Western Cant on the Middle East 44


Consider a few facts:

The Obama administration had two years ago stopped all US funds to human rights defenders and civil society groups in Egypt, stipulating that all aid must go through the Mubarak regime

President Karimov of Uzbekistan killed more peaceful demonstrators in a single day in May 2005 than Colonel Gadaffi has done in the Libyan uprising so far. Yet Karimov in the fast three months had a visit from Hillary Clinton, a new military supply agreement with the United States and new partnership agreement with NATO, an official visit to the EU in Brussels, and new tarriff preferences for slave picked Uzbek cotton entering the EU. Most people in Uzbekistan have not a clue the arab revolutions are happening, such is state control of meida and internet and blocking of airwaves

In 1991, when the allies embarked on the First Gulf War to retake Kuwait from Iraq, John Major and George Bush sr declared that, rather than simply put the absolute Kuwaiti monarchy back on its throne (which it had unheroically run away from), the price of western soldiers being asked to risk their lives was the democratisation of Kuwait. That was immediately forgotten after the war. Ordinary British, US and other taxpayers paid out billions to put one of the richest families in the world back in sole charge of massive oil reserves. The Kuwaiti royal family still has a total monopoly of executive power, with a talking shop parliament and very limited electorate.

I could go on. If you want to go to the absolute font of western hypocrisy, take this from David Cameron:

It is not for me, or for governments outside the region, to pontificate about how each country meets the aspirations of its people. It is not for us to tell you how to do it, or precisely what shape your future should take. There is no single formula for success, and there are many ways to ensure greater, popular participation in Government

This was spoken in Dubai as Cameron travelled the region with a gang of millionaire arms dealers trying to flog weapons to any Emir wanting to buy. In other words, we feel free to insist on democracy in Libya. If we don’t do so in Saudi Arabia, it is not because we are hypocrites, it is because there is no single formula. Democracy would be quite wrong for Uzbekistan and Bahrain, and until two months ago it was quite wrong for Egypt too. It might hurt our allies. But it is absolutely essential yesterday in Libya and Zimbabwe.

Words scarcely suffice to condemn this cant. In Bahrain the majority are struggling for more freedom from their minority rulers, to a deafening silence from the West. In Yemen, a gross dictator hangs on with every kind of US support. In Egypt, the US policy of propping up Mubarak, then their replacement policy of a managed transition to Suleyman, have failed one by one and now we have a military dictatorship which is every day abducting and torturing pro-democracy campaigners. Over fifty Tahrir Square demonstrators have been sentenced to at least three years jail each by military tribunals in the last week, to total western silence. The US aim of securing an entrenched pro-Israeli government continues to be pushed forward by every available means.

That odious charlatan Niall Ferguson, producer for the right wing US market of popular history devoid of original research , informs us that democracy is not something arabs can do. For him to cite the invasion of Iraq, which he supported, as evidence that you cannot succeed with democracy in Arab countries, is sickening on so many levels. That democracy might be better implanted without killing hundreds of thousands of intended recipients, like so much else, does not occur to him.

Ferguson’s ludicrous assertion – inaccurate even for a generalisation – about lack of property rights in the Islamic world making democracy impossible there, needs to be challenged.

Firstly, it is by no means clear that democracy can only exist in a society with entrenched property rights. Ghana, for example, is widely viewed as the model African democracy, yet it is virtually impossible to own land there other than leasehold from the “stool”, or local chieftaincy. The vast majority of Ghanaians are not property owning in the Ferguson sense, but democracy and human rights function very well, thank you.

Secondly, there is a wide variety of property models throughout the Islamic world, and Islam has little or nothing to do with why the model is so different in Turkey, Morocco, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

The notions that arabs and/or muslims are incapable of democracy is of course the staple of neo-conservative thinking. For there to be a “Clash of civilisations”, Islamic civilisation must be portrayed as incompatible with all modernity, as retrograde, autocratic and violent. Again, that is far from the truth.

That Islam and democracy are incompatible (and Turkey therefore presumably a mirage) has been the excuse for the Western backing of Mubarak, Karimov and endless other “hard men”. We really back them because they serve western interests over oil and gas, over Israel, or over Afghanistan. But we pretend that we back them because the only alternative to them is radical Islam.

