3/31/11

Free Market Forces Dogma

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The refusal by all of our liberal institutions, including the press, universities, labor and the Democratic Party, to challenge the utopian assumptions that the marketplace should determine human behavior permits corporations and investment firms to continue their assault, including speculating on commodities to drive up food prices.

It permits coal, oil and natural gas corporations to stymie alternative energy and emit deadly levels of greenhouse gases. It permits agribusinesses to divert corn and soybeans to ethanol production and crush systems of local, sustainable agriculture.

It permits the war industry to drain half of all state expenditures, generate trillions in deficits, and profit from conflicts in the Middle East we have no chance of winning.

It permits corporations to evade the most basic controls and regulations to cement into place a global neo-feudalism.

The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators.

But none of this is going to change until we turn our backs on the Democratic Party, denounce the orthodoxies peddled in our universities and in the media by corporate apologists and construct our opposition to the corporate state from the ground up.

It will not be easy. It will take time. And it will require us to accept the status of social and political pariahs, especially as the lunatic fringe of our political establishment steadily gains power.

The corporate state has nothing to offer the left or the right but fear. It uses fear—fear of secular humanism or fear of Christian fascists—to turn the population into passive accomplices. As long as we remain afraid nothing will change.

Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, two of the major architects for unregulated capitalism, should never have been taken seriously.

But the wonders of corporate propaganda and corporate funding turned these fringe figures into revered prophets in our universities, think tanks, the press, legislative bodies, courts and corporate boardrooms.

We still endure the cant of their discredited economic theories even as Wall Street sucks the U.S. Treasury dry and engages once again in the speculation that has to date evaporated some $40 trillion in global wealth. We are taught by all systems of information to chant the mantra that the market knows best.

The Libyan "Rebels" Are Western Collaborators

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The US-Nato intervention in Libya, with United Nations security council cover, is part of an orchestrated response to show support for the movement against one dictator in particular.

By so doing to bring the Arab rebellions to an end by asserting western control, confiscating their impetus and spontaneity and trying to restore the status quo ante.

It is absurd to think that the reasons for bombing Tripoli or for the turkey shoot outside Benghazi are designed to protect civilians. This particular argument is designed to win support from the citizens of Euro-America and part of the Arab world.

"Look at us," say Obama/Clinton and the EU satraps, "we're doing good. We're on the side of the people." The sheer cynicism is breathtaking. We're expected to believe that the leaders with bloody hands in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are defending the people in Libya.

The debased British and French media are capable of swallowing anything, but the fact that decent liberals still fall for this rubbish is depressing.

Civil society is easily moved by some images and Gaddafi's brutality in sending his air force to bomb his people was the pretext that Washington utilised to bomb another Arab capital. Meanwhile, Obama's allies in the Arab world were hard at work promoting democracy.

The Saudis entered Bahrain where the population is being tyrannised and large-scale arrests are taking place. Not much of this is being reported on al-Jazeera.

I wonder why? The station seems to have been curbed somewhat and brought into line with the politics of its funders.

All this with active US support. The despot in Yemen, loathed by a majority of his people continues to kill them every day. Not even an arms embargo, let alone a "no-fly zone" has been imposed on him. Libya is yet another case of selective vigilantism by the US and its attack dogs in the west.

They can rely on the French as well. Sarkozy was desperate to do something. Unable to save his friend Ben Ali in Tunisia, he's decided to help get rid of Gaddafi.

The British always oblige and in this case, having shored up the Libyan regime for the last two decades, they're making sure they're on the right side so as not to miss out on the division of the spoils. What might they get?

The divisions on this entire operation within the American politico-military elite have meant there is no clear goal. Obama and his European satraps talk of regime change. The generals resist and say that isn't part of their picture.

The US state department is busy preparing a new government composed of English-speaking Libyan collaborators. We will now never know how long Gaddafi's crumbling and weakened army would have held together in the face of strong opposition.

The reason he lost support within his armed forces was precisely because he ordered them to shoot their own people. Now he speaks of imperialism's desire to topple him and take the oil and even many who despise him can see that it's true. A new Karzai is on the way.

The frontiers of the squalid protectorate that the west is going to create are being decided in Washington. Even those Libyans who, out of desperation, are backing Nato's bomber jets, might -- like their Iraqi equivalents -- regret their choice.

All this might trigger a third phase at some stage: a growing nationalist anger that spills over into Saudi Arabia and here, have no doubt, Washington will do everything necessary to keep the Saudi royal family in power.

Lose Saudi Arabia and they will lose the Gulf states. The assault on Libya, greatly helped by Gaddafi's imbecility on every front, was designed to wrest the initiative back from the streets by appearing as the defenders of civil rights.

The Bahrainis, Egyptians, Tunisians, Saudi Arabians, Yemenis will not be convinced, and even in Euro-America more are opposed to this latest adventure than support it. The struggles are by no means over.

Obama talks of a merciless Gaddafi, but the west's own mercy never drops like gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It only blesses the power that dispenses, the mightiest of the mightiest.

Libya: West Ready to Escalate The War

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The ongoing public debate in Washington and the American media on “arming the rebels” in Libya points to a dramatic escalation of the US-led war.

Obama and Clinton, followed by their British counterparts, Cameron Hague, have spoken in almost identical terms over the past two days, insisting in response to questions about arming the anti-Gaddafi forces that they were “not ruling it out.”

Washington has already sent in operatives tasked with organizing the “rebels” into an armed unit capable of waging civil war. As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, the Central Intelligence Agency has deployed “clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and make contacts with rebels.”

In addition, the Times reported, citing British officials, “dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya.”

ABC News, meanwhile, reported that President Obama Wednesday signed a secret presidential finding “authorizing covert operations to aid the effort in Libya.”

“The presidential finding discusses a number of ways to help the opposition to Muammar Gaddafi, authorizing some assistance now and setting up a legal framework for more robust activities in the future,” the network reports.

It is in this context that the drumbeat for “arming the rebels” has begun.

The phrase is meant to conceal the fact that any attempt to provide significant weaponry to the disorganized forces based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi would entail the deployment of US “trainers,” “advisors” and special forces units.

This makes a mockery of the pledge made Monday night by Obama that he would “not put ground troops into Libya.”

As the Times reported, citing unnamed administration officials, “supplying arms would further entangle the United States in a drawn-out civil war, because the rebels would need to be trained to use any weapons, even relatively simple rifles and shoulder-fired anti-armor weapons.”

The proposal to provide arms, it adds, “carries echoes of previous American efforts to arm rebels, in Angola, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and elsewhere, many of which backfired.”

3/30/11

The Want of What We Haven't Got

I should form an agony column. For the anxious and anonymous.

Take it from me. The drive to enlightenment goes through dread.

I wouldn't be here if I wasn't over-excited.

The want of what we haven't got. Like this longing for lethargy.

The Text Starts Here

The Internet & Right-Wing Corporatism [Fascism]

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In much economic theory, natural monopolies should either be publicly owned or, at the very least, heavily regulated to prevent abuses, especially as they often tend to monopolize crucial public functions. The free market option does not compute.

This most certainly applies to the telephone and cable companies which rule the broadband ISP roost. Andre Schiffrin suggests this is the debate we should be having about Google.

Yet corporate political power has basically eliminated the threat of public ownership, as well as the government aggressively enforcing its antitrust laws.

If applied in the manner that was common a generation or two ago, would almost certainly have attempted to break up many of these firms.

The regulation that has remained, antitrust or otherwise, has done as much, or more, to guarantee the existence of profitable firms and industries as it has to protect and preserve public interest values threatened by commercial interests.

In the realm of the Internet, a state-corporate alliance has developed that is matched perhaps only in finance and militarism. It makes a mockery of traditional economics, with its emphasis on an independent private sector responding to a competitive market.

It also makes a mockery of the traditional liberal notion that capitalist democracy works because economic power and political power are in two distinct sets of hands, and that these interests have strong conflicts that protect the public from tyranny.

Examples of how large communication corporations and the national security state work hand-in-hand are beginning to proliferate.

The one that was exposed-and is singularly terrifying-concerned how, for much of the past decade, AT&T illegally and secretly monitored the communications of its customers on behalf of the National Security Agency.

The more recent stories of how Amazon and PayPal/eBay cooperated with the government in the WikiLeaks affair may not be in the same league, but they point to the demise of the separation of public and private interests at the heart of liberal democratic theory.

Without meaning to be pejorative or alarmist, it is difficult to avoid noting that what is emerging veers toward the classic definition of fascism as right-wing corporatism.

The state and large corporate interests working hand-in-hand to promote corporate interests, and a state preoccupied with militarism, secrecy, and surveillance. In such an environment, political liberty, except to the extent it is trivial or unthreatening, is on softer ground.

This integration of corporations and the state leads us to reappraise one of the greatest claims for the Internet: the notion that the Internet was impervious to control or censorship, and is the tool of the democratic activist.

The same Internet, for both commercial and political reasons, can provide an unparalleled instrument for surveillance.

