“The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth”. Georg
In front of the background that Barack Obama just started a war of choice against Libya Ryan Lizza, a famous writer of political profiles, published a lengthy article in the left leaning “New Yorker” magazine on the foreign policy of Barack Obama.
Ryan Lizza tries to make the case for Barack Obama that his foreign policy is a balanced mix of American values and American interests, driven by the events of ongoing history and decisions made from case to case in reaction to these events in the best manner for mankind eyeing not so much for perception as for results. The title of his article already articulate the message the readers shall swallow after reading the ten page article: “The Consequentialist – How the Arab Spring remade Obama’s foreign policy.”
What is meant by American interests and values wich define the ever lasting conflict between the realists and the idealists views is not explicitely mentioned, but it’s an easy guess. Interests are American security, influence and wealth, finally to name it in one word, making profit. Universal American values named in the article are likely to bring to the formula freedom, democracy and human rights. There it’s nothing bad in the wish to have one own nation be economically well-off. And it’s easy to question those American values, as the promotion of freedom may sound strange from a nation which has incarcerated more persons as any other nation in the world, as the promotion of democracy may sound strange from a nation where media moguls, corporate money and lobbyists largely decide the fate of the people and as the promotion of human rights from a nation which tortures and holds prisoners without due process in a military controled exterritorial place for years. But that shall not be the topic here, other nations persue a different set of values like communism, socialism and monotheism and they all have points to be critizised. So let’s take the American values of freedom, democracy and human rights as the honest U.S. suggestion of what a better world may look like but concentrate on the honesty with which the values are persued. And let’s not critisize the wish to have the US-American nation being well-off, but look at the means to follow the interests.
To make up the story of how foreign policy came over the unknowing Barack Obama Ryan Lizza goes page over page years back to even to times when Barack Obama was not even senator, up to the point, when Obama took the spontanous decision to wage a war of choice against Libya. And as Ryan Lizza is close to the center of the power in Washington, he is able to share a lot of insider information with his readers, what will be certainly do a lot to give his phantastic story credibility among the self-styled intellectual elites of the United States who read The New Yorker.
And the insider details on specific events provided by Ryan Lizza are possibly each for itself true. However, when one reads the story with some background knowledge and brains enabled, deep flaws of ommission and distortion come to light. Without these deliberate halftruths the message of the story of the honest and sensible foreign policy of Barack Obama who claims to have started a war of choice against Libya on humanitarian grounds would be competely different, if not upside down.
Let’s have a look into Ryan Lizza’s text. After some pages of introduction Ryan Lizza describes the US foreign ministry, which Barack Obama has given to Hillary Clinton, using the following sentence:
Walking around the mazelike building in Foggy Bottom, you get the sense that if you duck into any office you will find earnest young women and men discussing globalization, the possibility that Facebook can topple tyrannies, and what is called “soft power,” the ability to bend the world toward your view through attraction, not coercion.
It’s not that Obama or Clinton invented the foreign ministries MEPI programme to topple tyrannies. That programme came from the early era of the George W. Bush administration. Obama just didn’t stop the programmes and as you see above, Clinton’s staff was persuing them with much enthusiasm. For untrained ears they may sound nice. All the people in the US foreign ministry work all the time so hard discussing how to topple “tyrannies” using soft power. But read it the other way round to understand that this euphemism is a blunt confession. While other countries view the job of their foreign ministries as making their nations friends of other nations and thereby promoting peace Obamas whole foreign policy apparatus is doing all the time nothing else as planning to stage “regime changes” in all states the United States chooses to view as “tyrannies” using methods of media harrassment and open psychological warfare.
Put it in this way that might be an argument damning enough to have the whole staff fired in other countries, but regarding the U.S. that is still not the whole truth. The Washington Post recently admitted regarding Syria that the U.S. foreign policy department is mixing it’s media harassment campaign in the MEPI programme with financing covert operations to foment regime change in countries to which Obama publicly outreached his hand for better relations. Though this is a crucial point which sheds a completely different light on Obama’s foreign policy Ryan Lizza doesn’t even mention this fact or Syria at all. The technic used used by manipulation of readers by ommission.
Then Ryan Lizza describes the Obama administration’s review of his foreign policy against Afghanistan. One faction pleaded for brokering peace deals between the fighting factions and less troops in Afghanistan to be able to rebalance American foreign policy toward the Pacific while the other faction wanted to sent more troops into Afghanistan to win the war first. The idea of immediately reducing troops abroad and shifting U.S. military budget to use the money to stimulate the civilian economy in the U.S. Obama obviously did not even put on the table for discussion. Ryan Lizza doesn’t mention this idea at all. And neither does he mention the fact that Obama ordered larger military budgets than any president before him. In the Obama administration it’s either to have more troops in Afghanistan or to focus the U.S. troop deployments more towards the pacific. The Obama administration calls this foreign policy though it is in fact military policy and nothing else. Readers are then informed that Obama and Clinton sided with the wishes of the military to prevent “a loss of face” by reducing troops and accordingly the U.S. under Obama deployed more troops to Afghanistan then ever before. As Ryan Lizza makes the case for Obama to be a consequentialist, it would be consequential to provide readers of his article with the results of Obama’s decision for a troop surge in Afghanistan. But he doesn’t. The grim reality is that according to the Wikileaks Afghan war logs Obama’s decision for a troop surge let explode the number of deaths of war in Afghanistan, from 4451 in 2008 to 7119 in 2009. That’s 2668 more war deaths, or a rising of about 60%. According to human rights organizations 2010, which was not covered by the Wikileaks data, was even worse. Ryan Lizza prefers to ommit these factual results. They wouldn’t have shed a good light on the consequentialist’s war against Afghanistan.
