William Blum

Official website of the author, historian, and U.S. foreign policy critic.

The Anti-Empire Report #92

By William Blum – Published March 28th, 2011

Libya and The Holy Triumvirate

The words they find it very difficult to say — “civil war”.

Libya is engaged in a civil war. The United States and the European Union and NATO — The Holy Triumvirate — are intervening, bloodily, in a civil war. To overthrow Moammar Gaddafi. First The Holy Triumvirate spoke only of imposing a no-fly zone. After getting support from international bodies on that understanding they immediately began to wage war against Libyan military forces, and whoever was nearby, on a daily basis. In the world of commerce this is called “bait and switch”.

Gaddafi’s crime? He was never respectful enough of The Holy Triumvirate, which recognizes no higher power, and maneuvers the United Nations for its own purposes, depending on China and Russia to be as spineless and hypocritical as Barack Obama. The man the Triumvirate allows to replace Gaddafi will be more respectful.

So who are the good guys? The Libyan rebels, we’re told. The ones who go around murdering and raping African blacks on the supposition that they’re all mercenaries for Gaddafi. One or more of the victims may indeed have been members of a Libyan government military battalion; or may not have been. During the 1990s, in the name of pan-African unity, Gaddafi opened the borders to tens of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans to live and work in Libya. That, along with his earlier pan-Arab vision, did not win him points with The Holy Triumvirate. Corporate bosses have the same problem about their employees forming unions. Oh, and did I mention that Gaddafi is strongly anti-Zionist?

Does anyone know what kind of government the rebels would create? The Triumvirate has no idea. To what extent will the new government embody an Islamic influence as opposed to the present secular government? What jihadi forces might they unleash? (And these forces do indeed exist in eastern Libya, where the rebels are concentrated.) Will they do away with much of the welfare state that Gaddafi used his oil money to create? Will the state-dominated economy be privatized? Who will wind up owning Libya’s oil? Will the new regime continue to invest Libyan oil revenues in sub-Saharan African development projects? Will they allow a US military base and NATO exercises? Will we find out before long that the “rebels” were instigated and armed by Holy Triumvirate intelligence services?

In the 1990s, Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia was guilty of “crimes” similar to Gaddafi’s. His country was commonly referred to as “the last communists of Europe”. The Holy Triumvirate bombed him, arrested him, and let him die in prison. The Libyan government, it should be noted, refers to itself as the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. American foreign policy is never far removed from the Cold War.

We must look closely at the no-fly zone set up for Iraq by the US and the UK (falsely claimed by them as being authorized by the United Nations) beginning in the early 1990s and lasting more than a decade. It was in actuality a license for very frequent bombing and killing of Iraqi citizens; softening up the country for the coming invasion. The no-fly zone-cum invasion force in Libya is killing people every day with no end in sight, softening up the country for regime change. Who in the universe can stand up to The Holy Triumvirate? Has the entire history of the world ever seen such power and such arrogance?

And by the way, for the 10th time, Gaddafi did not carry out the bombing of PanAm Flight 103 in 1988. 1 Please enlighten your favorite progressive writers on this.

Barack “I’d kill for a peace prize” Obama

Is anyone keeping count?

I am. Libya makes six.

Six countries that Barack H. Obama has waged war against in his 26 months in office. (To anyone who disputes that dropping bombs on a populated land is an act of war, I would ask what they think of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.)

America’s first black president now invades Africa.

Is there anyone left who still thinks that Barack Obama is some kind of improvement over George W. Bush?

Probably two types still think so. 1) Those to whom color matters a lot; 2) Those who are very impressed by the ability to put together grammatically correct sentences.

It certainly can’t have much otherwise to do with intellect or intelligence. Obama has said numerous things, which if uttered by Bush would have inspired lots of rolled eyeballs, snickers, and chuckling reports in the columns and broadcasts of mainstream media. Like the one the president has repeated on a number of occasions when pressed to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes, along the lines of “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards”. Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent on such grounds. It simply makes laws, law enforcement, crime, justice, and facts irrelevant.

There’s also the excuse given by Obama to not prosecute those engaged in torture: because they were following orders. Has this “educated” man never heard of the Nuremberg Trials, where this defense was summarily rejected? Forever, it was assumed.

Just 18 days before the Gulf oil spill Obama said: “It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.” (Washington Post, May 27, 2010) Picture George W. having said this, and the later reaction.

“All the forces that we’re seeing at work in Egypt are forces that naturally should be aligned with us, should be aligned with Israel,” Obama said in early March. 2 Imagine if Bush had implied this — that the Arab protesters in Egypt against a man receiving billions in US aid including the means to repress and torture them, should “naturally” be aligned with the United States and — God help us — Israel.

A week later, on March 10, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told a forum in Cambridge, Mass. that Wikileaks hero Bradley Manning’s treatment by the Defense Department in a Marine prison was “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” The next day our “brainy” president was asked about Crowley’s comment. Replied the Great Black Hope: “I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”

Right, George. I mean Barack. Bush should have asked Donald Rumsfeld whether anyone in US custody was being tortured anywhere in the world. He could then have held a news conference like Obama did to announce the happy news — “No torture by America!” We would still be chortling at that one.

