'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Survival of a Sociopath 

UPDATE 2: Richard Perle and the many neoconservative friends of Muammar Gaddafi:

Perle traveled to Libya as a paid adviser to the Monitor Group, a prestigious Boston-based consulting firm with close ties to leading professors at the Harvard Business School. The firm named Perle a senior adviser in 2006.

The Monitor Group described Perle’s travel to Libya and the recruitment of several other prominent thinkers and former officials to burnish Libya’s and Qadhafi’s image in a series of documents obtained and released by a Libyan opposition group, the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition, in 2009.

The Monitor Group did not return phone calls left at its Boston offices Monday. But Monitor describes, in a series of documents published by the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition in 2009, an action plan to introduce and bring to Libya a meticulously selected group of independent and objective experts who would be invited to Libya, meet senior officials, hold lectures, attend workshops, and write articles that would more positively portray Libya and its controversial ruler.

A 2007 Monitor memo named among the prominent figures it had recruited to travel to Libya and meet with Qadhafi as part of the Project to Enhance the Profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi Perle, historian Francis Fukuyama, Princeton Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, famous Nixon interviewer David Frost, and MIT media lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, the brother of former deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence John Negroponte.

Hat tip to Louis Proyect

UPDATE 1: Meanwhile, in Bahrain:

More than 100,000 protesters poured into the central Pearl Square here on Tuesday in an unbroken stream stretching back for miles along a central highway in the biggest antigovernment demonstration yet in this tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

The protesters, mostly members of the Shiite majority, marched along the eastbound side of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Highway in a wide, unbroken column of red and white, the country’s colors. Men of all ages walked with women and children waving flags and calling for an end to the authoritarian government of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

In a nation of only a half a million citizens, the sheer size of the gathering was astonishing. The protest, organized by the Shiite opposition parties, began in the central Bahrain Mall, two miles from the square and seemed to fill the entire length of the highway between the two points.


lenin explains:

Even at this late hour, it would be foolish to underestimate Gadaffi's ability to just hang on, to clench Libya in a rigor mortis grip. As crazed as he manifestly is, he has demonstrated considerable shrewdness in his time. For example, as soon as the Islamist opposition started become a real threat to his regime in the late 1990s, he started to look for ways to be accepted by the US-led caste of 'good guys'. The collapse of the USSR as a supplier of military hardware, trade, and ideological and moral leadership for Third Worldist states, would also have had something to do with this. The transition was made easier after 2001, and completed in 2004 partially at the best of Anglo-American oil. Gadaffi went so far, in his attempts to win over his erstwhile opponents, as to participate in anti-Islamist counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines with international support, lavish intelligence on US agencies and even compensate the victims of Lockerbie for a crime that Libya had not committed. The Bush administration might still have resisted such serenading were it not for the eager rush of European capital into Tripoli. So, Bush and Blair turned it into a story of Gadaffi seeing the light and giving up his non-existent WMD programmes, which charade Gadaffi duly participated in. This whole sequence of events was bizarre and improbable, but it worked: the subsequent oil contracts, amid a global oil price spike produced by Bush's wars, made him and his regime very wealthy. He was also able to hang opponents in public under the pretext of a fight against 'radical Islamists'. Joining the camp of American client dictatorships enabled Gadaffi to survive until this moment.

lenin further asserts that the US and the UK find Gaddafi preferable to the revolutinary alternative. If so, that might explain these live updates today from Al Jazeera:

8.34pm: Al Jazeera's White House correspondent Patty Culhane noted that Barack Obama has himself been silent about Libya for a few days, even though he had made public statements during Egypt's similar unrest.

8.32pm: John Kerry, a US politician, called the Libyan government's use of force beyond dispicable. He called on Barack Obama to reconsider sanctions against Libya, and said he hoped these were Gaddafi's last hours in power. Kerry said the international community must send a message to Gaddafi that his cowardly actions will have consequences.

8:29pm: PJ Crowley, US department of state spokesman, calls on Libya to respect rights of the thousands of US citizens in the country. He said the White House has grave concerns over the Libyan government's response to protests.

Grave concerns. Now, that's a strong condemnation. And, what precisely are these concerns? Concerns over the brutalities inflicted upon the protesters, or concerns about the extent to which the Libyan government's response increases the prospect of a successor regime more independent of the US? Note that, as in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain, the US has failed to call upon leadership of the country to step down, sticking with the political line of reform to be administered by them. Policymakers can't seem to grasp the the notion that Gaddafi, like Mubarak, no longer has the legitimacy to carry out reforms because of his recourse to violence.

There is also the possibility that Libya is perceived by Gulf states like Saudi Arabia as a test as to whether protests in Bahrain and, potentially, even on the peninsula itself, can be effectively suppressed through violence, if necessary. For now, the jury is still out as to whether the alternative strategy of draining the energy of the revolutionaries through negotiation and the implementation of innocuous reforms, as is currently being attempted in Egypt and Bahrain will ultimately succeed. Hence, the importance of the uprising in Libya. In Libya, unlike elsewhere, Gaddafi and his apparatus have nowhere to go, they must stand and fight or die. So, Libya becomes an example of what the ruling families of the Gulf can anticipate if they believe that they can only retain power through the ruthless suppression of the populace. Gaddafi's reliance upon mercernaries is particularly significant in this context. So far, the results from Libya are not encouraging, even if the outcome is far from clear.

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