In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The British left spreads misinformation about Libya

Posted by seumasach on August 28, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

28th August, 2011

The other day a friend recommended an article by Seumas Milne in the Guardian on the events unfolding in Libya. Of course, it was a good article in many ways, well written and clearly taking an anti-NATO stance as perhaps you would expect from a leading leftist columnist. Nevertheless, I dismissed the article as propaganda on account of a  statement which I thought was as unfounded as it was helpful to the NATO cause. This is the offending sentence:

“None of that means the euphoria on the streets of Libyan cities at the fall of a regime long decayed into dynastic despotism isn’t entirely genuine.”

NATO doesn’t look for love letters since the fact that they are psychopaths is fairly well known. The Milne article is addressing a readership which is only too aware of NATO criminal tendencies. But NATO would be delighted that the opposition had concede two fundamental pillars of its propaganda on Libya. Firstly, that Gaddafi had fallen and secondly, that this was grounds for popular celebration in Libya. Those two assumptions give NATO all they need for the next stage of their campaign, the installation of a virtual government in Tripoli which can be declared legitimate because Gaddafi is no more and because the people support it and which can invite a NATO stabilisation force into Libya to help defeat the Gaddafi forces

I also argued to my friend that this kind of article serves as a template for the British left where for all the fine points, the sophistries of left-think, the anti-NATO and anti-imperialist sentiments, these two lies would always be there, hidden, as in the Milne article or in plain sight.

I said lies since there is no evidence for the claim that Gaddafi regime has been defeated. The fact that a fierce power struggle is still going on in Tripoli is one reason why the African Union said they could not recognise the TNC: it would have to be in power. Also why would the TNC invite in NATO ground forces, as reported by TeleSur, to support them if they had won. Why would revolutionary Tripoli be subject to a media blackout if it was in the hands of triumphant revolutionaries and its euphoric supporters.

It is also a lie that there have been mass celebrations: even the media montage which showed “Green Square” being taken over only showed unsavoury looking militants. Where were the people? Could you have imagined a total blackout of Tahrir Square in the midst of those great events in January? Where is Aljazeera to show us jubilant Tripoli. There are no scenes of joy in Tripoli: only a descent into hell.

Of course, there was certainly confusion last Monday about what exactly had happened. There still is, but at the moment of writing in response to the declaration that the rebels had taken Tripoli our leftist editors would have known that NATO had bombed and provided aerial support for the rebels for nearly 6 months without them being able to achieve any real progress. They would have been aware, therefore, that even with massive NATO backing they were militarily incapable. They would have been aware  that coordinating with air cover would require special froces with the training to do that. Common sense would have told them that a popular revolution would never have called in NATO in the first place. Common sense would have told them that anti-NATO sentiment would be almost universal and was reflected in massive armed rallies in support of Gaddafi, which even made it into the mainstream media, and massive rejection of those associated with NATO. Common sense would have told them that the liberated women of Libya would not seek the introduction of Sharia law. They would have known of the declaration of the tribes rejecting the TNC. They would have known that even in Benghazi the grip of the TNC was in question after the killing of Younes and outburst of infighting. They would have been aware of the ethnic cleansing against black Libyans, supposed “African mercenaries”, which had also reached the MSM. They would have been aware that many of the claims of acts of brutal repression carried out by Gaddafi had been rejected by NGOs on the ground. They would have been wary of all such propaganda anyway as seasoned campaigners against Western  interventions in Kosovo, Iraq and elsewhere. They would have written PHDs about  media manipulation.They would have recalled the case of the KLA, another gang of thugs hailed in the West as liberators. They would have been aware of the historic connections between Al-Quaeda type radicals and the CIA. They would have been aware of reports by whistle-blowers David Shayler and Annie Machon that MI6 expected them to collaborate with Benghazi based Al-Qaeda type elements in an attempt to assasinate Gaddafi. They would have recalled the vicious attack on Libya in 1986 on the flimsiest of pretexts, aimed at killing Gaddafi. They might even have marched trough London in protest holding a picture of the Libyan leader. They would have been aware of a pattern of imperial intervention throughout the world: the attempts to overthrow Chavez, to divide Bolivia, to surround Russia and China. They would have been aware of the inexorable growth of militarism and militarist sentiment. Of the tendency of the West to resolve its problems using force alone. They would have been aware of the ongoing attempts to destabilise Syria and Iran, using armed groups infiltrated into these countries, all the time being presented in the media as democratic movements. They would have been aware of the exaltation of NATO as the instrument of the extension of western power throughout the world through war. They would have been aware that there was no sign to the end of the NATO struggle in Afghanistan despite the manifest failure of its military campaign and the endless destruction and death in its wake. They would be aware that NATO bombs and kills indiscrimately, most famous bombing a series of 5 or 6 wedding celebrations in Afghanistan. They would have been aware of this and much more. They would then have considerable background, more than any other section of the population, to help them assess the events of the past week.

