite from a wealthy Palestinian family, who one morning in 1948 came across 55 children who escaped a village taken over by radical Jewish militants.

Adapted with the author, Schnabel's film traces the lives of the two women from the establishment of the orphanage until the Oslo peace accords of 1993.

Copyright © 2011 AFP.

More "democracy" from the so-called Jewish and democratic state

Adala is an organization that defends the rights of Palestinians in Israel ('67 borders)

14 March 2011

Adalah: Nakba Law Violates Rights of Arab Minority to Preserve its History and Culture

(Haifa, Israel) Today, 14 March 2011, the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved a bill popularly known as the "Nakba Law". In Adalah's view, the bill that was approved today is another link in a chain of laws that target Arab citizens of Israel and violate their rights to equality, dignity, history and culture and curtail their freedom of expression. Israel is a signatory to all international human rights conventions, according to which the state should undertake, inter alia, to preserve and protect the unique culture and history of the Arab national minority. This bill does just the opposite. The purpose of the bill is to prevent members of the Arab minority in Israel from exercising their democratic right to commemorate a seminal event in their history. This legislation will cause harm to cultural and educational institutions that teach about the Nakba by cutting their funding and will further entrench inequality and discrimination. The bill is both anti-democratic and discriminatory. If it is approved in the Knesset plenum, Adalah will petition the Supreme Court against it.

The bill would authorize the Minister of Finance to reduce funding or support provided by the state to an institution if it holds an activity that contradicts the definition of the State of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state, or that commemorates "Israel's Independence Day or the day on which the state was established as a day of mourning."

Prior to the Committee's decision, Adalah sent an urgent letter to its Chair, MK David Rotem, requesting that the Committee reject the bill. In the letter, Adalah Attorneys Orna Kohn and Sawsan Zaher argued that the bill threatens to cut funding to many institutions, including educational and cultural organizations, compromising their ability to provide important services to the public. These funding cuts are tantamount to the collective punishment of the public that receives these services, although such persons are unable to intervene in the decisions of these institutions over whether or not to conduct a certain activity.

Adalah stressed in the letter that the bill's approval would lead to major harm to the principle of equality and to the rights of Arab citizens to preserve their history and culture. Arab citizens of Israel are an indigenous minority living on its homeland, and their historical roots to this land run extremely deep, and thus their identity must be preserved.

The legislation also grossly violates the right to freedom of expression, one of the most important constitutional rights. If enacted, the law could be applied to an institution simply because it held a seminar or study day on a political issue that addresses the definition of the state, or that discusses the future vision of Arab citizens, for example, or a cultural organization that screened a film or held a play that discusses the Nakba. According to the bill, such activities are viewed as a threat to the existence of the State of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Obama Does Not Get It

An Opinion Piece from the Al Jazeera website

If independent, democratic, governments are formed in the Middle East, they won't follow Washington's orders.
Lamis Andoni Last Modified: 09 Mar 2011 11:45 GMT

Barack Obama, the US president, has still not fully grasped the essence of the revolutions underway in the Arab world. He genuinely seems to believe that the people rallying for democracy in the region are making a pro-Western, if not pro-Israeli, statement.

"All the forces that we're seeing at work in Egypt are forces that naturally should be aligned with us, should be aligned with Israel - if we make good decisions now and we understand sort of the sweep of history," Obama recently told a group of Democrats in Florida.

I am not sure how Obama drew this conclusion, but he is either terribly misinformed or engaged in a serious bout of wishful thinking.

His statements, however, echo the assessments of many American pundits, some of whom have been celebrating the fact that anti-Israeli or American slogans have not dominated the recent and ongoing uprisings.
It is true that the protesters are not focusing on Israel.

But to say that these forces could be natural allies of Israel and the West is to take a huge leap into a highly inaccurate assessment of the situation. The US president is misreading the message of the protesting Arab masses.

Rewriting history

From Tunisia to Egypt to Bahrain, and in many places in between, protesters have been calling for free and accountable governments. Decades of bitter experience have shown them that unrepresentative governments are often willing to accept - or at the very least are unable to resist - subordination to Western, and particularly American, political and economic diktats.

