Saturday, May 21, 2016

“A Smoking Gun”: The Obama-Clinton War on Libya and Africa by RAY LIGHT

The 2016 Presidential Primary Campaigns leading up to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this summer have set a political-cultural tone among the people of the USA that is an especially misleading one. It is true that among the candidates, there are some big programmatic differences on domestic policy.

The predominantly white Christian Republican voters are increasingly angry about their deteriorating economic conditions. Till now, however, the Wall Street ruling class has been able to divert their frustration and outrage into fruitless channels, i.e., safely away from making demands on the finance capitalists of  Wall Street. Mainly by pushing the “All-American” buttons of  White Supremacy and Christian religious bigotry, the Republican Primary candidates have largely focused their voters’ bitterness on chauvinist hatred for the first African American U.S. president and on the Arab and Muslim peoples of the Middle East and the USA, as well as on the more than ten million undocumented Latino immigrants who have served as scapegoats for the U.S. monopoly capitalists and imperialists ever since the 2008 economic crisis erupted. This is what has made Donald Trump so effective on the campaign trail.

Under the Obama Regime, the rich have done better than ever, while the middle class, the working class and especially the working poor are still mired in economic depression. Thus, the Democratic Primary voters, like their Republican counterparts, are frustrated with the fact that the rich in the USA have never been so much richer and more powerful than the rest of us! The Bernie Sanders Campaign, standing on the shoulders of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has given expression (at long last) to the class warfare that has been waged by the U.S. Ruling class against the working class and oppressed nationalities in the USA. And Sanders campaign platform contains a domestic program that would serve the class interests of the workers and the 99% and is mobilizing some thousands around it and in opposition to Wall Street. (This is precisely why the Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL-USA) has critically participated in this campaign.) Indeed, Hillary Clinton, the only major “Republicrat” candidate of either Republicrat party still clearly in the running for the Presidency, has been forced to adopt most of Sanders’ domestic platform – at least until she captures the Democratic Party nomination at the July Convention.

Nevertheless, from Sanders on the “left” to Trump (or Cruz or Clinton) on the “right,” there is no candidate that represents an alternative foreign policy to the bestial Bush-Obama “Republicrat” foreign policy of Empire, an endless war of terror against any country it chooses, and against the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the earth.

Many would still argue that President Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his Secretary of State,  Hillary Clinton, inherited the War in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan, from the Bush-Cheney Regime and that these ongoing wars are therefore not their responsibility. To make it crystal clear that Obama-Clinton have been every bit as bloodthirsty as Bush-Cheney in their defense of Wall Street’s pursuit of maximum private profits no matter the public cost, this article thus focuses on the U.S. imperialist-led war against Libya, a war that is clearly Obama’s War.

Moreover, ROL-USA opposed this vicious and brutal, unprovoked imperialist war of plunder and terror from its very beginning. But the thorough exposure of this Democratic Party administration’s absolute rejection of any negotiation with the Qaddafi Regime in Libya, the Obama Regime’s insistence on an all-out war to drive Qaddafi out of Libya and then to murder him is documented here not by us but by a pro-U.S. imperialist adviser, Alan J. Kuperman, an Associate Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin!  Then, when two former National Security Council (NSC) senior advisers with some real responsibility for Obama’s Libya policy in 2011 challenge Kuperman using  “plausible deniability,” Kuperman responds with an even more scathing exposure! Kuperman provides the “smoking gun.”

Kuperman’s think-tank article appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs, arguably the most authoritative political magazine representing U.S. Imperialist interests published in the USA.  Kuperman’s article is entitled, “Obama’s Libya Debacle.” But, declaring his pro-imperialist, pro-Empire bona fides up front, the subtitle is: “How a Well-Meaning Intervention Ended in Failure.” ( ROL emphasis) Of course, a careful reading of Kuperman’s piece provides no evidence that there was anything well-meaning in the criminal U.S. Intervention. Kuperman’s goal is not to oppose the U.S. Empire but to bolster it.

In fact, Kuperman’s main aim here is to get the U.S. Government to frankly admit that, “in retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold. Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Qaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya now serves as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the UN, and fueling Syria’s civil war.”

Kuperman’s article begins on March 17, 2011, when the UN Security Council passed Resolution 73, spearheaded by President Obama, “authorizing military intervention in Libya.” It was done in the name of saving “the lives of peaceful pro-democracy protesters who found themselves the target of a crackdown by  Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi.” Said Obama, “We knew if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” Kuperman observes: “Two days after the UN authorization, the United States and other NATO countries established a no-fly zone throughout Libya and started bombing Qaddafi’s forces. Seven months later, in October 2011, after an extended military campaign with sustained Western support, rebel forces conquered the country and shot Qaddafi dead.” (Kuperman, p.66).

