Discussion:
Fwd: Lies, pictures, war
(too old to reply)
Joaquín Bustelo
2011-03-22 23:41:12 UTC
Permalink
I sent this to the Solidarity internal discussion list, and also to
Walter's CubaNews list. It was written on Sunday. Some comrades have
raised the post being forwarded to this list, so here it is. I apologize
if it winds up double-posed. Typing "marxmail" in the "To:" field has
brought up two different addresses.

-------- Original Message -------

"In war, truth is the first casualty."
--Aeschylus (525 BC - 456 BC)


I would suggest that people retrace the evolution of their perceptions
on Libya and recalibrate them by taking pretty much everything they've
read and heard in the last month and view this material as if it were
official U.S., British or French government handouts, briefings and so on.

Especially at the outset of the protests in Libya, there was a tsunami
of hate Gaddafi propaganda, the most incredible stories of outrageous
atrocities.

In general, there is no way to know in real time how much truth there is
to such reporting under those sorts of circumstances.

But what struck me right away is that the sourcing given to the public
for these stories --unverified second or third hand anonymous accounts--
would not have justified their being broadcast or published by the
editorial standards of any major news organization.

So the fact that they were published and broadcast, and pretty much by
all the mainstream media, means other sources were vouching for the
accounts but these sources were doing so on condition they not be mentioned.

Having worked as a journalist all my life, I am certain that those
unmentioned sources would have been people from the foreign policy and
defense establishments of the U.S. and European countries, very likely
foreign intelligence agency operatives functioning under diplomatic cover.

That this is what happened is even more obvious when you consider that,
at the outset, there was not one single person from a foreign news
organizations inside Libya -- the ones assigned to the region were in
Egypt and Tunisia. And that we were told --repeatedly-- that internet
and phone service in Libya had been interrupted.

So the stories wouldn't have gotten out without extraofficial Western
government involvement.

Given the tone and tenor of the coverage, it was obvious that the main
imperialist governments launched a coordinated effort to intervene in
this situation. And from the first, they were talking about military
action and specifically a no-fly zone.

That was justified on the basis of reported air raids by the Libyan air
force against civilian protests. These reports were even corroborated by
the defection of two air force pilots who took their Mirage jets to
Malta claiming that they had been ordered to bomb civilians ... or so we
were told.

There were also claims that other airmen had parachuted out of their
plane over rebel territory near Benghazi and let the plane crash rather
than attack the city.

But according to the Russian government, there were no air raids against
civilians early in the crisis.

How would the Russkies know? Cause they have satellites that take
pictures. Like, duh...

Why would they go public? Because they were opposing no-fly zone
proposals in the UN security council.

Here's the Russia Today report from March 1 saying the Western
media reports about air raids were false:

<http://www.youtube.com/user/russiatoday?blend=1&ob=4#p/search/0/XYesnOD6_gQ>

But of course CNN and other news organizations can buy images from
commercial satellite operators. The ones of the Japanese nuke have been
quite prominently used. So why didn't they get pictures showing the
damage from the attacks by Gaddafi's air force to civilian installations?

My guess is that they couldn't. When the US government doesn't want the
networks to have satellite pictures, they buy exclusive access from the
commercial services. They did it in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I suspect
they're doing the same thing in Libya.

Remember, supposedly this imperialist military intervention is called a
no fly zone because its purpose is to prevent Gaddafi from renewing the
sorts of air raids against civilians that he purportedly carried out in
February, before there was much international press in the country.

The veracity of the reports about those original air raids has been
challenged. And even though this challenge has not been widely reported,
certainly the State Department and Pentagon and their counterparts in
Britain and France would be aware of it.

You would think that the promoters of the no fly zone would make sure
that Satellite pictures showing the air raids really did take place
would make it to the media.

If such pictures existed.

I think the claim that Gaddafi had his air force attack civilian
protests has become extremely dubious.

Yet fresh claims against Gaddafi along similar lines continue. Just
this morning (Sunday) I heard on CNN International a phone interview
with an anonymous person claiming to be in a port city east of
Tripoli -- Misurata. And he said the Gaddafi forces had the city
surrounded and were shelling it from all sides, much of the town had
been destroyed and Gaddafi was doing it all in order to blame the
Americans for the damage.

We weren't told how CNN International had found this guy, what efforts
it had made to corroborate the story ... nothing, nada, zero, zip.

I know how a news organization like CNN International works. They would
not have put the guy live on air without a LOT of checking and vetting
first. That NOTHING was said to establish the guy's bona-fides for a
skeptical audience tells me that the sources who vouched for him
insisted they not be mentioned. That almost certainly means diplomats or
other officials from Europe or the U.S., who are the ones who play this
sort of game.

I have of course no way of knowing whether what the person was claiming
was true. But I am very skeptical because the report had disappeared
from the news on CNNI by Sunday night.

Then there's the stories that have been debunked. One was an air
strike against an oil refinery that had everyone at the State Department
and Fox News hyperventilating at the beginning of March. Turned out
there WAS a bomb dropped from an airplane ... but it missed. Hit a sand
dune. Or at least that's what some guy from Reuters who apparently was
the one who got the ball rolling about the bombed refinery claimed.
Because people started asking why didn't the refinery blow up.

Another story that proved false was that Gaddafi's soldiers had gone
from hospital to hospital in some town dragging away wounded
oppositionists. An NPR reporter spent a day chasing that one down.
Didn't happen.

Then there were the mercenaries. One early report had them commandeering
ambulances to show up in random areas of Tripoli and shooting everyone
in sight. Strange how this seems to have stopped once foreign reporters
got to the Libyan capital.

There are undoubtedly many more reports that have proven false.

I'm not saying Gaddafi is a really nice guy and everything said about
him is a lie. I'm also not saying his side is telling the truth.

This really isn't about how much might be true or false, on either side.

My point is that the first barrage of the American and European
imperialist intervention wasn't Saturday's cowardly cruise missile attack.

It was the barrage of propaganda at the outset of the crisis. Those
reports were pushed to the public by imperialist governments through the
mainstream media irrespective of their veracity.

And this barrage had the political effect of creating a hysteria that
has dominated the tenor of the coverage and commentary on Libya since
then. Even among many in left and progressive circles.

This is a classic war hysteria of the Huns-bayoneting-Belgian-babies and
Saddam-throwing-Kuwaiti-preemies-out-of-incubators variety.

Consider the widely repeated current assertion that Gaddafi has promised
to to hunt down every last person who sided with the opposition in
Benghazi and kill them.

Sure. In the middle of a civil war, Gaddafi is so stupid that INSTEAD of
trying to get his opponents to give up, he tries to make sure that they
will continue fighting to the death against him by telling them he will
surely kill them if they give up and he wins.

How likely is it to be true that this is REALLY what Gaddafi is saying?

The bottom line is this:

The imperialists aren't responding to a world outcry about a
humanitarian crisis. They CREATED the world outcry to launch a war and
now with their imperialist war they will turn Libya's crisis into a
humanitarian catastrophe.

Joaqu?n

PS: Let me suggest that folks check out the RT (Russia Today)
coverage. You might want to start with this piece: "Wag the Dog: Media
blamed for covering Libya unrest with fog of war":



It's been commented on, reposted or reported on thousands of times on
Internet web pages in the last few days ... yet not been mentioned once,
as far as I can tell from a Google News search, by the corporate media
in the spaces they control.
Joaquín Bustelo
2011-03-22 23:41:12 UTC
Permalink
I sent this to the Solidarity internal discussion list, and also to
Walter's CubaNews list. It was written on Sunday. Some comrades have
raised the post being forwarded to this list, so here it is. I apologize
if it winds up double-posed. Typing "marxmail" in the "To:" field has
brought up two different addresses.

-------- Original Message -------

"In war, truth is the first casualty."
--Aeschylus (525 BC - 456 BC)


I would suggest that people retrace the evolution of their perceptions
on Libya and recalibrate them by taking pretty much everything they've
read and heard in the last month and view this material as if it were
official U.S., British or French government handouts, briefings and so on.

Especially at the outset of the protests in Libya, there was a tsunami
of hate Gaddafi propaganda, the most incredible stories of outrageous
atrocities.

In general, there is no way to know in real time how much truth there is
to such reporting under those sorts of circumstances.

But what struck me right away is that the sourcing given to the public
for these stories --unverified second or third hand anonymous accounts--
would not have justified their being broadcast or published by the
editorial standards of any major news organization.

So the fact that they were published and broadcast, and pretty much by
all the mainstream media, means other sources were vouching for the
accounts but these sources were doing so on condition they not be mentioned.

Having worked as a journalist all my life, I am certain that those
unmentioned sources would have been people from the foreign policy and
defense establishments of the U.S. and European countries, very likely
foreign intelligence agency operatives functioning under diplomatic cover.

That this is what happened is even more obvious when you consider that,
at the outset, there was not one single person from a foreign news
organizations inside Libya -- the ones assigned to the region were in
Egypt and Tunisia. And that we were told --repeatedly-- that internet
and phone service in Libya had been interrupted.

So the stories wouldn't have gotten out without extraofficial Western
government involvement.

Given the tone and tenor of the coverage, it was obvious that the main
imperialist governments launched a coordinated effort to intervene in
this situation. And from the first, they were talking about military
action and specifically a no-fly zone.

That was justified on the basis of reported air raids by the Libyan air
force against civilian protests. These reports were even corroborated by
the defection of two air force pilots who took their Mirage jets to
Malta claiming that they had been ordered to bomb civilians ... or so we
were told.

