Hague in La La Land 29


The British foreign office looks more stupid than ever today after the Transitional National Council, which it has recognised as the Government of Libya, collapsed. Its entire executive committee has been sacked by its head, Mustafa Jalil. The committee had organised the murder of its own army commander, former pro-Gadaffi killer General Younes, and appears to have been dismissed for incompetence in organising the cover-up. Nobody really knows if Jalil has the authority to dismiss everybody else, but as neither he nor they were elected in the first place, it is a rather fine point.

What is for certain is that the “government” of the TNC is not recognised by the people doing the acutal fighting. The rebels of Misrata have actively repudiated the TNC, while the most succesful of the rebels in the field, to the south west of Tripoli, do not appear to have any firm links with other rebel groupings and are largely Tuareg particularists.

Anyway, all is well. The complete collapse of the self-murdering TNC is in fact a sign of strength. Hague’s Foreign Office issued the following yesterday:

“the dismissal of the executive committee demonstrates the strength and maturity of the NTC.”

Pick yourself off the floor, stop laughing and read it again:

the dismissal of the executive committee demonstrates the strength and maturity of the NTC.

As someone who used to work there, I find it deeply disturbing that large amounts of taxpayers’ money are being spent within the FCO to produce this surreal propaganda.

The truth, of course, is that for Hague and Clinton the TNC has to exist only as a numbered Swiss bank account for oil revenues and arms sales to flow through. As long as that account number exists, an actual physical opposition, self-appointed, blood-steeped or whatever, is an irrelevance to western governments.

The ever excellent Patrick Cockburn here.


29 thoughts on “Hague in La La Land

  • mary

    The previous comment on Media Lens was from Gabriele Zamparini.
    .
    P. Cockburn on the failing of the media and the war in Lybia
    Posted by gabriele on August 11, 2011, 8:40 am
    .
    The limits of tolerable debate when it concerns the state-corporate media role in our society are very clear in this piece by P. Cockburn. Does he ignore that those media are owned, financed and edited by the same people who benefit from the socio-economic order responsible for those wars? Failings of the media? On the contrary. Those media are doing their job just fine!

    (…) The foreign media had its failings in Iraq, was worse in Afghanistan but has reached its nadir in covering the war in Libya. Reporting has become largely militarised. Much of it is colourful stuff from the frontline about the dashes backwards and forwards of rebel militiamen. It takes courage to report this and reporters naturally empathise with the young men with whom they are sharing a trench. Their coverage tends to be wholly in favour of the rebels and in opposition to Gaddafi.
    .
    When Abdel Fatah Younes was murdered almost nobody in the foreign media had an explanation as to how or why it had happened. The rebel leadership, previously portrayed as a heroic band of brothers, turned out to be split by murderous rivalries and vendettas. Some reporters simply regurgitated the rebel authorities’ unlikely claim that the general had been killed by pro-Gaddafi fighters with camps in Benghazi, while others mentioned that there were 30 different Islamic militias in the city.
    .
    To this day politicians justify Nato’s intervention in Libya by citing atrocities supposedly carried out by pro-Gaddafi forces such as mass rape or extensive use of mercenaries. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch long ago revealed that there was no evidence for most of the atrocity stories, as did a UN commission headed by the distinguished legal scholar Cherif Bassiouni. These well-researched reports were almost entirely ignored by the media which first published the Gaddafi atrocity stories,
    .
    The militarisation of reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan was boosted by the system of “embedding” reporters with military units. This was inevitable to a degree given the danger from Iraqi insurgents or Taliban. But the outcome has been that war reporting has reverted to what it was during imperial skirmishes in the 19th century, with the world getting only a partial and often misleading account of what is happening in Libya.
    .
    Link: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-libyas-ragtag-rebels-are-dubious-allies-2335453.html

    g.

  • craig Post author

    Anon,

    That is very stupid of them but not in the least unusual. I was refused the use of public rooms to which I was statutorily entitled when an Indpendent candidate in Blackburn, repeatedly. In my experience New Labour are even worse than the Tories at this. It is absolutely wrong and a sign of the tyranny of petty officialdom and of lack of respect for human rights. New or impending galloping fascism it isn’t.

  • ingo

    Soon they will need a perace maker between two Libyan factions, or more, get ready for it Craig, they seem to lack the calibre, or are subjected to politicians overuling them.
    Thanks for that distrubing prospect Anon, what now? spontaneous open air events, seeking ‘democratic refuge’ in a church, subject the dome to its first limited public take over?

