Monday, August 22, 2011

How We Ever Gonna Know What Happened In Libya? From Our TVs?


Many cute tweets about the fall of the House of Qaddafi over the weekend. That was one of the cutest. But the toppling on Qaddafi wasn't Democratic policy or Republican policy. It was American policy. Unraveling what that means exactly is to face some harsh realities about our own country. Sunday-- and this really was just a coincidence-- we posted about the CIA overthrowing the legitimate, popular, elected government of Iran in 1953 and how that set up a model for violent international operations for decades. In those days the U.S. was always overthrowing good guys-- national heroes who were trying to make life better for their people, Mohammed Mosaddegh in Iran, Jacobo Árbenz, president of Guatemala, the year after the "success" in Iran, Patrice Lumumba, President of the Congo in 1961, Salvador Allende, president of Chile, a decade later. In the interim the CIA took a hand in government changes in less dramatic, less violent ways all over the world, including Greece, Italy, Japan, Australia, England, Congo... Let me quote from Glen Yeadon's book, Nazi Hydra in America:
At the end of the Second World War the US had the chance to grab the brass ring of liberty and present it to the world as a gift. Instead lead by a small cabal of Wall Street sharks and rich industrialists we were plunged into a cesspool of repression and became the spawning grounds for the fourth Reich. From earlier chapters it was shown that fascism was the end product of a capitalistic society that government failures are started by midlevel officials And finally for any revolution to be successful it requires the control over the 3Ms: the military, the media and money. This chapter has established the relationship between the CIA and money in the form of a revolving door between Wall Street and the CIA and the manipulation of the free press by the CIA as well as its close ties to Nazi war criminals. In short the CIA is a danger to the future liberty of not only US citizens but to the world. Its an agency that has served its purposes and needs to be broken into a thousand pieces and scattered to the winds as JFK threaten to do after his reelection.

What does this have to do with Libya, clearly a popular uprising against a terrible dictator? Or so it appears on our TVs. Is Qaddafi's oppression of his people-- the ostensible reason for U.S. and NATO intervention-- as bad, even nearly as bad, as what our good friend King Hamid is doing to his people in Bahrain? The brutal repression in Syria by Assad makes Qaddafi look almost benevolent.

Half a year ago, the CIA was no longer plotting to remove Qaddafi. They were on the ground removing Qaddafi. In March the NY Times, always, always, always an integral part of all U.S. imperialistic moves anywhere in the world, was reporting that the CIA had "inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials."
While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.

In addition to the C.I.A. presence, composed of an unknown number of Americans who had worked at the spy agency’s station in Tripoli and others who arrived more recently, current and former British officials said that dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya. The British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tank columns, artillery pieces and missile installations, the officials said.

American officials hope that similar information gathered by American intelligence officers-- including the location of Colonel Qaddafi’s munitions depots and the clusters of government troops inside towns-- might help weaken Libya’s military enough to encourage defections within its ranks.

In addition, the American spies are meeting with rebels to try to fill in gaps in understanding who their leaders are and the allegiances of the groups opposed to Colonel Qaddafi, said United States government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the activities.  American officials cautioned, though, that the Western operatives were not directing the actions of rebel forces.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.

Lotta oil in Libya. Just a coincidence, I'm sure, as the U.S. continues its unending crusade to bring democracy to every part of the world, other than Florida or Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Libya's popular uprising has every hallmark of a CIA operation. Expect bodies. If you want to find the conventional wisdom here, just put on your TV... any channel, and you'll hear how Americans are being conditioned to look at what just happened in Libya. Instead let's turn to Steve Clemons at The Atlantic: "Like Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein was also a horrendous thug whose arbitrary and brutal rule resulted in the deaths of vast numbers of his own citizens..." But Clemons didn't reprocess a CIA press handout. He says he gets "the euphoria that is sweeping amongst those who had a hand in toppling a 42-year old regime" but he definitely buys into what David Cameron is trying to sell as "a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned process with broad international support."

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The fall of Moammer Qaddafi -- whose bizarre antics ranging from rambling nonsense speeches he'd give at the UN General Assembly to his proposal to "abolish Switzerland" to his personal-digs at other Arab leaders-- could easily excite anyone who spent any time studying this tormenting figure.