There were also claims that other airmen had parachuted out of their
plane over rebel territory near Benghazi and let the plane crash rather
than attack the city.

But according to the Russian government, there were no air raids against
civilians early in the crisis.

How would the Russkies know? Cause they have satellites that take
pictures. Like, duh...

Why would they go public? Because they were opposing no-fly zone
proposals in the UN security council.

Here's the Russia Today report from March 1 saying the Western
media reports about air raids were false:

<http://www.youtube.com/user/russiatoday?blend=1&ob=4#p/search/0/XYesnOD6_gQ>

But of course CNN and other news organizations can buy images from
commercial satellite operators. The ones of the Japanese nuke have been
quite prominently used. So why didn't they get pictures showing the
damage from the attacks by Gaddafi's air force to civilian installations?

My guess is that they couldn't. When the US government doesn't want the
networks to have satellite pictures, they buy exclusive access from the
commercial services. They did it in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I suspect
they're doing the same thing in Libya.

Remember, supposedly this imperialist military intervention is called a
no fly zone because its purpose is to prevent Gaddafi from renewing the
sorts of air raids against civilians that he purportedly carried out in
February, before there was much international press in the country.

The veracity of the reports about those original air raids has been
challenged. And even though this challenge has not been widely reported,
certainly the State Department and Pentagon and their counterparts in
Britain and France would be aware of it.

You would think that the promoters of the no fly zone would make sure
that Satellite pictures showing the air raids really did take place
would make it to the media.

If such pictures existed.

I think the claim that Gaddafi had his air force attack civilian
protests has become extremely dubious.

Yet fresh claims against Gaddafi along similar lines continue. Just
this morning (Sunday) I heard on CNN International a phone interview
with an anonymous person claiming to be in a port city east of
Tripoli -- Misurata. And he said the Gaddafi forces had the city
surrounded and were shelling it from all sides, much of the town had
been destroyed and Gaddafi was doing it all in order to blame the
Americans for the damage.

We weren't told how CNN International had found this guy, what efforts
it had made to corroborate the story ... nothing, nada, zero, zip.

I know how a news organization like CNN International works. They would
not have put the guy live on air without a LOT of checking and vetting
first. That NOTHING was said to establish the guy's bona-fides for a
skeptical audience tells me that the sources who vouched for him
insisted they not be mentioned. That almost certainly means diplomats or
other officials from Europe or the U.S., who are the ones who play this
sort of game.

I have of course no way of knowing whether what the person was claiming
was true. But I am very skeptical because the report had disappeared
from the news on CNNI by Sunday night.

Then there's the stories that have been debunked. One was an air
strike against an oil refinery that had everyone at the State Department
and Fox News hyperventilating at the beginning of March. Turned out
there WAS a bomb dropped from an airplane ... but it missed. Hit a sand
dune. Or at least that's what some guy from Reuters who apparently was
the one who got the ball rolling about the bombed refinery claimed.
Because people started asking why didn't the refinery blow up.

Another story that proved false was that Gaddafi's soldiers had gone
from hospital to hospital in some town dragging away wounded
oppositionists. An NPR reporter spent a day chasing that one down.
Didn't happen.

Then there were the mercenaries. One early report had them commandeering
ambulances to show up in random areas of Tripoli and shooting everyone
in sight. Strange how this seems to have stopped once foreign reporters
got to the Libyan capital.

There are undoubtedly many more reports that have proven false.

I'm not saying Gaddafi is a really nice guy and everything said about
him is a lie. I'm also not saying his side is telling the truth.

This really isn't about how much might be true or false, on either side.

My point is that the first barrage of the American and European
imperialist intervention wasn't Saturday's cowardly cruise missile attack.

It was the barrage of propaganda at the outset of the crisis. Those
reports were pushed to the public by imperialist governments through the
mainstream media irrespective of their veracity.

And this barrage had the political effect of creating a hysteria that
has dominated the tenor of the coverage and commentary on Libya since
then. Even among many in left and progressive circles.

This is a classic war hysteria of the Huns-bayoneting-Belgian-babies and
Saddam-throwing-Kuwaiti-preemies-out-of-incubators variety.

Consider the widely repeated current assertion that Gaddafi has promised
to to hunt down every last person who sided with the opposition in
Benghazi and kill them.

Sure. In the middle of a civil war, Gaddafi is so stupid that INSTEAD of
trying to get his opponents to give up, he tries to make sure that they
will continue fighting to the death against him by telling them he will
surely kill them if they give up and he wins.

How likely is it to be true that this is REALLY what Gaddafi is saying?

The bottom line is this:

The imperialists aren't responding to a world outcry about a
humanitarian crisis. They CREATED the world outcry to launch a war and
now with their imperialist war they will turn Libya's crisis into a
humanitarian catastrophe.

Joaqu?n

PS: Let me suggest that folks check out the RT (Russia Today)
coverage. You might want to start with this piece: "Wag the Dog: Media
blamed for covering Libya unrest with fog of war":

http://youtu.be/-FGrrGTrQaQ

It's been commented on, reposted or reported on thousands of times on
Internet web pages in the last few days ... yet not been mentioned once,
as far as I can tell from a Google News search, by the corporate media
in the spaces they control.
Louis Proyect
2011-03-22 23:59:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joaquín Bustelo
I think the claim that Gaddafi had his air force attack civilian
protests has become extremely dubious.
You are right. He only used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets,
at least at first:

In Benghazi, a coastal city about 400 miles east of Tripoli, the BBC
quoted witnesses as saying that the unrest was inspired by the arrest of
a human rights lawyer, Fathi Terbil, who has been critical of the
government. Around 2,000 people took part, the BBC said, quoting
witnesses as saying the police used water cannons, tear gas and rubber
bullets. The number of injuries was unclear.

(NYT, Feb. 16)

---

But in no matter of time, the forces of repression were using bullets:

In the background, demonstrators' chants could be heard. ''The people
want to topple the government!'' they cried, an expression first heard
in protests in Tunisia, then picked up by the demonstrators in Cairo's
uprising.

Judging by funerals and residents' accounts, Mr. Agha put the toll at 50
in Benghazi. Other opposition activists said 60 had died there and
dozens more in Bayda, though Libya's isolation made the numbers
difficult to verify. Citing doctors' reports in Benghazi, Samira
Boussalma, a member of Amnesty International's North Africa team, said a
majority of those killed were shot in the head and the chest. An
opposition figure, citing a source at the Jalaa Hospital there, said
that most of the dead were 13 to 36 years old and that as many as 50
people had been wounded.

(NYT, Feb. 19)

I honestly am not sure what Joaquin's point is. Is it his intention to
whitewash Qaddafi? If so, I think he is making a huge mistake.
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 00:27:43 UTC
Permalink
I honestly am not sure what Joaquin's point is. Is it his intention to whitewash Qaddafi? If so, I think he is making a huge mistake.
___________________________
What? It seems that he's describing and warning against imperialist war propaganda, something that participants in this list including you have been doing for over a decade, and that Chomsky, for one, to name someone whom nobody can suspect of whitewashing anybody, has filled valuable books with. Why do you care why he's doing it anyway? Is he wrong?

Lou Paulsen
Gary MacLennan
2011-03-23 05:52:19 UTC
Permalink
I'll jump in here, Lou P. if I may. There is another danger to the Left and
that is to deny the truth if it comes from Imperialist sources. Nothing does
more to discredit the Left than a refusal to admit the actuality of the kind
of regime that Qadhdhafi had instituted. It is not that he was simply a
buffoon and set a standard of shame and ridicule for the Third World. That
is true, but one could ignore his face lift, his dyed hair, his taste in
gowns, his female body guard being there to demonstrate his virility etc
etc. But he was a tyrannical brute, not simply a "son of a bitch' as
someone referred to him as.

That is the problem. Going on about propaganda and ignoring the truth of
the rule of the Qadhdhafi family demeans the Left. And let me repeat if I
may, comrade Lou, that I very much doubt whether you or Margaret would be
willing to take the chance that the Imperialists are lying and go and live
right now in Benghazi or the suburbs in Tripoli where the death squads are
operating.

A good friend has remarked to me that it is easy to criticize Qadhdhafi. I
agree with that and would only add the proviso that it is a lot easier to
criticise the thug if one lives outside Libya.

comradely

Gary
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 00:14:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joaquín Bustelo
Especially at the outset of the protests in Libya, there was a tsunami
of hate Gaddafi propaganda, the most incredible stories of outrageous
atrocities.
(etc)
I think Joaquin is really on to something here.

Yesterday I spent some time trying to figure out who some of these spokespeople for the Libyan rebels were, and I found myself getting lots of hits for the Libyan Human Rights League, with initials LLHR or LHRL depending on the source, apparently founded by emigres in 1989, and described as either Munich-based or US-based or Geneva-based depending on the source. They produced press releases that got picked up by the AP and got huge play. They claimed to be a pipeline for all kinds of dramatic info about what was going on on the ground in Libya. For example, I believe they may have been the source for the notion that Gaddafi's had hired "mercenaries", specifically Black African mercenaries, from Chad etc., who were expected to be particularly bloodthirsty and murderous. I was going to do some more work along these lines and develop more definite intel, and still may, but Joaquin's post induces me to mention it now.

