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Libya: Here We Go Again

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Posted on Sep 5, 2011
AP / Sergey Ponomarev

A rebel fighter inspects a house in Tripoli that belonged to Al-Saadi Gadhafi, son of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

By Chris Hedges

Here we go again. The cheering crowds. The deposed dictator. The encomiums to freedom and liberty. The American military as savior. You would think we would have learned in Afghanistan or Iraq. But I guess not. I am waiting for a trucked-in crowd to rejoice as a Gadhafi statue is toppled and Barack Obama lands on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit to announce “Mission Accomplished.” War, as long as you view it through the distorted lens of the corporate media, is not only entertaining, but allows us to confuse state power with personal power. It permits us to wallow in unchecked self-exaltation. We are a nation that loves to love itself.

I know enough of Libya, a country I covered for many years as the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, to assure you that the chaos and bloodletting have only begun. Moammar Gadhafi, during one of my lengthy interviews with him under a green Bedouin tent in the sprawling Bab al-Aziziya army barracks in Tripoli, once proposed marrying one of his sons to Chelsea Clinton as a way of mending fences with the United States. He is as insane as he appears and as dangerous. But we should never have become the air force, trainers, suppliers, special forces and enablers of rival tribal factions, goons under the old regime and Islamists that are divided among themselves by deep animosities and a long history of violent conflict.

Stopping Gadhafi forces from entering Benghazi six months ago, which I supported, was one thing. Embroiling ourselves in a civil war was another. And to do it Obama blithely shredded the Constitution and bypassed Congress in violation of the War Powers Resolution. Not that the rule of law matters much in Washington. The dark reasoning of George W. Bush’s administration was that the threat of terrorism and national security gave the executive branch the right to ignore all legal restraints. The Obama administration has made this disregard for law bipartisan. Obama assured us when this started that it was not about “regime change.” But this promise proved as empty as the ones he made during his presidential campaign. He has ruthlessly prosecuted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where military planners speak of a continued U.S. presence for the next couple of decades. He has greatly expanded our proxy wars, which rely heavily on drone and missile attacks, as well as clandestine operations, in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. Add a few more countries and we will set the entire region alight. 

The NATO airstrikes on the city of Sirte expose the hypocrisy of our “humanitarian” intervention in Libya. Sirte is the last Gadhafi stronghold and the home to Gadhafi’s tribe. The armed Libyan factions within the rebel alliance are waiting like panting hound dogs outside the city limits. They are determined, once the airstrikes are over, not only to rid the world of Gadhafi but all those within his tribe who benefited from his 42-year rule. The besieging of Sirte by NATO warplanes, which are dropping huge iron fragmentation bombs that will kill scores if not hundreds of innocents, mocks the justification for intervention laid out in a United Nations Security Council resolution. The U.N., when this began six months ago, authorized “all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.” We have, as always happens in war, become the monster we sought to defeat. We destroy in order to save. Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council estimates that the number of Libyans killed in the last six months, including civilians and combatants, has exceeded 50,000. Our intervention, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, has probably claimed more victims than those killed by the former regime. But this intervention, like the others, was never, despite all the high-blown rhetoric surrounding it, about protecting or saving Libyan lives. It was about the domination of oil fields by Western corporations.

Once the Libyans realize what the Iraqis and Afghans have bitterly discovered—that we have no interest in democracy, that our primary goal is appropriating their natural resources as cheaply as possible and that we will sacrifice large numbers of people to maintain our divine right to the world’s diminishing supply of fossil fuel—they will hate us the way we deserve to be hated. Libya has the ninth largest oil reserves in the world, which is why we react with moral outrage and military resolve when Gadhafi attacks his citizens, but ignore the nightmare in the Congo, where things for the average Congolese are far, far worse. It is why the puppets in the National Transitional Council have promised to oust China and Brazil from the Libyan oil fields and turn them over to Western companies. The unequivocal message we deliver daily through huge explosions and death across the occupied Middle East is: We have everything and if you try and take it away from us we will kill you.


