Andrew Gavin Marshall

Home » Africa (Page 2)

Category Archives: Africa

Advertisements
Advertisements

An Empire of Poverty: Race, Punishment, and Social Control

An Empire of Poverty: Race, Punishment, and Social Control

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

NOTE: The following is a brief sampling of some of the concepts, ideas, issues, and events that are to be thoroughly researched and written about in two chapters of The People’s Book Project which will be funded through The People’s Grant, of which the objective is to raise $1,600 from readers and supporters. If you find the information in the following sampling of interest, please donate to the People’s Book Project and help facilitate expanded research on these and other related subjects into constructing two significant chapters for the book. For a look at what other information will be included in these chapters, see the latest information on The People’s Grant.

Contribute to The People’s Grant:

Slavery and the Social Construction of Race

Between 1619 and 1860, the American legal system, from that imposed by the British Empire to that constructed following the American Revolution, “expanded and protected the liberties of white Americans – while at the same time the legal process became increasingly more harsh as to the masses of blacks, with a steady contraction of their liberties.” This process marked the ‘social construction’ of race and with it, racial superiority and inferiority, delegated to whites and blacks, respectively.[1] Interesting to note was that between 1619 and the 1660s, the American colonial legal system was “far more supportive for blacks; or, phrased differently, the early legal process was less harsh.” Georgia’s original charter, in fact, had three prohibitions: no alcohol, no free land titles, “and no Negro slaves.” In Virginia, as late as 1672 and 1673, there were legal records of some slaves “serving limited terms as indentured servants rather than being sentenced to the eternity of slavery.”[2]

The colonies in the Americas required a massive labour force, “Between 1607 and 1783, more than 350,000 ‘white’ bond-labourers arrived in the British colonies.”[3] The Americas had both un-free blacks and whites, with blacks being a minority, yet they “exercised basic rights in law.”[4] Problems arrived in the form of elites trying to control the labour class. Slaves were made up of Indian, black and white labourers; yet, problems arose with this “mixed” population of un-free labour. The problem with Indian labourers was that they knew the land and could escape to “undiscovered” territory, and enslavement would often instigate rebellions and war:

The social costs of trying to discipline un-free native labour had proved too high. Natives would eventually be genocidally eliminated, once population settlement and military power made victory more or less certain; for the time being, however, different sources of bond labour had to be found.[5]

Between 1607 and 1682, more than 90,000 European immigrants, “three-quarters of them chattel bond-labourers, were brought to Virginia and Maryland.” Following the “establishment of the Royal African Company in 1672, a steady supply of African slaves was secured.” Problems became paramount, however, as the lower classes tended to be very rebellious, which consisted of “an amalgam of indentured servants and slaves, of poor whites and blacks, of landless freemen and debtors.” The lower classes were united in opposition to the elites oppressing them, regardless of background.[6]

Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 was of particular note, as bond-labourers, black and white, rebelled against the local elites and “demanded freedom from chattel servitude.” For the colonialists, “[s]uch images of a joint uprising of black and white, slave and bondsman, proved traumatic. In the face of a united rebellion of the lower orders, the planter bourgeoisie understood that their entire system of colonial exploitation and privilege was at risk.”[7]

In response to this threat, the landed elite “relaxed the servitude of white labourers, intensified the bonds of black slavery, and introduced a new regime of racial oppression. In doing so, they effectively created the white race – and with it white supremacy.”[8] Thus, “the conditions of white and black servants began to diverge considerably after 1660.” Following this, legislation would separate white and black slavery, prevent “mixed” marriages, and seek to prevent the procreation of “mixed-race” children. Whereas before 1660, many black slaves were not indentured for life, this changed as colonial law increasingly “imposed lifetime bondage for black servants – and, especially significant, the curse of lifetime servitude for their offspring.”[9]

A central feature of the social construction of this racial divide was “the denial of the right to vote,” as most Anglo-American colonies previously allowed free blacks to vote, but this slowly changed throughout the colonies. The ruling class of America was essentially “inventing race.” Thus, “[f]reedom was increasingly identified with race, not class.”[10]

The ‘Reconstruction’ of Slavery in Post-Civil War America

Important to note has been the ways in which slaves were used as the main labour force, and thus blacks were identified and being sustained as a lower-class labour force. Following the Civil War, abolition of slavery and the Reconstruction Period, there were coordinated moves – a ‘compact’ – between the North and South in the United States, to devise a way of keeping blacks as a submissive labour force, and one which was confined to a new form of slavery: penal slavery. Thus, we see emerging in the 1870s and into the 20th century, a rapid expansion of prisons, and with that, of southern penal systems using prisoners as forced labour. This new legal system, which was “far less rigid than slavery,” had been referred to as “involuntary servitude,” and, wrote one scholar, “was a fluid, flexible affair which alternated between free and forced labor in time to the rhythm of the southern labor market.”[11]

A famous American botanist and agricultural editor of the Weekly News and Courier wrote in 1865 that, “There must… be stringent laws to control the negroes, & require them to fulfill their contracts of labour on the farms.” Southern legislatures, then, began to enact what were referred to as Black Codes, “designed to preserve white hegemony.”[12] The 12-year period following the end of the Civil War, known as the ‘Reconstruction,’ saw the continued struggle of newly-freed blacks to attempt to break free from being “forced back under the political and economic domination of the large landowners,” and to do so, they were demanding land ownership rights to the tune of “40 acres and a mule.” This was, of course, unacceptable to vested interests. While the Republic Party had freed the slaves, the main core of the Party had become dominated by Northern wealthy interests, and “were unwilling to press for thoroughgoing reform, and by 1877 had become convinced that their interests were better served by an alliance with Southern white conservatives than the largely illiterate and destitute ex-slave population.” In the North at this time, the captains of industry and kings of capital (the bankers and industrialists) were waging a continued war against organized and increasingly radicalized labour. Thus, there was very little interest in seeking to enfranchise black labour in the South. As the New York Times suggested, the demands for “40 acres and a mule” hit at “the fundamental relation of industry to capital,” and “strikes at the root of all property rights in both sections. It concerns Massachusetts quite as much as Mississippi.”[13]

The legal system was used to essentially criminalize black life, without making specific references to race, laws that were passed specifically targeted blacks in attempting to limit their mobility, the price of their labour, and to make several aspects of typical black southern life to be deemed “criminal.” This process was paralleled in South Africa in the construction of the apartheid system. As one historian wrote:

Prior to the 1860s, neither the South nor South Africa had an extensive history of large-scale imprisonment or of hiring out prison labour to private contractors. Before the Civil War, slave-owners had punished their own slaves. African Americans accounted for less than 1 per cent of Alabama’s pre-war prison population; the bulk of the 200-300 inmates of the first penitentiary built in 1841 comprised, as in northern prisons, mostly of newly-arrived European immigrants.[14]

Many of the South’s prisons were destroyed during the Civil War, and thus, as the Black Codes were subsequently enacted, legislation was increasingly passed which aimed to facilitate the leasing of convicts to private contractors, and as a result, there was little need to rebuild the prison infrastructure; instead, have prisoners build the new infrastructure of an industrializing South, with the convict population from the 1870s onward largely being leased to farmers and railroad contractors, which saved state revenues from building new prisons as well as procuring revenue. In 1874, the governor of Alabama had complained about spending $100,000 on convicts, and within two years of leasing out Alabama’s inmates to private contractors, he boasted of a $15,000 profit. Thus, prisons would never “be anything but a source of immense revenue to the state.” Largely the same process was undertaken in South Africa to secure labour for the diamond mines run by the De Beers Company.[15] As William Worger wrote of the dual development of the American South and South African convict labour systems:

[C]apitalists in both areas establishing new industries and constrained by expensive capital, high fixed costs for plant and operations, and competitive struggles for market share, viewed convict labour as essential to the introduction of machine production, the defeat of organized labour, and the overall cheapening of the costs of production… [I]n both cases the state, when viewed in its local and regional rather than national and metropolitan manifestations, enthusiastically supported the leasing of convicts to private employers… because of the enormous financial benefits to their administrations of selling prison labour… and because imprisonment with hard labour in industrial enterprises offered a means to ‘discipline’ (in the discourse of the South) and to ‘civilise’ (in that of British colonialism) African Americans and Africans convicted on the basis of their race for acts – such as petty theft and burglary… that would not have resulted in lengthy terms of incarceration for whites… [In both cases] convict labour was used to divide and defeat organized labour and to enable employers to segregate the workplace on the basis of race.[16]

Migration, Housing, and Organizing Ghettos

It was no coincidence that each of these convict labour systems emerged in the context and circumstances of the development of Jim Crow segregation laws in the South and official apartheid in South Africa. At the same time as this was taking place in the South, massive migration of blacks from the South to the North began, concurrently with a period of radical labour militancy and class crisis. As such, this era saw the development of the ghettoes in major Northern cities “as a space of containment in urban areas.” The harsh legal racism, segregation, and cultural hatred of blacks in the South also spurred the migration to Northern cities. Between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,723 reported lynchings of African Americans, 90% of which took place in the Deep South. Between 1910 and 1960, roughly 5 million African Americans migrated to the North, Midwest, and Northeast. As Eduardo Mendieta wrote:

It is significant that the process of northern urbanization takes place in tandem with the process of racial gentrification. This racial gentrification is overseen by the state itself through its housing policies. These policies ensure that the poor and colored are concentrated in the dilapidated and poorly serviced urban centers while wealthy whites… are granted the license and funding to flee to the suburbs. In other words, the development of the ghetto has to be seen in tandem with the suburbanization of the US… An overview of the different agencies and acts used by Congress to regulate housing policies and availability reveals that the government conspired to segregate through its loaning practices, and actually participated in the very act of destroying housing that was and could have been available to African Americans and poor people in the inner cities.[17]

In fact, amazingly, “the government [had] destroyed more low-incoming housing than it actually built.” This process had extended right into the post-World War II period. Between 1960 and 1977, “as the number of whites living in suburbs increased by 22 million… the inner-city African-American population grew by 6 million.” Kenneth T. Jackson wrote, “American housing policy was not only devoid of social objectives, but instead helped establish the basis for social inequities. Uncle Sam was not impartial, but instead contributed to the general disbenefit of the cities and to the general prosperity of the suburbs.”[18]

Most American ghettos first came into existence just as economic inequalities were reaching “new heights” in the 1920s in the midst of the long-worn battle between industrialists and organized labour. At this time, racial segregation was increasingly a global phenomenon, when imperial and national states were implementing social and geographical forms of segregation “by equating urban problems such as ‘vice’, crime, disease and social unrest with blacks and other people of color and suggesting urban division as a means to solve these problems.” As Carl H. Nightingale wrote in the Journal of Urban History:

In the United States, this global “racial urbanism” informed the actions of the white homeowners, realtors, and banks that transformed an urban landscape marked by scattered minority-black enclaves into one of the large-scale segregated majority-black communities we know as ghettos. These first ghettos were also marked by the founding of separate black-run institutions that served their residents.[19]

The second phase of ghettoization in the United States occurred with the Great Depression, New Deal, and World War II-era, a time in which there was a continued growth of northward migration of black Americans to the industrial cities. In this context, the New Deal’s Home Owner’s Loan Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration “instituted highly discriminatory housing policies… [which] were aggravated by similarly racially biased urban renewal, public housing, and transportation policies, which not only solidified the boundaries of ghettos but also pushed them outward from downtown.”[20]

The third major phase of ghetto reform came about as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. Working with a major Civil Rights organization, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Ford Foundation sought to “organize the ghetto” through a program aimed at “making working-class blacks a decipherable and controllable constituency,” and thus:

[The Ford] foundation sought black leaders who could be brought into the establishment fold and could engineer orderly change in the ghetto. Having found a model to control the black community by containing it… the Ford Foundation would use its experience with CORE in Cleveland as a base to complete its vision for African Americans in a post-civil rights America.[21]

A national housing program, organized around new public-private partnerships which would benefit the elite class, was developed to create housing for the poor. The development of this plan – the Rockefeller Program – was the most controversial of the initiatives under the 1968 housing legislation, which placed “little emphasis on expanding homeownership opportunities,” and instead, stressed “the importance of involving private enterprises in the rebuilding of cities and make use of tax incentives to encourage such involvement.” The interesting features of the Rockefeller Program, implemented under New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, were that it contemplated “that government will sponsor, develop, construct, and possibly manage the housing project,” and while the “actual construction work will be done by private firms as contractors… it is government which is to rebuild the slums.” Thus, the “incentives to enlist the active involvement of the private sector are not directly related to the task of rebuilding the slums, except insofar as they enable private enterprise to participate in the profits which will accrue.”[22]

The Rockefeller Foundation itself had a significant impact upon the changing focus of urban design. As Peter L. Laurence wrote, “between 1955 and 1965, the Rockefeller Foundation research programme for Urban Design Studies contributed significantly to post-war urban theory and to the emergence of the new discipline of urban design out of the overlapping interests of the fields of architecture, city planning and landscape design.”[23] Rockefeller influence on city planning was thereafter established and institutionalized through the formation of the fields of urban studies and city planning.

Educating Africans to be “Junior Partners in the Firm”

In the first half of the 20th century, the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Corporation undertook joint projects aimed at constructing an education system for black Americans in the South as well as for black Africans in several British colonies. In 1911, the Phelps-Stokes Fund was chartered with the purpose of managing “the education of Negroes both in Africa and the United States.” This restrictive educational system for black Americans had already been institutionalized, beginning with the ‘philanthropic’ endeavours of Wall Street bankers and northern industrialists and capitalists at several conferences in 1898. The education was constructed on the basis that, as one conference participant stated, “the white people are to be the leaders, to take the initiative, to have direct control in all matters pertaining to civilization and the highest interest of our beloved land. History demonstrates that the Caucasian will rule, and he ought to rule.” As one conference organizer stated:

Time has proven that [the ‘negro’] is best fitted to perform the heavy labor in the Southern states… He will willingly fill the more menial positions, and do the heavy work, at less wages, than the American white man or any foreign race… This will permit the Southern white laborer to perform the more expert labor, and to leave the fields, the mines, and the simple trades for the negro.[24]

The conferences resulted in what became known as the ‘Tuskegee educational philosophy,’ which was decided upon by 1901. Three major decisions were taken at the conferences. The first major decision was that “it was necessary that provision be made to train a Negro leadership cadre”:

For this purpose, then, it was concluded that certain Negro colleges would be strengthened to educate a strong professional class – doctors, lawyers, ministers – which would be responsible for raising the general physical and moral level of the race in the segregated black communities… [Second], it was decided that the Negro had been educated away from his natural environment and that his education should concern only those fields available to him. This key decision marked the formulation of the concept of a special Negro education. Third, it was decided that this special education – vocational and agricultural in focus – of the Negro had to be directed toward increasing the labor value of his race, a labor value which, not surprisingly, would see the white capitalist as chief beneficiary.[25]

Thus, in 1901 the fourth conference on the issue established the Southern Education Board. The following year, John D. Rockefeller established the General Education Board (a precursor to the Rockefeller Foundation), which “alleviated any financial concerns which the planners of southern Negro education might have experienced.”[26] The Rockefeller philanthropy had extensive influence on implementing the ‘Tuskegee educational philosophy,’ particularly through the Southern Education Board, of which it not only helped finance, but had a shared leadership. Eleven members of the Southern Education Board were also members of Rockefeller’s General Education Board. With time, other funds and philanthropies became involved, such as the Jeanes Fund, the Slater Fund, and eventually the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Again, there was significant overlap between these organizations. The first president of the Jeanes Fund was James H. Dillard, a member of the Southern Education Board, an agent of the Slater Fund, and a member of Rockefeller’s General Education Board. In 1923, Dillard became a trustee of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. The Jeanes Fund, headed by Dillard, instituted the concept of the ‘Jeanes teacher’:

a local Negro who could make contact in the rural communities as no one else could and who could adapt the school curriculum to the conditions of these communities. Hygiene, home economics, and industrial and agricultural training were to form the backbone of the curriculum for Jeanes rural schools. In 1925, the Jeanes school concept was transferred to Kenya, largely owing to the vigorous advocacy for such a transplantation by representatives of the Phelps-Stokes Fund.[27]

The Tuskegee/Phelps-Stokes educational philosophy quickly garnered the attention of British missionary educators in Africa. Two influential British missionary educators visited the Tuskegee Institute in 1912, with the idea in mind that they could adapt this educational philosophy to Britain’s colonies in Africa. One of these missionaries was J.H. Oldham, former secretary of the World Missionary Conference, and editor of the International Review of Missions, “the quasi-official journal of the Protestant missionary societies in Great Britain from its inception in 1912.” Having become well-acquainted with the American philanthropists involved in organization black education, Oldham introduced Thomas Jesse Jones to British colonial officials in charge of educational policy in Africa, and in 1924, “Oldham became the Phelps-Stokes Fund’s representative in the United Kingdom and intensified his vigorous lobbying efforts to have Phelps-Stokes Fund/Tuskegee concept incorporated into official mission and colonial educational policy.”[28]

As Kenya’s colonial secretary stated, the educational philosophy would ensure “an intelligent, cheerful, self-respecting, and generally docile and willing-to-learn African native.” In 1925, Jones successfully negotiated for financial aid from the Carnegie Corporation to finance the establishment of a Jeanes training school in Kenya. The funding from Carnegie included direct funding for the school, as well as facilitating white educators from Africa to come to the U.S. to “investigate” the Southern educational system, as well as implementing intelligence tests for Africans (just as the major philanthropies had been propagating around the United States as part of their support for eugenics programs). Jones also turned to other major foundations for support, such as Rockefeller’s International Education Board (which had Anson Phelps-Stokes as a trustee), as well as the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial, which all subsequently provided major grants to establish several schools across Africa.[29]

Jones and the major foundations further supported the development of black education in South Africa, helping cement the apartheid system that was being developed. As Jones himself stated, the education of black South Africans in the Tuskegee philosophy can maintain their subordination to the white ruling class, and keep them as “junior partners in the firm.”[30]

Managing the Poor through Social Welfare

Another major area of concern in these chapters is on the ‘moral construction’ of the poor, going beyond (but not ignoring) the ways in which the poor are ‘created’ and ‘maintained’ as a social group (i.e., noting the political, economic, and social policies and institutions that create and sustain poverty as a powerful social force), but also in looking at how the poor are, as a group, “regulated” and how society “morally constructs” views and perceptions of the poor, so that they are vilified, demonized, and politicized as “deviants.”

