whether bombs are a better value than bread

Libya’s Pathway to Peace

Together with our NATO allies and coalition partners, the United States, France and Britain have been united from the start in responding to the crisis in Libya, and we are united on what needs to happen in order to end it.

Even as we continue our military operations today to protect civilians in Libya, we are determined to look to the future. We are convinced that better times lie ahead for the people of Libya, and a pathway can be forged to achieve just that.

We must never forget the reasons why the international community was obliged to act in the first place. As Libya descended into chaos with Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi attacking his own people, the Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help. And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need. In an historic resolution, the United Nations Security Council authorized all necessary measures to protect the people of Libya from the attacks upon them. By responding immediately, our countries, together with an international coalition, halted the advance of Qaddafi’s forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi.

Tens of thousands of lives have been protected. But the people of Libya are still suffering terrible horrors at Qaddafi’s hands each and every day. His rockets and shells rained down on defenseless civilians in Ajdabiya. The city of Misurata is enduring a medieval siege, as Qaddafi tries to strangle its population into submission. The evidence of disappearances and abuses grows daily.

Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power. The International Criminal Court is rightly investigating the crimes committed against civilians and the grievous violations of international law. It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. It would be an unconscionable betrayal.

Furthermore, it would condemn Libya to being not only a pariah state, but a failed state too. Qaddafi has promised to carry out terrorist attacks against civilian ships and airliners. And because he has lost the consent of his people any deal that leaves him in power would lead to further chaos and lawlessness. We know from bitter experience what that would mean. Neither Europe, the region, or the world can afford a new safe haven for extremists.

There is a pathway to peace that promises new hope for the people of Libya — a future without Qaddafi that preserves Libya’s integrity and sovereignty, and restores her economy and the prosperity and security of her people. This needs to begin with a genuine end to violence, marked by deeds not words. The regime has to pull back from the cities it is besieging, including Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zintan, and return to their barracks. However, so long as Qaddafi is in power, NATO must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds. Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders. In order for that transition to succeed, Qaddafi must go and go for good. At that point, the United Nations and its members should help the Libyan people as they rebuild where Qaddafi has destroyed — to repair homes and hospitals, to restore basic utilities, and to assist Libyans as they develop the institutions to underpin a prosperous and open society.

This vision for the future of Libya has the support of a broad coalition of countries, including many from the Arab world. These countries came together in London on March 29 and founded a Contact Group which met this week in Doha to support a solution to the crisis that respects the will of the Libyan people.

Today, NATO and our partners are acting in the name of the United Nations with an unprecedented international legal mandate. But it will be the people of Libya, not the U.N., who choose their new constitution, elect their new leaders, and write the next chapter in their history.

Britain, France and the United States will not rest until the United Nations Security Council resolutions have been implemented and the Libyan people can choose their own future.

Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States. David Cameron is prime minister of Britain and Nicolas Sarkozy is president of France.


Bob McDougal
Wyoming Valley, PA.
Since this whole Libya thing is about protecting the French and British oil interests in Libya, I suggest they use their own military resources instead of using the U.S. military. We no longer enjoy the luxury of providing free military service to everyone. It is time for the Europeans to start picking up the check for their defense.

Cambridge, MA
If Iraq was the tragedy, Libya is the farce. Qadaffi has been the toast of Europe for the last five years and has happily cut deals with American oil corporations too. Now we are suddenly to believe that the governments of France, which offered to help put down the first uprising in Tunisia, and the US, which shamelessly supported Mubarak only to eventually begrudgingly suggest he be replaced with the country's head torturer, want desperately to save the Libyan people from Qadaffi. The truth is Qadaffi was so flamboyant in his latest crimes that he embarrassed the American government and made it look weak; Obama's involvement came only when Qadaffi made him look foolish personally and made American power seem ineffective. As for Sarkozy and Cameron, both are deeply and rightly reviled for their domestic policies, and imagined that military adventurism would be the cure they need for reelection. It was only too predictable that this ill-conceived expedition would blow up in their faces. I would be surprised if NATO bombs don't end up killing more people than both sides of the Libyan conflict combined.

