Tag Archive | "Libya"

Republican Benghazi meme. Ambassador killed for Syria gunrunning

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Rand Paul says ambassador to Libya killed for gun-running in Benghazi. Right-wing hones Republican Benghazi meme pointed at White House.

Washington has a new meme in town, trying to give fresh impetus to the Benghazi Blowback Bandwagon still circling the White House in hopes of finding something worse than Watergate, or at least as bad as Iran-Contra.

Ever since the terrorist attack of September 11, 2012, that killed four Americans at the Benghazi consulate in Libya, Republicans have searched for any way to turn the Libyan event into an equivalent political calamity for the incumbent Democratic President.

“I’ve actually always suspected that, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria,” Kentucky’s Republican Senator Ron Paul told CNN on May 9, the same day he said he was “considering” a run for the Presidency in 2016.   Continuing without evidence, Paul said:

“I never have quite understood the cover-up — if it was intentional or incompetence — but something went on. I mean, they had talking points that they were trying to make it out to be a movie when everybody seemed to be on the ground telling them it had nothing to do with a movie. I don’t know if this was for political reasons….  Were they trying to obscure that there was an arms operation going on at the CIA annex?”

Lindsey Graham Hops on Another Bandwagon

South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, according to Liberty Counsel’s Matthew Staver, again without evidence:

“has publically announced a significant part of what the Obama administration is trying to cover up in Benghazi-gate: The magnitude of gunrunning and fighter recruitment – even involving jihadist organizations – to oppose Syrian government forces through the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.” 

The gun-running in Libya scenario was floated early in the fall of 2012, by Rand Paul, among others, but in more speculative form.   At The Patriot’s Trumpet, a 20-year CIA employee, Clare Lopez, posed a number of provocative questions in October.  Without offering supporting evidence, in a conversation with Glen Beck she asked whether the attack in Benghazi was part of:  

“…a much-larger gunrunning operation to al Qaida-linked and other Jihadist groups in Libya and, more ominously, Syria?

“Is the Obama Administration running guns into other Jihadist hot spots?

“…  Was Ambassador Stevens our operational officer in a gunrunning operation to al Qaida linked groups that had “gone wrong?  

“Did the Obama Administration set Stevens up and leave him (with former Navy Seals, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods and computer expert, Sean Smith) to die?” 

If Polite Questions Fail, Try Direct Accusation 

Perhaps the clearest, and most vitriolic, expression of the Benghazi gun-running plot comes from rising rightwing celebrity blogger Katie Kieffer of Minnesota.  In her April 29 post, Kieffer began:

“Liberals don’t want honest Americans like you to have guns. Liberals just want to arm foreign rebels in crapshoot attempts to “end global violence.” But liberals feign ignorance when the rebels they arm end up being criminals who kill innocent Americans like the late U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.” 

Katy Kieffer’s thousand-word piece quotes both Senators Graham and Paul, but provides no more documented evidence.   Her piece was re-published verbatim on other websites such as Free Republic, Town Hall, and Bear Witness.

In contrast to Paul’s saying saying he had no evidence, Kieffer states:

“We now know that President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus were likely behind a mishandled gun-trafficking program that ended up arming the radical jihadist rebels who stormed the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya on that fateful day.” 

Rhetorically, If Obama’s Not a Murderer, Then Who Is? 

In other words, the new meme in Washington is that:  Obama gave weapons to jihadis – the jihadis killed Americans in Banghazi  — therefore Obama is a murderer.   Or as Kieffer put it:

“ Obama’s gun-running program failed to properly vet the rebels. Clinton most likely launched the gun program, expected Stevens to oversee it and then her weapons likely landed in the hands of al-Qaida affiliates who killed Stevens and three other Americans. Benghazi is a tragic failure of foreign policy and diplomacy under Obama’s watch.”

If this was a serious argument, at least some of its proponents would offer some evidence that any weapons went from American hands to Libyan jihadists in eastern Libya, which has been awash in weapons and jihadis for a decade or more.  This region provided more foreign fighters against the American invasion of Iraq than any other comparable part of the world.

And if this was a serious argument, it might explain how weapons for the Syrian rebels managed to remain in Libya, especially since they were on a boat in Benghazi bound for Turkey.

This is an argument that sounds much better if you can say “Fast And Furious II” in Arabic.

Posted in News

Eclectics or Dialectics? Unpacking PSL’s Defense of Racist, Collaborationist Tyrannies

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Socialists and War: Two Opposing Trends published by Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) is as thin politically as it page-wise. Clocking in at 46 pages, most of the book consists of freely available published material: a reprint from PSL’s newspaper, a Dissident Voice interview with Brian Becker who is the national director of PSL’s front group ANSWER Coalition, and a historical document, the Basel Manifesto. The only original work is Becker’s essay, “Socialists and War: Two Opposing Trends,” which claims that socialist debates over imperialist intervention into the Arab Spring are the modern analog to the split within the socialist movement over World War One with myself as Plekhanov and PSL as – who else? – the Bolsheviks. (Whether Becker gets to play Lenin and Mazda Majidi Trotsky or vice versa in their 1914-1917 reenactment is unclear.)

