Showing posts with label Obama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obama. Show all posts

Monday, March 06, 2017



Since our news is preoccupied with the tweeting Trump, someone has to talk about something else.  (More about that later.)

Above are a couple self-explanatory illustrations.  One is even a note from Albert Einstein and people in physics tend not to think much about politics.  Hawkings eventually skipped a visit once he figured out what was going on there.  The most surprising bit on information in the letter, at least to us, is the opposition of Franz Kafka – it must have given him nightmares to think about an Israel.

They do raise questions about the term "anti-Semitic".   If used in a genetic sense, as in racism, it could hardly apply anywhere except amongst Trump followers.  The recent spate of not only attacks on Black Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, and Sihks ("go back to your home," (meaning Iran), is an example of the sort of moronic behavior Trump's words and actions make quite attractive to many of his followers who believe that they now have official license to carry out these actions.  (And, if you want to use a public bathroom, be sure to gring your birth certificate.)

Lunacy of Trump. 


Sergi Kissmyarz

If you do a search on Trump Lunacy, you will get about half a million results.  Islamic Terrorism will yield about 77 million, all in less than a second.  I imagine one day, in the dictionary, next to lunacy will be a photo of Trump.

The media seems fixated on the subject.  The kindest interpretation is that he tweets out insanity in order to change the focus.  Otherwise, he actually means what he says.  Both interpretations are rather unpleasant, but he was elected and will be President for 4 years or until he is impeached, whichever comes first. 

There really is little else to say.  He did claim that Obama had his phone tapped.  Now think about that for a minute.  Do you think that Obama, during his last months in office, would want to spend them listening to Donald Trump talking on the telephone?  I wouldn't.

Now, the NSA does collect just about everything everywhere.  It then stores it.  You can see 77 million references to Islamic Terrorism just on a public, free, search engine.  Now what code words would they have to use to dig out something worth listening to?  Perhaps "Nude" would yield even more results, in fact I'm almost certain it would, but why bother?