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Silence is Complicity's avatar

By Silence is Complicity, September 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

Because silence is complicity, I do salute Chris Hedges for his refusal to be among the complacent criminals.

I agree with every word Chis Hedges said. He is more knowledgeable than all the stupid, criminal politicians and military, arrogant people who run this sad country, called the dis-United States of America. The dis-United States of America is morally corrupt, and it’s so refreshing to see and read few voices who have the moral compass and courage to speak truth to power.

Besides being a native of the Middle East, I am also a historian and keen long-time observer of Middle East current affairs, and certainly know much more than the stupid voices here who take issue with Chris Hedges. I just visited Libya two years ago and found lots of good things going on.

Qaddafi’s problem was and is that he was too nationalistic who stood as a painful thorn in the throats of the neo-imperialists and fascists of the world!

Thank you Chis Hedges for being a voice of reason and sanity in a world gone morally astray!

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By CitizenWhy, September 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

As Islam rose, many of the Christians, fed up with the Byzantine Empire and its
draconian enforcement of orthodox Christianity, willingly converted to Islam and
its better manner of governance. Others remained Christians but welcomed the
break from the Byzantine Empire, preferring Islamic rule. As the predatory
capitalism of the US becomes clearer and clearer many will willingly convert to
Islam just to be against the US. This is the fear of the radical right wing Christians.

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JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, September 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

RE: Inherit The Wind, September 5 at 6:57 am

“This land is your land, this land is my land”

I love Pete and Woody too, though neither one was much of a singer.

This land, if it ever was, is not our land, and the indigenous peoples of foreign lands don’t own their land either, their lands are owned by absentee landlords.

Apparently you can’t even see Hedges as a stopped clock, being right every once in a while. Time will tell.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, September 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

Will someone please forward this article to Amy Goodman?
After all, all she did was pimp the NATO line while refusing to have Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney on her show. When McKinney was IN LIBYA exposing the NATO lies.

Maybe I can forget about EVER getting that Truthdigger Of The Week Award, eh?


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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, September 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

RE: “...You would think we would have learned…”

It’s not about ‘learning’ - it’s about ‘conditioning’ - the citizenry of the so-call
‘free world’ have, for decades, been conditioned, through every feasible
channel, to accept and support both soft (stealthy) and hard (brutal) globalist
regime change - essential mission: fail self-determinant states - goal: bring
them under endless IMF/World Bank debt-service hegemony.

Hedges catches the thread on ousting China and Brazil cooperative
development teams; but, misses Gadaffi’s game-changing initiative, verging on
launching, through the African-owned African Central Bank (not a Rothchild
asset), the African Gold Dinar - Africa’s own progressive fiat currency.

Unacceptable challenge to those for whom fiat-US-Dollar-and-strong-Euro status
is strategic - moreover the African Development Bank has been loaning, for
African infrastructure development, on terms unimaginable from IMF/World
Bank global finance oligarchs - also intolerable - globalist orders: insight
widespread, instability, chaos, infighting, civil war, failed states - all while
feeding the Military Industrial Complex.

we know who the criminals are - INVESTIGATE, INDITE, PROSECUTE, EXECUTE!

details here:

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James M. Martin's avatar

By James M. Martin, September 5, 2011 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

How strange that a person who authored a jaw-dropping expose’ of evangelical fanatics in Christendom would take an essentially Republican stance on the War Powers debate.  Participation in a NATO operation did not require congressional consultation or approval.  We are signatories to the organization, and this was an emergency.  If Obama had put troops on the ground, he would have been guilty of what his detractors accuse him of.  That did not happen.  Europe is the primary beneficiary of NATO’S incursion, and especially France.  I think the telephone line between Paris and the White House may have been singing lately.  But how big a part did France play in the Iraqi incursion?  Maybe it is time to re-examine our treaties.  Many were broken wholesale by Bush.

