Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 10, 2011

Agreeing With Pfaff's Thoughts on Libya

Old timer William Pfaff on the issue of Libya:

The insurgents want to be free from Colonel Qadaffi’s loathsome, fantasy-laden and brutal rule. We wish them success. However overt military intervention would transform a civil conflict into a war between the existing Libyan government and the West – the U.S., NATO, Europe.

The essence of the general Arab uprising is that it has been popular, authentic, spontaneous, democratic, and (with respect to established international political and economic interests) disinterested. This has been its marvel, and the source of its strength. It has been unique. An overt foreign military intervention threatens to discredit all that, undermining the essential quality of the Arab Revolution.

The last sentence in that quote is important to keep in mind. Any intervention in Libya would likely stop the wave of democratic revolutions in the Middle East.

But that is probably not the bug but the feature and the very reason why the U.S. senator for Israel, Joe Lieberman, and other zionists are calling for war on Libya.

More from Pfaff:

The civil struggle in Libya is not merely Qadaffi versus the people, but an affair of the tribal attachments of an Arab and Berber population, whose separate regions (in modern times Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan), were under Ottoman domination from the sixteenth century forward, and were not united until the twentieth century, and separatism undoubtedly persists even now. Western policy planners, military men, and even humanitarian enthusiasts, do well not to blunder into things they know nothing about.
Moreover, military intervention is highly destructive. A “No-Fly” zone sounds sensible and prudent, but the United States (as Robert Gates has warned Washington) does not intervene anywhere without first suppressing all possible defensive threats to American forces. Hence a NATO or U.S no-fly zone would be preceded by days if not weeks of systematic bombardment of Libyan defensive sites, inevitably located near cities and oil installations, with much “collateral damage” and many civilian casualties. It is not a humanitarian policy.

I agree.

Posted by b on March 10, 2011 at 18:04 UTC | Permalink


As you say, b, tainting the Arab revolution with the stench of Western military intervention is a feature, not a flaw, for most of those advocating it.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Mar 10 2011 18:37 utc | 1

it is the question i have been asking for a few weeks - will what is happening in libya affect the momentum of the arab revolts

tonight it seems, that the saudis have fired on protesters in the east, the bahrain leadership is menacing to do the same if the people march on the royal palace, the counter revolution is stepping up in egypt but it seems in tunisia the people are very very vigilant & are very aware of the counter revolutionary possibilities

libya, whatever the outcome poisons the arab revolts. what a choice, the gangster ghaddafi or the gangster provisional government which will resemble the criminal clan that runs kosovo

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 10 2011 19:14 utc | 2

"Do you have doubts that if Saudi government tomorrow incinerates Saudi demonstrators with napalm and mustard gas, NATO would applaud and would even replenish Saudi stockpiles?"
angry arab

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 10 2011 19:31 utc | 3

bernard henri lévy is speaking on al jazeera - i don't think i have heard a dumber philosopher in my life - a rhetorician of the basest type masquerading under his discredited humanitarianism. when foucault or deleuze were alive - such a fool could not open his mouth without being shamed without being revealed for the buffoon he is. he takes the righteous indignation that people feel against injustice & he perverts it. the state of philosophy is so impoverished today in my beloved france that this cafe casuist can seem like a serious thinker - he is not but he is taken by the entire media here as its darling

when he wrote the quite sick piece of work on imagining himself the executed journalist daniel pearl - we witnessed the perversity that lies at the heart of his work - he know so little but he makes so much of it & so too the media that surrounds him

& of course he wants foreign intervention

ghaddafi must go - but not in the way buffoons like bernard would like

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 10 2011 20:04 utc | 4

The Republicans are itching to spend that $65 Billion they cut out of domestic social programs--where better than in Libya? With maybe a couple $billion more for Israel.

When "defense" is at stake, the $1.5 Trillion deficit (most of which goes for "defense related" spending) doesn't matter a whit.

Posted by: JohnH | Mar 10 2011 20:33 utc | 5

pfaff's analysis is crystal clear both in understanding of the revolt in general, its understanding of the details at play in Lybia and in the consequences of the imposition of a 'no fly zone' by outside interests... further more the examples he provides of previous interventions illustrate all to clearly again the failings of such interventions in the past...the fact that such policies are still advocated and enacted only goes to show the lessons have not been learned...and that self interest (protection of assets/investments) is the motivating factor and the ultimate goal of such actions.To call such actions humanitarian is pure unadulterated hypocrisy.