The book is a reminder that seven dollars doesn’t buy much of anything these days.

Majidi’s article, “When Justifying Imperialist Intervention ‘Goes Wrong’” is a Revleft-style response to my essay, “Libya and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong.” Majidi’s strawmen speak for themselves and need not be enumerated here. However, his underlying method is of interest. He begins by asserting that, “All demonstrations and opposition movements [are] not progressive.” Undoubtedly this is true, and Majidi cites the Nazis and the Tea Party as examples. So far, so good. He then adds what he calls “color revolutions” to this list:

“Most color revolutions occurred in the former Soviet Republics, such as Georgia’s Rose Revolution, Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution. But there have also been (successful or attempted) color revolutions in other countries, such as Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution in 2005 and Iran’s Green Revolution in 2009.”

What is a “color revolution” according to Majidi?

“Color revolutions usually include the formation of coherent and unified pro-imperialist political forces, which draw upon public discontent with economic distress, corruption and political coercion. They involve several operations, including the creation of division and disunity in the military and an intense propaganda campaign. … Elements who participate in such street protests are often a small part of the population and do not represent the sentiments of the majority of the people, much less the interests of the working class. In fact, many participants in the protests may not support the agenda of the right-wing leadership and its imperialist sponsors. Still, the imperialist propaganda campaign utilizes the protests, however large or small, to promote regime change and the ascension of a client state. The imperialists are not fools to do so; this is precisely what such ‘democratic’ movements produce absent an alternative working-class and anti-imperialist opposition.”

This is a description of associated features, not a rigorous definition.

Many of these features were present in the Egyptian revolution. The “coherent and unified pro-imperialist political force” known as the Muslim Brotherhood rode to power drawing “upon public discontent with economic distress, corruption and political coercion.” Their regime enjoys a much larger and firmer popular base than Mubarak’s decrepit dictatorship and in that narrow sense U.S. imperialism was strengthened rather than weakened by the January 25, 2011 revolution.

Does PSL consider the Egyptian case to be a “color revolution”? Of course not. Thus, the only consistency to PSL’s method is its inconsistency. Eclecticism is inevitable because PSL continually substitutes description for definition.

The next step in Majidi’s counter-argument is to ask, “What is the political character of the Syrian and Libyan rebels?” Earlier in the article, he poses questions of fundamental importance for approaching this issue:

“In his entire article, Binh conveniently assumes the very thing that needs to be proven—that the Libyan rebels and the Syrian opposition are revolutionary. This false premise, once accepted, leads to all sorts of false conclusions. What is the political character of the NTC-led rebels in Libya? What qualified them as revolutionaries? How does Binh determine that the Syrian opposition is revolutionary and the government counter-revolutionary? When analyzing an opposition movement anywhere in the world, this is the first question that needs to be asked.”

Wrong.

The first question that needs to be asked in assessing an opposition movement is: what is it a movement in opposition to? What is the class character of the regime it is coming into conflict with and why? Imagine trying to analyze the political character Occupy Wall Street without knowing the first thing about Wall Street! Majidi makes this exact mistake by assessing the Libyan edition of the Arab Spring without first examining the Ghadafi regime in any detail. Doing this would make defending the regime from the protest movement as PSL does impossible because the regime was guilty of the very things Majidi claims define the rebellion as reactionary and right-wing: racism, collaboration with imperialism, and pro-neoliberalism.

hanging4.7. 77

April 4, 1977, Bengazi. PSL’s “progressive” regime lynched students (without trial) every year on April 4 to “commemorate” the anniversary of a 1976 student uprising.

Racism: Much like the Polish, Ukranian, and other national minorities of Tsarist Russia, Libya’s Amazigh were forbidden from learning, speaking, or celebrating their language and culture by Ghadafi’s regime. Those that dared risked arrest and persecution.

Becker claims “Gaddafi had a lot of support from black Libyans who considered [his] Africa-centric foreign policy to be positive” (33). Does Becker believe Black Libyans supported Ghadafi when he made a racist deal with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to keep Italy free of Black immigrants, saying, “We should stop this illegal immigration. If we don’t, Europe will become Black, it will be overcome by people with different religions”?

Collaboration with Imperialism: Socialists and War: Two Opposing Trends says not a word about how Ghadafi’s regime tortured people on behalf of the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6. Nor does it mention Ghadafi’s mass expulsion of thousands of Palestinian refugees in 1995 and his call on other Arab states to follow suit.

