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Libya: Unending American Hostility

If I could publicly ask our beloved president one question, it would be this: “Mr. President, in your short time in office you’ve waged war against six countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. This makes me wonder something. With all due respect: What is wrong with you?”

The American media has done its best to dismiss or ignore Libyan charges that NATO/US missiles have been killing civilians (the people they’re supposedly protecting), at least up until the recent bombing “error” that was too blatant to be covered up. But who in the mainstream media has questioned the NATO/US charges that Libya was targeting and “massacring” Libyan civilians a few months ago, which, we’ve been told, is the reason for the Western powers attacks? Don’t look to Al Jazeera for such questioning. The government of Qatar, which owns the station, has a deep-seated animosity toward Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and was itself a leading purveyor of the Libyan “massacre” stories, as well as playing a military role in the war against Tripoli. Al Jazeera’s reporting on the subject has been so disgraceful I’ve stopped looking at the station.

Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister of France, which has been the leading force behind the attacks on Libya, spoke at the Brookings Institution in Washington on June 7. After his talk he was asked a question from the audience by local activist Ken Meyercord:

An American observer of events in Libya has commented: “The evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.” That comment was made by Richard Haass, President of our Council on Foreign Relations. If Mr. Haass is right, and he’s a fairly knowledgeable fellow, then what NATO has done in Libya is attack a country that wasn’t threatening anyone; in other words, aggression. Are you at all concerned that as NATO deals more and more death and destruction on the people of Libya that the International Criminal Court may decide that you and your friends in the Naked Aggression Treaty Organization should be prosecuted rather than Mr. Gaddafi?

Monsieur Juppé then stated, without attribution, somebody’s estimate that 15,000 Libyan civilians had been killed by pro-Gaddafi forces. To which Mr. Meyercord replied: “So where are the 15,000 bodies?” M. Juppé failed to respond to this, although in the tumult caused by the first question, it was not certain that he had heard the second one. (For a counter-view of the Libyan “massacre” stories, see this video.)

It should be noted that, as of June 30, NATO had flown 13,184 air missions (sorties) over Libya, 4,963 of which are described as strike sorties. You can find the latest figures on the Allied Command Operations website.

If any foreign power fired missiles at the United States, would Barack Obama regard that as an act of war? If the US firing hundreds of missiles at Libya is not an act of war, as Obama insists (to avoid having to declare war as required by US law), then the deaths resulting from the missile attacks are murder. That’s it. It’s either war or murder. To the extent there’s a difference between the two.

It should be further noted that since Gaddafi came to power in 1969, there has virtually never been a sustained period when the United States has been prepared to treat him and the many positive changes he’s instituted in Libya and Africa with any respect. For a history of this hostility, including the continual lies and scare campaigns, see my Libya chapter in Killing Hope.

America and its perpetual quest for love

“[Why can’t we] get some of the people in these downtrodden countries to like us instead of hating us.”

President Dwight D.Eisenhower, in a March,1953 National Security Council Meeting[1]

The United States is still wondering, and is no closer to an understanding than Good Ol’ Ike was almost 60 years ago. American leaders still believe what Frances Fitzgerald observed in her study of American history textbooks: “According to these books, the United States had been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history, it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries…. [T]he United States always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”[2]

In 2007 I wrote in this report about the US military in Iraq:

I almost feel sorry for them. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, accustomed to thinking of themselves as the best, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing psychologists and anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re totally ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, accustomed to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell.

Here now the Google Cavalry rides up on its silver horse. Through its think tank, Google Ideas (or “think/do tank”), the company paid for 80 former Muslim extremists, neo-Nazis, U.S. gang members and other former radicals to gather in Dublin June 26-28 (“Summit Against Violent Extremism”, or SAVE) to explore how technology can play a role in “de-radicalization” efforts around the globe. Now is that not Can-do ambitious?

The “formers,” as they have been dubbed by Google, will be surrounded by 120 thinkers, activists, philanthropists and business leaders. The goal is to dissect the question of what draws some people, particularly young people, to extremist movements and why some of them leave.

The person in charge of this project is Jared Cohen, who spent four years on the State Department’s Policy Planning staff, and is soon to be an adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), focusing on counter-radicalization, innovation, technology, and statecraft.[3]

So … it’s “violent extremism” that’s the big mystery, the target for all these intellectuals to figure out…. Why does violent extremism attract so many young people all over the world? Or, of more importance probably to the State Department and CFR types: Why do violent extremists single out the United States as their target of choice?

