Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 21, 2011

Is Qaddafi an anti-racist?

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 3:33 pm

Professor Maximilian Forte

Over on MRZine (where else, of course) you will find a lengthy article (The War in Libya: Race, “Humanitarianism ” and the Media) by a Professor Maximilian Forte from Concordia University in Canada that is a tortured defense of the idea that Qaddafi and his opponents represent the best and worst of Libyan society. Qaddafi is painted as a kind of John Brown fighter for African liberation and those fighting to overthrow him are a Libyan version of the Ku Klux Klan. To give you an idea of how loaded this article is, you will not find a single reference to “Berlusconi” throughout.

It starts with a reference to the BBC report that quotes an unnamed Turk to the effect that 70 or 80 of his co-workers from Chad were cut dead with pruning shears and axes. As I have pointed out before, this managed to escape the attention of other reporters. A search of Nexis for articles containing references to Turk, Chad and Libya reveals absolutely nothing but that does not seem to prevent pro-Qaddafi leftists from repeating this charge. This is especially ironic given that Forte is complaining about media bias in this article. Imagine if the BBC had the same kind of report about Serbs butchering Kosovars that was unsubstantiated. Well, it did as a matter of fact. That’s how the war in Kosovo started.

Although Forte is a tenured professor, he seems rather averse to providing footnotes for statements such as this:

First, it was right from the intended start of the national protests (that is, Feb. 17 — although protests in fact began two days earlier) that several opposition spokesmen, anonymous “Libyan” Twitter accounts, and other persons who would become associated with the insurgents’ “Transitional National Council” (TNC) produced the paradox of racial/racist hysteria and humanitarian intervention.

Who are these opposition spokesmen that were calling for intervention on February 17th? Again nothing turned up in Nexis. As for anonymous Twitter accounts and “other persons”, the less said the better. Now it is possible that there were media reports to back up Forte’s allegations but without providing citations, one is at a loss to figure out what he is talking about.

But things go downhill from here. He quotes from articles that appeared in The Economist and the LA Times in 2000 about the well-known mistreatment of sub-Saharan immigrants. However, any responsibility on the part of Qaddafi is denied:

While Gaddafi denounced the violence in 2000, members of the state’s own security forces reportedly took part in some of the attacks.  The UN also noted that over the years members of the state security forces have been complicit in attacking African migrants.  One would like to know if they did so, spontaneously, on their own initiative, or were ordered to do so from higher ups.  We should note that the former Libyan Interior Minister, and a former Minister of Public Security, Abdul Fatah Younis, is now a rebel military commander.

In other words, Qaddafi stood apart from the pogroms unleashed on sub-Saharan Africans in 2000 and all the blame rests on his subordinates who have now unleashed the Benghazi rebellion whose true aim is to persecute Blacks rather than get rid of a family dynasty. One wonders if Professor Forte was resurrecting the refrain heard so often in the Soviet Union in the 1930s: “If only Stalin knew”. We are led to believe that the racist attacks were orchestrated by Qaddafi’s subordinates and without his approval. This is a convenient fiction that will only be believed by those who continue to view Qaddafi as some kind of anti-imperialist leader despite all the evidence to the contrary.

One of the signs that you are dealing with a cruder form of propaganda is if the author does not bother to address evidence that contradicts his or her own. To be taken seriously on the question of Qaddafi’s commitment to pan-African values, you have to take a close look at his overall record, something that does not interest Forte who is so anxious to tilt the scales in favor of Qaddafi that he does not bother to conceal the fact that his hand rests upon the scale.

As I said at the outset, Forte’s article does not contain a single reference to Berlusconi or Italy. Does he think that people are unaware of the sordid connections between Qaddafi and one of Europe’s most racist politicians? While there is a mountain of evidence that would lead to the verdict that Qaddafi is no John Brown, this one should suffice:

The Guardian
Comments Are Free,
June 14, 2009

Treating refugees as refuse

Berlusconi’s deal with Gaddafi to use Libya as a dumping ground for migrants who arrive in Italy rides roughshod over their rights

by Bill Frelick

With the visit of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to Rome this week, Italy and Libya are celebrating their recently ratified Friendship Treaty. But this pact, which has already resulted in joint naval patrols that run roughshod over refugee and migrant rights – as Tana de Zulueta commented – is hardly cause for celebration.

About 500 migrants have already been summarily returned to Libya since early May, and boat departures from Libya have been sharply curtailed. Today, the migrant detention centre and asylum reception centres on Italy’s outpost island of Lampedusa are empty, a dramatic contrast to the way they looked in January, when 1,850 people were crammed in space designed for 800, with many sleeping on the floor. But asylum seekers don’t simply disappear. Many will be denied the opportunity to seek asylum from war and persecution and almost all will be subjected to indefinite detention, poor conditions and perhaps abuse.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi promised to provide $200m (£121m) a year over the next 25 years through investments in infrastructure projects in Libya. Italy provided three patrol boats to Libya on 14 May, and has promised three more. Italy has also said that it will help construct a radar system to monitor Libya’s desert borders, using the Italian security company, Finmeccanica.