judith bell
Well, have to add my voice to the obvious stated by others.
Britain and France are freaking out about their oil interests. They backed the wrong horse early on and now they have to keep him -them? the rebels- in the race.
Has there ever been a bigger oxymoron than European humanitarianism? I mean France is assisting Italy in keeping the Libyan and Tunisian refugees out of Europe, for land sakes!!
But what I love the best is watching these shameless hypocrites act out this farce without a blush. Mr. Koussa was not involved in Lockerbie? Doubtful. But even if this so, he must have been involved in the years of human rights abuses in Libya. What happened to universal jurisdiction? Or is that only applied selectively in Britain, originator of the concept of rule of law?
I tell you this is almost as funny as watching Eliot Spitzer on CNN last night going on and on about how women shouldn't be sexualized and about how sensitive he is to the issue because he has 3 daughters. He was completely straight faced also!! 
So the U.N. sanctions a no-fly zone, which morphs into dropping bombs on Tripoli. Where's the legality in that? But I guess this is democracy we are defending right?
Obama could have easily changed U.S. policy by staying out. That would have been refreshing.
Sarkozy and Cameron and Clinton, so much frothing at the mouth...
Let us be honest. United Nations is really not United Nations. It is Security Council. Even Security Council is not what it appears to be. It is really just a bunch of countries who won the Second World War. So let us stop all pretensions, and tell it the way it really is. The world is becoming a stage for a farce.
We bomb from a distance pretending to protect the civilians. We conveniently do not count civilian deaths resulting from those bombs. We replace one dictator with another - deciding which half of the population can torture and kill which half.
Libyan state torture is bad. Baharainian is good.
Somewhere else the French are at pains to assure us that they did not arrest the Ivory Coast 'ex' president. What fun. 'We just bombed and killed everything and everybody around him', but 'did not arrest him'. Do these semantics really matter. Here is the French President who has so much inferiority complex that he needs to stand on a stool to deliver a speech, who is embroiled in corruption by his relatives, and who has a wife who will leave him the moment he ceases to be the president. Since he cannot be macho bombing French who oppose him, he goes around bombing everybody else.
Kill all. Destroy all. Recover the cost incurred in destruction from the country you destroyed. Make even more money rebuilding it. Then... BOMB AGAIN.
Didn't we have a deal with Qaddafi, he gave up his weapons program or something? If that's true, it seems to me we've betrayed him by waging a war against him. What are other nations going to remember when we try to get them to give up their weapons programs? He who makes a deal with the U.S. gets?

The amateur hour continues. Britain and France barged into this and said they would settle it, if we provided the force to create a no-fly zone. Against our own best interests, but to please Hillary and the bleeding heart crowd, in we stupidly went.
Now Britain and France say, "Hey, we can't do what we said we would. You, NATO (read the US)give us more firepower to do an additional job".
NATO's (all 23 nations) response may be anything. Ours should be a loud NO!

Rich McConville
Ft Myers FL
All of this is the result of the global economic decline. Simon Peres summed it up quite nicely when he attributed the unrest in the region to poverty. The challenge here is the economies of Europe are in no position to spend the kind of money this action requires if it is to have the slightest chance of success. The real question is whether bombs are a better value than bread. I, for one, doubt it.

H. Moyer
Central PA
This invasion of a third world country to steal their resources is the most demeaning action this country has taken in a long time. Are we that desperate for resources to keep our country from falling into a deep depression that we would facilitate the killing of thousands of people? Have we lost all confidence in our ability to generate enough resources to sustain our country? And we also have the UK and France competing with us to secure the resources because they are in an even more dire economic situation.
It would be so satisfying to see one of our premiere news media tell the real truth about this travesty instead of skimming over the surface and reporting superficial information to avoid criticizing the current administration, which has never seemed more incompetent and naive.

France & Britain: "We're gonna' party like it's 1899" (with apologies to Prince).
Oil and imperialism, a volatile mix, at least for the poor souls caught in the crossfire...

Haven't the UK and France killed enough Libyans? Now they want to kill even more. They treat Libyans like ants. The UK and France have not only exceeded UN1973 - they have violated it by taking sides and killing the very people they are meant to protect. Cameron and Hague should be tried for their war crimes. Stop killing people under false pretences. Go home.