Readers of this report do not need to be enlightened as to the latter question. There is simply an abundance of terrible things US foreign policy has done in every corner of the world. As to what attracts young people to violent extremism, consider this: What makes a million young Americans willing to travel to places like Afghanistan and Iraq to risk their life and limbs to kill other young people who have never done them any harm, and to commit unspeakable atrocities and tortures?

Is this not extreme behavior? Can these young Americans not be called “extremists” or “radicals”? Are they not violent? Do the Google experts understand their behavior? If not, how will they ever understand the foreign Muslim extremists? Are the experts prepared to examine the underlying phenomenon — the deep-seated belief in “American exceptionalism” drilled into every cell and nerve ganglion of American consciousness from pre-kindergarten on? Do the esteemed experts then have to wonder about those who believe in “Muslim exceptionalism”?

This just in! American leaders do have feelings!

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s criticism of US and NATO forces in his country grows more angry and confrontational with each passing week. Recently, US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry was moved to reply to him: “When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost — in terms of lives and treasure — hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest, and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people … they are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here. … We begin to lose our inspiration to carry on.”

That certainly may apply to many of the soldiers in the field. But oh, if only American military and political leaders could really be so offended and insulted by what’s said about them and their many wars.

Eikenberry — who has served in Afghanistan a total of five years as a senior US Army general and then as ambassador — warned that if Afghan leaders reach the point where they “believe that we are doing more harm than good,” then Americans may “reach a point that we feel our soldiers and civilians are being asked to sacrifice without a just cause,” and “the American people will ask for our forces to come home.”

Well, if Eikenberry is really interested, a June 8 BBC World News America/Harris Poll found that 52% of Americans believe that the United States should move to get its troops out of Afghanistan “now”, with only 35% believing that the troops should stay; while a Pew Research Center poll of mid-June showed 56% of Americans favor an “immediate” pullout.

“America has never sought to occupy any nation in the world,” the ambassador continued. “We are a good people.”[4]

How nice. Reminds me of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, after the 1999 78-day bombing of the helpless people of the former Yugoslavia, a war crime largely instigated by herself, when she declared: “The United States is good. We try to do our best everywhere.”[5]

Do these grownups really believe what comes out of their mouths? Does Mr. Eikenberry actually think that “America has never sought to occupy any nation in the world”? Sixty-six years after World War II ended, the United States still has major bases in Germany and Japan; 58 years after the end of the Korean War, tens of thousands of American armed forces continue to be stationed in South Korea; for over a century, the United States has occupied Guantanamo Bay in Cuba against the fervent wishes of the Cuban people. And what other term shall we use to describe the American presence in Iraq for more than eight years? And Afghanistan for almost ten?

George W. Bush had no doubt: The Iraqis are “not happy they’re occupied,” he said. “I wouldn’t be happy if I were occupied either.”[6]

However, the current Republican leader in the House, John Boehner appears to be a true believer. “The United States has never proposed establishing a permanent base in Iraq or anywhere else,” he affirmed a few years ago.[7]

If 18th century Americans could resent occupation by the British, when many of the Americans were British themselves, then how much easier to understand the resentment of Iraqis and Afghans toward foreign occupiers?


About the Author

William Blum

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William Blum
William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of numerous books, including "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower". 
  • http://www.globaljusticeonline.com Courtenay Barnett