Monday, May 09, 2016

Drones and Assassinations


Illustration: from Latuff.  Seems Latuff can't help calling it as he sees it.  The only difference here is that the U.S. has absolutely NO legitimate role in Syria, Syria is a client state of Russia's.  Good or ill, that is the one main difference.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just a quick note: our media would have us believe that North Korea's nuclear weapons would be used against us.  How?  Any idea of how many satellites we have focused on them? Whether they have one fusion bomb or not, how many would they have to launch at once to get even one through our massive defenses?
Perhaps Russia could accomplish it, but not North Korea.
While everybody worries about what would happen if a Republican, Trump, was elected, Jeremy gives us a great insight into what Obama, that peace-loving liberal has been up to with his drones and meetings.
Several years ago, in fact, one of Jeremy's tweets mention that was was difficult to reconcile a Nobel Peace Laureate with his own "kill list," but that is what Obama started. U.S. Citizens are not exempt from this list, either, unless, possibly, they are here in the US (but I wouldn't bet on it).
He writes for a publication called the Intercept, a newer venture that seems to be pretty forward looking and dedicated to investigative reporting.  He was originally a producer on Democracy Now.
Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald weigh in on comments from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her rival, Bernie Sanders, who have both supported the use of drones. Scahill notes that while Clinton is often portrayed as a more hawkish "cruise missile liberal," Sanders also supported regime change in the 1990s. "Bernie Sanders signed onto neocon legislation that made the Iraq invasion possible by codifying into U.S. law that Saddam Hussein's regime must be overthrown," Scahill says, and "then supported the most brutal regime of economic sanctions in world history, that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, I want to turn to Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Last year, Guardian columnist Owen Jones questioned her about the use of drone warfare.
OWEN JONES: You're a loving parent. What would you say to the loving parents of up to 202 children who have been killed by drones in Pakistan in a program which you escalated as secretary of state?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I would argue with the premise, because, clearly, the efforts that were made by the United States, in cooperation with our allies in Afghanistan and certainly with the Afghan government, to prevent the threat that was in Pakistan from crossing the border, killing Afghans, killing Americans, Brits and others, was aimed at targets that had been identified and were considered to be threats. The numbers about potential civilian casualties, I take with a somewhat big grain of salt, because there has been other studies which have proven there not to have been the number of civilian casualties.
AMY GOODMAN: And last October on NBC's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his position on drones.
CHUCK TODD: What does counterterrorism look like in a Sanders administration? Drones? Special forces? Or what does it look like?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, all of that and more.
CHUCK TODD: You would—you're OK with the drone, using drones as—
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, drone is a weapon. When it works badly, it is terrible and it is counterproductive. When you blow up a facility or a building which kills women and children—
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: —you know what? It not only doesn't do us—it's terrible.
CHUCK TODD: But you're comfortable with the idea of using drones if you think you've isolated an important terrorist?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, yes, yes, yes.
CHUCK TODD: So, that continues in a Sanders administration.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes. And look, look, we all know, you know, that there are people, as of this moment, plotting against the United States. We have got to be vigorous in protecting our country, no question about it.
CHUCK TODD: All right.
AMY GOODMAN: That's Bernie Sanders; before that, Hillary Clinton. Jeremy Scahill, please comment.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, you know, first of all, Hillary Clinton is one of the sort of legendary Democratic hawks in modern U.S. history. She's—you know, she is what I like to call a cruise missile liberal, where—you know, they believe in launching missiles to solve problems and show they're tough across the globe. Hillary Clinton, while she was secretary of state, really oversaw what amounted to a paramilitarization of some of the State Department's divisions, and was the main employer of the private contractors that were working on behalf of the U.S. government, and was one of the key people in the horrid destruction that we're now—in creating the horrid destruction that we're now seeing in Libya, because of her embrace of regime change. But Hillary Clinton, on these issues, is sort of, you know, an easy target, because she is so open about her militaristic tendencies.
But Bernie Sanders, in a way, has been given a sort of pass on these issues. Recently at a Democratic town hall meeting, Bernie Sanders was asked directly about whether or not he supports the kill list. The actual term "the kill list" was used in an interview with him. And he said that the way that Obama is currently implementing it, he supports. You know, Bernie Sanders goes after Hillary Clinton all the time for being a regime change candidate—and he's right—and blasting her for her alliance with people like Henry Kissinger. But let's be clear: Bernie Sanders in the 1990s was a supporter and signed onto legislation that was authored by Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol and these notorious neocons, who created the disaster of the Iraq invasion with Democratic support. Bernie Sanders signed onto the key document that—the legislation that was created as a result of the Project for a New American Century, demanding that Bill Clinton make regime change in Iraq the law of the land. Bernie Sanders then voted for that bill, which, again, was largely authored by Donald Rumsfeld and the neocons. Bernie Sanders then supported the most brutal regime of economic sanctions in world history, that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. He supported the bombings in Iraq under President Clinton, under the guise of the so-called no-fly zones, the longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam. Bernie Sanders was about regime change. Bernie Sanders signed onto neocon-led legislation that made the Iraq invasion possible by codifying into U.S. law that Saddam Hussein's regime must be overthrown. So, when Bernie Sanders wants to hammer away at Hillary Clinton on this, go ahead. You are 100 percent right. She's definitely the politics of empire right there. But Bernie Sanders needs to be asked about his embrace of regime change, because the policies that he supported in the 1990s were the precursor to the disastrous war in Iraq that he hammers on all the time without ever acknowledging his own role in supporting the legislation that laid the groundwork for it.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, I'm going to give you the last word on this. You, too, have been writing about these candidates.
GLENN GREENWALD: It's actually kind of amazing there's nobody with a more adept skill at being able to just selectively concentrate on some things, while ignoring unpleasant things, than the Democratic partisan. I mean, Jeremy is right that Bernie Sanders has been given a pass, but that's because Democrats have largely chosen to ignore foreign policy as part of the Democratic primary, because they simply don't care. They only pretend to oppose wars when there's a Republican in office and doing so can lead to partisan gain. So Hillary goes around the world vowing to get even closer to Netanyahu, to take our relationship with Israel to the next level, refuses even to talk about Palestinians like they're human. She is responsible for one of the worst disasters of the last five or six years, which is the NATO intervention in Libya, and obviously supports President Obama's bellicose policies and wants to escalate them. She criticizes him for not being aggressive enough. And yet Democrats just simply pretend none of that exists. They don't care how many people outside the borders of the United States are killed by a Democratic president. And so Bernie has gotten a pass, unjustifiably, and hasn't been asked about the things Jeremy described, because Democrats collectively—with some exceptions, but more or less generally—have decided to ignore all of the heinous things that Democrats do outside of the borders of the United States, because paying attention to them reflects so poorly on Hillary, and they just ignore things that reflect poorly on her.
AMY GOODMAN: And Donald Trump? Today, a key primary could determine whether he gets the nod to be the Republican candidate for president, in Indiana?
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I mean, I just think it's—in some sense, Washington, D.C.—not the United States, but Washington, D.C.—is getting exactly the election they deserve. These are the two most unpopular presidential candidates ever to run, I think, in 30 years. They have the highest unfavorable ratings of any nominees in decades. The only thing they're able to do to one another is try and be as toxic and nasty and destructive as possible, because everybody has already decided, more or less, that they're so unlikable. And so, it's going to be the opposite of an inspiring election. It's just going to be two extremely unpopular people trying to destroy the other on both a personal level, backed by huge amounts of money and serving more or less the same interests. And I think the two parties and the establishment leaders in Washington, and the people who support and run that whole system, have gotten exactly the election that they deserve. Unfortunately, Americans are going to have to suffer along with them.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, and I want to thank you both for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, author with the staff of The Intercept of The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program. It's out today.
And that does it for our broadcast. I'll be speaking tonight in Atlanta at the First Iconium Baptist Church, 542 Moreland Avenue Southeast, then on to Washington state. Spokane, I'll be speaking Wednesday night, Olympia Thursday, Seattle Friday,Mount Vernon Saturday, then Eugene and Portland, Oregon, on Sunday. Check
Special thanks to Denis Moynihan, Mike Burke.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gaddafi and Isis



