By Toni Solo
Right now in Libya the UN recognized government and its NATO masters are bombing hundreds of civilians to death in Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha. They have bombed schools and hospitals and murdered whole families. This infamy was sanctioned by the UN from the beginning and has been justified by many of the cream of international progressive intellectuals. It is long past time to identify and condemn these accomplices to the crimes against humanity in Libya committed by the Western elites and their puppet governments.
The colonial war against Libya has defined more sharply than ever the structures of knowledge, attitudes and behaviour that characterize progressive and radical intellectual production in Europe and North America. The war has thrown that production into crisis. It could not be clearer now that the class function of intellectual managers like Gilbert Achcar, Immanuel Wallerstein, Ignacio Ramonet and similar individuals is to neuter effective protest against corporate capitalism and imperialism.
The crypto-fascist Irish poet W.B.Yeats once wrote, “Did that play of mine send out certain men the English shot?” Intellectual managers like Achar, Ramonet and Wallerstein, Samir Amin, Atilio Boron, Ramzy Baroud and Santiago Alba Rico might ask themselves, “Did our work prepare the vicious NATO genocide in Libya?” Of course, the answer is “yes, it did”. They also seem to think that reality is perfectly all right.
They avow they seek radical social change and revolution in theory. But wherever processes have achieved genuine social change in the real world, as in the Libyan Jamahiriya, they attack them or, as in Venezuela, seek to mould them to their own narcissistic criteria. If one looks at the expressions of dissent privileged under corporate consumer capitalism they are all varieties of anarchism.
Of course they are.
Anarchist anti-communism is a spoilt child doted on and nurtured by the capitalist elites– a nuisance, but a useful one and very much part of the laissez-faire family. Capitalism easily accommodates and co-opts fatuous slogans like “Another world is possible”. We can see what world they have in mind by looking at Libya. The intellectuals who supported the murderous racist Libyan renegades and NATO’s contract putsch-insurrection are a good example of how the process of co-optation and accommodation works.
They assimilate themselves into the rituals and processes of public life in the plutocracies of North America and Europe. They shift between academic life, non-governmental activity and participation in the mass corporate psy-warfare media and their alternative counterparts, the gatekeepers of permissible dissent. Libya has finally brought this reality out into the open in the most categorical way. One has only to look back at what influential intellectual managers produced around the time of the March 19th UN Resolution 1973.
Here’s Immanuel Wallerstein (http://www.iwallerstein.com/libya-world-left/ ) :
“The second point missed by Hugo Chavez’s analysis is that there is not going to be any significant military involvement of the western world in Libya. The public statements are all huff and puff, designed to impress local opinion at home. There will be no Security Council resolution because Russia and China won’t go along. There will be no NATO resolution because Germany and some others won’t go along. Even Sarkozy’s militant anti-Qaddafi stance is meeting resistance within France.”
Here’s Ignacio Ramonet (http://www.monde-diplomatique.es/?url=editorial/000085641287216818681110… ) :
“Under such circumstances, any other reasonable leader would have understood that the time to negotiate and give up power had arrived. But not Colonel Gadafi. At the risk of submerging his country in a civil war, the “Guide”, in power for 42 years, explained that the demonstrators were “youngsters Al Qaeda had drugged by adding hallucinogenic pills to their Nescafé”. And he ordered the armed forces to repress the protests with heavy gunfire and extreme force. The Al Jazeera channel showed military planes strafing civilian demonstrators.”
“One can be against the current structure of the United Nations, or reckon that its operations leave much to be desired. Or that the Western powers dominate the organization. These are acceptable criticisms. But for the moment the UN constitutes the only source of international law. In that sense, and contrary to the wars wars in Kosovo or Iraq which were never sanctioned by the UN, the current intervention in Libya is legal, according to international law; legitimate according to the principles of solidarity among democrats; and desirable for the international community which brings together people struggling for their liberty.”