Lou Paulsen
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 00:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
I think Joaquin is really on to something here.
Yesterday I spent some time trying to figure out who some of these
spokespeople for the Libyan rebels were, and I found myself getting
lots of hits for the Libyan Human Rights League, with initials LLHR
or LHRL depending on the source, apparently founded by emigres in
1989, and described as either Munich-based or US-based or
Geneva-based depending on the source.
So do you think that it was disinformation when the NYT reported that
human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil had been arrested on Feb. 16th? The
boss press says that he is the main attorney trying to get justice for
the families of the 1200 prisoners killed in cold blood at Abu Selim
prison in 1996. Or maybe it served the cause of the anti-imperialist
camp for these prisoners to have been gunned down. After all, you can't
make an omelet without cracking some eggs.
MARGARET WYLES
2011-03-23 00:29:14 UTC
Permalink
======================================================================
Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
======================================================================
I would suggest that people retrace the evolution of their perceptions
on Libya and recalibrate them by taking pretty much everything they've
read and heard in the last month and view this material as if it were
official U.S., British or French government handouts, briefings and so on.
I couldn't agree more. I have not found ONE credible photo or video
of, or commentary on this entire, shall we say, 'farce,' and have
found it quite amusing how vehemently people on this list have argued
the merits of their positions on an event and a movement about which
nothing can be known with any certainty.

As for CNN, I will quote one of my favorite lines from V for Vendetta.
'Our job in the media is to read the news. It is the government's
job to write it.' Perhaps all the confusion has arisen because of a
lack of coordination among government sources, or a result of
spending cutbacks.
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 00:33:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by MARGARET WYLES
I couldn't agree more. I have not found ONE credible photo or video
of, or commentary on this entire, shall we say, 'farce,' and have
found it quite amusing how vehemently people on this list have argued
the merits of their positions on an event and a movement about which
nothing can be known with any certainty.
Yeah, how can such a government that occupies the moral high ground be
capable of such bestial actions.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2007/08/200852513101998690.html

Libya acknowledges medics' torture

Saif al-Islam has admitted that Libyan investigations were not carried
out in a professional manner [AP]

Five foreign medics and a Palestinian medical doctor had been tortured
while in detention, a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has told Al
Jazeera.

Saif al-Islam, however, denied that his country would face legal action
for that.

In an interview on Wednesday, Saif al-Islam said: "Yes, they were
tortured by electricity and they were threatened that their family
members would be targeted. But a lot of what the Palestinian doctor has
claimed are merely lies."

The medics - the Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses - were
convicted of deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with
HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

They were freed on July 24 after spending eight years in jail.

(snip)
Lüko Willms
2011-03-23 07:43:08 UTC
Permalink
Louis Proyect (lnp3 at panix.com) wrote on 2011-03-22 at 20:33:36 in about
Post by Louis Proyect
Yeah, how can such a government that occupies the moral high ground be
capable of such bestial actions.
Libya acknowledges medics' torture
And so so on and so forth.

Don't let yourself be carried away by sentiments and panic.

In politics, especially revolutionary politics, it is important to keep a cool
head and to think about the consequences of one's own words and actions.

I think it was a tragical development, that the in face of the violent
repression by the Qadhafi regime, the mass mobilisation of national scope got
converted into a civil war based on control of parts of the national territory,
which ended the intense political altercation in all of the country, supplanting
this by a war of one territorial segment of the country against the other.

In this situation, the initiative by Chavez, to bring the warring parties back
to a political debate, was the only sensible move somebody from the outside
could make in order to save the revolution in Libya and the Arab nation as a
whole.

Imperialism, of course, did pick up this unfortunate development in Libya as
a heaven's sent opportunity to stop the revolutionary wave shaking all
countries of the Arab nation, stabilize its client regimes especially the
absolute monarchies in the Mashrak and Maghreb, and convert the mass
movement at best into something like the color revolutions which they
engineered e.g. in Ukraine or Grusinia (Georgia).

Comrades might want to go back and read the three chapters on the "July
days" of Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution". The situation is, of
course, not the same, but there are lessons to be learned, especially from
the way the Bolshevik party under Lenin managed to avoid a catastrophe.

And Lenin did certainly not call the German Kaiser and the British colonial
empire to help the Bolsheviks against the harsh repression after the July
days and the attempted Kornilov coup in August.


Cheers,
L?ko Willms
Frankfurt, Germany
--------------------------------
Dennis Brasky
2011-03-23 11:33:59 UTC
Permalink
============================================================
Comrades might want to go back and read the three chapters on the "July
days" of Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution". The situation is, of
course, not the same, but there are lessons to be learned, especially from
the way the Bolshevik party under Lenin managed to avoid a catastrophe.
By all means, comrades should re-read The History, especially how Trotsky
differentiated the Bolshevik position during the August coup attempt of
Kornilov - opposing the coup *militarily* while opposing the "revolutionary"
Kerensky regime *politically*, with that of the Mensheviks and some
Bolsheviks of "closing ranks against the coup" by extending political
support to Kerensky. In the name of anti-imperialism, this Menshevik
position seems to be echoed by some on the left today re Libya.
Eli Stephens
2011-03-23 00:42:17 UTC
Permalink
The media (and government spokespeople) are absolutely filled with talks of "genocide" and "massacres." A couple days ago, we were treated to uncritical claims that 8000 people had been killed ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/20/us-libya-east-toll-idUSTRE72J43620110320 ). Yet curiously, if such large numbers of people have been killed, precious few if any pictures of these alleged dead have emerged, not even those who were clearly armed rebels, much less non-combatants.

How credible is the news of such reports? I apply a standard of guilty until proven innocent to the corporate media, i.e., lies until I see convincing evidence of truth. At the moment, they are lies in my eyes.

Today, three children in Gaza were murdered by Israel. As occasionally happens, you can actually find this news in the American press ( http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-gaza-violence-20110323,0,3797844,print.story ), but I can pretty much guarantee that you won't be seeing pictures of THOSE dead people on the news even though such picture DO exist (BBC News just gave it less than 15 seconds, with a picture of a damaged building and only mention that 17 people had been injured, no mention of any deaths).

Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com
Gary MacLennan
2011-03-23 05:36:44 UTC
Permalink
Eli,

Of course the murders by Qadhdhafi will be publicised and condemned now by
the West, while the murders in the Gulf and in Gaza will be excused or
ignored. But that does not mean that we somehow or other blink at what
Qadhdhafi has done and what he says he will do.

There are reports of exaggerations etc by the rebels. They are to be
expected. But no one on this list would take the option of going to
Benghazi and waiting around to see what Qadhdhafi really had in mind for
those people he described as 'rats' and who he said would get 'no mercy'.

History shows that when one threatens the Prince and one fails to follow
through by removing him, then very bad things happen to one.

My own best guess is that the Qadhdhafi clan have had a bad scare and if
they survive it they will exact a terrible price. All other tyrants do that
why would not Qadhdhafi do the same? I certainly would not rely on his famed
"anti-Imperialist" credentials to save me.

comradely

Gary
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 15:48:01 UTC
Permalink
I'll jump in here, Lou P. if I may.? There is another
danger to the Left and
that is to deny the truth if it comes from Imperialist
sources.
We can agree on that. We can't hide from objective reality. That's the path to being an irrelevant sect. We have to read the imperialist press. It's much bigger and often better informed than our own press. But we have to read it -critically-.
Nothing does more to discredit the Left than a refusal to admit the
actuality of the kind of regime that Qadhdhafi had instituted.?.. [h]e was a tyrannical brute, not simply a "son of a bitch' as someone referred to him as.

Alas, we were in unity for a sentence but here we have to part company.

First, fundamentally, do you know what really "discredits the left" in our own imperialist countries? It is our own weakness, our own powerlessness, our inability to deal with economic crisis and racism and oppression and our own political and economic tyrannies much less to challenge bourgeois rule. Do you think the reason that the working class doesn't flock to the banner of WWP right now is that they don't like our coverage of Libya? That's not what I think. I think that it's because most people see no hope or prospect or sense in resistance to capitalism at all. That's another long discussion of course.

All right, back to your characterization of Gadhafi as not merely a "son of a bitch" but a "tyrannical brute". Seriously, Gary, is this the way Marxists analyze world events? By creating some sort of strange psychological ladder whereby we from (for most of us) our positions of safety and privilege judge the comparative "brutishness" of third world leaders? The number of ways this is a bad idea is too numerous to detail.

Well, I realize that we are in a period when Marxism itself gets thrown in the dustbin of history and is made to seem not only irrelevant but anti-human, so I will go back to some basics that you have heard before. States are armed bodies. States kill people or threaten to do so, in order to preserve the system of exploitation and the privileges of the economically ruling class and the politically ruling groups. The amount of political freedom in a society is not, in my view (which I believe to be a Marxist view), predominantly determined by the badness of the person in charge, but by the perceived dangers which that class and those groups face.

It follows that just about every government in the oppressed world - which are either facing class struggle from below or imperialist intervention and subversion or political or national rivalries at home, or all at once, and which don't have the resources to buy class peace - and particularly if they have something the imperialists want - is liable to use violence, limit political freedom, or adopt some other policy which will look like "tyrannical thuggery" in the bourgeois press if and when the bourgeoisie decides to launch a campaign against them. Am I wrong about this?
And let me repeat if I may, comrade Lou, that I very much doubt whether you or Margaret would be willing to take the chance that the Imperialists are lying and go and live right now in Benghazi or the suburbs in Tripoli where the death squads are operating.
If you want to try to shame me that way, Gary, you don't have to go so far as to dare me to live in Libya. Why don't you just dare me to go and live in some of the more oppressed communities in Chicago, which are racked by competition among armed small-capitalist drug enterprises on the one hand and by police terror on the other. The same issues come up, by the way.