In building their friendship agreement, Berlusconi and Gaddafi seem to be regarding migrants and asylum seekers from other countries as expendable. The deal enables Italy to dump migrants and asylum seekers on Libya and evade its obligations while Libya gets investment, bolstered security infrastructure and acceptance as Italy’s friend and partner.

59 Comments »

  1. Hmpf, another academic with the “thoughtful pose” of his index finger stapled to the side of his head. I HAVE A BRAIN, LOOK!

    A lot of MRzine’s rubbish remind me of Kautsky’s “super capitalism”, an apparently new economic system that breeds imperialism and war, as opposed to simply capitalism, that workers needed to fight against allied with *all* forces supposedly opposed to this new thing, including the “progressive bourgeoisie”, essentially surrendering.

    This is very similar: according to MRzine, there’s this new thing, call it New World Order, American Empire, Post-Modern Imperialism or whatever, that humanity has never experienced before, and is totally different from all empires of the past, and we need to fight it tooth and nail allied with just about *anyone*, including Milosevich, Qaddafi, Ahmadinejad, who are against this American Empire thing.

    Nowhere will you read anything about class, or capitalism of course.

    Comment by Antonis — April 21, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

  2. Louis, you condemn Forte for the same faults you are guilty of. Where is your proof that Qaddafi ordered attacks on Black Africans? You keep harping on about how Qaddafi and Berlusconi are oppressing Black Africans from getting to Europe. Are you saying that anyone should be let in? How does that solve the problem of collapsing African economies? Qaddafi has invested heavily in African economies and has been criticized by your friends for doing so. Let’s assume you and your claque are right about the Libyan opposition, i.e., they are just lovers of freedom who want the determine their country’s destiny. Given the level of imperialist intervention what guaranty can you give that they won’t suffer the fates of the Philipines and Cuba at the end of the Spanish-American war. Please explain why you opposed the U.S. attack on Irak under Saddam Hussein, who was as much of a tyrant as Qaddafi, and failed to do so this time? By the way, Forte does quote a Western reporter in his article did you fail to find it on Nexis?

    Comment by john brown — April 21, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

  3. Are you saying that anyone should be let in?

    Right. Socialists are for open borders.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 21, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

  4. Louis, are ok? your prickly reply indicates an unwillingness to engage in serious debate. Please respond to my main points: “Given the level of imperialist intervention what guaranty can you give that they won’t suffer the fates of the Philipines and Cuba at the end of the Spanish-American war. Please explain why you opposed the U.S. attack on Irak under Saddam Hussein, who was as much of a tyrant as Qaddafi, and failed to do so this time? By the way, Forte does quote a Western reporter in his article did you fail to find it on Nexis?”

    Comment by john brown — April 21, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

  5. failed to do so this time?

    Don’t you read this blog? I wrote a reply to Gilbert Achcar and Juan Cole that should have made my position clear.

    https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/the-juan-colegilbert-achcar-controversy/

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 12:07 am

  6. Sorry,I’ll read your comment. Thanks for the Forte article, it was excellent.

    Comment by john brown — April 22, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  7. What is responsible for this complete lack of imagination on the left?

    One can oppose both Qaddafi and the US/NATO attack…especially if you’re supporting, oh, you know, the working class? Louis these articles remain great work.

    Comment by ish — April 22, 2011 @ 1:01 am

  8. The anti anti left is pretty scary. Every murderous dicator the U.S. puts a minus next to they put a plus next to.

    One wonders what they would’ve said during WWII when U.S. imperialism fought the Nazis and Japanese imperialism for world domination. I suppose we would’ve heard about the wonderful state control of industry in Germany and the tremendous investments the Emperor made into education the Japanese people…

    Comment by Binh — April 22, 2011 @ 2:22 am

  9. [What is responsible for this complete lack of imagination on the left?]

    Ironically what’s responsible is the collapse of the Soviet Union and 2 decades of triumphant imperialism.

    While the unimaginative Stalinists were around the Trotskyist critique of BOTH Stalinism & Imperialism represented the left’s imagination, like 2 lobes of a brain. Now with one lobe gone the left’s brain is like a labotomy patient.

    Bottom line is I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal labotomy.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — April 22, 2011 @ 2:29 am

  10. [One wonders what they would’ve said during WWII when U.S. imperialism fought the Nazis and Japanese imperialism for world domination.]

    Binh: FYI. Precisely because it was a war of “imperialism for world domination” unrepentant Marxists in no way supported one iota of Uncle Sam’s world war II effort. Nothing, nada, zilch. There was no more “lesser evil” imperialist army during world war II than there was a “lesser evil” in the last US Presidential election.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — April 22, 2011 @ 2:39 am

  11. Forte does not provide a news source for the first paragraph you quoted (except for the twitter stuff, which he has a ton of right below in the same article), because he already did that in the previous articles he published which he lists at the end of this article and which you didn’t read or understand.

    Here is his source, go ahead and deny it:

    “The Libyans are being cleansed by Gaddafi’s air force,” said Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the rebel national council.
    We asked for a no-fly zone to be imposed from day one.
    “We also want a sea embargo and we urgently need some arms and we also need humanitarian assistance and medicines to be sent to the cities besieged by Gaddafi troops.”
    http://www.smh.com.au/world/opposition-leader-calls-for-nofly-zone-medicine-20110312-1bsf1.html

    Libya’s former UN ambassador also made the same call on Feb 21, way before any threat of a massacre in Benghazi, just as Forte said.