...I was skeptical of the Libyan intervention by the US and the rest-- but the Tuesday night when President Obama authorized action, I expressed cautious support, understanding that the humanitarian costs of letting the siege of Benghazi unfold outweighed other factors.  The US military raised concerns about managing a limited conflict where the authorization for action might lead to a long drawn-out stalemate with Qaddafi, who eventually might be able to dig himself a back door of support with nations like Russia, China, Brazil and India. 

The Pentagon's counsel in this case was important-- because the scenario the military sketched out could have come to pass-- and the impact on America's credibility would have been negative. 

As it turns out, the combination of intelligence support provided by the US, the technical and financial and logistics support provided behind the scenes by Qatar and the UAE, the military interventions by French and British forces, and more helped give the Libyan rebels an opportunity to regroup after early setbacks and push Qaddafi's forces back steadily and firmly to the battle inside Tripoli that we saw last night.  A key part of the success were the Berbers organizing their village militias west of Tripoli and pushing towards Qaddafi from one direction while the Benghazi-based rebels pushed from the other-- putting Tripoli in a vise.

Barack Obama's gamble in providing limited support for a conflict, in which other countries played lead roles, now seems like a winning move.  It's hard to replicate the conditions of Libya in other cases because Qaddafi had a habit of making unnecessary enemies-- most importantly in the Arab League, whose vote in favor of imposing a No Fly Zone over Libya was the trigger that led to everything else that has been possible.

...What Obama's intervention accomplished was giving Libyans an opportunity to own the outcome.  Obama kept the US military footprint relatively small-- occasionally getting involved in unhelpful Western posturing that took the cameras off the Libyan rebels and putting them on the West-- but on the whole, Obama kept his game to one of trying to tilt the odds, not guarantee outcomes.

This is the same kind of approach that the international community needs to take as Libya takes its next steps.  Give support, technical counsel and advice if asked, but be respectful of the process that is now going to have to evolve inside Libya to include many players and groups that have been excluded from power for decades.

That means being there if needed-- but as Cameron implied, not making Libya's next steps about us-- but rather making sure that the leaders of the next government control their own reigns.

Sounds far-fetched in light of the post-World War II history of U.S./CIA intervention in other countries. You don't rememeber? A few random thoughts-- again via Yeadon-- about our neighborly agenda in Guatemala... if you can take it:
In 1953 the CIA also intervened in Guatemala, and regarded the action as a success. For what reasons they regarded the operation as success can be only guess at for what followed was a bloody civil war that lasted 36 years. Once again this intervention fits the model perfectly. The legally elected government of Arbenz was reform minded. The center piece of his reforms was land reform. In an overwhelmingly rural nation only 2.2% of the population owned 70% of the land. Prior to the 1944 revolution and ousting of the dictatorship of Ubico, the army was used to rope farm labors together for delivery to low-land farms where they were kept as debt slaves. The expropriation of large uncultivated tracts of land to landless peasants, improvement in the rights of unions and other social reforms were hurting the bottom line of United Fruit. Arbenz even constructed a port on the Atlantic to compete against the port controlled by United Fruit, likewise a public hydro-electric plant was constructed for the same reasons.

The position of United Fruit inside Guatemala was essentially one of a country within a country. United Fruit owned the country's telephone and telegraph systems, administered the country's only Atlantic port, monopolized banana exports and a subsidiary owned the rail system. In the US United Fruit had close ties to the Dulles brothers, various state department officials, congressmen and the US Ambassador to the UN. The former CIA Director, Wlater Bedell Smith was seeking an executive position with United Fruit at the same time he was planing the Guatemala coup. He later was named to the board of directors of United Fruit.

The first plan to oust Arbenz was given by Truman as a response to Guatemala receiving arms from Czechoslovakia and the implied communism threat but was canceled. After the election of Eisenhower the plan was put into effect. The Guatemala coup also provides and ideal example of how the CIA manipulates the American opinion. After first being tried in Guatemala this technique has been employed throughout South America. It involves the CIA planting an article in the foreign press the article is then picked up by the news wires and newspapers in other countries. Besides the obvious multiplier effect upon the potential audience it has the appearance of an independent world opinion. Incidentally it was the same tactic that Bush tried to use against Clinton in the 1992 election.

The immediate after effects of the coup was draconian, within four months 72,000 was labeled as communist, many who were tortured and murdered. It is known that the U.S. Ambassador John Peurifoy had a long list of names of leaders that the successor government was to assassinate. Agrarian reform was stopped and the land already expropriated was given back to United Fruit. Union leaders turned up dead. Three quarters of the population was disenfranchised by barring illiterates from the polls and all political parties, unions and peasant organizations were outlawed...

