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Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Funny that the only Middle-East rebellion we've tried to help is the one with tons of oil. I'm sure Libyans will appreciate their new leadership.

That's just another coincidence (or actually a "daft conspiracy theory"), fwoan, and no amount of evidence can convince Cole otherwise.

My own speculation about motives for attacking Libya are here. I didn't specifically mention oil there, in part because it's obvious but also because I think it's more of a background motive than a primary driver (in that our interest in the Middle East is always driven by oil--it's not something anyone has to bring up in a meeting). Given Qaddafi's unreliability, Libya was the one case where the Obama administration could wage a Kosovo-style PR war rather than backing the thugs who're killing their own populations (and rely on faithful servants like Cole to spread the propaganda after the all-but-inevitable military victory).

Yet another corrupted punk ass hack.

Neoliberal warmongers like Cole have blood on their hands. How many people are dying and going to die in this adventure Cole is cheering on?

Fuck Juan Cole, Fuck U.S. wars, Fuck NATO, and Obama the Democrats can go fuck themselves too!

The spectacle of these war criminals dancing on the fresh bodies of the residents of Tripoli (which the NATO controlled cameras are careful not to show) is too much for me. .

Obama should be impeached for his war crimes but neoliberal scumbags like Cole want to give him a medal instead. I'm more terrified of evil Juan Cole represents than I am the right-wing hawks like McCain.

Well said Walter.

I am quite surprised that there hasn't been more resistance to the fall (or "fall" - I'm not so sure I believe Tripoli is fully in the hands of the Western puppets yet). I did not think that a Libyan defeat was inevitable and frankly I'm convinced that the elements supportive of Gaddafi (or indeed in support of themselves as an independent and healthy/wealthy people) are done.

This could be the beginning of years of fighting. In one sense I hope that it is (not that war itself is desirable, but if it's a war for Libya NATO wants...), so that Libyans might determine their fate, so that Africa might continue to have the independent-course-steering leader in Libya, and so that the Obamas and Coles of this wretched country might have their own Mission Accomplished albatross.

As I've stated before on my blog when OBL was killed (and I'm not even 100% sure that happened...), people like Gaddafi and Chavez are cut from a different cloth than American candypants "tough guys" like Rahm Emanuel.

It's not so much that these are people willing to die for their beliefs, it's that they are people willing to KILL for their beliefs if pushed into it, and the world has frankly been better off on the whole for it, beginning with Venezuelans and Libyans. One can hope that Libyan patriots (for this is what they are) and the Gaddafi clan will spend each bullet well. The crying shame is that the political leaders of this country and Europe aren't in their range.

Several years back I was applying for a job with the Quakers and in attempting to answer one of their many essay questions about pacifism I came to the conclusion that it really wasn't my place in the world to be telling oppressed people to take it up the bunghole generation after generation without picking up an AK and liberating themselves... because of some quaint notion from the safety of my middle class American life that it's morally ideal to play nice with people who will literally torture, rape, kill and possibly eat your family, not necessarily in that order. I never did get an interview...

Sorry, that should have read "and frankly I'm NOT convinced..."

Anyone see the video of Saif saying what's been translated as "Screw the criminal court!"?

Cole supported Kosovo, Aghanistan, Iraq*, and now Libya.

* "I remain convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides."


God damn Caruso, you're quite the wordsmith. I loled three times at this post.

Cole's top ten "myths"

"1. Qaddafi was a progressive in his domestic policies. While back in the 1970s, Qaddafi was probably more generous in sharing around the oil wealth with the population, buying tractors for farmers, etc., in the past couple of decades that policy changed. He became vindictive against tribes in the east and in the southwest that had crossed him politically, depriving them of their fair share in the country’s resources. And in the past decade and a half, extreme corruption and the rise of post-Soviet-style oligarchs, including Qaddafi and his sons, have discouraged investment and blighted the economy. Workers were strictly controlled and unable to collectively bargain for improvements in their conditions. There was much more poverty and poor infrastructure in Libya than there should have been in an oil state."

Of course, the new govt will be scrupulously fair when it comes to dividing up the resources. There will no nepotism, no tribal or regional favoritism. And we know this because?

