Libya is last year’s news. Hillary Clinton famously commented on Gaddafi’s death “We came, we saw, he died”. NATO had won. The dictator was dead and a new government promising ‘democracy’ had been installed. End of story, move on. Libya has disappeared from the front pages of the news like many stories where the real story is the ongoing consequences of the initial event or sequence of events. The story of Libya’s ongoing crisis is covered, however, by the (more) independent media. The following two videos are from Journeyman Pictures:
The first video is a short but very moving documentary shot in Sirte. It shows the effect of the war on children and their relations with each other. The documentary seems to assume that getting rid of the former regime was a good thing but there were bad consequences for some people particularly in places like Sirte where there was support for Gadaffi.
The second video shows a still chaotic Libya in which the NATO installed NTC apparently have no power over armed militias that routinely imprison and torture black people and supporters of the former regime.
The failure to mainstream the discussion of the consequences of NATO intervention enables Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy and their sponsors to literally get away with murder and enables the preservation of whatever veneer of moral, ration and political legitimacy that still covers their venality.
NATO continues to dismiss its responsibility for civilian deaths caused by its direct actions but the evidence is there in the devastation of Sirte, Bani Walid and in Zlitan as shown in this short video by Lizzie Phelan:
Libya matters because people matter but it also matters because it is a particularly graphic and accessible illustration of a pattern wherein public perception is manipulated by the popular media so despite any contradictions there is an acceptance of whatever action the US led alliance chooses to take.
I’ve been interested in the Libya situation since news of the rebellion hit the mainstream media early in 2011 with strange stories of British troops being arrested in Bengazi. There are competing narratives positing Gaddafi as a mad despot or a benevolent philosopher king. After the NATO intervention we got stories of the rebels killing and torturing their opponents, supporters of the former regime. In particular there was a narrative, particularly in the alternative or ‘non-mainstream media’, about about a pogrom against black Libyans:
This narrative appears to be well documented. There are several videos available on YouTube about black people being terrorised, tortured and killed together with other Libyans who are suspected of being loyal to the former regime. Very little seemed to be coming out of the mainstream US and UK media.
Recently a story titled “In Libya, the Captors Have Become the Captive” by Robert F Worth was published in the New York Times. This story epitomises the mainstream narrative that Gaddafi was a particularly brutal dictator and that the situation following his overthrow is one in which the imposed government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), is trying to establish justice and democracy but has to deal with a will to vengeance by Libyans in the various and largely autonomous militias that comprised the rebel forces. Worth presents us with the story of a militia leader in charge of prisoners who had been prison guards under the Gaddafi regime. We are presented with a former guard who had gratuitously tortured prisoners and with a Gaddafi soldier who had murdered the brother of the militia leader. We are told that the tables have been turned and now the prisoners who he had been tortured are able to torture their former captives. It is brutal but there is an inevitability and a certain justice about it.
Worth’s narrative is a ‘human interest story that invites us to sympathise with the rebel torturers. It does not talk about the pogroms against black people or give the big picture. Its effect and arguably its purpose is to insinuate the general from a particular. It is well written and worth reading but we come away with a only a story, with only a perspective, with maybe a fragment of the truth but one that is not the whole truth nor only the truth. Because it is well written we think we know more but we do not we have just heard a story.
Stories can powerfully influence the way we think. An article in the Disiformation blog referencing a Wired article suggests that US government agencies are looking at â€œweaponized narrativeâ€ as part of their propaganda strategies. It’s surely not a big stretch to connect the dots and ask whether Worth’s NYT article is just such a “weaponized narrative”.
One of the things that annoys me most when I listen to the news is that way that obvious conclusions fail to be drawn from known facts. Point in case is the Libyan intervention. It is known that the grounds for the intervention were based on false evidence. It is known that NATO exceeded the remit of its mandate to protect civilians by taking the side of one faction in a civil way. It is known that the result of the intervention is continuing unrest in Libya and the displacement, torture and murder of sections of the Libyan population. Flawed in rationale, execution and result the Libya intervention has been a disaster so why are the leaders who took the decision to intervene not held to account for the consequences and why are they given any moral credence when they call for future interventions?
Posted on 23rd Feb. This should really be an article rather than a blog post as I will return to edit it over several days as I have the time and inclination.
Cynthia McKinney is not well known by the mainstream media outside of the US. In the US the media seems to characterise her as crazy. This video of her at a Congressional hearing shows her to be a competent politician who is well worth listening to:
Here McKinney asks three question which are essentially about possible corruption within the US military industrial complex. The first question concerns a private government contractor DynCorp implicated in child sex trafficking; the second question is about billions of dollars unaccounted for in the Department of Defence; and the third question is about the air defence drills that coincidentally took place on the day of 9/11.
