Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Adam Curtis on image, reality & suicide bombing

November 10, 2016

Adam Curtis is a documentary filmmaker for the BBC who uses archival footage to remind viewers of forgotten facts and to make connections that others wouldn’t see.

This documentary does not quite add up to a connected whole, but within it is a fascinating history of the evolution of suicide bombing, starting with the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1982, the Iran-Iraq war, Palestinian terrorism, the 9-11 attacks and Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism.

Along with it is a history of American and British deception and self-deception in their policies toward Syria and Libya.

Suicide bombing, according to Curtis, as a military tactic by Syria’s ruler Hafiz al-Assad to offset American military power in his region.  Now it is used by ISIS to sow sectarian strife in Iraq and Syria, and bring down Assad’s son, Bashir al-Assad.

He documents how Muammar Qaddafi was set up by American policy-makers as a scapegoat for the crimes of Hafiz al-Assad because he was a more vulnerable foe.

This film is not the whole story of recent Middle Eastern history.  Curtis appears to think that the American and British governments seriously intended to bring democracy to the Middle East, for example.  But he brings out many fascinating facts, some forgotten and some new (at least to me).

I recommend viewing just those parts of the documentary dealing with Syria, suicide bombing and the Middle East, and fast-forwarding through the rest, which consists of disconnected material about Curtis’s long-term concerns about technological manipulation, technological utopianism and the decline of the democratic process.

Click on HyperNormalization if the YouTube version doesn’t work.  Click on The Century of the Self and All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace for Curtis’s best documentaries about his meta concerns.

Violence has no place in politics

June 10, 2016

political violence6-7-16-1

Via Ted Rall’s Rallblog.

Just how evil was Muammar Qaddafi?

May 23, 2016

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Hillary Clinton is proud of bringing about the downfall of Muammar Qaddafi of Libya.

Supposedly his rule was so evil, or so much of a threat to the United States, that his downfall and death were necessary.

Just what did Qaddafi do that was so bad and so threatening?

Qaddafi in many ways was like Fidel Castro.

He was definitely a dictator, although by all accounts a popular one.  Although he listened to advice from popular assemblies, he also crushed opposition.  As in Cuba, there were neighborhood watches to identify opponents of the regime.  He supported revolutionary and terrorist movements, including the Provisional IRA, the Palestine Liberation Organization and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.   He sent troops to defend the odious Idi Amin of Uganda.

He was a thorn in the side of U.S. foreign policy.  Libya was a founding member of OPEC, and an initiator of the Arab oil embargo of 1973.   He was accused of direct involvement in many terrorist attacks himself.

The best you can say of the crimes of Qaddafi’s government is that he was guilty of few things that the U.S. government was also not guilty of, and of nothing that U.S. allies have not been guilty of.

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Libya is Hillary Clinton’s Iraq

May 11, 2016
Hillary Clinton with Libyan soldiers in October 2011 (Reuters)

Hillary Clinton with anti-Qaddafi Libyan fighters in October 2011 (Reuters)

Since NATO-backed forces invaded Libya five years ago, the once stable and prosperous nation has been reduced to chaos and civil war.  Thousands of Libyans have been killed.  Millions are homeless and in fear of their lives.  ISIS has gained a foothold in Libya, which they never had under Muammar Qaddafi.

Hillary Clinton thinks the invasion of Libya five years ago was a success because it achieved its objective—the overthrow and death of its ruler, Muammar Qaddafi, who had opposed U.S. policy for decades.

Bernie Sanders thinks it was a mistakePresident Obama also thinks it was a mistake, but only because of failure to adequately plan for what came next.

Donald Trump thinks the main thing is to seize Libya’s oil wells, which, no doubt, is already an objective of U.S. policy, but by less obvious means.

The articles linked below tell why the Libyan intervention was a failure from the standpoint of U.S. self-interest.

The question that almost nobody asks—that I myself failed to ask at the time—is whether the United States has a moral right to wage a war of aggression against a foreign country just because somebody thinks it is in our interest to do so.

The Libyan invasion was worse than a blunder.  It was a crime.

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Libya’s Great Man-Made River project

May 10, 2016

ManMadeRiverImg 3 - Libya map 3

Muammar Qaddafi’s Great Man-Made River Project was one of the great engineering achievements of the 20th century.

Water was pumped thousands of miles from underground reservoirs in the southern Libyan desert to the coast, providing free fresh water to 70 percent of Libya’s population.

libwaterpipelaidBut the 2011 NATO attacks in 2011 greatly damaged it, and there’s no telling whether it will be repaired, let alone completed.

Construction of the project began in 1983.  The work was paid for out of Libya’s oil revenues, without any foreign loans.  The pipes were manufactured in Libya.  Foreign contractors were hired for the initial stages of the work, but over time were replaced by Libyans.

The first three phases, shown on the map above, were completed.  The NATO bombings hit a section of the northern part of the Phase One pipe, plus a concrete pipe factory in Brega (al-Buraqah on the map above).   Bombings also hit electric power plants, so that pumps even on the intact pipelines ceased to work.

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The passing scene – August 8, 2015

August 8, 2015

Republican Assault on Trump May Only Make Him Stronger by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Trump’s Triumph: Billionaire Bloward Exposes Fake Political System by Mike Whitney for Counterpunch.

How Pathetic: Why Donald Trump May Be the Best Thing Going by Andrew Levine for Counterpunch.

The Republican Candidates Agree that the System Is Rigged for the Rich by William K. Black for New Economic Perspectives.

720x405-GettyImages-483208910I still can’t take Donald Trump seriously as a Presidential candidate, but he has said things that need to be said, especially about how he and other billionaires have the power to buy politicians.

Other Republican candidates also point out that the political system is rigged in favor of Wall Street and the large corporations.