"2. Qaddafi was a progressive in his foreign policy. Again, he traded for decades on positions, or postures, he took in the 1970s. In contrast, in recent years he played a sinister role in Africa, bankrolling brutal dictators and helping foment ruinous wars. In 1996 the supposed champion of the Palestinian cause expelled 30,000 stateless Palestinians from the country. After he came in from the cold, ending European and US sanctions, he began buddying around with George W. Bush, Silvio Berlusconi and other right wing figures. Berlusconi has even said that he considered resigning as Italian prime minister once NATO began its intervention, given his close personal relationship to Qaddafi. Such a progressive."

This must be the most tendentious of all Cole's points. Arab nationalist leader is antagonistic to the West? Bad. Arab nationalist leader tries detente with the West? Just as bad. And the part about Bush and Berlusconni is laughable. They were heads of State of western countries, and that's why Gaddafi dealt with them, not because they were "right wing." When Obama is out of office, should any country's leader who dealt with him be shunned because he "buddied" around with a left wing figure, which is what some of Obama's critics claim he is, or a right wing figure, which others claim he is. WTF!

"3. It was only natural that Qaddafi sent his military against the protesters and revolutionaries; any country would have done the same. No, it wouldn’t, and this is the argument of a moral cretin. In fact, the Tunisian officer corps refused to fire on Tunisian crowds for dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and the Egyptian officer corps refused to fire on Egyptian crowds for Hosni Mubarak. The willingness of the Libyan officer corps to visit macabre violence on protesting crowds derived from the centrality of the Qaddafi sons and cronies at the top of the military hierarchy and from the lack of connection between the people and the professional soldiers and mercenaries. Deploying the military against non-combatants was a war crime, and doing so in a widespread and systematic way was a crime against humanity. Qaddafi and his sons will be tried for this crime, which is not “perfectly natural.”"

Total horseshit. The militaries in Tunisia and Egyot were not willing to use serious violence against protesters. At least until the current dictator was removed. But they are sure are willing to use it in Bahrain and Yemen, both US allies, and Syria as well. Use of force against protestors is not out of the ordinary in any way. The war crimes thing is a croc. Protestors took up arms when confronted with State power are armed rebels. Of course armed force can be used against them. It might not be "right" or "fair" or "democratic," but its hardly a war crime. And there is zero evidence that Gaddafi used, or planned to use, widespread and systematic force against peaceful civilians.

"4. There was a long stalemate in the fighting between the revolutionaries and the Qaddafi military. There was not. This idea was fostered by the vantage point of many Western observers, in Benghazi. It is true that there was a long stalemate at Brega, which ended yesterday when the pro-Qaddafi troops there surrendered. But the two most active fronts in the war were Misrata and its environs, and the Western Mountain region. Misrata fought an epic, Stalingrad-style, struggle of self-defense against attacking Qaddafi armor and troops, finally proving victorious with NATO help, and then they gradually fought to the west toward Tripoli. The most dramatic battles and advances were in the largely Berber Western Mountain region, where, again, Qaddafi armored units relentlessly shelled small towns and villages but were fought off (with less help from NATO initially, which I think did not recognize the importance of this theater). It was the revolutionary volunteers from this region who eventually took Zawiya, with the help of the people of Zawiya, last Friday and who thereby cut Tripoli off from fuel and ammunition coming from Tunisia and made the fall of the capital possible. Any close observer of the war since April has seen constant movement, first at Misrata and then in the Western Mountains, and there was never an over-all stalemate."

Er, NATO military leaders, including US ones, called it a stalemate. What was supposed to take "days not weeks" ended up taking months, with back and forth offensive, and long periods of inactivity.

"5. The Libyan Revolution was a civil war. It was not, if by that is meant a fight between two big groups within the body politic. There was nothing like the vicious sectarian civilian-on-civilian fighting in Baghdad in 2006. The revolution began as peaceful public protests, and only when the urban crowds were subjected to artillery, tank, mortar and cluster bomb barrages did the revolutionaries begin arming themselves. When fighting began, it was volunteer combatants representing their city quarters taking on trained regular army troops and mercenaries. That is a revolution, not a civil war. Only in a few small pockets of territory, such as Sirte and its environs, did pro-Qaddafi civilians oppose the revolutionaries, but it would be wrong to magnify a handful of skirmishes of that sort into a civil war. Qaddafi’s support was too limited, too thin, and too centered in the professional military, to allow us to speak of a civil war."

