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Remember Saddam Hussain?

by Julie Hyland with General Joe and friends Sunday, Mar. 13, 2011 at 2:26 AM

"The capture of numerous British military and intelligence operatives—six SAS men and an MI5 agent—by rebel forces in Benghazi made clear that the powers that be are already hard at work to this end. It has since been revealed by the Daily Mail that ministers have approved “a presence on the ground” of the SAS and MI6, who “will link up with Special Forces already in Libya to provide protection and give informal military advice to the Libyan opposition.”

Remember Saddam Hussain?

He was a “strong man dictator.” We imposed him on the Iraqi people for a long time. He was a “bad guy” who sometimes “attacked his own people,” the Kurds in Iraq. He was a bad guy but he was our “bad guy” with lots of oil so we supplied him with lots of guns and money so that he could help mind the region for us. And now millions are dead. The killing is every day and never stops. Can you say genocide? Better still, can you say Nuremburg?

And this Gadaffi guy, he‘s a bad guy too. Guess what ? His country has lots of oil like Iraq. Not as much as Iraq which has the second largest known reserves, just the twelfth largest know reserves in the world. But have you seen gas prices these days? Still many, many, many tanker loads of cash! Can you see the Imperialism even a blind and dumb American like me sees plain as day?

Yes folks, its just about money and the rich having more of it. Damn our jobs. Damn the environment. And to hell with our kids. They say…..

And how long will we let them treat us this way? I’m not going to take it anymore. Are you? Please spread this information everywhere. General Joe


British ruling elite advance “humanitarian” cover for intervention in Libya

By Julie Hyland 
11 March 2011

Britain’s ruling elite are sharpening their neo-colonial claws once again in the guise of “humanitarian intervention”, this time utilising the suffering of the Libyan masses.

In the last days, the UK has led the way in demanding Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi “must go”, insisting “all options” in achieving a desired “regime change” are on the table.

The capture of numerous British military and intelligence operatives—six SAS men and an MI5 agent—by rebel forces in Benghazi made clear that the powers that be are already hard at work to this end. It has since been revealed by the Daily Mail that ministers have approved “a presence on the ground” of the SAS and MI6, who “will link up with Special Forces already in Libya to provide protection and give informal military advice to the Libyan opposition.”

The UK frigate Westminster and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Argus have been sent to the area, British aircraft in Malta are primed and 600 Black Watch soldiers are on 24-hour standby “to fly in and avert a humanitarian catastrophe”, the Mail continued.

A government spokesman said that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron had agreed to “press forward with planning” the next course of action should Gaddafi defy demands that he step down.

Answering questions in parliament Wednesday, Cameron would not “guarantee” that taking action would be contingent on the approval of the United Nations Security Council. He was keeping options open should the motion drafted by Britain and France for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya be vetoed. A no-fly zone would constitute an act of war, since it could be policed only by shooting down any Libyan planes breaking the ban and attacking the country’s airbases.

While the military “options” are put in place, preparing the political and legal case for intervention is more complex. Tony Blair’s infamous 2004 “deal in the desert” with Gaddafi is the cause of justified public scepticism as to the ruling elite’s sudden volte face as to the Libyan dictator.

Over the last years, government ministers, oil and business corporations through to royalty, leading universities and academics have lined up to ingratiate themselves with the brutal Gaddafi regime in return for contracts and monies: So far, indeed, that Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people, was returned to Libya from a Scottish jail in 2009 on the grounds of ill health.

Above all, Iraq looms large over the calls for “humanitarian intervention” into Libya. It is now a matter of record that Britain’s ruling elite, its intelligence services and leading ministers, wilfully lied about Iraq’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction” so as to concoct a justification for its illegal invasion in 2003. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died as a consequence, and the country laid to waste. Today, the client regime installed at the behest of Washington and London is violently repressing opposition parties and demonstrations in Baghdad.

It is against this background that the political establishment, and its media, have begun a bogus “discussion” as to the UK’s “moral” responsibility to the Libyan masses.

At the time of the Iraq war, Guardian columnist Timothy Garton Ash praised Blair for his “strong Gladstonian instincts for humanitarian intervention.” Writing in the newspaper on March 3, however, Ash acknowledged that Iraq gave “liberal intervention” a “bad name” and “Blair nearly killed it”.

“To intervene or not to intervene? [in Libya] That is the question,” he insisted.

Iraq wasn’t really a liberal intervention at all, Garton Ash continued, although “liberal arguments” were used, and “some liberals supported” the war and occupation. Among the real reasons for the invasion was Washington’s desire to project its overwhelming military superiority and to establish control over Iraq’s oil, he acknowledged, as if similar considerations did not apply in Libya.

Instead, with twisted logic, he claimed, “The fact that western countries like Britain and Italy were until very recently sucking up to Gaddafi in the most craven fashion, and selling him weapons that he can now turn against his own people” made it more vital to pose the question as to how long to wait before intervening in the country.

Although unconvinced at the efficacies of a no-fly zone, “We should prepare contingency plans,” he argued.