  • Jack

    @Anon…

    Power may corrupt, absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but it takes uncontrolled petty power to corrupt absolutely everything.

    If Napoleon were alive today, he’d describe Britain, not as a nation of shopkeepers, but as a nation of jobsworths.

  • Jack

    Craig…

    If nothing else there seems these days to be a kind of ad hoc control process in place – in the sense that, if the Foreign Office says it, I usually assume it’s bollocks. Make that ‘always’ if Hague himself says it.

  • Anon

    Jack, I cannot see what else there is open for them to do ?, their house of cards is falling apart!. I can`t see them letting the people take their ill-gotten wealth off them, can you!!!.

  • Jack

    Anon…

    Spot on mate.

    Unfortunately history has amply shown that it’s the act of clinging on – whether to power, wealth, what have you – that often causes as much damage in the long run as actual events. One of the worst political failing in any country – both internally and with foreign policy – has always been an inability to see the writing on the wall – it’s certainly a huge problem today in the UK. Politicians have a nasty habit of excusing themselves with claims that problems are easier to solve in hindsight – while discussing events that were largely foreseeable by everyone, apparently, but them.

    La La Land indeed, as Craig would say.

  • colin buchanan

    Cockburn is way off the mark if he seriously thinks “the rebels” are going to seize Tripoli. Yes a rebellion can fall apart after victory but it can also fall apart after defeat. That is the case here: virtually the whole of Libya has rallied to Gaddafi, including Younes’ army and all 2000 tribes. “The rebels” are finished and NATO is now killing time killing, while it decides what to do i.e. whether to invade or not or perhaps launch a wider war by attacking Syria. This is obviously a dangerous moment since NATO don’t do defeat and, as we should all know by now, they are mad enough for anything. Here’s Thierry Meyssan’s excellent summary, to appear in English soon on the same website:

    http://www.voltairenet.org/L-OTAN-tourne-le-dos-a-sa-mission

  • Anon

    “Unfortunately history has amply shown that it’s the act of clinging on – whether to power, wealth, what have you”
    .
    “Lord Halifax records how he told Hitler: “Although there was much in the Nazi system that profoundly offended British opinion, I was not blind to what he (Hitler) had done for Germany, and to the achievement from his point of view of keeping Communism out of his country.” This was a reference to the fact that Hitler had banned the Communist Party (KPD) in Germany and placed its leaders in Concentration Camps.”
    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWhalifaxL.htm

  • mark_golding

    “The truth, of course, is that for Hague and Clinton the TNC has to exist only as a numbered Swiss bank account for oil revenues and arms sales to flow through. As long as that account number exists, an actual physical opposition, self-appointed, blood-steeped or whatever, is an irrelevance to western governments.”
    .
    A beautifully succinct paragraph begging to be repeated. The rebels(renegades) are be able to access frozen Libyan state assets.
    The US alone has frozen $30 billion (£18.6bn).
    .
    Libyan families in Tripoli and villages to the East are getting the equivalent of about £200 cash to support the TNC, according to a ‘trainer’ I cannot name here who works for a British private security firm who has operatives in Libya transferred from Dubai.

  • craig Post author

    Mark,

    Thank you! I have to admit I was very proud of that paragraph myself. Unfortunately, the bits of my writing that do get repeated all over the net are very seldom the bits I think the best.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Mr Murray,
    .
    I think that probably unwittingly you are raising more important issue here and not just whether NTC is legitimate or not. In states like Libya where there is no (for the last 30+ years) opposition to the regime it is very difficult to find ‘friends’ who will be able to sustain balance against regime. There are rebels who are fighting against regime supported by large parts of the population who are unhappy with the regime BUT there is not any political force that can provide political support to the rebels. Please do not get me wrong as I am not suggesting that NTC is legitimate or even more importantly good, but who else?
    .
    Paralleling situation in Libya with Uzbekistan I cannot see any forces that could form a political opposition to the Karimov’s regime. Even when millions of Uzbeks are unhappy with the economy and government in Uzbekistan but because of preventive actions of the regime (repressions and political cleansing) there is no political force that can be considered and more importantly recognised as opposition to the regime. And witnessing (from the last 5 nights in London) how law and order are important, it is crucial that in weak states like in Uzbekistan (or Libya) law in order prevail over anarchy and rule of the mob.