Kuperman asserts that, “Despite what defenders of the mission claim, there was a better policy available — not intervening at all, because peaceful Libyan citizens were not actually being targeted.” (ibid. p. 66, ROL emphasis)

Without explicitly pointing to Obama, Kuperman exposes “the big lie” that Obama used to perpetrate the war against Libya’s sovereign government. Kuperman goes on to document that “striving to minimize civilian casualties, Qaddafi’s forces had refrained from indiscriminate violence.” (p. 70) To this end, Kuperman provides exact statistics drawn from the fighting in Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, where there were very few women and children casualties, “which indicates that Qaddafi’s forces had narrowly targeted combatants, who were virtually all male.” “The same pattern of restraint was evident in Tripoli ... These statistics refute the notion that Qaddafi’s forces fired indiscriminately at peaceful civilians.” (p.70)

Especially contemptible about the Obama Regime’s assertion at the UN on March 17, 2011 (in order to obtain authorization for military intervention in Libya) that Qaddafi was about to commit a bloodbath in Benghazi is that, according to Kuperman, “From March 5 to March 15, 2011, [Qaddafi] government forces recaptured all but one of the major rebel-held cities, and in none did they kill civilians in revenge, let alone commit a bloodbath. Indeed, as his forces approached Benghazi, Qaddafi issued public reassurances that they would harm neither civilians nor rebels who disarmed. On March 17, he directly addressed the rebels of Benghazi ...”           “Two days later, however, the NATO air campaign halted  Qaddafi’s offensive ... Benghazi did not return to government control, the rebels did not flee, and the war did not end. ... All told, the intervention extended Libya’s civil war from less than six weeks to more than eight months.” (p.71)

“Moreover,” continues Kuperman, “unlike Qaddafi’s forces in 2011, the militias fighting in Libya today do use force indiscriminately ... This grim math leads to a depressing but unavoidable conclusion. Before NATO’s intervention, Libya’s civil war was on the verge of ending, at the cost of barely 1,000 lives. Since then, however, Libya has suffered at least 10,000 additional deaths from conflict. In other words, NATO’s intervention appears to have increased the violent death toll 
more than tenfold.” (p 72)

Kuperman also cites real “war crimes” being committed by the victorious, imperialist-backed rebels still vying with each other for power.

There are many other important points made by Kuperman in this Foreign Affairs article, including the fact that  “the intervention in Libya may also have fostered violence in Syria. In March 2011, Syria’s uprising was still largely nonviolent, and the Assad government’s response ... was relatively circumscribed. After NATO gave Libya’s rebels the upper hand, however, Syria’s revolutionaries (sic) turned to violence in the summer of 2011, perhaps expecting to attract a similar intervention. ... The result was a massive escalation of the Syrian conflict, leading to at least 1,500 deaths per week by early 2013, a 15-fold increase.” (p.75) “NATO’s mission in Libya also hindered peacemaking efforts in Syria by greatly antagonizing Russia. With Moscow’s acquiescence, the UN Security Council had approved the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya and other measures to protect civilians. But NATO exceeded that mandate to pursue regime change.” Explained Russian foreign minister Lavrov, “... as a result, in Syria, Russia ‘would never allow the Security Council to authorize anything similar to what happened in Libya.’”

Kuperman also documents that Mummar Qaddafi was laying the groundwork for transition to his son Saif and his reformist agenda after the elder Qadaffi had sacked his more hard-line son Mutassim in 2010. According to Kuperman, the imperialist adviser, “The prudent path is to promote peaceful reform of the type that Qaddafi’s son Saif was pursuing.”

Kuperman concludes the article by criticizing Obama for having drawn the exact wrong lesson from his Libyan debacle. He quotes Obama as viciously telling New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in August 2014, “I think we underestimated … the need to come in full force.” Kuperman states: “The error in Libya was not an inadequate post-intervention effort; it was the decision to intervene in the first place.”

*      *      *

In the next issue of Foreign Affairs (May/June 2015), Derek Chollet and Ben Fishman, who had been Obama’s Senior Director for Strategic Planning and Director of North Africa and Jordan respectively on the National Security Council staff in 2011, took sharp issue with Professor Kuperman’s position (pp 154-157). Their response was entitled, “Who Lost Libya? - Obama’s Intervention in Retrospect.” And there was a brief  “Kuperman Replies,” (pp 158-159) as well.