The origins of ‘welfare policies’ and other forms of ‘social welfare’ emerged several hundred years ago as a response to the inability of the economic system to benefit the masses of society, and thus, to prevent – often in the midst of an economic crisis – mass social unrest, rebellion, or potentially, revolution, social welfare policies were implemented as a means of social control: to alleviate some of the tensions from the gross systemic inequalities, and secondly, and often overlooked, as a means of regulating the behaviour, “work ethic” and prospects of the poor; to maintain them as a cheap labour force. This is done through the methods in which social welfare is provided: the process of applying for social services and welfare, the conditions required to be applicable, the demands which must be met by the applicant as determined by the state, the state intervention in the family and personal life of recipients (often through social workers), and other means of both expanding and detracting the amount of people on welfare as a means to sustain the labour force according to the demands of industry. As such, it is important to analyze the origins of “social work” as a means of “social control” and “managing the poor.”

Originating in the 16th century, relief giving to the poor began to be transferred from the private realm to the state. In Britain, the poor had to be registered and begging had to be authorized, and the Elizabethan Poor Laws, passed in 1572, “established a ‘poor rate’ tax and provided for secular control of the poor by justices of the peace, so-called overseers of the poor.” The poor were separated into three categories: “a) the poor by impotency, b) the poor by casualty, and c) the thriftless poor.” The third category, “thriftless poor,” were viewed as being responsible for their own condition, and thus had to “work for relief.” In the 18th century, workhouses began to emerge as a “policy innovation” to establish “worth” among the poor, to make them productive to the industrial class through contracting cheap labour in return for minor poverty relief. In the 19th century, the poorhouse “had become the official last resort for the poor.”[31]

The poorhouse and workhouse were often examined in the works of Charles Dickens. One is often reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, when approached by collectors seeking donations for poor relief, with the collector stating, “At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.” To which Scrooge replied, “Are there no prisons?”

“Plenty of prisons.”

“And the union workhouses – are they still in operation?”

“They are. I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?”

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.”

Refusing to donate, Scrooge stated, “I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

Scrooge replied, “If they would rather die… they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

This scene reflected the ideology and philosophy of elites in that era, and indeed, up until present day. The poorhouses of that era were terrible, where “conditions were so awful, the act of relief itself became the test of necessity.” Much like the stigma of welfare in today’s context, “[t]hose who presented themselves to the poorhouse were casting themselves outside of moral society,” as entrance into that situation “symbolized and made painfully concrete a loss of social status, citizenship, and even the right to one’s own labor and physical freedom.” The New Deal following the Great Depression in the 1930s reaffirmed, with its expanded welfare and social services, the stipulation that relief must only be in exchange for work and labour. This represents a “moral construction” of poverty and “the poor,” because they are deemed as being required to work for relief, as in, they are undeserving of relief without conditions, regardless of their circumstances. The “stigma” of poverty and welfare are such that the poor are viewed as generally undeserving of anything, of being the cause of their own poverty, and thus, if they want/need relief, they had better work for it. It was through working and labour that the poor, then, were able to provide a “social worth” in return for “poor relief.” It is thus no coincidence that social security and unemployment insurance were “restricted to individuals classified by policy as workers, that is, individuals with a relatively prolonged and steady formal work history.” As a result, this led to the exclusion of “agricultural and domestic workers as well as those in marginal jobs who moved in and out of work,” which, not coincidentally, included a significant portion of the black population in the United States.[32]

With the New Deal, the state in America moved into the realm of activity previously the focus of the philanthropic foundation. In fact, these private foundations were pivotal in the formation of the New Deal. As Barry Karl and Stanley Katz noted, “Franklin Roosevelt preferred to conceal the fact that so many of his major advisers on policy and some of his major programmes in social reform were the result of support by one of more of the private foundations,” particularly through the Rockefeller Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, funded by the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations.[33] The support from such foundations, which represent the most elite interests within society and the capitalist class itself, founded and run by the wealthiest and most powerful bankers and industrialists of the era, represented an elite fear generated by the mass social unrest of the era brought on by the Great Depression, which was created by that very same class. Thus, social security and the New Deal were a means of securing social control.[34] The New Deal, however, also had a profoundly negative impact upon the “race question” in the United States, which broadly affected the black community. As Christopher G. Wye wrote in the Journal of American History:

[T]he New Deal public housing and emergency work programs played an important part in alleviating the problems generated by the Depression, [but] they also contributed to the preservation of perhaps the two salient components which combine to produce a caste-like Negro social structure – residential segregation and a distinctly racial occupational pattern.[35]

Civil Rights: From “Black Power” to “Black Capitalism”

The major foundations – Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller – were also heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement, but with specific aims of social control. In the 1950s, the Ford Foundation began taking an interest in the Civil Rights movement, and after convening a study on how to “improve race relations,” the Ford Foundation began giving grants to black colleges “to improve the quality of their educational offerings.”[36] By 1966, the Civil Rights movement was one of the major areas of Ford Foundation funding. Against the backdrop of the summer of 1966 in which there were 43 “urban disorders” (riots in ghettos), which had been “precipitated by confrontations between blacks and the police,” the Ford Foundation announced that it would “direct significant resources to the social justice area.” Among the aims of the Foundation were: “to improve leadership and programming within minority organizations; to explore approaches to better race relations; to support policy-oriented research on race and poverty; to promote housing integration; and to increase the availability of legal resources through support of litigating organizations and minority law students.”[37]

The Ford Foundation also sponsored the Grey Areas program in the early 1960s, which evolved into President Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” as a program for “urban renewal,” but was, in fact, concerned with issues arising out of poor people’s (and particularly poor people of colour’s) resistance to major urban growth projects undertaken by a coalition of corporations and corporatist labour unions following World War II. As Roger Friedland wrote:

Political challenge by the poor, and especially the nonwhite poor, threatened the dominance of the corporations and labor unions and the growth policies they pursued. It was the poorest neighborhoods which were displaced by urban renewal and highway construction, whose housing stock was depleted by clearance, whose employment opportunities were often reduced both by the expansion of office employment stimulated by central business district growth and by restrictive unionization on large construction projects and municipal jobs, and whose services were constrained by the enormous fiscal costs of the growth programs.[38]

It was in this context that the Ford Foundation established programs aimed at ameliorating the antagonisms within the impoverished communities, not through structural or systemic change of the causes of poverty, but through organization, institutionalization, and legalistic reform programs, thus leading to the government’s “War on Poverty.” The same approach was taken in regards to the Civil Rights movement.

There was a transformation between 1966 and 1967 of the notion of ‘black power’, which was increasingly viewed by elites and ‘authorities’, such as J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI, as “the beginning of a true black revolution.” Many advocates of ‘black power’ saw it as the beginnings of a revolt against “white western imperialist” America.[39] The Civil Rights movement was originally “launched by indigenous leadership and primarily mobilized the southern black community.” Thus, it was essential for large foundation funding of the movement, to effectively control its direction and impetus. This “elite involvement would seem to occur only as a response to the threat posed by the generation of a mass-based social movement.” The major foundations “supported the moderate civil rights organizations in response to the ‘radical flank’ threat of the militants, while non-elites (churches, unions and small individual donors) spread their support evenly.”[40]

Elite patronage of the Civil Rights movement “diverted leaders from indigenous organizing and exacerbated inter-organizational rivalries, thereby promoting movement decay.”[41] Foundation funding for civil rights did not become significant until 1961-62, five years after the Birmingham bus boycott, and the peak of foundation support for civil rights was in 1972-73, four to five years after the assassination of King.[42] This indicated that foundation grants to civil rights were ‘reactive’, in that they were designed in response to changes in the movement itself, implying that foundation patronage was aimed at social control. Further, most grants went to professionalized social movement organizations (SMOs) and in particular, the NAACP. While the professional SMOs initiated only 14% of movement actions, they accounted for 57% of foundation grants, while the classical SMOs, having carried out roughly 36% of movement actions, received roughly 32% of foundation grants. This disparity grew with time, so that by the 1970s, the classical SMOs garnered 25% of grants and the professional SMOs received nearly 70% of grants. Principally, the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund were the most endowed with foundation support.[43] Many of the foundations subsequently became “centrally involved in the formulation of national social policy and responded to elite concerns about the riots.”[44]

It became clear that the older, established and moderate organizations received the most outside funding, such as the National Urban League, the NAACP and the Legal Defense and Educational Fund.[45] As the black struggles of the 1960s increasingly grew militant and activist-oriented in the latter half of the 1960s, “foundation contributions became major sources of income for the National Urban League, the Southern Regional Council, and the Legal Defense and Educational Fund.”[46] The attempt was to promote reform instead of losing their vested powers and interests in the face of a growing revolution.