            We pointed out years ago what a positive force Gaddafi was.  Ever since we bombed the country and helped the Religious Fanatics kill him (we wanted to save the live of the innocent in Benghazi), the country has gone to hell and become a cesspool of idiocy -- about the same as Washington D.C. but without the beheadings.  During the last Republican Inquisition of Hillary the tongue Clinton, they delved into Benghazi.  A worthwhile effort if only it were directed at why Obama joined a group of military aggressors there to "defend" it from Gaddafi. 

            During the pre-slaughter hysteria we published a history of Gaddafi, but it was banned by such organizations as Facebook (idiots abound).  You can find the history at this site so there is no reason to repeat it.  All we need to do now is bring things up to date as there is once again interest in Libya as a result of ISIS or Daesh, as well as Sisi (Egypt, ISIS spelled backwards) using it to grasp at respectability.  Daesh has vowed to "cut off the tongues" of anyone who call it that,  and we can envision thousands of cut off tongues still flapping away until ravenous crows pick them up and fly away with them --  that is, unless the crows are caught and beheaded first. 

            The interviews present the case very well and there is no point summarizing them here.  [All that is left to say is, once again, 'I TOLD YOU SO!!!"]  Here they are:


Egypt Makes Libya the New Front in Anti-ISIS War, 4 Years After NATO Left Chaos Behind

Four years after the U.S.-led bombing campaign toppled Muammar Gaddafi’s government, Libya is in a state of crisis. On Monday, Egypt bombed Islamic State targets in Libya after the group released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Egypt claims it hit ISIS targets "precisely," but at least seven civilians, including three children, were reportedly killed in the coastal city of Derna. The attacks come as Libya faces what the United Nations calls "the worst political crisis and escalation of violence" since the U.S.-backed overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011. Two different governments claim power, each with their own parliaments and armies. A number of militant groups, including the Islamic State affiliate, are scattered in between. Will foreign governments intervene in Libya again? We are joined by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who is just back from a reporting trip in Libya, and Vijay Prashad, a professor of international studies at Trinity College and author of several books, including "Arab Spring, Libyan Winter."