Internal armed conflicts are civil wars. No evidence of mercenaries, but even if there were, so what? It's still a civil war. Not all civil wars have to look like Baghdad '06. And no artillery, cluster bombs, tanks or mortars were used against peaceful protestors. Those weapons were called in when the crowds refused to disperse, and met violence with violence.

"6. Libya is not a real country and could have been partitioned between east and west.
Alexander Cockburn wrote,

“It requites no great prescience to see that this will all end up badly. Qaddafi’s failure to collapse on schedule is prompting increasing pressure to start a ground war, since the NATO operation is, in terms of prestige, like the banks Obama has bailed out, Too Big to Fail. Libya will probably be balkanized.”

"I don’t understand the propensity of Western analysts to keep pronouncing nations in the global south “artificial” and on the verge of splitting up. It is a kind of Orientalism. All nations are artificial. Benedict Anderson dates the nation-state to the late 1700s, and even if it were a bit earlier, it is a new thing in history. Moreover, most nation-states are multi-ethnic, and many long-established ones have sub-nationalisms that threaten their unity. Thus, the Catalans and Basque are uneasy inside Spain, the Scottish may bolt Britain any moment, etc., etc. In contrast, Libya does not have any well-organized, popular separatist movements. It does have tribal divisions, but these are not the basis for nationalist separatism, and tribal alliances and fissures are more fluid than ethnicity (which is itself less fixed than people assume). Everyone speaks Arabic, though for Berbers it is the public language; Berbers were among the central Libyan heroes of the revolution, and will be rewarded with a more pluralist Libya. This generation of young Libyans, who waged the revolution, have mostly been through state schools and have a strong allegiance to the idea of Libya. Throughout the revolution, the people of Benghazi insisted that Tripoli was and would remain the capital. Westerners looking for break-ups after dictatorships are fixated on the Balkan events after 1989, but there most often isn’t an exact analogue to those in the contemporary Arab world."

It may or may not end up balkanized. Iraq is certainly on the brink of it. Somalia has been balkanized. Serbia was (lol!) balkanized. Afghanistan may end up that way too. The point is that when polities are destroyed, and occupied by foreign forces, there tends to be a centrifugal effect. Of course all countries are "artificial" in some sense. But they are more subject to splitting when their governments are overthrown and replaced by bought and paid for puppet regimes, with indefinite foreign occupation/interference. Particularly when the foreignors favor some tribes/regions/religions over others. Which they invariably do, as part of their divide and conquer formula, and because the most resistant elements to the occupation are the ones formerly in power (Sunis in Saddam's Iraq, Serbs under Milosevich, Pashtuns under the Taliban, etc.)

"7. There had to be NATO infantry brigades on the ground for the revolution to succeed. Everyone from Cockburn to Max Boot (scary when those two agree) put forward this idea. But there are not any foreign infantry brigades in Libya, and there are unlikely to be any. Libyans are very nationalistic and they made this clear from the beginning. Likewise the Arab League. NATO had some intelligence assets on the ground, but they were small in number, were requested behind the scenes for liaison and spotting by the revolutionaries, and did not amount to an invasion force. The Libyan people never needed foreign ground brigades to succeed in their revolution."

LOL! Special forces have been running around Libya for months. Thousands and thousands of them. "Some intelligence assets" indeed! So what if there were no "brigades?" Plus, the whole thing was doomed to failure without NATO economic, diplomatic and most of all military intervention. The new leaders are as beholden to the West as are Maliki, Karzai, the leadership of Kosovo and so on.