A few weeks ago I seem to recall that someone, Eli I think, asked "What would you do if you were Gadhafi?", or something similar, and got horribly lambasted for this. Yet now it is in fashion to ask, "What would you do if you were an anti-Gadhafi rebel in Benghazi or protestor in the suburbs of Tripoli?" The short dismissive answer is that if I -were- some other person I would probably do exactly what similar other people are doing. I might be for example be ready to overthrow Gadhafi in the belief that he is Jewish (which is the case for about 20% of the rebels now in Tobruk, according to NBC reporter Richard Engel - see, I -do- follow the bourgeois press.) This gets to be like debates about "Could Kasparov have beaten Capablanca in a chess match" and then you have to discuss whether the hypothetical resuscitated Capablanca gets some time to read modern opening theory and get up to speed. Does it really make sense to ask me what I would do if I were
me, with my own political beliefs and experiences, but then also at the same time someone living in Benghazi?

Similarly, it is in fashion to anathematize Gadhafi for being a "collaborator with imperialism" - and it is true that the Libyan government really did make accomodations with imperialist powers particularly in the post-2001 period, as the link about the McCain-Gadhafi meeting recently posted by Lou Proyect epitomizes. Is there no sympathy though for the idea that imperialism is quite strong these days, and that some governments believe they -have- to make deals with it? That imperialism holds a gun to the heads of states and compels them to cooperate or die? No? They're just collaborators and sell-outs and bad people? And yet there is a fair amount of sympathy for forces who are willing to call in imperialist air strikes because they believe they -have- to do it. This is where you end up when you see all these issues as being about morally judging everyone else in the world rather than about seeing what is going on so that you try to do something
where YOU are.
A good friend has remarked to me that it is easy to criticize Qadhdhafi.? I
agree with that and would only add the proviso that it is a lot easier to criticise the thug if one lives outside Libya.

I will go you one better. I will say that it may well be a lot easier to criticize imperialism in Chicago today than it is to criticize Gadhafi in Libya today. But why is that? Is it because the rulers of Libya are bad, brutish people while the imperialist rulers of the US are kind, tolerant people? No, it is because the government of Libya is in a situation not only of civil war but under direct imperialist military attack, whereas the government of the United States correctly judges itself to be in absolutely no danger of being brought down or shaken or even bothered very much, in the near future, by us on the left.

(Although, I would remind you, the FBI HAS raided homes of mainstream leftists here in Chicago, and in Michigan and the Twin Cities, and has carted away their papers, and has called 23 to testify before a grand jury which they have not done, and may indict people at any time. So it's not as if criticizing imperialism in Chicago were entirely risk-free. See www.stopfbi.net for updates.)

It's easy to criticize, but it's apparently very hard to actually dethrone imperialism which would actually materially benefit people both in Tripoli and Benghazi. And since we're talking about dangers to the left in the imperialist world, let me throw out another one. When you feel powerless, there can be a real hunger for some kind of victory, some sign that you aren't completely irrelevant to history. There are people who have been saying "Free Palestine" for generations, and yet Palestine is still unfree. But if you say "Down with Milosevic", "Down with the Taliban", "Down with Saddam", "Down with Gadhafi", and so on, you might actually get your way. They might actually be overthrown or killed or imprisoned. You might feel that you had shared in it somehow - that it was partly your victory. That good feeling might have a narcotic effect which could desensitize you to the fact that you are actually cheering for the triumph of the tyranny of
imperialsm, that brutish and thuggish system. Don't you know people who have gone that way? Think about it.

Lou Paulsen
Chicago
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 16:34:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
Similarly, it is in fashion to anathematize Gadhafi for being a
"collaborator with imperialism" - and it is true that the
Libyan government really did make accomodations with
imperialist powers particularly in the post-2001 period, as the
link about the McCain-Gadhafi meeting recently posted by Lou
Proyect epitomizes.
But whatever pressure imperialism was exerting on Libya, was this
related somehow to paying Beyonce, Usher and 50 Cent millions of
dollars to perform at a birthday party for Mutassim Qaddafi on St.
Barts?

Especially St. Barts.

I knew a guy named Lenny Leokum from Bard College who died about
10 years ago or so. His dad was Arkady Leokum, the novelist and
frequent contributor to the New Yorker magazine.

Lenny went into advertising after graduating Bard, just like a
character in "Mad Men". A few years before his death, he started
vacationing in St. Barts in the spirit of the "bucket list". He
also was a bit sheepish about going to the most expensive
Caribbean island but said that he might as well enjoy life until
the very end.

St. Barts is a symbol of bourgeois decadence. I can understand
Libya making all sorts of compromises, but this event speaks
loudly about the ruling elite in Libya, which by 2011 had little
to differentiate it from that in Tunisia--except of course for the
silly romantic fantasies about Qaddafi the desert kon.
Lüko Willms
2011-03-23 17:17:11 UTC
Permalink
Louis Proyect (lnp3 at panix.com) wrote on 2011-03-23 at 12:34:56 in about
Post by Louis Proyect
But whatever pressure imperialism was exerting on Libya, was this
related somehow to paying Beyonce, Usher and 50 Cent millions of
dollars to perform at a birthday party for Mutassim Qaddafi on St.
Barts?
Especially St. Barts.
And therefore Libya must be bombed back into stone age? Because the
ruler of that "dirty Arabs" dares to use one of the places kept aside for those
who bear the White Man's Burden?

tut, tut, tut




L?ko Willms
Frankfurt, Germany
--------------------------------
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 17:28:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lüko Willms
And therefore Libya must be bombed back into stone age? Because the
ruler of that "dirty Arabs" dares to use one of the places kept aside for those
who bear the White Man's Burden?
tut, tut, tut
I don't care where these trashy lumpen bourgeois types go to
celebrate their birthdays. My only point is that this is not
"compromising with imperialism". The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a
compromise dictated by the weakness of the revolutionaries.
Spending millions of dollars on Beyonce and company is fodder for
Entertainment Tonight and more like Charlie Sheen than Che Guevara.
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 18:08:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
I don't care where these trashy lumpen bourgeois types go to
celebrate their birthdays. My only point is that this is not
"compromising with imperialism". The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a
compromise dictated by the weakness of the revolutionaries.
Spending millions of dollars on Beyonce and company is fodder for
Entertainment Tonight and more like Charlie Sheen than Che Guevara.
My friend Richard Greener comments on Lenny and St. Barts:

Two years before Lenny died, Maria and I spent a week on St. Barts
with him and his wife Laurie. They rented the same house each
"season." For the three coldest months in NYC they lived in the
warm sunshine on St. Barts. The House was magnificent, perched
high on a hillside overlooking a cove with a beach and a
spectacular view out to the Atlantic side of the island. They had
a pool which was half inside and half outside the house. The
rental price ? back then, more than 10 years ago ? was $25,000 a
month! We ate in the "best" restaurants, drank in the island's
most "desirable" clubs and bars and spent French francs like they
were Monopoly money. I remember the island had no schools and no
medical care ? none at all except one small emergency clinic with
a nurse but no doctor. They set it up this way on purpose. They
wanted no residents with children or sickness. Lenny was getting
dialysis on St. Maartin. He had a helicopter pick him up and take
him there 3 times a week. Who knows what that cost? I'm sure they
spent 50 grand a month, at least, to be there. Lenny also owned a
house in the Hamptons and rented a villa yearly in Italy as well.
What else was there to do in the 90s when you made three quarters
of a million dollars a year and your time was your own? But, Lenny
never hired Elton John or Beyonce...

RG
----
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 19:01:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Lou Paulsen
Similarly, it is in fashion to anathematize Gadhafi for being a
"collaborator with imperialism" -
But whatever pressure imperialism was exerting on Libya,
was this related somehow to paying Beyonce, Usher and 50
Cent millions of dollars to perform at a birthday party for
Mutassim Qaddafi on St. Barts?
I would call this "self-enrichment" and not so much "collaboration with imperialism", but, being a reasonable fellow, I readily concede that this is not the sort of behavior one would expect from a model working-class revolutionary. I don't recall suggesting that Gadhafi was one, but if in some fugue state I did, I was in error.

I imagine that the counter-factual Arabic-speaking Lou Paulsen equivalent in Libya, if there were one, might be critical of Gadhafi on this point. Though I don't have solid information on the point, I suppose that it might be the sort of thing that some of the poor and working-class elements in the opposition to Gadhafi are thinking about.

Lou Paulsen
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 19:33:28 UTC
Permalink
I'm not sure if you would call this guy Fidel exactly. From Reuters:

The rebel council overseeing eastern Libya since a revolt against Muammar Gaddafi erupted named Mahmoud Jebril to head an interim government on Wednesday and appoint ministers. Here are five facts about Jebril:

* Born in Libya in 1952, he graduated from Cairo University in 1975 with a degree in economics and political science. Also has a U.S. doctorate in strategic planning and decision-making and has lectured and published several books on the subject.

* He accepted an invitation to join Libya's National Planning Council before being appointed chairman of the National Economic Development Board (NEDB) in 2009 with a brief to reform Libya's state-focused economy.

[Does "reform" mean "privatize" here? - LPa]

* Jebril was also involved in a project called Libyan Vision along with other intellectuals, with the aim of establishing a democratic state. Exiled dissidents say Jebril always invented excuses to avoid meeting Gaddafi during that time.

* He later quit his job on the National Economic Development Board and went back to his academic work. People who know Jebril say he was fed up with seeing every initiative he put forward rejected by Libya's conservative [does "conservative" mean "anti-privatization" here? - LPa] establishment.

* Jebril was named to head the rebel national council's crisis committee on March 5, covering military and foreign affairs, and has spearheaded efforts to persuade foreign powers to recognize the council as the legitimate government.