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By curmudgeon99, September 5, 2011 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

Well said, ElkoJohn,

As another refugee from Elko, maybe we learned the fine art of putting truth to fiction and separating the sheep’s clothing from the wolves at the same trough.

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By CitizenWhy, September 5, 2011 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Civil war is almost inevitable after a revolution. It is inevitable in a tribal society.

It would have been far better to insist on negotiations, getting Ghadafi out to
be replaced by his son as chief negotiator. The African Union has a far better
take on how to handle the situation, and we should have backed them.

It looks like the new regime plans to imitate Saudi Arabia rather than Turkey,
Tunisia or Egypt. That is, a constitution enshrining Sharia law but a willingness
to let European and US corporations benefit from Libyan resources. This could
well show a “third way” to the Taliban in Afghanistan when they take over -
enforce Sharia sternly, but do business with the West. Then they will leave you
alone. Abandon Al Queda’s global war against the US in favor of country by
country takeovers by “reform” al Queda operatives who are willing to live for a
while with the United States, meanwhile focusing on taking over Europe
through largely peaceful but aggressive means.

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By ElkoJohn, September 5, 2011 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

I must say, you put your finger on the root cause of American injustice
toward the other countries of the world,
‘‘We are a nation that loves to love itself.’‘
Until this fatal flaw is changed, the corporate media, the corporate
government and the big money profiteers will always be able to manipulate
the American voters.

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By JMD, September 5, 2011 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges:      9/05/2011
    The National Transitional Council wishes to
extend an open invitation and response from China?
    “Does anybody know what time it is”?

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By Cliff Carson, September 5, 2011 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

There were no mistakes made in Libya

Everything went as planned

A boots on the ground group has been there for sometime organizing a “problem” meant to stir up the local population against Qaddafi.  The area of operation was carefully chosen for the most impact.  And the plan was to build an “Excuse” to topple the Regime.  The propaganda chosen was to protect “Civilians”.

Once the small rebellious group Leaders were chosen by the clandestine “Special Forces” and encouraged by the vision of power and booty, the underground unit began to arm the rebellion as planned a year or two ago, the goal being control of Libyan Oil and the Great Man Made River resource.

Many thousands of innocent Libyan’s would die and the most prosperous economy (per Capita) in Africa
would never see the United African Nations or the African currency it had proposed.  A currency that would not be controlled by the International Financial Cabal, that Privately owned organization that now controls the majority of the World’s money, including the NATO nations and the United States.

Qaddafi was urging all Arab Nations to join the new African World currency Group that was to break away from the World’s domination of the International Cabal.  This new Independence would allow the African Nation and Arab Nations to build their own destiny, something Empire just doesn’t like.

Yes the invasion of Libya was no mistake, not to the Empire Builders. It was just business as usual.

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By curmudgeon99, September 5, 2011 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Chris has once again shown his knowledge of the affected area.

Were documents planted to oust China interests, replacing them with Brit and French ones ?

A news item from this morning says it all - check it out:

“China denies report, says it did not sell weapons to Libya

Tripoli, Libya (CNN)—Documents showing that China offered to sell arms to Moammar Gadhafi in the waning days of his rule are “the real deal,” a senior member of Libya’s transitional government said Monday.

The comment follows a report by Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper saying that state-controlled Chinese arms manufacturers were prepared to sell at least $200 million worth of weapons to Gadhafi, which would have violated United Nations resolutions banning such transactions.

The Globe and Mail said one of its reporters found the documents, in Arabic, in a pile of trash in Tripoli’s Bab Akkarah neighborhood, an enclave that was home to some of Gadhafi’s most loyal supporters.

The documents, which were posted Sunday on the website of the Toronto-based newspaper, do not confirm whether any military assistance was delivered to Libya.

However, Libya’s National Transitional Council said it appears deliveries might have been made.

“We found several documents that showed us orders, very large orders, of arms and ammunition specifically from China, and now we do know that some of the things that were on the list are here on the ground, and they came in over the last two to six months,” said Abdulrahman Busin, NTC spokesman.

