Saturday, 23 July 2011

Libya War Lies Worse Than Iraq

By Thomas C. Mountain

July 23, 2011 "Information Clearing House" --- Asmara, Eritrea: The lies used to justify the NATO war against Libya have surpassed those created to justify the invasion of Iraq. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both had honest observers on the ground for months following the rebellion in eastern Libya and both have repudiated every major charge used to justify the NATO war on Libya.

According to the Amnesty observer, who is fluent in Arabic, there is not one confirmed instance of rape by the pro-Gadaffi fighters, not even a doctor who knew of one. All the Viagra mass rape stories were fabrications.

Amnesty could not verify a single “African mercenary” fighting for Gaddafi story, and the highly charged international satellite television accounts of African mercenaries raping women that were used to panic much of the eastern Libyan population into fleeing their homes were fabrications.

There were no confirmed accounts of helicopter gun ships attacking civilians and no jet fighters bombing people which completely invalidates any justification for the No-Fly Zone inSecurity Council resolution used as an excuse for NATO to launch its attacks on Libya.

After three months on the ground in rebel controlled territory, the Amnesty investigator could only confirm 110 deaths in Benghazi which included Gadaffi supporters.

Only 110 dead in Benghazi? Wait a minute, we were told thousands had died there, ten thousand even. No, only 110 lost their lives including pro-government people.

No rapes, no African mercenaries, no helicopter gun ships or bombers, and only 110 ten deaths prior to the launch of the NATO bombing campaign, every reason was based on a lie.

Today according to the Libyan Red Crescent Society, over 1,100 civilians have been killed by NATO bombs including over 400 women and children. Over 6,000 Libyan civilians have been injured or wounded by the bombing, many very seriously.

Compared to the war on Iraq, these numbers are tiny, but the reasons for the Libyan war have no merit in any form.

Saddam Hussein was evil, he invaded his neighbors in wars that killed up to a million. He used Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) in the form of poison gas on both his neighbors and his own people, killing tens of thousands. He was brutal and corrupt and when American tanks rolled into Iraq the Iraqi people refused to fight for him, simply put their weapons down and went home.

Libya under Col. Gadaffi hasn’t invaded their neighbors. Gadaffi never used WMD’s on anyone, let alone his own people. As for Gadaffi being brutal, in Libya’s neighbor Algeria, the Algerian military fought a counterinsurgency for a decade in the 1990’s that witnessed the deaths of some 200,000 Algerians. Now that is brutal and nothing anywhere near this has happened in Libya.

In Egypt and Tunisia, western puppets like Mubarak and Ben Ali had almost no support amongst their people with few if anyone willing to fight and die to defend them.

The majority of the Libyan people are rallying behind the Libyan government and “the leader”, Muammar Gadaffi, with over one million people demonstrating in support on July 1 in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Thousands of Libyan youth are on the front lines fighting the rebels and despite thousands of NATO air strikes authentic journalists on the ground in western Libya report their morale remains high.

In Egypt the popular explosion that resulted in the Army seizing power from Mubarak began in the very poorest neighborhoods in Cairo and other Egyptian cities where the price of basic food items like bread, sugar and cooking oil had skyrocketed and lead to widespread hunger. In many parts of Egypt's poor neighborhoods gasoline/benzene is easier to find then clean drinking water. Medical care and education is only for those with the money to pay for it. Life for the people of Tunisia is not that much better.

In contrast, the Libyan people have the longest life expectancy in the Arab world. The Libyan people have the best, free public health system in the Arab world. The Libyan people have the best, free public education system in the Arab world. Most Libyan families own their own home and most Libyan families own their own automobile. Libya is so much better off then its neighbors every year tens of thousands of Egyptians and Tunisians migrated to Libya to earn money to feed their families, doing the dirty work the Libyan people refused to do.

When it comes to how Gadaffi oversaw a dramatic rise in the standard of living for the Libyan people despite decades of UN inSecurity Council sanctions against the Libyan economy honest observers acknowledge that Gadaffi stands head and shoulders above the kings, sheiks, emirs and various dictators who rule the rest of the Arab world.