Lou Paulsen
Lüko Willms
2011-03-24 12:55:59 UTC
Permalink
Lou Paulsen (loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net) wrote on 2011-03-23 at 12:33:28 in
Post by Lou Paulsen
The rebel council overseeing eastern Libya since a revolt against Muammar
Gaddafi erupted named Mahmoud Jebril to head an interim government on
Wednesday and appoint ministers. Here are five facts about Jebril:
None of these is relevant for
a) being against the imperialist war against Libya
b) being for the revolutionary wave sweeping thru all Arab countries at this
time, of which the rebellion in Libya is an integral part of. Even if I think
those leaders would be better advised to wage a political struggle against
Qadhafi for a united front against the intervention of the colonialists instead
of calling on the latter to "save" the rebellion from the repression of the
local potentate.



Cheers,


L?ko Willms
Frankfurt, Germany
--------------------------------
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-24 13:50:57 UTC
Permalink
==========================================================
(in response to my post about the background of Mahmoud Gebril - Lpa)
None of these is relevant for
a) being against the imperialist war against Libya
b) being for the revolutionary wave sweeping thru all Arab countries at this
time, of which the rebellion in Libya is an integral part of. Even if I think
those leaders would be better advised to wage a political struggle against
Qadhafi for a united front against the intervention of the colonialists instead
of calling on the latter to "save" the rebellion from the repression of the
local potentate.
Well? A lot of you think it is. I agree that the events in Libya have a lot to do with the Arab revolutionary wave and were -occasioned by- the Arab revolutionary wave and I think there is a good case that some of the protest movement has been part of that wave. But does that necessarily mean that the -Benghazi government- is an "integral part" of that wave?

To use an arguably extreme counterexample, if there is a general strike and some people take advantage of the situation to rob banks, are they an "integral part" of the general strike? So are these people an integral part of the revolutionary wave, or are they just using it? And what makes you say so? Go ahead, make your case ...


Lou Paulsen
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-24 14:06:24 UTC
Permalink
By the way, my follow-up question, which will come as no surprise to you, will be: "if it is, then why is it the only integral part of the Arab revolution for which the imperialist powers will go to war?"

Lou Paulsen
Vladimiro Giacche'
2011-03-24 14:17:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
By the way, my follow-up question, which will come as no surprise to you, will be: "if it is, then why is it the only integral part of the Arab revolution for which the imperialist powers will go to war?"
Lou Paulsen
THIS is THE question, indeed.
Not a so difficult one, IMHO...

(BTW, I hope the answer won't be a long quote from a gomulkas/gaddafis speech, this time....)

vlad
Louis Proyect
2011-03-24 14:33:04 UTC
Permalink
THIS is THE question, indeed. Not a so difficult one, IMHO...
(BTW, I hope the answer won't be a long quote from a
gomulkas/gaddafis speech, this time....)
I think the answer is obvious. Qaddafi is isolated in the Arab
world and has no powerful bourgeois forces on his side. Saudi
Arabia in particular has been hostile to him for a very long time
and did not become part of the rapprochement initiated by Blair.
As I have said previously, if Muammar Qaddafi had died of a heart
attack in 2004 and his son Saif had been elevated to power, I
doubt that there would be intervention today.
Marv Gandall
2011-03-24 15:13:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
I agree that the events in Libya have a lot to do with the Arab revolutionary wave and were -occasioned by- the Arab revolutionary wave and I think there is a good case that some of the protest movement has been part of that wave. But does that necessarily mean that the -Benghazi government- is an "integral part" of that wave?
You learn something new every day on this list, such as that the objectives of the leadership of a movement, union, or political party are inevitably more limited or even at variance with the frequently more radical impulses of the masses they represent.

The Bengahzi leadership is no different than any other bourgeois leadership. It's composed mainly of secular liberals, Islamists sympathetic to the Muslim brotherhood, defecting politicians, diplomats and military commanders with various grievances from the Gadhafi regime, businessmen sensing opportunies, and probably a cranky monarchist or two romantically yearning for the past. They're drawn from the same elite strata as the regime, which is why the Americans and Europeans have found it easy to do business with their contacts on both sides.

The difference is that the opposition leadership wants, as is the wont of a rising bourgeoisie, to allow more latitude for dissent, while the Gadhafis, like the rest of the region's outdated autocratic monarchs and politicians, are resisting any democratic changes which threaten to erode their power, property, and privileges.

The insurgent masses have a common interest with their bourgeois leadership of the opposition in acquiring democratic rights, but they expect to use their newly won political rights to win social rights. They have a class interest in advancing the revolution further, and in this sense there is always a potentially explosive contradiction between the leadership and the rank and file which lies at the heart of opposition movements or parties led by the bourgeoisie (or by reformers allied to the bourgeoisie) and the rank and file of these institutions. The Libyan movement is characteristic of all democratic revolutionary movements in terms of its leadership, program, and the social aspirations of its mass base, and the left historically has never to my knowledge opposed or run away from these movements because of their bourgeois leadership.

Part of the reason why Lou Paulsen and others so profoundly misunderstand the process which is underway in Libya is that they think the current bourgeois post-Mubarak and post-Ali governments in Egypt and Tunisia are somehow fundamentally different in their composition and pro-Western aims the leadership of the democratic opposition in Libya. Or that the Gadhafi government is an anti-imperialist government with qualitatively different interests than the other governments in the region which are tied to Western capitalists, politicians, and generals.

Only the circumstances are different. We're all repeating ourselves, so I'll allow myself the liberty perhaps for the last time of insisting that Gadhafi, unlike Mubarak and Ben Ali, did not comply with the demands of US imperialism and its European partners that he step aside peacefully to allow an orderly, managed transition to a bourgeois regime enjoying greater legitimacy with the masses, and that is what has set in motion a chain of events which has drawn in NATO in to forcibly remove him in pursuit of that aim - an intervention fraught with risk which it was reluctant to attempt and may yet blow up in its face, bringing the opposition down with it.
Gary MacLennan
2011-03-25 05:03:14 UTC
Permalink
Lou

You sent me a long and thoughtful reply to an earlier post of mine, for
which I thank you. But I was away from my computer all day yesterday and
did not get a chance to reply. In many ways also the list has moved on and
to give a detailed reply would lock us into another round of repetition. I
am happy that I understand where you are coming from and I think you
understand my case. So I will leave it at that.

You did though mention about my trying to shame you by hypothesising about
what you would do if your were in Benghazi. It was never my intention to
shame you and if there is any shame it is mine and I sincerely apologize.

comradely

Gary

Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 19:56:14 UTC
Permalink
By the way, if you want to find info on this guy's previous work in the private sector, you'll have better luck Googling him under the spelling "Mahmud Gebril" (there are others out there too). The National Economic Development Board which he helped establish was apparently not a governmental body but a private organization.

LPa
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 21:17:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Lou Paulsen
I think Joaquin is really on to something here.
So do you think that it was disinformation when the NYT
reported that human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil had been
arrested on Feb. 16th? The boss press says that he is the
main attorney trying to get justice for the families of the
1200 prisoners killed in cold blood at Abu Selim prison in
1996. Or maybe it served the cause of the anti-imperialist
camp for these prisoners to have been gunned down. After
all, you can't make an omelet without cracking some eggs.
I just found this in my spam filter along with about 250 other messages which shouldn't have been there.

Louis, is this how you wrote during the Yugoslavia war or the run-up to 2003? When someone suggested that the media were infested with liars and with people who uncritically copied wild stories about WMDs hidden in subways or 100,000 murdered Kosovars hidden in freezer trucks at the bottom of lakes, did you throw some other story about a 15-year-old atrocity at him like a brickbat to the head?

I confess to knowing not one thing about what happened at Abu Selim prison in 1996. I'll try to find out more about it. But I'll tell you this much. I have no trouble believing that an attorney named Fatih Terbil was arrested on February 16 because it has appeared in multiple sources. I have no trouble believing that he had been acting for families of prisoners who died in a 1996 incident. As to how many died, and their circumstances, I don't KNOW that they were Islamists (the WSJ says that) who were "killed in cold blood", nor who would bear the responsibility for it, just on the say-so of the NYT or WSJ or Terbel.

LPa
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 21:50:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
Louis, is this how you wrote during the Yugoslavia war or the run-up
to 2003? When someone suggested that the media were infested with
liars and with people who uncritically copied wild stories about WMDs
hidden in subways or 100,000 murdered Kosovars hidden in freezer
trucks at the bottom of lakes, did you throw some other story about a
15-year-old atrocity at him like a brickbat to the head?
My emphasis was not on refuting wild stories but in explaining the role
of Western banks.
Post by Lou Paulsen
I confess to knowing not one thing about what happened at Abu Selim
prison in 1996.
Maybe you should send email to Saif Qaddafi:

In what critics call probably the bloodiest act of internal repression,
more than 1,000 prisoners were shot dead by security forces on June 28
and 29, 1996 in Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch.

The scale of the killings was confirmed by the Libyan Secretary of
Justice to Human Rights Watch in April 2009, and in a press release by
Saif al-Islam's Gaddafi Foundation charity on Aug. 10, 2009 which set
the number at 1,167.

full: http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=41085
Marv Gandall
2011-03-24 00:41:14 UTC
Permalink
You might argue then that there was no rebellion in Iraq at the time, in contrast to Libya. Well, if there was, would you have supported Bush's war?
My reply:

No, because American military forces invaded and occupied the country. This may be a small detail to you and Carrol, but it was not a small detail to the Iraqis, who suffered far more casualties and disruption to their conditions of existence under the extended occupation than they did in the air strikes accompanying the invasion. This is not the case in Libya, nor is it likely to be.

