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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:00 am 
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Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now June 3, 2011

NATO in Libya, America, and the "Arab Spring"

It's been a while since I wrote a blog entry and I haven't yet expressed my opposition to the US-begun and financed "NATO" bombing of Libya. This is not a popular position, or did not seem so at the time. Liberals who "love freedom" as well as Arab friends who hate the toppling dictators were aghast at the mere thought of failing to intervene, of relying only on sanctions, letting the internal conflict in Libya follow its own course, rather than taking military action. This bombing is supposed to be an essential "humanitarian" gesture. Qaddafi is obviously a crazy dictator. The rebels wanted outside help. It has made a difference to them materially and psychologically.

But opposition to this venture has grown. There's reason to doubt that the rebels are winning. There has been collateral damage from the bombings. There's a move in the Congress to pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan -- and Libya. Libya is a third war, and Obama has overstepped his constitutional bounds in initiating it. The US economy is stagnant, unemployment is at record highs. Overall, it's time to give up the idea that America is the world's peacekeeper, savior -- and, covertly, ruler. So there are many reasons for opposing the outside forces' intervention in Libya. For me, it is simply a violent solution to a violent problem. The situation in Libya was very bad, but that did not justify intervention.

From a purely tactical viewpoint, selective bombing to "protect" a rebel movement is dubious and dangerous. And since that is true, consider this: How much is the bombing at its roots just a gesture, and therefore incredibly cynical on the part of Sarkozy, Obama, and the other leaders who instigated it? Obviously all US government actions arise from self interest and there have been long-term regime change plans for Libya in the Pentagon. In part they arise from a long-nurtured hatred of Qaddafi -- and from anger at having him in control of the country's major oil reserves. Seymour Hersh recently has noted the "silly" old grudge against him for demanding 20 percent on oil sales when even Saddam Hussein in his heyday only demanded 10 percent.

Arguments may still go on about whether the Israeli "tail" wags the American "dog," but Hersh's recent New Yorker article focuses, anyway, on how Washington resolutely mis-assesses Iran's nuclear threat. The most advanced US intelligence sources yet can find no proof of nuclear weapons being built in Iran or of a military threat to North America and yet the government could be poised to go to war on false pretenses just as it did with Iraq in 2003. This topic might seem a detour from my main subject, but it just illustrates how the US continues to seek fanciful, imperialistic military solutions to what for it are nonexistent problems. In a Democracy Now! interview inspired by his New Yorker piece Hersh called Obama's war in Afghanistan and Pakistan (it is his now, isn't it?) "A disaster. Stupid."

Hersh also says the brutality of the repression in Bahrain is greater than in Syria and a terribly under-reported story, partly no doubt because of Washington's friendlier relations with Bahrain, long-term chilliness toward Syria. The same action of popular revolt has produced different results. Every dictator tries to repress the revolt, but in Tunisia he left the country. In Egypt he resigned. In Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, he has kept on fighting. In all the countries, including Tunisia and Egypt, the remains of the regime have been tenacious and establishing a new democratic government seems like a very long, slow, difficult process, with the outcome uncertain. Revolutions don't by any means guarantee democracies.

The cause for hope, as I've been saying, is that the spirit of Tahrir Square, Pearl Roundabout, and the other centers of brave popular revolt will be impossible to crush any time in the future now (and Sy Hersh reiterated that in his Democracy Now! interview). But the US power to cause trouble reigns over the planet still. From the perspective of the Middle East, the whole world changed in January 2011. But some aspects haven't changed at all. The US has continued to sink as a First World nation and as a world power, but Washington has not adjusted to no longer being the Alpha Dog in every situation. Keep watching the Arab World: that perspective will be one of the best ones from which to observe how much the global power structure is shifting.

[Blog post of Tuesday, June 14, 2011]

NOTE: On Wed., June 15, 2011 it was reported that a bipartisan group of House lawmakers led by Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) are suing the White House over the use of military force in Libya.

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