The 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, for example, was not signed by a democratic Arab government but was reached in spite of the strong opposition – that persists until today – within the Arab world’s largest country. Likewise, it is unlikely that the 1978 Camp David Accords would have been signed if it were up to the Egyptian people who, undeterred by the alliance of consecutive Egyptian governments with Washington and their close ties to Tel Aviv, continued to resist all attempts to impose normalized relations with Israel.

Over the years, the Egyptian people have repeatedly shown – through demonstrations, their media and even their cinema – that they oppose US policies in the region and Israeli aggression towards the Palestinians.

But now some American analysts, officials and former officials are seeking to rewrite history - and possibly to convince themselves in the process - by claiming that popular animosity towards Israel was simply a product of the Mubarak regime’s efforts to deflect attention from its own vices.

Jackson Diehl, a Washington Post columnist, has even blamed the former Egyptian regime for deliberately keeping the peace with Israel cold and for sometimes challenging the US. "Imagine an Egypt that consistently opposes the West in international forums while relentlessly campaigning against Israel. A government that seeds its media with vile anti-Semitism, locks relations with Israel in a cold freeze and makes a habit of publicly rejecting "interference" in its affairs by the United States. A regime that allows Hamas to import tonnes of munitions and Iranian rockets into the Gaza Strip," Diehl wrote of the Mubarak regime in an article published on February 14.

Diehl seems to think that a democratic Egypt will be friendlier to the US and Israel than what he deemed to be an insufficiently cooperative dictatorship. The same idea has been presented by Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state, who argued that Mubarak’s fear of the "Arab street" prevented him from fully endorsing US policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But what Rice and others seem not to realize – despite the fact that their statements implicitly acknowledge it – is that Mubarak’s supposed shortcomings reflected his realization that he could go no further in his support of US policies without provoking popular anger.

Arab regimes have always sought to appease the opposition by paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, because they understand the place it holds in the Arab psyche. And while the revolutions have revealed that this tactic is no longer sufficient to keep the forces of opposition at bay, it is wrong to assume that the new Arab mood is somehow consistent with a friendlier posture towards a country that continues to occupy Palestinian land and to dispossess Palestinian people.

Defining democracy

This kind of misreading of the situation derives not from facts but from an Orientalist attitude that has long dominated American thinking and large sections of the American media.

In the prevailing US political culture, supporting Washington’s policies is considered synonymous with democratic thinking and behavior, while opposing the American outlook and Israel is judged to derive from the backwardness of 'captive minds'. According to this perspective, a mentality of imagined victimhood feeds ‘hatred’ of and resistance towards Israel.

But, it is, in fact, this thinking that is utterly undemocratic. If we assume that democratic values are universal values and move away from a Western ethno-centric interpretation, we will find that the rejection of occupation is totally consistent with ideas of freedom and human dignity – two supposedly integral components of democratic thought.

Just as rejecting racial discrimination asserts a belief in freedom, so does the refusal to simply accept the Israeli and American occupations of Arab lands and subordination of Arab people.

So unless Obama is talking about ending the US occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, why would he imagine that the Arab revolutionaries who rose against their oppressors would be natural allies of the US?

But some American officials and pundits are searching for any kind of interpretation that will enable them to divorce US support for the Israeli occupation from America’s relations with the Arab world. By claiming that the Palestinian issue is no longer central to Arab thinking, they imagine that the US can simply impose a 'solution' that ensures Israeli hegemony in the region and falls short of accepting the Palestinian people’s right to exercise self-determination.

Those in Washington and Tel Aviv who have sought to minimize the role of the Palestinian cause in Arab politics, would be well advised to read an article by the famous Egyptian blogger and activist Hossam el-Hamalawy in the Guardian, in which he argues that it was the demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian intifada in 2000 and the 2003 protests against the US war in Iraq that served as the precursors of the Egyptian revolution.