Neoliberalism: Majidi never discusses the Ghadafi regime’s embrace of neoliberalism, so comrade Becker’s words on page 27 may come as a shock:

“Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Gaddafi’s government saw the handwriting on the wall and sought its own accommodation with the West. It adopted a set of neoliberal policies and invited major western oil companies to do business again, once sanctions had been lifted by Britain and the United States.”

So for PSL, it is acceptable for a racist, tyrannical regime to collaborate with U.S. imperialism and institute neoliberal policies but unacceptable for a revolt against this same regime to have racist, collaborationist, and neoliberal elements or characteristics. What is good for the goose is absolutely impermissible for the gander. When Ghadafi made deals with British Petroleum and other western oil companies, PSL said this was understandable and justified; when the post-Ghadafi government honored those same deals, PSL labeled it a pawn of imperialism.

This is doublethink masquerading as Marxist analysis.

Still, the question remains: was it correct to assume (as I did) that the Libyan edition of the Arab Spring was revolutionary and not reactionary, progressive and not regressive? If so, how do we make sense of PSL’s charges of racism, collaborationism, and neoliberalism on the part of the Libyan opposition?

The answer to the first question goes to the very heart of what the Arab Spring is – a series of bourgeois-democratic revolutions. Unlike socialist revolutions and national liberation movements, democratic revolutions are not necessarily anti-imperialist; the pro-imperialist post-revolutionary governments in Egypt and Tunisia prove this. While the socialist revolution is principally a struggle by and for the proletariat (in conjunction with other classes and oppressed groups to be sure) against the bourgeoisie as a whole, modern democratic revolutions pit oppositional sections of the bourgeoisie against ruling sections of the bourgeoisie. PSL points to the defection of neoliberal figures like Mahmoud Jibril from Ghadafi’s regime to the side of the rebellion as proof that it was reactionary while remaining oblivious to analogous neoliberal figures like Mohammad Morsi and Amr Moussa in the Egyptian revolution and Hamadi Jebali in the Tunisian revolution. PSL does not label these latter revolutions right-wing, reactionary, or “colored.”

Again, PSL’s consistent inconsistency is blindly obvious.

Having exposed PSL’s inability to grasp that bourgeois and neoliberal forces inevitably play a prominent role in modern democratic revolutions, what of their charges that the Libyan opposition was racist against Blacks and collaborated with imperialism? Does this not invalidate the claim that the Libyan opposition was democratic in character?

Historically speaking, democratic revolutions were not anti-racist nor even consistently democratic, the American revolution in which white slaveholders and racists played a dominant role being a prime example. The fact that bourgeois-democratic rights were not accorded to Blacks in 1776 and that America’s post-revolutionary government ruthlessly exterminated the continent’s indigenous peoples does not change the revolution’s democratic character. Libya’s democratic revolution in 2011 is no different in this respect.

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Salem Al-Shoushan

Libya’s Black Revolutionary Democrats

The problem for PSL and all those like Richard Seymour who saw Libya’s revolutionary democrats as little more than an anti-Black lynch mob is that they either deliberately ignored or were blissfully unaware of the significant number of Black Libyans fighting Ghadafi’s forces. This would have been impossible if anti-Black racism was the rule rather than the exception among the rebels. Southern rebel brigades made up of the Tuareg and Tebo peoples were almost all Black.

Libya’s rebels had more Black commanding officers than the Union did during the Civil War and they commanded non-Black and mixed race units.

Right: Rebel commander Wanis Abu-Khmada berates a group of rebels in the first days of the revolution for their lack of discipline.

Right: Rebel commander Abdul-Wahab Qayed. After the revolution, he was put in command of Libya’s border protection forces.

 

Thus, PSL’s depiction of Libyan rebels as Klansmen is counterfactual slander.

As for the charge of collaborating or allying with imperialism, undoubtedly this is true. The problem for PSL is that democratic revolutions – unlike socialist revolutions – are not anti-imperialist by definition, and there is no socialist equivalent of the 10 Commandments that forbids such collaboration on a temporary or limited basis. Majidi concedes this, writing:

“It is possible for one imperialist country, or a grouping of imperialist countries, to temporarily aid independence movements in the oppressed world in order to weaken the hold of their imperialist rivals in a different country.”

By the same token, it is possible for one imperialist country, or a grouping of imperialist countries, to temporarily aid democratic revolutions in rival states just as monarchist France aided America’s democratic revolution against British colonialism. Only a fool would conclude that independence movements and democratic revolutions in the oppressed world are reactionary because they receive temporary or limited aid from a reactionary power.