"8. The United States led the charge to war. There is no evidence for this allegation whatsoever. When I asked Glenn Greenwald whether a US refusal to join France and Britain in a NATO united front might not have destroyed NATO, he replied that NATO would never have gone forward unless the US had plumped for the intervention in the first place. I fear that answer was less fact-based and more doctrinaire than we are accustomed to hearing from Mr. Greenwald, whose research and analysis on domestic issues is generally first-rate. As someone not a stranger to diplomatic history, and who has actually heard briefings in Europe from foreign ministries and officers of NATO members, I’m offended at the glibness of an answer given with no more substantiation than an idee fixe. The excellent McClatchy wire service reported on the reasons for which then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon, and Obama himself were extremely reluctant to become involved in yet another war in the Muslim world. It is obvious that the French and the British led the charge on this intervention, likely because they believed that a protracted struggle over years between the opposition and Qaddafi in Libya would radicalize it and give an opening to al-Qaeda and so pose various threats to Europe. French President Nicolas Sarkozy had been politically mauled, as well, by the offer of his defense minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, to send French troops to assist Ben Ali in Tunisia (Alliot-Marie had been Ben Ali’s guest on fancy vacations), and may have wanted to restore traditional French cachet in the Arab world as well as to look decisive to his electorate. Whatever Western Europe’s motivations, they were the decisive ones, and the Obama administration clearly came along as a junior partner (something Sen. John McCain is complaining bitterly about)."

See Caruso. Plus, why is UK/French imperialism any better than US imperialism? Go ask Nasser about that.

"9. Qaddafi would not have killed or imprisoned large numbers of dissidents in Benghazi, Derna, al-Bayda and Tobruk if he had been allowed to pursue his March Blitzkrieg toward the eastern cities that had defied him. But we have real-world examples of how he would have behaved, in Zawiya, Tawargha, Misrata and elsewhere. His indiscriminate shelling of Misrata had already killed between 1000 and 2000 by last April,, and it continued all summer. At least one Qaddafi mass grave with 150 bodies in it has been discovered. And the full story of the horrors in Zawiya and elsewhere in the west has yet to emerge, but it will not be pretty. The opposition claims Qaddafi’s forces killed tens of thousands. Public health studies may eventually settle this issue, but we know definitively what Qaddafi was capable of."

Total bullshit. A "mass grave" of 150 "has been discovered." Discovered by who? Who says that they were civilian victims of Gaddafi? Rather than of the rebels. Or dead soldiers. Or just ordinary dead people. Gaddafi explicitly limited his call for reprisals to armed revolutionaries, and even at that, encouraged them to leave the country. If Gaddafi had been allowed to succeed, as he was on the brink of doing, there would have been fewer civilian casualties and much less destruction of infrastructure than what in fact occured, over the prolonged ground fighting and by NATO bombardment.

"10. This was a war for Libya’s oil. That is daft. Libya was already integrated into the international oil markets, and had done billions of deals with BP, ENI, etc., etc. None of those companies would have wanted to endanger their contracts by getting rid of the ruler who had signed them. They had often already had the trauma of having to compete for post-war Iraqi contracts, a process in which many did less well than they would have liked. ENI’s profits were hurt by the Libyan revolution, as were those of Total SA. and Repsol. Moreover, taking Libyan oil off the market through a NATO military intervention could have been foreseen to put up oil prices, which no Western elected leader would have wanted to see, especially Barack Obama, with the danger that a spike in energy prices could prolong the economic doldrums. An economic argument for imperialism is fine if it makes sense, but this one does not, and there is no good evidence for it (that Qaddafi was erratic is not enough), and is therefore just a conspiracy theory."

NY Times already reporting that scramble for oil resources is on. New leaders quoted as saying that the companiess of their allies, US, UK and Frane, are welcomed, but that those from countries who were lukewarm or opposed to intervention, China, Russia, Brazil, face "political issues." Gaddafi was a hard bargainer with oil companies. He got a lot back for his country from the multinationals. Will these puppet rulers? Put in place by NATO and subjec to removal by NATO? I hardly think so.

Also, it's not just oil. Libya has a large public sector, housing, education, medical care. That will now almost certainly be privatized, so as to ensure even more opportunities for exploitation by Western corporations.

Cole is a joke. But it's not funny, it's sad, to see so called "liberal" commentators like him and Maddow cheering for yet another military intervention by the classic imperialist powers (US, UK, France) in a third world country. Yet another destruction of a nationalist regime and its replacement by a comprador group of half assed "rebels" who rode into town in the wake of a Western air power, military aid and "advice," and diplomatic and economic pressure.

Cheer today, hegemon. What a couple of years, if that long, when you have another Iraq/Afghanistan/Somalia on your hands. Pull down your statues and laugh like a hyeanna while you can, you sell out imperialist tool.

Freemansfarm: TLDR.

Mr. Caruso: What Jay said, as usual.