This does not mean that activists cannot use the Internet to do extraordinary organizing, merely that this has to be balanced with the notion that the Internet can make individual privacy from state and corporate interests difficult, if not impossible.

The monopoly-capitalist development of the Internet has given more weight to the antidemocratic tendency.

America's Awakening: The Elite Must Be Toppled

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We know the Super Rich, America's elite, don’t care. Not about you. Nor the American public. They can’t see. Can’t hear. Stay trapped in their Forbes-400 bubble. An echo chamber that isolates them.

They see the public as faceless workers, customers, taxpayers. See GOP power on the ascent. Reaganomics is back. Unions on the run. Clueless masses are easily manipulated.

Even Obama will never touch his Super Rich donors. Yes, the Super-Rich Delusion is that powerful, infecting all America.

Here’s how one savvy insider who knows described this Super-Rich Delusion:
The top 1% live privileged lives, aren’t worried about much. Families vacation at the best resorts. Their big concerns are finding the best Pilates teacher, best masseuse, best surgeons, best private schools.

They aren’t concerned with the underlying deterioration of America or the world, except in the abstract, because they aren’t directly affected by it. That’s not to say they aren’t sympathetic, aware, or don’t talk about the issues you bring up.

They are largely concerned with protecting and enhancing their socio-economic positions, ensuring their families live well. And nothing you write about will change things.
Warning, in 2011 that attitude is delusional, deadly, yet pervasive in America.

Super Rich replaying “Great Gatsby” age, won’t learn till it’s too late

Our top 1% honestly believe they’re immune, protected from the unintended consequences of beating down average Americans for three decades with the free-market, trickle-down Reaganomics doctrines that made them Super Rich.

They honestly believe those same doctrines will protect them in the next depression. Why? Because they have megabucks stashed away. Provisions for the long haul. Live in gated compounds with mercenaries guarding them.

They believe they’ll continue living just fine in a depression. But you won’t. Nor will your retirement. Neither will the rest of America. And still the Super Rich don’t care, “except in the abstract, because they aren’t directly affected.”

Warning: The Super-Rich Delusion has pushed us to the edge of a great precipice: Remember the Roaring Twenties? The Crash of 1929? Great Depression? Just days before the crash one leading economist, Irving Fisher, predicted that stocks had “reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

Yes, he was trapped in the “Great Gatsby Syndrome,” an earlier version of today’s Super-Rich Delusion. It was so blinding in 1929 that the president, Wall Street, all America were sucked in … until the critical mass hit a mysterious flash point, triggering the crash.

Yes, we’re reliving that past — never learn, can’t hear. And oddly it’s not just the GOP’s overreach, the endlessly compromising Obama, too-greedy-to-fail Wall Street banksters, U.S. Chamber of Commerce billionaires and arrogant Forbes 400.

America’s entire political, financial and economic psyche is infected, as if our DNA has been rewired.

War on Libya: Obama's Weasel Words

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When Obama starts talking about “American values” and “principles of justice and human dignity,” hold on to your wallet. Such values and principles are invoked only when it provides a useful pretext for the pursuit of US interests.

And what are these interests in the case of Libya? While Washington had sought and to a large extent secured a profitable relationship with the Gaddafi regime, it had always viewed the Libyan leader—by dint of his anti-imperialist posturing and historical association with the struggle against colonialism—as an unreliable ally.

The US ruling elite viewed with increasing alarm the signs that both Russia and China were establishing connections with Libya, in terms of oil deals, infrastructure projects and arms contracts, which threatened US interests in the Mediterranean and North Africa.

The aim of the military action is to install a more pliant regime—an out-and-out US puppet—in Tripoli.

Obama’s speech points to another reason why “American values” and US “humanitarianism” were triggered by the events in Libya.

He suggested a key concern was that the supposedly imminent massacre in the country would have “driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful—yet fragile—transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.”

“The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power,” he said.

What hypocrisy! First, it must be recalled, the Obama administration opposed the uprisings of the people of Tunisia and Egypt, supporting Washington’s longtime allies, the dictators Ben Ali and Mubarak, until the last possible moment.

Second, eclipsing the struggles of the peoples of the region for their rights is precisely what the launching of a war by the US, in alliance with the former colonial powers in North Africa—Britain, France, Italy, Spain—is designed to do.

It reaffirms imperialist hegemony in opposition to the revolutionary struggles of the working class and the oppressed masses.

As for other repressive rulers concluding that “violence is the best strategy to cling to power,” they only have to look to US allies like Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia to learn that lesson.

Much of Obama’s justification for the war was based on an invocation of Washington’s supposed unique role as the world’s guardian of moral values.

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries,” he said. “The United States is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

Who does he think he’s kidding? Just two days before his speech, US forces committed yet another atrocity in Afghanistan as its warplanes attacked a car and killed the two men, two women and three children riding in it.

As for “images of slaughter,” his administration and the Pentagon have gone to extraordinary lengths to suppress just such images now coming into public view and revealing the wanton killing of unarmed Afghans by a US Army unit that treated their dead bodies like trophies.

Americans Are Absolutely Brainwashed

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We busy ourselves with the absurd. We invest our emotional life in reality shows that celebrate excess, hedonism and wealth. We are tempted by the opulent life enjoyed by the American oligarchy, one percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

The celebrities and reality television stars whose foibles we know intimately live indolent, self-centered lives in sprawling mansions or exclusive Manhattan apartments. They parade their sculpted and surgically enhanced bodies before us in designer clothes.

They devote their lives to self-promotion and personal advancement, consumption, parties and the making of money. They celebrate the cult of the self. And when they have meltdowns we watch with gruesome fascination.

This empty existence is the one we are taught to admire and emulate. This is the life, we are told, we can all have.

The perversion of values has created a landscape where corporate management by sleazy figures like Donald Trump is confused with leadership and where the ability to accumulate vast sums of money is confused with intelligence.

And when we do glimpse the poor or working class on our screens, they are ridiculed and taunted. They are objects of contempt, whether on “The Jerry Springer Show” or “Jersey Shore.”

The incessant chasing after status, personal advancement and wealth has plunged most of the country into unmanageable debt.

Families, whose real wages have dropped over the past three decades, live in oversized houses financed by mortgages they often cannot repay.

They seek identity through products. They occupy their leisure time in malls buying things they do not need.

Those of working age spend their weekdays in little cubicles, if they still have steady jobs, under the heels of corporations that have disempowered American workers and taken control of the state and can lay them off on a whim. It is a desperate scramble. No one wants to be left behind.

The propagandists for globalism are the natural outgrowth of this image-based and culturally illiterate world. They speak about economic and political theory in empty clich├ęs. They cater to our subliminal and irrational desires.

They select a few facts and isolated data and use them to dismiss historical, economic, political and cultural realities.

They tell us what we want to believe about ourselves. They assure us that we are exceptional as individuals and as a nation. They champion our ignorance as knowledge.

They tell us that there is no reason to investigate other ways of organizing and governing our society. Our way of life is the best. Capitalism has made us great.

They peddle the self-delusional dream of inevitable human progress. They assure us we will be saved by science, technology and rationality and that humanity is moving inexorably forward.

None of this is true. It is a message that defies human nature and human history. But it is what many desperately want to believe.

Until we awake from our collective self-delusion, until we carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the corporate state and sever ourselves from the liberal institutions that serve the corporate juggernaut, especially the Democratic Party, we will continue to be rocketed toward a global catastrophe.

Libya: The West Peddles Its Propaganda

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The violence that erupted in Libya was not merely a matter of peaceful Libyan citizens taking to the streets for democracy and then being attacked by the regime.

The country fractured along regional and tribal lines, with Western powers and intelligence agencies stoking an insurgency that developed along the lines of a civil war.

The claim that the regime was on the verge of launching a massacre of near genocidal proportions in the city of Benghazi is presented as fact, though there is no evidence that killing on any similar scale took place in other cities that had fallen to the rebels but were retaken by forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Obama claimed that the US military action had been carried out “to stop the killing” and had successfully “stopped Gaddafi’s deadly advance.”

In reality, Washington has intervened in a civil war that it played no small role in fomenting.

Ongoing Western bombing of targets in Libya illustrates the deceitfulness of the Nato powers which insist that they are simply fulfilling the terms of UN resolution 1973.

The resolution authorised member states "to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form."

It also ordered a no-fly zone to prevent the Gadaffi regime from launching aerial attacks on its opponents.

The no-fly zone was imposed in short order, with the Pentagon declaring last week that the regime's air power had been neutralised, but still the bombing continues.

The most recent Nato aerial attacks on Sirte, assisting the advance by opposition forces, indicate military coordination for regime change rather than concern for civilian welfare.

Events recall Washington's use of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 2001, when concentrated US aerial bombing raids allowed alliance forces to drive back the Taliban.

As in Afghanistan so in Libya, the Western planes are not flying in support of anti-government forces.

Nato is directing the show, identifying its targets, hitting them and facilitating local rebel fighters' mopping up of disoriented pro-Gadaffi militias.