Writing in the Independent, Geoffrey Robertson QC—a member of the UN's justice council—concurred that the “shadow of Iraq invasion illegality has tainted talk of ‘liberal interventionism’.”

Despite this, “The lesson of Iraq is not that this country should never use force against another, but that never again should it do so in breach of international law.”

Robertson outlined what he described as his “contested” view that intervention into Libya could be legally justified.

“[T]he use of force by Nato [is] not merely ‘legitimate’ but lawful” to stop murder of innocent civilians, he wrote, citing the “safe havens” operation by the US, UK and France in northern Iraq supposedly to protect the Kurdish population and the NATO bombing of Kosovo. Moreover, the rule of law was developing to “allow ‘coalitions of the willing’ to use appropriate force to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe”.

Such a coalition could intervene with force if the Security Council had “identified a situation as a threat to world peace”, Robertson went on. It had already done so, he argued, by referring Libya “unanimously to the ICC prosecutor”.

On Thursday, former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell and Philippe Sands QC made a similar argument, in the Guardian, in favour of intervention. It was necessary to establish an “enforceable no-fly zone” and ensure arms supplies to the opposition, they wrote. While “the debacle of Iraq” meant that this could not “be led by Britain and the US”, the two countries should provide “active support” to the Arab League, African Union and Gulf Cooperation Council in implementing such measures.

The depiction of the Iraq invasion as an aberrant departure from the supposedly “just war” against Yugoslavia is false. Only in the last months, a report by the Council of Europe detailed fascistic crimes carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) prior to, during and after NATO’s war—including the murder of Serb and Kosovan Albanian civilian prisoners to sell their body organs.

KLA commander and current Prime Minister Hachim Thaci is accused of heading a criminal network involved in murder, prostitution and drug trafficking and placing Kosovo under “mafia-like structures of organised crime”.

Kosovo and Iraq are part of a continuum in the efforts of the US and its allies to assert their geo-political interests in strategic regions in the face of growing competition from major rivals.

To claim that no such considerations are involved today is wilful deception. If anything, they are even more pressing. The US stands at the centre of the world financial crisis, and its economic and political decline is even more gravely threatened by the popular unrest sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa.

The situation is graver still for the British bourgeoisie, which has long relied on the dominance of US imperialism to shore up its own weakening world position. Writing in the Telegraph, Sir Richard Dalton, former British ambassador to Libya, warned of the danger of a stalemate whereby neither Gaddafi nor the opposition could land the knock-out blow.

“Amid the uncertainties”, he wrote, “Britain and its partners must explore actively and seriously how international armed humanitarian intervention could be undertaken urgently.”

“There are bad memories in Libya of European and US involvement in their affairs”, he warned, so planners and diplomats would “have to weigh their choice of national contingents for any armed intervention carefully.”

Several factors made a coalition behind intervention a possibility—not least that oil prices are around 0 a barrel, so causing “alarm for the world economy”.

Just as pressing as oil and business contracts are the counterrevolutionary designs of British imperialism. For decades it has relied on the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East and North Africa to guard its interests against the impoverished and oppressed masses. That is why, even as they were taking measures to forcibly put down opposition in their own countries, Cameron led a delegation of UK arms manufacturers on a trade tour of the various Gulf despots.

Tellingly, the Guardian reported that one concern amongst “senior British military officials” as to “committing British forces to Libya” was that “they may be needed in the event of crises in other countries, notably Bahrain and Oman”. “The Gulf states, bases for British warships and aircraft, are of greater significance strategically for the UK than Libya, whose main interest is commercial, they indicated.”


France recognises Libyan opposition leadership

By Patrick O’Connor 
11 March 2011

The French government of President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday extended official diplomatic recognition to the so-called Libyan Interim Transitional National Council, the first outside government to do so.

According to Agence France Presse, the Sarkozy administration will also recommend to its counterparts at a European Union summit concluding today that Gaddafi’s command headquarters be bombed.

These aggressive and unilateral interventions into Libyan affairs comes amid planning in Washington, Brussels and at the UN Security Council on forcing the collapse of the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi faces a challenge from the opposition National Council that was formed last month, after mass protests broke out against Gaddafi’s rule in the east of the country.

There is discussion of air strikes, no-fly zones and other military measures aiming to install a client government in Tripoli friendly to transnational oil companies and the strategic interests of the Western powers.

By recognising the National Council, Paris is potentially throwing a lifeline to the organisation, which faces an increasingly difficult situation in fighting inside Libya. Gaddafi’s forces have recaptured Zawiyah, an oil port and refinery city 50 kilometres to the west of Tripoli, and also the important oil processing centre of Ras Lanuf on the Gulf of Sirte, in the east of the country.

The government’s use of the air force reportedly played an important role in each battle. Warplanes reportedly bombed another oil town, Brega, about 80 kilometres east of Ras Lanuf.

The French government’s provocative stance was hailed by the Benghazi-based leadership. Mustafa Gheriani, a media organiser at the opposition headquarters, told the media that the diplomatic recognition is the “first nail in the coffin of Gaddafi.” He added: “France is playing the role of breaking the ice for the European Union. We expect all Europe to follow.”