It is enlightening to read the bankrupt patter of these two corrupt functionaries, seeking to defend their criminal roles in Libya, in response to Kuperman’s facts. First, they try to besmirch Qaddafi’s record, painting him as the worst kind of despot in the world. However, Kuperman has already provided ample documentation of Qaddafi’s concern to avoid civilian casualties even in the midst of the civil war. And he has pointed out that, “the recent privation represents a stark descent for a country (Libya) that the UN’s Human Development Index traditionally had ranked as having the highest standard of living in all of Africa.” (p. 69) (ROL emphasis)

Chollet/Fishman also hide behind the idea that the “world saw a slaughter in the making.” According to Kuperman, “that’s simply not true. The world’s top two human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, never warned of an impending massacre in Libya.” (p. 158) Kuperman also points to his own reporting in USA Today in March 2011: “Despite ubiquitous cellphone cameras, there are no images of genocidal violence, a claim that smacks of rebel propaganda.” Kuperman concludes that “Given that experts in the intelligence, human rights, and scholarly communities expressed strong doubts at the time about the rebel warnings of an impending bloodbath, it is the Obama administration that must accept responsibility for spearheading a disastrous intervention on phony grounds.” (p. 158)

Regarding Chollet/Fishman’s allegation that it was Qaddafi who was responsible for failing to negotiate a different outcome, Kuperman exposes “The facts show otherwise. Just three days into the  bombing campaign, it was the Obama Administration that unilaterally terminated peace negotiations between U.S. Africa Command and the Qaddafi regime.” Kuperman  cites Charles Kubic, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, who brokered the negotiations. Kubic recounted that “Qaddafi was willing to step down and permit a transition government” under two conditions: that his inner circle receive free passage out of the country and that Libya’s military retain sufficient force to fight radical Islamists.” Said rear admiral Kubic, in looking back: “If their goal was to get Qaddafi out of power, then why not give a 72-hour truce a try?” Kubic concluded: “it wasn’t enough to get him out of power; they wanted him dead.” (p. 158)

Kuperman continues: “Unaware, Qaddafi continued to pursue peace talks in vain.” And Kuperman cites an April 10th African Union proposal and a May 26th proposal by the Qaddafi government rejected by the rebels with the backing of the U.S. Government. “The rebels declared they would reject any cease-fire until Qaddafi had left power, and the Obama administration backed this intransigent position.”

One issue not remarked upon by Kuperman is that, in their response to his article, Chollet/Fishman’s repeated “proof” of Qaddafi’s alleged unwillingness to negotiate is that he would not negotiate his own exit. This is a dangerous reflection of the Hitlerian character of Obama’s order to Qaddafi that he leave his own country and its Hitlerian impact on these two corrupt functionaries! How many Libyans elected Obama to give that order?! How could Chollet/Fishman now some five years removed from the situation still be so blind to their own and Obama’s imperial arrogance?!*

*Chollet/Fishman are in the tradition of fascist political functionaries. They blame the lame Libyan puppets, installed in power by U.S. bombs and armaments, for the inability of the U.S.-led imperialist powers to make post Qaddafi Libya “a success.” And they say, in the most cynical and sinister fashion, “... there was never a realistic option for establishing an international peacekeeping or post-conflict security mechanism, because the Libyans did not want it. And no viable candidates from the West or the region stepped up to lead or compose such a force, because no one wanted to participate in an enterprise that might appear neocolonial.” (ROL emphasis)

Nonetheless, Kuperman is clear on who is responsible for this brutal war in Libya. He states: “The Obama administration had insisted  on regime change from the very start. On March 3, 2011,  two weeks before NATO intervened, Obama declared that Qaddafi ‘must step down from power and leave.’ That explains why the State Department ordered U.S. Africa Command to halt peace talks on March 22, and why NATO kept bombing even after the rebels repeatedly rejected negotiations.” (p. 159)

And he is indignant that Chollet/Fishman try to blame Qaddafi for his own murder. “Not so,” says Kuperman. “Instead it was the result of the Obama administration’s serial errors [crimes-ROL]: starting a war of choice based on a faulty premise, exceeding the UN’s mandate to protect civilians, rejecting Qaddafi’s peace offers, insisting on regime change, and supporting an opposition composed of radical Islamists and fractious militias.”

The tragic destruction of Libya and the tragic blow to the people of the African continent struck by U.S.-led Western imperialism is an important part of the legacy of Barack Obama, the first African-American U.S. President, and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. 

But let us give the last word  to Professor Kuperman, the imperialist adviser who began with his characterization of a “well-intentioned” intervention in Libya, as he quite correctly ties together the Bush/Cheney and Obama/Clinton “Republicrat” rulers:

“After Qadaffi’s death was confirmed in October 2011, a gloating Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared to a television reporter, ‘We came, we saw, he died!’ She was justified in claiming credit on behalf of the Obama administration for the outcome in Libya, including Qaddafi’s brutal murder. Back then, however, she and her colleagues believed their intervention was a success. Now that it has turned into a dismal failure, it is too late to shed responsibility. As President George W. Bush learned the hard way, ‘mission accomplished’ can be declared, but subsequent events may haunt you.”

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