Here's hoping that we are seeing a move to guerilla warfare by the Libyan loyalists. Gadaffi has tribal and other political connections that extend as far as northern Mali and into other areas of Africa and it's rather realistic to me that if some groups of people decide to make it a priority that his people could stick it out for a good long time.

I expect some average people in Tripoli are lying low currently with their opinions of the "rebels" because they don't want to get murdered by them. I expect others who were more plugged into the regime and could expect no mercy will be encouraged to fight all the harder for the same reason.

It would really be a bit too much for Libya to become a European and Gulf State oil colony.

Democrats still haven't accepted any responsibility for Clinton (I've repeatedly argued in tiresome conversations against the notion that Clinton was 8 years of "peace and prosperity" - what planet were these people living on?!) and I rate the odds of Democrats either recognizing this as a disaster and crime at prttey much zero.

On Yahoo and other mainstream news sites the arguments are between Republicans who are generally telling the truth about what's happening in Libya (if only because they oppose Obama personally and a broken clock is right twice/day) and Democrats who are defending Obama as the New Messiah of Peace and Democracy.

Cole's list is also at CNN's website, here. I linked to it and discussed how I think he mischaracterized Alexander Cockburn's argument, but I was not so funny.

Here's hoping that we are seeing a move to guerilla warfare by the Libyan loyalists.

Oh, good! Let's draw out the bloodshed and misery even longer.

Opposing the rebels doesn't mean supporting Qadafy or his loyalists, any more than opposing Bush's aggression in Iraq meant supporting Saddam.

Duncan: I believe that when your home town is invaded, you have a right to fight back. So in a way, yes I do 'support' guerrilla resistance in Tripoli. Can't speak for others, though.

Is the best way to prevent violence in the long term, to never resist the Allies when they bomb/invade countries? That's not a flippant rhetorical question; it's a problem I grapple with. Because I'm not a pure cultural relativist, I do believe some cultures are better than others, and there's a lot about the heritage of Western civilization that I love. But the problem with telling foreigners to lie down and submit to occupation in the worst tradition of our civilization, is obvious.

Duncan -

I'm obviously with Cloud on this. In point of fact I don't even believe I have the right to dictate to others not to fight back. Not my call. I personally would pick up a gun and start fighting people who were invading my city with foreign assistance in order to hand over our collective wealth to foreign powers and very likely institute a series of laws which would erase our revolution and set our society back a few generations, but that's just me. Call me crazy.

This is all aside from the fact that a good many of the people fighting back would apperently be executed if they don't surrender. Already a group of 30 guys who might have been Libyan government loyalists (and/or who might have been African guest workers) have been found massacred by the "rebels", some of them in hospital beds.

A lot of people on the left need to shed this idea that violence even in obvious immediate self-defense is somehow sinful. I highly recommend Orwell's essay on Gandhi on this topic.

Sorry, I really need to do some review of my typing before I post.

Many people will be executed even if they *DO* surrender. Surrender will be death for some. In the case of the massacre I just alluded to, some of the men had their hands bound when shot.


Having the wrong surname or having had the wrong government job or having defended one's home or being from a town or tribe connceted with Gadaffi might carry a death sentence with NATO's rampaging looters taking control. Not fighting back is idiocy at multiple levels. It certainly won't decrease bloodshed.

Cloud, I don't think Duncan was telling anyone to lie down and submit to occupation (though it looks more likely that Libya will be the target of economic colonialism rather than a direct occupation), and I certainly agree with him that having reservations or uncertainty about the rebels or opposing the NATO attack doesn't mean siding with Qaddafi loyalists--or siding with anyone at all for that matter. I've seen people who oppose the bombing painting the rebels as just puppets of the West, and while I understand where that's coming from I think it's a mistake; the fact that they benefited from the US/NATO's desire to take out Qaddafi doesn't in itself deligitimize them or their cause, and while the US is of course doing everything it can to turn the result to its favor that's no different from what it does in every situation.

My impression is that there's a lot of internal dissent within the opposition groups, so I don't think it makes sense to treat them that homogeneously or paint them with that broad a brush anyway. I don't doubt there were people involved in the uprisings against Qaddafi (both before and after they turned to armed rebellion) who were ambivalent about big powers getting involved. We'll see how it plays out, but I think black and white statements in either direction about either Qaddafi loyalists or the opposition are misguided.