That false dichotomy was given a seeming substance by our complicity with the torturers of Egypt, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and Morocco. The regime torturers happily made dissidents twisting in unimaginable agony admit that they wanted an al-Qaida state. The regime passed this on to the CIA and MI6, and they and western political leaders happily swallowed this claptrap because it united their interests with those of their client regime in a grubby circle of lying self-justification. I hope that puts Murder in Samarkand in context for you.

As for Gadaffi, we should not make the mistake of presuming he is not bad, because he is hypocritically denounced by those who support other dictators as bad or worse. Gadaffi is bad, and he is barking mad (you can read of my personal experience of him in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo). I hope that the Libyan people manage to oust him and bring democracy, though I fear this curiously low level civil war could drag on for a long while.

But the West should stay out. That the powers which are still trying, in the interests of Israel, to limit the democratic reform in Egypt, which still occupy Afghanistan, and are still propping up their puppet Gulf autocracies, should interfere with air or ground intervention, would be deeply unhelpful and the consequences are unreckonable. I can see an argument for shipping food and medical supplies to Benghazi and Tobruk, but that is the limit of western interference which might be helpful.

The Arab people have shown they are more than capable of seizing their own destiny. This must be for the Libyan people and other Arab states to sort out. For years, Western commentators spoke of “the Arab street” as a coherent public opinion, but as though it were natural that such opinion was at complete odds with the views of autocratic leaders, and the arab voice had no potential for translation to action. That has changed and the Arab voice must reverberate loudly enough to shake down more autocratic leaders – Gadaffi included.

The undeniable fact of the existence of the articulate young protestors of Tunisia, Tahrir Square, Bahrain, Muscat and elsewhere should have killed forever the figleaf behind which Western viciousness sought to skulk, that there are only two Arab political options: dictatorship or theocracy. In fact the Arab peoples are teeming with possibility and vast untapped human potential, waiting to form dynamically into new political and social organisation. We should leave them alone, stop arming their repressors and give them that chance.


44 thoughts on “Western Cant on the Middle East

  • Dick the Prick

    Great to have you back Craig. Hope all's well in Murray Towers. I think i've spotted a spelling mistake though 'Words scarcely suffice to condemn this cant'. I shall obtain my coat and order a taxi! Nah, seriously, it's utter hokum – and how Baroness Ashton or Tony Blair (2 calls to unelected Call me Dave) have the audacity to lecture is truly sickening.

  • Eddie-G

    One thing I would argue with a bit is the notion that neo-conservatives don't believe democracy could take root in Arab/Muslim cultures. I think the genuine, balls-and-all neocons like Wolfowitz (and their publicists like Chris Hitchens) do strongly believe in the democratic path. The whole Iraq business, for them, was supposed to be about a benign domino theory, that democracy in Iraq would lead to democracy elsewhere. The war was hideous and twisted and criminal, but there was a utopian goal underlying their motives.

    A lot of the other people involved in Iraq cloaked themselves in the neoconservative robes, when in reality they were Western mercantilists, neo-imperialists and some just out-and-out racists. And the revolution in Egypt has exposed them – particularly in the US, you just need to look at how the former Bush functionaries and supporters are deeply divided over which side to support.

    Some are right behind the democratic movements, but others, Ferguson among them, have obviously pivoted against seeing Arab/Muslim grass-roots movements succeed, for whatever reason they think people in this part of the world should remain second or third class citizens of the world.

    • Duncan_McFarlan

      edit – your original post was probably right about some people who've become supporters of a neo-con foreign policy like Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm. They probably do genuinely believe in democracy, even if i don't agree with them that wars of "regime" change have the right motives, methods or results to achieve it without a huge number of unnecessary deaths – and without the democracy created being a sham (e.g still death squads, secret police, torture in Iraq)

      I'm not at all sure that even the "true believer" neo-cons like Wolfowitz mean the same thing as most people do when they use the word democracy. Just as their version of "freedom" is primarily about freedom for the powerful and wealthy – freedom for big multinational companies and the President of the USA to do whatever want to whoever they want however they want, without any restrictions.