The acute danger is of the Libyan rebels, who rose up demanding democratic reform and an end to state repression, being transformed unwittingly into the infantry shock troops in an imperialist stratagem.

French, Italian and British military intelligence agents have already held meetings with former Gadaffi supporters, now born-again democrats, to lay down terms for giving military backing to their insurrection.

These terms include honouring the accords entered into by Gadaffi with imperialist governments and transnational corporations that are advantageous and profitable to the Western side.

The Western powers are essentially seeking a solution to the Libyan uprising that will have a democratic veneer but will entrench the country within the Nato/US masterplan for the region.

3/29/11

Obama's "Moral Values" As Justification for War on Libya

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Yesterday, in his first speech to the American public on what is now a 10-day-old war against Libya, Obama made a case for US imperialism’s right to carry out military aggression anywhere in the world where it sees its “interests and values” at stake.

Obama tried to make an appeal to his supporters among Democratic liberals and the pseudo-left by contrasting the intervention in Libya—the first war begun under his administration—with the Iraq war launched by the Bush administration, which he is continuing.

First, he claimed that it was sanctified by the UN resolution and by “international support,” and second he insisted that it was not meant “to overthrow Gaddafi by force.”

Instead, he said, US forces had been assigned merely “to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone.”

The second part of this claim is a patent lie. The US military has played the decisive role in clearing a path for the US-backed armed opposition to advance against Gaddafi’s forces.

It has worked systematically to degrade the regime’s military forces and infrastructure, with the aim of promoting regime change.

As for the UN resolution, it itself is a violation of the most fundamental tenets of the UN Charter, which rules out intervention in the internal affairs and conflicts of member nations.

The message is, war is just whenever such a resolution can be rammed through and other imperialist powers can be brought onboard.

In conclusion, Obama drew attention to “what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.”

He claimed that he would “never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests.”

But, he added, military force was also justified in situations in which “our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are.” He said that in circumstances ranging from “genocide” to “keeping the peace, ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce,” the US “should not be afraid to act.”

This represents a far more expansive assertion of the right to wage war than was made even under the Bush administration, which claimed, based upon lies, that its wars were necessitated by an imminent threat from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Obama insists that no such threat is needed, merely a challenge to US “interests and values.” Is there any corner of the world where the US-based transnational banks and corporations do not have at stake such “interests and values”—up to and including the “flow of commerce?”

Obama is arguing for a rationale for US military aggression whenever and wherever it can serve to further the interests of America’s ruling elite.

Will The West Assassinate Gaddafi?

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Suspicion is growing that Gaddafi is being singled out for termination, a suspicion fueled by an apparent public dispute in Britain

It's between Britain's military leadership who deny that there is any intention of killing or overthrowing Gaddafi and the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government that point-blank refuses to rule this out as a sub-text to the UN agreement on imposing a no-fly zone.

Many Arab nations that reluctantly signed up to this operation apparently did so on the understanding that a no-fly zone would mean just that - stopping the Libyan air force from attacking rebel held towns and cities.

While this may indeed prove to be a valid excuse for attacking air defense sites and even airfields, it would seem perverse in the extreme to try and claim that tanks, trucks and Infantry are "airborne assets".

It would seem increasingly likely that the real intention of the political leadership in the US and in particular the UK and France is regime change and that the "accidental" death of the Libyan leader would be a significant milestone towards achieving this aim.

There are great risks and enormous moral issues inherent in the use of assassination as an adjunct to foreign policy and to put it in simple language; shouldn't the world's leading democracies be better than this?

Can it really be beyond the wit of the West's political leaders to find an intellectually acceptable alternative to a descent into the gutter along with the terrorist, the criminal and the corrupt dictator?

If this alternative view is treated with derision by the media and widely dismissed as naive or unrealistic and bound to end in failure, then it must of course be pointed out that those targeted will undoubtedly and indeed quite properly reserve the right to retaliate in kind.

As most counter-terrorism experts would probably admit there is simply no way to guarantee 100% the safety of any of the world's major leaders, not even the president of the US.

Terrorists or revenge seeking dictatorships only have to "get lucky" a very few times to allow quite a significant cull of the most important Western political leaders to occur.

Targeting an enemy's leadership for assassination is not new, but the willingness to resort to the elimination of political opponents now appears to be becoming almost a fully functioning part of modern warfare.

The personalization of conflict in aiming to eliminate named individuals, the leaders of foreign powers, in both war and in peace is in effect an admission of failure by Western democracies.

It's a further indication of a return to the brutish methods of the Middle Ages when respect for life and human rights were at an all time low.

America's New Civil War: The Rich Against The Rest

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The rich are making war against us. And yes, they are winning. Why? Because so many are fighting this new American Civil War between the rich and the rest.

Not just the 16 new GOP governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and across America fighting for new powers. Others include: Chamber of Commerce billionaires, Koch brothers, Forbes 400.

Also, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform — which now has 97% of House Republicans and 85% of the GOP Senators signed on his “no new taxes” pledge — the Tea Party and Reaganomics ideologues.

Wake up America. You are under attack. Stop kidding yourself. We are at war. In fact, we have been fighting this Civil War for a generation, since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981.

Recently Buffett renewed the battle cry: The “rich class” is winning this war. Except most Americans still don’t realize they’re losing, don’t see the prize at stake.

All this was predicted back in September 2008 by Naomi Klein, author of “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”

Yes, we were warned that the GOP’s Reaganomics ideology would stage a rapid comeback. We were warned before the market collapsed, before Wall Street was virtually bankrupt, before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson conned Congress into $787 billion in bailouts. We were warned before Obama’s 2008 election

Free-market Reaganomics roaring back, more powerful than before

Back in the heat of battle, in September 2008, Naomi Klein warned America: “Whatever the events of this week mean, nobody should believe the overblown claims that the market crisis signals the death of ‘free market’ ideology.” Then the meltdown went nuclear.

Klein insisted: “Free market ideology has always been a servant to the interests of capital, and its presence ebbs and flows depending on its usefulness to those interests.

"During boom times, it’s profitable to preach laissez faire, because an absentee government allows speculative bubbles to inflate.”

But “when those bubbles burst, the ideology becomes a hindrance, and it goes dormant while big government rides to the rescue.”

Remember? A week later Paulson was on his knee, begging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for that $787 billion bailout, to save our incompetent Wall Street banks that caused the meltdown from certain bankruptcy.

“But rest assured,” continued Klein in September 2008, Reaganomics “ideology will come roaring back when the bailouts are done.

"The massive debts the public is accumulating to bail out the speculators will then become part of a global budget crisis that will be the rationalization for deep cuts to social programs, and for a renewed push to privatize.”

True & False Reasons for the West's War on Libya

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True Reason: Regime Change

This was announced as the real objective the moment French president Nicolas Sarkozy took the extraordinary step of recognizing the rebels in Benghazi as "the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people".

This recognition was an extraordinary violation of all diplomatic practice and principles. It meant non-recognition of the existing Libyan government and its institutions, which, contrary to the magical notions surrounding the word "dictator", cannot be reduced to the personality of one strongman.

A major European nation, France, swept aside all those institutions to proclaim that an obscure group of rebels in a traditionally rebellious part of Libya constituted the North African nation’s legitimate government.

Since factually this was clearly not true, it could only be the proclamation of an objective to be reached by war. The French announcement was equivalent to a declaration of war against Libya, a war to defeat Qaddafi and put the mysterious rebels in power in his place.

False Reason: "To Protect Civilians"

The falsity of this pretext is obvious, first of all, because the UN Resolution authorizing military action "to protect civilians" was drawn up by France – whose objective was clearly regime change – and its Western allies.

Had the real concern of the UN Security Council been to "protect innocent lives", it would have, could have, should have sent a strong neutral observer mission to find out what was really happening in Libya.

There was no proof of rebel claims that the Qaddafi regime was slaughtering civilians. Had there been visible proof of such atrocities, we can be sure that they would have been shown regularly on prime time television.

We have seen no such proof. A UN fact-finding mission could have very rapidly set the record straight, and the Security Council could then have acted on the basis of factual information rather than of claims by rebels seeking international aid for their cause.

Instead, the Security Council, now little more than an instrument of Western powers, rushed ahead with sanctions, referral of alleged present or expected "crimes against humanity" to the International Criminal Court, and finally an authorization of a "no-fly zone" which Western powers were certain to interpret as a license to wage all-out war against Libya.

Once the United States and its leading NATO allies are authorized to "protect civilians", they do so with the instruments they have: air strikes; bombing and cruise missiles.

Air strikes, bombing and cruise missiles are not designed to "protect civilians" but rather to destroy military targets, which inevitably leads to killing civilians.

Aside from such "collateral damage", what right do we have to kill Libyan military personnel manning airports and other Libyan defense facilities? What have they done to us?

True Reason: Because It’s Easy

With NATO forces bogged down in Afghanistan, certain alliance leaders (but not all of them) could think it would be a neat idea to grab a quick and easy victory in a nice little "humanitarian war".