John -

I have severe doubts about the legitimacy of a lot of these people. There seems to be a mixture of the following elements:

- people from western Libya who have tribal/ethnic grudges

- royalists (some overlap here with the first group) who are still sore over the 1969 uprising (which is, let's face it, the only thing that raised the standard of living of the average Libyan so dramtically)

- anti-black-African racists

- Chalabi clones who've been living places like northern Virginia and London for a number of years, making the... er... interesting contacts one make in those places

- opportunists and looters

- al Qaeda-linked Jihadists who would like to reinstitute a severe code of sharia that will likely knock Libyan women down a bunch of pegs

No, I don't like this one bit...

I should mention that back in 1999/2000 when I was prepping to visit the south of Tunisia I was also working for an international museum website that published pieces on cultural institutions. I tried to use that to get permission from the State Department to visit Libya legally as a reporter (I got my employer to back me up in writing on the fact they would publish anything I wrote about Tripoli museums). At the time there were only a few ways to visit Libya without federal prosecution upon return and without relatives in the country this was about the only route open to me.

Libya no longer had an embassy in the US (no direct formal diplomatic links) so I contacted their UN consulate in NY and they were very enthusiastic about my potential visit and prepared to offer me any assistance. I got a two-page letter from State not only saying "no" but threatening me with federal prison time and a massive fine if I did visit. I regret having "asked permission" first and I wonder if I just plowed ahead and crossed the border making arrangements out of Tunis if anyone would have even known about my visit in the US.

Several years later American oil companies wanted in on Libyan oil and overnight no one was being prosecuted for visiting Libya any longer. Funny how that works...

When in Sousse on the Tunisian coast I bumped into an extended Libyan family on vacation who were absolutely thrilled to meet an actual American in the flesh. They had me pose with them for a whole bunch of photos and I regret not having my camera with me (two related things happened which I absolutely never do on a trip - go somewhere without my camera and relax on a beach... left the camera in my room as I'd have nowhere to secure it going for a dip). They seemed my tickled by the whole thing than I was. It makes me think that a trip into Libya at the time would have been something special.

I should mention too that some wounded fighters (unclear which side) have been reported driving into the sleepy southern Tunisian village of Douz for medical care. Douz has a remarkable weekly Berber market and is where I secured a guide for the camel trek that was the center of my trip. In any event in a number of news stories I've seen lately the town is being identified as "Doux", which is the French word for "sweet" and not a spelling I'd ever seen anywhere before. If we're not getting that level of fact correct the mind reels at what else we're being fed.

Part of the propaganda in the west includes the BBC showing pictures of a moderately amused crowd in India (?!) and identifying that as ecstatic Tripoli residents:


One day I'm going to post a post in which I say what I mean. Today unfortunately is not that day.

What I meant obviously was people from EASTERN Libya with a grudge against the Tripoli area, many of whom also have royalist sympathies.

I meant to say as well that the UK has already broken down and admitted that SAS troops have been in Libya for weeks. I would be very surprised if the US doesn't have "boots on the ground" as well. And of course we might well have Blackwater-type mercenaries involved in the killing. Thus Libya is already under direct foreign occupation, and has been for weeks, even if we discount airstrikes in that equation. The longer Libyan patriots hold out the more one would expect that occupation to grow.

SAS has been there from the beginning, actually, but until and unless the US and its allies assume authority over Libya it's not an occupation. I don't think it will become one, but we'll see.

In any case, I share some of your doubts about the opposition groups, but I don't think we know anywhere near enough about what's going on there to justify calling for "guerrilla warfare" by "Libyan patriots" (especially with all the bloodshed that entails)--and given what you've said about the right to dictate to others, here and elsewhere, I don't see how you'd feel it's your place to call for that.

IMO any time a foreign army has uninvited soldiers in your country killing you for resisting them and hunting for government officers with air support aimed at toppling the government, that'd be, again in my book, occupation. Every one of our military misadventures from Vietnam to Iraq and beyond has some local elements who side with the West. This doesn't to me erase the foreign nature of the invasion.

