Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 19, 2013

Lesser evil ideologues who used the same photographer?

Filed under: separated at birth? — louisproyect @ 7:12 pm

Maximilian Forte

Tireless propagandist for Middle East strong men like Muammar Qaddafi and Bashar al-Assad who are preferable to the horrid Islamists who will destroy the beneficent secular welfare-state unless stopped by any means necessary, including extraordinary renditions done in collaboration with the CIA and cluster bombs.

Bill Fletcher Jr.

Master of the “lesser evil” arguments for Barack Obama and other sleazy liberal politicians who must be supported against the dreadful Republicans who will attack Social Security and violate the right to habeas corpus in pursuit of “terrorists”.

1 Comment »

  1. August 31, 2011

    Dear Professor Forte,

    I saw your article on Counter Punch, today,

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/31/the-top-ten-myths-in-the-war-against-libya/

    on Libya.

    Among your many points was this in section 3: “Nor did Khadafy ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi.” 

    Benghazi was the political center of the revolt, where the people who constituted the group that challenged Gaddafi for national power resided. Gaddafi certainly threatened to kill people who remained in, and allied with this group. This would include a wide variety of people, most civilians, some ex-Gaddafi military and ex-government officials. Benghazi, being the capital of the opposition, would thus be in the cross-hairs of Gaddafi’s wrath more so than any other town. So, I don’t believe it correct to guess that the fate of Benghazi under a Gaddafi re-occupation would have been as benign as that of the towns Gaddafi’s forces overran on the push east from Tripoli in February and March.

    I don’t think Gaddafi would have ordered a blanket massacre of Benghazi residents, but I think he was intent to kill people thought to be opposed to his rule, and such judgments would likely be summary. So “massacre” may be too imprecise a word for what was intended, “purge” seems more accurate. In a purge, the killings are selected, not random (as in massacres at Sand Creek in 1864, and Sabra and Shatila in 1982), yet purges can still be similar to massacres in that both can have large numbers of victims (e.g., Stalin’s purges). 

    A recent article,

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/08/former-qaddafi-mercenaries-describe-fighting-in-libyan-war/244356/

    describes the experiences in the Libyan war of a Tuareg fighter who was a mercenary for Gaddafi. He states his firm belief that had Gaddafi forces entered Benghazi, he would have been put to work killing “everyone.”

    Here are three excerpts from that article:

    When the protests began in Tripoli, his unit was attached to the infamous 32nd brigade, led by Qaddafi’s son Khamis, and was sent to disperse the unarmed marchers. “That was easy,” he said with startling nonchalance. “We would kill three or four in the front of the crowd and they all ran away. It was very easy.”

    Abdullah’s unit moved on to Brega and then to the outskirts of Benghazi. “We were six kilometers [about four miles] from Benghazi when the first NATO bombs hit us.”

    I asked about Qaddafi’s February speech, in which he pledged to hunt down protesters house by house and what his men were ordered to do if they encountered civilians. He paused before answering, “To be honest, it is true. We believed what Qaddafi told us. We believed we would go there and kill everyone.” (end excerpts)

    I think most armchair analysts who have taken an interest (a passionate interest?) in the Libyan revolt will hold firm convictions that they use as prisms that they refract the facts through to select those shades of meaning that harmonize with their sentiments. The full-spectrum reality has a tangled mixture of good, bad and indifferent, but passionate commentators will tend to amplify the “good” and mute the “bad” in the particular narrow-angle perspective they favor. 

    Given what “Abdullah”, the Gaddafi mercenary (up to $1000/day), believed his marching orders to be as he was within 6 km of Benghazi in late March, can you see some validity to the fears motivating interventionist in this case? This is a rhetorical question only.

    Other paragraphs in the Atlantic magazine story will describe the Malian mercenaries (about 10,000 it seems), and the potential for civil unrest in Mali as these veterans return, many with their Kalashnikov rifles. This will contradict some of what you write in section 4 (“African Mercenaries”) of your article.

    In point 8 (on the rebels), you write:

    and, reports of the active role of “radical Islamist” militias embedded within the overall insurgency, with some pointing to Al Qaeda connections. (end quote)

    I think you were restrained in this use of Islamophobia, compared to other anti-interventionist commentators. In the same issue of CP as your article, there appear articles by Patrick Cockburn “Islamists at the Heart of the Libyan Revolution”, and Wajahat Ali “Selling Islamophobia”. Is no irony detected by the editors? Ali’s article is about right-wingers like Representative Peter King of New York, who are witch-hunting, Islamic people in the U.S. being the target this time. I think it unfortunate to see this similarity of fear mongering between “left-wing” and “right-wing” advocates.

    Perhaps as we each gain new facts about the Libyan Revolution, and as it evolves as a national government, we will each revise some of our previous convictions (our fact decomposition prisms), and reinterpret the history we saw unfold so achingly. Then again, perhaps not.

    Regards,

    Manuel Garcia, Jr.

    Comment by Manuel Garcia, Jr. — February 19, 2013 @ 9:49 pm


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