  • craig Post author

    Uzbek,

    Revolutions can and do happen – look at Egypt and Tunisia – and in Uzbekistan a new government would have to come from a combination of those more reasonable people in the current system and those who have been outside the country. It is not easy though. In Uzbekistan, of course, law and order is an illusion – nobody is safe and it is the state which is the greatest danger to people. At the same time the crazy economic policies prevent people from making money. But a revolutionary outbreak has to be very well planned and widespread. Another Andijan will just be another massacre, but ten simultaneous Andijans would be different. It is very difficult – but not impossible.

    A year ago removing Mubarak looked completely improbable.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Mr Murray,
    .
    But removing Muborak Egyptian military were able (and still are able) to sustain order in Egypt and even agreed to put Muboraks on trial. You have lived in Uzbekistan and probably know better than me that in Uzbekistan there is not such force like Military in Egypt. All those police and snb dogs just waiting for a right moment to make some cash out of every possible opportunity and I am in very much doubt that they will step in and sustain order. I personally see no so called ‘more reasonable people’ in current Uzbek government who getting power in their hand will not turn into Karimov number 2. And those who live abroad of Uzbekistan are losing connections with the people. As longer they live abroad as lees connected they are with the needs and troubles of millions of ordinary Uzbeks.
    .
    If you know now who I am then you probably agree with me that I will be the last person on this blog who would think that Karimov is any good for Uzbekistan, but chaos, riots and rule of mob is in my opinion even more dangerous option.
    .
    My point of paralleling Libya with Uzbekistan was that in the systems like in those 2 countries it is very hard to find political force that can be legitimate and more importantly good. As you might know every government body in Uzbekistan is corrupt and put their own gain first before everything else. And for external force or government who wish to support revolution in Uzbekistan (or in Libya) it is very difficult to find good and legitimate ally.

  • Tom Welsh

    “The British foreign office looks more stupid than ever today …”

    Is that even possible?

    “…large amounts of taxpayers’ money are being spent within the FCO to produce this surreal propaganda”.

    So business as usual then.

  • Ruth

    So Craig you’d prefer a regime that shot to death over 1200 political prisoners in the Abu Salim prison massacre. A regime in which people are routinely detained and tortured. A regime that used artillery fire on demonstrators in Benghazi in February that left body parts scattered all over the streets and please don’t tell me this didn’t happen.

    The interests of the West are obvious in this scenario, but where is your empathy for the majority of the Libyan people who have suffered year in and year out for over 40 years.

  • craig Post author

    Ruth,

    I should have been as happy to see Gadaffi go as to see Mubarak go. Sadly we have managed to strengthen him by our stupid interference.

  • dogtanian

    Uzbek in the UK, you should be using another nickname for purposes of safety of all other uzbeks who live in the UK. I think you might be endangering their lives. You well know anyone who has long lived in the UK may be subject to interrogation with suspicion of contacts or communication with Craig as his block is constantly watched by some special units in Uzbekistan. It’s just an advice for the safety of others. Secondly, I think, you are trying to let others know of yourself mainly, by stating “if you remember i did this and that, etc”, rather than concentrating your comments on a particular issue. Well, if it is not the case, then I am sorry.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Dogtanian,
    Thank you for the advice but I am sure that there are number of Uzbeks who live in the UK and even more Uzbeks have been in contact with Mr Murray. Uzbek snb have more important things to do as to interrogate all these people and working out who is the real ‘enemy’.
    Especially because those who have been kicked out or managed to leave Uzbekistan represent the least danger for their regime.

  • Tom Welsh

    Ruth, you are arguing disingenuously.

    “So Craig you’d prefer a regime that shot to death over 1200 political prisoners in the Abu Salim prison massacre. A regime in which people are routinely detained and tortured. A regime that used artillery fire on demonstrators in Benghazi in February that left body parts scattered all over the streets and please don’t tell me this didn’t happen”.

    The things you describe are obviously very bad – if they really happened as you describe. I can’t be sure of that. But there is no question of fixing all problems and abolishing all abuses. Supposedly in order to overthrow the dreadful Qadafi, NATO itself has now killed over 1,000 Libyan civilians and, no doubt, left body parts scattered around. (Hint: that happens whenever high explosives are detonated near people – although if the explosives are dropped from a comfortably high altitude and speed, you don’t have to wtiness the results).

    To overthrow the dreadful Saddam in Iraq, who had killed some hundreds of thousands of people (plus over a million in the war against Iran, egged on by the USA), the West killed probably over 1.5 million people (in addition to the more than 500,000 previously killed by sanctions), destroyed the infrastructure, and condemned another 4-5 million to permanent exile.