At the root of PSL’s litany of errors is their utter failure to understand democratic revolutions as Lenin and Marx did. This failure leads them to invent a distinction between the “good” Arab Spring (against pro-U.S. dictatorships) and the “bad” Arab Spring (against anti-U.S. dictatorships) instead of realizing that the Arab Spring is an internationalist struggle against all dictatorships. Every country affected by the Arab Spring saw a fight between bourgeois anti-democratic states on the one hand and bourgeois-democratic mass movements on the other; every one of these struggles and movements had and has progressive, democratic political content compared to the tyrannical governments they struggled to reform or remove.

Supporting one freedom struggle and not another is an exercise in the kind of selective hypocrisy characteristic of liberalism, as is the inability to recognize the difference between revolution and counter-revolution; PSL does both while claiming to be a Marxist organization.

PSL’s attempt to pass off eclecticism as Marxism is even more apparent in its internal documents. Richard Becker’s “A Class Analysis of the Revolutionary Upsurge in the Arab World” is a 6-page chronological summary that is as broad as it is superficial. It reads more like a Wikipedia entry than a thoroughgoing study of Libya’s development since 1969 when a bourgeois nationalist military coup ended the monarchy and inaugurated Ghadafi’s 42-year tyranny from the standpoint of historical materialism. Becker’s 277 words “analyzing” (read: describing) Libya contain no discussion of how Ghadafi imported right-less migrant labor to staff the oil industry, creating an unemployed lumpenproletariat among native Libyans, no discussion of the country’s changing class and state structures, and no recognition of Ghadafi’s impoverishment of the standing army in favor of irregular armies of snitches, spies, and enforcers dressed up as “revolutionary committees.” The national oppression of the Amazigh is invisible to Becker, mirroring Ghadafi’s racist insistence that the Amazigh people and culture simply did not exist.

Having failed to properly examine the context and the regime that gave rise to protests in Libya, Majidi moves on to sketch an alternate history of the revolution that conforms all too perfectly with his description of “color revolutions.” He uses the fact that the Libyan revolt could not beat the regime militarily in spring of 2011 as proof that it was not popular, not progressive, nor a genuine revolution; perhaps he has never heard of the Paris Commune of 1871 that was also unable to triumph militarily, or perhaps he believes the Commune to be the very first “color revolution” (orchestrated by German and British imperialists, no doubt). Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that Libya was the first instance in the Arab Spring where a capitalist state used lethal force against peaceful protests on a mass scale – the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions were fortunately never tested by this kind of wanton bloodshed. Ghadafi was the bloody vanguard of the Arab Spring’s counter-revolution, and his violent escalation prompted the democratic opposition led by the National Transition Council to seek military aid from imperialist powers that previously they rejected as unwanted and unnecessary.

If anyone is to blame for NATO’s intervention in Libya, it is Ghadafi. He chose to shoot unarmed protesters en masse, handing NATO the political capital it needed to step into what began as a peaceful struggle.

Majidi goes on to argue that because the NTC did not have the “support of the entire population,” it was a fake, reactionary, unpopular “color revolution,” as if there has ever been a revolution in world history that was an exercise in unanimity! As evidence of popular support for Ghadafi, he points to a single state-sponsored rally of hundreds of thousands held in Tripoli “in the midst of the massive NATO bombing” (never mind the fact that NATO attacked only a handful of targets in Tripoli’s vicinity that day). What he omits is that Ghadafi was an unelected autocrat with an entire state apparatus (including a secret police) at his disposal to coerce people to show up, and, most damningly, that there has been not one pro-Ghadafi rally in all of Libya in the almost two years since the regime’s demise. If Ghadafi’s support emanated organically from the grassroots and not from the networks of patronage created by his regime’s oil money, this would not be the case.

Regardless of what position one took on the character of the Libyan opposition back in 2011, what is indisputable today in 2013 is that Ghadafi’s repressive bourgeois state machine was smashed and razed to the ground by the self-armed population organized in militias, that there is no secret police to terrorize the masses, that strikes, protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins are now regular occurrences, that freedom of the press and expression exist, that victims of racist oppression like the Amazigh have made advances, that unlike Kosovo NATO has no bases there, and that free and fair elections for a legislature were held to inaugurate a democratic republic. All of this is a great leap forward, a tremendous democratic gain for Libya’s oppressed and exploited that vindicates those who understood the Libyan opposition to be progressive, revolutionary, and democratic in character and serves as an irrefutable rebuke to those like PSL who slandered the opposition as monarchist(!), racist, unpopular, and reactionary.

Even stranger than PSL’s defense of racist, collaborationist tyrannies in Libya and Syria from the Arab Spring’s democratic revolutions is their assertion that today’s imperialism and the tasks it poses for socialists remain almost totally unchanged from Lenin’s time. In the face of wars like Libya and Mali where Iraq-style colonization is not the name of the game, PSL can evidently only repeat 100-year-old formulas about anti-colonial wars and revolutionary defeatism.