So why did NATO launch this war against Libya?

First of all Gadaffi was on the verge of creating a new banking system in Africa that was going to put the IMF, World Bank and assorted other western banksters out of business in Africa. No more predatory western loans used to cripple African economies, instead a $42 billion dollar African Investment Bank would be supplying major loans at little or even zero interest rates.

LIbya has funded major infrastructure projects across Africa that have begun to link up African economies and break the perpetual dependency on the western countries for imports have been taking place. Here in Eritrea the new road connecting Eritrea and Sudan is just one small example.

What seem to have finally tipped the balance in favor of direct western military intervention was the reported demand by Gadaffi that the USA oil companies who have long been major players in the Libyan petroleum industry were going to have to compensate Libya to the tune of tens of billions of dollars for the damage done to the Libyan economy by the USA instigated “Lockerbie Bombing” sanctions imposed by the UN inSecurity Council throughout the 1990’s into early 2000’s. This is based on the unearthing of evidence that the CIA paid millions of dollars to witnesses in the Lockerbie Bombing trial to change their stories to implicate Libya which was used as the basis for the very damaging UN sanctions against Libya. The government of the USA lied and damaged Libya so the USA oil companies were going to have to pay up to cover the cost of their governments actions. Not hard to see why Gadaffi had to go isn't it?

Add the fact that Gadaffi had signaled clearly that he saw both Libya’s and Africa’s future economic development linked more to China and Russia rather than the west and it was just a matter of time before the CIA’s contingency plan to overthrow the Libyan government was put on the front burner.

NATO’s war against Libya has much more in common with NATO’s Kosovo war against Serbia. But one still cannot compare Gadaffi to Saddam or even the much smaller time criminals in the Serbian leadership. The Libyan War lies are worse than Iraq.

Thomas C. Mountain - Asmara, Eritrea - thomascmountain at yahoo dot com - Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He was a member of the 1st US Peace Delegation to Libya in 1987 .

Thursday, 14 July 2011

'MMT' economics

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A reader emails about (a) Chris Hedges film review and (b) economics

Posted by The Editors [User Info] on July 13, 2011, 9:33 am

Hi David & David,

Many thanks, as ever for your brilliant & incisive work. It must be tough but please keep going!

Two items, the first maybe a little off-piste for your mainly UK focus, but I came across the following written by Chris Hedges (himself a foreign correspondent of the NY Times for 15yrs), highly critical of a recent film ‘Page One:Inside The New York Times’

“The Times, like Harvard University, where I attended graduate school, is one of the country’s most elite and exclusive institutions. Its ethos can be best summed up with the phrase “You are lucky to be here.” That huge numbers of people at The Times, as at Harvard, buy into this institutional hubris makes the paper, where I spent 15 years—nearly all of them, thankfully, as a foreign correspondent a few thousand miles from the newsroom—a fear-ridden and oppressive place to work. The Times newsroom, like most corporate nerve centers, is a labyrinth of intrigue, gossip, back-biting, rumor, false piety, rampant ambition, betrayal and deception. Those who play this game well are repugnant. They are also usually the people who run the place.
When you allow an institution to provide you with your identity and sense of self-worth you become an obsequious pawn, no matter how much talent you possess. You live in perpetual fear of what those in authority think of you and might do to you. This mechanism of internalized control—for you always need them more than they need you—is effective. The rules of advancement at the paper are never clearly defined or written down. Careerists pay lip service to the stated ideals of the institution, which are couched in lofty rhetoric about balance, impartiality and neutrality, but astutely grasp the actual guiding principle of the paper, which is: Do not significantly alienate the corporate and political power elite on whom the institution depends for access and money. Those who master this duplicitous game do well. Those who cling tenaciously to a desire to tell the truth, even at a cost to themselves and the institution, become a management problem. This creates tremendous friction within the paper. I knew reporters with a conscience who would arrive at the paper and vomit in the restroom from nervous tension before starting work. “
Hope that’s of interest to you, if you weren’t already aware of it.