Posted by: noiseannoys | Mar 10 2011 21:57 utc | 6

'The civil struggle in Libya is not merely Qadaffi versus the people'

its not Gadaffi vs the people at all..this phrasing makes it seem Gadaffi has NO support, and gets magnified and echoed thru the blogosphere, Goerbells fashion. He has PLENTY of support. Quit using 'Gaddafi this and Gadafi that...

Posted by: brian | Mar 11 2011 0:32 utc | 7

For the sake of argument, let's say this shit is true: foreign fighters in Iraq were massively overrepresented by workers from eastern Libya.

Now, stay with me on this knuckleheads; for USukers, this can only mean one possible grand-narrative subsumption of reality: Qaddafi must be defeated because the eastern insurgents represent the greatest threat to Middle East USuk stability.

I believe this is a plausible outcome. I said it here first.

Strap on your backwards dildo, rgiap. Get ready for the ride.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 11 2011 1:17 utc | 8

'Qaddafi must be defeated because the eastern insurgents represent the greatest threat to Middle East USuk stability.'

gadafi has nothing to do with jihadists of east libya:

Posted by: brian | Mar 11 2011 4:10 utc | 9

I support dropping a hellfire missile or two on Ghaddaffi. I don't support a continued no fly zone and certainly no boots on the ground. If those forces coalesced "behind" Ghaddaffi were still coherent then fine. But, if we were to expand this policy and other nations followed our example, that too would be fine. After all, wouldn't the world be better if leaders killed each other and left us in peace? Rather than fleets of jet fighters, a nation would only need a few. Let the leaders die and let the people watch.

BTW, I'm glad to see MoA back. Been logging time at WarinContext, GlennGreenwald, StevenWalt'sFP, Antiwar and LewRockwell

Posted by: scottindallas | Mar 11 2011 14:45 utc | 10

michael hudson

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 11 2011 15:48 utc | 11

I am 95% against intervention - good piece by Pfaff.

A larger question, is what is the nature of the interventions, why are they framed as they are, etc.

A first level might be called diplomatic, of which we see none or little in this situation. Diplomacy naturally has some aim(s) which may go beyond negotiation for peace-keeping and saving lives. Nevertheless, it takes off on a base of non-violence and accords equal legitimacy to the different interlocutors. When it breaks down, not much is lost. Well, that is the spirit of it.

A second level is pressure through ostensibly non-military institutions, such as an arms embargo, seizing of financial assets, and virtually ‘arresting’ ppl to bring them to an International Court. These have been used against Lybia, mistakenly I believe. It inflames, leads to going for broke, and closes off diplomatic avenues. Measures of that type can be used as cards to play, as threats or offers. Implementing them as pre-emptive pressure when one does not measure the effects is blind stupidity.

A third level is aid. A slippery terrain. I suppose one should make an exception of purely humanitarian aid in the shape of food, water, med care, refugee tents, etc. However, it is hard to deliver, and inevitably helps one group more than another, and is of course either instrumentalized or not neutral to begin with. Other aid - logistics, vehicles, peace-keepers, etc. skates on thin ice, even in situations where civil strife doesn’t exist (e.g. Haiti, a total disaster.) The tradition of disinterested aid I reckon is dead.

Fourth, direct help for fighting - arms, etc. Military matters are not my forte. However, it means taking sides, and entering the fray. A big step. And the West doesn’t seem to have many options here, as they close them off themselves, and can only use major force to protect their own - bombs, shock and awe, etc. (e.g. Iraq.) In short, the use of military force is now inherently incredibly destructive, leads to a ‘razed earth’ result. Not good, not moral, not smart.

Maybe some of the West’s contradictions are beginning to be examined? That is the optimistic view. On the negative pole, the ridiculous hesitations and contradictory discourse and hapless use of various measures (which will no doubt continue) is a symptom of indecision facing the semi-certain loss of an accepted dictator.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 11 2011 17:29 utc | 12

“direct help for fighting … means taking sides”


The identity and bona fides of the insurgent leaders is still quite murky. Uncle Sam will undoubtedly find someone like Ayad Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi to install. Next stop, the recycling of proconsul Jerry Bremer.