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AARON MATÉ: Egypt has opened a new front in the war against ISIS. On Monday, Egyptian warplanes bombed northeastern Libya after Cairo vowed to avenge the killing of 21 Coptic Christians. Egypt claims it hit ISIS targets, quote, "precisely," but at least seven civilians, including three children, were reportedly killed in the coastal city of Derna. The bombings come after the Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of the 21 kidnapped Egyptians. The victims are led onto a beach dressed in orange jumpsuits like Guantánamo Bay prisoners. They are then beheaded one by one. The lead executioner points his knife at the camera and delivers a message to what he calls the "crusaders."
LEAD EXECUTIONER: O people, recently, you’ve seen us on the hills of as-Sham and on Dabiq’s plain, chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time, filled with spite against Islam and Muslims. And today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message: O crusaders, safety for you will be only wishes, especially when you’re fighting us all together.
AARON MATÉ: The victims were all migrant workers kidnapped late last year. There are now reports more Egyptians have been kidnapped inside Libya in recent days. The video is the first showing an Islamic State beheading outside of its strongholds in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is one of several militant groups that have emerged inside Libya since the U.S.-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Today marks four years since the official start of the Libyan revolution, which ended in Gaddafi’s ouster and death.
AMY GOODMAN: Now the country faces what the United Nations calls "the worst political crisis and escalation of violence" since that time. Two different governments run Libya, each with their own parliaments and armies. The internationally recognized government operates from the eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda, after a rival group called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli in August. A number of militant groups, including the Islamic State affiliate, are scattered in between.
Egypt’s bombing marks the first time ISIS has been targeted with strikes outside Iraq and Syria. And although it emerged in the upheaval following the 2011 intervention, there is talk now of a new foreign operation beyond the Egyptian strikes. On Monday, Italy said it would weigh attacks on the Islamic State in Libya if U.N.-backed talks fail to reconcile Libya’s rival factions. Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano called for direct NATO intervention, saying, quote, "ISIS is at the door. There is no time to waste."
The current war authorization measure before the U.S. Congress also increases the prospect of direct U.S. intervention. President Obama has asked lawmakers to grant him expansive authority to target the Islamic State anywhere in the world, beyond the current campaign in Syria and Iraq. With Washington’s ally, Egypt, starting a new front, that opens the question of whether Libya is next on the U.S. target list.
For more, we’re joined by two guests. From Cairo, we’re joined by Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now!'s correspondent and a fellow at The Nation Institute. He has just returned from a reporting trip in Libya. And joining us is Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College, columnist for the Indian magazine Frontline. He's the author of several books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter and, most recently, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. He’s joining us from Connecticut Public Television, the PBS station in Hartford.
Professor Vijay Prashad, let’s begin with you. The significance of the Egyptian strike on Libya, ISIS’s beheading of the Christian—of the Coptic Christians from Egypt?
VIJAY PRASHAD: Amy, this is not the first Egyptian airstrike in Libya. It’s reported, although Egypt denies it, that in August of last year Egyptian fighter planes, alongside fighter planes from the UAE, struck targets near Tripoli, the capital of Libya, at that time going after the escalation by Libyan Dawn to capture the city and the parliament. Libyan Dawn is dominated—it’s a coalition, but dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is of course the group that President Sisi has seen as his main enemy inside Egypt. So, when Egypt began its second round of airstrikes on Monday, the parliament in Tripoli, again, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, immediately condemned the airstrike as a violation of Libyan sovereignty. The problem with the Libyan air—the Egyptian airstrikes has been that in a very short time it has immediately opened up the polarization inside Libya, precisely the opposite political direction which Libya requires at this time, according to the United Nations.
AARON MATÉ: Well, Vijay, can you talk about how we’ve come to this point where, four years after the Libyan revolution began, now the Islamic State is claiming territory there and carrying out brutal attacks such as this one?
VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, it’s a great, you know, consternation and shame, I think, to the so-called international community that this NATO intervention of 2011 came on the heels of geopolitical wrangling between the Gulf Arab states and the Europeans. This intervention came in. It destroyed much of Libyan infrastructure at a crucial point, when Mr. Gaddafi was taken prisoner. If he had been allowed to surrender, for instance, there might have been a process opened up to bring different factions to a political table. Instead, of course, he was brutally killed, and the possibility of reconciliation at that point was squandered.