    “The statement of the Libyan UN mission appealed to the UN Security Council, which has been meeting today over the situation in Timor Leste, to “impose a no-fly zone over Libyan cities to prevent mercenaries and weapons from being shipped in.”
    http://213.202.244.218/articles/37390

    That too makes link between the mercenary issue and the no fly zone issue.

    So far my score in Forte v. Proyect is 2-0 for Forte.

    As for the Twitter accounts, no, it’s not “less said the better”, it’s the core of his article where he focuses on the political uses of social media and how MSM picked up on the same tweets. Can’t you read or what?

    3-0 Forte

    Learn to do some fact checking of your own, you’re embarrassing to watch.

    Comment by Mohamad S. — April 22, 2011 @ 3:32 am

  12. Louis, I read your article on Cole et al, the following is a summary of your argument as I understand it. 1) The people of Libya rose up against Qaddafi and their diversity is on display. The range is from gangster to gentleman. 2)you find it impermissible for anybody to oppose them. 3) Any claim that the people harbor racist tendencies is shortsighted. 4)Imperialist intervention will not deter them from the path of righteousness. I hope I’ve done justice to your view. I was disappointed by your article because I don’t see how it answered the questions I posed to you. I think you are wrong about the facts pertaining to #3 as for #4 history indicates that you are naive. The Imperialist powers have centuries long histories of strangling revolutions at birth.

    Comment by john Brown — April 22, 2011 @ 4:07 am

  13. Louis, c’mon, how much are you getting paid for this? Who is throwing you money to spew imperialist collaborationist garbage on your websites?

    You’ve been a wholesale supporter of imperialism ever since the conflict began! How many times must Gaddafi’s popular support, the rebels (or “revolutionaries” to you) lynching of black citizens of Libya, and the shift to the right Libyan affairs have turned to in the rebel strongholds are you going to realize that you were wrong?

    Are you going to realize this Proyect? You’ve already shredded your credibility beyond repair. You can’t bounce back from this one.

    Your ideological concessions to Western imperialism have been mindblowing. Do you even see it? Are you even aware?

    Comment by Mr. Seriously — April 22, 2011 @ 4:47 am

  14. I’m extremely disappointed with this series of articles too. For Louis, attacking the arguments of diverse anti-war leftists seems to be more important to him than analyzing, critiquing and denouncing the mass bombing, destruction and physical disarticulation of a yet another Muslim country. Frankly, in this context, who gives a crap whether Gaddafi is racist, anti-racist or anything else? When Hitler kicked his way into the Soviet Union in 1941, i guess ‘real’ leftists were the ones who sat around and talked about what a bad guy Joseph Stalin was…?

    Comment by david montoute — April 22, 2011 @ 6:11 am

  15. Ah yes, You Tube, ever so concerned about our sensibilities, has removed the videos posted above, due to the “shocking content”. Well, i managed to see them before their censorship kicked in, and they really were profoundly sickening. If this is what a Libyan “democracy” looks like, then anyone arguing for it has some serious questions to ask him/herself.

    Comment by david montoute — April 22, 2011 @ 6:43 am

  16. There’s yet another tragedy here:

    The Straw Men have been knocked over, kicked repeatedly, set on fire and then pissed on in this comments thread by MRzine-ists and their sockpuppets.

    Clearly, we need a no fly zone over StrawManland to protect the peaceful and inanimate Straw Men from the horrible attacks perpetrated by the “Qaddafi is no saint, BUT…” sockpuppet brigade

    Comment by Antonis — April 22, 2011 @ 9:00 am

  17. “Louis, c’mon, how much are you getting paid for this? Who is throwing you money to spew imperialist collaborationist garbage on your websites?”

    You can get paid to write blogs saying you think Gaddafi’s a jerk? Where should I send my bank details?

    Comment by skip — April 22, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  18. Learn to do some fact checking of your own, you’re embarrassing to watch.

    Mohammed, that article is dated March 13, not February 17th. Forte claimed that rebel leaders were calling for intervention on Feb. 17th but provided no documentation.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  19. Montoute: For Louis, attacking the arguments of diverse anti-war leftists seems to be more important…

    I don’t attack the arguments of “diverse” antiwar leftists, only those who trying to prettify Qaddafi. Forte’s article is unadulterated bullshit.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  20. Who is throwing you money to spew imperialist collaborationist garbage on your websites?

    What an intelligent contribution. That certainly clears up the question as to the veracity of the charge that 70 to 80 Chadians were hacked to pieces in an unidentified place and on an unidentified date. Did you ever consider a career as an investigative journalist?

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  21. Any claim that the people harbor racist tendencies is shortsighted.