Here’s Gilbert Achcar (http://www.zcommunications.org/libya-a-legitimate-and-necessary-debate-f… ) :
“The idea that Western powers are intervening in Libya because they want to topple a regime hostile to their interests is just preposterous. Equally preposterous is the idea that what they are after is laying their hands on Libyan oil. In fact, the whole range of Western oil and gas companies is active in Libya: Italy’s ENI, Germany’s Wintershall, Britain’s BP, France’s Total and GDF Suez, US companies ConocoPhillips, Hess, and Occidental, British-Dutch Shell, Spain’s Repsol, Canada’s Suncor, Norway’s Statoil, etc. Why then are Western powers intervening in Libya today, and not in Rwanda yesterday and Congo yesterday and today? As one of those who have energetically argued that the invasion of Iraq was “about oil” against those who tried to outsmart us by saying that we were “reductionists,” don’t expect me to argue that this one is not about oil. It definitely is. But how?
My take on that is the following. After watching for a few weeks Gaddafi conducting his terribly brutal and bloody suppression of the uprising that started in mid-February — estimates of the number of people killed in early March ranged from 1000 to 10,000, the latter figure by the International Criminal Court, with the Libyan opposition’s estimates ranging between 6,000 and 8,000 — Western governments, like everybody else for that matter, became convinced that with Gaddafi set on a counter-revolutionary offensive and reaching the outskirts of Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi (over 600,000 inhabitants), a mass-scale slaughter was imminent.”
Counterfactual perception management
One could quote many more examples of the intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and cynicism of these prestigious writers and others like, for example, Santiago Alba Rico, Atilio Boron, Ramzy Baroud and Samir Amin. But the extra bulk of documentation would add nothing to the overall picture of narcissistic collaboration with the dominant NATO corporate psy-warfare machine. Nor is it worth dallying over the role of NATO’s favourite gatekeepers of permissible dissent like Counterpunch, ZNet, Rebelión and other similar alternative information web sites.
Those sites did their job of muting and censoring effective discussion and argument at crucial moments prior to the March 19th vote in the UN Security Council and around the decisive event of NATO’s ground invasion of Tripoli in August. A tiny handful of writers, among them John Pilger and Tariq Ali, spoke out against the war. But even they still swallowed hook, line and sinker the NATO psy-warfare caricature of Muammar Al Ghaddafi as a blood-on-his-hands dictator-clown.
While the individual errors of Achcar, Wallerstein and Ramonet may vary, all of them start from the central premise of NATO’s psychological warfare offensive, namely, that Libya was a dictatorship overthrown by a popular revolution.
As part of their suspiciously coherent perception management of events in Libya, all these NATO psy-warfare collaborators omit the following facts:
• prior to March 19th the Libyan Jamahiriya had called for negotiations and a UN fact-finding mission – rejected both by the renegades and the dominant powers in the UN;
• the only reliably confirmed information about events in Libya between February 17th and March 19th came from the Libyan government the Libyan government’s account was confirmed by testimony from both Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen as well as by Russian military intelligence prior to the March 19th Resolution 1973.
• there was never any reliable evidence of the Libyan Jamahiriya bombing or machine gunning peaceful demonstrations in February or March;
• on the other hand credible accounts of racist pogroms and lynchings by the Libyan renegades were available from the very start of the events in Benghazi in February ;
• the African Union’s constant insistence from the very start of the conflict on a negotiated peace was welcomed by the Libyan Jamihiriya;
• the devastating role played by international sanctions imposed on the basis of the flagrant fabrication of Libyan involvement in the Lockerbie terrorist atrocity badly affected Libya’s development between 1992 and 2003;
• by 2011 Libya’s population enjoyed an unparalleled high standard of living relative to the rest of Africa;
• US$200bn in funds were saved by the Libyan Jamahiriya and administered for the benefit of the Libyan people and impoverished African countries;
• the Libyan Jamahiriya promoted innumerable significant and strategic development initiatives in other African countries;
• prior to their NATO supported putsch- insurrection, the currrent renegade leaders promoted corporate friendly Western neoliberal policies that were firmly resisted by Muammar Al Gaddafi
• once they realized Maummar Al Ghadafi was resisting deepening neoliberal reforms, NATO planned and carried out the Southern Mistral war game in which they practised a military assault against Libya
Analysis with feet of clay
One could go on delving into more detail to rebut all the false claims and hypocritical assertions made by NATO psy-warfare fellow travellers like Ramonet, Achcar and Wallerstein. But it is enough to look at the excerpts quoted above to see how skewed, disingenuous, arrogant, cynical and downright baseless their arguments are. These are classic characteristics of NATO country perception management against targets from the Cuban revolution to the UN supported coups in Haiti and the Ivory Coast
Immanuel Wallerstein completely failed to predict the course of events in Libya in the most abject and ridiculous way. The UN Security Council did pass a resolution. NATO did resolve to go to war. President Sarkozy easily secured his country’s approval for French armed forces to participate in NATO’s colonial war.