The delusion that movements against the injustice of dictatorship and the injustice of occupation will somehow contradict each other reflects a grave misinterpretation of the sentiments of the Arab masses - unless, of course, Obama is simply hoping to use this flawed reasoning to justify the continuation of equally flawed policies in the region.

Lamis Andoni is an analyst and commentator on Middle Eastern and Palestinian affairs.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Deconstructing A News Report

--R. Congress

Here is the news item:

Army: Palestinian Kills 5 In West Bank Settlement

by The Associated Press

March 11, 2011

The Israeli military says a Palestinian has infiltrated a Jewish West Bank settlement and killed five people.

Israeli media is reporting that the dead are all members of the same family — parents and three children.

The military says it is sweeping the area in search of the perpetrator and has set up checkpoints throughout the West Bank.

The attack early Saturday in the northern West Bank settlement of Itamar is the first of its kind in years. It marks a rare outburst of violence during a relatively calm period.

Itamar is home to some of the West Bank's most fervent settlers. The attack took place in the middle of the night against a religious community on the Jewish Sabbath.

Here is the news story deconstructed:

1) Five members of one family living in a West Bank settlement (armed expansionist colony) are killed. This is bad. People should not be killed. The usual crowd (US Congressional Reps, AIPAC, ADL, Dershowitz, obese Jerry Nadler, et al) will be baying for a retaliation (say, blowing up a village or two) and talking heads will tsk, tsk about blood thirsty Arabs who can't get along with the "Jewish and Democratic state."

2) The legal protection of the "Jewish and Democratic state" exists for the 500,000 Israeli citizens who live in colonies in the West Bank, which is actually outside the internationally recognized borders of said state. However, the 2.5 million Palestinians who are in the West Bank live under Israeli military law.

3) Not mentioned in the AP story is the verifiable fact that about one Palestinian has been killed every other day for the last solid year by armed settlers and the Israeli Army.

4) The AP story calls the killings in Itmar "A rare outburst of violence during a relatively calm period." From this we learn that the definition of "a relatively calm period" is one in which scores of Palestinians are killed, hundreds are tear gassed and shot while engaging in peaceful protests against their land being stolen, and armed settlers systematically destroy orchards being cultivated by Palestinian farmers.

5) Calmness, we must conclude, prevails only when illegal settlers are free to attack Palestinian civilians, with no risk to there own wellbeing and serenity.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Qaddafi’s Scorched Earth Policy, at Home and Abroad

from Juan Cole's blog

Posted on 03/09/2011 by Juan Cole

Muammar Qaddafi is still trying to play the al-Qaeda card, arguing that his murderous regime is what stands between Europe and the emigration to it of thousands of Muslim extremists. He told Turkish television that his regime is a key element of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, and its fall would bring chaos there, including to Israel.

So, who knew? Qaddafi is the guarantor of Israel’s security and that of Europe? It is a desperate attempt to induce caution with regard the growing move in the West toward some sort of military intervention to prevent Tripoli from massacring the rebels.

Interestingly, Qaddafi’s language seems calculated to appeal to the far right in Europe and Israel, which views all Muslims as potential terrorists. It is an attempt to build a Qaddafi-National Front-Likud-Peter King front against the democracy movement in the Middle East. Qaddafi also sent an envoy Wednesday to the military council that is running Egypt. Since the pro-rebel tribe Awlad Ali dominates Salloum, the Egyptian city on the Libyan border, the rebels presumably are getting some supplies from their Egyptian allies. Qaddafi is probably keen to cut them off. His fear-mongering about al-Qaeda might have some purchase with right wing officers such as Omar Suleiman.

Aljazeera Arabic points out that the rebel forces, far from being “al-Qaeda,” are mostly disgruntled youth from major Libyan tribes such as Zintan. The keywords preferred by statements from such tribes are secular ones– the nation, the people, the army. Muslim fundamentalists speak of the “umma” or the ‘community of believers’ when they talk about the nation, whereas those imbued with civil discourse use terms like the ‘watan’ (originally a translation of the French ‘patrie’ or fatherland), and speak of ‘the people’ (sha’b) rather than ‘the believers.’ It is this civil language that the rebels speak, in all the communiques I’ve seen.