He said it is unclear whether the exact list on the document was delivered, “but there were many things on that list that are here, and these are brand-new equipment, brand-new weapons, brand-new boxes of ammunition that haven’t been opened yet, that were clearly delivered only in the last few months.

“Don’t forget that we have many of the generals and high commanders who defected some time ago who know Gadhafi’s regime very, very well, know what he has and doesn’t have, and we know 100% that there was a lot of weapons and arms that were delivered to Gadhafi over the last few months—during the war and during the sanctions,” Busin said.

China says it followed U.N. Security Council resolutions that banned the export of arms to Gadhafi’s government.

“The Gadhafi regime sent people to China to engage in contact with certain individuals of relevant Chinese companies in July without the knowledge of the Chinese government departments,” Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told CNN.

“Chinese companies have not signed any military trade contracts with Libya—let alone provided military exports to Libya.”

Mohamed Sayeh, a member of the NTC, said Libya’s new leaders have seen the documents.

“This deal is a real deal and we have seen the official documents,” he said. “It was signed by Chinese officials, and it was to send guns and artillery to Libya through Algiers to expedite the deal.”

The four-page memo detailed a trip by Gadhafi’s security officials to Beijing on July 16 during which they met with four state-controlled weapons manufacturers, the newspaper reported.

“The companies suggest that they make the contracts with either Algeria or South Africa, because those countries previously worked with China,” the documents say.

According to the newspaper, the documents show the Chinese companies noted that many of the items wanted by Gadhafi were in Algeria and could quickly be moved across the Libyan border.

The Chinese said they would replace the Algerian arms sent to Libya, the document said.

Busin said Mustafa Abdul Jalil, NTC chairman, has “made it very, very clear that anybody who has helped and supported and stood by Gadhafi over the months would not be greeted well.”

See article for rest and decide for yourself!

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By ejreed, September 5, 2011 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

Arrest Raises Hopes of Gaddafi Find
The arrest of one of Muammar Gaddafi’s close friends, Ahmed Abdallah Oun, raises hopes of finding the deposed Libyan leader.

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, September 5, 2011 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

Hedges - “...Obama blithely shredded the Constitution and bypassed Congress in violation of the War Powers Resolution. Not that the rule of law matters much in Washington. The dark reasoning of George W. Bush’s administration was that the threat of terrorism and national security gave the executive branch the right to ignore all legal restraints. The Obama administration has made this disregard for law bipartisan.”

That last line is scary to consider; disregard for the law has been made, in a two party system, bipartisan.

Hedges has genuine concerns about his government, as he should, as he demonstrates regularly and as do many of those who choose to post in his threads. 

Somehow, for one intrepid poster, this qualifies as ‘hatred of America’, a patently absurd statement, all too common a slander these days sadly. 

I have to assume Hedges gave up reading his comment threads long ago, if he ever read them at all.  No doubt he’s been called a ‘hater’ before and will be similarly branded in the future.  I have no doubt that he will maintain his own focus and continues to tell it as he sees it.  Slander ultimately is no match for integrity.

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By felicity, September 5, 2011 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

“Once the Libyans realize…”  Oh, I think they
‘realized’ our game years ago.  Talking to a Jordanian
the other day, I was assured that the majority of the
people living in the Middle East caught on to our
‘game’ years ago and hate America big time as a result.

Are we really that dumb that we can’t imagine how we
would take the bombing of a foreign power on our land
if we protested in the streets against our government? 
Ludicrous comes to mind.

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By Aquifer, September 5, 2011 at 10:27 am Link to this comment


I have one problem with your column, which i otherwise agree with, to whit:

“Stopping Gadhafi forces from entering Benghazi six months ago, which I supported, was one thing. Embroiling ourselves in a civil war was another.”

When you supported it, were you naive enough to believe that you could stop it at Benghazi? Once that was accepted as warranted or legit, the door was open to all the rest and seeing as you have been cynical about US motives in the area for “eons”, how could you not have known the rest would follow?