Wallerstein demonstrated complete idiocy in his appraisal of events in March 2011. We can add his illustrious corpse to the Ship of Fools adrift over Libya full to the gunwales with NATO dupes who got things completely wrong on Libya. Wallerstein’s fatuous patronising arrogance duped him into hopeless error. By contrast, the appraisal of the facts by Fidel Castro and President Hugo Chavez was absolutely right.
The falsehoods of Ignacio Ramonet
Ignacio Ramonet completely misrepresented the nature of the events in February in Benghazi. No reliable evidence indicates that peaceful demonstrators were fired on. At the time, the Libyan government’s account was confirmed by testimony from both US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the US armed forces Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, as well as by Russian military intelligence prior to the March 19th Resolution 1973. Now the highest estimates of deaths as a result of the armed insurrection in Libya between February 17th and March 19th are around 250.
Ramonet got things wrong because he took as his source a notorious NATO propaganda outlet, the UK Guardian newspaper. The Guardian’s foreign news coverage is at least as cynical and skewed as that of El País or Le Monde. Ramonet also relied on the Qatar dominated Al Jazeera, now overwhelmingly staffed by staff who previously worked with NATO country mainstream corporate media.
It is not as strange as it seems that a supposed radical like Ignacio Ramonet should ignore the entire history of imperialist interventions over the last 200 years. At one time Ramonet was extremely proud of his work promoting the World Social Forum. That body is thoroughly compromised by its links to corporate funders.
On Libya, Ramonet also dishonestly suggests as a fact something he most certainly does not know, namely that Muammar al Ghaddafi ordered the use of extreme force against peaceful demonstrators. That suggestion is pure propaganda as is his selective quote of Muammar al Ghaddafi’s comments at the time.. To write as Ignacio Ramonet then did, that UN Resolution 1973 was legal, legitimate and desirable, takes self-serving cynicism to its very extremes.
Former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had already pointed out correctly that enforcing a no fly zone necessarily involved military aggression. But the UN Charter specifically rules out military action except in self-defence. Hence President Obama’s counterfactual statement that the United States is not at war against Libya. So much for United Nations legality.
In any case, Resolution 1973 calls for a peaceful negotiated solution. That option proposed by the Libyan government and the African Union and by Latin America’s ALBA bloc of countries had already been rejected by the Libyan renegades. They rejected negotiations on the strength of the support they were getting from the very governments who cynically passed the Resolution knowing neither they themselves nor the renegades had any intention of seeking a peaceful settlement.
Ramonet argues that the UN blank cheque for intervention was legitimate in terms of democratic solidarity. Here we come up against a fundamental contradiction of the international neocolonial Left. Igancio Ramonet, a famous critic of corporate capitalism, tacitly accepts, after all, that North America and Europe are composed of democracies and he explicitly describes the Libyan Jamahiriya as a dictatorship.
But it is the Libyan Jamahiriya that carefully saved and invested hundreds of billions of dollars which it then used very clearly for the benefit of the Libyan people and other African peoples. On the other hand, it is the rotten-corrupt plutocracies of Europe and North America that have sucked dry their peoples so as to enrich a tiny corporate elite of crooked bankers and speculators and to protect their criminal financial system. The democratic solidarity Ramonet is talking about is no more than a narcissistic construct conjured up to justify his ideological prejudice against the Libyan Jamahiriya.