Pro-Qaddafi forces are being accused by residents of Zawiya, an important oil town to the west of Tripoli, of pursuing a scorched earth policy in the city, according to the BBC. Some 50 tanks and 150 armored vehicles are said to be indiscriminately wreaking havoc on the infrastructure.

Aljazeera Arabic is showing scenes, nevertheless, of defiant, chanting crowds in Zawiya during the past two days, at times dispersed by live ammunition directed at them by Qaddafi’s men. It is reporting as of early morning Wednesday that there are still resistance fighters in the central square of the town, which has not been completely subdued by forces from Tripoli. It remains mysterious as to why such heavy armored forces are having such trouble taking the central square; presumably they are facing heavy rocket-propelled grenade fire; the rebels have shown that they can kill tanks that way. An interviewee from Zawiya says by telephone that there are no phone lines and there is no internet in the city, and residents cannot now get out.

CNN’s intrepid Ben Wedeman reports that western towns like Zuara are under rebel control and are helping Zawiya.

He also reports a major pro-Qaddaffi attack Wednesday aftwrnoon on Ras Lanuf.

Aljazeera Arabic is also reporting a major battle mid-day Wednesday at the gates of Ras Lanuf, including artillery duels, between rebels and pro-Qaddafi forces. Rebel forces continue to hold a position 20 km west of the town. On early Wednesday morning sounds of explosions and heavy fighting were audible in Ras Lanuf, continuing on and off subsequently. Presumably Qaddafi forces in the nearby town of Ben Jawad are also defending it from rebel attack. The rebel technique of continuing to advance on Ben Jawad and to threaten Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirt, i.e. of carrying the fight to the enemy, had probably blunted so far the ability of the pro-Qaddafi forces to attack effectively in Ras Lanuf, though it is subject to aerial bombardment. Aljazeera is showing film of a mosque in the city hit by an air raid, another piece of evidence pointing to a desperate, scorched-earth policy on Qaddafi’s part.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gadhafi compares himself (favorably) with Israel fighting Hamas in Gaza

Will Gadhafi's open identification with the West and Israel make some leftist dimwits understand that he is not on our side?

from Haaretz, Published 13:03 07.03.1
Latest update 13:03 07.03.11

Gadhafi: Crackdown on Libya revolt is like Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza
Speaking to France 24
, long-time Libyan Leader says estimated figures of rebel, civilian casualties are exaggerated, adding that at most '150 to 200 people were killed.'

Long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi said Monday in an interview with TV network France 24 that his violent crackdown on opposition protesters is akin to Israel's efforts to defend itself from extremism during its 2009 Gaza war against Hamas.

Libya has come under international scrutiny in recent weeks, in response to violent clashes between the Libyan military and anti-Gadhafi rebels, confrontations which caused what are estimated to be hundreds of deaths.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dispatched a team to Tripoli to assess the humanitarian situation in the wake of the Libyan crisis, criticizing the Libya military's "disproportionate use of force."

Speaking with France 24 later Monday, however, Gadhafi defended his military's right to oppress rebel activity, comparing his crackdown to Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2009, saying that "even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists."

"It’s the same thing here! We have small armed groups who are fighting us. We did not use force from the outset… Armed units of the Libyan army have had to fight small armed al Qaida bands. That is what’s happened,” Gadhafi said.

Referring to the purported number of casualties in wake of fighting in Libya, the long-time leader claimed "there have been at most 150 to 200 people killed."

"People should come here and see how many people have been killed. They can come and check among the population, and among the police and the army," Gadhafi said.

Gadhafi also dismissed the assessment that recent events injured the Libya's links with the West, saying that the country had "very good relations with the United States, with the European Union and with African countries," adding that "Libya plays a crucial role in regional and world peace.”

The interview came as earlier Sunday, a top official in Gadhafi ruling establishment made an unprecedented appeal to dialogue between the warring factions, in attempt to end the conflict.