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Standing with independent bourgeois nationalist governments as they slaughter their own peoples by the tens of thousands because said governments have conflicts of interest with imperialist powers is altogether different from standing with national liberation movements like the Vietnamese NLF who battled the slaughter wrought by French and American occupiers. The first is criminal stupidity, the second is anti-imperialism.

Two opposing trends indeed.

Posted in Anti-war, Book reviews

Muslim anger and Western domination

In Iraq there is chaos. In Afghanistan there is chaos. In Libya there is chaos. In Syria there is chaos. Wherever the West intervenes, either directly or indirectly, chaos is the result. The historical charge sheet is just too long and damning to refute in this regard.

The insult felt in response to what for non-Muslims may seem a relatively minor attack on a religion, reflects the humiliation and powerlessness felt throughout the Muslim world in the face of this long history of domination. The effect has been to drive more and more Muslims to express their resistance to it via the conduit of religion. The result is that today Islam does not only connote a religious identity, but also political, cultural and physical resistance to western hegemony.

More on Socialist Unity

Posted in News

Was America warned on Libya and did nothing? Is there any evidence?

Obama delivers statement on US Consulate attack in Benghazi

“Exclusive: America ‘was warned of embassy attack but did nothing’” reads the sensational and misleading sub-headline on a story in The Independent in London, which goes on to provide no corroboration for this claim beyond an anonymous source. Like a number of partisan groups, CNN also used this meme in a follow-up story headlined “Romney adviser blames Obama for Libya, Egypt attacks.

In response to the early warning story, Politico reported that “Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, emailed: ’This is absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.’” USA Today quotes White House spokesperson Jay Carney using almost identical language.

Even the Independent did not claim there was any “actionable intelligence” two days before September 11, when attacks to commemorate the anniversary have been expected for years by American outposts around the world. Moreover, the consulate (not embassy) in Benghazi had been attacked before and the region was well known to have a numerous armed groups hostile to the U.S. as well as the Libyan government in Tripoli and each other.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who died in the September 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, was well aware of the dangers of the region, having reported on the area in a State Dept. memo in 2008, when he was deputy chief of mission in Libya. His cable was made public by Wikileaks in 2010-11. At the time, Stevens wrote at length about the radicalization of the region, which supplied a large number of jihadis to fight in Iraq, disproportionate to the region’s population.

Leaving out any context, the Independent made its claim in a single, unelaborated sentence.“According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and ‘lockdown’, under which movement is severely restricted.”

Suggesting “American missions may be targeted” is a far cry from having anything like actionable intelligence. It is more a description of daily life for the American diplomatic corps throughout the Middle East. It is equally accurate to suggest, based on the Stevens cable that Americans had credible information that they might be targeted in Libya at least four years before the recent attack in Benghazi.

Although the substance of the Independent’s story is both unreliable and, in context, almost meaningless, outlets like GOPUSA.com picked it up as if was true and meaningful “information” that the Obama Administration is running away from. The Drudge Report headlined the report in red, bold-faced capital letters, while others like Glenn Beck’s The Blaze gave it similar weight while adding “there are shocking reports about the Ambassador possibly being sexually assaulted before being killed,” for which he offered no source whatsoever.

Contrary to the implications of the headline Obama-was-warned-but-did-nothing, an editorial in the Independent just the day before had commented: “Thus far, the statements from the White House have remained measured. With the presidential election fast approaching, Mr. Obama may be inclined to let domestic political gain be his guide. Given that the stability of much of the Middle East is at stake, he must resist the temptation. “

Similarly the paper ran columns by Patrick Cockburn (Sept. 12) and Robert Fisk (Sept. 13), both of which discussed the events in North Africa with far greater nuance and complexity than the Romney campaign and many of its supporters.

Likewise, the International Crisis Group on Sept. 14 issued a report on Libya that takes a sober, in-depth look at the fragility of a tribal country with a weak central government. The report concludes with 18 recommendations, following this observation: “There is much to celebrate in post-Qadhafi Libya but also reason to worry. The battle between central government and armed groups is not yet won, yet of late, the latter have been acting as if they enjoyed the upper hand. If steps are not swiftly taken, reversing this trend is only going to get harder – and what has been a relatively good news story could turn depressingly sour.”

For the most part the mainstream media have ignored the specific but undocumented claim of an attack warning, but Jake Tapper on ABC Good Morning America came close, commenting raising in passing with 20-20 hindsight that “many questions remain about insufficient security at those diplomatic posts on the anniversary of 9/11.”

At a White House press conference, in an argumentative eight-minute exchange, Tapper pressed Jay Carney on the intelligence issue, asking if there was “any intelligence,” not just actionable intelligence, coming close to challenging whether Carney was answering truthfully. Tapper comments that the attacks of 9/11 were “a failure of imagination,” and asks whether the Obama administration “messed up”?