Then Ryan Lizza introduces Obama’s Cairo speech in carefully crafted wording and he also cites a key sentence of this speech:
Obama’s other key campaign promise—to engage with the leaders of countries hostile to the U.S.—sometimes meant deëmphasizing democracy and human rights, which had been tainted by Bush’s “freedom agenda” in the Middle East. Tyrannical regimes are less likely to make deals with you if you talk persistently about overthrowing them. … He (Obama) began, “I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.”
Though Ryan Lizza’s article is lengthy and it’s easy to forget hat was written in paragraphs far above mindful readers of Ryan Lizza’s article may notice that Obama’s Cairo words were competely at odds with the actual foreign policy persued by Obama. While the Clinton’s foreign ministry was described as a place where all the people were doing all the time nothing else then planning regime changes abroad using sophisticated methods of propaganda Obama describes a “system of government” called democracy as American value, but says “no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.” That screams for a harsh conclusion of Obama’s foreign pollicy. While George W. Bush’s favoured means to topple unliked foreign governments were blunt racketeering and hardly veiled wars of aggression, Obama’s favoured means were talking nice and preparing to stab them in the back using propaganda and soft power tools. With his state department working on nothing else than regime change, Obama’s statement that it is his politics that “no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other” was nothing more than an open lie. Ryan Lizza prefers not to make his readers aware of the obvious contradiction between Obamas words and actions. It wouldn’t have shed a favourable light on Obamas foreign policy in special and his honesty in general.
Ryan Lizza instead continues with the uprising in Iran which began a few days later. He did not mention that Obama didn’t close the State Department’s Iran Watch Offices around the world, U.S. institutions which are engaged in nothing else than spying and other interference in Iranian affairs below the threshold of open warfare. And though it was clear from the very beginning, that the uprising of the green movement in Iran was an attempt to stage a coloured revolution in Iran Ryan Lizza tries to lure his readers into the notion that the uprising of the green movement was an accidental event of history where the U.S. just reacted upon. The similarities between the US-staged coloured revolution in Ukraine after an election challenged by western mass media and the uprising in Iran 2009 were just too striking. As propaganda spread by the mass media is the main tool to stage such coloured revolutions, one needed just to turn on the TV and look for more than biased reporting in favour of Moussavi to understand which countries were involved in that regime change attempt in Iran: United Kingdom, USA, Germany, France and Israel were obviously at the forefront. But Ryan Lizza tries to persuade his readers in lengthy detail that the U.S. government tried not to “interfere” in Iran, bringing up the case of U.S. state department staffer Jared Cohen, who was outed accidently in the public as having called Twitter to delay a scheduled maintainance operations because the green movement needed Twitter at that time. Ryan Lizza claims Jared Cohen “almost lost his job over it”, citing an unnamed white house official. Ryan Lizza even tries to persuade his readers, that it less to do with the calculation that open backing by the U.S. government for the regime change attempt was counterproductive, but because he “violated Obama’s rule of non-interference.” Ryan Lizza may succeed to make his uninformed U.S. readers to believe that, but it is a bold lie. One may falsely argue that the U.S. president has no influence on propaganda spread by privately owned U.S. mass media and well-connected U.S. NGOs which were openly engaged in the propaganda against Iran. But just a short look into the U.S. government’s own broadcasting station Voice of America, which at that time broadcasted around the clock in Persian the most primitive propaganda in favour of Moussavi and the green movement, made clear at that time, that the U.S. government was silent, but actually going after regime change in Iran. While propaganda is a more or less accepted form of interference in the internal affairs of other countries well beyond the threshold of open war, one must not wonder when relations to countries attacked with propaganda get bad, especially when that propaganda activities lead to dozens or hundreds of deaths in that country. And one should not be surprised when the attacked country retaliates with it’s own propaganda. After Iran managed to capture the murderous Jundallah terrorist Abdulmalek Rigi in 2010, who appeared on “Voice of America” during the George W. Bush era and was presented there as “the leader of popular Iranian resistance movement”, Iran claimed that Abdulmalek Rigi was provided support for his terrorist acts against Iran by the U.S. military and, whether true or not, no U.S. claim that this was just Iranian propaganda against the U.S. could help to put the U.S. administration onto a path to better relations with Iran, as Obama announced as his goal in his Cairo speech.
Towards Cuba Obama took a very similar smile-and-stab-em-in-the-back approach. While publicly smiling and taking engagement with Cuba, Obama’s Marti broadcast service continued to spread propaganda against Cuba and his U.S. Interests Section in Havana continued trying to prop up civil disorder groups with the clear target of regime change in Cuba. To make the farce of apparent complete, in the end of the year 2009 Obama himself appeared on the website of a Cuban blogger with well-known CIA-connections. Whom was Obama trying to fool? He might be able to fool with such a behaviour the public in the western hemisphere which has no information other than the stupid propaganda lies of western mass media, but for sure not the Cuban inteligence, which deeply infiltrated the small dissident movement in Cuba sponsored by the U.S. government. Ryan Lizza completely misses to mention Obama’s foreign policy farce against Cuba.