      They may be assuming that what's good for the rich and powerful (usually including them) is good for everyone, but they'll blithely ignore any amount of real and obvious suffering or deaths resulting from these policies, which to me shows they don't really care about it.

      From reading Naomi Klein and others it seems to me that most neo-conservatives confuse democracy with complete deregulation of all business and zero or minimal taxes, with zero support for the unemployed, pensioners, the poor, the disabled etc.

      I agree that some of them genuinely don't see how massive inequality destroys political democracy, how political and economic equality are interdependent (and of course i don't mean perfect equality, just within a certain range with some minimum standards provided for everyone). They don't see how claiming that if a head of government is elected, they can do whatever they like without restriction and without reference to public opinion or other branches of government is undermining rather than strengthening democracy either.

  • Eddie-G

    Being a publicist is a grubby occupation.

    And yes, of course… I had to cut short the earlier post, but the Neocon fetish for Freedom Bombs is permanently grotesque feature of their existence.

  • ingo

    Great post, refreshing new site, thank you for all those who achieved this. I also think it safer to support the future Governments, hiowever they turn out to be, a little worried about Egypts arrests, the same happened in Tunesia, but from today on the students there have given up their protests, they've been promised elections in July.

    I ask all those who want to start no fly zones, the warmopngers who argued for the same tactic in Iraq, where their air support was when gaza's women and children were bombed, did we see a flurry of activities there? No off course not, the duplicity stinks.

    The revolution is spreading, Iraq has seen demo's for the last two weeks, despite a ban from the Government. Unless the Iraqi Government reforms some of the laws and regulations, insist on using Iraqi labour for foreign contractors, Iraq will increasingly sink into open civil war.
    Ivory coasts problem is still accute, laurent gadbo seems to be hell bent on starting a war with the UN, he has also cut his northern neighbours off electricity.
    Wisconsin as well as other parts of the US also have caught the bug its seems, people are not happy anymore.

  • CanSpeccy

    "The notions that arabs and/or muslims are incapable of democracy is of course the staple of neo-conservative thinking."

    It may be neoconservative but is it necessarily wrong? In Muslim societies, democracy is essentially a religious concept. Therefore, democracy, as understood in the west, which is tolerant of religious diversity, is inconceivable in an islamic society. The reason Turkey is different is that a secular state was imposed from above. In other words, Turkey is not an Islamic democracy, it is a secular democracy where most citizens are Muslims and where tension between the secular and religious forces remain high.

    How crazy Gadhafi is, seems open to question. This U-Tube vid suggests that he is an astute opponent of western imperialism and of western imperialist stooges in the ME.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP2ePHOLSqo&fe

    • Duncan_McFarlan

      You have a point that the threat of a military coup by the extreme nationalist generals in Turkey has made the AKP moderate any Islamic policies, but they're a lot less extreme than those generals – who have murdered and tortured lots of Kurdish rebels and democratically elected heads of government and ministers over the decades.

      However claiming all countries with a Muslim majority have fundamentalist socieities in which the separation of religion and politics is unknown is an exaggeration. There are also versions of Sharia law which are entirely consistent with democracy – because not all Muslims believe that the laws enforced by Mohammed in the 7th century AD should apply in the 21st century. Representative democracy is likely to moderate extreme views in any case – e.g in the UK the majority remain for the death penalty in most polls, but we've had no executions since the 60s and it's been phased out legally as well

      On Gaddafi i agree with you to some extent. He's a dictator, ruthless and brutal and responsible for a lot of torture and murder – and somewhat eccentric in the way he expresses himself, but he's not the gibbering lunatic he's being made out to be. His speeches contain lots of lies, exaggeraions and propaganda – but it was mostly the same ones Mubarak used in his speeches – the opposition are all Islamic extremists/ agents of the US or Israel/ paid in money or with alcohol drugs – and the choice is me or Islamic extremists/chaos and civil war.

      He's likely right that the US has been backing the rebels quietly – certainly the CIA and the Saudis backed the National Front for the Salvation of Libya in the 80s under Reagan – and they're one of the groups opposing him now (that doesn't necessarily make them just a front for the US or the Saudis though – might be just an alliance of convenience)

    • CheebaCow

      "It may be neoconservative but is it necessarily wrong? In Muslim societies, democracy is essentially a religious concept."