I should point out that Libyans themselves are the ones calling for the fight-back and actually doing it; I'm just saying I don't have the right to tell them not to do so... not that they are listening to me in any event. Anyone can easily look up video of Gaddafi's son Saif handling out weapons in Tripoli and see that a lot of ordinary Libyans would rather pick up a gun and defend their city than roll over. The alternative is asking people to give up 40 years of gains and live a lie... or get killed by a group of fanatics with NATO air spport. And I really do wish them well, it's their lives up against my evil government stealing their resources. The only regret is that the cowards who run NATO countries aren't in shooting range.

I swell with pride for humanity when people are willing to stand and fight in the face of empire; I don't have to agree with them on everything to wish them accurate aim. Gadaffi's Libya was a huge middle finger to the IMF and European telecommunications and a major counterexample to royalist regimes like Morocco where the country's wealth is concentrated. Losing Libya will give NATO/the US and UK a forward base in Africa and would be a tremendous setback to African economic independence projects funded out of Tripoli. This is the reason that the African Union and countries like South Africa will not yet recognize the NATO-backed government.

Of course I'm also one of those people who bought a record in 1986 that gave proceeds to the armed wing of the African National Congress back when we backed the apartheid government. These days that probably gets you sent to Gitmo. The world generally needs doctors and nurses and IV fluid and textbooks and the like, but some of the people in the world also really need - mostly because of MY government - an AK and a whole lot of ammo.

I should point out that Libyans themselves are the ones calling for the fight-back...

"Here's hoping that we are seeing a move to guerilla warfare by the Libyan loyalists" seemed like a pretty unambiguous call. The point there was just that I don't see how Duncan's expression of distaste for your call for violence by Qaddafi loyalists is any less valid (or any more of an attempt to dictate) than your call for violence by Qaddafi loyalists.

On the larger issue, there are many ways for Libyans to resist the West's plans for Libya (look at Egypt for one example), and I don't see any reason to say that the best of those is a bloody and protracted civil war or that Qaddafi and his followers are the ones worth backing. As you say, it's not up to us--but that's just why it's ironic that you're the one who seems to have settled on the best course for what you call "Libyan patriots". Personally I have no idea what makes a Libyan patriot (and I don't like the word with "Libyan" in front of it any more than I like it with "American"), but I don't doubt there were more than a few who were tired of 42 years of dictatorship, and I'd also guess there are plenty of them who wish both the Qaddafi loyalists and the rebels would take a flying leap. And the question of whether or not Libyans can manage to maintain independence from the West's methods of control and subjugation--of which the military component is just one small (albeit important) part--goes way beyond AK-47s.

John -

It's as if that you somehow don't know that the Libyan "rebels" are armed, coordinated, led in battle, funded and air supported by foreigners. There would be no Libyan rebellion without this.

My call for violence (! - I'm the problem here!) from Gaddafi loyalists is following TENS OF THOUSANDS of NATO airstrikes which have detroyed a good deal of the country's infrastructure, killed a decent portion of the country's 100% non-foreigner army and which has targeted officials of the internationally recognized government for assassination.

In case no one has noticed, the UN resolution (and since when is mass murder not to be opposed if it's backed by an international resolution?) called specifically for negotiated solution to this situation and there is ample evidence that NATO's proxies rampaging through Libya are instead being encouraged to kill, attacking entire towns with the wrong tribal alliances such as Sirte. What makes anyone think for one second that the mercernaries and black ops people we have operating in, above and off the coast of Libya are going to show any surrendering loyalists any mercy?

Obviously a "Libyan patriot" would be someone who doesn't want to turn total control of their country to the UAE, Qatar and NATO. A "Libyan patriot" would be someone who would like Libyans to be in control of Libya, not Italian, French, British, Qatari, Emirati and American oil companies. Equating Libyans (who are dying in the streets while our mercanaries and drones butcher them so that they fight losing their futures to a violent cabal of foreigners bent on stealing their oil) with the usual crew of American flagwavers under the current circumstances is really a bit much. It's not being a nationalist d-bag to fight against a motley crew of brigrands attacking your neighborhood who've had months of superpower death raining from the sky

Likewise if the US tried to pull another Bay of Pigs invasion I would fully support Cuban patriots rising to slay their attempted oppressors. Likewise in Venezuela.