Given the historical record in its present state, there is little basis for concluding yet that the Obama administration failed to do due diligence. There is there is much more evidence, both testimonial and documentary, to support a headline to the effect: “President Bush was personally warned before 9/11 but did nothing.”

Posted in News

Thugs and killers responsible for Benghazi attack

The Benghazi attack may have been planned with the movie used as a pretext to enrage the populace.

This was a coordinated attack, more of a commando-style event,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told CBS News. “It had both coordinated fire — direct fire and indirect fire. There appeared to be military maneuvers approaching the facility.”

Islam movie-maker ‘Sam Bacile’ may not exist

The man who produced the anti-Islamic film—or trailer, at least—that set off the deadly violence in Libya and Egypt is identified as “Sam Bacile” in news accounts, but now it appears that no such person exists.

I’m not sure who is more contemptible and loathsome, the filmmaker who deliberately made a movie with the hopes of causing riots or the extremists who used it as an excuse to murder and further their political ends. This is a perfect example of how lunatic fringes can not exist without each other, since they feed on each others derangement.

“Bad craziness”, as the good doctor used to say.

Posted in News

Dogma or Revolution? The Choice Is Ours for American Left

By Christian Wright

I like this article, and I am glad it is written.

The American left barely exists. The self-consciously “anti-imperialist” American left, in a country of 300 million people, can probably be housed in its entirety in one of our smaller to mid-sized sports areas. Its influence is marginal, but unfortunately this rarely translates into approaches of humility.

Gazing into the darkness of our political life, often from the vantage of a dingy apartment in some gray, overcrowded, stressful, expensive city of hostile, preoccupied strangers, many of our anti-imperialist leftists comfort themselves with dogmas and rigidity. This is understandable. Why do you think Mormon missionaries forgo reading non-Mormon literature during their missions? Why do they pray so hard at night and spend so much attention on the neatness of their uniforms? It is difficult to be a missionary, a bearer of truth in an apathetic, sinful, and oft-unfriendly world. Insulating oneself within the mother-bosom of dogma, icons, and sacred writ is a useful way to strengthen oneself, regardless of how well it retards one’s own development as a critically thinking individual.

I think the “hard left” in the U.S. picked its sides and stuck with them before, and independently of, any facts or developments in Libya. If you believe certain dictators are better than others, and ought to be supported, despite their authoritarianism, because they have nationalized such-and-such resource, or initiated such-and-such social program to try and win popular support, you are going to have a hard time finding the right side to be on when one day the people tire of their dictator’s rule.

The U.S. “hard left” is a collection of aged and unsuccessful revolutionaries who developed politically in the 1960s and 70s. They grew up with a view that authoritarian one-party states, and charismatic Third World dictators ought to be supported as liberators because they were fighting against capitalistic exploiters. Long after the capitalistic exploiters had been chased away and the new emperors began developing their own ways of exploiting people, the fawning and dictator-worship remained. So what if Ghadafi’s kids were entertained on Caribbean islands by American pop stars while they guzzled cases of champagne? Their dad has said the word “socialist” before! Therefore, he deserves our support. Of course!

I don’t care what the “correct” anti-imperialist line is and I don’t care to try and rank the nation’s countries on a “socialistic” hierarchy where individual freedoms and political rights can be exchanged for social services or a cut of the pie. I also don’t care whether or not a Third World dictator is able to buy the support of some of his people by putting gas and oil profits back into infrastructure, because guess what? Global warming is real and Ghadafi and Chavez’s development of their national resources is, globally, a step in the wrong direction that will contribute to catastrophic changes in weather patterns and sea levels.

If you want to be a usefully political citizen you have to learn to be a critical thinker first. This is a world that is being destroyed ecologically by powerful people who make comfortable living for themselves by keeping the majority of people politically and economically powerless — and more importantly — confused. You can’t trust anyone or any group to do your thinking for you, you have to do it for yourself. That is a practice the hard left organizations in the United States generally (not always) do not train their members in.

Our left does not know what it means to fight to win. They have won little over my life time. They have been very adept at fighting loosing battles and spouting slogans into the air. If you’re not expecting to win anything anyway, it’s pretty easy to say whatever you want. Being “right” and letting other people know it becomes more important than being effective. Like college sophomores trying to impress one another in a dorm with their knowledge of obscure subjects, our domestically unsuccessful revolutionaries are quite vocal in their instructions to people actually fighting revolutions abroad. These instructions are not usually helpful, but of course, why would they be?

There is fundamental disagreement about who “the enemy” is. It is my opinion that most of the allegedly American Marxist organizations thought Ghadafi was closer to socialism than a post-Ghadafi Libya would be. After that point the case was closed. They would have preferred to see Benghazi leveled than to see the different classes, individuals, and parties within that country decide for themselves what political policies their nation should adopt.