A Conversation with Gary S. Corseri
The former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate discusses the evolution of her worldview: her opposition to U.S. imperial wars (â€œthe attack on Libya was an attack on Africaâ€); the â€œIsraelizationâ€ of U.S. foreign policy; and her assessment of the Occupy Movement â€“ â€œtheyâ€™ve given us a way to self-identify.â€
It feels odd that many people consider anyone who asserts that 9/11 was ‘an inside job’ to be nuts. Their premise for this judgement is generally that it seems impossible that the government could have kept a lid on a crime of such enormity. They treat this as almost axiomatic and so are not willing to engage with the evidence. There is a sense of intellectual snobbery in their dismissal of those who take the inside job hypothesis seriously, but is actually intellectually dishonest; it is not axiomatic that a powerful organisation would be able to keep a lid on a vast conspiracy. The notion of ‘shadow governments’ existing in democracies below the radar of public scrutiny, far from being impossible is almost a necessary assumption, the only question is of the depth and organisation of ‘the shadow’.
â€œAny time the War Machine rollsâ€”I have to oppose that!â€
GC: In 2004, you signed the 9/11 Truth Movement statement, calling for new investigations of â€œunexplained aspects of the 9/11 events.â€ More than 7 years have passed since then. What would you say are some of the more egregious â€œunexplained eventsâ€?
CM: â€¦ How is it that the people of the United States can invest trillions of dollars in the military and Intelligence infrastructureâ€”and it failed four times in one day? â€¦ That singular question has never been answered.
McKinney is not asserting that 9/11 was an inside job she is only asking for a thorough investigation. Even if we accept the official story, the questions that have been raised by reputable and technically qualified commentators should be answered.
McKinney is much more of an activist than a politician; this is clear from the Gaza incident video above. She is prepared to put her life on the line.
GC: Letâ€™s continue with this theme of recognizing other peopleâ€™s human rights. â€¦ More recently, this past year, you were in Tripoli when NATO bombed Libya. What were you doing thereâ€¦ and can you describe that experience?
CM: I voluntarily went to Libya. â€¦ Any time the War Machine rollsâ€”I have to oppose that! Libya was a special case, a personal caseâ€¦ because I had just been to Libya. â€¦ I had taken a delegation of independent journalists to go to Libyaâ€¦ because I did not believe the explanation that was given to the public about the necessity to bomb Tripoli and other cities in Libya. â€¦ While we were thereâ€¦ we experienced what â€œshock and aweâ€ is all about. The individual who went to the UN with allegations of thousands dying at the hands of Colonel Gaddhafi and the Libyan governmentâ€”when he was pressed to substantiate his claims, he couldnâ€™t.
GC:That reminds me of the allegations made against the Iraqis in Kuwait, back in 1990–that they were taking babies out of incubators and throwing them on the floor!
CM: Itâ€™s also a situation similar to that of the Cuban-American community congregated down in Miamiâ€¦ right after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 where we had a community of expatriates who were willing to unleash terror on their own countryâ€¦ and, a similar thing was happening in Libyaâ€¦ with the United States providing financing for these individuals willing to lie about what was happening.
This information is available on the Internet. Julien Teil interviewed the individual making these false claims at the UN. The interview can be found at www.laguerrehumanitaire.fr . â€¦Itâ€™s on YouTube, as well. Julien also interviewed the woman at Amnesty International who had claimed that â€œAfrican mercenariesâ€ were supporting Gaddafiâ€™s repression of his people; but, when challengedâ€”and this was all after the devastationâ€”she admitted that it was â€œjust a rumor.â€
My colleague, David Josue, and I had been in Libya to attend a conference for Africans on the continent as well as Africans in the diaspora. And what the Jamahariya government had devised was a call to Africans in the diaspora who were unhappy with their treatment at the hands of white Americans or white Europeans, etc.â€”to come back home to Africa and to help Libya rebuild Africa and rebuild itself.
