Refuting Juan Cole’s “Top Ten Myths about the Libyan War”
by CONN HALLINAN
In his essay, “Top Ten Myths about the Libyan War,” Juan Cole argues that U.S. interests in the conflict consisted of stopping “massacres of people,” a “lawful world order,” “the NATO alliance,” and oddly, “the fate of Egypt.” It is worth taking a moment to look at each of these arguments, as well as his dismissal of the idea that the U.S./NATO intervention had anything to do with oil as “daft.”
Massacres are bad things, but the U.S. has never demonstrated a concern for them unless its interests were at stake. It made up the “massacre” of Kosovo Albanians in order to launch the Yugoslav War, and ended up acquiring one of the largest U.S. bases in the world, Camp Bond Steel. It has resolutely ignored the massacre of Palestinians and Shiites in Bahrain because it is not in Washington’s interests to concern itself with those things. Israel is an ally, and Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Cole accepts the fact that Qaddafi would have “massacred” his people, but his evidence for that is thin, and he chooses to completely ignore the deaths and casualties resulting from the NATO bombing. Read more…
by Rick Moran on Mar 28th, 2011
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes a no-fly zone over Libya and the protection of civilians by all means necessary, is the culmination of a decade-long effort to radically strengthen the ability of the UN to intervene in sovereign nations through the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine. Behind the initiative are, unsurprisingly, some of the usual suspects: National Security Council adviser Samantha Power and her patron George Soros. Their call to prevent human rights abuses through military intervention masks an agenda to alter drastically the concept of state sovereignty and to allow the United Nations to essentially co-opt the US military.
A 2008 backgrounder produced by The Heritage Foundation on the Responsibility to Protect articulates one of the most dangerous aspects of the doctrine: “R2P would effectively cede U.S. national sovereignty and decision-making power over key components of national security and foreign policy and subject them to the whims of the international community.” What we are seeing unfold in Libya today may very well be a test case for this doctrine: the United Nations has “borrowed” the US military to enforce its idea of Gaddafi’s “responsibilities.” And one question of grave concern is: Might the UN also “borrow” the U.S. and other Western militaries in future to impose its will on member states it feels are not living up to the UN’s nebulous idea of state responsibilities?
Before we examine the ingredients of this potentially catastrophic scenario, a bit of historical background is necessary. The Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which is deliberately nebulous and ill-defined, is not new. In fact, Hitler’s intervention in the Sudetenland was justified by “humanitarian reasons.” Hitler’s propaganda machine created mass hysteria in Germany by falsely accusing Czechoslovakia of carrying out atrocities against ethnic Germans. Hitler negotiated with Neville Chamberlain on the basis that he was only going to intervene to save lives. Chamberlain may not have bought Hitler’s lies, but Munich occurred nonetheless.
The doctrine was applied sporadically for the next 50 years because military intervention of any kind during the Cold War risked nuclear confrontation. Although the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was justified by Moscow as a “humanitarian” endeavor, there were few other cases. Read more…
Getting out of the political quicksand of Iraq, or at least burying the bloody occupation as an embarrassing daily news item, is mission number one for the Bush campaign.
Extricating U.S. troops and political capital from the mess the Bush administration created in Iraq may be mission impossible. But the president’s political and ideological handlers have proved adept at spinning the administration out of scandals and misadventures. Their operating principle, which they enshrined as official national security strategy, seems to be: the best defense is a good offense.
When you are down in the polls and the “bring ‘em on” machismo no longer seems to get the patriotic rise it first did, the Bush team doesn’t retreat. It advances with more tough words backed by military muscle and missionary zeal. The Bush administration still has an itchy trigger finger, and is in search of another evildoer to confront.
Even before the U.S. occupation forces settled into Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Baghdad, the neoconservatives who have set the direction of the Bush presidency’s radical foreign and military policies were looking toward Syria. Before the month is out, it’s likely that President Bush will announce new sanctions against Syria–accusing the northern neighbor of Israel, Lebanon, and Iraq of many of the same offenses that were leveled against the Hussein regime in Iraq. The charge list includes developing biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction, condemning the U.S. occupation of Iraq, supporting international terrorism, and succoring anti-U.S. and anti-Israel guerrilla forces.
Immediately before the Iraq invasion, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security traveled to Israel and promised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that “it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran, and North Korea afterwards.” In April 2003 Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz warned: “There’s got to be a change in Syria.” Read more…
When the US decided that its backyard would in future be a greater Middle East –from Pakistan to Morocco –it imagined that it could rearrange the region to suit itself. The results have been disastrous and will be long-lasting.
The United States undersecretary of state, Nicholas Burns, said this year: “Ten years ago Europe was the epicentre of American foreign policy. This was how things stood from April 1917, when Woodrow Wilson sent one million American troops to the Western Front, through to President Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999. For the better part of the 20th century, Europe was our primary, vital focus.” But, he added, everything had changed and the Middle East was now, for President George Bush and his successors, “the place that Europe once was for the administrations of the 20th century” .