Obama closed his remark with: “I can’t go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Pvt. Manning’s safety as well.” 3

Ah yes, of course, Manning is being tortured for his own good. Someone please remind me — Did Georgieboy ever stoop to using that particular absurdity to excuse prisoner hell at Guantanamo?

Is it that Barack Obama is not bothered by the insult to Bradley Manning’s human rights, the daily wearing away of this brave young man’s mental stability?

The answer to the question is No. The president is not bothered by these things.

How do I know? Because Barack Obama is not bothered by anything as long as he can exult in being the president of the United States, eat his hamburgers, and play his basketball. Let me repeat once again what I first wrote in May 2009:

The problem, I’m increasingly afraid, is that the man doesn’t really believe strongly in anything, certainly not in controversial areas. He learned a long time ago how to take positions that avoid controversy, how to express opinions without clearly taking sides, how to talk eloquently without actually saying anything, how to leave his listeners’ heads filled with stirring clichés, platitudes, and slogans. And it worked. Oh how it worked! What could happen now, having reached the presidency of the United States, to induce him to change his style?

Remember that in his own book, “The Audacity of Hope”, Obama wrote: “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

Obama is a product of marketing. He is the prime example of the product “As seen on TV”.

Writer Sam Smith recently wrote that Obama is the most conservative Democratic president we’ve ever had. “In an earlier time, there would have been a name for him: Republican.”

Indeed, if John McCain had won the 2008 election, and then done everything that Obama has done in exactly the same way, liberals would be raging about such awful policies.

I believe that Barack Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left. The millions of young people who jubilantly supported him in 2008, and numerous older supporters, will need a long recovery period before they’re ready to once again offer their idealism and their passion on the altar of political activism.

If you don’t like how things have turned out, next time find out exactly what your candidate means when he talks of “change”.

Dear Lord, please save us from the Holy Republican Empire

Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, John Boehner, and many other Republicans often find it difficult to speak about domestic or foreign issues without bringing religion into the picture. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, for example, in a recent talk at the National Religious Broadcasters conference stated that America’s national debt is a “moral hazard.” The Washington Post (March 5, 2011) reported that “Boehner made clear that this fiscal crisis requires people to get on their knees.”

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas justified his opposition to controlling greenhouse gases because “you can’t regulate God.”

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl accused Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid of “disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians” for considering keeping Congress in session during Christmas.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa compared Democrats to Pontius Pilate, the ancient Roman official who sentenced Jesus to be crucified. 4

And South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint recently declared that “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. … America works, freedom works, when people have that internal gyroscope that comes from a belief in God and Biblical faith. Once we push that out, you no longer have the capacity to live as a free person without the external controls of an authoritarian government. I’ve said it often and I believe it –– the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. As people become more dependent on government, less dependent on God.” 5

So, in a futile attempt to enlighten the likes of these esteemed Republican members of Congress, I feel obliged to point out the following:

On the 4th day of November 1796, a “Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary” was concluded at Tripoli [Libya]. Article 11 of the treaty begins: “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion … ” Be it further noted: Article VI, Section II, of the United States Constitution states: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

The creed of America’s founders was neither Christianity nor secularism, but religious liberty.

After the terrorist attacks of 9-11, a Taliban leader declared that “God is on our side, and if the world’s people try to set fire to Afghanistan, God will protect us and help us.” 6

“With or without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things — that takes religion.” — Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

The Bad Guys

I’ve written on many occasions about America’s ODE — Officially Designated Enemies: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hasan Nasrallah, Moammar Gaddafi, and others. Once the government of the United States of America makes it clear that an individual foreign leader is not one of the Good Guys, that he doesn’t believe that America is God’s gift to humankind, and that he is not willing to allow his country to become an obedient client state, the US mainstream media invariably picks up on this and goes out of its way to denigrate the individual at every opportunity. (If any reader knows of any exceptions to this rule I’d be interested in hearing from them.)

Juan Forero has long been a Latin American correspondent for the Washington Post. He’s also the same for National Public Radio. I used to send letters to the Post pointing out how Forero was distorting the facts each time he wrote about Hugo Chávez, errors of omission compounded with errors of commission. None were printed, so I began to send my missives directly to Forero. He once actually replied saying that he (sort of) agreed with me on the point I had raised and implied that he would try to avoid similar errors in the future. I actually detected some improvement after that for a short period, then it was back to usual. During the current unrest in Libya he wrote: “Chavez said it ‘was a great lie’ that Gaddafi’s forces had attacked civilians.” 7

Well, how stupid can Hugo Chávez think the world is? We’ve all seen and read of Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians.