This, they can hope, could revive enthusiasm for military operations and increase the flagging popularity of politicians able to strut around as champions of "democracy" and destroyers of "dictators". Libya looks like an easy target.

There you have a huge country, mostly desert, with only about six million inhabitants. The country’s defense installations are all located along the Mediterranean coast, within easy reach of NATO country fighter jets and US cruise missiles.

Libyan armed forces are small, weak and untested. It looks like a pushover, not quite as easy as Grenada but no harder than Serbia. Sarkozy and company can hope to strut their victory strut in short order.

3/28/11

Sensational!

I'm not about to scroll the benefits of greater self-awareness.

Would I have to gall to posture meditation as the means by which?

We're being progressive here. Aware, alert, agitated.

Look at where it's got me. I can't see tranquillity for the sensation.

The Text Starts Here

Libya: CIA Collaborator Heads 'Rebel' Forces

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The Libyan National Council, the Benghazi-based group that speaks for the rebel forces fighting the Gaddafi regime, has appointed a long-time CIA collaborator to head its military operations.

The selection of Khalifa Hifter, a former colonel in the Libyan army, was reported by McClatchy Newspapers Thursday and the new military chief was interviewed by a correspondent for ABC News on Sunday night.

Hifter’s arrival in Benghazi was first reported by Al Jazeera on March 14, followed by a flattering portrait in the virulently pro-war British tabloid the Daily Mail on March 19.

The Daily Mail described Hifter as one of the “two military stars of the revolution” who “had recently returned from exile in America to lend the rebel ground forces some tactical coherence.” The newspaper did not refer to his CIA connections.

McClatchy Newspapers published a profile of Hifter on Sunday. Headlined “New Rebel Leader Spent Much of Past 20 years in Suburban Virginia,” the article notes that he was once a top commander for the Gaddafi regime, until “a disastrous military adventure in Chad in the late 1980s.”

Hifter then went over to the anti-Gaddafi opposition, eventually emigrating to the United States, where he lived until two weeks ago when he returned to Libya to take command in Benghazi.

The McClatchy profile concluded, “Since coming to the United States in the early 1990s, Hifter lived in suburban Virginia outside Washington, DC.”

It cited a friend who “said he was unsure exactly what Hifter did to support himself, and that Hifter primarily focused on helping his large family.”

To those who can read between the lines, this profile is a thinly disguised indication of Hifter’s role as a CIA operative.

How else does a high-ranking former Libyan military commander enter the United States in the early 1990s, only a few years after the Lockerbie bombing, and then settle near the US capital, except with the permission and active assistance of US intelligence agencies?

Hifter actually lived in Vienna, Virginia, about five miles from CIA headquarters in Langley, for two decades.

The role of Hifter, aptly described 15 years ago as the leader of a “contra-style group,” demonstrates the real class forces at work in the Libyan tragedy.

Whatever genuine popular opposition was expressed in the initial revolt against the corrupt Gaddafi dictatorship, the rebellion has been hijacked by imperialism.

The US and European intervention in Libya is aimed not at bringing “democracy” and “freedom,” but at installing in power stooges of the CIA who will rule just as brutally as Gaddafi.

This will allow the imperialist powers to loot the country’s oil resources and use Libya as a base of operations against the popular revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

New York: Rage Against the Cuts

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In the shadow of towering colonial-style office buildings of the world's most powerful financial district, a crowd over 5,000-strong amassed outside Manhattan's City Hall Thursday, chanting "The people united will never be defeated!"

As the contagious effects of democratic uprisings radiate from North Africa to North America, New York City's exploited workers and students are not about to let the opportunity for mass struggle pass them by.

The "Day of Rage Against the Cuts" has been in the works for over four months. It was prompted by New York's recently appointed Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo openly declared his intention to slash spending on public education and healthcare and lacerate the budget previously allocated to state agencies by over half a billion dollars in order to close an estimated budget gap of $10 million.

"I am fed up with Bloomberg and Cuomo taxing students and hiking tuition," Sarah Anees, a graduate student at the City University of New York (CUNY) told us.

A spokesperson for the South Bronx Community Congress told IPS, "This is the beginning of unity between people of color, immigrant communities and white working class people in New York."

"We've allowed many factors to divide us in the past," he said, "but now Bloomberg and Cuomo have accomplished what their predecessors failed to do – bringing together all these different forces. Today marks the birth of a new, multi-ethnic alliance."

Dismal Disparity, Bona Fide Rage As thousands of protestors poured onto Wall Street chanting "When they say cut back, we say fight back", flyers and leaflets, detailing the stark contradictions in Cuomo's budgetary policies, rained over demonstrators' heads.

According to the Department of Economics at the University of Berkley, California, New York State rebates 15 billion dollars annually in stock transfer taxes to Wall Street.

This potential revenue to the state is lost in the hands of the richest one percent of New York's population, whose income share is currently 44 percent of total New York State income.

Additionally, Cuomo and Senate majority leader Dean Skelos proposed a termination of the Millionaires' Tax that brings in 1.5 billion dollars, and refused to reinstate the 50% tax on bankers' bonuses, which would bring in 10 billion dollars in state revenue.

It's hardly surprising that the bulk of some 4,000 banners and placards read "Tax the Rich", a spectacle that drew scores of police barricades and state security personnel to the scene.

As the enormous line of bodies moved through the streets, workers from nearby offices – some in suits, others in janitors' uniforms – ran outside to join the protestors.

"New York City has the greatest income inequality in the whole country and this is a disgrace," a representative of the Socialist Alternative told us.

"What is particularly scandalous is that we don't impose even a basic transfer tax, or a sales tax, on the tycoons on Wall Street – if they were forced to pay a penny for every sales transaction they made, that money would more than cover the budget shortfall."

Libya: US Military Preparing for Invasion

Source

According to an unnamed high-ranking Russian intelligence official, "the international coalition force is planning a ground operation that could start in late April.

"Information coming via different channels shows that NATO countries, with active participation of Britain and the United States, are developing a plan. From all indications it'll be launched if the alliance fails to force Gaddafi to capitulate."

The official estimates a late April-early May timetable. UN Resolution 1973 prohibits an occupation force, but authorizes "all necessary measures," including boots on the ground. Hawkish Western military analysts urge it, a March 25 Wall Street Journal report saying:

"The history of air-only military actions is that they rarely, if ever, defeat an adversary without" ground forces.

On March 26, Rick Rozoff's Stop NATO web site mentioned reports of US forces in Libya with a planned ground invasion coming next month. Various March 26 sources were cited, including:

(1) Sofia News Agency reporting:

"US forces are rumored to be already present on the ground in Libya," despite official denials. According to Reserve Colonel David Hand, American soldiers have been in Libya for 12 days. US intelligence Colonel Tony Scheffer confirmed it.

(2) Voice of Russia's Alexander Vatutin said:

"We are witnessing an attempt to seize oil and gas reserves by means of force. Apparently, coalition forces are pursuing targets other than humanitarian operations...." Dozens of civilian deaths are reported.

"In the meantime, NATO has suggested the possibility of a ground operation in Libya unless Gaddafi chooses to surrender. The military are guided by the Second World War saying 'Put on the Ground' which means you can never expect to win unless you reach the enemy's positions on the ground." About 4,000 US marines are positioned in the Mediterranean to invade.

According to Russian Strategic Research Institute's Azhdar Kurtov, "a ground operation is inevitable" whether or not Gaddafi stays or goes, to seize Libya's strategic oil and gas reserves.

London: Rebels Protest Government Austerity Program

Source

In London, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets yesterday to protest government spending cuts. By late afternoon a splinter group of radicals dressed in black and wearing full-face balaclavas had stolen all the attention.

For them, payback took the form of street action. Several hundred people, many of them from U.K. Uncut, a separate anti-austerity action group, descended on Oxford Street, London's busiest shopping thoroughfare.

By 2pm hooded activists were pelting police officers with light bulbs filled with ammonia, and by 3pm they were propelling paint bombs into the Niketown across the street.

HSBC and Santander had their windows smashed, while paint and glass bottles were thrown at a nearby branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

A separate group attempted to storm Topshop's flagship store, but only managed to break a window before riot police intervened.

The haze of flares and smoke and shattered glass was just a prequel to the spectacle at 4:30pm. Several protesters wheeled a 20-ft. tall model of the Trojan Horse to the middle of the Oxford Circus roundabout and set it on fire.

For the anti-capitalist rebels, shutting down the city's retail epicenter must have been a victory in itself.

While most of the protesters are driven by a desire to protect the public services they cherish, the radical want to unleash anger at the ruling class and its privileges. The extremely privilged should bare more of the burden.

The rebels were also expressing anger at the global banks who were responsible for the financial crisis.

Around 3pm masked rebels launched trash cans at the windows of the only-for-the-rich Ritz Hotel.

Later, 200 protesters occupied Fortnum and Mason—the luxury retail shop known for its posh afternoon teas and hampers of champagne and Stilton.

They broke windows, destroyed elaborate cake and flower displays, and held up a number of offensive signs.