    In my first article on the problem of racism in Libya, I specifically said that it is a deep-rooted problem and that the rebels have been scapegoating migrant workers. What I object to is Forte’s absurd characterization of Qaddafi as the best friend sub-Saharan Africans ever had. This is just a load of crap.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  22. Louis,why is it preferable to have a bunch of CIA,MI6 and God knows what else, backed rebels take down Qaddafi instead of the various peace plans proffered by such Leftists stalwarts as Castro, Chavez, etc. The Rebels have proven themselves inept as warriors, contrast their inability to defeat Qaddafi on their own and the people of Venezuela confronting and convincing the army to join them. We recently saw the same thing in Egypt. How do you explain the difference? I think it’s because the vast coalition you saw initially is breaking up.

    Comment by john Brown — April 22, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  23. In my view the revolution in Libya took a wrong turn when it sought to overthrow Qaddafi through the force of arms. I think that provided an opening for the West. But my aim in writing about Libya has been to refute the idea that Qaddafi is some kind of progressive leader and nothing else. I had the same goal in writing about Ahmadinejad and Mugabe. The adulation for such despots on the part of the left really turns my stomach.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  24. Louis,I’d never heard of Forte until you wrote about him. To me, his opinions about Gaddafi are not really of any interest, since Gaddafi’s character really no longer the central issue. I was wondering if you were going to write some words about the actual NATO intervention itself? You know, the intervention that has made the situation in Libya ten times worse than it was?

    Comment by david montoute — April 22, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  25. Forte’s article appeared on MRZine, a website that is ranked 78,686 in the USA, in other words a very high rating. In terms of what I have to say about imperialist intervention, I said it all in my reply to Achcar and Juan Cole. There’s really nothing else I can add.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  26. It should have been clear in the beginning when after a few days of armed insurrection and a turn around in their military fortunes coupled with the lack of a country-wide popular mass uprising against the regime -that the rebels calling on the imperialists for military assistance made this quite different from other popular revolts taking place in the region. Now with the introduction of US armed drones along with the already deployed NATO/US/UK/France warships and the collaboration between rebel and the imperialists in targeting Qaddafi forces both in the countryside and populated urban areas, it should be clear this is also an imperialist war against Qaddafi, his armed forces and the section of the Libyan population that supports him. Of course the drones wielded by the U.S., notorious for indiscriminate killings of civilians, may be in the minds eye of Gilbert Achcar just another humanitarian tool in saving lives. The rebels and the imperialists are joined at the hip in this war. To romanticize Qaddafi as some kind of wayward socialist opponent of the West is ridiculous in the same way as labeling the rebels as a mass working class rebellion. Qaddafi will lose, not because he will be overthrown by a popular rebellion or defeated militarily by the rebels. Qaddafi will lose because US/UK/France are now committed to regime change in Libya. Stop the imperialist war in Libya, was and is, the only correct slogan.

    Comment by R.Tudor — April 22, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

  27. To romanticize Qaddafi as some kind of wayward socialist opponent of the West is ridiculous in the same way as labeling the rebels as a mass working class rebellion.

    I agree. It would be ridiculous to call it a mass working class rebellion. Clearly this is a multiclass movement aimed at ridding the country of a 42 year old dynasty that tortures and imprisons its opponents. Once Qaddafi is gone, there will be class divisions within the movement. But this was true of Egypt and Tunisia as well.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  28. Re: The left & WWII & shit, I assume many of you gentle (wo)men to be familiar with this, George Orwell’s (rather and understandably bitter) “Looking Back On The Spanish War,” http://www.george-orwell.org/Looking_Back_On_The_Spanish_War/0.html .

    (To those who aren’t, its context is of course it having been written as a later postscript to his account of fighting in the Spanish Civil War, *Homage to Catalonia*, http://www.george-orwell.org/Homage_to_Catalonia/index.html .)

    Comment by whatever — April 22, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  29. It would behoove a writer about to hang his argument on a person whose photograph illustrates the piece of writing to get the ID right: Forte teaches at Concordia University in Montreal. Concordia College is a Yank liberal arts school.

    But, ah well, Yanks writing about the rest of the world have never let facts get in the way. Why start now?

    Comment by Cecilieaux Bois de Murier — April 22, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  30. For those who say the rebels are CIA/MI6 tools, how do you explain the arrest and expulsion of SAS agents who were helicoptered in with fake passports and I.D.s? Did they misread London’s orders?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8364937/Captured-SAS-unit-Libyan-rebels-release-special-forces-team.html

    Reality is a bit more complicated than that, methinks.

    In my view, the rebels’ biggest mistake was limiting the fight to overthrow Gaddafi to a purely military dimension instead of trying to mobilize the population, especially through strikes, to bring down the regime, as was done in Egypt. This “mistake” was due to the class politics of the National Council, populated by ex-regime figures, and the fact that the Libyan left/working class didn’t have its own organizations to push its interests to shape the upheaval. They were starting from square one politically and organizationally, unlike in Egypt.

    Once they cornered themselves into a purely military struggle, the logical corollary was to call for airstrikes from without since they themselves had no airforce or armored tanks, and if those planes were British, American, French, then so be it. The logic of military conflict is now compelling the rebels to accept NATO military advisers as well, including from the Italians(!!). This will hand Gaddafi a great propaganda victory because he will be able to paint them as imperialist stooges while he is defending Libya’s honor and independence.