The second item is about the global financial crisis, and the disastrous ‘policies’ (if one can dignify them as such) to supposedly resolve the situation.

Now, macroeconomics is complex & can be highly counter intuitive, so this isn’t an easy story to get a grip on. I’m an engineer by qualification, but have studied some basic economics in an MBA program some years ago & it’s taken me a couple of months to reach a good level of confidence in what I’m about to tell you.

I appreciate that this is likely to be seriously outside your scope of work. But it is a story of such far reaching importance to humanity & our continuing existence in the face of the imminent (ecological & resource) sustainability crisis, that I know you care about, that I believe you would want to be aware of it.

You may be aware that at the core of the global financial crash, & its ongoing problems, is a financial sector that has become huge in relation to the ‘real’ economy of goods, services & jobs, and effectively out of control & in large parts indeed criminal. Essentially a parasitical casino that passes it’s losses onto the real economy whenever its bets go bad & it crashes.

Read anything by Michael Hudson, Ass Prof of Economics with the University of Missouri, Kansas City, to get a grasp of the underlying ‘political economy’.

But there is more, much more. It turns out that the entire academic basis of mainstream macroeconomic thinking is bogus. Nearly every prominent economist, including people like Krugman & Stiglitz (Nobel Prize economists, generally sympathetic toward ordinary citizens) ignore glaring mathematical, logical & accounting untruths, factual inconsistencies (not matters of ‘opinion’) in their work.

The effect of this is profound. Not only is there needless suffering thru’ massive unemployment & devastated vital public services, but the urgent effort & investment, minimal as it was, to transform our economies to sustainability, particularly away from fossil fuels, is being hampered & delayed.

There is no reason for this whatsoever. No impediments, technically or financially – period. The world is +not+, I repeat +not+, ‘credit’ constrained in investing in a sustainable future of prosperity. To say otherwise is a lie perpetrated on a vast scale by the vested interests of a bloated & parasitic financial sector & the unbelievable ignorance & conformity of the mainstream economics profession & media commentators. If you thought the herd mentality of the media was bad, that of economics thinking is off the charts.

The solution & the key to understanding what amounts to this intellectual fraud, lies in a school of economic thinking which takes Keynsian ideas a stage further & has been recently termed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). It also owes much historically to a theory known as Chartalism.

Probably the biggest lie perpetuated ad nauseam by politicians & media, and uncorrected by economists, is equating the macroeconomic & fiscal policy of a sovereign (‘fiat’) currency state (like UK, US & many others) with the financial management of a household or business. They are diametrically different. One is a currency issuer, the other a currency user, and the use of common terms like ‘defecit’ to imply the same meaning in either situation is fraudulent.

Anyhow, I wanted to make you aware of this. I suspect you believe as I do that humanity requires a ‘holistic’ solution to what is essentially its impending existential challenge. Because if we do not also change the basis of money, as our means of value exchange, & the economic & fiscal policy that flows from it, reforms to politics, democracy and media will not ultimately succeed.

Not a small thing to suggest, I know, but the midst of a global financial crisis represents a major opportunity for change & wider public awareness of the issues.

It is only recently that ‘MMT’ advocates, as yet a mere handful of academic economists, but usefully a few commercial finance ‘insiders’ as well, have begun (somewhat in frustration of their peers) to try to reach out & promote these ideas to a wider public audience. There is virtually no single location to go to find a comprehensive &, in lay terms, well explained source of information. But this resource list is very good, & has links to near all of the advocates’ blogs:

The book referred to there is available as a free download from the author’s site here:

“Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy”

(I doubt that Mosler believes these ‘frauds’ are ‘innocent’ at the upper levels of the financial hierarchy any more than I do, but he is trying to engage astonishingly blinkered peers as best he can.)

Note that much of the material discusses the US economy & currency, but is directly applicable to the UK & indeed in many important aspects to the Eurozone, if one considers member states somewhat similar to semi-autonomous regions of a nation state..

As I’ve suggested, economics is not an easy (or very intuitive) subject, hugely important tho’ it is. It may not be something you don’t personally have much time to delve into, but perhaps, in conversation, you come across honest enquirers into this topic? It might do immeasurable good to point them in the direction of MMT!