[Interviewerâ€™s NOTE: (from Wikipedia): â€œJamahiriyaâ€ is a term coined by Gaddafi, usually translated as â€œstate of the masses.â€]
â€¦ That was the purpose of this conference I had attended. â€¦ And it was at that conference that the Jamahiriya committed 90 billion dollars to help in the creation of The United States of Africa. â€¦ That would also include a million-person army for continental Africa to drive back the attempts of AFRICOM and others to occupy the African continent. â€¦ That was in addition to the proposal for a gold-backed dinar for all of Africa. â€¦ The daughter of Kwame Nkruma was at that conference; the son of Patrice Lumumba was at that conferenceâ€¦ the grandson of Malcom X was there. â€¦ The atmosphere was electric with the idea of the re-building, the re-kindling of the movement that these African leadersâ€”or their forebearsâ€”represented. Wellâ€¦ that was all put to an end by NATOâ€™s bombing. â€¦
[Interviewerâ€™s NOTE (from Wikipedia): The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is one of nine United Combatant Commands of the United States Armed Forces.]
The attack on Libya was an attack on Africa! It was an attack on my aspirations as a person of African descent to have a free and independent Africa. Thatâ€™s what was attacked!
â€œThe attack on Libya was an attack on Africa!â€
GC: Iâ€™ve never had as complete a picture of that. â€¦ Iâ€™d heard that Gaddafi wanted to set up a gold-backed dinar. â€¦ In fact, people like Ron Paul even talk about using gold-backed currency… so Iâ€™ve heard that as a rationale for what we were doing thereâ€”trying to prevent any challenge to the US dollar as the worldâ€™s reserve currency. â€¦ Butâ€¦, nobody has described the situation as completely as you have.
My final question on Libya is this: You have praised Colonel Gaddafiâ€™s GREEN BOOK and the kind of â€œdirect democracyâ€ advocated therein. Can you give us a brief lesson as to how that â€œdirect democracyâ€ differs from our â€œrepresentative democracyâ€?
CM: Our â€œdemocracyâ€ is neither democratic nor representative! Butâ€¦ letâ€™s start with what the Jamahiriya means to me. â€¦ The only stake that I have is that I want to see a free and independent Africaâ€¦, but the type of government that Libya has should be determined by the Libyan people. I donâ€™t really have a say in that. â€¦ And I shouldnâ€™t have a say in how they dispose of their governmental form. â€¦ Therefore, itâ€™s inexcusable to ask another country to bomb your fellow countrymen if you really care about your country!
The Jamahiriya–which had the highest living standard in all of Africa–had free education up through the Ph.D. level; free health care; free utilities, subsidizedâ€”and free, if you were poorâ€”housing; subsidized food; subsidized transportaion, including car expensesâ€¦ and so, the necessities of life were paid for by the direct democracy known as the Jamahiriya.
Can you imagineâ€¦? I have a cousin who is $120,000 in student debt in the U.S. She has a Masterâ€™s degree as a social worker. Now, if she had been born in Libyaâ€”she would have no such debt. â€¦ I went to a university outside of Tripoli and asked the students about their tuition feesâ€¦ and the word didnâ€™t translate. I asked them about what they paid to attend the university. â€¦ It was $9.00 per year!
When I was in Congress, one of my allies was Senator Mike Gravelâ€¦ and Senator Gravelâ€™s initiative is about â€œdirect democracy.â€ He had been to Libyaâ€¦ and he supported the establishment of the revolutionary committees which was the way Libyans determined how they would use their oil money.
A question under discussion when I attended the conference there was whether the subsidies for gas/petrol or the subsidies for education would be increased! (In the US, under â€œausterityâ€ measures, people are being told which programs will be eliminated or eviscerated; in Libya, they were voting on which programs would get increased subsidization!)
What I have said publicly is that what we have been seeing is the Israelization of US policy. You knowâ€¦ the only reason the Libyans took any interest in me was that someone in Libya, looking at their television, saw me having all these problems trying to get into Gazaâ€¦ and they said, â€œWe want to know her!â€ Thatâ€™s why I was invited to attend this conference on THE GREEN BOOKâ€”to explain what I was trying to do in Gaza. And what I observed in Libya was the same kind of collective punishment I observed in Gaza. People supporting their own governments were being punished by outsiders who opposed those governments!