    I’m 100% against all imperialist intervention in Libya. They are seeking to control and limit the rebellion, and so far, they are succeeding. The U.S. has made clear they do not want the rebels to defeat Gaddafi militarily, which is why NATO’s airstrikes let up every time the rebels make advances and pick up again when they retreat. They prefer a stalemate/partition to locally driven regime change because a partitioned Libya will mean that the rebels in the east are dependent on them to protect them from Gaddafi. The imperalists’ preferred endgame is a military coup that either kills Gaddafi and his family or expels them from Libya after which there would be some type of negotiated settlement or “orderly transition” that incorporates Gaddafi’s state machine and the rebels.

    I still think the rebel cause — a bourgeois democracy of some sort — is right and just. They are revolting against a murderous and tyrannical government. However, they are becoming enmeshed with imperialists who have zero interest in making sure the rebels are victorious. Unless they break with the imperialists and find a way to mobilize the masses, I don’t see anything other than a bloody stalemate/partition coming out of this. They were very close to winning too — Gaddafi had lost control of almost every city outside of Tripoli and the rebels were able to repel the first few attempts he made to take back the towns closest to the capital, so it’s simply not true to say the rebels lacked “country wide” support. They had it but they blew their chance.

    Comment by Binh — April 22, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  31. By-the-by, are you guys aware of this (in German) “Generation Revolution: von Bengasi bis Lampedusa,” at http://de.indymedia.org/2011/03/303445.shtml ?

    (“Generation Revolution: From Benghazi to Lampedusa”; it appeared in Spanish at http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=125004 (‘Las revoluciones en el mundo árabe trascienden y superan las categorías tradicionales de la izquierda’), in Italian at the interviewee Gabriele’s blog at http://fortresseurope.blogspot.com/2011/03/generazione-revolution-da-benghazi.html (‘Generazione revolution: da Benghazi a Lampedusa’).

    It’s an interview by Alma Allende of the Spanish-language http://www.rebelion.org/ . I’ve been working on a translation, but the German shows too many discrepancies with the original Italian, the latter of which I can’t presume to have the capacity to translate.

    Those who can… Both that Spanish portal and Gabriele’s Italian blog seem every bit worth reading. The interview as such will probably be outdated by now, if still worth reading; but there is newer material.

    Comment by whatever — April 22, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

  32. Binh, I did not call your rebels CIA/MI6 tools, I said they are backed by such forces. How can you be against imperialist intervention when you think there is nothing wrong with getting help from them? Your take on Libya is heavy on speculation. You pretend to know what the imperialists want and what the Libyan rebels should have done. If the rebels had the majority on their side and Qaddafi attacked them, why shouldn’t they have taken up arms against him? A more reasonable conclusion is that the regime had more support than the rebels anticipated. You, Louis and others are easily impressed by crowds in the streets. All crowds are not revolutionary, reaction can also bring people to the streets. As observers from afar the only way we may judge if a movement is revolutionary or reactionary is by reading the program of their leadership, otherwise we run the risk of substituting our Walter Mitty daydreams for the facts. How do you know that they want a bourgeois democracy of some sort? Would it be a good thing for Libya to get a Greek, Irish, Spanish, U.S. democracy that is out to drastically cut the living standard of the working class?

    Comment by john Brown — April 23, 2011 @ 2:54 am

  33. Louis your willful blindness is all too obvious.

    The newspaper article is dated March 13, yes, but did you read the quote? One of the top leaders of the TNC, saying from day one they called for a no fly zone. Your response is petty, superficial, and dishonest.

    Where does Forte “prettify” the regime? Did you read his other articles? HE DENOUNCES IT. Just because you don’t support the dictatorship doesn’t mean you have to love the rebels. You are caught in a simplistic trap you set for yourself, and now you have John McCain to keep you warm.

    Louis you attack without being informed. This makes you ignorant and unqualified to comment. Nice job making an ass of yourself in public though.

    Comment by Mohamad S — April 23, 2011 @ 5:42 am

  34. Mohamad, you are a confused human being. “We asked for a no-fly zone to be imposed from day one” does not mean February 17–long before Qaddafi begain his blitzkreig–but if you think it does, why let me stand in the way? Some people think that the planet earth is 10,000 years old. There is no point arguing with them.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 23, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  35. Do you have to be spoon fed the information before you can piece together a whole?

    He also has a quote from the defecting Libyan UN reps calling for a no fly zone, on Feb 21. You missed that too?

    You still haven’t shown how Forte backs the regime, or why even if Gadhafi is a racist that takes your CIA-backed rebels off the hook. You just ignore the contents of his entire article, probably because you haven’t actually read it or understood it. Don’t be another of those frenzied blogging Yanks who just use the web to transcribe the explosions of their guts. Have a little dignity and honesty.

    Unrepentant “Marxist”? Yeah right. Unrepentant something else, for sure.

    I am done here. This post is nothing more than a cheap troll from someone with a big chip on his shoulder.