Posted by: Watson | Mar 11 2011 18:24 utc | 13

@ Brian,

Of course Qadhafi has support. no one in his right mind would say he does not. There are 30 or so major tribes in Libya. Of those the Werfalla and the Maqhariha are the most important. Qhadafi's own tribe, the Qathathfa, is a minor tribe. Most of the 30 tribes have turned against him. This is especially true of the Eastern tribes in Cyraniaca.

The Qathathfa has historically controlled the Libyan AirForce, hence the pounding that the LAF is delivering to the rebels. The Qathathfa's strength is in central Libya, these are the areas that are seeing the worst fighting right now.

The Maqhariha still support Qadhafi. They owe him a debt of gratitude for getting one of their own, the Pan Am 103 bomber, released from a Scottish jail.

Right now, it seems that Qathafi's forces have the upper hand. It is very possible that some of the tribes that supported the rebellion will switch sides and go back to the Qathafi camp. This happens a lot in patrimonial societies like Libya. Military success by a patrimonial leader will gain him converts among the enemy.

Posted by: ndahi | Mar 11 2011 18:25 utc | 14

vijay prashad

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 11 2011 22:32 utc | 15

homo homini lupus

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 11 2011 22:46 utc | 16

giap the michaelichael hudson hudson you reference is not the same michael hudson who frequently constributes to counterpunch, a financial affairs reporter. In fact he is not even the michael hudson people most often confuse the CPunch writer with, that is michael hudson a prominent economist at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC) who also writes critically of western capitalist practises. This Michael Hudson is you linked to is michael c hudson formerly of georgetown, now of the university of singapore (singapore - says it all really) he claims to be a middle east specialist and is a a frequent supporter of US interventions and known supporter of the illegal zionist state, israel.
Here is a wiki link to some of the michael hudsons none of which are the michael c hudson who concocted the lies in the article at the end of the link.

He factualises two pieces of US propganda in the article you linked to. The first that the bombing of Ghaddafi's compound was because Ghaddafi had been involved in european terrorism. This is a sleazy piece of newspeak. The attack was mounted following the bombing of a Hamburg niteclub frequented by the US invaders in Germany. The bombs which were planted by breakaway elements of fatah were resourced, contracted and enabled by syrian intelligence. However the US didn't want to upset Assad (SnR) as the Lebanese civil war was going thru a crucial phase and the US needed Syria onside to isolate what they believed was Iranian involvement in Lebanon.

So rayguns advisors told ronnie a story he authorised the attack on Libya and many innocents got murdered.
Secondly michael c hudson repeats the fabrication that libya was responsible for lockerbie. I'm not going to re-gurgitate all the evidence that points to iran as being responsible for lockerbie; that it was a simple case of payback for the downing of an iranian airlibner by rogue elements of the US navy. Those interested can easily find the evidence from one end of the net to the other. Similarly just as pointing the finger at syria for the hamburg affair was considered impolitic, at the time lockerbie investigation came to a head having a go at iran was a non starter because iran's compliance was required for the gulf war 1 invasion scenario. Some suckhole was prez of iran back then, one who thought despite the way iran had been treated like shit when they offered help to the us during lebanon, that helping usuk in kuwait would lower the sanctions. At least now iranians understand that us interests will stop at nothing short of complete hegemony over iran, and that the next fight will be to the death. The us will come to regret their treachery but that is another story.

This story is a link to a zionist liar whose words are not worth the shit he sprayed onto the paper a known liar who twists reality to suit his bosses demands.

Posted by: UreKismet | Mar 12 2011 0:19 utc | 17

i am guilty urekismet, of covering the waterfront - of wanting a spread of views - yes i think this michael hudson was the supervisor for the 'angry arab's' phd

i'm trying to read what is available in english, french & italian but accumulating little wisdom on what is happening

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 12 2011 0:54 utc | 18

If Brian's past postings have any truth, then the Wests intervention against Mr. G is assured. Our media is just beginning to make the case.