People who fight to win and actually win often prioritize effectiveness over the integrity of principles. When the people you are fighting have tanks and bombers and snipers and are shelling and bombing you and you can expect to be murdered within a few hours, days, or weeks, at that point military efficiency and effectiveness, not intellectually correct political positions, will be of great value.

Those whose conception of a revolution anywhere today involves a self-consciously Marxist, feminist, grassroots network of democratically functioning workers’ councils, with its own movement controlled independent media and accountable leaders, and, heck, commitment to non-violence and secularism to boot, can expect to be disappointed by what actual revolutions actually look like. This even more so in the Middle East.

Revolutions are not academic exercises in political correctness. They start with the humans we have today, whose political development has been determined by the real world and the legacy of past victories, failures, promises, and betrayals, and whose resources, allies, and agendas are confused, vacillating, and often contradictory.

Al-Jazeera has been criticized for being controlled by the Qatari monarchy. Hence, I suppose, it must be incapable of ever telling the truth or functioning independently. It must have been illusion then, when I noticed in 2010 and 2011 that Al-Jazeera supported the Egyptian Revolution wholeheartedly from day one to the great distress and embarrassment of that government’s principle military sponsor, the United States of America.

I also noticed someone in this discussion posted a link to a Huffington Post article, but no one here then criticized the Huffington Post. Did you know the Huffington Post is run by member of the bourgeois class? Did you know they like to not pay their writers and that many left writers recently stopped writing for them in protest of its policies? Did you know that the Huffington Post Web site is getting paid by Sears to advertise a new grill they are selling, and while the capitalistic owner of the Huffington Post is being paid by Sears for the use of their site, Huffington Post writers are themselves often not paid? Isn’t that a terrible example of capitalistic exploitation? They are even supporting Barack Obama for God sake! So why is a link to their Web site posted here, and no one points this out, and no one says that everything on the Huffinton Post cannot be believed because it is obviously controlled by a member of the ruling class?

That is because we know the Huffington Post continues to post many useful and relevant articles, despite its shortcomings. The Huffington Post likes gay people having rights too and has news about that. The Huffington Post directs scrutiny against the misdeeds of Wall Street. The Huffington Post likes people being able to have health care and thinks Wal Mart workers get a raw deal and that they deserve a better one.

The Huffington Post is an ally of justice and of oppressed people. At the same time, it functions as an imperfect entity, containing within itself relations of injustice and oppression. Often it sides with oppressors and is content to celebrate the charity of exploitative billionaires at the same it laments the condition of poverty in America.

It is contradictory and imperfect.

As is everything. Everywhere.

Navigating our political world, we must pledge our allegiance to genuine principles, not to organizations, presidents, or parties. All of these can, have, and will fail us. All of them can be corrupted. You can make use of some of them by doing so critically, and you must constantly evaluate what you get from something, versus what potential bad thing might happen later if you get involved with it. By reading the above Huffington Post article, I contributed to advertising revenue and market share of an exploitative and capitalistic news agency. I did so because I felt it was worth it to understand this discussion.

It disappoints, but does not surprise me, that an individual here found a problem with the idea that, “the international left base its positions regarding imperialist intervention on what the 0.2% of the world’s population who lived in Libya might have wanted.” Is this not, then, revealing?

I believe wholeheartedly that Libyans and no one else had the right to determine how a revolution in Libya should proceed.

A revolution is made by a people. When you have a movement, and the power structure represses it, you have to decide whether to retreat, reorganize, and try again later, or whether to respond and escalate and accept the consequences of that escalation. Revolutions are highly escalated political dialogues between rulers and ruled people. The right to determine when to risk that escalation, and when to open the Pandora’s Box of armed conflict, is the right of free people everywhere.

When a people decides to have a revolution, it is done not through a ballot box or through an online internet survey. There are those ahead of the game, and those who lag behind it. There are those who lead and those who follow. There are hotheads who invite premature and catastrophic oppression. There are conservatives who mask the protection of their own vested interests and positions behind concerns for “peace” and “orderliness.” Politically “combined and uneven development” is the rule. It cannot be otherwise.

I might also take this opportunity to remind our laptop revolutionaries that an actual revolution is a bloody awful and horrible thing. If you embark on a revolution you know that you are going to risk everything and everyone that you love and that is important to you. You may even loose yourself, and you may find yourself doing terrible things in order to prevent them being done to you.

If and when a revolution is necessary, that is to be determined by an internal dialogue among the people waging it. When it does occur and you find yourself in a military engagement, you are no longer fighting on moral terms. You may have to make compromises and temporary allegiances with untrustworthy, and even politically suspect allies. May I remind you that we in the United States are no longer ruled over by a monarch because of our alliance with the reactionary, slaveholding, French aristocracy in the 1770s and 1780s? Should black Americans in the 1860s have opposed the intervention of the North in the Civil War that freed them because the North was ruled by capitalists?