This is the kind of thing that happens in the absence of ethics in journalism. â€¦ Becauseâ€¦ we donâ€™t have journalists in the Mainstreamâ€”I call it the Special Interests Press–to educate and provide information to citizens so they can make a critical analysis of issues. That is absent. â€¦ We need ethics in scholarship; ethics in journalism, as well. â€¦The journalistic community has gone along with the kind of death and destruction that has been visited upon Libyaâ€¦ and so many other countries. Weâ€™re setting up drone bases all over Africaâ€¦ and people here donâ€™t even knowâ€¦ donâ€™t begin to understand. â€¦
McKinney’s appearance on Libyan state television during the Intervention was courageous. It led to her being branded as a ‘Gaddafi supporter’ as though that were automatically a badge of dishonour and a cause for rejecting her as a serious commentator as in this article: Cynthia McKinney In Libya. Supporting Gaddafi is certainly problematic; from the, admittedly superficial, research I’ve done Gadaffi comes across as an enigmatic figure who did a lot of good for Libya and Africa and yet at the same time earned the hostility of a large section of his people. Gaddafi advocated direct democracy and claimed to have no role in government yet he seemed to have had the right to determine the disposition of Libya’s resources. McKinney’s support for Gaddafi is understandable in the light what he was advocating for Africa and while it may be problematic given that he was an autocrat with a clear history of repression, there is value in having voices that run counter to the the consensus (in the West) characterisation of Gaddafi as a ‘demented dictator’ because that characterisation was used as a weapon to justify war.
GC: Related question: Okayâ€¦also about Current Events: this is about the Occupy Movement, then. â€¦
CM: Okay. â€¦
GC: We live in a Surveilance State. Our license plate numbers are routinely recorded; weâ€™re finger-printed for jobs, our Social Security numbers serve as National I.D.â€™s, our e-mails are monitored for â€œcodeâ€ words or phrases, our homes are surveiled by satellite mapping systems of Google, Yahoo, etc. Those who protest, as in the Occupy Wall Street movement, are arrested, booked, and more closely watched. Now they have â€œrecordsâ€ that affect their employment. â€¦ My question is: how do we battle this pervasive system? Do you get discouraged? What do you do when you are discouraged? Who are your â€œheroesâ€? To whom do you turn for inspiration?
CM: Do I get discouraged? Yes! What do I do when Iâ€™m discouraged? â€¦ find other people who are not yet discouraged!
Who are my heroes? Everybody! Everybody who has a tough row to hoe in life! Those are my heroes. Those are the people who give the most! When I was running for Congress back in 1992–for the first timeâ€”I was running to represent the second poorest district in Georgiaâ€¦ and, what I learned was that the poor people gave the most! The people who hadâ€¦ didnâ€™t give as generously as the people who didnâ€™t have! Soâ€¦ my first campaign theme was, â€œWarriors donâ€™t wear medals, they wear scars!â€ Soâ€¦ my heroes are the community and neighborhood warriors who have a whole lot of scars, a whole lot of dignity.
GC: Iâ€™d like you to talk specifically about what used to be called the Black Liberation Struggle. As a young, white man, I was inspired by the works of black writers like Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Leroi Jones (now called Baraka), Eldridge Cleaver, W.E.B. DuBois, and poets like Langston Hughes. Martin Luther King and Malcom X were inspirational leaders for all people; Rosa Parks was a woman of quiet, dignified courage. But, now, with the election of Obama, and with the prominence of people like Bill Cosby first, and Oprah Winfrey, the billionairessâ€”the great struggles of the past almost seem quaint. Whatâ€™s your take on this? Who are the great black leaders today? What is the struggle about today?
[Note:There are 7 million Americans now under â€œcorrectional observation.â€ More African-Americansâ€™ lives intersect with our prison-industrial-surveillance complex than there were African-American slaves in 1850!]
CM: You asked me who are my heroes. â€¦ One of my heroes is Glen Ford, who writes for The Black Agenda Report [http://blackagendareport.com /]. I view him as the most astute political observer of our times.
Thereâ€™s a whole lot of pundits who are in our faces every Sunday morning who think they are political observersâ€¦, but they are not astute! And theyâ€™re also not independent. Glen Ford is independent, heâ€™s been through the wars and he has no special interests to kow-tow to. â€¦ He just wrote a pieceâ€¦ â€œCan the Proud African-American Progressive Legacy Survive Another Four Years of Cowing to the Corporate Servant in the White House?â€ Thatâ€™s strong stuffâ€¦, but right on point!