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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, September 5, 2011 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

OK, omygodnotagain. I read that post in complete confidence that you were being facetious. Then I read it again. And again. And, finally (and sadly), it dawned on me that you might be completely serious.

Holy smokes, haven’t the last two hundred years taught jingoists like you anything or are you still sticking with the cartoon-version of history?

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By edward allen, September 5, 2011 at 9:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am with Ameshia, and think it is time to call the
bluff on all these nay-sayers. Let’s just see what
happens when and if Gadhafi goes. He won’t be missed
and should have been taken out before. Unlike Hedges,
I think it is all going to be peace and calm, not
more conflict. Look, the jig is up. No more peddling
conflicts and frightening people. Get rid of
dictatorial regimes and you end up only with more
conflict. Hardly. look at the United States. We did
away with the monarchy, only to quickly replace it
with another monarchy. Sort of quiet this summer, it
looks to me.

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By I'm Done, September 5, 2011 at 9:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ Gerard - Michael Franti says “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb it into peace”.

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By Spike3, September 5, 2011 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

Strange indeed——if one looks into the domestic politics of Qaddafi it is no surprise to discover what the Western media never tells us. The money earned with oil didn’t leave the country as it is the case with Saudi Arabia or Russia. It stayed at home and the results were visible everywhere. New cheap residential areas were built. Wages were high with a nurse earning near $1100 per month, gasoline cost almost nothing, bread was nearly free, newly married couples received $70,000 from the state to buy an apartment or a house and start a new life, education was free. Libya’s population grew five times and due to Qaddafi’s grand underground irrigation works desert areas were changed into flourishing villages. The country attracted plenty of workers not only from Africa but also from Eastern Europe. Small wonder that his successful and immensely popular socialist policy was a thorn in the eye of many in the West and many of those in the Arab League——strange indeed.

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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, September 5, 2011 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

time to update the avatar

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By gerard, September 5, 2011 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

It’s crystal clear by now that you can bomb people into giving up but you can’t bomb them into making peace. That’s a whole different order of business.
It’s called “prevention.” It would put the Pentagon out of business.

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By omygodnotagain, September 5, 2011 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

I think the Middle East and Africa should be recolonized divided up by the Great Powers. I am tired of these retards with their antiquated ideas, cultural biases and inability to govern themselves in a civilized manner. This tribal nonsense belongs to the Middle Ages. There is plenty of history in the Middle East for tourism, building theme parks and other industries to let them indulge their nostalgia for past glories. Time we set these crackers straight, the world needs their resources to feed, cloth and house the growing world population. The ultimate human right is the right to live and not starve to death because of dysfunctional government

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Billy Pilgrim's avatar

By Billy Pilgrim, September 5, 2011 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

Gee. Something tells me that Mr. Hedges will be proved
correct in his assessment of our foreign policy towards
Libya and the trolls like “Inherit The Wind” will be
put in their place. What is that “something”? History.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 5, 2011 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Hedges’ “analysis” is so biased and value-laden that it sounds like a mirror-image of a Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity “analysis”.  You know, if there were a leftist version of that bane, Rupert Murdoch, with a leftist version of Fox News, prone to lies, biased reporting and, most seriously, selectively editing video to make it look like something else. (Fox is good at airing a five year old vid of a demonstration while talking about one happening today, or cutting video to change meaning like “I did not like this movie” to “I did ... like this movie”, which Hannity did to Anderson Cooper.)

So Hedges makes up his own facts, touts his “experience” and conveniently ignores inconvenient facts….and the slavishly devoted here lap that shit up for reinforcing what they already believe or would like to believe.

Note the ONE thing Hedges says that he then himself blatantly ignores: Qaddaffi is insane.  Rather than say how we SHOULD help the people of Libya get rid of an insane dictator, he says we shouldn’t help them…Huh??????????????

Hedges hates his native land and never has anything positive to offer.