To conclude, as Ignacio Ramonet then does, that the UN Resolution 1973 was in any way desirable is plainly disingenuous folly. The terms of Resolution 1973 left matters wide open to whatever interpretation the North American and European governments concerned chose to put on it. No serious observer expected anything less than the ruthless application of force to support the racist putsch-insurrection struggling for existence in Benghazi.
That putsch-insurrection completely lacked popular support in the rest of Libya. Like Achcar and Wallerstein, Ramonet ignored plenty of readily available information that indicated those very facts which have been confirmed over and over again since March 19th 2011.
Ramonet’s reputation is one more illustrious corpse in the Ship of Fools illuminated by the flames of NATO’s genocide in Zliten, Tripoli, Sirte and Bani Walid.
Gilbert Achcar – psy-warfare operative
Gilbert Achcar’s is perhaps the most egregiously dishonest and overt case of collabroation in NATO’s psychological warfare against the Libyan people. With regard to Libya, Immanuel Wallerstein turned out to be a dunderhead and Ignacio Ramonet, more than anything, a narcissistic disingenuous buffoon. But Gilbert Achcar’s position is one carefully politically calculated in the most absolute bad faith.
Achcar is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at Britain’s Foreign and Colonial Office’s extra-mural School of Oriental and African Studies. He has taught in France and Britain for over 30 years now. Only the most naive would believe Achcar has not been utterly co-opted by his environment. His remarks on Libya demonstrate his moral and intellectual capitulation as a colonialist apologist to a fault.
“The idea that Western powers are intervening in Libya because they want to topple a regime hostile to their interests is just preposterous.” It is very rare for a NATO psy-warfare operative to out themselves like this. Self-evidently, it is Gilbert Achcar’s view that is truly preposterous, suggesting the Western regimes intervening in Libya have done so for any other reason than that the Libyan Jamahiriya blocked their plans on several fronts.
Achcar continues to out himself as a NATO apologist by shamelessly citing as categorical fact the most extreme and ridiculous figures of civilian deaths at the hands of the forces of the Libyan Jamahiriya with absolutely no basis in any legitimate reporting or investigation. “Estimates of the number of people killed in early March ranged from 1000 to 10,000, the latter figure by the International Criminal Court, with the Libyan opposition’s estimates ranging between 6,000 and 8,000.”
Only a NATO stooge would expect to be taken seriously when citing the International Criminal Court as a reliable source. As it turns out, the ICC on this matter has been completely discredited, along with its other ridiculous lie about allegations of mass rape by Libyan army troops on Viagra. The illustrious corpse of the ICC’s Luis Moreno Campo’s reputation, or its desiccated remains, joins those of Wallerstein, Ramonet and Achcar and their accomplices in the NATO fellow-travellers funeral Barge-of-Fools going up in flames in the sands of Libya.
The facts now established and accepted by all but NATO collaborators like Gilbert Achcar are that the Libyan security forces did not fire on unarmed demonstrators. Respected human rights organizations put the number of fatalities as a result of the armed insurrection between February 17th and March 19th at around 250. So it was extremely unlikely that Achcar’s scare of “mass-scale slaughter” was in any way likely, especially since the Libyan authorities were offering to negotiate. What is indeed absolutely clear is that Achcar is a fully committed psy-warfare operative in NATO’s war against Libya and everyone who expresses solidarity with the Libyan Jamahiriya.
Intellectuals and counterintelligence
In the 1950s and the 1960s, the CIA and its fellow intelligence agencies invested a great deal of money and resources suborning intellectuals in Europe and in North America.
The story of Encounter magazine and the career of the poet Stephen Spender in Britain is emblematic. Other examples abound. It would be extremely foolish to think the same practices have not persisted and become more sophisticated into the present day.
An example of the way the counter-intelligence network of outright NATO collaborators and fellow travellers works has come to light in relation to Libya. One of the gatekeepers of permissible dissent, the Spanish web site Rebelión, prominently featured an article by Santiago Alba Rico. Like Achcar, Alba Rico is a prominent academic, a specialist on the Arab world in the best traditions of Orientalism. Alba Rico demonstrates that Edward Said’s critical concept of Orientalism can readily involute upon itself for the purposes of neocolonial propaganda.