No, because the main opposition to the Baathist regime, based in Iran, aimed at the establishment of a theocratic rather than a democratic state and was essentially hostile to the social forces I identify with and the social values they represent. The more inclusive Libyan opposition is an alliance of secular democrats and Islamists whose political model, particularly in relation to the role of religion in public life, seems drawn more from Turkey than Iran. This is another trifling detail to you, but not to me.

No, because the main Iraqi Shia opposition initially welcomed the invasion and occupation of their country. They subsequently turned against the occupiers when it became clear the Americans were attempting to install a puppet regime under Chalabi dominated by an American proconsul. The Libyan bourgeois leadership of the occupation, in no small measure because of the lessons of Iraq, has declared against foreign occupation, and media accounts indicate that this sentiment is felt more strongly at the rank and file level. I'm confident that in the unlikely event of a "Bush's war" in Libya, the opposition would split and many armed combatants would resist an invasion. This is another detail which you have not thought through or is conveniently absent from your analysis.

No, because the Shias were not being assaulted by the regime and their fighters threatened with extermination like "rats" and "cockroaches", "without mercy". The Libyan democratic opposition was. Before the government offensive, it rejected the idea of a no-fly zone. When it became cornered, it desperately called for one, aware of the political risk this decision involved. You treat Gadhafi's threat lightly, partly because you are not at risk (none of us are) but mainly because you do feel less a political connection with the opposition than with a regime you still naively consider to be "anti-imperialist". Or if that is unfair and you do feel some kinship with the opposition, then you must believe with equal naivete that it could have staved off destruction without compromising itself by calling for tactical air support. So you cry both "No to Gadhafi! No to Intervention!" in order to avoid, it seems to me, having to make a difficult and unpalatable choice at that crucial point in the conflict.
For that matter, when there was a rebellion, right after the Gulf War, would you have supported a continuation of that conflict? I suppose that the pro-war leftists around here would have, putting them to the right of the first Bush administration.
You'll have to pose this question to the unidentified "pro-war leftists" on the list. I didn't support a US invasion of Iraq (or Kuwait) in 1991 for the same reason I oppose an invasion of Libya today. But I do think cities and movements under seige and threatened with destruction by repressive regimes - each armed by the West, let it be noted - do have the right to seek help from any quarter they can get it. It's a right that has to be balanced against the right of non-interference in the sovereign affairs of states, even those groaning under the weight of dictatorships. It is never an easy decision, but that is no excuse to run away from it.
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 22:05:24 UTC
Permalink
Fine, I said I'd look into it and here is what I've found.

It is certain that some prisoners died during or after a hostage-taking incident, but everything else is pretty sketchy.

The events were not reported at the time but were later investigated by Human Rights Watch. Here is their report:

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/06/27/libya-june-1996-killings-abu-salim-prison

HRW's report is based on two sources. One is an emigre report, citing an unidentified prisoner as the source, by the National Salvation Front, a US-based group which dates back to 1981 when there was an earlier Benghazi-based attempt to kill Gadhafi. The other is a single former prisoner at Abu Selim who was living in the U.S. and applying for asylum at the time the report was compiled.

According to the former prisoner's report, the incident took place during and after a hostage-taking incident in which one guard died. He says that he worked in the kitchen and estimated the number of dead as 1200 on the basis of how many fewer meals he had to produce.

The report also states, that "since 2001 the authorities have notified 112 families that a relative held in Abu Salim is dead, without providing the body or details on the cause of death. In addition, 238 families claim they have lost contact with a relative who was a prisoner in Abu Salim." It then cites an interview with one family member who was told that an inmate had died of illness, but who said that the body had not been returned. They then speculate that if someone's body was not returned, this might mean that he was killed in 1996.

As for the government's side, HRW says, "In May 2005, Internal Security Agency head Khaled told Human Rights Watch that prisoners had captured some guards during a meal and taken weapons from the prison cache. Prisoners and guards died as security personnel tried to restore order, he said, and the government had opened an investigation on order of the Secretary of Justice."

Naturally I would say that prisoners ought not to be killed after a hostage incident is resolved just as a matter of reprisal, no matter how many it was. If someone wants to argue that these prisoners were merely political prisoners of conscience in the first place, that's another whole issue.

Having said that, do we now KNOW that 1200 prisoners were "killed in cold blood" at Abu Selim prison? Do we KNOW that any prisoners at all were killed in 1996 beyond what was thought necessary to restore order at the time? I don't. Might it be true? Sure. But might it be largely blown up into propaganda by people with nefarious motives? It might. I don't know. Don't ask me to put percentages on it.

So, this report was produced in 2006, but was largely unnoticed in the world press until February 2011. There is certainly nothing in the New York Times index about it during that entire period. If anyone else gave it attention from any perspective, it hasn't come to my attention. Then the Benghazi revolt begain, the press releases about 1200 Islamists killed in cold blood went viral, and the Obama administration has issued sanctions against the guy supposedly responsible, although there is no more information than there was in 2006 as far as I can tell - reports by one named person and one anonymous source.

There you have it,

Lou Paulsen
Chicago
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 22:10:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
So, this report was produced in 2006, but was largely unnoticed in
the world press until February 2011. There is certainly nothing in
the New York Times index about it during that entire period.
That's probably because Benghazi was utterly quiet during this period.
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 22:09:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Louis Proyect
The scale of the killings was confirmed by the Libyan
Secretary of Justice to Human Rights Watch in April 2009,
and in a press release by Saif al-Islam's Gaddafi Foundation
charity on Aug. 10, 2009 which set the number at 1,167.
full: http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=41085
OK, Louis - I'll look into it further.

LPa
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-23 22:28:51 UTC
Permalink
Okay, here is a later full HRW report on Libya, with new material on the Abu Selim events beginning on page 46.

http://www.clvj.org/Report/hrw/hrw-libya-report-dec2009.pdf

And here is the link which they give to the Gadaffi Foundation press release.

http://www.gdf.org.ly/index.php?lang=ar&CAT_NO=4&MAIN_CAT_NO=4&Page=105&DATA_NO=553

Naturally this link is not working at present. I'd like to see the actual press release, if it's mirrored anywhere .... anyone?

HRW is not without its biases, but I think it's fair to say that there is a great deal more evidence than I thought there was based on having found only the 2006 report, and I revise my earlier skeptical attitude.

So, supposing this to be all true, what do we make of it?

Lou Paulsen
Louis Proyect
2011-03-23 22:33:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
So, supposing this to be all true, what do we make of it?
Lou Paulsen
About the same thing as:

1. Backing Idi Amin
2. Backing Carlos the Jackal
3. Throwing all the Palestinians out of the country.
4. Torturing a Palestinian doctor with electricity in order to get him
to confess that he was infecting babies with the HIV virus.
5. Getting bribed by Berlusconi to crack down on "illegal immigrants".
6. Paying millions of dollars to have Beyonce and company sing at a
birthday party in St. Barts.
7. Collaborating with the CIA in extraordinary renditions.

Maybe I forgot something, but that will do for now.
Eli Stephens
2011-03-24 02:48:17 UTC
Permalink
Marv: I didn't support a US invasion of Iraq (or
Kuwait) in 1991 for the same reason I oppose an invasion of Libya
today. But I do think cities and movements under seige and threatened
with destruction by repressive regimes - each armed by the West, let it
be noted - do have the right to seek help from any quarter they can get
it. It's a right that has to be balanced against the right of
non-interference in the sovereign affairs of states, even those
groaning under the weight of dictatorships. It is never an easy
decision, but that is no excuse to run away from it.

But you DO support what is happening in Libya because it is "not an invasion." But that is PRECISELY what happened in Iraq AFTER the first Gulf War. A decade of "no-fly zones" with regular bombing (and associated deaths) and cruel sanctions which killed something like a million people. So it would seem, Marv, that based on your stance in Libya that we can count you as a fan of Madeleine Albright and her "yes 500,000 dead children was worth it" comment. If that seems harsh, well, that's how I see the consequences of any approval, on any level, of imperialist intervention, "invasion" or not.

Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com
Marv Gandall
2011-03-24 06:16:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eli Stephens
But you DO support what is happening in Libya because it is "not an invasion." But that is PRECISELY what happened in Iraq AFTER the first Gulf War. A decade of "no-fly zones" with regular bombing (and associated deaths) and cruel sanctions which killed something like a million people. So it would seem, Marv, that based on your stance in Libya that we can count you as a fan of Madeleine Albright and her "yes 500,000 dead children was worth it" comment. If that seems harsh, well, that's how I see the consequences of any approval, on any level, of imperialist intervention, "invasion" or not.
I'd be harsh too if I thought you were an enthusiastic or even an "objective" agent of imperialism.

The question I'd ask you to consider is this: Do cities and the popular movements they harbour have the right to defend themselves from a violently repressive regime by any means necessary, or is this a right you would extend only on condition they refused "on principle" to accept military assistance from imperialist countries? Should the beseiged opposition strongholds of Benghazi, Misurata and elsewhere have called instead on the Venezuelan, Iranian, or North Korean air forces to relieve them? Would this have altered, do you think, the relationship of forces in their favour against imperialism? Did they have the time or resources to muster an international brigade of volunteers from Egypt, Tunisia, and other volunteers, as some on the left have suggested? What would you have recommended if you were part of the opposition: that everyone go down fighting in the spirit of the martyred Paris communards rather than accept the offer of NATO tactical air support?