Being furious at the leadership and corruption in America doesn’t mean you have to hate it. Pete Seeger has been fighting and criticizing the “system” for 70 years from the very highest to the very lowest.  Yet Pete always says he LOVES America and always we have to keep working harder to fix America. 

He wanted to clean up the Hudson by sailing up and down the river and stopping and singing to people and everyone told him he couldn’t do it.  So he did it anyway.  Successfully.

Hedges is the anti-Pete Seeger.  He says abandon America, that it cannot be fixed.

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By christian96, September 5, 2011 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

You have adequately described the problems.  How
about some solutions?

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By christian96, September 5, 2011 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

You have adequately described the problems. How
about some solutions?

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By David W. Kent, September 5, 2011 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

In the face of reason, I would hope Chris is wrong.

Given the U.S. history of spreading woe through out the world in the guise of democracy, Chris can only rely on his historical insight of U.S. Foreign Policy.  The tenacles of U.S. corporations guiding our foreign policies is overwelming.  International corporations harvest vast amounts of money and power, then contribute to politicans who will do anything to get elected.

A good topic to debate is: “are we an evil empire?”. Has the U.S. Foreign Policy allowed international corporations to support trannical leaders so we can exploit the natural resourses of their countries.  There is plenty of evidence to support such discussion, so where is the debate.  And, I am talking about a real debate, not the shout downs you see on Fox News.

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AMeshiea's avatar

By AMeshiea, September 5, 2011 at 5:55 am Link to this comment


The 50,000 odd were killed and/or as a direct result
of Ghaddafi regime orders, mostly through mass
killings after incarceration. If you are counting the
Ghaddafi loyalists and mercs, we still have no
numbers on this.

I think it will take more time than you think for
this to be judged. 8 months from the stabilization of
Libya is the time frame given by the NTC to vote for
a 200 person assembly.

I will likely be in Libya well before then so I we
can revisit it then from there I suppose.

For outside the Libya question, I generally agree
with much Hedges has to say, ibid other Left wing
critics, such as Greenwald, so I won’t be tuning out
and you will be free to call me to task if I am

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By aacme88, September 5, 2011 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

@ AMesheiea
I think your assessment is somewhat optimistic but hope you are right. My sense of the world, particularly the Middle East, leads me to lean closer to Chris’s model in my expectation. In fact, if any of the countries in that region caught in upheaval recently come out as functioning democracies, I for one will be astonished. I don’t think the West was in there fomenting rebellion, but they surely aren’t just waiting around to read what came of it in the newspaper.

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JDmysticDJ's avatar

By JDmysticDJ, September 5, 2011 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

I’ll put my baritone to work in the choir. Where will you be AMeshia when you are proven wrong. I would like to confront you with your wrongness. Its more than likely that I’ll be here, I don’t think it will take long to be proven correct on this matter. I will happily admit that I am wrong if that should be the case, but I don’t believe I will be wrong. The rebels are already killing and torturing suspected Khadafi supporters.

50,000 dead? What does it matter when there is light crude to gained?

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AMeshiea's avatar

By AMeshiea, September 5, 2011 at 4:27 am Link to this comment

Chris, for someone who has “covered Libya,” you
really seem to pick and choose what helps bolster
your agenda rather than the potential possibility
that you are wrong (ie; that Libya will transition
into a democracy without massive bloodletting and

The fact is Sirte is not Ghaddaffi’s last strong-hold
as you claim. There are 3 major towns that still fly
the green flag and Sirte itself is largely anti
Ghaddafi but being forced to defend him (as was the
case in Tripoli) by one minority tribe.

You do a disservice to left wing analysis when you
are only capable of pedaling a single line of
argument and use only the patronizing style of
argumentation (ie; how predictable that we should be
doing the same mistakes in Libya as in Iraq and
Afghanistan, creating some Orientalist illusion that
all Eastern states are the same and all interventions
created equally).

You will be proven wrong on this.

No doubt the choir here will disagree.

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