The NAACP and the National Urban League represent the more moderate civil rights organizations, as they were also the oldest, with membership primarily made up of middle class African Americans, leading to many, including King himself, to suggest they were disconnected from the reality or in representing poor blacks in America.[47] The radicalization of the black protest movement led to the emergence of challenges to the NAACP and Urban League in being the ‘leaders’ in civil rights, as new organizations emerged which represented a broader array of the black population. Among them were the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which Martin Luther King led. Foundations increased funding for all of these organizations, but as activism and militancy accelerated in the latter half of the 1960s, the funding declined for the more radical, militant and activist organizations and increased dramatically for the established and moderate organizations. This trend continued going into the 1970s.

In 1967, Martin Luther King’s SCLC received $230,000 from the Ford Foundation, yet after his assassination, the organization received no more funding and virtually fell to pieces. That same year, the Ford Foundation gave the NAACP $300,000, and gave the Urban League $585,000. The Rockefeller Foundation granted the League $650,000, with the Carnegie Corporation coming in with $200,000. The Ford Foundation also gave the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) $175,000 in 1967.[48]

In 1968, with the SCLC out of the picture, Ford increased funding for CORE to $300,000, increased grants to the NAACP to $378,000, and gave the Urban League a monumental grant of $1,480,000. The same year, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation gave the NAACP $500,000 and $200,000 respectively. Clearly, the foundations were supporting the older established and moderate organizations over the new, young and activist/radical organizations. For the following year, 1969, CORE received no more grants from foundations, while the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations increased their grants to the NAACP and the Urban League. In 1974, the NAACP received grants of $950,000 from the Ford Foundation, $250,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation, and $200,000 from the Carnegie Corporation. The Urban League received grants of $2,350,000 from the Ford Foundation and $350,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation.[49] The strategic use of foundation funding helped undermine and outmaneuver the radical and militant civil rights organizations, while strengthening and institutionalizing the reform-oriented organizations.

This co-optation of the civil rights movement was so vital to these elite interests for the principle reason of the movement taking its natural course, out of an ethnic or race-based focus and into a class and global social focus. A. Philip Randolph, a civil rights leader, spoke in 1963 at an ALF-CIO convention at which he stated, “The Negro’s protest today is but the first rumbling of the ‘under-class.’ As the Negro has taken to the streets, so will the unemployed of all races take to the streets.”[50] The aim of foundation funding for the Civil Rights movement was to direct it from a potentially revolutionary position – that of ‘Black Power’ – and transform it into a reformist and legalistic movement, ostensibly to establish “Black Capitalism.” Thus, instead of changing the systemic and institutional structures of society which had created racism, segregation, and exploitation, the “success” of the Civil Rights movement (apart from the very real achievements of securing basic civil rights for black citizens) was seen by elites as the ability of blacks to rise within the institutional and hierarchical system which dominated society, not to challenge or change it fundamentally.

The “Excess of Democracy”

In the 1970s, elite intellectual discussion was dominated by what was referred to as “democratic overload,” or what the Trilateral Commission referred to in a report of the same title as, “The Crisis of Democracy.” One of the principal authors of this 1975 report was Samuel Huntington, who wrote that the 1960s saw a surge in democracy in America, with an upswing in citizen participation, often “in the form of marches, demonstrations, protest movements, and ‘cause’ organizations.”[51] Further, “the 1960s also saw a reassertion of the primacy of equality as a goal in social, economic, and political life.”[52] Of course, for Huntington and the Trilateral Commission, which was founded by Huntington’s friend, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and banker David Rockefeller, the idea of “equality as a goal in social, economic, and political life” is a terrible and frightening prospect. Huntington analyzed how as part of this “democratic surge,” statistics showed that throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s, there was a dramatic increase in the percentage of people who felt the United States was spending too much on defense (from 18% in 1960 to 52% in 1969, largely due to the Vietnam War).[53]

Huntington wrote that the “essence of the democratic surge of the 1960s was a general challenge to existing systems of authority, public and private,” and that, “People no longer felt the same compulsion to obey those whom they had previously considered superior to themselves in age, rank, status, expertise, character, or talents.” He explained that in the 1960s, “hierarchy, expertise, and wealth” had come “under heavy attack.”[54] He stated that the three key issues which were central to the increased political participation in the 1960s were:

social issues, such as use of drugs, civil liberties, and the role of women; racial issues, involving integration, busing, government aid to minority groups, and urban riots; military issues, involving primarily, of course, the war in Vietnam but also the draft, military spending, military aid programs, and the role of the military-industrial complex more generally.[55]

Huntington presented these issues, essentially, as the “crisis of democracy,” in that they increased distrust with the government and authority, that they led to social and ideological polarization, and ultimately, to a “decline in the authority, status, influence, and effectiveness of the presidency.”[56] Huntington concluded that many problems of governance in the United States stem from an “excess of democracy,” and that, “the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups.” Huntington explained that society has always had “marginal groups” which do not participate in politics, and while acknowledging that the existence of “marginality on the part of some groups is inherently undemocratic,” it has also “enabled democracy to function effectively.” Huntington identifies “the blacks” as one such group that had become politically active, posing a “danger of overloading the political system with demands.”[57]

Huntington, in his conclusion, stated that the vulnerability of democracy, essentially the ‘crisis of democracy,’ comes “from the internal dynamics of democracy itself in a highly educated, mobilized, and participant society,” and that what is needed is “a more balanced existence” in which there are “desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.”[58] Summed up, the Trilateral Commission Task Force Report essentially explained that the “Crisis of Democracy” is that there is too much of it, and so the ‘solution’ to the crisis, is to have less democracy and more ‘authority’.

To have “less democracy,” however, required careful and strategic moves and considerations. Primarily, the means through which this objective would be reached was through the disciplinary measures of the “free market” and “regulation of the poor.” This led to the neoliberal era, where this program of “reducing democracy” took place not only in the United States, but on a global scale. The disciplinary means undertaken in the ‘Third World’ nations were brought on by the 1980s debt crisis, and the World Bank and IMF “structural adjustment programs” which invariably expanded poverty, debt, and supported ruthless dictatorships which suppressed their own populations. This era also saw the “globalization of the ghetto” with the rapid development of urban slums around the world, to the point where over one billion people today live in slums. In the United States, the middle classes began to be mired in debt, particular the expansion of student debt, which served as a disciplinary feature, so that students were no longer activists or mobilized, but simply had to graduate and get jobs to pay off their debts.

A 1971 memo written by a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reflected the fear inherent in the Trilateral Commission report of a few years later at the problems posed to elite interests by the “excess of democracy.” It referred to these “excesses” as a “broad attack” on the American economic system. The memo noted that, “the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.” While noting that sources of the attack include leftists and revolutionaries, it also acknowledged that the “attack” was being joined “from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians.” The author of the memo stated that, “If our system is to survive, top [corporate] management must be equally concerned with protecting and preserving the system itself.” It went on:

But independent and uncoordinated activity by individual corporations, as important as this is, will not be sufficient. Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.[59]

The memo then went on to articulate a major program of “counter attack” with an emphasis on changing the educational system, the media, and bringing the state and courts more directly into the business community’s orbit. This era saw the emergence of the major right-wing think tanks, and the expanded influence of business leaders in the media, government, and universities, crowned with the Reagan-Thatcher era of neoliberalism: privatization, deregulation, debt-expansion, impoverishment, and punishment.

Punishing the Poor

In regards to the black population, who created quite a stir among the American elites in the 1960s and into the 1970s, the response from the elite sector was similar as to what it was during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War: mass incarceration. Reagan’s “war on drugs” led to a rapid expansion of legislation purportedly aimed to reduce the problems of the illicit drug trade in the United States (while the Reagan administration secretly supported the drug trade in covert operations abroad, such as in Nicaragua, the Iran-Contra Scandal, etc.).