One of the more G-rated ones read, "You can stick your royal wedding up your arse"). The BBC made its way into the store and caught much of the action on tape. Think Tet Offensive, but with tins of marmalade instead of guns.

Shoppers stuck inside the store never faced any real threats. A number of the rebels, mostly students, could be seen laughing and having a great time as they opened packs of expensive cookies.

UK Uncut: Revolution Reaches the West

Source

UK Uncut groups from across the country transformed banks and shops on Oxford Street into hospitals, libraries and theatres with Sam West, Josie Long and Mark Thomas performing.

UK Uncut, the anti-cuts direct action group, occupied Fortnum & Mason over the tax dodge of over 40 million by its owners Whittington Investments which have a 54% stake in Associated British Foods who produce Ryvita, Kingsmill and others and own Primark.

ABF have dodged over £40 million in tax. Over 500 activists congregated on Oxford Circus from the march and from Oxford Street where they had been transforming tax dodging retailers such as Vodafone, Boots and BHS.

The rebels left Oxford Circus at 3:30, reaching Fortnum & Mason by 4 PM. They are vowed to stay for as long as possible in the shop where there was music, speeches and games.

Up to a quarter of a million people from across the country joined the march in protest at the government’s failure to pursue alternatives to unprecedented cuts in public spending.

During and after the march, activists from UK Uncut turned banks and tax-dodging stores on Oxford Street into hospitals, libraries and homeless shelters to point out that these services don;t need to be cuts by the government if they instead chose to clamp down on tax avoidance and making banks contribute more.

Sally Mason, a UK Uncut supporter from Manchester who occupied Fortnum & Mason said:
We weren't just going to march from A to B and be ignored. People are prepared to take radical action because they are angry at the unfairness of these cuts.

Fortnum & Mason is a symbol of wealth and greed. It is where the Royal Family and the super-rich do their weekly shop and a picnic hamper costs £25,000.

This sits in stark contrast to everyone else who is struggling to make ends meet, fill in their tax returns and benefits forms. Most people face huge student debts, unemployment and the closure or dismantling of their local services that we need and depend on such as the NHS, libraries and leisure centres.

We are not all in this together. The government, big business such as ABF, banking sector and the wealthy who shop here are in it together and are choosing to make everyone else pay the price for the banks greed and wreckless gambling.

The government is making a political choice to turn a blind eye to the tax dodging of big business and reward the banks' mistakes with the bail out and bonuses and instead cut child, housing and disability benefits as well as decimating the Welfare State.

Civil disobedience has a long tradition of driving forward progressive change and we did this to send a powerful message that we are angry at the government's choice to protect the rich and punish the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society.

It's society that's too big to fail, not the broken banking sector. There is an alternative. Clamping down on tax avoidance and making the banks pay for their crisis. the government is just choosing to ignore it and that is not fair or right.
Radicals are calling for a redistribution of wealth rather than the Tory government's austerity measures. Squeeze the rich until they hurt.

Thirty years of the neoliberal economic order has transformed British society and the economy.

Not only has there been a massive redistribution of wealth and political power from labour to capital, but also class has been restructured around new modes of production and consumption, creating structural redundancy and undermining traditional class cultures of solidarity.

The polarisation in culture and wealth has undermined the alliance between the middle class and the working class that underpinned the post-war welfare settlement.

As a consequence, the value of old age pensions and benefits has been destroyed.

"The poor" have been reinvented as an underclass defined by dysfunctional behaviour and a dependency culture rather than by structural poverty and inequality.

And welfare has shifted from a system for supporting individuals to a system for monitoring and controlling them.

3/25/11

Put in Doubt

I find him unmanageable sometimes.

I'm going to put a sign on his cage. Don't bother him.

To be agitated by the props around one. As I pause by definition.

If you must follow the well-known, traditional pattern.

I ask a question to put in doubt. When did you last look at your reflection?

The Text Starts Here

Microsoft, Google, Apple & Monopoly Power on the Internet

Source

Google is a classic example of economies of scale and monopoly power; as it grows larger, its search engine becomes ever more superior to erstwhile competitors, not to mention it gains the capacity to build up traditional barriers-to-entry and scare away anyone trying to mess with it.

Its network effects are so large that it has drowned out all other search engines, allowing it to prosper by selling data derived from its network to others (as well as prominently positioning paid-for "sponsored links"), marketing the vast mine of data at its disposal. In the old days, such "winner take all" markets were termed "natural monopolies."

Likewise, consider Microsoft, which has been able to exploit the dependence of a wide range of software applications on its underlying operating system in order to lock in its operating system seemingly permanently, allowing it to enjoy long-term monopoly-pricing power.

Any competitor, seeking to introduce a new, rival operating system, is faced with an enormous "applications barrier to entry."

"Apps" have thus become key to the construction of barriers of entry and monopoly power, not only in relation to information technology in general, but also, more crucially today, in relation to the Internet.

Along these lines, new devices, such as the iPhone and the iPad, carry with them applications specific to a given device that are designed to lock customers in a whole commercial domain that mediates between them and the Internet.

This is different from the Web-and that generates "network effects" and rising sales for the producer.

The more that a particular device becomes the interface for whole networks of applications, the more customers are drawn in, and the exponential demand-side economies of scale take over.

This directly translates into enormous economic power, and the ability to determine much of the technological landscape. Once such economic power is fully consolidated and people become increasingly dependent on a new device, network prices can be leveraged up.

All this is simply the way of things. A technology is invented, it spreads, a thousand flowers bloom, and then some one finds a way to own it, locking others out.

It happens every time. Indeed, there has hardly ever been a fortune created without a monopoly of some sort, or at least an oligopoly.

This is the natural path of [capitalist] industrialization: invention, propagation, adoption, control....Openness is a wonderful thing in the non-monetary economy. But eventually our tolerance for the delirious chaos of infinite competition finds its limits.

Here we are offered a false choice between unlimited, uncontrolled private competition with its economic uncertainties or private monopoly and the formation of great fortunes. The exclusion of the public realm is taken as an article of faith.

Monopoly power is even more likely to emerge in the Internet's highly networked markets create all sorts of problems. Such monopolistic firms accrue huge amounts of cash with which they can gobble up any potential competitor or promising upstart attempting to create a new commercial sector on the Internet.

These corporate giants use their monopoly base camps to make expeditions to conquer new areas in the Internet, especially those in proximity to their monopoly undertaking. Google, for example, has a purported $33 billion in cash to play with.

It has spent many billions making several dozen key Internet acquisitions, averaging around one acquisition per month, over the past several years.

In just the first three quarters of 2010, Google reported that it made forty distinct acquisitions. Microsoft, with $43 billion in cash on hand, has a similar record. Apple is sitting on $51 billion in cash to play with.

So Much for the 'Revolution' in Egypt

Source

The promulgation this week in Egypt of a decree banning strikes and protests has laid bare the real character of the military-controlled regime that succeeded the US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak.

According to AhramOnline, the decree:
criminalizes strikes, protests, demonstrations and sit-ins that interrupt private or state-owned businesses or affect the economy in any way. The decree-law also assigns severe punishments to those who call for or incite action, with the maximum sentence one year in prisons and fines of up to half a million pounds [US-$84,000].
In other words, the regime is attempting to outlaw and criminalize the very methods used by millions of Egyptians to oppose Mubarak and—after 18 days of mass demonstrations—drive him from power on February 11.

The decree is meant above all to set the legal framework to violently suppress the heroic struggles of the Egyptian working class, whose mass strikes continued to escalate during the four years preceding last month’s protests in Tahrir Square.

In the wake of Mubarak’s downfall, workers throughout the country have sought to press their demands for increased wages, the right to employment, full democratic rights and the sacking of managers and union bureaucrats who served the dictatorship.

In recent weeks railway workers, pharmacists, doctors, store clerks, media workers, pensioners and even the police have staged strikes, protests and sit-ins that would be criminal offenses under the new law.

Just days before the announcement of the decree, over 1,000 temporary contract workers at the Suez petroleum company, Petrojet, staged a mass sit-in to protest layoffs and demand their right to be treated as full-time employees.

The working class has interpreted the successful ouster of a dictator who had ruled the country for 31 years as a victory that should bring with it the satisfaction of their just demands.

Ali Fotouh, a driver in the public transportation system told AhramOnline:
We really had hopes that the new government will support us and look into our demands. We expected them to say we have all of your legal demands on our desks and there is a timeline of a month or two within which they will be achieved…

This is not fair, why don’t you solve our demands so we don’t go on strike. The tone reminds me of the old days of Mubarak, threats and oppression used by the regime.
Mubarak’s successors, organized in the Supreme Armed Forces Council headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who served as the dictator’s defense minister for two decades, have drawn a diametrically opposite conclusion.

The military command is bound inseparably to Egypt’s corrupt wealthy elite of which it is a part.

It sees the fall of the dictator as a signal that the regime must be consolidated around the massive security apparatus that remains firmly in place.

It is utilizing the services of bourgeois “opposition” elements, ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to figures like Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Mousa, to provide it with a democratic fig-leaf.