J.G. Wentworth
santa cruz
I am probably not the only one who predicted wars and food riots (called "revolutions" lately) when the recession spread worldwide. This military adventure is another example of Obama letting others lead. Pelosi and Reid led the political agenda, with expected results. Hillary and Powers over-ruled Gates and Obama went meekly along. I and most others believe this is not our fight, and unfortunately for the people in North Africa, changing the guy at the top won't solve their economic problems. I see why Europe wants to have a stable North Africa ASAP: they don't want an invasion of young, desperate Muslim north Africans into their countries. This invasion would be more insidious than a bunch of Soviet tanks rolling over Germany. The Europeans have a big problem, they're mostly broke already, and nothing they do can really fix the North African economies. 
What are American envoys doing with the Africa Union leaders who were making deals with Qaddafi??
" . . . months after Arab uprisings . . . democratic reform has stalled . . . with uprisings facing repression in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Libya [et al]" and that is because those democratic ideals are not in the best interests of those repressive countries or in the United States that backs those repressive countries.
The United States invades with "democracy" and "freedom" ideals that are really pretexts for taking control of their resources for the Oligarchs in the United States, and for the Fascist U.S. Military/Industrial Complex, both of which control the United States, and both of which use the abysmal Tea berrie arm of the Republican Wing of the Landed Gentry Party to cut the Oligarch's taxes on the backs of the dying American middle-class and the poor.
The United States is, in essence, a 21st century Banana Republic based on lies.
Libya is one more lie, and Ivory Coast and Algeria, et al, will be added to a new roster of lies, as the United States seeks to form Empire through the Africa Command which is now operating in Africa.


More to Read About Libya
by Stephen M. Walt

Was the decision to intervene in Libya justified by the threat of imminent massacres, and possibly even a genocide?  And did President Obama have the authority to intervene? 
If you're still wondering about either of those questions, I have two suggestions for further reading.  The first is an op-ed by Alan Kuperman, which casts further doubt on the likelihood that Qadhafi's forces were about to engage in the indiscriminate slaughter of thousands of innocent bystanders in Benghazi.  Kuperman points out that Qadhafi loyalists did not conduct massacres in any of the cities that they have recaptured, and that the Libyan tyrant's threats to show "no mercy" applied only to rebels.  He also notes that the reported casualties are overwhelmingly male, which suggests that it is primarily combatants (i.e., rebels) who are being killed.
Note that Kuperman is no apologist for Qadhafi.  He does not deny that Qadhafi is a thuggish ruler, that his loyalists were killing civilians, or that some of their actions constitute war crimes.  The question, however, is whether there was an imminent risk of a bloodbath that "would stain the conscience of the world," as Obama put it. 
Notice also that although Obama did not use the word genocide himself, both current and previous members of his administration did raise the spectre of a genocide in order to make the case for U.S. action.   Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former head of Policy Planning in the State Department, tweeted "The international community cannot stand by and watch the massacre of Libyan protesters. In Rwanda we watched. In Kosovo we acted."   Similarly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "We learned a lot in the 1990s.  We saw what happened in Rwanda."  The clear implication was that failure to act in Libya would produce hundreds of thousands of deliberate murders (which is what occurred in Rwanda in 1994).
Given that Qadhafi is a heinous ruler of dubious legitimacy, why does this matter?  It matters because the case for intervention depends heavily on the magnitude of the humanitarian calamity that we sought to forestall.  If the danger really was that grave, then the case for intervention goes up.  But if the likely consequences of a Qadhafi victory were regrettable but not that large, then the case for intervention diminishes.  And the case for action is even weaker if there is a genuine risk that intervention might prolong the fighting, produce a stalemate or a failed state, or provoke the government into acts of brutality that it might not have conducted otherwise.  
Second: did Obama exceed his powers when he ordered the use of force?   The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has issued an opinion on this issue (perhaps coincidentally, on April 1st), and--surprise, surprise--they've concluded that it was perfectly ok.  The OLC makes three arguments: 1) it's not really a war, and the President has broad powers short of war; 2) we're enforcing a Security Council resolution, which gives the President even more authority, in part because he has to uphold the credibility of the Security Council; and 3) the War Powers Resolution permits the President to use force for sixty days without advance approval. 
Michael Glennon of the Fletcher School examines the OLC's arguments in the Harvard National Security Journal and finds them wanting on legal and constitutional grounds.  More tellingly, he also shows that these justifications are at odds with Obama's own statements before he became President.   In 2007, for example, Obama told the Boston Globe that "the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involves stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."  (Obama used to teach constitutional law, so he's not exactly a tyro on these issues).  And back when she was a mere Senator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that "I do not believe that the President can take military action--including any kind of strategic bombing--against Iran without congressional authorization."  More strikingly still, State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh has repeatedly argued--as a scholar--against precisely this sort of expansive interpretation of presidential power.  But not this time.
At this point in the history of the republic, it should come as no surprise that people working in the Executive Branch tend to think the President has the power to use military force just about any time the he and his advisors deem it necessary or advisable.  It is equally unsurprising that politicians and pundits tend to be hypocritical about this issuet: they think the President ought to have broad powers when they agree with the particular use to which it is being put, and they think those powers ought to be limited when they think the President is doing something foolish or unnecessary.  
Reasonable people can disagree about just how much authority the Executive Branch ought to have, just as they can also disagree about the course of action the United States and others should have followed with regard to the situation in Libya.  But let's be clear about the long-term effects of the de facto authority we are granting every President.  It's a messy world out there, and there will always be some trouble somewhere that people will want Uncle Sam to fix.  If you give a single individual the authority to decide when to order the world's mightiest military into battle, without having to consult anyone except his own appointed advisors, then you shouldn't be surprised when that mighty military gets used over and over and over.