    Comment by Mohamad S. — April 23, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  36. You mean this:

    Racial fear and xenophobia lie at the very crux of the first public emergence of calls for Western intervention, and the first utterance of “no-fly zone.” Those in the West who backed the interventionist impulse (for many more reasons of their own) latched onto these calls. The former Libyan deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, alleged that Gaddafi was employing “African mercenaries” to protect the regime. This is how TIME supports his claims: “The nationalities of the soldiers are not known, though some unconfirmed reports indicate some soldiers may be French-speaking. The numbers of soldiers is also unknown, although witnesses in Libya claim to have seen several planes land at different airports across the country and disgorge hundreds of fighters — an intervention of sufficient size to suggest a foreign government’s complicity in their departure for Libya, if not actual support” (emphases added). Right there we see the link between racial fear and airports, and hence the calls for a no-fly zone, which were originally tied to “protecting” Libya from incoming black mercenaries. Only subsequently were justifications for a NFZ widened to include suppression of Gaddafi’s air force and targeting his ground forces.

    Mohamad, you are just as bad as Forte. Just because he says there is a link, there is no reason to assume that there is. The no-fly zone was not called for until Qaddafi unleashed his blitzkreig. But, like I say, if you think that there is a link–poor dear–why should I stand in the way?

    Comment by louisproyect — April 23, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  37. john brown said:

    “I did not call your rebels CIA/MI6 tools, I said they are backed by such forces.”

    That’s a distinction without making a difference.

    “All crowds are not revolutionary, reaction can also bring people to the streets.”

    Is it reactionary or revolutionary to want (even bourgeois) democracy over a one-man bourgeois dictatorship? Hmmm . . . . Tough call, that.

    “As observers from afar the only way we may judge if a movement is revolutionary or reactionary is by reading the program of their leadership, otherwise we run the risk of substituting our Walter Mitty daydreams for the facts.”

    Leaving aside the fact that it’s (so far) been difficult to talk about who the leaders really are in the revolution, are you telling me that, if a popular revolution breaks out, aimed at a dictator, western progressives are just supposed to sit on our hands until we see a properly-worded revolutionary programme from a leader?

    Given how the musclebound anti-imperialists at MRZine et al are point-blank refusing to believe that Kaddafi is a dictator, why should they believe such an “obvious ploy” as a piece of paper dictated by people “backed by MI6 and the CIA”?

    “Would it be a good thing for Libya to get a Greek, Irish, Spanish, U.S. democracy that is out to drastically cut the living standard of the working class?”

    Oh, Heavens! Is that it??!! Well, obviously what we need to have in those countries are one-man dictatorships by _obvious_ socialists! How do we know they’re obvious? They show us a little piece of paper with a revolutionary programme on it . . . .

    Democracy is sooo effete and reactionary, after all.

    Comment by Todd — April 23, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  38. Todd, I don’t usually go for name calling but in your case I’ll make an exception: You are stupid. A tool has no will of its own, someone who accepts support does. Please tell me what is democratic about imposing mass poverty on millions of unwilling subjects? What was the reaction of the rulers in your democracies to mass protests against their austerity programs? They called the cops on them. Polls show that the majority of Americans don’t want to send troops overseas, are the rulers listening? No. I won’t be commenting any more because the debate is a dishonest one. We aren’t debating the nature of the struggle in Libya but the nature of imperialism in the 21st century. You, Binh and Louis claim it is benign. Over a century of history says that view is bullshit.

    Comment by John Brown — April 23, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  39. Funny how when John Brown reads my statement: “I’m 100% against all imperialist intervention in Libya” he gets the idea that I think U.S. imperialism is benign. He is right about one thing though — this isn’t an honest debate, thanks to him.

    Comment by Binh — April 23, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

  40. “You are stupid.”

    Maybe. At least I don’t have a handle that screams “I support bourgeois terrorism!”

    “Please tell me what is democratic about imposing mass poverty on millions of unwilling subjects?”

    If you’ll tell me where the intelligence lies behind your question.

    You seem to suffer from this curious condition that afflicts a lot of lefties (especially the ones who are still wet behind their ears): inability to distinguish facts from fancies. Some lefties believe that democracy is completely unnecessary, regardless of how far advanced any (self-)reportedly “economically progressive” government is; others, apparently like yourself, can’t tell the difference between lower and higher struggles, such as the struggle for democracy itself versus how that democracy gets used.

    “What was the reaction of the rulers in your democracies to mass protests against their austerity programs? They called the cops on them.”

    They did.

    What they _didn’t_ do was take away our right to vote them out of office. Is that what you want to see happen? Would you get a _biiig_ stiffy at being in a “real revolutionary situation”? Or would you just dismiss such a pointless and effete thing as (bourgeois) democracy?

    (Or would you just sit on your ass and write your masterbatory little programme . . . !)

    “I won’t be commenting any more”

    Well, thank God for small favours: I deal with enough idiots on the Internet.

    “You, Binh and Louis claim it is benign.”

    Hmm. Not only an afflicted (bourgeois) idiot but a liar as well.

    Stay away from here because I _guarantee_ I’ll hand you your ass again (if nobody else does it first).