Jadallah Azous Al-Talhi, a Libyan prime minister in the 1980s who is originally from eastern Libya, appeared on state television reading an address to elders in Benghazi, the main base of the anti-Gadhafi rebels.

He asked them to "give a chance to national dialogue to resolve this crisis, to help stop the bloodshed, and not give a chance to foreigners to come and capture our country again."
More on this topic

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Can Chavez & Castro tell imperialism from anti-imperialism?

IV Online magazine : IV434 - March 2011
Arab revolution/Libya

Latin America and the Arab revolution: the bankruptcy of Chavism?
Ataulfo Riera

In Europe, governments are trying to prevent contagion and solidarity
between European workers and the Arab masses in revolt by brandishing
the scarecrow of Islamism. In Latin America, it is the Venezuelan and
Cuban progressive leaders themselves who are trying to isolate these
rising revolutions by affirming the supposedly “anti-imperialist”
character of the despotic Libyan, Syrian and Iranian regimes, which
are also being destabilized by the rising wave of peoples in struggle.

The Arab revolution constitutes a litmus test for imperialism, but
also for the Cuban and Chavist leaderships. However, if the latter
were also were completely taken by surprise by the upsurge of the Arab
masses, they seem at present to be still unable to grasp the nature,
the depth and the unity of the revolutionary process that is underway
in the entire region. They do not seem to understand at all the
powerful thirst for real democracy, for social justice, for
independence and sovereignty which motivate the Arab masses and the
formidable opportunity that their struggles offer to profoundly modify
the relationships of forces between capital and labour on a world
scale, and with imperialism.

The attitude of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez concerning the events in
Libya is particularly shocking. In a manner that is less pronounced in
the case of the first and pretty consistent in the case of the second,
they imply that the revolt of the Libyan people is the result of
manipulation, of an imperialist plot aimed at overthrowing an enemy
regime. Curiously, this “thesis” does not take up the official version
of the Libyan regime itself, according to which it is on the contrary
Al-Qaeda which is behind the “riots”! However, far from all these
delirious conspiracy theories, there is nothing “singular” or
“particular” about the revolution in Libya, no foreign plot directed
by the CIA or Bin Laden; on the contrary, it is an integral part of
the process of the Arab revolution which is breaking out throughout
the region. Furthermore, this is not happening by chance, since the
dictatorial Libyan regime is precisely geographically wedged between
the Tunisian revolution and the Egyptian revolution.

In spite of everything, Fidel Castro has declared that it “will be
necessary to wait as long as we have to in order to really know what
is truth and what is lies or half-truths in what we are being told
about the chaotic situation (sic) in Libya”. However, he draws an
immediate conclusion from it: “The worst thing now would be to be
silent about the crime that NATO is on the point of committing against
the Libyan people. For the leaders of this warmongering organization,
it is urgent. It must be denounced.” The difficulty is that, as
Santiago Alba Rico and Alma Allende point out, it is not the planes of
NATO which are today machine-gunning the Libyan people, it is the
planes of the Gaddafi regime! Thus, according to Fidel, it is not
urgent to denounce the carnage committed by Gaddafi against his people
and to choose the camp of the popular uprising, it is urgent to
demonstrate against the future and hypothetical intervention of NATO.
So in the name of the threat of a crime that remains a vague
possibility, we should “be silent” about a real crime that is actually
taking place.

Still according to this purely “campist” conception (“the enemies of
my enemies are my friends”), on February 25 President Hugo Chavez has
just, like Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, given his “support to
the Libyan government”, at the moment when it is massacring its people
with heavy weapons. Admittedly, there is no doubt that imperialism is
lying in wait and hopes to take advantage of the slightest
opportunity. Admittedly, we have to denounce the double morality of
imperialism, which condemns civilian victims in Libya, but not in
Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine. But that does not at all justify
support for a bloody tyrant, who is precisely giving imperialism a
wonderful opportunity to regain its balance and who, in spite of his
verbal outpourings about the so-called “green revolution", is at the
head of a system of exploitation and a corrupt regime which is part
and parcel of the imperialist network for plundering of the area and
its resources.