    A QUESTION OF SANITY
    The Western media for quite some time has utilised Gaddafi’s eccentricities to portray him as mad.
    In reflecting on how this war in Libya has progressed, I, however, have reason to doubt the sanity of some Western leaders.
    The war has been advanced by mainly three NATO nations, America, France and Britain.
    Obama, while bombing Libya has professed that this is not a “war”. With stunning linguistic gymnastics, the war has somersaulted from the feet first “war” to a head over heels “support” mission and merely an “intervention”. I must now conclude that if I dislike my neighbour and start throwing Molotov cocktails on his roof and stones into his windows, I am not at war with him, but in an effort to have him remove from the neighbourhood, I am involved in a support mission and have merely intervened across the fence into his property. Sounds like a defence, then once I run it, I would have provided the Judge a good reason to order a psychiatric examination.
    Sarkozy, for his part, is faced with a UN Resolution which prohibits the supply of arms to Libya. He then in seeking to enforce the UN Resolution supplies arms to the rebels, while professing to be upholding that UN Resolution. Candidate number two for mental status assessment.
    In Britain, by parity of reason, one must assume that if a community took up arms, set up its own central bank, professed itself the new legitimate government of the UK, then for consistency, David Cameron, would simply fold his arms and direct that the British army not suppress the rebellion? Absolutely, because, no doubt, he would have to be politically consistent with his conduct in Libya – now, would he? On the 1st of July, and after 3 months of bombardment of Libya by NATO, several thousand people have marched in the streets of Tirpoli in support of Gadaffi, yet in the words of Cameron:-
    “As I’ve said, we will help fulfil the UN Security Council [resolution] – it is for the Libyan people to determine their government and their destiny. But our view is clear – there is no decent future for Libya with Colonel Gaddafi remaining in power. [The world cannot] stand aside while this dictator murders his own people.”
    So, there are no equivalent public mass rallies in Benghazi of any size, and yet Gadaffi’s own people come out in mass support of their leader, but we cannot forget what Obama said:-
    “Muammar Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave,”
    and that Cameron and Obama are of one mind.
    All three leaders are, of course, on a “humanitarian mission”. And to implement same, one drops bombs relentlessly on the Libyan people, who then come out in mass support of their leader and demand that the NATO bombing stops. But, as we know, Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron are all great humanitarians and thus they shall not relent from the humanitarian bombing for accomplishment of the noble humanitarian mission of removing the leader who over a million people want, while insisting that a leadership that no one ever heard of before – is installed in power to uphold the democratic wishes of the Libyan people.
    Who really needs to consult the psychiatrist, Gadaffi, Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron or the masses of Libyans who marched in Tripoli ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHVDIMP-l80)?
    P.S. I note now that you tube is busy, yet again, blocking the videos showing the size of the pro-Gadaffi demonstrations. Of course, we have freedom of expression here in the West.
    ( http://www.globaljusticeonline.com)

  • Evgeney Knyazhev

    Thanks to Ye & my Respect to You!!! De-facto, morons, idiots & criminals have occupied Power around Entire World.

  • Evgeney Knyazhev

    Long Life to You, William.

  • Mack

    I have something to suggest on this topic and before I’m bashed as some zombie drone for the US Government, just take a minute to see how my shoes fit. I have spent time in the intelligence community and I have deployed overseas. I try to take the time to learn as much about a subject as I can before I make my determinations but after spending time in other countries I realized that its is overly complex with so many moving parts that the more you experience the less you know. Excuse my informality but I don’t see this as a formal forum anyway. There are a few things I have to refute outright regardless of their purpose or meaning:
    1. We have been fighting in Africa, South America, and Asia covertly and overtly since the 1990s. No need to blame Obama here, this has been part of the operational tempo for a long time. I am not going to speculate on the motivation or purpose of any of those efforts.
    2. Radical extremists do not single out America as the only target of choice. Its just that it makes headline news in America when the attack is in America. Other notable countries that have been attacked by extremists and much more often than our own: France, Germany, Russia, India, Philippines, Japan, China, and England. The list goes on for days and realistically we are on the low end of attacks when compared to some of those countries. However, plenty of American civilian lives were indiscriminately ended by extremists on September 11.

    Here is how I look at our efforts in the middle east right now. I am not discussing Afghanistan and Iraq for the reason that they are not the same as the current conflicts taking place throughout the middle east. Those were regime changes, not revolutions.

    I think its interesting the author brings up the American revolution but does not point out the strong similarities between our revolution and the ones being conducted in the middle eastern and Africa over the past few months. Thomas Paine did the same thing that social networking sites have done in the modern age, he created a dialogue between every man, woman, and child in the American Colonies. That is what the freedom of information being provided in middle eastern countries has done for the people there. They now have dialogue and know they are not alone in their quest for a better life. I’m not talking about being able to enjoy watching dancing with the stars either. I mean like basic human rights that we enjoy in the west.

    The question that hasn’t even been asked here is how did we do it back in 1776? Well let me tell you we didn’t do it by ourselves. The American colonial army was beaten back in almost every conventional battle they fought in. There was no funding for food, blankets, weapons, or warfighting material. General Washington himself questioned whether the cause was lost at times in his memoirs. It was the interference by a foreign power that made us successful. The French provided not only a naval blockade to prevent supplies from reaching the British army on American soil, but also supplies, food, weapons, and training to the American militias. This eventually turned the tide of the war and made us our own country.

    Why do these people not deserve the same support as we were offered back then?

  • Edward

    As Bob Dylan(?) sang “Times they are a-changing). We all now have no excuse for not knowing the truth.

  • Edward

    Mack: I see your point about helping people to achieve a decent standard of living free from oppression.
    The trouble with America is it is addicted to oil and money. I would say that if addicts cannot kick the habit they are to be avoided and if they use foul means to satisfy their addiction they have to be contained.
    It is only the most naive therefore who believe that the Americans are in Libya for the good of the Libyan people and not for oil or the billion of Libyan assets “frozen” by the Americans.