    Comment by Todd — April 23, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

  41. It’s always a tricky political situation when a murderous curmudgeon like John McCain advocates military training for Libyan Rebels: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110422/wl_time/httpglobalspinblogstimecom20110422mccainvisitsrebelsinlibyaandcallsforincreasedsupportxidrssfullworldyahoo

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — April 24, 2011 @ 5:53 am

  42. Especially since he had the same exact relationship to Qaddafi at one point:

    http://articles.boston.com/2009-08-15/news/29254041_1_libya-john-mccain-military-equipment

    McCain says Libya may get US goods
    August 15, 2009|Associated Press

    TRIPOLI, Libya – A delegation of US senators led by John McCain met with Libya’s leader yesterday to discuss the possible delivery of nonlethal defense equipment. The visit and Washington’s offer of military equipment was another sign of the improving ties between the former longtime adversaries.

    “We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of nonlethal defense equipment to the government of Libya,” McCain said during a press conference. He gave no details on the kind of military equipment Washington is offering.

    A halting, five-year rapprochement between the two countries began in 2003 when Moammar Khadafy renounced terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Earlier this year, Washington posted an ambassador to Libya for the first time in 36 years.

    McCain, however, said the United States remains concerned about Libya’s record on human rights and political reform.

    “As we move ahead with the many ways in which the United States and Libya can work together as partners, there remain areas where real work needs to be done,” McCain said. “The status of human rights and political reform in Libya will remain a chief element of concern.”

    The American delegation also included Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, Susan M. Collins, and Lindsey O. Graham….

    Comment by louisproyect — April 24, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  43. looking back at this thread, i think ‘john brown’s’ comment about the necessity of closed borders did not get the public ridicule it deserved. (i know louis addressed it.)

    how mindless, and what an insult to the historic john brown.

    Comment by jp — April 24, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

  44. Gee, kinda sounds exactly like the rhetoric of every Marxist-apologist out there still iceskating uphill to argue that Marxism is historically Gay-, Women’s- and Human Rights friendly.

    Comment by Marxist Hypocrisy 101 — April 24, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  45. “Marxist-apologist out there still iceskating uphill to argue that Marxism is historically Gay-, Women’s- and Human Rights friendly”

    ?

    Really? Who says this?

    Marxism itself, AFAICT, has as little to say about homosexuality as it does about birth control. It didn’t come directly out of the feminist struggles of the time (although it has a fair amount to say about women’s unpaid labour), so I don’t see that it’s intrinsically “woman-friendly” (whatever that means). As for it being “human rights friendly”, I’m not sure what your point is: what exactly _is_ “human rights friendly” (aside from human rights)?

    Comment by Todd — April 24, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

  46. #40 ” “What was the reaction of the rulers in your democracies to mass protests against their austerity programs? They called the cops on them.”

    ….What they _didn’t_ do was take away our right to vote them out of office. ”

    Well, you just go right ahead and vote them out of office at the next election, and see how you like that ‘hopey-changey thing’.

    Comment by Dismal Arthur — April 25, 2011 @ 1:54 am

  47. “see how you like that ‘hopey-changey thing’.”

    What I said above holds for you too, Artie:

    “others, apparently like yourself, can’t tell the difference between lower and higher struggles, such as the struggle for democracy itself versus how that democracy gets used.”

    Comment by Todd — April 25, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  48. This must be the same Todd whose fetishization of ‘democracy’ is made abundantly clear in his comments on the page entitled Creep of Richard Seymour’s blog, Lenin’s Tomb, at http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/04/creep.html. Read them and gag!

    Yes, democratic rights and liberties for workers, peasants and their allies are to be defended. But not the “democratic right” of domestic or imperialist capital to pursue policies that impoverish workers and peasants and strengthen the local and global domination of capital, even if those pursuing such policies are “democratically elected”.

    Comment by Aaron Aarons — April 27, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  49. At one point Ho Chi Minh had the backing of the CIA’s predecessor, the OSS, and even quoted America’s Declaration of Independence in Viet Nam’s declaration of independence after WWII. According to the “logic” of Gaddafiles, he’s an imperialist pawn.

    Comment by Binh — April 29, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

  50. Aaron Aarons brayed:

    “Yes, democratic rights and liberties for workers, peasants and their allies are to be defended. But not the ‘democratic right’ of domestic or imperialist capital to pursue policies”

    Hey! Good job of misrepresenting my position! I felt that one right in the nuts!

    Stalin’d be proud of you, Boy!

    (BTW, if you’re defending democratic rights and liberties, why are you always defending Kaddafi?)

    Comment by Todd — April 29, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

  51. Todd @51 accuses me of misrepresenting his position. He doesn’t say how I was misrepresenting his position, especially since the two sentences he quotes from me are an expression of my position, and not a rendering of his.

    Todd @40, in response to ‘John Brown’ saying to him, “You are stupid”, responds with:

    > Maybe. At least I don’t have a handle that screams “I support bourgeois terrorism!”

    Is Todd really putting down the great anti-slavery warrior John Brown as a ‘bourgeois terrorist’?

    If what John Brown did was ‘bourgeois terrorism’, then what the world needs today is a large number of proletarian, peasant and anti-imperialist ‘terrorists’, each a John Brown transferred to the age of capitalist, rather than slaveholder, domination.

    But it seems that Todd really does fetishize ‘democracy’ to such an extent that he would defend a slaveholders’ ‘democracy’ against anti-slavery ‘terrorists’. If that’s really the case, he’s a less-than-worthless creature.