Bacevitch has a good essay that this is such a difficult question that it is almost pointless to even pose. He focuses on How we go to war. Basically answering the why question with the fact we do it because we can since we have the ability so we use it. Still, I can't get beyond the why question.
As Walt's pieces here over the past few weeks should demonstrate to any semi sentient observer there is no good reason based on US national interests for invading Libya. These wars are expensive and someday they will bankrupt us.
If we look at Iraq and Afghanistan they are not in the interests of the people living in those countries. Ten years of continuous war in Afghanistan and eight years in Iraq have killed and displaced more people than any tyrant could do. So to the extent that we invaded those two countries for humanitarian reasons this reason has been proven wrong. And it goes without saying that the US has hurt it own national interests in pursuing those wars.
So at this point in Libya the only interests that seem to being served are some very narrow factions in Libyan political life that can use this war to attain state power. This is without any demonstration that the people of Libya or US national interests are better off. That good old Why question keeps on coming up. Why do we keep on doing such insane things that cannot help either the US or the people of the countries involved.
To head off the obvious: it is not about oil. Western oil countries have long accommodated themselves to the nationalization of oil resources by the host countries. They have been quite successful in using their advanced technologies to continue to profit in extracting that resource for the simple reason they have something to offer and will be paid for it.
Walt had an interesting piece recently on the Why question. It was pretty good. But I remain totally befuddled why the US continues to do these things that are obviously destructive for both the US and the people involved. Sorry if I repeat myself but this question is important .