      I think Malaysia and Indonesia both serve as examples of Muslim democracies. In fact Indonesia is one of the worlds largest democracies with a population of 240 million people.

      • CanSpeccy

        You don't seem to understand that democracy is fundamental to Islam. But that is for those of the faith. In other words, Islamic democracy excludes those not of the faith. To confuse the inherent democracy of Islam with a secular democracy that embraces those of all religions and of none, makes for a nonsensical discussion.

      • CanSpeccy

        To be more specific, neither Malaysia nor Indonesia are Muslim states. Indonesia is a Republic with a legal system based on Dutch-Roman law, and Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a legal system based on English common law. In other words, they are no more Muslim democracies than Britain, which of course provided the model for Malaysia's constitution. They are all secular states with large numbers of Muslim citizens.

        • CheebaCow

          Firstly, your initial post mixed Muslim societies and secular states. You make a negative claim about all Islamic societies but then back away from the obviously false claim by making a distinction between secular and non-secular Islamic states. BTW Malaysia is not a secular state, Islam is the state religion. Bangladesh is another Muslim democracy without a secular state.

          • CanSpeccy

            When I referred to Muslim societies, I was referring to countries like Iran now, or Afghanistan under the Taliban, i.e., theocratic republics. Malaysia is certainly not such a stat. It is a constitutional monarchy constructed on the British model. It is no more theocratic than Britain, which also has a state religion — if you can believe it. The real difference between a secular state with a religion and a theocratic state is that, in the former, the Prime Minister appoints the head of the church, in the latter the church appoints the prime minister.

          • CheebaCow

            I hate to be the pedant, but perhaps you should use language that is a little more specific. I think it is fair to say that most people would interpret the phrase 'Muslim societies' as encompassing more countries than those such as Afghanistan or Iran. I assumed you meant all states where Muslims were the majority. It also depends how you define a secular state. According to Wikipedia 'Secular states do not have a state religion or equivalent'. Sorry I hate to use WP for this definition but I looked and couldn't find a better definition anywhere, feel free to point me to a better one. Regardless, Malaysia has a state religion, sharia law, it is illegal to convert Muslims to another religion and in 2007 Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said that in Malaysia “Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state. We have always been driven by our adherence to the fundamentals of Islam”. To be honest, I would say that Malaysia falls somewhere inbetween an Islamic and a secular state.

          • CanSpeccy

            For someone who hates to be pedantic, you show close attention to minor, if not trivial, detail.

            Technically, a state with a religion cannot be secular. In Britain's case, however, since the Church of England is seems to be an entirely secular organization, we can say Britain is a secular state. Though Malaysia's government is modeled on that of Britain, what the role of religion there may be I do not know. However, I stick to my point that

            "In Muslim societies, democracy is essentially a religious concept. Therefore, democracy, as understood in the west, which is tolerant of religious diversity, is inconceivable in an islamic society."

            Where, by Muslim society, I mean a non-secular state dominated by Islamic law, not the English common law, as in Malaysia.

  • crinklyoldgit

    hi glad to see the blog up again. and the site is much improved.
    Suggestions: Centralise the text area. Reduce width a little. Friendlier background colour to the black.
    I may mention your comments about Egyptian protestors being imprisoned elsewhere.
    An interesting perspective on these events. I wish i could comment but I will just have to admit to being an interested and mute observer. I wouldn't mind hearing your deeper thoughts about Christopher Hitchens.

  • Patrick Haseldine

    La Clinton says Gaddafi should be indicted for murder in respect of the Lockerbie bombing, and hauled before the International Criminal Court (which Libya has not signed up to). How peculiar, since the US is not even a member of the ICC!

  • CheebaCow

    "But we pretend that we back them because the only alternative to them is radical Islam."

    Let's not forget that it was the west that largely supported and fostered these Islamic extremists. First the extremists were used as a counter weight to Nasser's secular nationalism. Radical Islam was then used to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. The same dynamic can also be seen in Israel/Palestine where Israel initially supported Hamas to undermine the PLO. You can find a brief run down here: http://www.juancole.com/2011/02/rudolph-can-you-p… questions 6 and 11 are most relevant, but I recommend the whole piece.