Secondly, there was no attempt by any party to bring the various revolutionaries, thethuwwar, into any kind of umbrella organization. They were allowed to have a fissiparous existence, returning to their various cities, creating—rather, you know, deepening their separation, deepening the kind of antipathy between—amongst them. And in this strange position, the NATO-backed government took power in Tripoli, where many opportunities by this government were also squandered. You know, there were oil worker strikes. There was the question of the armed militias. At no point did the government in Tripoli seem engaged by these pressing issues. Instead, one of the first acts of this government was to create a central bank. It was very interested in making deals for oil. But at really no point did they attempt a genuine political process of reconciliation inside the country. That has torn apart Libya. It alienated the east.
And for the first time in Libya, a sophisticated al-Qaeda-type group was allowed to flourish, and that was Ansar al-Sharia, which grew out in Benghazi. You know, the previous Islamist group, the Libyan international—Islamist Fighting Group, had by 2011 put itself at the service of the government, but that gesture was, as well, rebuffed.
So, I mean, I think a combination of Gulf Arab animosity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the, you know, maybe really disregard by the West, and internal problems, where the government in Tripoli, that rode into power on the backs of NATO, really alienated the population from any possibility of a future.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Sharif Abdel Kouddous into this conversation in Egypt’s capital, Cairo. Sharif, can you talk about the response right now in Egypt to Egypt’s bombing of Libya, where you just were, and who the people were who were killed in Egypt, the Coptic Christians, killed by ISIS there?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Right, well, the airing of the video really struck a chord amongst many Egyptians, especially the Coptic Christian community. The nature of the message—there was no political demands made. It was an entirely sectarian message that was delivered.
But, you know, the strikes are significant. Vijay is right that there have been covert strikes before, especially in coordination with the United Arab Emirates, on Libya by Egypt. But they’re significant insofar as they’re the first publicly acknowledged foreign military intervention by Egypt, arguably, since the Gulf War, more than—or nearly a quarter of a century ago. They claim—the Libyan army claims that they hit 95 percent of their targets and they killed over 50 militants. But, you know, that’s rarely the case, that kind of accuracy, in aerial bombing. And already Human Rights Watch has said six civilians were killed, including a mother and two children. But politically, certainly domestically, the strikes were a success. Before the airing of this video, the families of the hostages held protests against the government, accusing the government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of not doing enough to release the hostages. But since the airstrikes, Sisi has received widespread support. He’s seen as having acted swiftly and decisively. The state and private media, which is really a vocal chorus for Sisi, is whipping up a lot of nationalist sentiment. The army has been deployed to the streets to, quote-unquote, "protect" citizens. And really, the war on terror is Sisi’s source of legitimacy. It’s hisraison d’être. So, this is all playing into that vein.
In terms of the 21 Coptic Christian men, the majority of them all came from one small village in central Egypt called Al-Our. And they were, like tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians do, migrant workers who left Egypt to search for better wages in Libya. They can earn up to seven times the paltry sums they can earn here in Egypt in Libya’s oil-rich economy. They ended up in Sirte, which is a coastal city in central Libya that was the birthplace of Gaddafi but has since become a stronghold for militants, especially groups like Ansar al-Sharia, which was accused of killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in 2012, but has since been infiltrated by even more extreme militants. And survivors who evaded capture by the militants really describe a harrowing ordeal, where these militants were coming house by house, calling out these migrant workers by name, leaving the Muslims and taking the Coptic Christian men. And so, it really was—I think sent shockwaves through much of Egypt to see this video aired.
AMY GOODMAN: And the response of Egyptian society in terms of religions? Why Coptic Christians, do you think, were targeted? And the place of Coptic Christians in greater Egyptian society?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, this is not the first time Coptic Christians have been targeted in Libya. A doctor and his wife and daughter were killed in December. There have been other incidents, as well. We can only look to the—what the statement by the Islamic State group was, and it was calling for revenge for the Coptic Christian crusade, and this very overtly sectarian nature of the attacks. Egypt has a Coptic Christian minority, which is about 10 percent of the population. And they suffer from discrimination in various types of laws, of how they can build churches and other ways of discrimination, as well, in terms of marriage laws and so forth. So, you know, this really struck a chord within the community, but I think, overall, there is now in Egyptian society this hyped-up sentiment for war, and there’s a lot of support, it seems, for these airstrikes.