I will leave you with that famous quote by banker Mayer Amschel Rothschild

“Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”

Best wishes,

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Hacking the phones of relatives of dead soldiers ain’t that bad.

The media frenzy over the NotW’s crimes is serving the ‘respectable’ media very well. They are reacting with ‘horror’ that bereaved relatives’ phones have been hacked. But they themselves have participated in an infinitely greater crime: they colluded in causing the deaths of those soldiers in the first place (and in the death and misery of millions of foreigners); they chose not to challenge government lies and spin (e.g. 'WMD') and instead joined the chorus of warmongers (The Observer, for example, is particularly notable in this respect).

There is actually a good public-interest case to be made for hacking bereaved relatives’ phones:

The problem is that the words of bereaved relatives are only ever given exposure when they serve the official narrative – government/media like to hear from relatives when those relatives’ words ‘celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of our boys in a noble cause’.

The public interest in hacking phones could be in revealing messages such as: ‘I’m so angry. I told Jonny he mustn’t sign-up. I told him they would make him waste his life in some pointless war. ‘Told-you-so’ is an awful feeling when you’ve lost your son.’

Friday, 1 July 2011

Libya: Unending American hostility

The Anti-Empire Report

July 1st, 2011
by William Blum
Libya: Unending American hostility

If I could publicly ask our beloved president one question, it would be this: "Mr. President, in your short time in office you've waged war against six countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. This makes me wonder something. With all due respect: What is wrong with you?"

The American media has done its best to dismiss or ignore Libyan charges that NATO/US missiles have been killing civilians (the people they're supposedly protecting), at least up until the recent bombing "error" that was too blatant to be covered up. But who in the mainstream media has questioned the NATO/US charges that Libya was targeting and "massacring" Libyan civilians a few months ago, which, we've been told, is the reason for the Western powers attacks? Don't look to Al Jazeera for such questioning. The government of Qatar, which owns the station, has a deep-seated animosity toward Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and was itself a leading purveyor of the Libyan "massacre" stories, as well as playing a military role in the war against Tripoli. Al Jazeera's reporting on the subject has been so disgraceful I've stopped looking at the station.

Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister of France, which has been the leading force behind the attacks on Libya, spoke at the Brookings Institution in Washington on June 7. After his talk he was asked a question from the audience by local activist Ken Meyercord:

"An American observer of events in Libya has commented: 'The evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.' That comment was made by Richard Haass, President of our Council on Foreign Relations. If Mr. Haass is right, and he's a fairly knowledgeable fellow, then what NATO has done in Libya is attack a country that wasn't threatening anyone; in other words, aggression. Are you at all concerned that as NATO deals more and more death and destruction on the people of Libya that the International Criminal Court may decide that you and your friends in the Naked Aggression Treaty Organization should be prosecuted rather than Mr. Gaddafi?"

Monsieur Juppé then stated, without attribution, somebody's estimate that 15,000 Libyan civilians had been killed by pro-Gaddafi forces. To which Mr. Meyercord replied: "So where are the 15,000 bodies?" M. Juppé failed to respond to this, although in the tumult caused bt the first question, it was not certain that he had heard the second one. (For a counter-view of the Libyan "massacre" stories, see this video.)

It should be noted that, as of June 30, NATO had flown 13,184 air missions (sorties) over Libya, 4,963 of which are described as strike sorties. You can find the latest figures on the Allied Command Operations website.

If any foreign power fired missiles at the United States would Barack Obama regard that as an act of war? If the US firing hundreds of missiles at Libya is not an act of war, as Obama insists (to avoid having to declare war as required by US law), then the deaths resulting from the missile attacks are murder. That's it. It's either war or murder. To the extent there's a difference between the two.

It should be further noted that since Gaddafi came to power in 1969 there has virtually never been a sustained period when the United States has been prepared to treat him and the many positive changes he's instituted in Libya and Africa with any respect. For a history of this hostility, including the continual lies and scare campaigns, see my Libya chapter in Killing Hope.