I don't think that all that many Libyans were as troubled as we are generally led to believe by "42 years of dictatorship." Not every culture insists upon having our farcical election system in which people have two (or often one thanks to gerrymandering) sides of the same coin to choose from. I don't know about where you live, but where I live I have ONE congressional candidate on the ballot in both the primaries and the general "election." There's not even a pretense of a choice; Bob Brady wins 99.99% of the vote and I write my own name in. We saw in 2000 how much votes count for in the US. In Oklahoma they won't even count write in votes. In PA they'll go after your house if you run for statewide office as a Green and complete the herculian task of collecting ballot signatures.

There is, in short, no meaningful democratic process to speak of in this country and the concept that even that farce is what is being offered Libya I don't believe to be correct. The people signing the favorable oil contracts with the West will be the new rulers of Libya, mock elections held or no.

The funny thing is that on libertarian sites like anti-war.org and others I am heartened to see average Americans expressing support for Libyans fighting for their own futures. The 'special' liberals of course are having Obama/cruise missile orgasms and half of the actual left is apparently preferring that Libyans sit in the Time Out corner for 15 minutes and then... I assume... there be a negotiated giveaway of all of Libya to the men with guns backed by NATO, the ink still wet on the oil contracts, as a means of (after the deaths of tens of thousands of Libyans in a 6 month bombing campaign!) "avoiding bloodshed." Again I have to state that I don't get this fetish for non-violence (on others' behalf of course!) in the face of brutal imperial slaughter.

Let's get real, folks. There are people in Libya right this very moment fighting the empire because their lives and futures depend upon it. I offer them my unqualified moral support. Some people in some circumstances have a right to fire a shot in anger. This NATO/neolib aggression must not be rewarded, materially nor symbolically.

"And the question of whether or not Libyans can manage to maintain independence from the West's methods of control and subjugation--of which the military component is just one small (albeit important) part--goes way beyond AK-47s."

John actually, the military component is the one that kills and maims, leaving the door open for the other methods of control and subjugation to succeed. Please offer an example of a nation successfully maintaining independence from the West's criminal violence by non-violent means.

Chris: My call for violence (! - I'm the problem here!)

Nobody said you're the problem here, of course. But you are the one who's calling for violence (and implying that that's the only valid path for true Libyan patriots). Again, I don't see why you think your opinions about what Libyans should do are legitimate but contrary opinions are "dictating to others".

Little if any of the rest of what you're saying applies to what I think, and your response (and especially things like the above) tells me that further discussion isn't likely to get us anywhere, so I'll leave you to it.

Harpfool: Please offer an example of a nation successfully maintaining independence from the West's criminal violence by non-violent means.

I can't think of an example of almost any nation (with the qualified exception of other major powers) that's genuinely maintaining independence from the West, actually, but two close examples would be Bolivia and Venezuela--neither of which are doing it through violence.

In any case, I'm not making an argument one way or the other about non-violence either in Libya or in general; I'm disagreeing with Chris's belief that he knows who the true "Libyan patriots" are and what they should be doing. I just don't think I, he, you, or anyone else here knows what's right or best for the Libyan people.

Yes, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought - "aha - Venezuela". The one qualifier in these 2 cases is that the past doesn't guarantee the future, and they may yet have to fight off a noble NATO venture.

But thanks for clarifying the overall issue - I'd missed your main point in the details.

If not violence I'm wondering what the alternative is today for Libyans who don't want to be ruled by NATO to resist that in any meaningful way. A bunch of al-Qaeda Iraq fighters led by the SAS and the CIA and Xi roll into town after you've been 'softened up' by airstrikes and....what? Letter to the editor? Vigil? Unhappy blog post..?

The plan for foreign domination (UAE troops are the face of it) has been leaked and confirmed as genuine, story and link at anti-war.org, with plans for "mass arrests" of the people who don't want NATO in charge. The "rebels" have already executed their own military commander and I imagine a lot of torture and execution of Libyans who don't want to live in a colony again is yet to come.

Incidentally as of last night not only was the Libyan government's webpage down, but the Google cache of it was also conveniently unavailable. That seems to be for our "benefit."

In Venezuela Chavez led a revolutionary military organization for 11 years that attempted a coup. Without that group in place he would not have won that first election (nor likely have been allowed to sit in the office) and without the awareness that his supporters in the military had access to arms I doubt that he's still be in office today. Again I have to recommend Orwell's essay on Gandhi for my feelings on this matter.

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