The growth of the prison population in the United States from 1975 onward was marked simultaneously by a decline in welfare recipients. In fact, the largest prison systems were established in states with the weaker welfare systems. Between 1980 and 2000, “the number of people incarcerated in the United States increased by 300 percent, from 500,000 to nearly 2 million.” The parole and probation population, by 2000, included 3.8 million people, and by 1998, “nearly 6 million people – almost 3 percent of the adult population – were under some form of correctional supervision.” As reported in the journal, Punishment & Society:

The impact of these developments has fallen disproportionately on young African-Americans and Latinos. By 1994, one of every three black males between the ages of 18-34 was under some form of correctional supervision, and the number of Hispanic prisoners has more than quintupled since 1980. These developments are not primarily the consequence of rising crime rates, but rather the ‘get-tough’ policies of the wars on crime and drugs.[60]

As sociologists Katherine Beckett and Bruce Western wrote, “in the wake of the Reagan revolution, penal and welfare institutions have come to form a single policy regime aimed at the governance of social marginality,” or, in other words, the management of the poor and non-white populations. Thus, reduced welfare spending as a method of social control was replaced with increased incarceration and imprisonment.[61]

The prison system itself, which had its origins in the application of social control, functioned through segregation and discrimination, has not evolved from these institutional ideologies that saw its development over several hundred years. The prison and incarceration, according to philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, was “a new form of repression, designed to consolidate the political and economic power of capitalism under the modern state,” in what he termed, “the disciplinary society.”[62]

Just as took place during the criminalization of black life following the Civil War, the criminalization of black life following the Civil Rights Movement saw not only the growth of incarceration rates for the black community, but also saw the growth of the use of the prison population as a source of cheap labour. In today’s context, with privatization of prisons, outsourcing of prison labour, and other forms of exploitation of the “punished” population, this has given rise to what is often referred to as the “prison-industrial complex.”[63]

Conclusion

This article was but a brief sampling of some of the information, issues, ideas, events, and processes that will be thoroughly researched and written about in two chapters for The People’s Book Project. If you found the information enlightening, interesting, or important, please contribute to the People’s Grant goal of raising $1,600 to finance the completion of two chapters on this subject, which will include a great deal more than was sampled above, deeper analysis, more detailed and documented understandings, and a much wider, global contextualization. This was but a minor fraction of what can be completed with the support of readers. Help get this important information into the public sphere. As the global economic crisis rapidly expands the global rates of impoverishment, as the middle class vanishes into debt and poverty, and as our societies are reorganized to “manage” these social, political, and economic changes, this history is vital to understanding not only the objectives, ideas and actions of elites, but also the ways in which the people may challenge them.

Contribute to The People’s Grant:

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.

Notes

[1]            A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., “Racism and the Early American Legal Process, 1619-1896,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (Vol. 407, No. 1, May 1973), page 1.

[2]            Ibid, page 6.

[3]            David McNally, Another World is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2006), page 149.

[4]            Ibid, page 150.

[5]            Ibid, pages 151-152.

[6]            Ibid, pages 152-153.

[7]            Ibid, page 153.

[8]            Ibid, pages 153-154.

[9]            Ibid, pages 154-155.

[10]            Ibid, page 155.

[11]            William Cohen, “Negro Involuntary Servitude in the South, 1865-1940,” The Journal of Southern History (Vol. 42, No. 1, February 1976), page 33.

[12]            Ibid, page 34.

[13]            Brian Kelly, “Labor, Race, and the Search for a Central Theme in the History of the Jim Crow South,” Irish Journal of American Studies (Vol. 10, 2001), page 58.

[14]            William H. Worger, “Convict Labour, Industrialists and the State in the US South and South Africa, 1870-1930,” Journal of Southern African Studies (Vol. 30, No. 1, March 2004), page 68.

[15]            Ibid, pages 68-69.

[16]            Ibid, page 85.

[17]            Eduardo Mendieta, “Plantations, Ghettos, Prisons: US Racial Geographies,” Philosophy and Geography (Vol. 7, No. 1, February 2004), page 52.

[18]            Ibid, pages 52-53.

[19]            Carl H. Nightingale, “A Tale of Three Global Ghettos: How Arnold Hirsch Helps Us Internationalize U.S. Urban History,” Journal of Urban History (Vol. 29, No. 3, March 2003), page 262.

[20]            Ibid, page 265.

[21]            Karen Ferguson, “Organizing the Ghetto: The Ford Foundation, CORE, and White Power in the Black Power Era, 1967-1969,” Journal of Urban History (Vol. 34, No. 1, November 2007), pages 69, 96.

[22]            William J. Quirk and Leon E. Wein, “Homeownership for the Poor: Tenant Condominiums, the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and the Rockefeller Program,” Cornell Law Review (Vol. 54, No. 6, July 1969), pages 849, 855.

[23]            Peter L. Laurence, “The Death and Life of Urban Design: Jane Jacobs, The Rockefeller Foundation and the New Research in Urbanism, 1955-1965,” Journal of Urban Design (Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2006), page 145.

[24]            Robert F. Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Indiana University Press, 1980), pages 180-181.

[25]            Ibid, page 181.

[26]            Ibid.

[27]            Ibid, page 182.

[28]            Ibid, pages 185-186.

[29]            Ibid, pages 188-190.

[30]            Ibid, page 194.

[31]            Evelyn Z. Brodkin, “The Making of an Enemy: How Welfare Policies Construct the Poor,” Law & Social Inquiry (Vol. 18, No. 4, Autumn 1993), pages 655-656.

[32]            Ibid, pages 656-658.

[33]            Barry D. Karl and Stanley N. Katz, “The American Private Philanthropic Foundation and the Public Sphere 1890-1930,” Minerva (Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer 1981), page 268.

[34]            J. Craig Jenkins and Barbara Brents, “Capitalists and Social Security: What Did They Really Want?” American Sociological Review (Vol. 56, No. 1, February 1991), page 129.

[35]            Christopher G. Wye, “The New Deal and the Negro Community: Toward a Broader Conceptualization,” The Journal of American History (Vol. 59, No. 3, December 1972), page 639.

[36]            Lynn Walker, “The Role of Foundations in Helping to Reach the Civil Rights Goals of the 1980s,” Rutgers Law Review, (1984-1985), page 1059.

[37]            Ibid, page 1060.

[38]            Roger Friedland, “Class Power and Social Control: The War on Poverty,” Politics & Society (Vol. 6, No. 4, December 1976), pages 459-461.

[39]            Robert C. Smith, “Black Power and the Transformation from Protest to Policies,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 96, No. 3, (Autumn, 1981), page 438

[40]            J. Craig Jenkins and Craig M. Eckert, “Channeling Black Insurgency: Elite Patronage and Professional Social Movement Organizations in the Development of the Black Movement,” American Sociological Review, Vol. 51, No. 6, (Dec., 1986), page 814.

[41]            Ibid, page 815.

[42]            Ibid, pages 819-820.

[43]            Ibid, page 821.

[44]            Ibid, page 826.

[45]            Herbert H. Haines, “Black Radicalization and the Funding of Civil Rights: 1957-1970,” Social Problems, Vol. 32, No. 1, Thematic Issue on Minorities and Social Movements, (Oct., 1984), page 38.

[46]            Ibid, page 40.

[47]            Martin N. Marger, “Social Movement Organizations and Response to Environmental Change: The NAACP, 1960- 1973,” Social Problems, Vol. 32, No. 1, Thematic Issue on Minorities and Social Movements, (Oct., 1984), page 22.

[48]            Ibid, page 25.

[49]            Ibid.

[50]            Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (Harper: New York, 2003), page 464.

[51]            Michel J. Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington and Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy. (Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, New York University Press, 1975), page 61.

[52]            Ibid, page 62.

[53]            Ibid, page 71.

[54]            Ibid, pages 74-75.

[55]            Ibid, page 77.

[56]            Ibid, page 93.

[57]            Ibid, pages 113-114.

[58]            Ibid, page 115.

[59]            Lewis F. Powell, Jr., “Confidential Memorandum: Attack of American Free Enterprise System,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 23 August 1971: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/personality/sources_document13.html

[60]            Katherine Beckett and Bruce Western, “Governing Social Marginality: Welfare, Incarceration, and the Transformation of State Policy,” Punishment & Society (Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2001), pages 43-44.

[61]            Ibid, page 55.

[62]            Robert P. Weiss, “Humanitarianism, Labour Exploitation, or Social Control? A Critical Survey of Theory and Research on the Origin and Development of Prisons,” Social History (Vol. 12, No. 3, October 1987), page 333.

[63]            Rose M. Brewer and Nancy A. Heitzeg, “The Racialization of Crime and Punishment: Criminal Justice, Color-Blind Racism, and the Political Economy of the Prison Industrial Complex,” American Behavioral Scientist (Vol. 51, No. 5, January 2008).

Advertisements

The American Empire in the Middle East and North Africa

Progress has been steady on my chapters on the American-Western empire following World War II to the early 1960s. The chapter on Latin America is of course finished, and I have just completed the chapter on the Middle East and North Africa, which was quite extensive. These chapters are both unpolished, unedited, and require a great deal of work in that regard, but that process comes later, for now, I am focused on the initial writing process: the first draft(s).

This chapter, however, stands at 84 pages single-spaced, or 103 including endnotes. So, it’s quite a big chapter (or a very short book), and will require extensive and effective editing when the time comes. But the meat of it is all there.