The developments in Egypt, together with the bloody repression in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria and now the unleashing of an imperialist war in Libya, make it clear that the “Arab Spring” has drawn to a close.

They have demolished any basis for illusions that peaceful protest and the toppling of one or another hated dictator can, in and of themselves, bring about genuine democratic and social transformation.

Or that the aspirations of the workers and the oppressed can be realized under the tutelage of bourgeois parties and politicians.

From Iraq to Libya: Imperial Reconquest

Source

However the rebellion in Libya began, it was both inevitable and entirely predictable that it would quickly become an opening for imperialist intervention and counterrevolution in the oil-rich North African country.

The fact that the “rebellion” received sympathetic, screaming headlines, ferociously hostile to the government of Moammar Gadhafi from the very beginning, should have been sufficient to put the entire anti-imperialist movement on guard.

The boiler-plate propaganda about “massacres,” without the slightest evidence, was repeated as if it were the gospel truth. That should have been further evidence of the plans for “great power” intervention.

The condemnations were particularly hypocritical coming from the mouths of the same imperialist powers that have been massacring oppressed people on every continent since the dawn of colonialism.

That included the slave trade in Africa to the cruelty of conquistadors in South America, the genocide of Indigenous peoples in the U.S. and the colonization of India

Now there are campaigns against the Palestinians in Gaza, Predator drone massacres of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to say nothing of the wholesale destruction of Iraqi society and the attendant mass killing of civilians.

There have been numerous rebellions and many documented massacres of unarmed civilians in recent months that have not spurred military action by the imperialist powers.

Is it even conceivable that Washington would lobby or arm-twist the Arab League to provide a figleaf for U.S. intervention in support of protesters in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or Jordan?

No, because these have been genuine rebellions against autocratic regimes backed by the White House and the Pentagon.

There have been no campaigns to get U.N. Security Council resolutions authorizing military action in any of these countries.

No aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, missile ships, AWACS planes, spy satellites, etc., moved into position to support these genuine popular uprisings against moth-eaten reactionary monarchies that guard the interests of the U.S. and Western oil companies, as well as the strategic position of the Pentagon in the Persian Gulf region.

The fact is that the Obama administration, the British and the French have de facto put Libya on the “axis of evil” list started by Bush in his infamous 2002 State of the Union speech, where he singled out Iraq, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as targets for “regime change.”

That is what “Gadhafi must go” means.

What these three countries have in common is that they all threw imperialism out of their countries during the rise of the socialist camp and the national liberation movements after World War I.

They were part of a global movement that fought to establish economic and political independence from transnational banks, corporations and the Pentagon.

Libya falls directly into that category, having overthrown puppet King Idris and ousted imperialism in 1969 under the leadership of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The Libyan revolution, like the revolutions in Iraq in 1958 and Iran in 1979, also nationalized Western-owned oil companies and shut down imperialist military bases.

The fact that Gadhafi shifted toward the West later, opening up to oil companies and imposing International Monetary Fund-dictated austerity programs, is not enough to satisfy the voracious appetite of the corporations for profit. They want to take the whole country — lock, stock and barrel.

The invasion of Libya is part of a long-term trend on the part of the imperialist countries that began with the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe from 1989 to 1991. That trend is to reconquer territories and riches lost during the 20th-century rise of the socialist camp and the national liberation movements.

That is what the intervention in Libya is about. That is what the two wars in Iraq were about. And that is what the permanent threats to Iran and North Korea are about, not to mention the permanent blockade of Cuba, the military encirclement of China and the attempt to destroy the government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

In other words, the right to national sovereignty, self-determination and self-defense of formerly oppressed countries is obsolete, according to the doctrine of the New World Order.

The mad adventure in Libya, led by Washington and supported by Britain and France, shows once again that war and militarism are an integral feature of imperialism and of the monopoly-capitalist system upon which it rests.

Libya: US-Backed 'Rebels'

Source

Yesterday, reports in the Los Angeles Times gave a glimpse of the real character of the war in the east of Libya, and the nature of the US-backed rebel forces.

One report detailed the close collaboration between rebel fighters on the ground and the US and European air patrols, despite the claims by the US military that there is no such coordination.

“Leaders of the opposition national council in rebel-controlled eastern Libya say they are making regular, secure contacts with allied military representatives in Europe to help commanders identify targets for the US-led air assault,” the newspaper reported, citing a spokesman for the Provisional National Council in Benghazi, Ahmed Khalifa.

To avoid direct military-to-military contact, the information on targeting is transmitted over secure satellite telephones—supplied by the Pentagon—to civilian representatives of the rebels in Europe, especially France. These officials pass on the data to government officials of the coalition powers, who forward it to the military.

“There is communication between the Provisional National Council and UN assembled forces, and we work on letting them know what areas need to be bombarded,” Khalifa told the Times Wednesday, saying the contacts began over the weekend—i.e., as soon as the war began.

While denying communication from the rebels to the Pentagon, Rear Adm. Hueber confirmed communication the other way, saying, “We have told…the opposition forces how to maneuver.”

The Times quoted Jeffrey White, a longtime Defense Intelligence Agency official, now working at a Washington think tank, to the effect that US officials “are trying to maintain this fig-leaf cover that we’re not assisting their combat forces against the Libyans. But we’re clearly creating conditions in which they can operate better.”

The second Los Angeles Times report described the abuse and torture of African immigrants in Benghazi, many of whom are accused of being Gadaffi mercenaries or spies when they were simply working in construction and the oil industry.

“For a month, gangs of young gunmen have roamed the city, rousting Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from their homes and holding them for interrogation,” the newspaper wrote.

The article gave an account of how “55 terrified detainees were paraded in front of a busload of international journalists.”

It was a press tour that “featured some of the same restrictions placed on journalists taken on tours in Tripoli by the Gaddafi regime: no interviews and no close-up photographs of prisoners. The prisoners and detainees were hauled out of dank cells that stank of urine and rot….”

These are the “democrats” and “freedom fighters” whom the Obama regime and British and French imperialism have joined forces to support.

Western Media Propaganda for War

Source

When America goes to war, managed news goes with it spreading rumors, half-truths, misinformation, and willful deception about targeted nations, regimes and leaders, whether despots or democrats. Whoever first said it, the first casualty of war is truth, and then some as John Pilger has observed: saying:
Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship (and willful misreporting) that goes unrecognised in the United States, Britain and other democracies.

Censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries.
Managed news, in fact, jeopardizes free and open societies by substituting fiction for facts, carefully filtered reports for truth, and cheerleading propaganda for real journalism.

As a result, wars of aggression are called liberating ones. Civil liberties are suppressed for our own good, and patriotism means going along with lawless governments, reigning death and destruction on defenseless nations for imperial, not noble, reasons.

Media support backs them, notably in America where dominant electronic and print reporting marches in lockstep with government policy, right or wrong.

From post-9/11 to Obama's war on Libya, the debate over whether to go to war is absent. Obama decides. The media salute, and public opinion is manipulated to say amen.

Never discussed are justifiable reasons, choosing diplomacy over militarism, America acting as judge, jury and executioner, and cui bono fruits of war. Without them, they'd be none.

Said another way, absent the power and profit benefits, who'd wage them, especially capitalist America, generously enriching war profiteers that fund politicians for bottom line friendly policies.

As a result, government is unaccountable to the electorate. Democracy is the best money can buy, and wars are always imperial, not liberating ones, especially ones America wages.

Today, round the clock media coverage supports them. Long before television, media critic AJ Liebling said, "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news."

Today it's mostly TV, the dominant managed news source, supporting power, not truth, functioning as a propaganda system for elitist interests, especially on matters of war and peace.

3/24/11

Fantasy Doesn't Fulfill Itself

When I'm combined with mortality. There'll be space where once I was.

That's not asking for much. I don't expect to know about it.

Does a fantasy need fulfillment? Should romance be realised?

Does the rhetorician work in silence?

The Text Starts Here

Some Background on Libya & Imperialism

Source

The Obama regime felt compelled to act on Libya out of fear that it would be outmaneuvered by the UK and especially France, both more aggressive advocates of intervention.

Washington was not about to accept the region’s two former colonial powers acting on their own, an implicit challenge to the hegemony that US imperialism has asserted over the region since it pulled the rug out from under the last Anglo-French military intervention in the Suez Crisis of 1956.

At the heart of the Libyan war lie not democratic altruism, but rather imperialist interests and escalating inter-imperialist conflicts.

More and more the global situation resembles the series of increasingly malignant crises that gripped world capitalism on the eves of World War I and World War II.

In 1937, as World War II loomed, Roosevelt delivered a speech calling for a “quarantine” of fascist aggression. He told the American people:
Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air.

In times of so-called peace, ships are being attacked and sunk by submarines without cause or notice. Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm.

Nations claiming freedom for themselves deny it to others. Innocent peoples, innocent nations, are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy which is devoid of all sense of justice and humane considerations.
Roosevelt was preparing for the implementation of his own imperialist aims, but his remarks nevertheless reflected an awareness of democratic principles that is wholly absent today.