    Has anyone else noticed that all those who were in favour of the Iraq war to 'spread democracy' are the same swines who are now backing away from the Nth African/Middle Eastern democratic revolutions we are now seeing? Apparently Arabs can only be trusted to make the right decision after they have been bombed and killed. I also find western reporting on the revolutions to be fascinating. Virtually every reporter states without shame that the genuine democratic desires must be balanced against western interests. Imagine the US response if another state declared that the US could only have a democracy if it was conducive to foreign economic interests.

    Finally, does anyone else find the phrase 'Arab street' to be both racist and condescending?

  • CanSpeccy

    Leaving the Arabs to their own devices might seem a good idea, but the notion that by booting Gadhafi or some other undemocratic head of state the Arabs will "bring democracy" seems naive in the extreme. How long have the Egyptians had now to "bring democracy'? Three, four thousand years?

    And what is this democracy those intelligent, well-to-do young people in Tahrir Square were Tweeting on about in English? A government such as the UK enjoys? Headed by a war criminal like Blair, a bankster-theft-enabler like Brown? an arms dealer and BP PR man like Cameron? LOL.

    And if the western powers do leave the Arabs alone, do you think others will do the same? How many Chinese have been pulled out of Libya during the current rebellion — 35,000 was it, versus a mere 600 Brits?

    The issue that we in the West need to face is that our democratic institutions have become dangerously corrupt with the result that we've lost the initiative as leaders in the process of global political transformation. Why should folks in Libya or anywhere else emulate us? Under Gadhafi, the standard of living has risen much faster than in the Western nations, and if Gadhafi is a liar, a torturer, and a killer, so is Obama, so is Blair.

    And who has done the most for their people? Over thirty years under the dictator Murbarak the Egyptian population has doubled, industry has not been globalized, the culture has not been fragmented, Egyptians boys are not fighting wars for empire, the poorest 20 percent of the population receives 9% of national income versus 3.5% in the US, and until the "revolution," Egypt's economy was set to grow 6% this year as Britain's contracts.

    In Britain, during the same thirty years, under "democratic" governments the fertility rate has plunged below the replacement rate; the culture has been fractured by a treasonous conspiracy to use mass immigration to break unions, to drive down wages, drive up property developers' profits and to gain a large immigrant vote for NuLabor, income inequality has massively widened, and 20% of the workforce is now partly or fully unemployed.

    So please remind us, what exactly is the course that western liberals are urging the Arabs to follow? Or are we simply engaging in cant about cant?

    • CheebaCow

      "Leaving the Arabs to their own devices might seem a good idea, but the notion that by booting Gadhafi or some other undemocratic head of state the Arabs will "bring democracy" seems naive in the extreme."

      Letting people have control over their own affairs IS a good idea. Surely you are not suggesting that aggressively backing dictators is a better way to bring democracy to the Middle East?

      "And what is this democracy those intelligent, well-to-do young people in Tahrir Square were Tweeting on about in English? A government such as the UK enjoys?"

      So because the UK govt is currently very flawed the Egyptians should be happy with their old dictator? Sorry I don't follow the logic.

      "And if the western powers do leave the Arabs alone, do you think others will do the same?"

      We better fuck the Arabs over or someone else will? A strange moral position to hold. BTW the Chinese presence in the developing world is growing quickly because they often offer better deals than their western counterparts. Not that the Chinese deals are great, but they are better.

      "The issue that we in the West need to face is that our democratic institutions have become dangerously corrupt with the result that we've lost the initiative as leaders in the process of global political transformation."

      I believe it is the post WW2 collapse of overt imperialism and the failure of neo-liberal economic policies that are the cause of the west losing 'the initiative as leaders in the process of global political transformation'. I don't see the connection between global leadership and corrupt western institutions.

      "Under Gadhafi, the standard of living has risen much faster than in the Western nations, and if Gadhafi is a liar, a torturer, and a killer, so is Obama, so is Blair. "

      Apples and oranges. Increasing from 0% to 10% is far easier than going from 90% to 100%. I agree about Obama and Blair, but I don't think the fact that our western leaders suck changes the fact that other leaders also suck.