In the course of his article Alba Rico writes of the situation’s complexity only to drastically simplify it in favour of his point of view. “Even Nato is aware of this complexity as is demonstrated by the fact – as Gilbert Achcar has pointed out – that Libya has been bombed very little, with the aim of lengthening the war and trying to achieve the defeat of the regime without truly breaking with it.”
One pictures Achcar and Alba Rico in places like Zliten, or Sirte telling the mourning relatives of dead NATO victims there to stop crying, “After all, you’ve only been bombed a little…”
Only a shameless apologist for NATO would attempt to allege that Libya has been bombed “very little”. On cue, Alba Rico seizes on this and uses Achcar’s grotesque cynical falsehood to pad out his own apology for the colonialist onslaught against the Libyan Jamahiriya.
At this point, it is possible to move on from the lies and hypocrisies of these NATO collaborators and fellow travellers and look at their claims for their own intellectual and ethical standards.
One useful source of information about what has really been going on in Libya beyond NATO psy-warfare disinformation reports has been Leonor Massanet. Someone who worked with Rebelión until very recently has confirmed that Santiago Alba Rico engaged in deliberate behind-the-scenes character assassination of Leonor Massanet. Alba Rico’s aim, in which to some extent he clearly succeeded, was to discredit Leonor because her plausible and credible account of events in Libya contradicted his own thoroughly false analysis.
When one comes across cases of people being turned into non-persons or being calumnied in this way, one is at the limits of legitimate intellectual disagreement. Beyond that frontier one, is then dealing with the abuse of power for counter-intelligence purposes to neutralize effective dissent. Right now, the whole world is a vast mess of low-intensity conflict and outright war. The Western elites are determined to dominate the world’s peoples and their natural resources. The activities of NATO fellow-travellers like Gilbert Achcar and Santiago Alba Rico are far from innocent or coincidental.
Here we are faced with the reality of the thorough hypocrisy of the co-opted alternative news and information media. All of them, whether it’s Rope-a-dope , Zzzz  or Sumisión  purport to deliver reliable factual information from a variety of viewpoints. All of them are infested with hypocritical self-regarding phonies who readily suppress views they dislike. They all engage in what Gilbert Achcar would term “Stalinist” censorship and the making of non-persons. Leonor Massanet is far from being the only victim of this pernicious deceitful managerial counter-intelligence manipulated culture.
Psy-warfare’s next offensive : ALBA
Psychological warfare is a vital component of total war. All through the 1980s and 1990s the North American and European NGO sector was systematically co-opted by NATO country governments to serve NATO propaganda ends. In effect, they are the soft extra-mural arm of their countries’ Foreign Ministries, and routinely project those countries’ foreign policies. That reality has been very well documented. It is as true of the structures available to progressive intellectual workers as it is of the NGOs that employ progressive aid and development workers.
The alternative media’s coverage of NATO’s contract putsch-insurrection against the Libya Jamahariya has demonstrated this with the most startling clarity. Along with the Libyan Jamahariya, other perennial victims of their deceit and hypocrisy have been the Sandinista Front for National Liberation in Nicaragua, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia as well as national Communist Parties in general. Presumably, other people devoted to other causes and issues will have had identical experiences.
It is a fact that neocolonial intellectual and cultural networks tend to dominate international anti-imperialist intellectual production. Their members have a vested interest in maintaining the class structure inherent to that production, one that effectively censors argument and maintains strictly policed parameters. The colonial invasion of Libya has demonstrated with absolute clarity that effective anti-imperialism – for example by the FSLN in Nicaragua or the PSUV in Venezuela – is under threat from both the right and the neocolonial left.
After Libya, a likely future target will be Nicaragua. But the NATO elites view Nicaragua as simply an hors d’oeuvre for the main course, Venezuela. The battle for Venezuela began back in 2002 and will get more and more fierce once President Hugo Chavez wins re-election ten years on, in 2012. The international neocolonial Left is hard at work sawing the floor away from under the Sandinista revolutionary process in Nicaragua. Nor is it in any way controversial to say they are busy trying to co-opt the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. Libya has shown they are capable of any infamy.