That 'massacre' in Benghazi: A response to David Bosco
Posted By Stephen M. Walt

Over in another corner of the FP media juggernaut, David Bosco has challenged my claim that the humanitarian case for imminent intervention in Libya was weak. According to President Obama, the United States and its allies had to intervene because Qaddafi's forces were about to conduct a massacre that "would stain the conscience of the world." He said there would be "violence on a horrific scale." Drawing on some recent commentary by political scientist Alan Kuperman and journalist Stephen Chapman, I questioned this assumption and said the risk of such a massacre was slight. Bosco challenges me in turn, and says that my assessment is an "epic overreach."
To be clear, I do think rebel lives would have been lost had Qaddafi's force taken Benghazi, and I have no doubt that the Libyan dictator would have dealt harshly with the rebel leaders and anyone who fought to the bitter end. In other words, I'm pretty sure his forces would have murdered some of the rebels and probably some innocent civilians too.  But the president seems to have been convinced that Qaddafi was about to unleash genuine mass killings of perhaps as many as 100,000 people, in a city of roughly 650,000 (remember his pointed reference to Benghazi being nearly the size of Charlotte?). Thus, the president's rhetoric strongly implied that tens of thousands of innocent bystanders were about to be ruthlessly slaughtered. That same image was reinforced by media references to the "lessons of Rwanda" that supposedly had shaped the views of some of Obama's advisors.
Yet as I noted in my piece, there were no large-scale massacres in the other cities that the loyalists had recaptured. It is easy to believe that Qaddafi would have gone after the rebel leaders and diehard followers -- whom he undoubtedly regards as traitors -- but turning Benghazi into a ghost town filled with corpses was probably not in his own interest.
Obviously, one can argue that any substantial loss of life is worth preventing, and that the United States and NATO were justified in intervening even if the number of people at risk was fairly small. Reasonable people can disagree about what level of human suffering is required before intervention is warranted, but the ultimate decision will always depend on a weighing of anticipated costs and benefits. By offering the most extreme forecast of what might have happened had we not intervened, President Obama was trying to tip the scale and make the benefits of his action look as large as possible. That's his prerogative, of course, but that doesn't mean we have to accept his assessment with our eyes closed.
And let's not forget that there are costs here, and not just to the rebel forces that NATO seems to keep hitting by mistake. Military operations are not cheap, and we may have to do a lot more if  regime change remains our objective. We may also be helping create a stalemate that will ultimately cost more Libyan lives than would have been lost in Benghazi, though there's no way to know that yet. We don't know how this operation will affect NATO's cohesion going forward, or what other problems may get neglected because the U.S. government is partly distracted by events in an otherwise minor power. So if Obama and his team did inflate the magnitude of the humanitarian danger that a rebel defeat would have created, then the real benefits of the decision to intervene are more modest and the cost-benefit calculus tips back the other way.
Where I agree with Bosco is his concluding point about the inherent ambiguity of the entire term "humanitarian crisis" and the desirability of firmer criteria and evidentiary standards when launching preventive humanitarian action. But I doubt it is possible to devise meaningful and political binding rules to guide future decisions, because they will always be context-dependent (i.e., we're more likely to act if we're not bogged down elsewhere), and because presidential decisions are also likely to be shaped by idiosyncratic factors, such as which advisors currently have their ear. And as the case of French president Nicolas Sarkozy suggests, enthusiasm for intervention may reflect domestic political woes, foreign policy embarrassments, and other extraneous elements. So while it would be nice to have a clear standard for when to get in and when to stay out, my guess is that such decisions will remain haphazard.  
In other words, I can't tell you where or when the U.S. will intervene for humanitarian purposes. But as long as my "Five Reasons" remain intact, it's a safe bet that we will, and more often than we should.

Rwanda is the gold standard

for humanitarian intervention. That was 750,000 killings over a few month period. But even here, it was not at all clear before it happened that it was going to happen. I would argue that even in this horrific case, intervention by US or European forces would not have been advisable. If neighboring countries wished to intervene then more power to them.
The model for these kinds of interventions should be when Julius Nyerere lead Tanganyika in the overthrow of Idi Amin in Uganda.

A sixth reason

From my point of view, there is a sixth and from my point of view the most serious reason: a damn bad job of the US mass media, which almost abandoned critical journalism.

It's not only the obvious things like that Robert Gates said he had no credible information that the Libyan government used fighter jets to attack unarmed or lightly armed protesters, but both, Obama and Clinton, justified the US war action against Libya - among others - with exactly that allegation. So where are the media taking up the obvious contradiction and asking very tough questions for evidence of the presidential allegation?

The example shown above may be eye-catching, but the problem in US journalism and mass media goes much deeper. Whenever there is a conflict and things heat up, American media tend to take up a cheerleader position for one side, labeling them the good guys. So instead of balanced reporting the public gets the "good side" portrayed in a most possible good way, and the "bad side" in a most possible bad way.

The consequence of this lack of empathy for the designated "enemy" is a lack of public knowledge on the view of the enemy. So for example, how many people know the story told from the point of view from a genuine supporter of the Libyan government?

To get a rough impression of how the view from the other side may look like, have a look here:

Hidden behind propaganda a giant crime against Libya is fact

For those, who don’t follow Libyan news, be promised, you will be surprised, how this war looks like from the perspective of the other side.

And I tend to say, it's not only a problem with the conflict in Libya. The very same might well be true with the conflict in Afghanistan. How many people of the American public know, what conditions the Taliban have laid out for a peace deal and stop fighting? Hint: it seems to have a lot to do with the US desire to have permanent bases in Afghanistan. I wouldn't say I'ld necessarily totally agree with the Taliban position, but why isn't there any public discussion in the US about whether the peace conditions laid out by the Taliban are acceptable or not? I tend to say, it's because nobody is informed at all.

And so it's for almost any other conflict in the world I know. From Tibet to Korea, from Cuba to Iran. The US public is just very badly informed on the point of view of the enemy. I would say, that looks like a systematic and catastrophic failure of US mass media to act as a watchdog for the public interest.