While Cuba is a socialist republic and therefore it is at least in line with the U.S. goal to promote democracy in the world to go after Cuba, Venezuela is a democracy, it has a high standard of press freedom and respects human rights a lot. Nevertheless Obama’s policy for Venezuela was instigating regime change – trying to use the democratic standards there as a door opener for his hostile policy. When the regime change agenda of Obamas USAID programme for Venezuela was publicy exposed recently, it was shut down. Of course, Ryan Lizza doesn’t mention Obama’s foreign policy efforts against democracy in Venezuela.
What’s also completely missing in Ryan Lizza’s lengthy article is U.S. foreign policy in relation to the coup in Honduras in June 2009. It came just three weeks after Barack Obama made his Cairo speech. As Wikileaks revealed his own state department informed Barack Obama in clear words that the coup in Honduras was an illegal and unjustifyable act against democracy in Honduras. The coup empowered military rulers in Honduras enacted martial law, abolished the freedom of press there and killed lot’s of civilians supposed to be governent supporters. While democratic countries of latin America were enraged and tried to act in any possible way to reinforce the rules of civil law and democracy in Honduras Obama’s and Hillary’s statements on Honduras were lukewarm, not refllecting their own state department’s analysis, that this was a coup. While the U.S. was actively engaged in inflated propaganda activities against Iran, under the pretension of Obama’s policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states the U.S. actions against the coup culprits in Honduras were designed for not having any substantial effect. But the grim reality is even darker. As Eva Golinger has convincingly documented, that United States were actively on board in conceiving, planning, and staging the coup. The U.S. acted against democracy, freedom and human rights in Honduras, because it felt threatened to loose influence in Honduras due to the left leaning politics of Honduras’ popular president Manuel Zelaya. Honduras is a showcase. Obama’s claims to promote American values like freedom, democracy and human rights proved to be completely empty words there. The example of Honduras tells that Barack Obama in regard to the promotion of democracy in the world follows very much the same principle that George W. Bush followed in Palestine 2006: democracy is the desired system of government everytime and everywhere in the world, except when people are elected whom the U.S. doesn’t like.
From August 2009 to February 2010 Yemeni president Saleh vowed to crush an armed popular insurgency of the Houthi tribal people in northern Yemen with it’s millitary where had been before for four years a ceasefire agreement between the government and the insurgency. Saleh left no doubt about the kind of force he was going to use and officially dubbed his military campaign “Operation scorched earth”. Thousands were killed and hundred thousands became refugees due to the fighting. Saleh used fighter jets, tanks and rocket launchers to indicriminitely bomb insurgents and civilians. In a later stage Saudi Arabia helped him in the deadly bombing campaign. The Obama administration fully supported the operation scorched earth, provided military trainers and advisers for the Yemeni government, sent warships off the Yemeni coast to cut off possible supplly routes for the insurgent areas and bombed southern and central Yemen with cruise missiles to keep Saleh his back free from “terrorists”. Ryan Lizza didn’t mention Obamas shameful support for Operation scorched earth at all in his article.
On May 19th, 2010 the U.S.-backed coup government of Thailand finished the bloody crushing the protests of the Thai democracy movement. It declared the center of Bangkok a “live fire zone” meaning that each and every person on the street could be shot by the military without warning. The crush of the red shirts’ uprising for democracy left more than 90 people dead and more than 2.000 injured. The Thai coup government got the full backing of the U.S. mass media and the Obama administration. It is easy to guess why Ryan Lizza didn’t mention Thailand at all in his article.
Ryan Lizza continues his article instead with extensive coverage of Obama’s Presidential Study Directive number 11 dating August 10, 2011, and titled “political reform in the Middle East and North Africa”, which he downplays to “a five-page memorandum.” He cites extensively out of Obama’s secret Presidential Study Directive 11, so it looks like Ryan Lizza has got a copy of it and he will surely impress some readers with his insider knowledge from within the highest ranks of the U.S. administration with that. He lays open some key phrases of what’s written in that directive and provides some broader information on what action followed inside the Obama administration based on his Presidential Study Directive 11.
What Ryan Lizza doesn’t speak about is what was the events leading to Presidential Study Directive 11 be made. Between Obama’s Cairo speech directly followed by the green colour revolution attempt in Iran and the Presidential Study Directive 11 is in Ryan Lizza’s article a big loophole in the timeline, where a large part of president Obama’s factual foreign policy is hidden in. As we have seen above, if one wants to shed positive light on Obama’s foreign policy conduct, it’s a good idea to ommit this period competely. Ryan Lizza also fails to shed light on the situation, president Obama was in when he signed his Presidential Study Directive 11. To get a better idea of the Directive it’s a good idea to have a look at this situation.
In 2010 Obama found himself in a deeply troubling economic situation at home and abroad almost the whole world recognized the big difference between his words and his actions. While the U.S. economy still stucks in the consequences of the war bubbles, budget deficits grew and foreclosures found no end, the economies of China and India grew still quickly to more power.