    That is why we should think carefully before using force to bring about what we imagine will be a better state of affairs. “To err is human”, and modern Western governments have brought the art to a pitch of superhuman perfection.

  • MJ

    “What evidence do you have that Gadaffi has been strengthened?”

    Ruth: does it not strike you that the Libyan rebellion began to lose its impetus as soon as NATO moved in? Today it seems entrenched in Benghazi, but immediately prior to NATO’s intervention that was not the case.

    On March 15 libyafeb17.com was reporting that “the Free Libyan Airforce have destroyed and sunk 2 Gaddafi warships and hit a third off the coast of Ajdabiya and Benghazi” and that “revolutionaries in Ajdabiya have captured 7 tanks in very good condition and have handed them over to the defected 36th battalion”.

    It reported also that “[a] pilot who flew his plane into Baab Al Aziziyah took off as part of a 2 plane team with the mission of bombing strategic points in Al Guradibya base in Sirte. Their orders were to return immediately after completing the mission. One pilot followed orders while the other flew to Tripoli where he emptied what he had left of ammunition on Baab Al Aziziyah and then crashed his plane into it”

    It would appear then the rebels were gaining significant numbers of defectors from the Libyan military who were bringing their tanks and planes with them and who were conducting effective military strikes against key targets.

    The very next day UNSCR 1973 was hurriedly pushed through the UN and a no-fly zone was in force by the end of the week. A result of this was that rebel air attacks on military targets were immediately halted.

    Did the West fear that the rebellion was getting out of hand and might result in a genuinely democratic government, one that might retain Libya’s independent central bank and its gold-based currency?

  • Tris

    Hmmm…

    War is Peace;

    Freedom is Slavery;

    Ignorance is Strength;

    The dismissal of the executive committee demonstrates the strength and maturity of the NTC.

    Hague is a useless moron.

  • Canspeccy

    “As someone who used to work there, I find it deeply disturbing that large amounts of taxpayers’ money are being spent within the FCO to produce this surreal propaganda.”

    You point being that the shoddy effort to justify the war hurts your professional pride, not that the there is anything shoddy or unsatisfactory about the war itself?

    A rough translation of the Meyssan article is here. He says NATO’s strategy is all crap, but NATO will just keep buggering on, to use a Churchillian expression.

  • Björn Blomberg

    NATO:s war on Libya has indeed strengthened Gaddafi but only as a symbol of Libyan unity against the NATO aggressors. A former opposition member from Benghazi is very clear about that in this interview:
    http://english.pravda.ru/world/africa/11-08-2011/118728-terrorists_and_NATO_lost_war-0/

    He says he wants Gaddafi to stop taking part in Libyan politics but that he for now sees Gaddafi as the only one who can unite thousands of people against the aggressors. He says that Libyans are easy-going people but that they do not like to be humiliated.

    The real rulers of Libya are the tribes, this is a tribal society and the tribes have made enormous sacrifices in the struggle against the NATO aggressors and their salafist (al Qaida) allies. On 30 July 120 members of Libyas warfella-tribe in Benghazi were murdered by Salafists. This triggered protests that caused NATO and Qatar to chase demonstrators in the streets with helicopters and to shoot at them with tanks. NATO may control any conquered city with these methods but they will not win the heart and minds of people. And please note: The warfalla tribe or Bani Walid-tribe that they are sometimes called after the city where most of them live, is the largest tribe in Libye with over one million members. After the Benghazi massacres they actively take part in the war against NATO. Recently the fanatical racist rebels of Misrata (who said in an interview with Wall Street Journal that no one who is black, i.e. one third of Libyas population, should have the right to go to school) took Tawergha but they were almost immediately driven out again by the Warfella-ribe.

    The tribes of Libya have united behind the government but they also demand a new constitution for Libya with tolerance and freedom of speech. They also have seen to it that all rebels who promise not to take up arms again are freed and given back to their tribes. They want peace and peaceful change in the country and they are the true rulers of the country.

    As for the Salafists: Almost all had been freed from prisons by Gaddafi’s son Saif al Islam before the uprising in February and the government had been trying to negociate with them. Also the government has admitted mistakes such as poor prison conditions that caused over 100 dead in a prison uprising (not 1,200 people as some say, that is propaganda). Similar prison uprisings in Latin American countries has caused similar death tolls. Saif al Islam has been critisised for being soft on salafists/al Qaida but I do not agree. In the long run these people have to be integrated into society and get something else to do rather than to kill and torture innocent people.

    As for the issue of human rights as a tool for war propaganda, listen to James Peck: http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/Opte

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