His indictment of the crimes of the Nazi and fascist regimes could be applied virtually without alteration to the crimes of the Obama regime.

It has launched a war of aggression without congressional approval, much less the consent of the American people, “murders with bombs from the air” and takes sides in a civil war in a country that has done nothing to the US.

Americans will pay the price for this aggression through redoubled attacks on their living standards, social conditions and basic rights. The cost of the 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired in a matter of hours is well over $100 million.

The amount of wealth being squandered on the massive deployment of US warplanes and warships is far greater.

Not a word is raised about the costs of this operation, under conditions where politicians and the media endlessly declare that the government has no money and schools must be shut down, teachers fired, vital social programs drastically curtailed and the wages, pensions and health coverage of public employees slashed.

The struggle against war, smothered by the official “antiwar” movement dominated by ex-left protest groups that back Obama, can only be revived by a truly radical left movement against both the Democrats and Republicans and the capitalist system that is the source of militarism.

Libya: Is Imperial Occupation Next?

Source

According to Stratfor Global Intelligence, reports suggest "European and Egyptian special operations forces (are) deploying" near Benghazi.

Unconfirmed sources say 100 or so Egyptian commandos, in plainclothes, joined opposition rebels in early March, likely at Washington's behest.

UK SAS and US Special Forces as well as CIA operatives have been there for many weeks, maybe months as explained above and in earlier articles.

On March 22, the Israeli news site Debka.com said reports about "jubilant Libyan rebels encouraged by (cruise missile attacks) to resume their offensive against Qaddafi's forces Monday were misleading at best."

Rebels, in fact, have only one organized platoon, no match against government forces without supportive air strikes, as well as "American, British, French," and perhaps Egyptian and other Arab ground troops joining them.

"The rebels must therefore be satisfied with holding Benghazi downtown and a few sectors for as long as they can."

UN Resolution 1973 prohibits a "foreign occupation force." By implication, Western and Arab ones may invade but not stay once hostilities end.

Whether large numbers are coming remains conjecture. Given Washington's determination to remove Gaddafi, it's possible, perhaps even claim a reason to stay. Discount nothing when Washington arrives.

Short of killing him, whether Gaddafi falls isn't certain. Libya is very tribal. He has considerable support from half or more of them and the army.

They'll lose out if he's gone. As Stratfor explains, he "was very careful to reward his friends and hurt and weaken his enemies, (so) his supporters (are) substantial and motivated."

Rebel forces aren't "democratic, much less organized or cohesive." It's why Gaddafi routed them. In addition, no-fly zones alone are ineffective.

As a result, Saddam's removal took invasion and ground war. Expect it perhaps in Libya, again claiming "humanitarian intervention" with or without Security Council approval, what America prefers but isn't deterred without it.

Gaddafi didn't last 42 years by being stupid, "but rather because he speaks to a real and powerful dimension in Libya," and rewards the right people to support him. As a result, nothing ahead is certain. Gaddafi has everything to lose by defeat, including his life. It's incentive enough to hold on.

Whether "coalition" adhesion sticks as civilian casualties grow is unknown. Bomb and missile diplomacy only goes so far.

For sure, it doesn't make friends, especially in a region very uncomfortable about America's presence. Growing anger strongly objects to another Arab state's destruction and colonial takeover.

If he's well hunkered down, it may be what Gaddafi needs to survive. Then maybe not. No one knows for sure. After the Gulf War, Saddam lasted another 12 years. At age 68, matching him may be all Gaddafi needs.

The 'Benevolent' West Loses Its Way in the Sands of Libya

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Without cutting through the fog of war it's impossible to understand what's really going on in Libya.

The Libyan opposition is a motley crew of disaffected tribes, the well-meaning youth movement, civilian and military defectors from the Gaddafi regime, Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored assets (such as sinister former justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil), Muslim Brotherhood-related (and unrelated) Islamists, and monarchist Senussi tribesmen.

The Senussi is the top tribe in the Benghazi area; most of the keffiah-and-Kalashnikov "rebels" are Senussi, as was King Idris, overthrown by Gaddafi in 1969.

The Libyan transitional council now calls itself an "interim government" - although still committed, in its own words, to a unified Libya.

But partition cannot be ruled out - because historically Cyrenaica has always been at odds with Tripolitania. If Gaddafi can muster majority tribal support, the regime won't crumble.

All eyes will be on a "green march" now announced by the one million-strong al-Warfalla tribe, Libya's largest; they had defected to the opposition but now are eager to show their loyalty to Gaddafi.

There's no guarantee the February 17 Movement, the political force at the forefront of the Libyan revolt, with a democratic platform for human rights, a state of law and free and fair elections, will have the upper-hand in a post-Gaddafi environment.

The West will privilege a leadership speaking English, and cozy with Washington and European capitals. Preferably a pliable puppet. Oil may corrupt the new leadership to the core.

Add to it the spicy bit of news of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) - arguably yet one more CIA front - with its maximum of 800 jihadis, already supporting the "rebels".

No wonder Armageddon scenarios swirl. The fall of Gaddafi having the potential to produce another Afghanistan or another Iraq.

The agreement reached by Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is that NATO will play "a key role" in Odyssey Dawn. Translation; for all practical purposes NATO will be in charge.

The political leadership will fall to a "steering committee" of foreign ministers - an Anglo-French-American club with a sprinkling of Arab League. They are supposed to meet soon in Brussels, London or Paris.

Obama phoned Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and apparently convinced him about the arrangement - although in a speech to his ruling Justice and Development Party Erdogan said that Turkey "will never point a gun at the Libyan people".

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that since not all members of the military coalition are members of NATO "this is therefore not a NATO operation". Make no mistake; it is.

This "now you NATO, now you don't" war is roughly what Sarkozy wanted - a "heroic" platform to save his re-election in 2012. But the West's motivation, above all, tastes like oil.

Since Saudi Arabia is not on the market, Libya is a spectacular piece of real estate for the energy-hungry West; a giant gas station in the desert with very few people around.

The bulk of Libya's proven oil and gas reserves lie in "rebel" Cyrenaica. Oil and gas account for 25% of the economy, 97% of exports and 90% of government revenue. Sarkozy - as well as the West - fear a protracted war. France wants it to end now. Unlike Germany, Britain and Italy - they're already in - France is salivating to get a huge piece of the oil action.

There's absolutely nothing humanitarian about the current casino inside the EU and NATO.

The only thing that matters is the right positioning towards the post-Gaddafi era - the energy bonanza, geostrategic primacy in the Mediterranean and the Sahara-Sahel space, juicy business "reconstruction" opportunities.

So Western moral uprightness may be summed up like this. If you sell us a lot of oil, buy our weapons, and smash al-Qaeda, that's fine with us. You may even kill your own people, provided it's just dozens, not thousands.

That's how Saudi Arabia can get away with anything in the current counter-revolution climate, with the House of Saud pulling all stops to crush any measure of democratic aspirations in the Persian Gulf.

As for those regimes that kill perhaps thousands of their own people - and have oil, and threaten to sell the oil to the Russians or the Chinese, their destiny is to fight a UN/Tomahawk resolution.

The forces of counter-revolution are now joined at the hip with the West. Saudi Arabia's military will remain inside Bahrain.

The GCC legitimizes the Western war in Libya. The favorite Western endgame in Libya is divide and rule, and roll with the oil. Is the great 2011 Arab revolt about to crash-land in the desert sands?

Colonel Obama in Libya

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The Obama regime has launched another barbaric war against a largely defenseless country in the Middle East. It has ordered cruise missiles and bombs to be dropped on cities and installations across Libya, already leaving scores dead and hundreds wounded.

Few in the corporate-controlled media, which once again is lending its services as a propaganda arm of the Pentagon, have bothered to note that this new war has begun on the eighth anniversary of the “shock and awe” campaign that inaugurated the war in Iraq.

Having claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, that war continues to this day, with nearly 50,000 US troops still deployed on Iraqi soil.

Obama, who owed his November 2008 election largely to a cynical appeal to mass antiwar sentiment, has continued the Iraq war, escalated the war in Afghanistan and spread it into Pakistan, and carried out expanded military interventions in Somalia and Yemen.

Now, he has begun his own shock and awe campaign, and there is every reason to believe that the results will be just as catastrophic.

Obama’s claim that the US is merely assisting other nations in enforcing a United Nations resolution and carrying out a “limited military action” only underscores the cowardice, recklessness and hypocrisy of the Democratic administration in its headlong plunge into a new war of aggression.

His repeated vows that Washington “will not deploy any US troops on the ground” are worthless, as is his reported statement to aides and promise to US legislators that the US attack on Libya will be over in “a matter of days, not weeks.”

In such irresponsible rhetoric one finds an echo of the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, who on the eve of the Iraq war assured the media: “I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.

The logic of waging a war aimed at crippling and removing an existing regime is inexorable. The imperialist power carrying out such an attack is driven to fashion a new regime more to its liking.

The results in Afghanistan and Iraq are plain to see: the revival of colonialism, endless war aimed at crushing the resistance of the occupied population, the elevation of political Frankenstein monsters like Karzai and Maliki.