President Bush had said much the same a while earlier: “The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life” . Read more…
Using the July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers–whose unit had apparently crossed the Israeli border into Lebanon–as a pretext, the Bush administration quickly sprung into action: imagining yet a new Middle East, where democracy and freedom reigns over militancy and oppression.
Since the neoconservative takeover of America’s foreign policies, it has become apparent that the neocons do not operate with such impulsiveness. The plan for a new Middle East was introduced as early as 1992 by then less influential neoconservative elements. Those ideals were accentuated in 1996 by Richard Pearle and company, then advising Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Exploiting the tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks to achieve what until then seemed unfeasible, Washington’s neocons were hard at work: an invasion of Iraq, then Iran and Syria, which would naturally lead to the plunging of Lebanon into Israel’s political sphere. Meanwhile, Israel would be entrusted with the ominous task of imposing whatever solution it finds suitable on defenseless Palestinians. But when it all seemed set for the advent of a new Middle East, Iraqis exhibited stiff resistance that bogged down America’s military power and stretched its resources beyond expectations. The tens of billions of initial costs for war led to tens of millions more, with no end in sight. Read more…
Even before the “victory” in Iraq had been declared, Administration officials began leveling accusations at Syria that sounded strangely familiar, something like a regurgitation of the lies that had propelled our forces into the “war that wasn’t.” Predictably, that series of accusations was followed by Sharon’s demands of the US military, that they undertake five goals desired by Israel, which are briefly; disarming Iran, Libya and Syria. These demands represent the next step in Israel’s fulfillment of the Wolfowitz/ Perle design to achieve “The New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” the report they prepared for the Israeli right wing Likud party in 1996.
Ha’aretz listed Sharon’s demands in its April 16th edition, demands uttered only two days earlier by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz: 1. “The removal and dismantling of Palestinian terrorist organizations operating out of Damascus Hamas and Islamic Jihad; 2. The ouster of Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley; 3. An end to Syrian cooperation with Iran, including attempts to transfer arms to the Palestinian Authority and incite Israeli Arabs; 4. The deployment of the Lebanese Army along Lebanon’s border with Israel and the ouster of Hezbollah from the area; and 5. The dismantling of the surface-to-surface missile network that Israel charges Hezbollah has built in Southern Lebanon.” Sharon added that President Pashar Assad “is dangerous. His judgment is impaired.” Like Saddam, Israel and America are confronted once again with a dangerous threat in the form of a dictator. Read more…
A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, then Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Western values”. It has since been criticized for advocating an aggressive new policy including the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, and the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare and highlighting their possession of “weapons of mass destruction”.
According to the report’s preamble, it was written by the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, which was a part of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser. Read more…
When Israeli Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled said recently that a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah was “just a matter of time” and that such a conflict would include Syria, most observers dismissed the comment as little more than posturing by a right-wing former general. But Peled’s threat has been backed by Israeli military maneuvers near the Lebanese border, violations of Lebanese airspace, and the deployment of an anti-missile system on Israel’s northern border.
The Lebanese are certainly not treating it as Likud bombast.
“We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats,” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC. “We see what is happening on the ground and in our airspace…during the past two months—every day we have Israeli airplanes entering Lebanese airspace.” Hariri added that he considered the situation “really dangerous.”
The increasing tension was behind the recent visit to Beirut by Senator Philippe Marini, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon. After Marini met with Hariri, Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Hezbollah leaders, the envoy said that he feared a Hezbollah-Israel rematch could easily become a regional war. Read more…
The NATO continues it’s assassination campaign
Benghazi, Libya: Four rockets struck the compound of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Thursday, killing at least two people, a government spokesman told CNN.
After the blasts, which could be heard in the center of Tripoli, sirens blared and at least two emergency vehicles sped toward the Bab al-Aziziya compound.
The Libya government took journalists near the site of the blast and smoke could be seen still rising from the compound. At least two dead bodies were at a nearby hospital, both of them men.
Government officials said 27 people affected by the strike were also brought to the hospital. Most seemed to be suffering from smoke inhalation.
On May 1, the Libyan government said another attack on the same compound had killed Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Arab Gadhafi and three of the leader’s grandchildren.
Thursday’s strike came a day after spokesmen for the Libyan rebels sparred with a spokesman for the Libyan government over who was in control of the airport in the besieged city of Misrata.
NATO warplanes and missiles have been pounding Gadhafi’s forces since March as Gadhafi’s troops try to quash a nearly three-month-old revolt against his nearly 42 years of rule.
Almost 750,000 people have fled the country amid the fighting, and 58,000 more are displaced within Libya, Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said.
At least 5,000 more are stranded at border crossings between Libya, Tunisia and Niger, Amos said.
Others have tried to flee by sea, but one such attempt appears to have ended in disaster for hundreds of refugees as their ship capsized off the capital.
By ISRAEL SHAMIR
Did the UN Security Council Authorize Assassination?