Human rights is another ambiguous abstraction everyone thinks they understand but cannot uniformly define. Further confusions arise because the US and its acolytes insist on being sole arbiters of violations. Finally we have the selective exploitation of human rights for political reasons, and it is this latter, particularly in the Middle East of late, that is emboldening voices to point out the emperor is unclothed. There are many good reasons for being naked but few for claiming to be dressed the while.

Reuters reports China calling on the US cut it, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/10/us-china-usa-rights-idUSTRE7382EH20110410 and once this breach is opened, others will follow until what was presumably intended to strengthen the US internationally may actually weaken it, particularly when accompanied by what appears to be dithering from the State Department.


U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings said...

U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings

WASHINGTON — Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states.

The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables.

The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.

No one doubts that the Arab uprisings are home grown, rather than resulting from “foreign influence,” as alleged by some Middle Eastern leaders.

“We didn’t fund them to start protests, but we did help support their development of skills and networking,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based advocacy and research group. “That training did play a role in what ultimately happened, but it was their revolution. We didn’t start it.”

Anonymous said...

Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.

“We learned how to organize and build coalitions,” said Bashem Fathy, a founder of the youth movement that ultimately drove the Egyptian uprisings. Mr. Fathy, who attended training with Freedom House, said, “This certainly helped during the revolution.”

Ms. Qadhi, the Yemeni youth activist, attended American training sessions in Yemen.

“It helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons,” she said.

But now, she said, it is clear that results can be achieved with peaceful protests and other nonviolent means.

But some members of the activist groups complained in interviews that the United States was hypocritical for helping them at the same time that it was supporting the governments they sought to change.

“While we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us,” said Mr. Fathy, the Egyptian activist.

Interviews with officials of the nongovernmental groups and a review of diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that the democracy programs were constant sources of tension between the United States and many Arab governments.

The cables, in particular, show how leaders in the Middle East and North Africa viewed these groups with deep suspicion, and tried to weaken them. Today the work of these groups is among the reasons that governments in turmoil claim that Western meddling was behind the uprisings, with some officials noting that leaders like Ms. Qadhi were trained and financed by the United States.

Diplomatic cables report how American officials frequently assured skeptical governments that the training was aimed at reform, not promoting revolutions.

Last year, for example, a few months before national elections in Bahrain, officials there barred a representative of the National Democratic Institute from entering the country.

In Bahrain, officials worried that the group’s political training “disproportionately benefited the opposition,” according to a January 2010 cable.

In Yemen, where the United States has been spending millions on an anti-terrorism program, officials complained that American efforts to promote democracy amounted to “interference in internal Yemeni affairs.”

But nowhere was the opposition to the American groups stronger than in Egypt.

Anonymous said...

Egypt, whose government receives $1.5 billion annually in military and economic aid from the United States, viewed efforts to promote political change with deep suspicion, even outrage.

Hosni Mubarak, then Egypt’s president, was “deeply skeptical of the U.S. role in democracy promotion,” said a diplomatic cable from the United States Embassy in Cairo dated Oct. 9, 2007.

At one time the United States financed political reform groups by channeling money through the Egyptian government.

But in 2005, under a Bush administration initiative, local groups were given direct grants, much to the chagrin of Egyptian officials.

According to a September 2006 cable, Mahmoud Nayel, an official with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, complained to American Embassy officials about the United States government’s “arrogant tactics in promoting reform in Egypt.”

The main targets of the Egyptian complaints were the Republican and Democratic institutes. Diplomatic cables show that Egyptian officials complained that the United States was providing support for “illegal organizations.”

Gamal Mubarak, the former president’s son, is described in an Oct. 20, 2008, cable as “irritable about direct U.S. democracy and governance funding of Egyptian NGOs.”

The Egyptian government even appealed to groups like Freedom House to stop working with local political activists and human rights groups.

“They were constantly saying: ‘Why are you working with those groups, they are nothing. All they have are slogans,’ ” said Sherif Mansour, an Egyptian activist and a senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa at Freedom House.

When their appeals to the United States government failed, the Egyptian authorities reacted by restricting the activities of the American nonprofit organizations.