      "Egyptians boys are not fighting wars for empire"

      No, they are just the torturers for the American empire and the jailers for Israel.

      "Egypt's economy was set to grow 6% this year as Britain's contracts. "

      The Australian economy has grown every quarter since the GFC occurred. The fact that Britain's economy is in the shitter doesn't mean democracy is terrible, it just means the Brits need to curb the outrageous behaviour of the banking sector. I'm sure the Chinese economy is set to grow more than the UK's this year, does that mean you think it would be preferable to be a Chinese citizen?

      • CanSpeccy

        "So because the UK govt is currently very flawed the Egyptians should be happy with their old dictator? Sorry I don't follow the logic. "

        Your logic being that because the Egyptians may not be happy with their dictator they should be happy for the very flawed government of the UK to fix their problems for them. LOL

        As if the UK cares about Egypt's problems. Don't you understand, this is all about global domination by the US/Nato empire. Nobody cares about the Egyptians.

        "We better fuck the Arabs over or someone else will? "

        Nobody said anything about fucking anyone. The question is CONTROL. Do you want to live under an english-speaking empire or a chinese speaking empire? Or maybe a Russian or an Islamic empire.

        You seem to be living in a fantasy world created by the msm, in which good will surely triumph if only liberals blather on about it enough.

        "The fact that Britain's economy is in the shitter doesn't mean democracy is terrible"

        And the fact that Egypt's economy has undergone sustained growth for the last decade or more does not support your preconceived notion that the Mubarak government must have been terrible.

        • CheebaCow

          "Your logic being that because the Egyptians may not be happy with their dictator they should be happy for the very flawed government of the UK to fix their problems for them. LOL"

          I never said anywhere that the UK should fix Egypt's problems. The UK is one of the major causes of Egyptian problems by supporting Mubarak. I support the genuine Egyptian movement to throw out their dictator, I'm surprised you wouldn't support this.

          "The question is CONTROL. Do you want to live under an english-speaking empire or a chinese speaking empire? Or maybe a Russian or an Islamic empire. "

          I don't want anyone to live under an empire. As the west is by far the largest empire, a good start to roll back empires is to roll back our own western empire (which under Mubarak already had control of Egypt).

          "And the fact that Egypt's economy has undergone sustained growth for the last decade or more does not support your preconceived notion that the Mubarak government must have been terrible. "

          No the countless torture chambers and the treatment of Gaza is plenty of evidence that Mubarak was terrible.

          • CanSpeccy

            "I support the genuine Egyptian movement to throw out their dictator"

            Well so do we all –all at least who are not imperialists. But what evidence is there that the mostly rather wealthy young people milling around in Tahrir Square tweeting in English via their iphones represent anything but George Soros and co?

            "The UK is one of the major causes of Egyptian problems by supporting Mubarak"

            I though the US/UK position was very clear: Mubarak must go, which is why I assume that Egypt is in for something considerably worse. A new military dictatorship that will be more amenable to the NWO.

            "I don't want anyone to live under an empire. As the west is by far the largest empire, a good start to roll back empires is to roll back our own western empire…"

            Emotionally, I am inclined to feel the same way. However, rolling back the Western Empire won't rid the world of empire, it will simply result in a new empire without the west's tradition of classical philosophy and christian ideology. Which is why I raised the question: which do you prefer: Western or Oriental despotism?

            "No the countless torture chambers and the treatment of Gaza is plenty of evidence that Mubarak was terrible…"

            "Countless torture chambers" conjures up the notion of thousands. Is that what you mean, or simply that the number is unknown and might be quite small? But anyway, my point still stands: why all the fuss about Egypt's torture chambers when we avail ourselves of them and many others, which I need not list as you will be aware of them.

            The problem in politics, in war, in life generally, is that one must chose. Chose a side, that is. I don't like what we are doing, but I would rather our side remain on top than some other side rules the world in our place. My belief is that the atrociousness of our conduct, and of our allies — Israel as much or more so than Egypt, and also the self-destructiveness of our economic policies hugely undermines what chance we have of gaining converts to our camp.