In 2010 Iranian influence in the middle east region rose to new heights. In Afghanistan Obama’s surge just led to more bloodshed, but didn’t lead to any perspective of a near end of the war with anything what could look like a victory for the U.S. and – as he persued a regime change policy against Iran – even worse for him, he needed the neighboring Iran to help him there more than ever. Turkey made itself friends with Iran, Syria, Russia and China. Hisbollah was in Lebanon strong as ever and Lebanon as a whole became more and more friends with Iran. In the Iraq elections pro-American factions lost big against factions leaning more toward Iran, effectively bringing Iraq into the Iranian led anti-American axis. Consequently Obamas promised pushs to coerce Iran to give up it’s nuclear programm led to nowhere. Surveys showed that many ordinary people in arab countries believed Obama’s claim, that Iran was developing nuclear weapons, but most of them saw this outlook as a positive counterweight against the Israeli nucear weapons. The power elite of the GCC countries saw instead that Obama’s words were not followed by results.
Obama’s demand to Israel to stop stellements in occupied territories incuding eastern Jerusalem was bogged down by Benjamin Netanyahu and his Israel-lobby which dominates both, the U.S. congress and the senate. In the mid-term elections big wins for the Republican tea pot sponsored by the Israel-lobby loomed. To make his desaster perfect, Wikileaks got the state department cables so that the completely dishonest U.S. foreign policy all over the world, which Obama inherited from his predecessors and was continued by him, was about to be known publicly in great detail soon. That was the grim picture the consequentialist Barack Obama faced in 2010 as result of his foreign policy when he decided to sign his Presidential Study Directive 11.
Ryan Lizza ignores this situation completely, but makes up the case for a clever Barack Obama, who anticipated the events he calls the arab spring and reacted to the upcoming events. And a quote he uses from Obamas Presidential Study Directive 11 seem to back his view: There was “evidence of growing citizen discontent with the region’s regimes,” he cited Obama’s directive. Obama wanted to weigh the risks of both “continued support for increasingly unpopular and repressive regimes” and a “strong push by the United States for reform,” Ryan Lizza wrote further and he contnued that Obama also wrote that “the advent of political succession in a number of countries offers a potential opening for political reform in the region.” If the United States managed the coming transitions “poorly,” it “could have negative implications for U.S. interests, including for our standing among Arab publics.”
While the Presidential Study Directive 11 is secret, one may wonder what Obama’s “evidence of growing citizen discontent with the region’s regimes” was. Did Clinton’s regime change experts in the state department make surveys? Remark te careful wording of phrases like “a strong push by the United States for reform” and “managed the coming transitions.” The U.S. intention to manage the coming transitions in the arab region could also be read as thinly veiled language for a plan of an actively persued U.S. policy of regime change there. Managing transitions in other countries is at least a deep interference in the internal affairs of these countries.
David Ignatius, who also seems to have some insider knowledge on the content of Presidential Study Directive 11, described in his article “Obama’s calculated gamble” the U.S. role in change much more actively persueing change in the arab world than Ryan Lizza does. David Ignatius published his article on March 6th, so he wrote it when the Libyan uprising to many still looked like if it could follow the pattern of the quick and relatively unbloody regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt, he was in favor of the US-led regime change policy in the arab world and so – though admitting the risks in Obama’s policy by calling it a big bet – he did not hide to give Obama a lot of credit for the uprisings. He wrote that this document cited “evidence of growing citizen discontent with the region’s regimes” and warned that “the region is entering a critical period of transition.” Here is an ambivalence, Obama has written that the region is entering transition, but it may well be that Obama actively intended to initiate, accelerate and thereby manage the in the long term anyway unavoidable transition in the region.
Ryan Lizza describes why Obama followed such a policy stating based on Obamas Directive if the United States managed the coming transitions “poorly,” it “could have negative implications for U.S. interests, including for our standing among Arab publics.” It’s just the very same pattern what Obama has shown in foreign policy in his first year: he’s just following interests, acting to keep the U.S. power grip on third countries tight, American values like democracy, freedom and human rights just serve as mere tools for tightening Americas grip on other nations. If the values can’t be used to tighten the U.S. power grip, than the naked hybris of the self-styled lone superpower lays open unveiled, like in Honduras and Venezuela, where Obama acted against the proclaimed values of the U.S. because he wanted to tighten the U.S. power grip on these countries. Obama didn’t argue in his Presidential Study Directive 11, that democratic change in the arab world was a good thing for itself, but would serve American interests because it served the American “standing among Arab publics.” David Ignatius described it the way, that “Obama is placing a big bet that democratic governments will be more stable and secure, and thereby enhance U.S. interests in the region.”
So while Obama is very low-key on the changes in the arab world, David Ignatius cites an unnamed official, it has been a calculated “strategic reticence” to send the message: This is your revolution; it’s not about us. Ryan Lizza calls it leading from behind, but the reality is the same, in fact that what he calls arab spring is also a broad campaign of regime change which was actively planned in the white house in Washington. The official cited by David Ignatius judged that “it’s a roll of the dice, but it’s also a response to reality.” So if that’s true, then Ryan Lizza’s main message, namely that “the Arab Spring remade Obama’s foreign policy” is flawed. Closer to the truth would be to say, that it was Obama, who engineered “the Arab Spring”. Ryan Lizza wrote himself that ‘Obama instructed his staff to come up with “tailored,” “country by country” strategies on political reform.’ It’s quite obvious, that, if his staff concluded, that a ruler stood in the way of a “political reform” desired by the U.S., it meant, the country needed a “regime change”. Ryan Lizza even layed bar who those person where who led “the review” leading to the arab spring: Samantha Power, Gayle Smith, who works on development issues, and Dennis Ross, Israel’s point man in the White House.