    Comment by Aaron Aarons — May 1, 2011 @ 1:28 am

  52. The International Action Center founded by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark just released this statement after the NATO assassination on April 30 of Moammar Gadhafi’s youngest son and three of his grandchildren in an attempted assassination of the leader of Libya.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    U.S., British and French imperialism have escalated their military intervention in Libya beyond the criminal bombardment of Libya, begun on March 19.

    The one dominant imperialist power and the two former colonial rulers of the world jointly stated their intentions in a open letter published on April 15 in the Washington Post and other media. U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote that their goal was to remove Moammar Gadhafi, the leader of Libya. for good. That’s what they call “regime change.” This is even in violation of the resolution rammed through the UN Security Council. It is international lawlessness on a grand scale.

    Britain, France, and the U.S. possess the most destructive military machines on earth. Despite their internecine rivalries for plunder, despite the rejection of their plans by most African countries, despite the misgivings of their key NATO ally, Germany, they are at war. In arrogant defiance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, who met recently and condemned the intervention, they have decided to move forward with the conquest of Libya. Italy, once the colonial master of Libya, has joined the criminal bombing.

    Whatever reluctance U.S. imperialism may have had about the Libyan adventure, it is now on board with its junior partners in conquest. The next step, announced on April 19, is that Britain and France will be sending military officers into the Libyan city of Misrata to “advise” the collection of armed people that the corporate media calls “rebels.”

    If the three imperialist powers have taken the first step toward the occupation of an African country, if Washington is ready to send “boots on the ground” for a third occupation, it is because they know that the so-called rebels are completely incapable of holding together — let alone winning a battle and forming a government — without step-by-step support from the imperialists. This means that however this “rebel” grouping may or may not have begun, it has lost any resemblance to a real national liberation movement or even a movement for bourgeois democracy — it is now a complete tool of the imperialists.

    The leadership of this grouping has asked for the U.S. to use its AC-130 and A-10 Warthog planes to give close ground cover to its troops. These are planes only the Pentagon can provide. They fire a withering blast of thousands of shells a minute and have often employed depleted-uranium-reinforced shells, with long-term damaging effects on civilians.

    The so-called “rebels” have also cheered the introduction of pilotless drones by the the imperialists. These futuristic weapons which are operated by remote control from halfway around the world are already being used by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Yemen, and other places, where the imperialists fear exposing their troops. Most of the drone attacks have been political assassinations which have killed many civilians.

    As if the use of these weapons of slaughter weren’t enough to refute the “humanitarian” pretext given for this imperialist intervention, Sarkozy made it clear in another way when he stopped a train carrying refugees from Tunisia at the Italian-French border and sent the suffering people back. This is the Sarkozy the world knows, without his “humanitarian” mask. He advocated using steam water cannons on residents of North African heritage living in the French working-class suburbs in 2005.

    These countries, through NATO, carried out the re-Balkanization of Yugoslavia. The U.S. is occupying Afghanistan. The U.S. and Britain have brought the Iraqi nation to ruin and sorrow. Now these three powers, through NATO, are attempting to reconquer Libya. They conspiring to weaken or overthrow the Syrian government and replace it with a compliant regime. It is beyond time to cut through the lies told in Washington, London, Paris and all the imperialist capitals and expose the role of these 19th-century colonial rulers grasping for a comeback.

    These wars and occupations have nothing to do with alleged misdeeds of the national leaders, be they Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, the Taliban or Gadhafi. They are nothing but the imperialists’ attempt to reconquer and recolonize strategic regions. They are doing it with the resources stolen from workers and poor at home. It’s time we put a stop to them.

    U.S., Britain, France — out of Africa!!

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 1, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

  53. My reference to ‘Todd @51’ should now be ‘Todd @50’. Did I make a mistake, or did Louis delete some earlier comment and thus change the numbering? Unfortunately, I hadn’t, contrary to my usual practice, saved a copy of this page after I commented on it?

    Well, off to the San Francisco May Day demo and march! Later, comrades!

    Comment by Aaron Aarons — May 1, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

  54. Aaron Aarons brayed:

    “Is Todd really putting down the great anti-slavery warrior John Brown as a ‘bourgeois terrorist’?”

    No, Todd is pointing out that someone who supports bourgeois terrorism enough to take the moniker of one isn’t someone Todd really respects (because he’s likely to be just another ignorant liberal who thinks all there is to being a radical is sloganeering and killing).

    Like it or not, Brown was as bourgeois as Abraham Lincoln.

    Comment by Todd — May 1, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  55. ‘Todd’ denies putting down John Brown as a ‘bourgeois terrorist’ and then proceeds to repeat the same charge in expanded form. What a reactionary creep this guy is! Unfortunately, since he doesn’t use an identifiable name with a traceable political history, he can just use another name in the future without having to bear the burden of his current idiotic scribblings.

    It should be clear by now that being “someone Todd really respects” would be quite a blot on one’s reputation.

    Comment by Aaron Aarons — May 2, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

  56. Aarons apparently can’t read, and Todd can’t take the time to teach a bawling infant how to do it.

    (I’ll keep carving you yet more orifices over at Lenin’s Tomb; see you there, Bunky!)

    Comment by Todd — May 3, 2011 @ 3:16 am

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