Were the Viet Minh wrong to accept the help of the Americans in their fight against the Japanese during World War Two?

Certainly, the Americans later betrayed them. Cold war politics led them to side with the French, and assist their re-conquest of their former colony in exchange for French anti-communist political support. In doing so, they turned their backs on their old allies. The Americans ultimately behaved dishonorably and against the goals of the Viet Minh in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Still, if it was 1943 and you were in Viet Nam fighting the Japanese, even if you could see in the future that the Americans might betray you, would you still refuse their gifts of arms and the military training OSS officers were willing to provide for you?

OSS members pose with Viet Minh leaders Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap during training at Tan Trao in August 1945. Deer Team members standing, l to r, are Rene Defourneaux, (Ho), Allison Thomas, (Giap), Henry Prunier and Paul Hoagland, far right. Kneeling, left, are Lawrence Vogt and Aaron Squires.

A revolution has the right to choose its own allies, make its own mistakes, and succeed or fail as it will. I support the right of Libyans, Syrians, and everyone else who can expect to be murdered by a dictator’s henchman to secure whatever military support they can from where ever they can get it to support their cause. I’ll leave the long-term consequences of such alliances for them to determine the potential benefit or liability of. No one is going to shoot me tomorrow or shell my house if I fail to win. As such I am not about to substitute my own uninformed and distant opinion for the decisions made by actual revolutionaries actually fighting a revolution.

Posted in Imperialism, Peak oil, Politics, populism, Socialism

Oh gosh, that’s reassuring

New Libya leader pledges to impose Sharia law

Our new allies in Afghanistan and Iraq have not only imposed radical Islamic groups but denied women and minorities basic rights. I am not sure we can afford any more successes in our foreign policies.

Well, as long as as they hire US companies to do reconstruction, then the plundering class here will be happy. Washington can always trot out Hillary to make meaningless noises about how we expect them to work towards democracy, respect the rights of minorities and women, and yadda blah blah woof woof while doing nothing to actually encourage them to do so.

I’ve heard no demurs or protests from D.C. about Qaddafi’s final few minutes, which apparently included torture and sodomy with a knife. Goodness, we don’t want to upset the warlords there who might then choose other countries to do the reconstruction.

Let me be clear. Qadaffi was a thug. But torturing a torturer makes you a torturer. Torture should always be opposed and spoken out against. Complicity with torture by silence is also despicable.

Posted in News

Podcast tonight. Obama job speech, Republican debate, CIA and Libya

Did Obama’s jobs speech have real substance? If he proposed something, will he actually fight for it?

Did Republicans discuss genuine issues or was it just a photo op?Is there a front runner?

And of course the CIA was busy being pals with Gadaffi and sending prisoners to Libya to be tortured and killed.

Listen to the show live, at Polizeros Radio on BlogTalkRadio. You can also listening by dialing in at 626-414-3492. The show is tonight at 8:00 PM PT (9:00 PM MT, 10:00 PM CT, 11:00 PM ET.) You can download it or listen to the archive on BlogTalkRadio after it’s done.

With Steve Hynd , Keith Boyea, and myself.

Posted in News

Cracks in Libya National Transitional Council

Misrata rebels (rather sensibly) are protesting a decision by the NTC to install a Gaddafi loyalist as head of security in Tripoli, saying if it happens, they will refuse to obey the NTC.

My take: civil war is coming to Libya. The NTC isn’t a real coalition, and the stress fractures are already showing. The clueless triumphalists who proclaimed victory in Libya even as fighting continued in Tripoli are akin to George “Mission Accomplished” Bush on that aircraft carrier.

Posted in News

Polizeros podcast. Libya, Bank of America, fracking and earthquakes


Topics last night included:

Triumphalist liberals proclaim mission accomplished in Libya even as battles still continue in Tripoli and the National Transitional Council draws up a constitution for a strict Islamist state under sharia law. And then there’s the problem of 1000x more loose weapons than under Saddam. Libya is nowhere near being stable much less having a functioning government.

Bank of America teeters badly as Warren Buffett loans them $5 billion at steep rates when they could have borrowed elsewhere much cheaper. They choose his loan because it implies his support. But BofA has $100-200 billion of toxic slop on their books, so $5 billion is just chump change. The Obama Administration changed the accounting rules for big banks so they don’t have to mark-to-market. Until this deception is stopped, the pretend-and-extend charade will continue – until it no longer can.

Fracking has been decisively linked to earthquakes in many areas. When it was banned, earthquakes decreased. Imagine that. There’s been quite a lot of fracking in Virginia. The earthquake was no coincidence.

Listen to the show on BlogTalkRadio or on iTunes.

With Steve Hynd , Keith Boyea, and myself.

Posted in News

NSA surveillance



Read our continuing coverage on the NSA

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