So, yes, Obama was pressed by the reality that the U.S. – despite it’s costly military adventures there – is constantly loosing grounds in the strategic oil regions of the middle east, but it was Obama himself, who started the “arab spring”, the “role of the dice”, the calculated gamble and who placed a big bet. When Obama initially tried not to be seen as wanted to betray the people, giving them the feelling that it was “their revolution”, though it was in fact him, who started and managed the revolutions and thereby keeping low anti-American backlashes in the “arab spring” revolutions. With the protracted war on Libya ongoing it’s even less favourable for Obama to take credit for the fact that it was him who started and managed the uprisings.
The war against Libya may explain why Ryan Lizza wrote such a lengthy article which serves no useful purpose expect deceiving the public on the fact, that it was Obama himself who started the uprisings in the arab world. When Jake Tapper proudly mentioned the Presidential Study Directive 11 on February 17th, 2011 on his blog with ABC news, it was just a few days past the victory celebrations of the “2011 Egypt revolution”. It’s understandable that the Obama administration liked to take credit for this event celebrated almost worldwide.
Now let’s have a look what Ryan Lizza writes about the insurgency in Tunisia:
The group was just finishing its work, on December 17th, when Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable vender in Tunisia, set himself on fire outside a municipal building to protest the corruption of the country’s political system––an act that inspired protests in Tunisia and, eventually, the entire region.
Ryan Lizza just notices, that as soon as the “group was just finishing its work”, already the first successful revolution of the arab spring started. What’s carefully concealed from the reader of the New Yorker is the role the U.S. state department and NGOs close to the U.S. government had in this uprising. It’s presented as if the U.S. had played no role in the uprising except not coming to help Tunisian long time ruler Ben Ali. But compare that to the statement what Scott Carpenter, George W. Bush’s creator of the state department’s MEPI programme, obiously proud of his job said after the ousting of Ben Ali for a foreign policy article of David Kenner: “We were doing a lot of stuff very, very quietly – not to say covert, but very quietly.” Besides using the MEPI programme soft power assets to instigate the insurgency, the U.S. “management” of change in Tunisia had also a component a bit more of the hard power form. Al Masry Al Youm reported on January 16th: “Ahmed al-Khadrawi, an officer in the Tunisian National Guards, said that chief of staff Rasheed Ammar who was removed by Zein al-Abedin Ben Ali four days ago has received last-minute instructions via the US Embassy to take charge of Tunisian affairs if the situation gets out of control.” So the U.S. management of change in Tunisia was done in the form, that the US Embassy gave instructions to the Tunisian military. As Rasheed Ammar was well-known to U.S. military commanders, it looks like it was not so hard for the U.S. to give orders to the Tunisian military. The Tunisian military commanders knew what’s the military budget of the U.S. and the resulting hard power from the budget.
Of course it were the Tunisians themselves without their protests the uprising couldn’t have succeeded, but not meddling in the internal affairs of another country definitely looks different than inciting an insurgency and giving it’s military commanders “instructions” in a coup situation. But the Tunisian operation was successful, and so the “leaders from behind” in Washington were so proud with their success, that the U.S. hand in the uprising became visible. Tunisia was Obama’s first gamble in the arab spring and he won. He may get once upon a time when most Tunisians understand this get a large monument for this successful liberation, and rightly so.
As the first gamble was a great success, Obama continued to look for regime change gambling in the arab world. Activists trained by the U.S. state departments MEPI programme and U.S. NGOs close to the U.S. government tried to start demonstrations all over the midle east and northern african region. In Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Iran, Oman, Egypt, Sudan and even Saudi Arabia were organzied demonstrations. The next stark reaction on the calls for demonstrations for change came from Egypt.
Esraa Abdel Fattah, an activist awarded with the “New Generation Democratic Activist Award” from the U.S. NGO “Freedom House” in June 2010, called on Facebook for a “day of rage” on Egypt’s Police Day, January 25, 2011. The response to the call was overwhelming. Countrywide started protests in Egypt, which were more or less violent, but largely caused only destruction of property of the state and the governing party of Egypt head of state Husni Mubarak. The protests were not aiming to cause a loss of life. On Friday, the 28th of January at least hundreds of thousands were on the streets protesting against the Egypt government.
Though the U.S.-led soft power activists led the calls for demonstrations it’s not so difficult to guess what organisation was the main power in the uprising. Ryan Lizza cites Hillary Clinton herself recalling her meeting with the U.S. backed “democracy activists” in Cairo after Mubarak was gone: “I looked at these twenty young people around the table, and they were complaining about how the elections are going to be held, and the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists are so well organized…” What happened in Egypt was that a small and largely powerless group of Clinton’s soft power activists called for regime change and the large and powerful Muslim Brotherhood kicked in and called their many and disciplined supporters to participate in the regime change protests which Clinton’s activists in Egypt were encouraged to call for by the U.S. Ryan Lizza doesn’t say this but instead describes in long detail the mixed statements from the Obama administration during the protests in Egypt. They were perfectly in line with the “leading from behind” strategy or what David Ignatius described as Obama being low-key to send the message: This is your revolution. Of course the U.S. had a crucial role in the success of the Egypt regime change.