Apologists for the Obama regime, many of them part of the pseudo-left, insist that the present war cannot be compared to those launched under Bush.

In this case, we are told, the aims are purely humanitarian, to protect the Libyan people. It's a war sanctioned by the United Nations and even requested by the Arab League. Here we supposedly have the multilateralist “Obama doctrine” in contrast to the unilateralist “Bush doctrine.”

All of this is so much crap. The scale and savagery of the bombing—attacking tanks, troops and urban targets as well as far-flung military installations—have already belied the assurances that military action would be limited to protecting civilian populations.

Libya: America's Tyranny Continues

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Make no mistake. Another Washington-led resource war targets Libya's riches, besides wanting new US base locations for greater regional dominance.

America doesn't covet regional sun, sand and sea. "Humanitarian intervention" is a lie. So are notions about peace, not war, liberation, equity, justice, and other democratic values. Washington tolerates none of them abroad or at home, plundering the world roguishly.

All US presidents are war criminals. Obama is one of the worst, doubling Bush's lawlessness, adding Pakistan and Libya aggression to Iraq and Afghanistan, spending $1.5 trillion annually for militarism plus multi-trillion dollar handouts to Wall Street crooks, while pleading poverty to cut essential homeland social benefits.

As a result, it's no exaggeration saying America is on a fast-track to tyranny and ruin. It's no longer a fit place to live in. Young people have a choice - leave or be exploited, a shocking indictment of a corrupted, declining, lawless nation.

Waging wars at home and/or abroad every year in its history, a permanent war agenda has been policy since WW II.

Historians Charles Beard and Gore Vidal called it "perpetual war for perpetual peace," at all times concealing the real agenda.

As a result, since WW II, America's been a global menace, today calling "terrorism" the main threat. In fact, it's bogus nonsense to justify militarism, homeland repression, imperial wars, wanton destruction, and lawless killings, heading the nation for moral, political and economic ruin.

3/22/11

Will They Notice My Absence?

Where will I be when they revive this century? What's your chance of lasting?

I'm mortal, you say. I don't care what happens after life.

Nor do I enjoy the height of anticipation.

You can't help but think. They'll notice my absence.

The Text Starts Here

Libya: The Hegemon Strikes Again

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As reigning hegemon and maintainer of global political “stability” (the euphemistic justification given for its military empire) the United States, in the words of the President, “cannot stand idly by” while events in Libya unfold.

The story goes on to relay the administration’s assurance that United States military efforts in the country will “only last for a few days,” that the American role is supplementary and based in its “unique capabilities.”

Certainly the U.S. military’s capacity for exacting death and destruction around the world — with the help of its lesser collaborators — is “unique,” extending into virtually every region of the globe.

On the other hand, as the most recent case of the United States’s signature interventionism, Libya is hardly “unique” or unexampled in the world, standing as a typical rather than aberrant sample of U.S. foreign policy.

As a social theory that urges the replacement of the state with voluntary, consensual relationships between free individuals, free market anarchism calls for non-interventionism as a matter of course.

As a logical implication of its more fundamental plea for the complete absence of violent, state interference in individuals’ lives, free market anarchism treats America’s busybody wars not as peacekeeping missions, but as maneuvers to promote the interests of a state capitalist elite.

Although, for the great majority of those whose lives it touches, the U.S. war machine is force for grisly devastation.

Indeed, for the “terror” it so devotedly fulminates against — it actually does represent a stabilizing force through its strafes of places like Libya.

What it stabilizes, though, are the mechanisms of power through which the American economic and political ruling class exploits productive people both here and abroad.

Popularly-motivated unrest in places like Libya, a country that for years isolated itself from the global system imposed by the U.S., provides an auspicious entry point for “the American way.”

But the American creed carried by the armed forces is not that of individual and community autonomy and the reward of labor.

Instead, what policy elites like Hilary Clinton mean by “stop[ping] further violence against civilians” is no more than discontinuing Gadhafi’s oppression of civilians in favor of America’s (through, of course, the installment of a pliable puppet government).

The Newspeak variety of “stability” is therefore just an innocuous-sounding laminate for the overriding need to give economic elites access to valuable resources such as, for instance, Libyan oil.

That need, rather than just the fulfillment of some paternalistic but purportedly humanitarian desire to “protect” the Libyan people from tyrants, drives the American brand of imperialism.

Libya & The West's Hypocrisy

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Yet another imperialist military intervention has begun. The US-sponsored NATO operation has been launched ostensibly to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces from attacking its people.

This direct interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, the biggest intervention since the military occupation of Iraq, comes under the sanction of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

This zealotry betrays imperialism's eagerness to retain its hegemonic control over the oil-rich region and prevent any realignment of forces that could be detrimental to its interests.

The region has proven, accumulative reserves of 103.2 billion tonnes of residual fuel oil in 2009, or 55.6% of the proven total global oil reserves.

Imperialism's double standards become clear with the US-inspired Saudi Arabian military intervention in Bahrain to prop up the Khalifa, opposed by the people seeking better standards of livelihood, human rights and democracy.

In Libya, imperialism seeks a regime change while in Bahrain, it seeks to sustain the autocratic Khalifa family that has lorded it over the country since 1783. Both interventions are ironically in the name of protecting the people.

The reason for such dichotomy is not far to seek. Bahrain is home to the US navy's fifth fleet and has been a steadfast ally. Libya, on the other hand, is not such a firm ally.

Further, Libyan oil reserves and the ocean of fossil water reserves on which its deserts lie today have the potential of more lucrative profits than oil. A regime change here could well be to imperialism's advantage, while in Bahrain it is not.

Behind these military interventions lie the basic geo-political interests of imperialism in the region. Its post-World War I history is replete with occupations aimed at controlling its energy resources.

Post World War II, in an effort to reverse the gains of de-colonisation, the US intervened to topple the democratically-elected regime in Iran and foist a pliant one.

On the one hand, its propping up of Israel, military aggressiveness against Arab countries, denying Palestinians their homeland and on the other, the propping up of client regimes through massive military and 'aid' programmes, ensured imperialism's hegemonic control over the region.

War on Libya: Dire Consequences

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If Gaddafi is toppled, he - or whatever is left of his forces - could unleash a bloody civil war replete with guerrilla tactics and savage murders and mutilations of civilians.

Over time, the carnage could rival that in Rwanda; the conflict would take on a life of its own and would either force the foreign powers out in a humiliating defeat (something similar happened to the Americans in Somalia in 1993) or keep them busy, and bleeding, for a long time.

He could strike deep inside Europe and the United States, for example by organizing and financing terror attacks. This is also something he is skilled at, he is wealthy enough to be able to do it, and he has already threatened instability in the entire Mediterranean.

However, he probably would not need to use the doomsday contingency plans. Wars are fought over perceptions; the outcome of a war is decided not so much on the battlefield as in the minds and hearts of observers.

Gaddafi has already started playing a masterful ceasefire game, and he is cultivating several narratives that he could use, as needed, in order to frame the situation favorably at a later moment.

The war over perceptions is a tricky endeavor, and the international coalition's failure to formulate realistic goals will prove costly.

For now, all Gaddafi needs to do to win is survive - especially since Obama has ordered him to go. This echoes the situation in Iraq in 1991, when Saddam was perceived by many as a winner in Operation Desert Storm, simply because he beat the expectations and was able to stay in power.

He has a good chance to survive anything short of a ground incursion by foreign forces.

His forces have demonstrated that they retain considerable strength and loyalty to the regime. That means that even with coalition air strikes taking out armor and artillery, there will still be forces loyal to Gadhafi inside any urban center the rebels might encounter in a westward advance.

This means that the rebels would be forced to fight a dedicated force dug into built up areas while operating on extended lines, a difficult tactical and operational challenge for even a coherent and proficient military force.

So even though the coalition air strikes have since shifted the military balance, the fundamental challenges for the rebels to organize and orchestrate a coherent military offensive remain unchanged.

At a later stage, once the civilian casualties and the costs of the foreign military campaign mount, Gaddafi would probably go on the offensive and claim that the intervention has violated its own raison d'etre - to save the lives of civilians. In this respect, Sunday's Arab League statement was a very positive sign for him.

He can play the victim by pointing out that his offers of a ceasefire was ignored. He made two such offers - one on Friday, which he claimed the rebels violated, and one on Sunday, a day after the aerial campaign started.

The coalition forces promptly played into his hands by ignoring the offer and proceeding to bomb a building in his residential compound in Tripoli on Sunday night (at least 300 of his supporters, many of them women and children, were reported nearby, but early Monday morning there was no word of casualties).

He would then proceed to portray himself as a brave leader of a popular struggle against colonialism.

He has already started to work on this image, for example by claiming that the West cares for nothing but Libyan oil, and has had spectacular success.

It probably would not take a huge blunder by the Western-led coalition for the BRIC Brazil, Russia, India, China countries to offer him diplomatic support. Not only that, but some of his loudest former critics, for example Iran, have started to take an anti-Western stance.