With this in mind I decided to check my impromptu thesis of the two lie trick  by consulting various online leftist organs

Brendan O’Neil writing in Spiked ( formerly “Living Marxism”) gave us the following

“Across the Arab world, recent upheavals have raised the question of power but have also failed to resolve it satisfactorily; they have put on the table the important matter of political legitimacy, but no forces have been able or willing to claim that legitimacy. This is the case in Libya, too, where it is clear that Gaddafi is finished.”

“And if you believe Libyan observers, many of whom are understandably excited by the momentous events in their country, then NATO forces were a hindrance and only the National Transitional Council (NTC) deserves congratulations for what has happened in recent days.”

So Gaddafi is finished and TNC not only has popular support amongst many but could have done the job without NATO at all. So not even a discreet lie here but a big one, a whopper.

Pulse Media Yassin-Kassab, a commentator who swears by Aljazeera, wrote the following:

“After six months of struggle, the Libyan revolution has arrived (again) in Tripoli. There may still be a trick or two up the megalomaniac’s sleeve, but the news coming in at the moment suggests a precipitous collapse. Saif-ul-Islam al-Qaddafi has been arrested. The tyrant’s daughter Aisha’s house is under the revolutionaries’ control, as is the military base of the formerly feared Khamis Brigade. The brigade in charge of protecting Qaddafi himself has surrendered. (The foreign supporters of Qaddafi and his supposedly ‘loyal’ subjects must be feeling rather silly now). Inhabitants of Tripoli’s neighbourhoods are pouring into their streets to greet the revolutionary forces.”

Again my thesis has been confirmed beyond all expectation

Patrick Cockburn writing in counterpunch offered this:

“As in Kabul in 2001 and Baghdad in 2003, there was no last-ditch stand by the defeated regime, whose supporters appear to have melted away once they saw that defeat was inevitable.”

“But many of those celebrating in the streets of Tripoli and cheering the advancing rebel columns will expect their lives to get better, and will be disappointed if this does not happen.”

Fisk in the Independent seems quite transported and can’t wait for  further regime change starting, needless to say, in Damascus:

“The scenes in Green Square yesterday were painfully similar to the crazed adoration on display at the same location for Gaddafi just a few weeks ago.”

“How soon will the liberators of Tripoli metamorphose into the liberators of Damascus and Aleppo and Homs? Or of Amman? Or Jerusalem? Or of Bahrain or Riyadh?”

Socialist Worker has this headline

“As Gaddafi’s brutal dictatorship crumbles…’

Unbelievably they add that

“In Libya it’s too early to judge if all the people will welcome Nato with open arms”

They seem worried that some may not: maybe their not anti-NATO after all.’

Stop the War( I’m not quite sure now which war) seems a bit more guarded but  still makes the two key concessions:

“The fall of the Gadaffi regime in Libya marks yet another turning point in what has been a truly remarkable year in the Middle East.”

“While many Libyans may welcome the outcome, and will be glad to see the back of Gadaffi, it has a number of negative aspects.”