            When the Soviet Empire collapsed, one factor contributing to the collapse was the desire of millions of people in the Soviet Camp for jeans and sneakers and a greater degree of personal freedom. Now we can't even make jeans or sneakers for ourselves and our personal freedoms are being rapidly terminated: Traveling Americans now being routinely subjected to the techniques of sexual humiliation pioneered by Lindie England and co at Abu Graib. That we do not offer an attractive model to others is a reason I very much doubt that the "revolutions" in egypt and Libya are genuine popular movements, but rather inspired by CIA funded provocateurs with their "game over" graffiti and all the other paraphernalia of color revolutions.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I totally agree, CheebaCow. Very well put, on all counts. The arguments of those opposed to freedom of the peoples of the Middle East are entirely predictable (though often internally contradictory), patently hypocritical and amusingly transparent.

    And welcome back, Craig, you were sorely missed,man!! Great post.

    • CheebaCow

      Go on Suhayl, signup for an IntenseDebate account, you know you want to 😉

  • Mattias

    Does it really matter who oust Gadaffi, as long as they leave the Libyan people in charge afterwards?

    I am rather worried that Gadaffi may very well win this civil war, and then start executing a lot of people involved in the uprising. However his forces does not seem strong enough to really hurt someone who knows how to shoot back. So why not intervene and end it? If we thereby send the message that an armed response to peaceful protest is no longer tolerated than so much better.

    • CanSpeccy

      You seem to be right in tune with the imperial government Mattias. "Elite troops and MI6 spies poised to help Libyan rebels" reports the Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1363187/L

      But why is it necessary for British soldiers to fight someone else's civil war? Or are we to understand that ousting Gadhafi is in Britain's interest?

      And of course, if it means cheaper petrol, then go at it boys, kill 'em.

    • CanSpeccy

      I already asked Mattias why he thought it was important for British forces to engage in Libya's civil war, but my comment was deleted. Still I remain interested. Is it his belief that Britain will spend treasure and blood in the interests of Libyan human rights? That surely cannot be true for otherwise Britain would be at war with half the governments of the World including that of Rwanda where Tony Blair is making out profitably it seems with the current tyrant: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1363166/F….

      So if the aim is not humanitarian, what is the purpose? Cheaper petrol? Getting the Chinese out of Europe's near abroad? Or are real issues not to be discussed here?

  • Guest

    Regarding the attitudes revealed by Western reporting of recent events in the Middle East –
    Douglas Hurd appeared on Newsnight last week to give us the benefit of the Tory perspective on Libya. He made it plain that Gaddafi and his ilk would be answerable to the Hague for any crimes inflicted on the Libyan people, no matter how long it took, and that the long arm of international law would reach out into the distant future if necessary, to ensure a reckoning. At this point I would have expected any journalist or presenter worth their salt to have asked Hurd to explain then why Pinochet wasn't immediately arrested and sent for trial when he visited the UK at the time when Hurd himself was in office. (So the pointlessly pugnacious Paxman, all bark and no bite, said nothing). After all, the man was responsible for the bombing of Chilean TV and radio stations and the presidential palace of a democratically elected government in a coup d'etat wich resulted in the death of the elected head of state, Salavador Allende. But just as brutal dictatorships are only "unacceptable" when they don't serve Western interests, so democracy only becomes an "inalienable human right" if it is thought likely to result in the election of similarly pro-Western governments, or if it might overthrow an anti-Western dictator. However, as has been pointed out in another comment above, without important safeguards, (which are notably absent in the USA and the UK), democracy under rampant free market capitalism is inevitably going to be no more than a plutocracy, with elections every few years to maintain the pretence of a mandate from the people.

  • Guest

    Lest we forget the real attitude of the USA, (and the UK, being to the US what Clegg is to Cameron), toward democracy –

    "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves." Henry Kissinger

    "Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty." Edward M. Korry, U.S. Ambassador to Chile,

    "Make the (Chilean) economy scream to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him." Richard Nixon

    "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. It would be much preferable to have this transpire prior to October 24 (1970) but efforts in this regard will continue vigorously beyond this date. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end, utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG and American hand be well hidden." Richard Helms, CIA Director.