Their answer appears to be lower taxes, less regulation and a minimal role for government, on the theory that the less government does, the less it matters whether corporations and wealthy individuals can manipulate government.

My problem with this is that some large corporations have grown so large and powerful that they are the next thing to governments themselves.

Hillary’s Libyan Torturers by Daniel McAdams for The Ron Paul Institute.

hillary-tortureThe achievement of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in foreign affairs was to find a way to find a way to continue the policies of George W. Bush without large numbers of American casualties.

The attack on Libya is an example of this.  The U.S. government supported an attack on a country that did not threaten the United States, based on lies, and reduced it to bloody chaos in which terrorists such as ISIS flourish.

The problem with Bernie Sanders by Joseph Cannon of Cannonfire.

Bernie Sanders is like many democratic socialists of the 1950s and 1960s—a defender of the interests of working people, a defender of civil rights, but also a cold warrior.

He thinks the United States should support Saudi Arabia and Turkey against ISIS, when these two governments are interested only in fighting the enemies of ISIS—Syria for Saudi Arabia and the Kurds for Turkey.   Likewise he favors confrontation of Vladimir Putin over Ukraine, which puts the United States at risk of nuclear war.

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Libya invasion fostered chaos and terrorism

April 21, 2015

I read this morning about Islamic State militants beheading Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

So far as I know there was no ISIS / ISIL presence in Libya until after the U.S.-backed invasion and reduction of the country to chaos.   That has been the result of all the U.S. invasions—the creation of chaos in which terrorism spreads.

What Could Go Wrong?Muammar Qaddafi, the ruler of Libya, was a dictator and a supporter of terrorism in his day.  He was an imperialist who had designs on Chad and other countries to the soul.

But he was an enlightened despot who channeled his country’s oil revenues into schools, hospitals, roads and other internal improvements, provided free education and health care and improved the condition of women.

Libya under Qaddafi was a country in which a law-abiding person could lead a normal life without living in fear.  Now Libya has been reduced to chaos, many innocent people have been killed and the country has been given over to lawless militia bands and religious fanatics.

Who did that benefit?  Not Libyans.  Not ordinary Americans.  Qaddafi had tried to make peace with the West.  His overthrow and murder will be remembered by other rulers who are tempted to do the same.

Refugees are swarming across the Mediterranean from Libya and other countries, and being turned back.  Maybe the governments of Italy and France should have thought about that possibility before initiating the invasion of Libya.

Empires of the past imposed order.   We the American people do not want to take on the burden of empire, so all our government’s accomplsih is to spread death and destruction.

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The warmongering record of Hillary Clinton

March 4, 2015

The frustrating thing about the right-wing Republican critics of Hillary Clinton is they criticize her for all the wrong things.   I think I’m as strongly opposed to Clinton as they are, and they put me in the position of defending her.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

In the U.S. intervention in Libya, she is criticized for failing to arrange protection for the U.S. ambassador from the terrorist attack on Benghazi, a legitimate issue, and for mis-characterizing the attack as a spontaneous reaction instead of a planned terrorist attack, an insignificant issue.

But neither of these things matter as much as the total disaster she brought down on the people of Libya.

My e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey sent me a link to an article in Counterpunch that sums up what’s wrong with Clinton very well.

First Libya:

The results of “Operation Unified Protector” … … include the persecution of black Africans and Tuaregs, the collapse of any semblance of central government, the division of the country between hundreds of warring militias, the destabilization of neighboring Mali producing French imperialist intervention, the emergence of Benghazi as an al-Qaeda stronghold, and the proliferation of looted arms among rebel groups.

Now the whole Clinton record:

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Behind the war in Libya

April 5, 2011

Khalifa Hifter, the commander of the Libyan rebel forces, spent the last 20 years in Vienna, Va.  His friends didn’t know what he did for a living, but he was within commuting distance of Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democrat from Ohio, connected the dots.

Pepe Escobar in the Asia Times of Hong Kong had more information on the background of the Libyan rebels.

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The case for getting rid of Qaddafi

April 2, 2011

[Update 4/17/2017.  It is now, of course, obvious that intervening in Libya was a terrible decision.  It should have been obvious to me at the time.]

I have misgivings about intervening in Libya.  But maybe I’m wrong.  Aaron Bady and Juan Cole, two scholars who know more about Libya than I do, and have the same values that I do, think that getting rid of Qaddafi is worth the risk.

Muammar al-Qaddafi

Aaron Bady cites Qaddafi’s record of funding dictators and war criminals in Africa, and Juan Cole points out that neutrality is an illusion, given Qaddafi’s overwhelming superiority in high-tech weapons sold by the West.

Click on Libya, Waiting to See for Aaron Bady’s full comment.  Click on An Open Letter to the Left on Libya for Juan Cole’s full statement.

Click on The Libyan intervention for my earlier post and links to arguments against intervention.

I’m now undecided what position to take on this.  I recall the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.  I thought then that even though the Bush administration was transparently lying about weapons of mass destruction, it would still be a good thing to get rid of Saddam Hussein.  He was a cruel and evil person; one of his decrees was to cut out the tongues of people who maligned him or his sons.  Iraqis initially welcomed the U.S. troops.  Maybe a more intelligent approach could have avoided all the killing, destruction and civil conflict that followed.  Maybe a more intelligent approach will be taken toward Libya.

Of course it doesn’t matter what position I take, because nothing I say or do will affect the government’s decisions or the outcome.  The decision has already been made; it was made weeks ago, before any announcement was made, when CIA agents were sent into Libya to pick out targets.  All I can do is watch and see what happens.

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The Libyan intervention

March 24, 2011

There are two old sayings relevant to the U.S. intervention in Libya.

Getting into is easier than getting out of.

Hope is not a plan.

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