According to John Rees, STW spokesperson, on RT

“They[the Libyan people] have got rid of Gaddafi and no one is going to shed any tears for that brutal dictatorship”

According to Worker’s Liberty

“For anyone who believes in basic human freedom, the fact that Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year long reign of autocratic terror in Libya is seemingly at an end must be a cause for celebration.”

They don’t actually give any evidence of celebrations but presumably the Libyan people believe in basic human freedom and must therefore have celebrated a rampage of drugged-up killers through their capital.

True to form, neither the Scottish Socialist Party nor CND bothered to update their websites but I’m confident that had they done so they would also have been  sharing the celebrations of the Libyan people after the overthrow of the brutal dictator.

I rest my case. NATO must be pleased with opponents like these, the antiwar people to whom those of us who wish to actively dissociate ourselves from mass murder might turn. Now, wherever we turn we find that ourselves party-pooping at the celebrations of what, whichever way you look at it, NATO has done.

What can explain this?

Is the left despite all the professors and lecturers in their ranks, all their sinecures inside the “bourgeois” institutions they affect to despise, a rather silly group who just don’t pay attention to what is going on or are they a reserve propaganda arm of the militarists, a sort of B team to catch any who fall through the net of the mainstream media.

I personally desist from the temptation to call the left fools and therefore opt for the second point of view.  When Lenin heard that the German Social-Democrats supported the war in 1914 he didn’t believe it. It should now be only too believable that the left will provide further backing for the destabilisation of Syria and Iran and who knows what NATO aggression beyond that.

9 Responses to “The British left spreads misinformation about Libya”

  1. Kevin Boyle said

    Good article Colin. So little skepticism in the face of this wall of propaganda and (we can be sure) absolute lies.

    We can hang our heads in shame and pity this poor country. Its troubles are only beginning.

  2. writeon said

    Good article. I’ve acually been ‘banned’ from a prominent ‘leftwing’ website, as an unserious ‘Troll’, for ‘misrepresentation’ ‘rhetoric’ ‘not engaging seriously’, for expressing much of the same scepticism about the nature of the revolt in Libya.

    My contention was that the very foundation of Nato’s ‘intervention’ in Libya was basically, propaganda, and that ‘genocide’ and ‘mass murder’ were not happeing, or at the very least the only sources for these claims were the belligerent parties, Nato, the Gulf States, and the rebels, surely, after Iraq and their non-existant WMDs one should err on the side of cautions here, even for ‘leftists’ who wish to see Gaddafi gone, at almost any price? Yet this perfectily rational, understandable, and moderate stance, was greeted with horror, almost as if I was a heretic questioning the Holy Scriptures!

    I had one example which troubled me. Who had actually seen the thousands of black, African, mercenaries, that Gaddafi had unleashed in his frenzy of violence against his own people? Where, or how does one hide thousands of black mercenaries from Chad? Sure, Lybia is a huge country, so they could be hidden in the vast southern desert, but would that defeat the purpose of introducing them into the conflict?

    If this blatant piece of propaganda was a lie, what about the rest of the stories emerging from Libya?

    Seamus Milne does his best I suppose, and I was castigated for not employing the same powerful arguments that he did, but Milne is about as far to the ‘left’ as one can go, inside the bourgeois concensus, go further and one is suddenly ‘not credible.’

    I think it’s prefectly possible to be ‘leftwing’ and bourgeois at the same time. There’s a line one isn’t allowed to cross inside the leftwing part of the bourgeois concensus,, and that is that our politicians are war criminals involved in criminal war of aggression. One can write that they are mistaken, that the wars are badly planned and executed, but not that they are criminal, that is going too far. It’s clear to see why. Democracies led by criminals?

    There is a lot of sophistry and scholasticism in leftwing intellectual and academic circles relating to these ghastly wars. Many of the left, those inside the bourgeois concensus, even accept that Nato is imperialist and that the ‘people’s revolution’ in Libya, which they accept is genuine, risks being ‘hijacked’ by Nato; but that this is a risk worth taking, because without Nato’s help Gaddafi would remain in power and the revolution would fail. To imply that this sounds rather like the ends justify the means, is to invite massive criticism, and the tag that one is ‘destructive’ and ‘unserious.’