  • David Mackowiak

    Poor structure and analysis. Is this guy a professional writer?

    • Sir Percy

      Excellent writing with good consceince as a decent human being.

  • Tom

    Ghadaffi ,may be mad ,but as well crazy like a fox,here in the united former 13 colonies we chose to fight for our own freedom,while we had pricless help from france we fought the war ourselves on our own shores,We must not become involved in the internal affairs of this mans politics.
    Its up to the lybian people to muster the courage,the will and the support of thier people either to opose or stand with this man.
    It should be no buisness of ours,it is not a good idea to be forcefully imposing our will upon them,decideing to what purpose or form of government they wish to live,anymore Than it would have been right for cuba to decide the fate of american politic.
    I am in the notion of supporting free government who vote to stand with the U,S. to allie to protect each others soviergnty,from tyrannical governments,but lybia even if it mustered every man ,woman and child to arms ,could not in reality threaten even one of our coastal un inhabited barrier islands or that of it smallest ant population.
    It is my philosophy that even were we to have to park every private vehicle in america cause the lack of petro or its affordability is it worth one life to make it a exception to this doctrine.
    We continue to attack and destroy large cities in other nations to teach them a lesson as not to insult or attack our intrests only to pay for the damage we inflict with no consaquence to the actions of the people that wronged us.
    Nation building should and desparatly needs to be done here domestically not abroad supporting the employment of our enemies.
    If we wish to survive the 21st century the we must change our tactics or suffer

  • Tom

    Obama knows that the terrorist organizations that are determined to be the oposite of americas best interest is the driving force behind the rebels,but hesupports thier cause,if this dont make you sit back and scratch your head in bewilderment then nothing will,because the obvious would mean nothing short of treason to americas interest.

  • The Uprising

    You see “government” per se and “business” as we understand these concepts have become mingled beyond perception. In a sense the American government is not the problem, the problem is those with business and racial interests who have invaded the government.

    Really, what we are seeing is a type of coups, a silent type instigated by money, threats, and if necessary, elimination of those who stand in the way. It is the method of racketeering. These infiltrators throw their cash and media support behind the candidates who are most likely to do their bidding, and ever-increasingly today, they run their own candidates and place in offices the same willing sorts. In this way, elections in our country are no longer about which person is best to tun the country, state, or city, and having the people vote on the best contenders; rather, elections today are about which candidate can raise the most money and get the most press, instigated by those Big Business moneys and interests.

    On the surface then we seem to be rolling right along. The problem is, all our elections are in this way fixed. SO far advanced, I dare say, that the next President of the US or Prime Minister of England has already been decided. When “Communism” (actually state capitalism, the direction the US is headed towards, q.v. almost 1 in 2 receives a government check of some kind each month) was at its peak in the old Soviet Union elections were held in pure democratic fashion. Yes, all the candidates were of the “communist” party, but voters had at least a half a dozen choices. Considering the difference between a “liberal republican” and a “conservative democrat” is slim to not available, in reality we vote for 1 of 2 choices, those who got the most media attention. Not too hard to manipulate that. Whoever wins, they win.

    Now the military, like the government, is also operating under idealized premises. We have our bloody nose in doggone nearly every nation, we say, to promote freedom, and, as some have commented here, to better their ways of living. And it is my guess that most of the soldiers and their commanders believe with the same blind faith. But here, too, the infiltrators have a say: those who sell weapons, those who lend money, those who build and rebuild, those who peddle merchandise, those who seek new markets and to otherwise make a fast buck. They are the ones who want these wars.

    The analog is Christianity. over 80% of Americans claim to be Christians, a religion defined by peace, love and certainly not killing. On point of fact, though, over 80% of inmates, soldiers, and congressmen are also Christian in name. Those who support war, and killing, and violence, and so on, are not really Christians at all. They are just wearing a label.

    And it is the same with the military and government. Instead of using peace and diplomacy to further relations, establish trust and good will, our fine premises such as freedom, liberty, opportunity, and fairness have become subordinated to Big Business interests, weapons production and dissemination, land reconstructions and contracted enterprise. Under our flag and using our resources certain men and corporations are getting rich.

    To think this is a bipartisan issue is to make a grievous error. And one sad side-effect is that you now have Americans and English who “hate Muslims” and “want wipe them out” being bred to think this way, making a military draft unnecessary. This is erroneous and morally bad education, as bad if not worse than the carnage to which such thought leads.