The fate of the protests in Egypt was decided by the military, too. Had the Egypt military moved in to crush the uprising, the protests would have hardly succeeded ousting Mubarak. Get backing of the military for the uprising meant success. The last days of the uprising in Egypt were a stand-off inside the Egypt military with the possible project of a civil war between different branches of the Egypt military if the conflict could not be solved peacefully. The Egypt air force was clearly on the side of Mubarak. Sami Hafez Enan, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, who was in the USA for talks with U.S. senior officials and got U.S. backing for the uprising, was with his ground forces on the side of the uprising. The main demand of the protesters was “Mubarak must go.” Obama stated that Mubarak must fulfill the “demands of the people” and backed his words with having positioned his aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and other heavy U.S. military hardware off the coast of Egypt. The dangerous situation was solved by the Egypt military when it staged a coup ousting Mubarak and fulfilling thereby the main demand of Obama and the protesters. Obama won his big gamble for regime change in Egypt, but the Obama administration was publicy so low-key and sending mixed signals, that it didn’t get the credit for the successful Egypt uprising. When people in Egypt understand the crucial role Obama played in the Egypt uprising, they might build him a monument for this. Obama dismissed Israeli and Saudi objections and successfully supported an uprising of a civil muslim society against a corrupt elite using since decades a brutal security apparatus to crush the popular and peaceful opposition organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Ryan Lizza correctly informs his readers that the U.S. came out in a weak position to control the political process in post Mubarak Egypt, but completely fails to inform his readers that it was Obama himself who started and succeeded the regime change operation in Egypt. Instead he tries to make up a case that the arab spring came over the Obama administration like an event of history independent of U.S. foreign policy.
Obama continued his regime change gamble in the arab world. The next major stop was Libya. Though geografically located between Tunisia and Egypt, Libya is completely different. Tunisia is from mentality almost a European country, a lot like the former colonial power France itself. Egypt is the heart or mother of the arab world and has a large civil society. With the Muslim Brotherhood grown from the anti-colonial struggle and decades of social work of countless muslim activists Egypt has a large and well-organized opposition force which reaches from the streets over intellectuals deep into the army and bureaucracy. Both Tunisia and Egypt are centralistic states with a strong national government and have deep economic and military ties with NATO countries grown over decades of collaboration. Libya is mostly an African country having most of it’s foreign friends in Africa. Libya is a collection tribal societies which lived until 50 years ago litterally in the medieval age. In absense of a state organizing justice the tribal socities reached over the centuries a kind of justice sytem depending in effect by tribal killings and revenge killings until a peace was brokered. Much of that old tribal tradition is still present in the minds of many people in Libya. The state structures are fresh and reflect with it’s popular congresses in many ways the organization of the tribal socities where Libya came from not long ago. Libya is organized as a very federal state, leaving it up to each region and tribe to organize it’s way of life however they like it. The most powerful tribal leader of Libya, Muamar Gaddafi, is a rather secular one, clearly orienting itself and Libya towads very tolerant ways of some islamic communities of Africa, which is very much at odds with stricter ways of Islamic faith. The Libyan government is due to it’s loose way of religious practice of Islam since decades at odds with much of the stricter arab islamic world, especially with the Wahhabi arab tribes in the northeast of Libya, the gulf monarchies on the arab peninsula, and also with the Shia crescent. Since a couple of years Libya had no real enemies anymore. France and Great Britain dislike Libya because Libya supported many anti-colonial movements in Africa and brought some problems for these countries to install neokolonial regimes dependent of the former colonial powers, but Libya kept it well beyond the threshold of giving them reasons to go to war with Libya. Israel dislikes Libya, because Libya supports the anti-colonial struggle of the Palestinians, but that was in a moderate way that made Israel not worrying too much in recent years. The central national government of Libya is a very minimal one, mainly an organization to distribute oil wealth and water among the regions, to minimize conflicts between regions, to run the foreign policy and to see that the Libyan state is secured against outside and inside aggressions. Libya was for decades in the anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist camp of world politics, most of the time in the orbit of the Soviet Union. The economic ties of Libya with NATO countries are fresh and restricted. Libya was for decades the target of bloody regime change campaigns waged by the CIA and the MI6. Libya was coerced to colaborate with western intelligence agencies in relation to terrorism about eight years ago, but has no military ties to NATO. Ryan Lizza fails to give his readers even most basic background information on Libya.