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced on Thursday that he would soon stand before the United Nations and report on alleged Libyan war crimes. We can only hope that his brief will include the latest war crime, the murder of Qaddafi’s family, his son and three grandchildren, and the assassination attempt on the life of the Libyan leader on May Day, 2011. Cameron, Sarkozy, the NATO field commanders and the Danish air crew should all be indicted for this crime.
UNSC Resolution 1970 is not a licence to commit mass murder. The resolution simply established a no-fly zone; it was designed to stem the violence, not turn Tripoli into a killing field. This is a clear case of coldly calculated targeted murder, as ruthless and brutal as any other form of political assassination. The date of the operation was known well beforehand, and had already been openly discussed in late April by the Russian Secret Service SVR (External Intelligence Service). On April 29th, a Russian netzine published an article by Kirill Svetitsky who quoted an anonymous source within SVR:
“There will be an attempt to kill Muammar Qaddafi on or before May 2. The governments of France, Britain and the US decided on it, for the warfare in Libya does not proceed well for the anti-Libyan alliance: the regular army has substantial gains; Bedouin tribes entered the fight on the government’s side; in Benghazi, a “second front” was opened by the armed local militias who are tired of rebels’ presence, their incessant fights and robberies.
“But the main reason for the timing is that the Italian parliament plans to discuss Italy’s involvement in Libyan campaign on May 3. Until now, decisions were taken by Berlusconi, but there are strong differences of opinion within the government coalition regarding the Libyan war, and they will probably bring the government down on May 3, and Italy will effectively leave the anti-Libyan alliance. It is likely to have a domino effect. For this reason leaders of the UK, the US and France decided to eliminate Qaddafi not later than May 2d, before the session of the Italian parliament on May 3d.”
Unlike many Internet predictions, this one turned out to be timely and exact. On May 1, the US, France and the UK made a failed attempt on the life of Muammar Qaddafi, although they did succeed in killing his son and three grandchildren. Such unusual operative foreknowledge implies that Western leaders had advised the Russians of the planned attack, and that the SVR had then leaked the plans.
The attack itself imitated the Israeli technique of “targeted killings”. The Israeli Air Force is notorious for dropping a one-ton (1800 pounds) bomb on a Gazan house in an attempt to liquidate Salah Shehadeh, a Hamas leader, in 2002. As “collateral damage” 13 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed and many others injured. Among the dead were Shehadeh’s wife Layla and his 15-year-old daughter Iman, who happened to be with him in the house at the time. This act of mass murder was publicly described as “a war crime”, and Israeli military personnel were later indicted in Spain and the UK.
If God does not punish Las Vegas then he owes an apology to Sodom, quipped Jay Leno. Likewise, if the initiators of the Qaddafi assassination attempt are not called to justice, then Europe owes an apology to the Israeli military.
This assassination attempt should open the eyes of those in Europe and the US who still believe that this war is ‘just’, or at least ‘justifiable’. The true reasons behind Western neocolonial interventions in the Middle East now stand revealed to all. One small example: the same source in Russian Intelligence also leaked a document, a letter from Libyan rebel leaders promising France 35 per cent of all Libyan oil. So much for humanitarian reasons!
It appears more and more that the whole Libyan affair was done up with smoke and mirrors. Initially the Benghazi Uprising was nothing more than a small local riot; the rebellion was unknown in other cities. Soon, however, the government was destabilized by Al-Jazeera, as the popular Arab network broadcast the “news” that Muammar Qaddafi and his sons had fled the country for Venezuela and that his black mercenaries were about to unleash another holocaust on hapless Libyans. Al-Jazeera’s lies have proven to be more damaging even than NATO’s bombs; they have fought Qaddafi tooth and nail, from the first rebel yell to the last foul scene of murder. Even today, while the bodies of Qaddafi’s family were spread before Libyan churchmen, al-Jazeera continued to broadcast denials from Benghazi. Stephen Lendman correctly notes that “Jazeera has become a more efficient propaganda machine against the Arab minds than the BBC ever was”. The uprising was led by Guantanamo detainees like Abu Sufian Hamuda bin Kumu. Perhaps they should be put onto the next flight back to the USA: thanks, but no thanks.
The Libyan campaign deserves to end like its predecessor,the Suez campaign – with the embarrassing withdrawal of NATO forces, and the sooner the better. Enough is enough! Let the Libyans solve their differences themselves.
First Libya, Then Syria?
Even as Libya settles into the typical intervention quagmire, developments in Syria are starting to heat up. While Russian President Medvedev did manage to override his own Foreign Office and Putin’s government, pulling off an abstention during the UNSC vote on the Libyan intervention, there is not the slightest chance for a similar trick regarding Syria. Syria has a Russian naval base in Tartus, practically the only base Russia has managed to keep out of the many Soviet bases lost, from Cuba to Vietnam. Moreover, Syria has a large Orthodox Christian community that openly supports President Bashar el Assad and is plainly nervous about the possible success of the Dera’a uprising. They believe the rebels are Salafist anti-Christian fanatics armed by the Saudis. Russia has always been the traditional protector of the Christian Orthodox in the Middle East, and is not likely to renege on its responsibilities towards these communities.