The blood bath and carnage that followed for the next 36 years can only be described as horrific A genocidal war was carried on against the native Indians. Murders, kidnappings and disappearances became widespread and everyday occurrences as right wing death squads roamed the countryside. The report on Guatemala as a first step to reconciliation states that the army is blamed for over 200,000 deaths and disappearances. Below are some extracts from that report:
"Of the 42,000 deaths investigated in the report, the army was found to be responsible for 93 percent. Three percent were the work of the leftist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity, and 4 percent were unresolved. The report found that 29,000 of the investigated deaths involved summary executions.

Most of the victims were civilians and Mayan Indians... [T]he government of the United States, through various agencies including the CIA, provided direct and indirect support for some state operations."

It was "clearly genocide and a planned strategy against the civilian population," said Christian Tomuschat, a German citizen who heads the three-member commission. "Government forces... blindly pursued the anti-communist fight, without respecting any legal principle or even the most elemental ethical or religious values."

In 626 massacres, the report found that government forces "completely exterminated Mayan communities, destroyed their dwellings, livestock and crops." The guerrillas were blamed for 32 such massacres, the report said."

Guatemala also provides us with the first example of the right wing death squads that have became so much a part of South American politics. Those death squads and the dictators that employ them are products of the CIA-Military intelligence system of the US. They lead directly to the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

So grubby compared to President Obama soaring, idealism last night:
Tonight, the momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.

The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all. Meanwhile, the United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya. A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.

The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people. Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy.

McCain and Lindsey Graham-- where was Lieberman?-- released this statement yesterday: "Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Qaddafi, but we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower." I'm sure either would have preferred nukes, of course. Dennis Kucinich had a very different perspective last week.
In March of this year, the US, France, Britain and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies launched military operations in Libya under the guise of a "humanitarian intervention." US diplomats and world leaders carelessly voiced unsubstantiated claims of an impending massacre in Benghazi. You hear no such appeals to humanity while NATO, in the name of the rebels (whoever they are), prepares to lay siege to Tripoli, a city of nearly 2 million people.

Libyan rebels are now advancing on the capital city of Tripoli with the aid of NATO strikes; this is sure to result in a real bloodbath, as opposed to the one that was conjured in Benghazi this past winter. NATO is assisting rebels who are blocking food, water and medical supplies from coming into the capital city, and is stopping those who need advanced medical care from travelling to Tunisia to access it. NATO is bombing power stations, creating blackouts, and using Apache helicopters to attack Libyan police checkpoints to clear roads for rebels to advance.

Regardless of whether Muammar Gaddafi is ousted in coming days, the war against Libya has seen countless violations of United Nations security council resolutions (UNSCRs) by NATO and UN member states. The funnelling of weapons (now being air-dropped) to Libyan rebels was, from the beginning of the conflict, in clear violation of UNSCR 1970. The use of military force on behalf of the rebels, in an attempt to impose regime change, has undermined international law and damaged the credibility of the United Nations. Countless innocent civilians have been killed, and NATO air strikes continue to place many at great risk.

So much for the humanitarian-inspired UNSCR 1973 as a means to protect civilians. The people of Libya cannot take another month of such humanitarian intervention.

The leading donor nations of NATO-- the US, France and Great Britain-- have been free to prosecute war under the cloak of this faceless, bureaucratic, alphabet security agency, now multinational war machine, which can violate UN resolutions and kill innocent civilians with impunity. War crimes trials are only for losers. The prospective conquerors, the western powers and their rebel proxies, will then expect to be able to assert control over Libya's vast oil and natural gas reserves.

The US share of the war against Libya has probably exceeded the $1bn mark. This extraordinary amount of money for an intervention that Americans were told would last "days not weeks" could only be explained by looking at the war as an investment, and at control over Libya's wealth as an opportunity to make a return on that investment. Cynical? Then tell me why else we are at war in Libya.

The victors write the history:

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At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Swopa said...

Howie, this is pretty far down the road to tinfoil-hatdom.

Are you seriously arguing that the protests that started the Libyan rebellion were instigated by a CIA plot, rather than the "Arab Spring" revolutions in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt?

Or is the entire wave of uprisings and protests all across the Arab world a mere pretext concocted by the CIA?

At 12:33 PM, Blogger John said...

Howie didn't say it, that tin foil bastion of "liberal media," the New York Times, said it!

John Puma


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