Ryan Lizza also fails to inform his readers who the Libyans are which uprised against the Libyan government following a Facebook call on February 17th to bring Libya “back to prosperity” and who are now supported by the U.S. and NATO with it’s military. Inside Libya these people are a mixed coalition of people who dislike Muamar Gaddafi with a core support among the mostly Salafi tribes in eastern Libya accompanied by some followers of Salafi preachers in western and central Libya and some berber tribes in the southwest. The uprising had a core of Salafi fighters trained in fights against the U.S. and it’s allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of them members or followers of the designated terrorist group LIFG which itself is linked with Al Qaeda and MI6. For organizing the uprising the “National Conference for the Libyan Opposition” – or in short NCLO – took credit, which was found in 2005 in London. The NCLO is an umbrella organisation consisting mainly of the CIA-sponsored “National Front for the Salvation of Libya”, the Saudi-linked London based monarchists of the “Libyan Constitutional Union”, accompagnied by the smaller Europe based “Libyan Tmazight Congress” and “Libyan League for Human Rights”. These were accompanied by some defectors, most notably the Libyan secretary of justice, who had contacts to the U.S. embassy in Tripolis before, the Libyan ambassadors to India, to the U.S. and to the UN in New York. The ideas of what meant justice to the local tribes in the northeast of Libya is well known since local jugdes in the Benghazi court sentenced a Palestinian medical intern and five Bulgarian nurses to death for allegedly willfully infecting 400 children in Benghazi with the HIV virus. Due to the federal justice system the central government in Tripoli had to work hard and long to get these absurd sentences revoked and the defendents freed. These locals from the Benghazi region, who handed down these cruel death sentences are the elites of those who are now supported by the U.S. to take over power in Libya.
Ryan Lizza instead prefers to spread on the uprising in Libya simple lies, trying to make up the case for Obamas support for the uprising and for the Obamas led from behind war against Libya. Here is one of his primitive lies to justify Obama’s war of choice:
Protesters had started to gather in Benghazi on February 15th. Qaddafi’s security forces reacted with violence four days later, firing on a crowd of some twenty thousand demonstrators in Benghazi and killing at least a hundred of them.
According to what the Washington Post wrote on February 25th about what happened in Benghazi on February 19th, there was only one presence of state security left in Benghazi – the Katiba security compound. The Washingotn Post reported, that on 19th of February the compound was attacked by indurgents. An insurgent suicide bomber named Mahdi Ziu loaded his car with propane tanks and exposives and blew himself up with while driving it into the main gate of the Katiba compound. Other insurgents attacked the compound throwing dynamite stuffed into tin cans. From Derna and Baida came more insurgents with weapons whom they had “liberated” from local security bases to conquer the Katiba compund in Benghazi. According to the Washington Post about 100 insurgents died in these four days of uprising in Benghazi which was successfully completed when armed insurgents conquered the Katiba security compound in Benghazi.
For Ryan Lizza summarizes this as “Qaddafi’s security forces” fired on a crowd of some twenty thousand “demonstrators” in Benghazi and “killing at least a hundred of them”. So, to understand that Ryan Lizza is doing with his lengthy article in The New Yorker nothing else than spreading war propaganda, it as just needed to have written waht the Washington Post wrote about the events in Benghazi. Ryan Lizza broadly lies to justify war and he even uses the style to personify the enemy which is very typical for war propaganda. So he writes “Qaddafi’s security forces” instead of “security forces of the Libyan government,” it’s done to lure readers into the illusion, that the war is not waged against a country governed by it’s government, but against a single person, who is portrayed as the devil in person. Such worked war propaganda in World War I, in World War II and in most of the wars that followed up to the war against Saddam Hussein.
However, what the Washington Post on February 25th wrote was not the full truth. It was very sympathetic with the insurgents’ cause in Benghazi. It reported on the heroic deeds of the insurgents like using a suicide bomber to attack the forces of a secular government in their base, but the Washington Post failed to write about casualties among government loyalists and less heroic deeds of the insurgents.
The Washington Post failed for example to mention how insurgents from Derna “liberated” the weapons in local security bases they used to conquer the Katiba compound in Benghazi. The trick was quite simple: some of the insurgents disguised themselves as secular civilians who wanted to help the security forces defend their city against the islamic insurgents. After they were let in, they overwelmed the security forces and handcuffed them. After they interrogated these hand-cuffed security forces of the Libyan government they brought them in the backyard and murdered them. The insurgents videotaped their operation and published the videos proving their “victory”. They gave the videos of the execution of the handcuffed soldiers titles like “Gaddafi forces killed soldiers because they didn’t want to shoot peaceful protesters” to blame their own crime on the Libyan government. But different insurgents published different videos, and after seeing them all, and so it was possible to prove by their own videos that it was insurgents who killed the handcuffed soldiers.
The insurgents of eastern Libya didn’t like to make prisoners. It was also reported that the insurgents in eastern Libya captured 50 government forces, imprisoned them in a security compound, and then set the building on fire and burned them all alive. Other Libyan government security personnal was publicly hanged in eastern Libya and some alleged government supporters were just lynched on the spot where insurgents met them in the streets.
But the rage of the insurgents was not restricted to Libyan security forces or government loyalists. The deeply racist islamic crowds in eastern Libya hunted down unarmed black people, calling them monkeys and stabbing some black people to death on the spot in the streets. Other black people were publicly hanged, beheaded and hacked into pieces by insurgents. About 20 to 30% of the Libyan population, most of them from the southeast of Libya, have a black skin. The eastern Libyan insurgents are hateful against black people, because the Libyan government started many campaigns to fight against the discrimination of black people and many of the black Libyan people are therefore supporters of the Libyan government.
Ryan Lizza concealed these facts from his readers. Instead he spreads a stark lie to justify Obama’s war of choice against Libya:
Qaddafi had gone on the radio to warn the citizens of Benghazi. “It’s over. We are coming tonight,” he said. “We will find you in your closets.”