In Venezuela, revolutionary organizations such as Marea Socialista
have taken a clear decision in favour of the Libyan people and against
the dictator Gaddafi. We can only hope that the Venezuelan and Cuban
workers will be more capable of understanding what is at stake than
their leaders are. But, even if he comes to his senses and corrects
his position, there is no doubt that the catastrophic declarations of
Chavez will immediately and lastingly ruin the immense prestige which
he has up to now enjoyed among the Arab masses. This popularity came
from his declared opposition to the war and the occupation of
Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, as well as Israel’s aggression
against Lebanon in 2006. It reached its culminating point in January
2009, when he decided to expel the Israeli ambassador part of the
embassy staff to protest against the massacre perpetrated by the
Zionist state against the population of Gaza, thus marking his
“unqualified solidarity with the heroic Palestinian people”. What is
most serious is that, in the person of Chavez, it is the prestige of
an alternative that is identified as progressive and seeking to build
the “socialism of the twenty-first century” which is in danger of
being deeply discredited in the Arab world.

This attitude constitutes a godsend for the reactionary and
imperialist forces who, at present disorientated by the scale of what
is happening, are trying at all costs to take the situation in hand,
to control or to stop the Arab revolution. Moreover, by lining up
shamefully alongside the Libyan tyrant, the Chavist leadership is
shooting itself in the foot by offering ammunition to its own
adversaries and detractors, who constantly make unfounded accusations
about its “dictatorial” nature.

In Europe, in Latin America, in the United States and in Asia, the
Arab people – who are today in the vanguard of the anti-imperialist
struggle - must receive the unreserved support of the progressive
forces of the world. This is the only way to effectively contest the
hypocritical claim of imperialism to represent the democratic
interests of peoples and to counter effectively any threat, real or
intentionally brandished, of a military intervention.

This article was first published in French on the website of the
LCR_SAP, belgian section of the Fourth International :

Friday, March 4, 2011

Israeli company recruiting mercernaries to support Gdhafi regime in Lybia

Why is this report not a shock? Because if you had been paying attention you would have learned that the former anti-imperialist and "socialist" Gadhafi joined up with Western imperialism and its international neo-liberal financial policies several years ago. Gadhafi still maintained the pretense that he was the leader of an egalitarian people's government while he was selling out his people for his personal benefit and the benefit of international banks and the petrochemical industry. He made Libya part of the pro-corporate and pro-Israel block.

There is something wrong with Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and the Castros that they still hold him up as a progressive leader and denounce the rebels. Maybe it's blind dogma and self-interest. (money and oil from Gadafi?)

Report: Israel company recruiting Gadhafi mercenaries
Published Tuesday 01/03/011 (updated) 01/03/2011 20:19
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TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- An Israeli company is recruiting mercenaries to support Moammar Gadhafi's efforts to suppress an uprising against his regime, an Israeli news site said Tuesday.

Citing Egyptian sources, the Hebrew-language news site Inyan Merkazi said the company was run by retired Israeli army commanders.

The report claims that many high-profile former Israeli officers have been illegally trading weapons in several African nations, and have faced interrogations over their activities in the past.

The news site said the head of the company recently met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israeli intelligence chief Aviv Cokhavi. It added that the officials all approved the company's recruitment of mercenaries to help Gadhafi.

The leader's brutal crackdown has killed at least 1,000 Libyans so far, human rights groups say.

According to the report, Israeli officials approved the recruitment out of fears that if toppled, Gadhafi would be replaced by an "extremist Islamic regime."

During Gadhafi's four-decade rule of the north African state, he has been one of Israel's most vocal critics.

Company representatives recently flew to Chad to discuss the matter with a high-ranking Libyan intelligence officer Abduallah Sanusi, the report said. During the meeting, Sanusi agreed to pay the company to recruit up to 50,000 mercenaries from African countries, according to the news site.