It includes: American imperial interest in the Middle East, as articulated by State Department strategists at the end of World War II; interest in the region for its oil resources; American negotiations in Saudi Arabia, replacing the British as the imperial protector; the Palestine question, the founding of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing and subsequent Arab invasion; the growth and nature of Arab nationalism; the coup in Iran; the rise of Nasser in Egypt; the U.S.-U.K. attempt to create a Middle East Command structure; the decline of the French Empire in North Africa, with the rise of American interests in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, with a focus on the Algerian war of independence against the French; the Suez Crisis, the Israeli-French-British invasion of Egypt and U.S. efforts to get them out; the Eisenhower Doctrine, the Syrian Crisis, and the U.S.-U.K. invasions and occupation of Lebanon and Jordan in 1958, the coup in Iraq; U.S. efforts at containing and confronting Egyptian influence and Pan-Arab nationalism in the Middle East, North Africa, and Northeast Africa through its support of Ethiopia; and finally, U.S. recognition of seeking to moderately work with Arab nationalism in order to prevent a greater geostrategic backlash against American imperial interests in the region and elsewhere.

A great deal of the research across all of these areas is drawn from the direct archives and declassified documents of the State Department, Defense Department, Joint Chiefs, White House, CIA, and National Security Council, so that the process, shaping, intentions and actions of empire are made clear “in their own words.” After reading the documents, and researching their implications in terms of the actions they led to, the ideas they espoused, and the officials involved, it is a stated fact that America is an empire, that it was designed to be so, and no claim of “accidental empire” or “benevolent empire” or “imperial denial” can stand up to the scrutiny of the official record. I, of course, include my interpretation in my research, but my interpretation is largely shaped by these and other official sources. Thus, I may state that the United States sought to support independence movements in the Arab world not because it felt sympathies for the colonized and dominated peoples of the world, but because it did not want to be too closely aligned with the formal European colonial empires which were so discredited following World War II, and in so doing, the U.S. could find a more subtle method of establishing imperial domination over the peoples of the “Third World.” Some may claim that this is “my” interpretation, and that there are others, and certainly that is true. However, this interpretation is shared by those who shaped U.S. policy itself, such as President Truman, Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower, Allen Dulles, and others. I just happen to be highly critical of it, whereas they advocated it.

I am looking forward to providing you with some research samples from this chapter soon, focusing on revealing insights drawn from official documents of the era, which occasionally are filled with profoundly important pieces of information largely overlooked by many scholars, historians and political commentators.

I would also like to remind my readers and supporters that I have launched the fundraising campaign for the next People’s Grant:

The new People’s GrantFebruary 23, 2012

Target Amount: $1,600

Amount Raised: $0.00

Objective: Completion of two chapters

Chapters: These two chapters, with a combined Grant of $1,600, will cover a historical analysis of the social construction of ‘race’, with the advent of the slave trade, plantation systems, and implementing racism as a concept of social control and domination; included is a history of poverty in the modern era, with the advent of social welfare programs implemented by states as a method of social control to protect against rebellion and revolution from below, but also to maintain low living standards of those in poverty in order to make permanent a dependent labour force; the abolition of slavery in the United States, leading to the Reconstruction period, and subsequently, the North-South ‘compact’ that followed which implemented a new form of slavery through criminalization, the prison system, and its use of prison labour; the relationship between poverty, labour, and race; the role of major foundations in managing the black population of the United States and elsewhere (establishing their educational systems, social welfare provisions, etc.); the poverty, resistance, and unrest which grew out of the Great Depression, and the subsequent social welfare programs implemented for the purpose of social control, as well as their implications for race relations at the time; the development of ghettos in the United States, the role of foundations and states in this process, in order to manage the migration of black Americans from the south to urban areas; the origins and development of the Civil Rights movement, its revolutionary potential and the role of foundations in preventing that potential from being reached; welfare, social services, and other state programs designed to manage the ‘poor’ and especially the black population of the United States; the “War on Poverty” (as a “War on the Poor”); the “crisis of democracy” that emerged in the 1970s as a result of what the Trilateral Commission called an “excess of democracy”, and the innovative methods of managing this: expansion of the prison system, Drug War legal discrimination against black Americans, increased prison labour, student debt, poverty management; and global implications of the race-poverty dichotomy: expansion of poverty in the ‘Third World’, effects of poverty, racial discrimination, origins and development of slums (global ghettos), etc.

Contribute to The People’s Grant:

Education or Domination? The Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations Developing Knowledge for the Developing World

Education or Domination? The Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations Developing Knowledge for the Developing World

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Originally posted at: The People’s Book Project.

The following is an excerpt from a chapter on the birth of the American Empire in an upcoming book by Andrew Gavin Marshall, as part of The People’s Book Project. Note: the following is still in draft form, and is not by any means a final product, but more just to serve as a sample of the information and perspectives which will be articulated throughout the entire project.

For the previous excerpt from this chapter, directly preceding this preview, see: “An Education for Empire: The Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford Foundations in the Construction of Knowledge.”

Note: the following excerpt is largely derived from information published in Richard Arnove’s “Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad.”

The Rockefellers Engineer Black Education

The education which facilitated American imperial expansion around the world was not situated within the Western imperial powers alone, but was simultaneously expanded into the ‘Global South’, those regions of the world which America and the West sought to dominate. This was a pivotal aspect of the imperial project, as it was imperative for America to rule the world, but in a fashion not so reminiscent of the previous age of empires, where domination and empire were openly acknowledged and propagated. Following the two world wars which were the result of a clash of empires, the notion of imperial domination outright was largely discredited. Therefore, the era of ‘informal empire’ came to dominate: imperialism without formal colonization. This project necessarily involved the creation and support of domestic elites in the countries which were targeted for domination.

To prop up a domestic elite which would be subservient to foreign (i.e., Western) interests, an educational system had to be constructed which would produce foreign elites that were indoctrinated with hegemonic ideology, and would thus come to see ‘cooperation’ with the West, and the opening up of their domestic resources to foreign corporations not as a capitulation to a foreign dominator, but as a necessary part of the process of ‘development’.

In the first half of the 20th century, the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Corporation undertook joint projects aimed at constructing an education system for black Americans in the South as well as for black Africans in several British colonies. In 1911, the Phelps-Stokes Fund was chartered with the purpose of managing “the education of Negroes both in Africa and the United States.” This restrictive educational system for black Americans had already been institutionalized, beginning with the ‘philanthropic’ endeavours of Wall Street bankers and northern industrialists and capitalists at several conferences in 1898. The education was constructed on the basis that, as one conference participant stated, “the white people are to be the leaders, to take the initiative, to have direct control in all matters pertaining to civilization and the highest interest of our beloved land. History demonstrates that the Caucasian will rule, and he ought to rule.” As one conference organizer stated:

Time has proven that [the ‘negro’] is best fitted to perform the heavy labor in the Southern states… He will willingly fill the more menial positions, and do the heavy work, at less wages, than the American white man or any foreign race… This will permit the Southern white laborer to perform the more expert labor, and to leave the fields, the mines, and the simple trades for the negro.[1]

The conferences resulted in what became known as the ‘Tuskegee educational philosophy,’ which was decided upon by 1901. Three major decisions were taken at the conferences. The first major decision was that “it was necessary that provision be made to train a Negro leadership cadre”:

For this purpose, then, it was concluded that certain Negro colleges would be strengthened to educate a strong professional class – doctors, lawyers, ministers – which would be responsible for raising the general physical and moral level of the race in the segregated black communities… [Second], it was decided that the Negro had been educated away from his natural environment and that his education should concern only those fields available to him. This key decision marked the formulation of the concept of a special Negro education. Third, it was decided that this special education – vocational and agricultural in focus – of the Negro had to be directed toward increasing the labor value of his race, a labor value which, not surprisingly, would see the white capitalist as chief beneficiary.[2]

Thus, in 1901 the fourth conference on the issue established the Southern Education Board. The following year, John D. Rockefeller established the General Education Board (a precursor to the Rockefeller Foundation), which “alleviated any financial concerns which the planners of southern Negro education might have experienced.”[3] The Rockefeller philanthropy had extensive influence on implementing the ‘Tuskegee education philosophy,’ particularly through the Southern Education Board, of which it not only helped finance, but had a shared leadership. Eleven members of the Southern Education Board were also members of Rockefeller’s General Education Board. With time, other funds and philanthropies became involved, such as the Jeanes Fund, the Slater Fund, and eventually the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Again, there was significant overlap between these organizations. The first president of the Jeanes Fund was James H. Dillard, a member of the Southern Education Board, an agent of the Slater Fund, and a member of Rockefeller’s General Education Board. In 1923, Dillard became a trustee of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. The Jeanes Fund, headed by Dillard, instituted the concept of the ‘Jeanes teacher’:

a local Negro who could make contact in the rural communities as no one else could and who could adapt the school curriculum to the conditions of these communities. Hygiene, home economics, and industrial and agricultural training were to form the backbone of the curriculum for Jeanes rural schools. In 1925, the Jeanes school concept was transferred to Kenya, largely owing to the vigorous advocacy for such a transplantation by representatives of the Phelps-Stokes Fund.[4]

The Phelps-Stokes Fund was founded by Anson Phelps Stokes, the secretary of Yale University, long-time member of Rockefeller’s General Education Board and another Rockefeller philanthropy, the International Education Board; he was also a member of the Rockefeller Foundation itself. Another leader of the Fund was Thomas Jesse Jones, a sociologist and blatant racist who joined the Fund in 1912, and as late as 1939 had written that, “the Southern States require the Negro at least for his services as a laborer.” In 1917, the Phelps-Stokes Fund published a two-volume survey of Southern Negro education, authored by Jones:

The study maintained that the only education appropriate for the black man was that with a strong vocational/agricultural bias. Academic/literary education was perceived as dysfunctional for the black man because it (1) would open vistas that he could not attain in the rigidly segregated American social structure, (2) would fail to provide the appropriate skills that would make the black man a more productive worker or agriculturalist… (3) would seriously undermine the ability of the white ruling oligarchy to maintain its political hegemony in the face of demands for equality, which it was feared an academic/literary education would engender.[5]

Jones’s survey gave the educational philosophy an air of academic respect. Yet this did not go entirely unchallenged at the time. Notably, a prominent black intellectual, W.E.B. DuBois questioned the idea that Negroes would be content “to have our interests represented in the most important councils of the world – missionary boards, educational committees, in all activities of social uplift – by white men who speak for us, on the theory that we cannot speak for ourselves?” Another black historian and social critic, Carter G. Woodson, explained that, “Schools which concentrated on developing the power of the Negro to think and do for himself were not desirable and were classified as unworthy of philanthropic support.”[6] Both of these men were concerned about the intentions of the philanthropies to further entrench the American Negro as submissive to the prevailing social order. Of course, both of these men turned out to be correct, but far be it for the white northern capitalists to bow down to the moral protests of black intellectuals.

The Tuskegee/Phelps-Stokes educational philosophy quickly garnered the attention of British missionary educators in Africa. Two influential British missionary educators visited the Tuskegee Institute in 1912, with the idea in mind that they could adapt this educational philosophy to Britain’s colonies in Africa. One of these missionaries was J.H. Oldham, former secretary of the World Missionary Conference, and editor of the International Review of Missions, “the quasi-official journal of the Protestant missionary societies in Great Britain from its inception in 1912.” Having become well-acquainted with the American philanthropists involved in organizing black education, Oldham introduced Thomas Jesse Jones to British colonial officials in charge of educational policy in Africa, and in 1924, “Oldham became the Phelps-Stokes Fund’s representative in the United Kingdom and intensified his vigorous lobbying efforts to have Phelps-Stokes Fund/Tuskegee concept incorporated into official mission and colonial educational policy.”[7]

Just as Jones had been responsible for the highly influential survey of Southern Negro education in 1917, Oldham and several missionary societies had been pushing for a similar survey of African educational policy. With the notion that the Fund’s “expertise” on the issue was “unparalleled,” Jones was selected to be chairman of the educational commission. The African Education Commission toured eight countries in Africa between 1920 and 1921, and the final report unsurprisingly came to very similar conclusions as Jones’ previous report:

As in the Negro education report, the African Education Commission stressed the importance of agricultural education and simple manual training, the need to establish a differentiated educational system for African leaders and for the masses, and the necessity of adapting education to local conditions.[8]

Incidentally, just as the report was published, J.H. Oldham was a key figure in a group of policymakers in London who were constructing a new educational program for the African colonies, “and in 1923 he approached representatives of the Colonial Office with the suggestion that he draft a memorandum on education in British Africa.” Subsequently, the British Advisory Committee on Native Education in Tropical Africa was established, and the Colonial Office further dispatched Jones to conduct another survey to eastern, central and southern Africa. One of those involved in the survey was James H. Dillard of the Jeanes Fund. Again, similar conclusions were reached and four essential areas of education were emphasized:

Health and hygiene, appreciation and use of the environment, the effective development of home and household, and recreation and culture… [largely based upon] the assumption that African societies would remain rural indefinitely, while at the same time providing the European-dominated sectors with the requisite raw materials and labor to support industrialization.[9]

British colonial officials were quick to endorse the conclusions of the commissions. As Kenya’s colonial secretary stated, the educational philosophy would ensure “an intelligent, cheerful, self-respecting, and generally docile and willing-to-learn African native.” In 1925, Jones successfully negotiated for financial aid from the Carnegie Corporation to finance the establishment of a Jeanes training school in Kenya. The funding from Carnegie included direct funding for the school, as well as facilitating white educators from Africa to come to the U.S. to “investigate” the Southern educational system, as well as implementing intelligence tests for Africans (just as the major philanthropies had been propagating around the United States as part of their support for eugenics programs). Jones also turned to other major foundations for support, such as Rockefeller’s International Education Board (which had Anson Phelps-Stokes as a trustee), as well as the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial, which all subsequently provided major grants to establish several schools across Africa.[10]

Jones and the major foundations further supported the development of black education in South Africa, helping cement the apartheid system that was being developed. As Jones himself stated, the education of black South Africans in the Tuskegee philosophy can maintain their subordination to the white ruling class, and keep them as “junior partners in the firm.”[11]

African Education or White Domination?

After 1945, the major foundations retained their intense interest in the education of the populations they sought to dominate and control. However, this could no longer be done outright as a colonial project, as in the first half of the 20th century. Thus, the Carnegie Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, and the much newer (and financially dominant) Ford Foundation came to play essential roles in shaping education in postwar Africa. This was especially important as following World War II, the independence movements and liberation struggles began to spread across Africa and the rest of the colonized world. The concept of imperial domination had been widely discredited, and so, dominated peoples were seeking to unchain themselves from colonial shackles. The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations, however, had other plans.

It had become evident at the end of the war that the colonial world was going to be dismantled, and the dividing of the world into two superpower blocs (the United States and the Soviet Union) “signaled the beginning of the scramble to align the colonial territories to one or other of the emerging power blocs.” As the Council on Foreign Relations had designated in its ‘Grand Area’ project, the need for America to control the resources of strategic regions such as Asia, Latin America and Africa, the major American foundations stepped to the forefront in constructing education for elites of the colonial territories that would produce leaders subordinate to Western interests.

It was no small coincidence that the boards of the major foundations were made up of many prestigious policymakers and imperial strategists. One individual who perfectly represents this fact is John J. McCloy, who was a long-time member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and had, throughout his long career, served as: Assistant Secretary of War, Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (owned by the Rockefellers), High Commissioner to Germany (following World War II), a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Chairman of the board of trustees of the Ford Foundation, as well as President of the World Bank. Another similar individual is Robert McNamara, who in his career served as President of Ford Motor Company, President of the World Bank, Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War, and as a trustee of the Ford Foundation. One Ford Foundation executive stated that, “the boards of the big foundations are controlled by members of the American business elite.”[12]

Thus, foundation officials shared the view with American policymakers and business elites that change in the colonial world, such as Africa, “must be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.” Thus, “radical politics, including intense conflict, disorder, violence, and revolution, are unnecessary for economic and political development and therefore are always bad.” A leader in the Carnegie Corporation noted that, “American industry could ill-afford the loss of cheap sources of raw materials which could only be secured in the nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.” The first president of the Ford Foundation, Paul Hoffman, stated that, “our own dynamic economy has made us dependent on the outside world for many critical raw materials.” Hoffman was also a former president of the Studebaker Corporation (an automobile manufacturer), as well as a member of the Committee for Economic Development (CED), and director of the Marshall Plan. Philip E. Mosley, a Rockefeller Foundation staff member and former participant in the Council on Foreign Relations’ War and Peace Studies project stated in 1949 that, “the resources which the United States needs are not located in Europe, but are in the underdeveloped areas of the world. This is a significant reason why we can’t concentrate all our efforts on Europe.”[13]

By the mid-1950s, foundation officials had established a consensus with policymakers and business leaders “regarding the importance of the developing world for the United States.” In Africa, the Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford Foundations undertook massive programs which led to:

(1) the creation of lead universities located in areas considered of geo-strategic and/or economic importance to the United States; (2) an emphasis within these institutions on social science research and related manpower planning programs; (3) programs to train public administrators; (4) teacher training and curriculum development projects; and (5) training programs which shuttled African nationals to select universities in the United States for advanced training and returned them to assume positions of leadership within local universities, teacher training institutions, or ministries of education.[14]

The establishment of leading universities in Africa was the initial emphasis among the foundations. The Ford Foundation decided to concentrate its efforts in Africa “on the training on elite cadres in public administration, agricultural economics, the applied sciences, and the social sciences, and to strengthen African universities and other postsecondary institutions for this purpose, [as] a logical extension of similar emphases in the foundation’s domestic work,” in relation to the development of Area Studies and the shaping of political science in America, itself. The Ford Foundation’s most important projects in Africa were undertaken in “Nigeria, Ethiopia, Congo/Zaire, and in a combined university scheme linking the East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Rockefeller funds were concentrated on the East African interterritorial scheme” in Nigeria and Zaire.[15]