French imperialism is aggressively advancing its interests—not least those of its main oil firm, Total—in a region where it previously had significant colonial possessions.

France’s diplomatic recognition paves the way for billions of dollars in oil revenues and frozen Libyan financial assets to be handed over to the self-appointed leadership of the anti-Gaddafi forces based in the eastern city of Benghazi. The extraordinary decision was made despite the fact that the opposition leadership is unelected, its composition remains unclear, and many of its leading members are former Gaddafi government members, including council head Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the government’s former justice minister.

A meeting of European Union foreign ministers imposed further measures against the Libyan government. It added five financial institutions, including the billion Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan central bank, to its sanctions list. Discussions will continue today, and will reportedly include a decision to extend the sanctions to Libya’s state-owned oil company.

Each of the major European powers is seeking to advance its own imperialist interests in Libya and the Middle East. Britain and France have presented a united demand for the imposition of a no-fly zone, but they are themselves divided on certain issues. British Foreign Minister William Hague appeared to reject suggestions that his government would quickly follow France’s recognition of the opposition leadership. “We recognise states rather than groups within states,” he pointedly said.

A meeting of NATO defence ministers yesterday agreed to move warships in the Mediterranean Sea closer to Libya, including a German frigate and an Italian cruiser and minesweepers. The ships will increase surveillance of Libya and monitor the arms embargo against the country.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the vessels would “improve NATO’s situational awareness and contribute to our surveillance and monitoring capability, including with regard to the arms embargo”. He added that there were three conditions for an intervention: “Firstly, there has to be demonstrable need for NATO action. Secondly, there has to be a clear legal basis. And thirdly, there has to be firm regional support.”

The National Council has played a thoroughly reactionary role throughout the anti-Gaddafi uprising. The movement was triggered by workers and young Libyans, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and driven by the same issues as their North African counterparts: social inequality, mass unemployment, limited education opportunities, “free market” reform and privatisation programs, and government repression and corruption.

The National Council represents a section of the Libyan ruling elite that, from the very beginning of the uprising, rushed to hijack and pre-empt the unfolding revolt. For this layer, ousting Gaddafi is a means to promote its own political and economic interests.

The official opposition leadership is just as hostile as the Gaddafi regime towards any challenge to capitalist property relations in Libya.

It has consistently directed its appeals not to the social aspirations of the working class, but to the major powers. Al Jazeera yesterday reported that the “national transitional council, based in Benghazi, says it will respect all oil contracts signed by Libya.” Opposition spokesman Hafiz Ghoga added: “We are seeking to increase our production of oil, but the bombardment of certain oil industry locations will definitely affect our levels of production.”

This statement pointed to the financial and strategic calculations behind any no-fly zone that may be imposed by the US and European powers.

Significant tactical divisions are emerging among the major powers and inside the US government itself on how to effectively intervene in Libya, however.

The UN Security Council deadlocked yesterday over whether to vote for a no-fly zone, with Russia and China opposing any moves towards even tentative military action.

Washington yesterday joined the German government in rejecting, at least for now, British and French moves to have NATO impose a no-fly zone. Defense Secretary Gates said that contingency planning would continue, but “that’s the extent of it as far as a no-fly zone is concerned.” Gates added that the arms embargo on Libya would not be enforced by military force unless this was authorised by the UN Security Council.

Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, declared: “One thing for the German government is absolutely clear—we do not want to get sucked into a war in North Africa.” Westerwelle added that Sarkozy’s diplomatic recognition of the Benghazi leadership appeared to have been decided “on a whim.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday told the House Appropriations Committee that she would speak with the Libyan opposition leadership when she visited Tunisia and Egypt next week. But, the New York Times noted, Clinton “appeared far more cautious about military intervention than she was a week ago, aligning herself more closely with the warnings offered by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.”

“Absent international authorisation, the United States acting alone would be stepping into a situation whose consequences are unforeseeable,” the secretary of state declared. Clinton warned that no-fly zones and air strikes may not advance the US regime-change drive in Libya, saying the no-fly zone imposed over Iraq in the 1990s “did not prevent Saddam Hussein from slaughtering people on the ground and it did not get him out of office.”

Whether the US military, already fighting two neo-colonial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is capable of this action is another question. Within the senior command there is clearly disquiet over the implications of war with Libya, especially as Gaddafi appears to gaining the upper hand on the ground.

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress that in the longer term “the regime will prevail” because of its superior firepower. Clapper added that Libyan air defences are “quite substantial”, second only to Egypt among Arab countries.

During the Armed Services Committee hearing, Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed with Clapper. “Right now he [Gaddafi] seems to have staying power, unless some other dynamic changes at this time,” he said, adding that momentum “has started to shift” to the regime’s forces. Burgess also acknowledged that imposing a no-fly zone “would be considered an act of war.”

Some White House officials appeared to challenge these assessments, however. Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told journalists that Clapper had provided a “static assessment” of the situation. “But if you look at it through a ‘dynamic lens’, taking into account motivation, isolation, Gaddafi’s loss of legitimacy ... you can come up with a different assessment,” Donilon declared.

Spread widely fast! General Joe

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