Quote of the Day: Robert Fisk

Please note that no tribunals have called for the princes and emirs of the Gulf, or the Plucky Little King of Jordan, or the weird President Bouteflika of Algeria and his henchmen, or the much creepier President of Iran, to be put on trial.

It all depends, I think, on whether criminals are our friends (Stalin at the time) or our enemies (Hitler and his fellow Nazis), whether they have their future uses (the Japanese emperor) or whether we’ll get their wealth more easily if they are out of the way (Saddam and Gaddafi). The last two were or are wanted for killing “their own people” — in itself a strange expression since it suggests that killing people other than Iraqis or Libyans might not be so bad.

— Robert Fisk (The Independent)

What to Read on the Fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi

The Libya War Argument — Glenn Greenwald

[Gaddafi’s] demise [tells] us very little about the key questions surrounding the war: how many civilians…died and [will] die in the future? What [will] be required to stabilize [Libya]? How much more fighting [will] be unleashed? What precedents did the attack set? What regime [will] replace [Gaddafi] and what type of rule [will] it impose, and to whom [will] its leaders be loyal?

Of course the U.S. participation in [the Libya] war is still illegal. It’s illegal because it was waged for months not merely without Congressional approval, but even in the face of a Congressional vote against its authorization. That NATO succeeded in defeating the Mighty Libyan Army does not have the slightest effect on that question, just as Saddam’s capture told us nothing about the legality or wisdom of that war.

[The] real toll of this war (including the number of civilian deaths that have occurred and will occur) is still almost entirely unknown, and none of the arguments against the war (least of all the legal ones) are remotely resolved by [Gaddafi’s fall from power].

History Repeats Itself, with Mistakes of Iraq Rehearsed Afresh — Robert Fisk

No one is going to make the same mistakes we made in Iraq. And no boots are on the ground. No walled-off, sealed-in Green Zone Western zombies are trying to run the future Libya. “It’s up to the Libyans,” has become the joyful refrain of every State Department/ Foreign Office/Quai d’Orsay factotum. Nothing to do with us!

But, of course, the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen — all pretending to be “advisers” rather than participants — is the Benghazi Green Zone. There may (yet) be no walls around them but they are, in effect, governing Libya through the various Libyan heroes and scallywags who have set themselves up as local political masters. We can overlook the latters’ murder of their own commanding officer — for some reason, no one mentions the name of Abdul Fatah Younes any more, though he was liquidated in Benghazi only a month ago — but they can only survive by clinging to our Western umbilicals.

How to Avoid Bush’s Iraq Mistakes in Libya — Juan Cole

  1. No Western infantry or armored units should be stationed in the country.
  2. As much as possible of the current bureaucracy, police and army should be retained.
  3. Some Libyans are complaining about the prospect of retaining the same police as in the old regime, and want local security committees instead. A compromise would be to establish a strong civilian oversight over police,
  4. Avoid being vindictive toward former Qaddafi supporters, and avoid purging all but the top officials from the body politic.
  5. Avoid a rush to privatize everything.
  6. Consult with Norway about how it is possible for an oil state to remain a democracy.
  7. Use the Alaska dividend system to share the oil wealth with Libya’s 6.5 million people.
  8. Democratization and economic growth cannot be attained through oil exports alone. …use the petroleum receipts to promote other industries and services.
  9. Recognize Berber as a national language.
  10. Once it gets on its feet socially and economically, Libya should go forward with bruited plans to get into solar and wind energy big time.

Obama’s NATO War for Oil in Libya — Robert Dreyfuss

[The] rebel leader who heads the opposition Libyan oil company, which was formed with support from the Arab Gulf kleptocrats, says that Libya’s new leaders, a combination of wealthy defectors, tribal chieftains, and Islamists, plan to favor their NATO backers when handing out access to Libya’s oil.

Helpfully, the Times points out: “Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with.”

 

We Do Not Excuse, But We Must Understand

I don’t give Robert Fisk enough praise. No other Western reporter even comes close to him in covering the Middle East.

The fact that Fisk interviewed Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions should be evidence enough that his is a voice to be listened to in the wake of the mass murderer’s death. As usual, he says what we need to hear, though not necessarily what we want to*:

A middle-aged nonentity, a political failure outstripped by history — by the millions of Arabs demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East — died in Pakistan yesterday. And then the world went mad.   Continue reading “We Do Not Excuse, But We Must Understand”