    But surely the very idea that Nato and the Gulf States would support a genuine, socialist, people’s revolution, in Libya, is absurd. With such a glaringly ridiculous premise how much value does the rest of the argument have?

    Finally, who really believes that our leaders care about the lives of ordinary people in Libya, or anywhere else for that matter, and human rights and that our empire, for all its faults, which are defined as ‘mistakes’, that our empire is, fundamentally, benign, and, on balance, a force for good? That we live in flawed democracy, but still a democracy, in this the best of all possible worlds. This is what many on the bougeois left accept underneath their rhetoric, which is why they can support imperialism and the evolution of a new variant of fascism.

  3. Jens Dankner said

    It seems trotskyism has spread throughout the left. Read about the differences between Stalin and Trotsky about the revolution in China, why a part of the left is not really antiimperialist. They see any kind of a non perfect and non genuinely socialist (in their view) national bourgeousie as a “bureaucracy” that will do nothing but oppress. Therefore they believe almost any horror story of what is going on in such countries and ignore anything positive. Thus their part of western society is opened up to imperialist propaganda.

  4. bert said

    Re a 27 year old lie:
    WPC Yvonne Fletcher – A miscarriage of justice 27 years in the making

  5. jon said

    I have absolutely no problem with the facts that the freedom fighters pressurised Nato to intervene before Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery and mercenaries entered Bengazie and wiped out the population, which he threatened to do prior to his tanks and artillery getting wiped out by the British and French. If Nato had not intervened I have no doubt that this website would have quickly blamed the genocide on the British, since the New Labour government had made trade deals with gaddafi and sold them arms. ch is the double-standards of this type of so-called ‘anti-imperialist’ cites. I wish the new government all the success they deserve because they have fought hard to defeat a evil and lousome regime, and this will send a message to other dictators, Syria, Saudi, Bahrain. Stop being apoligists for fascism. Power to the people.

  6. seumasach said

    The “freedom fighters” are NATO/CIA assets. That’s fairly clear now one of their CIA/Al-Qaeda assets is in charge of “rebel” operations in Tripoli. Victory to the rebels means the end of Libya and enslavemnet for its people. That’s why I assume they will continue to fight. That’s why more NATo forces will have to be brought in as requested by the TNC

  7. paddy said

    add Prof Juan Cole and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman to this critique. with the “nobel peace prize winner” in the White House, the US “left” no longer think wars of aggression stink.
    also, russia today TV has completely changed in the last couple of days, so much so a comment under a pro-rebel report today says:

    Russia Today: comment by Ms. F. Ade August 30, 2011, 19:48
    If RT is simply going to mirror Sky, Fox, CNN, Aljezera & BBC then you’ll loose viewers. After all why watch a 3rd rate Xerox copy, poor imitation, of these channels, when the discredited original is there!! I thought the idea was to offer another perspective based on facts, not on hearsay from rebels & concoctions of Western media that have repeatedly been proven to be lies. Gaddafi has NOT FLED, the REBELS are NOT IN CONTROL & there is NO END GAME insight until NATO stops the bombing & a peaceful solution along the AU line is adopted. There is fighting going on right now between rebel/Qatari & Gaddafi/ volunteer forces, while legally Mummar Gaddafi remains Head of State. Some objectivity please!

  8. seumasach said

    Yes, I think that is it entirely: a new variant of fascism. And, as Jens has suggested something which has morphed out of Trotskyism. Neo-cons like Michael Ledeen epitomise this new hybrid, internationalist and fascist. The proletarian internationalism provides for the subversion of nation states everywhere and NATO does the rest, with corporate vultures following up to pick the corpse. The British left. especially of the Trot persuasion has always had this phobia about nationalism, a vicious streak which they concealed behind a mythical proletarian unity and pious sentiments about socialism. Now there is only the vicious streak as they become attack dogs for imperialism, the vanguard of universal fascism, of the enslavement of humanity in a new world order.

  9. True, man. The same in Russia.
    But it’s treatable.

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