But it turns out that if you find the original Spanish you get a fuller and different picture. According to the United Press International (UPI) Spanish-language report, Chávez said that the fighting in Libya was a civil war and those who were attacked were thus not simply protestors or civilians; they were on the other side of the civil war; i.e., combatants. 8

Al Jazeera in America

The uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have given a great boost to al Jazeera, the television network based in Doha, Qatar. Until recently Americans shied away from the station; it was just too easily associated with the Middle East and Muslims, which of course leads easily to thinking about terrorists and “terrorists”; and certainly any well-brought-up American knew that the station could not be as unbiased as CBS, CNN, NPR or Fox News. The station had reason to be paranoid about its office in the United States, land of ten million crazies (more than a few of them holding public office). It occupies six floors in a downtown Washington, DC office building, but its name doesn’t appear on the building directory.

But US mainstream media now quote al Jazeera English and show their news footage. Many progressives, including myself, have taken to watching the station in preference to US mainstream media. In general, the news is of more substance, the guests are mainly more or less progressive, and there are no commercials. However, the more I watch it the more I realize that the station’s presenters and correspondents are not necessarily as well imbued with the progressive perspective as they should be.

One case in point of many I could give: On March 12 al Jazeera correspondent Roger Wilkinson was reporting about the trial in Cuba of Alan Gross, the American arrested after he dispensed electronic equipment to Cuban citizens. Gross entered Cuba as a tourist but was actually there in behalf of Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a private contractor working for the Agency for International Development (AID), a division of the State Department. Gross was thus a covert unregistered agent of a foreign government. Wilkinson reported this very controversial story with all the innocence and distortion of the US mainstream media. He mentioned in passing that the Cuban government tries to control the Internet. What can one conclude from that other than that Cuban officials want to hide certain information from its citizens? Just like the US mainstream media, Wilkinson gave no examples of any Internet sites blocked by the Cuban government; for the simple reason, perhaps, that there aren’t any. What is the terrible truth that Cubans might learn if they had full access to the Internet? Ironically, it’s the US government and US multinationals who impinge upon this access, for political reasons and by pricing their services beyond Cuba’s means. This is why Cuba and Venezuela are building their own undersea cable connection.

Wilkinson spoke of AID’s program of “democracy promotion”, but gave no hint that in the world of AID and the private organizations that contract with it — including Gross’s employer — this term is code for “regime change”. AID has long played a subversive role in world affairs. Here is John Gilligan, Director of AID during the Carter administration:

“At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.” 9

AID has been but one of many institutions employed by the United States for more than 50 years to subvert the Cuban revolution. It is because of this that we can formulate this equation: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to American government. Cuba’s laws dealing with activities typically carried out by the likes of AID and DAI reflect this history. It’s not paranoia. It’s self-preservation. In discussing a case like Alan Gross without considering this equation is a serious defect in journalism and political analysis.

Hopefully the Gross case will serve to temper the nature of US “democracy promotion” efforts in Cuba.

Washington’s policy — and therefore Britain’s policy — toward Cuba has always stemmed mainly from a desire to keep the island from becoming a good example for the Third World of an alternative to capitalism. But Western leaders actually do not, or do not dare, understand what can motivate people like the Cuban leaders and their followers. Here’s one of the Wikileaks US-Embassy cables, March 25, 2009 — William Hague, then-British Conservative MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary, giving the US embassy in London a report on his recent visit to Cuba: Hague “said that he was slightly surprised that the Cuban leadership did not appear to be moving toward more of a Chinese model of economic opening, but were rather still ‘romantic revolutionaries’.” In his conversation with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez “the discussion turned to political ideology, during which Hague commented that people in Britain were more interested in shopping than ideology.” [Oh dear, what a jolly good defense of the Western way of life. Rule Britannia! God Bless America!] Hague then reported that “Rodriguez appeared disdainful of the notion and said one needed shopping only to buy food and a few good books.”

Japan devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. America devastated by the profit motive.

Christine Todd Whitman, George W. Bush’s first Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, speaking of how the nuclear industry has learned from every previous nuclear accident or disaster: “It’s safer than working in a grocery store,” she said.

Whitman is now co-chairwoman of the nuclear industry’s Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. 10

Notes

  1. http://killinghope.org/bblum6/panam.htm
  2. March 4, 2011, Democratic Party function, Miami, FL, CQ Transcriptions
  3. Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2011
  4. For this and the previous two examples, see “Jim DeMint’s Theory Of Relativity: ‘The Bigger Government Gets, The Smaller God Gets’”, Think Progress, March 15, 2011
  5. Fox News Sunday, December 19, 2010
  6. Washington Post, September 19, 2001
  7. Washington Post, March 7, 2011
  8. UPI Reporte LatAm, March 4, 2011 (email me for the text)
  9. George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321
  10. Former EPA chief: Nuke crisis ‘a very good lesson’”, Politico, March 14, 2011

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

← Issue #91

Issue #93 →

Books by William Blum

America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

Rogue State

Rogue State

A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

Killing Hope

Killing Hope

U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II

Freeing the World to Death

Freeing the World to Death

Essays on the American Empire

West-Bloc Dissident

West-Bloc Dissident

A Cold War Memoir