Posted by: Ben | Mar 12 2011 2:23 utc | 19

*I support dropping a hellfire missile or two on Ghaddaffi*

so this is amerikka's sense of justice, has kadaffi been convicted in a world court yet ?
no i'm not talking about these international kangaroo courts

there's no doubt about the crimes committed by the evil twins
since they are unlikely to be hauled to the icc or ikt, how about someone drop a couple of abombs in wasghton n london ?

Posted by: denk | Mar 12 2011 3:12 utc | 20

So long as it's leaders killing leaders who cares? I wanna keep the people out of it. That said, it is dangerous to condemn a Saddam or Ghaddaffi based on the preponderance of the info about. If I ran a resource rich country, I'd be nervous and a bit paranoid too. I would want to drive a hard bargain for my resources and struggle to keep my independence. I know they would hate me for that.

Posted by: scottindallas | Mar 12 2011 14:58 utc | 21

the destruction of iraqi culture

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 12 2011 19:47 utc | 22


the next time a yank wanna *take out* certain *tyrant/dictator*
please consider this...

*every US president since WW II could be impeached because "they've all been either outright war criminals or involved in serious war crimes.*

Posted by: denk | Mar 13 2011 3:19 utc | 23

Israel Keeping Ghaddafi Afloat

I should think it's true. Gaddafi's troops seem very disciplined.

Posted by: alexno | Mar 13 2011 20:49 utc | 24

Glad to see you have "special" interests, brian. Sounds like you were paid by the hasbara ministry. You equally have only quoted an Israeli denial. Like, who believes Israeli official denials these days?

It is very much in Israeli interests to keep Gaddafi in power. Vital in fact (at least in the way they see things).

But do you think they are going to announce it in public?

Posted by: alexno | Mar 14 2011 7:05 utc | 25

I knew you'd come back on this. You have nothing to say, but you say it anyway. Testosterone requires a response.

I don't much care what HRW say; they're an interested party, the director has Israeli connections. They're unreliable on Israeli affairs (but you weren't aware of that, were you?)

Mercenaries aren't necessarily African. Though many Africans have been found and videoed. I've seen the videos. Gaddafi has too small a population base to do without outside help. The help may indeed be Israeli officers directing the affair.

Posted by: alexno | Mar 14 2011 9:29 utc | 26

I have deleted several comments by "brian" on this thread. He seems to have a chronic case of commenting incontinence. Please ignore his further comments as I will remove them as soon as I see them.

Posted by: b | Mar 14 2011 12:47 utc | 27

saudis invade bahrain - the counter revolution

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 14 2011 18:24 utc | 28

On the Libyan situation, I think it is possible that the rebels can stop Gaddafi's forces before Benghazi, if they're willing to make the effort. Gaddafi's forces are small, if well equipped. Each battle wears them out. The tank tracks are wearing out, can they be replaced? The force in front of Benghazi will be much less than before Ras Lanouf, if the rebel moral holds. Alamain could be speaking again.

Posted by: alexno | Mar 14 2011 23:34 utc | 29

As for the arrival of Saudi troops in Bahrain, re giap 28, the only word I can use is: panic. If the Bahrainis can't reach an agreement with their Shi'a, inviting in 1000 Saudis is not going to help.

Posted by: alexno | Mar 14 2011 23:59 utc | 30

Today the New York Times discovers - tataaa - Libya has tribes: Tribal Ties, Long Qaddafi’s Strength, May Be His Undoing

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2011 8:30 utc | 31

From AJE.

4:30pm Anti-government activists said that rebels commanding fighter jets have destroyed two of Gaddafi's warships off the northeast coast of Ajdabiya. The opposition also claimed to have hit a third naval ship in the air attack, according to opposition website Libya al-Youm. A number of army generals and soldiers, particularly in the Libyan Air Force, have defected to join the rebels and have an arsenal of weapons and fighter jets at their disposal. The alleged attack comes as Gaddafi's forces continue to battle for control of Ajdabiya and the nearby city of Brega in order to advance on to the opposition stronghold of Benghazi

I wonder if this information is really credible. Some information said they had fighters, and I remember a photo of a Mil Mi 24 helicopter, on the east army bases but they haven't used them until now. Lack of pilots? Lack of service or supplies? Fear of being outnumbered or easily shot down with AA missiles?

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 15 2011 14:57 utc | 32

craig murray - the invasion of bahrain

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 15 2011 20:57 utc | 33

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