That's the point, of course. You wouldn't have been part of the opposition because you don't accept that is democratic and legitimate, and I do. That's why we're not likely to agree on the questions, much less the answers. The political differences are so sharp that we can only talk past each other. You draw a line between the "pro-imperialist, pro-monarchist" Libyan opposition and the democratic movements in Egypt and Tunisia, and I see these three movements as part of a single revolutionary democratic process in the region.

You think the US and its allies have intervened because Ghadafi is somehow an impediment to their interests in Libya. I view him as no more an impediment in recent years than Mubarak and Ben Ali. All three became expendable when it became clear they had lost popular legitimacy. The US has set out to topple Gadhafi by force not because it wants Libyan oil - Gadhafi gave them all the access they wanted - but because he would not comply with their demand to step aside peacefully, as Mubarak and Ben Ali had, in order to allow a new set of bourgeois politicians and generals drawn from both the opposition and regime to restore legitimacy to the state and, in so doing, to help tamp down the unpredictable democratic fires in the Middle East which the obstinacy of the despots is stoking.

You think the accession of a new bourgeois regime will be a greater setback for the Libyan masses than the crushing of the democratic uprising in the country. I believe the toppling of the regime would have stimulated the mass movement in the country, in neighbouring Algeria, and throughout the region and opened up new possibilities for further advance.

I no longer believe the opposition is in mortal danger, and would like to see an immediate ceasefire and a halt to the bombing, but not for the same political reasons as yourself, though we'd share a common interest in seeing an end to the destruction and civilian casualties. My fear is is that a protracted bombing campaign will split and destroy the opposition, that which is your hope.

Way past my bedtime, but this will have to do for now.
DW
2011-03-24 03:40:06 UTC
Permalink
Boy it's get'n ugly. So...in an intellectual exercise, the great CIA
agent, Ho Chi Minh... oh...yes...he did *ask for* and *receive help*
from (guns, training from OSS agents, etc)...Imperialist America,
didn't he? So, ergo, he's a ... C I A A G E N T? What am I missing?
Is Eli accusing Ho of being a punk for the Man? Is this his method?
Seriously?

I think we can't let imperialism decide our politics. I see that
happening. Imperialism wants' to *control* who ever wins...be it the
murderous privatizing ex-puppet, Gadahfi or the former supporters of
the murderous privatizing ex-puppet, Gadahfi who are in leadership of
the fight against him. The people did rise up against the gov't. That
rising has as much legitimacy as *any* of them North Africa, Yemen or
Bahrain. We should protest US interference/intervention.

DW
Joaquín Bustelo
2011-03-24 03:55:36 UTC
Permalink
... is dead.

Jose Pertierra recalls part of his life:

http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2011/03/23/murio-leonard-weinglass-el-extraordinario-luchador-por-la-causa-de-los-cinco/
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-24 04:21:35 UTC
Permalink
Sent from my iPhone
=============================
Boy it's get'n ugly. So...in an intellectual exercise, the great CIA
agent, Ho Chi Minh... oh...yes...he did *ask for* and *receive help*
from (guns, training from OSS agents, etc)...Imperialist America,
didn't he? So, ergo, he's a ... C I A A G E N T? What am I missing?
Briefly, that Second World War thing and the fact that at the time the Vietnamese were trying to free themselves from imperialist Japanese occupation. Remember?

LPa
Jeff
2011-03-24 17:08:17 UTC
Permalink
I was very sorry to learn of the death of Leonard Weinglass for whom I had
great respect. There are rather few lawyers who so selflessly devote their
life's work to the defense of political prisoners and those under the most
intense government attack. Along with the more eloquent William Kunstler
(with whom Weinglass acted as co-counsel during the infamous Chicago 8
trial), Weinglass had an exemplary record as a politically outspoken lawyer
who never separated his technical role as a lawyer from the political
defense of his clients.

I had twice met and interacted with "Len" Weinglass in conjunction with his
appearances at political events in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal who he
represented legally (and fought for politically) between approximately 1992
and 2001. He took on Mumia's case at a time when most of the left had lost
hope or interest in Mumia's defense, and when there was no urgent threat of
an execution (so that the "emergency protest" crowd had to look elsewhere
for a suitable issue to highlight). While it has been argued that there
were shortcomings or mistakes in the defense strategy (how could there not
be?) during that period, he had an admirable record in defending Mumia
using the evidence that was available, and being politically outspoken in
conjunction with the defense case, using it (as we should!) to highlight
issues regarding the racist and political character of the prosecution, the
political role of the police and the levels to which they will stoop to
frame someone (and push for his rapid execution), and the government's role
in destroying the Black Panthers and the persecution of political prisoners
from that period.

His commitment to such principles was clear from interacting with him at
the times I met him. Indeed his taking the time and trouble to visiting
Europe in 2000 to advance the international campaign in Mumia's defense
went well beyond the average movement lawyer's defense even of an
internationally known political prisoner. Sadly, his commitment was not
properly rewarded by some elements of the Mumia defense movement who
launched a filthy smear campaign against him, wrongly accusing him of
sabotaging the defense case and insinuating that he was mishandling and
personally benefiting from defense funds that had been collected. This led
to his being forced out of that position and replaced by a pair of lawyers
who themselves abandoned their service after a year. In truth, the
underlying issue involved was Weinglass's unwillingness to advance some
unwise conspiracy theories which also undercut the political basis of the
defense campaign by portraying as a victim the cop who shot Mumia (and who
Mumia was falsely accused of murdering). At the time of the smear campaign
there was a reluctance to speak out in defense of Weinglass's record for
fear of allowing disputes within the Mumia defense movement to be publicly
aired (and indeed for new, albeit unwise, defense claims to be publicly
questioned). The record of Weinglass in the legal and political defense of
Mumia stands, regardless. The recent repeat experience of a lawyer
representing Mumia being forced out in disgrace through actions from within
the ranks of the defense movement is a bittersweet reminder of the unfair
treatment received by Weinglass in 2001.

Fortunately Weinglass didn't succumb to the humiliation received and
attempt to portray him in such a poor light. He went on to defend the Cuban
Five, an even more difficult case (in terms either of a legal victory or
acceptance by the general public) understanding full well the political
importance of such a campaign regardless of the case's difficulty. He had
also defended other notable political prisoners including Daniel Ellsberg
and was co-counsel at the Chicago 8 "conspiracy" trial, always being drawn
to the political cases which the government was pursuing with the most vigor.

Searching for news articles following his death on Google News, I guess I
don't find it surprising that his death is almost totally ignored by the
American mainstream media, but has received great attention in Cuba where
he receives his due respect, as illustrated by the article below from
Havana Times. There is also an obit on Monthly Review at:
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/mage240311.html

- Jeff


http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=40204

Cuba Laments Death of Leonard Weinglass
March 24, 2011

By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES, March 24 ? US Attorney Leonard Weinglass, known for his
taking of important political cases, died in New York on Wednesday at the
age of 78. Weinglass was the attorney of Gerardo Hernandez, one of the
Cuban Five. His passing is a top news item in the Cuban media on Thursday.

During his lifetime as a defense attorney Weinglass had among his clients
Jane Fonda, Angela Davis, Daniel Ellsberg and the Chicago Eight among many
others accused by the US government in politically motivated cases.

In a statement to the Cuban press about his law practice Weinglass said
back in 2004: ?I?ve never practiced law or taken on cases for money? and
that he assumed ?a commitment with justice with absolute passion.?
Weinglass took on that commitment by defending ?those who are continually
denied justice.? Among his clients were the Cuban Five.


GERARDO HERNANDEZ DEDICATES WORDS TO WEINGLASS
the following upon learning of the death of his attorney Leonard Weinglass.

In memory of Leonard Weinglass

Not that long ago Len came to visit me and we worked for several hours
preparing for the next step of my appeal. I noticed at the time that he was
tired. I was worried with his advanced age that he was driving alone after
a long trip from New York. The weather was bad and the roads from the
airport up to Victorville wind through the mountains surrounding the high
desert. I mentioned my concern to him but he did not pay it any attention.
That was the way he was, nothing stopped him.

When we would meet the same thing would always happen. At some point in our
conversation, while listening to him talk, my mind would separate from his
words and I would focus on the person. I would realize that here is this
great man, the tremendous lawyer, the legendary fighter for justice, right
here in front of me. I told him that I had seen images of him in
documentaries on TV dedicating himself to important legal cases that he had
participated in from a very young age. With pride I would tell people
watching, ?that is the lawyer of the Five?. It did not matter how much I
read or heard about Len I knew through his humility and modesty that there
was a lot I still had to discover about this man who had dedicated his life
to his profession.

Len always insisted that our case, like the others that he had dedicated
lots of his time to, was essentially a political one. He cautioned us from
the start that this struggle would be long and difficult. His experience
with the ?system? had taught him that. For our part, beyond the
professional relationship we had, we always thought of him as one compa?ero
in the battle for justice.

Len leaves us at an important moment, but he leaves us prepared to carry on
the path. On more than one occasion he expressed his admiration and respect
for the other lawyers on our legal team, and I think that he has left
confident that our case is in good hands.

Like other people, who during these years have accompanied us in our
struggle to make justice prevail, he will not be with us to see the
inevitable triumph. We are confident that day will arrive and to Len, and
to all the others, we will pay them a well deserved tribute in our homeland.

On behalf of the Cuban Five, and our families, and from the millions of
Cubans, and brothers and sisters from all over the world who trusted and
admired him, we send our most sincere condolences to Len?s family and friends.

Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, USP Victorville, California, March 23, 2011
Lou Paulsen
2011-03-24 17:10:39 UTC
Permalink
Marv wrote,
Post by Marv Gandall
Only the circumstances are different. We're all repeating
ourselves, so I'll allow myself the liberty perhaps for the
last time of insisting that Gadhafi, unlike Mubarak and Ben
Ali, did not comply with the demands of US imperialism and
its European partners that he step aside peacefully to allow
an orderly, managed transition to a bourgeois regime
enjoying greater legitimacy with the masses, and that is
what has set in motion a chain of events which has drawn in
NATO in to forcibly remove him in pursuit of that aim - an
intervention fraught with risk which it was reluctant to
attempt and may yet blow up in its face, bringing the
opposition down with it.
So your sequence of events is:

(a) The imperialists are completely happy with Gadhafi as their proxy
(b) Then the Arab revolutionary wave took place and threatened to take him down
(c) The imperialists were worried that the rebellion would get out of hand
(d) So they suggested that he step down and make an orderly transition to a more orderly and legitimate-seeming proxy which would basically maintain the status quo
(e) He refused to do so and started to put down the rebellion by force
(f) So the imperialist powers went to war against him.

Is that a fair summary?

Now, here?s the problem I have with that logic. According to you, the imperialists were completely happy with Gadhafi as their proxy and had no desire to get any more from Libya ? there was, in your view, no more to get because Gadhafi was just as good a puppet for their purposes as any reactionary ruler in the region. Right? So their whole purpose was to keep what they already had in Libya, and defang any rebellion that might take it away. But here are my issues:

At step (d), the imperialists quickly branded Gadhafi?s regime as ?illegitimate?, something they have not yet done with ANY of the other Arab leaders under attack by the revolutionary wave. And this, DESPITE the fact that on the surface there was a high level of cozy collaboration between Gadhafi and all these imperialist powers during the years immediately beforehand. Yet they turned on a dime and demanded that he get out! How does your account explain that?

Much more importantly, at step (e) and (f), the imperialists went to war against Gadhafi at a point when his government was just about to completely put down the rebellion! In other words, Gadhafi was about to re-establish, on his own, the status quo which you believe (point a) was all that the imperialists could possibly want. According to you, he was about to do for himself just what Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have done in Bahrain. But instead, the imperialists sent out war planes to stop Gadhafi from retaking Benghazi. This was the ?precondition- for the creation of the Benghazi government. I don?t think your account begins to make sense of this.

I think this is a very crucial flaw in your account and shows that at least one of your premises is wrong.

In case you don?t see what I?m driving at, let me approach it from another angle. You are listening in on a conference call a week ago among Obama, Sarkozy, and whatever other imperialists, generals, heads of state, advisors and stooges you want to imagine are there. Someone gives a factual summary of the situation: the armed rebellion has been put down everywhere except Benghazi, no more demonstrations are taking place in Tripoli, and Gadhafi seems to be about ready to retake Benghazi. Possibly someone predicts that there will be great loss of life. Possibly, based on your premises, someone predicts that ?at some future time, the rebellion might come back stronger than before and take a leftward turn and mess up our great relationship with our proxy Gadhafi.? And on the basis of that ? that! ? they decide NOT to wait and see what happens, they decide to send out fighter planes immediately to save the rebels in Benghazi who according to
you are their class enemies. Why does this make any sense? Who said what in the phone call to lead them to this conclusion? Is that REALLY how they would have reacted if Saudi Arabia or Kuwait were mopping up a democratic insurrection? (Oh, yeah, they ARE doing that in Bahrain.)

It might be that these imperialists were all wrong or stupid or radically misinformed or experienced a moment of terrible judgment, or forgot where their class interests lay, but I don?t believe it. Generally I have a lot of faith in the class consciousness of the imperialist bourgeoisie.

I think it is far more likely that you are mistaken in believing that the Gadhafi status quo was ideal for the bourgeoisie in that it gave them all they could possibly want to steal or exploit. That is to say, that, even though the imperialists were getting plenty, the Gadhafi government has retained enough power or control over the OIL [a word that is absent from your account, Marv] in Libyan hands that there was indeed something else that they felt Gadhafi was impeding them from stealing. This implies also that they believed that preserving the Benghazi enclave made it more likely that they could steal it. Not for the sake of the na?ve participants or even necessarily for the US-trained privatizers as individuals, but because the imperialists will be in a position to dictate the outcome.

Another possibility also comes to mind, which depends on the above also being true. Someone in the hypothetical phone call may have said: ?Look ? these people in Benghazi, the politicians who will end up in charge, who have already been recognized by France as the legitimate government of Libya, and who we have been meeting with constantly for the last three weeks, are our friends and clients. Everybody knows that. If we do not intervene now and save them from Gadhafi, we are going to look weak and helpless. It will weaken ALL of our friends and clients, kings and generals and dictators and loyal pro-Western activists and armed forces in the field, from the Atlantic to Pakistan. It will embolden EVERYONE who is trying to take down our friends, whether in Bahrain or Yemen or Morocco or anywhere, because they will see that we do not have the will to come to their rescue. We can?t let that happen.? The purpose of the intervention in Libya
would then be not only to squeeze more profits and power out of Libyan oil, but also to reassure and strengthen the resolve of every client and puppet that the Arab revolutionary wave is trying to take down, and to terrorize and intimidate the Arab revolutionary wave and indeed every revolutionary wave.

Just my thoughts,

Lou Paulsen
dave x
2011-03-24 18:33:55 UTC
Permalink
At step (d), the imperialists quickly branded Gadhafi?s regime as ?illegitimate?, something they have not yet done with ANY of the other Arab leaders under attack by the revolutionary wave. ?And this, DESPITE the fact that on the surface there was a high level of cozy collaboration between Gadhafi and all these imperialist powers during the years immediately beforehand. ?Yet they turned on a dime and demanded that he get out! ?How does your account explain that?
Much more importantly, at step (e) and (f), the imperialists went to war against Gadhafi at a point when his government was just about to completely put down the rebellion! ?In other words, Gadhafi was about to re-establish, on his own, the status quo which you believe (point a) was all that the imperialists could possibly want. ?According to you, he was about to do for himself just what Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have done in Bahrain. ?But instead, the imperialists sent out war planes to stop Gadhafi from retaking Benghazi. ?This was the ?precondition- for the creation of the Benghazi government. ?I don?t think your account begins to make sense of this.
Dave:
The imperialists had very little to do with making Gadhaffi illegitimate.

Gadhaffi became illegitimate because:
- there was a mass uprising that deprived him of legitimacy.
- he decided to wage war on his own people.
- he actually sounds like an insane bloodthirsty dictator.
- he outraged world public opinion.

The fact is Gadhaffi bears much of the responsibility for his own
delegitimization. Add to that his past 'anti-imperialist' history and
it became untenable for western imperialist governments to do business
with him. His delegitimization is not some imperialist conspiracy,
rather it became an accomplished fact that the imperialists had to
respond to.
I think this is a very crucial flaw in your account and shows that at least one of your premises is wrong.
In case you don?t see what I?m driving at, let me approach it from another angle. ?You are listening in on a conference call a week ago among Obama, Sarkozy, and whatever other imperialists, generals, heads of state, advisors and stooges you want to imagine are there. ?Someone gives a factual summary of the situation: the armed rebellion has been put down everywhere except Benghazi, no more demonstrations are taking place in Tripoli, and Gadhafi seems to be about ready to retake Benghazi. ?Possibly someone predicts that there will be great loss of life. ?Possibly, based on your premises, someone predicts that ?at some future time, the rebellion might come back stronger than before and take a leftward turn and mess up our great relationship with our proxy Gadhafi.? ?And on the basis of that ? that! ? they decide NOT to wait and see what happens, they decide to send out fighter planes immediately to save the rebels in Benghazi who according to
?you are their class enemies. ?Why does this make any sense? ?Who said what in the phone call to lead them to this conclusion? ?Is that REALLY how they would have reacted if Saudi Arabia or Kuwait were mopping up a democratic insurrection? (Oh, yeah, they ARE doing that in Bahrain.)
It might be that these imperialists were all wrong or stupid or radically misinformed or experienced a moment of terrible judgment, or forgot where their class interests lay, but I don?t believe it. ?Generally I have a lot of faith in the class consciousness of the imperialist bourgeoisie.
Dave:
Yes. This is very interesting. The fact is they rescued the revolution
in Benghazi instead of letting it be destroyed - something that
undoubtedly would have put a chill on the revolutionary wave in MENA
as a whole. I think it shows that they are very concerned about
maintaining the legitimacy of imperialist power in the region (in the
midst of an upheaval that is delegitimizing the political framework
they had previously relied on) and they saw this as an opportunity to
establish some credibility as well as a precedent for intervening in
the future. It shows they want to control and orient this movement in
a favorable way rather than simply trying to put it down by force.
Obviously they aren't really sure how to go about this and some assets
in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, have to be protected at all
costs. I also think it shows that many left conceptions of imperialist
interest are flawed and overly mechanical.
Marv Gandall
2011-03-24 21:55:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lou Paulsen
Marv wrote,
[ ]
Now, here?s the problem I have with that logic.
[?]
Thanks for the considered reply. I'll respond tomorrow or the next day after I've attended to some personal matters and had a chance to give it some thought, along with dave x's and others' comments.
Eli Stephens
2011-03-24 17:31:51 UTC
Permalink
Multiple tributes to Leonard Weinglass can be found here:
http://www.freethefive.org/updates/Comuniques/COWeinglassDead32411.htm



Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
http://lefti.blogspot.com
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