  • Suhaylsaadi

    Mattias, I share your concerns. However, I do not think NATO, or indeed any military in the West, should have anything to do with it (other than humanitarian airlifts). Another military intervention in Arab countries would be a very bad idea, in my view. Other measures should be deployed – mainly financial, stopping arms-dealing, etc. And learning lessons about long-term (as opposed to short-term) self-interest. Otherwise, perhaps 'we' might intervene in Iraq and Bahrain, where the rulers are also suppressing peaceful protest? In Bahrain, too, innocent people were killed by mercenaries. No, while one understands the frustration, we must allow the Libyan people to sort out their own country. All we need to do is to stop supporting Qaddafi, Mubarak and their ilk – whether kings or dictators.

    • Mattias

      So we should let the side that has the best military capability win in Libya, regardless if this happens to be the rebels or Gadaffi? And perhaps yet again teaching the world that if you want to stay in power the best bet is to train your military to shoot at peaceful protestors, lest you share Mubarak fate?

      I think it is important to end wars as soon as possible. The Libyan civil war needs to end before it escalates. The side that is victorious after a few years of hard fighting will probably not be very nice. So if this war can be stopped with a quick military campaign by western, Egyptian or Turkish troops I think we should support it. Even better if we just need to show the flag in order to get the rest of the Libyan army to change sides.

      The assumption underlying my argument is of course that the Gadaffi regime would fall quickly once its conventional army has been defeated. If, on the other hand, we are in for years of guerilla fighting in Tripoli then we can probably not do better than humanitarian aid.

      • Suhaylsaadi

        No, Matthias, but I think we can only do so much. Starving Qaddafi of funds and arms, etc., helping the rebels in ways which do not entail direct military intervention by Western troops, supporting and/or helping to codify any appropriate measures taken by Egypt and other Arab countries, etc. We should surely have learned that Western military intervention in the Middle East is counterproductive. Qaddafi's supporters would just become 'freedom-fighters'. Think of Iraq, Afghanistan… Alliances change. There are no quick fixes for the Middle East. It is very easy to get into wars for reasons which at the time, every time, seem compelling and incredibly difficult to get out. We end up even more hated in the region and the situation on the ground, even worse. The only winners, as always, from this would be arms dealers and private mercenary contrcators whoc would be trillions of dollars richer. My view is that long-term policy needs to change.

      • CanSpeccy

        "So we should let the side that has the best military capability win in Libya"

        Well if you want to shed your blood as a volunteer with the rebels or with Gadhafi, whoever your feel has the best cause, feel free. But why should the British people undertake the operation?

        The fact is, states don't act for moral reasons. They never have and never will because any state that acted for any reason other than self-interest would soon, through a Darwinian process, cease to exist.

        It's axiomatic, that the British state will not engage in any military venture unless it pays. It would be nice if the side it happened to pay Britain or Canada or whoever to fight for was also the side of the good guys, but that would be simply coincidental.

  • ingo

    But we already have SAS involvement, Mathias and Suhail, and what if Egypts army is being asked to give support to the freedom fighters in Libya? Would that not be an agreeable formula others could accept?, what of the Arab league? It is in turmoil as its constituents are, never have there been so many balls in the air. Saudi is feeling the grumbles, they are ready to intefere in Bahrain and quell the 'Shia' uprising, they also know that this would set them on to a long confrontational course, internally anmd externally, so our advise should be to cool it and support talks, not crack downs.

    Much will happen this year and vigilance will take on a new meaning.

  • alan campbell

    I suspect Qadhafi is about to "sort out" the Arab Street in Benghazi any day now. Still, we can always write a letter to complain.

    • Craig_Murray

      I am not so sure. The forces actually engaged in fighting on both sides don't ever seem to have risen out of the hundreds in any individual engagement. Fatalities as individual towns have changed hands have been in the scores – the low scores – not the hundreds.

      It is not plain what proportion of the population of Benghazi will resist, but if its any significant proportion I see no evidence Gadaffhi has the volume of forces needed to take a major city. As ever, it comes down to morale and whether people start to switch sides back to Gadaffi.

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