AARON MATÉ: And, Sharif, you were just in Libya, this bombing coming just as the U.N. is trying to broker some kind of deal between the two rival factions that claim two different governments, with two different armies, in parliament. What can you tell us about the internal conflict inside Libya and how these Egyptian strikes might affect them?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, you know, there’s a power struggle that’s engulfing the country, as Vijay outlined. And Libya is really—to go there, it’s really—it’s hardly a country anymore. It’s really a torn stretch of land, and Libyans have to negotiate a minefield of regional, political and tribal conflicts just in order to survive. You have these two rival coalitions, which are opposed to each other, each with their own array of militias, each with their own prime minister and government, and each claiming legitimacy. You have in the east, in Bayda and Tobruk, the internationally recognized government that is allied with Khalifa Haftar, a former general who has waged a battle against Islamist militias in Benghazi, and they were forced out of the capital in a weeks-long battle over the summer. And in the west, in Tripoli, where the Oil Ministry is, where the National Oil Corporation is, you have the self-declared government, which, very broadly speaking, is backed by an array of militias which are Islamist-aligned, but also has a tactical alliance with very extreme militias over whom they have no control.
And so, this conflict has been raging, has caused massive displacement, has created a void in which groups like the Islamic State group can flourish, really. And there was one driver that we had at one point, and he gave a telling quote, saying, "In the east, they assume I’m Fajr," which is the Libya Dawn; "In the west, they assume I’m Karama," which is Haftar’s; "And in Derna, they wanted to behead me," referring to the Islamic State group. And so, this is the kind of political situation that Libyans find themselves in. And the politicians seem to be operating in a different realm from ordinary Libyans, a realm that has everything to do with power and very little to do with governing.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former head ofNATO. Speaking to Britain’s Channel 4 Monday, he said foreign boots will be needed on the ground in Libya.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: The brief answer is we will need boots on the ground. It’s clear that you can’t—you can’t do the job through air campaigns alone. You need boots on the ground. The only question is, which boots? And in that respect, I do believe that countries in the region should play a major role in deploying such forces. But they can’t do that, and they won’t do that, unless the West supports.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former head of NATO. Which boots on the ground, Professor Vijay Prashad? What about what he’s saying—not only should there be, but which ones?
VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, you know, it’s interesting because Mr. Rasmussen has categorically over the last four years said that NATO should not get involved in Syria, because it’s too complicated and the issue is fraught with all kinds of consequences. In Libya, on the other hand, you know, there’s an attitude towards it, which is that it’s a playground. You know, you can encourage intervention. You can let people come in.
I mean, I think it’s a very dangerous attitude for the simple reason that unless the political question is somewhat settled, talking about sending boots on the ground, whether Egyptian or Algerian, is, I think, a mistake. What I’m trying to say is that there is an Arab cold war that’s broken out in northern Africa, where, you know, on the one side you have Saudi Arabia with Egypt, perhaps, with the UAE, on the other side you have Qatar, and you have Turkey. You have these countries that are helping fuel internal disagreements. And until there’s an understanding that these external actors need to stop providing succor to internal contradictions, and until the U.N. is able to bring these internal parties to sit down and construct some kind of political dialogue which is real, to talk about sending in boots on the ground is only going to exacerbate matters.
If Egypt enters with its considerable military into Libya, this is going to create a great deal of, you know, problems with Qatar. And God knows what they would do. Meanwhile, of course, the Islamic State is looking forward to greater Egyptian intervention, because—and one of the reasons that they are going after the Copts is not only because their preferred, you know, enemy, the Shia, are nonexistent in Libya, but also they’ve been seeking a way to create greater fractures in Egypt itself, to insinuate themselves in Egypt.
So the idea of having boots on the ground, without putting great pressure on the major Arab countries in the region to sort of cool it on their own internal fights that are greatly affecting Libyan politics, until that happens, I fear that it’s naïve to talk about airstrikes, and it is incredibly naïve and duplicitous to talk about boots on the ground.
AARON MATÉ: Well, Vijay, on the issue of naïveté, looking back, Libya was hailed as a model for humanitarian intervention after Gaddafi was overthrown and killed. Now, though, I imagine, as the country unravels and descends into this resting ground for Islamist militant groups like ISIS, defenders of the NATO intervention will point back to Benghazi. At the time, there appeared to be, at least in my opinion, back then, a credible threat that Gaddafi was going to carry out a massacre in Benghazi, and the argument was that something had to be done. Now, putting aside what NATO’s actual motives were, the threat of a massacre did seem credible, but I’m wondering, looking back now, what we know in hindsight, do you think that that particular pretext of preventing atrocities in Benghazi stands up to scrutiny?
VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, you know, it depends what you’re going to look at. If you’re going to look at the evidence that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International produced after the worst part of the NATO bombing ended, it’s not clear that the casualty rates that had been claimed by—particularly by the Saudi media, which was Al Arabiya, it’s not clear that those casualty rates were accurate. In fact, they were greatly exaggerated, so that the claim by Al Arabiya that there were already massacres in Misurata, that there was a massacre in Ras Lanuf, etc., turns out in the end not to have been true.
Now, it’s not to say that the Gaddafi government wasn’t prepared to conduct, you know, very brutal violence in the east and in cities in the center, but you have to recognize—and this is what I think the international media at the time wasn’t willing to inhale—you have to recognize that in the east Gaddafi’s military largely defected to the rebellion, so that the battalion and the air command in Benghazi was on the side of the rebellion. There had already been aerial strikes by rebel aircraft against Gaddafi boats that were in the Mediterranean.
So what I’m saying is that there was a very complicated situation at the time. You know, mainly Saudi media, and then pushed by various international media, including CNN, began to drum up this idea that there was a massacre. I remember, in the U.N. Security Council, ambassadors talking about getting their information from the international media. That struck me as really very, very disturbing, particularly given the fact that credible human rights organizations, after the fact, showed that the numbers had been greatly exaggerated by news media, particularly by Al Arabiya.
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif Abdel Kouddous, before we end this segment, could you comment, on the ground, just having been in Libya, about the humanitarian crisis there?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Right. Libya—ordinary Libyans are really suffering. There is massive displacement. The U.N. estimates about 400,000 have been displaced. Many of them are living in schools. Many have left the country altogether. Many civil society activists, journalists, writers have left under threats. Those Libyans who do want to leave, because they can find no more life in Libya, find that the world has rejected them. Many complain that they can’t get visas because they’re Libyan.
And most of the displaced that we saw were from Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, which is the birthplace of the revolution and is now really the epicenter of the disaster. People describe completely bombed-out neighborhoods. They said it looks like Aleppo. There is neighborhood youth who are armed, manning checkpoints all over the city. And, you know, just the simple truth of where you’re from can determine your fate.
So—and just overall dysfunction has really become a way of life in Libya. Libyans are forced to bear the burden of the conflict as it tears away the last vestiges of normalcy. Traveling across the country is arduous. Delays at airports can literally take days. If you want to take a—go by car, then you’re going to risk checkpoints and kidnapping and different militias, which you have to negotiate. In the east, particularly, there’s very bad electricity shortages. There’s fuel shortages. We were in Bayda, which is the seat of the internationally recognized government. They are experiencing a huge influx of refugees there, of displaced. This has caused rents to go up, food prices to go up. There’s food shortages.
The crisis is most acutely felt in the hospital, where, for example, we went to the kidney treatment center, which is receiving now three times more patients. And so, for dialysis, they have to ration treatment. And a technician told us how this is reducing the lifespan of patients. He told it to us in English, because he was saying it as a patient was getting dialysis. He spoke of how his own niece, his newborn niece, died because they couldn’t find a very simple tube for a blood transfusion that she needed, and she died before they could even name her.
And in Tripoli, you know, you see masked gunmen at checkpoints at night for the first time. They’ve never been masked before. The streets are deserted. You speak to government officials—the defense minister, Khalifa al-Ghwel, was telling us how safe Tripoli was. The very next day, armed militants stormed the biggest hotel in Tripoli, the Corinthia Hotel, and killed nine people, including a number of foreigners. So, this is really—it’s really quite a disaster for ordinary Libyans. And there needs to be some kind of political solution on the ground, because, you know, jihadists thrive on more war, and this whole talk of more conflict, I don’t think will solve much in the long term.
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, we want to ask you to stay with us in our next segment to briefly update us on the Al Jazeera journalists who are now going on trial, who must remain in Egypt, but they are out on bail. Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now!'s correspondent in Cairo and a fellow at The Nation Institute, recently returned from a reporting trip inside Libya. And thank you so much to Professor Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College, columnist for the Indian magazine Frontline, author of a number of books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter and, most recently, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. This is Democracy Now! 

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