We have a situation nowâ€¦ it was the Black struggle that really defined morality in the United States. It defined the moral imperative. And the character of the country was measured by how well it answered the call of Black people for justice. But what happens when Black people stop asking for justice? I think you get exactly what weâ€™ve got nowâ€”a President who is dropping bombs on Africaâ€¦ which is un-thought-of; I mean, it would have been un-thought-of four years ago that Africa would be bombedâ€”routinely! But itâ€™s a routine matter now that the United States Africa Command [AFRICOM] would actively establish itself and militarize the US relationship with Africa. AFRICOM represents a kind of US imperial occupation of the continent that we havenâ€™t seen since the days of outright colonialism of the Europeans. We are being told about issues that are â€œimportantâ€â€¦, but weâ€™re ignoring the real issues that are important! Henry Kissinger said that he couldnâ€™t believe the amount of good will that was embodied in this president! Butâ€¦ what people like Kissinger donâ€™t â€œgetâ€ is that this president sits on top of the historic Black struggle that characterized the United States to the world! People around the world thought that Barack Obama characterized the New United States! Butâ€¦ far from it! A lot of people got tricked and fooled and nowâ€¦ as philosopher Michel Foucault has observedâ€”the every-day actions of ordinary people actually entrap them in â€œpowerlessnessâ€. â€¦ So, to break out of your powerlessness, youâ€™ve got to break out of your existing paradigm. So, as long as Barack Obama is representative of the existing paradigm, this is what weâ€™re going to getâ€¦ because the existing paradigm is war and more war!
â€œThe Occupy Movement has given to usâ€”theyâ€™ve given us a way to self-identify.â€
GC: How do we â€œbreak outâ€? How do we fight the Mainstream Media thatâ€™s constantly projecting that paradigm and hammering it into our brains?
CM: The literature suggests that people have to be confronted with a â€œdisorienting dilemmaâ€ that causes them to reflect on what theyâ€™ve just experienced. â€¦
GC: Cognitive dissonance?
CM: Thatâ€™s right. â€¦ Reflect on what you always assumedâ€¦ and what youâ€™ve been confronted with that contradicts your assumptions. â€¦ For some people, it was the murder of JFK; for others, it was the murder of Malcom; for others, it was the murder of MLK; for a whole bunch of others, it was the murder of RFK; and for some people who began to look and pay attention like meâ€¦ it was the murder of all of them and then add onto it the murder of the members of the Black Panther Partyâ€”who were attacked by our own government. â€¦
You could say that for me, my first â€œdisorienting dilemmaâ€ was when I realized that I was black. I realized that the world around me was not like me, and that it didnâ€™t value my black skin! That, for me was when I began to pay attention and wake up!
GC: How old were you?
CM: Seven or eight. â€¦You knowâ€¦ for some people itâ€™s religion, itâ€™s race, itâ€™s gender, itâ€™s, maybe, sexual orientation. â€¦ Everyone has their moment of reckoning.
I think, ultimatelyâ€¦ itâ€™s about the love we have for humanity and how we see something is wrong and we have to stop it!
Soâ€¦ by the time I got to Congressâ€¦ I had had my â€œreckoning,â€ and I had had my â€œbreak-outâ€ moments, and I guess this gave me strength and vibrancyâ€¦ and there were people who didnâ€™t like it. I wore my hair differently, I dressed differently from the other people in Congress. There was even a segment of the Capitol Hill police that didnâ€™t like that. â€¦
â€œWhat happens when Black people stop asking for justice?â€
GC: What year was that?
CM: 1993. â€¦
GC: Wasnâ€™t there a much more recent incident with the Capitol Hill police?
CM: No, no, no. â€¦ It happened for twelve years! â€¦ Twelve years of harrassment from the Capitol Hill police! They considered it a â€œsportâ€ to harass me! â€¦ Itâ€™s available on the Internetâ€¦ if you go to YouTube and you put in â€œThe Last Plantation.â€
GC: The infamous incident is when you apparently struck back at the officer who was harassing you. â€¦ Is that correct?
CM: The officer had no business putting his hands on me! â€¦ And I reacted like any normal person would react when being attacked by some great big, huge guy from behind! â€¦ This was a â€œhit.â€ It was a â€œhitâ€â€”a â€œsportâ€–for the white officers. Youâ€™ll see if you go to that â€œLast Plantationâ€ site that I had been targeted because I had written a letter of support for the Black Capitol Hill police officers.
GC: And this most infamous incidentâ€¦ that was the same day as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted?
CM: Thatâ€™s right. â€¦ The Mainstream Media didnâ€™t want to lead with that indictment, did they? It was much more sensational and distracting to lead with the story of a black Congresswoman attacking a Capitol Hill police officer!
GC: Youâ€™re a pretty brave woman, arenâ€™t you?
CM: Everybody can be braveâ€¦ they just need that break-out moment of recognition. â€¦ Iâ€™ve stood on some big shoulders. â€¦ As I said beforeâ€”my campaign theme: â€œWarriors donâ€™t wear medalsâ€¦ they wear scars.â€