Hotels that were to host training sessions were closed for renovations. Staff members of the groups were followed, and local activists were intimidated and jailed. State-owned newspapers accused activists of receiving money from American intelligence agencies.

Affiliating themselves with the American organizations may have tainted leaders within their own groups. According to one diplomatic cable, leaders of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt told the American Embassy in 2009 that some members of the group had accused Ahmed Maher, a leader of the January uprising, and other leaders of “treason” in a mock trial related to their association with Freedom House, which more militant members of the movement described as a “Zionist organization.”

A prominent blogger, according to a cable, threatened to post the information about the movement leaders’ links to Freedom House on his blog.

There is no evidence that this ever happened, and a later cable shows that the group ousted the members who were complaining about Mr. Maher and other leaders.

In the face of government opposition, some groups moved their training sessions to friendlier countries like Jordan or Morocco. They also sent activists to the United States for training.

The Great Oil Robbery! said...

The hypocrisy of the west has not gone unnoticed.
In 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy defends Libyan arms deal.
In 2007 Libya reached a multi-million dollar deal to buy anti-tank missiles and radio systems from the European aerospace giant EADS, in what would be the first such purchase since an arms embargo was lifted on Tripoli in 2004. French Defence Minister Herve Morin confirmed Friday that a letter of intent had been signed for the sale of Milan anti-tank missiles and a radio communications system worth, according to a Libyan official, 396 million euros (405 million dollars). The deal is likely to spark some controversy, coming so soon after France played a key role in brokering the release of six foreign medics sentenced to life imprisonment in Libya. Sarkozy, who travelled to Tripoli a day after the medics' were freed, has denied that their release was linked to any arms deal.



Hypocrisy will continue to fuel the fires in the mIddle East


Chossudovsky on Libyan 'Battle for Oil'
Libya Oil Grab Disguised As Humanitarian Assistance
Yesterday, a CBS News headline read "Libya rebels beg for no-fly as bombings persist". What is remarkable is that the article gives virtually no information on who are those Libyans that are begging for a no-fly zone.
The only information CBS provides as to the identity of the beggars is in the following paragraph:

In a firsthand look at why Libya's rebels are begging for a no-fly zone, CBS News was first on the scene after a bombing. People ignored the danger and raced to show the damage.
But there's no shortage of others begging for a no-fly zone.

According to the Agence France Presse (March 7), "The Gulf Cooperation Council demands that the UN Security Council take all necessary measures to protect civilians, including enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya".

The Great Oil Robbery! said...

The Guardian (March 4) reported that the British prime minister, David Cameron,

caused some surprise on both sides of the Atlantic when he called for Britain and its allies to draw up plans for a no-fly zone over Libya, was offered important support by Barack Obama on Thursday night. American military planners had been instructed to draw up a full range of options, including a no-fly zone, Obama said at the White House during a press conference with his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon.

And one has only to turn on CNN to see that most of the debate is about a no-fly zone over Libya. Essentially missing are the voices of the Libyan rebels themselves.

"Hafiz Ghoga, a spokesman for the protesters' new National Libyan Council, insisted that calls for foreign intervention were entirely unwelcome, adding that the protesters have taken most of the nation and "the rest of Libya will be liberated by the people", according to Jason Ditz, at Antiwar.com.

Yesterday's editorial in the Guardian offers sound advice:

Some Libyan rebels have called for a no-fly zone, but until now - and this may change - the mood of the Libyan uprising is that this is their fight and their fight alone. Quite apart from the unwarranted legitimacy a bombing campaign would (once again) confer on the Libyan leader among his rump support in Tripoli and the damage it would do to attempts to split his camp, a major western military intervention could have unforeseen political consequences for the very forces it would be designed to support. A no-fly zone saved lives in Kurdish northern Iraq, but failed to protect the Shias in the south under Saddam Hussein. The moral strength of the Libyan rebels and their political claim to represent the true voice of the people both rest partly on the fact that, like the Egyptians and the Tunisians, they have come this far alone. The revolt is theirs, they are no one else's proxy, and the struggle is about ending tyranny rather than searching for new masters. Even if Gaddafi's forces succeed in checking the advance of rebel forces, and the civil war becomes protracted, it is the home-grown nature of this revolt that contains the ultimate seeds of the destruction of Gaddafi's regime. Thus far, it is Gaddafi and his sons who have had to import hired guns from abroad.


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