Muammar Gaddafi did not “warn the citizens of Benghazi.” He didn’t want to find “the citizens of Benghazi” in their closets. In fact, he offered even an amnesty to the insurgents if they laid down arms. But Muammar Gaddafi was very angry with criminals, who murdered captured Libyan government forces and who massacred unarmed black people just because they were black. He called those people who committed such heinous crimes rats and dogs and threatened to find them even in their closets. As Ryan Lizza doesn’t tell his readers how the insurgents of eastern Libya murdered captured government personnal and killed black people because they are black, he of course does not tell his readers either, how he thinks Obama would react if racist mobs in the U.S. would hunt black people in the streets and lynching them on the spot. John F. Kennedy sent the National Guard to fight such racists, Obama sends the U.S. military to protect such racists against justice.
Ryan Lizza doesn’t claim that the Libyan government used fighter jets to bomb it’s own population. Though that was a charge brought up against the Libyan government by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Ryan Lizza was so cloe to Hillary Clinton during the time leading to war that he traveled with her, he doesn’t bring up that charge. It’s logical, because that the Libyan goverment threw bomb on it’s population in tripois has been long exposed as a lie. After they started the war Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton anyway didn’t shy away from using this lie to justify the war but the lie was so stupid, that it was easily exposed. So Ryan Lizza changes the allegation in his article a little bit:
The principal option was to set up a no-fly zone to prevent Libyan planes from attacking the protest movement, which had quickly turned into a full-scale rebellion based in the eastern half of the country.
So, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton accused the libyan government to use planes against civilians, Ryan Lizza accuse Libya needed to be prevented to use “planes from attacking the protest movement.” Of course, Ryan Lizza, didn’t say, that the “protest movement” was heavily armed with GRAD launchers, machine guns, RPGs, anti aircraft canons, and many more heavy weapons up to tanks attack, helicopters and warplanes. Mindful readers may notive that Ryan Lizza does say in another paragraph that the Libyan government didn’t use planes for “attacking the protest movement” and therefore a no fly zone was considered useless by Obama and his advisers.
Ryan Lizza then continues to spread the most typical lie in classic war propaganda. He uses a quote from former United States National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft to spread the it:
The decision about intervention in Libya was an unusually clear choice between interests and values. “Of all the countries in the region there, our real interests in Libya are minimal,” Brent Scowcroft told me.
Ryan Lizza doesn’t mention, that Libya owns oil reserves worth well 5.000 bln US-Dollars in current prices. He doesn’t mention that Libya’s oil reserves are unusual cheap to bring to earth so that they are almost pure profit. He neither mentions that in 2008 U.S. corporations complained about problems getting oil concessions in Libya because the Libyan government well remembers the hostile behaviour of the U.S. against Libya during past decades. However it is true that not all wars are led by economic calculations. Another important motivation to go to war proved to be keeping an empire together and crushing or threatening other nations defiant to the orders of the empire. Such motivations were prevalent for the U.S. led bya of the pigs war against Cuba and the U.S. war against Vietnam. There were no important economic U.S. interests neither in Cuba nor in Vietnam, but the anti-capitalist rulers of those countries were defiant to U.S. imperialist orders and had to be punished for this. Given the gamble of Obama to incite regime changes in the arab world, another motivation is possible. Obama incited the uprising in Libya but doesn’t want to blamed for it when it fails. So he went to war to conceal his disastrous failure. With going to war against Libya Obama may have tried to turn around a lost gamble by placing a higher bet. History has shown that there were many reasons for wars, often even many different reasons leading to the decision of going to war against one specific countries. History has also proven that purely humanitarian grounds for war were often pretended in war propaganda, but almost never they passed the test of time and truth.
Libya has oil and an anti-imperialist government. But Ryan Lizza doesn’t elaborate on the real interests of the U.S. in Libya at all. He just cites Brent Scowcroft and that’s it. Ryan Lizza does not even mention how credible Brent Scowcroft is. In 1990 Brent Scowcroft was giving cover to the war lie, that the U.S. war against Iraq was done because Iraqi soldiers threw babies out of their incubators, and that this war, of course, was about oil. Hiding economic motivations for war is the most classical part of any war propaganda for a war of aggression, everywhere in the world. Ryan Lizza doesn’t even make a slight attempt to shed light on possible motivations for the war against Libya.
There is an easy test to prove that the war against Libya is not for humanitarian reasons. The Libyan government repeatedly offered an unconditional and immediate ceasefire. Obama rejected it. Peace would be betrayal to the rebels.
Ryan Lizza carefuly crafted his article, most of the facts are probably true, and in itself the article seems to be largely consistent and convincing, but when his story is compared to facts, it turns out that the slight distortions and ommissions are enough to make the readers believe the opposite of hat really happened.
The truth is: Obama gambled for regime change in Libya and the adventure ended up with a protracted war of choice which is possibly fought for many reasons, but the proclaimed protection of civilians is not among the real reasons. It may be that Obama spontanously decided to wage war after he incited a bloody revolt in Libya and that revolt was about to loose the civil war. As Fance and Great Britain started their Southern Mistral exercise to bomb Libya already in November 2010, it may also be that Obama has calculated a war of aggression against Libya from the begining on. It’s hard to know that without insider knowledge. Ryan Lizza has some insider knowledge but with his whole lengthy article he does nothing alse than trying to hide the facts on the war against Libya and turn truth upside down.
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