Between 1958 and 1969, the Ford Foundation spent $25 million in Nigeria, of which $8 million was used to underwrite university development, and $5 million of that went specifically to the University of Ibadan. Between 1963 and 1972, the Rockefeller Foundation allocated roughly $9 million to the University of Ibadan. As one official of the Rockefeller Foundation said, “our dollars will… be able to exert an extraordinary leverage.” The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations then placed enormous emphasis on developing the social sciences at the universities they supported, with the aim to bring about “rationally managed” social change; the same fundamental belief that led to the emergence of the social sciences in creating a “rationally managed” America in the beginning of the 20th century, emphasizing reform over revolution. The logic was that, “the key lay in the creation of technocratically oriented elites with social science competencies which could be applied to the alleviation of the problems of underdevelopment.” As Professor of Education Robert F. Arnove wrote:

The [Ford] Foundation’s fascination with social science research in large part has consisted of support for a certain breed of economists whose quantitative approach to development is safe and respectable. This favoring of economists, particularly in the early sixties, has accorded with the Foundation’s approach to treating development ‘in terms of economic growth, technological competence, and improved managerial competence.’[16]

This was so essential because it was based upon the presumption that nothing is wrong with ‘the system’, per se, but it was instead “technical” issues that had to be managed in a technical and rational manner. Hence, the “problem of development” was not the legacy of colonialism, or the continuing neo-imperial projects of domination and economic exploitation, but was simply a matter of figuring out the ‘right’ ways to ‘develop’ into a ‘modern’ society. Thus, at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, both Ford and Rockefeller heavily invested in the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, and its departments of sociology, economics, and political science. At the University of East Africa, which had been heavily subsidized by both foundations, they supported the development of the East African Institute of Social Research in Uganda, and the Institute for Development Studies in Kenya, again emphasizing the departments of sociology, economics, and political science.[17] It is, of course, no wonder that these are the fields the foundations supported with the most emphasis, considering that the development of these fields throughout the 20th century was largely at the impetus of the foundations, themselves.

Kenneth Thompson, a one-time vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation, stated that, “66 percent of all East African faculty have been Rockefeller Foundation scholars or holders of Special Lectureships established with Rockefeller Foundation funding for returning national scholars.” Thus, the exchange programs established by the foundations between elite American universities and the foundation-funded African universities were of critical import in developing a national elite.[18]

Education and Empire in Action: The Case of the Congo

The Ford Foundation undertook major programs in public administration in Nigeria, East Africa and the Congo. The Congo was of particular interest, with its massive reserves of mineral wealth and resource riches. In 1961, Ford founded the National School of Law and Administration in the Congo, which was “designed to train an elite cadre of public administrators.” The objective worked quite well, as “by 1968, the 400 odd graduates of the school made up an elite corps of civil servants who [were then] holding important administrative and judicial posts throughout the Congo.” The first secretary-general of the school was a man named James T. Harris, who was also reportedly a CIA agent at the time.[19] This is of particular interest considering that at the time, the CIA was involved in a destabilization campaign against the Congo’s first democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, who was advocating a decolonization process of political and economic independence from Europe and the West.

The Congo gained independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960, and immediately a struggle for power took place between individuals, tribes and political groups. As conflict spread, Belgium was drawn in to protect its mineral investments, as well as the United States, keenly aware of the Congo’s vast resource wealth. Again, the United States framed events as being the threat of a Communist takeover, with CIA Director Allen Dulles warning that this would pose “disastrous consequences” for the “free world.” In 1960, Patrice Lumumba had become the first Prime Minister of the Congo following democratic elections, and he immediately prompted the animosity of the U.S. National Security State. Lumumba had called for both the economic as well as political liberation of the Congo. At the Independence Day ceremony, attended by an array of foreign former-imperial dignitaries, including the Belgian King, Lumumba publicly decried the former imperial powers,[20] much to their horror at being publicly embarrassed by an African leader.

Soon after, the province of Katanga, home to the majority of the Congo’s vast mineral wealth, most of which was ‘owned’ by Belgium, announced that it was seceding, an act that was instantly supported by Belgium, which then deployed its military in the region with the full support of the United States. This prompted many international cries against the operation, and the United Nations suggested withdrawing Belgian forces and replacing them with a United Nations military force, an action the US was happy to carry out, as the operation was led by US officials acting in secret collaboration with the State Department. Lumumba attempted to turn to the US and UN for help in putting down the rebellion, both of which refused, prompting him to seek aid from the Soviet Union, which obliged.[21]

On September 5, 1960, the President of the Congo, closely allied to the CIA, dismissed Lumumba as Prime Minister. Lumumba contested this, and spoke in his usual articulate manner, gaining the support of the legislature to reinstate him. Allen Dulles had, meanwhile, ordered the assassination of Lumumba, referring to it as “an urgent and prime objective.” Within days of being reinstated as Prime Minister, Joseph Mobutu took power in a military coup directed by the United States. Lumumba escaped, yet was tracked down by the CIA, and subsequently detained by Mobutu and handed over to the rebel leader of Katanga province, “Lumumba’s bitter enemy. Lumumba was assassinated the same day.”[22] The Congo (eventually renamed Zaire, and then now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo) has never had a democratically elected leader since.

As one Ford Foundation official in the 1960s stated:

From the standpoint of the United States government, Ford activity in the Congo has been useful in furthering foreign policy objectives. The United States has been successful in its main political objectives of helping create an independent Congo not subject to Communist influence. It has been able to do this by relying on the United Nations for peacekeeping and on the Ford Foundation for helping initiate the key institutions for the training of administrators… Ford assistance has therefore been an important element in furthering United States interests in Africa.[23]

It is hard to come by a more blatant statement of interests and ideology within the major foundations. The official’s concept of an “independent” Congo simply means “subservient” to American and Western interests. As the official acknowledged himself, the Ford Foundation was “an important element in furthering United States interests in Africa,” thereby implicating the foundation not as a benevolent philanthropy, as we are made to believe via the savvy PR campaigns of foundations, but rather, to understand the foundation (as an institution) as an integral aspect of the modern imperial system of domination and control.

Training Teachers

At the same time that the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were funding universities and managing the social sciences of African education, the Carnegie Corporation became principally interested in the training of teachers, following on Carnegie’s earlier interest in shaping the colonial education system in the pre-war years:

A Carnegie-sponsored meeting in London in 1960, attended by representatives of Teachers College [at Columbia University], the [British] Colonial Office, the Carnegie Corporation, and the colleges or universities in Ibadan, Zaria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and Uganda, assured a continuing and significant role for the Carnegie Corporation in African education.[24]

In 1960, another major meeting took place attended by representatives not only of the Carnegie Corporation, but also the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Department of State, the British Colonial Office, the African-American Institute, the International Cooperation Administration (the precursor to United States Agency for International Development – USAID), as well as representatives from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. At the meeting, the focus was on how to organize the training of educators:

It was suggested that the foundations and the International Cooperation Administration pool their resources, identify a significant American teacher training institution as their agent, and support that institution’s efforts to train a large cadre of American teachers to work in the rapidly expanding secondary school network in East Africa. Because of its previous contacts with both the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford Foundation, it was not surprising that Teachers College, Columbia University, was designated as the training institution, and that Karl W. Bigelow (long a Ford and Carnegie protégé) was the chief negotiator securing the contract.[25]

Educating Americans in the Subtle Art of Imperial Domination

In the 1950s, the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation facilitated the development of African studies in American universities to create an American elite well-trained and educated in being able to manage a more effective foreign policy over the region. Another key project was in developing the Foreign Area Fellowship Program, where American social scientists would have overseas research subsidized by the Ford Foundation. The fellows also became closely tied to the CIA, who saw them as important sources of information to recruit in the field. However, when this information began to surface about CIA connections with foundation-linked academics, the Ford Foundation leadership became furious, as one Ford official later explained that the President of the Foundation had gone to Washington and “raised hell,” where he had to explain to the CIA that, “it was much more in the national interest that we train a bunch of people who at later stages might want to go with the CIA… than it was for them to have one guy they could call their source of information.”[26] It is, perhaps, a truly starting and significant revelation that the president of a foundation has the ability, status, and position to be able to go to Washington and “raise hell,” and no less, lecture the CIA about how to properly conduct operations in a more covert manner.

The Carnegie Corporation, for its part, was “encouraging well-placed American individuals to undertake study tours of Africa.” In 1957, the Carnegie Corporation gave funds to the Council on Foreign Relations to undertake this task of identifying and encouraging important individuals to go to Africa. Among the individuals chosen were Paul Nitze, who became Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in 1962; Thomas Finletter, a former Secretary of the Air Force; and David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Bank.[27]

The Rockefeller Foundation also initiated several funding programs for universities in Latin America and Asia, notably in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. By the early 1980s, the Rockefeller Foundation had awarded over 10,000 fellowships and scholarships. From the Ford Foundation’s inception in 1936 until 1977, it had allocated roughly $919.2 million to “less-developed countries.”[28] The Ford Foundation even maintained “a steady stream of scholarly exchange with the Soviet Union and other countries of Eastern Europe since 1956, and with the People’s Republic of China since 1973.” Ford and other foundations had also played significant roles in channeling intellectual dissent in developing nations into ‘safe’ areas, just as they do at the domestic level. This has required them to fund several radical (and sometimes even Marxist) scholars. The Ford Foundation had also supported the relocation of displaced scholars following the military coups in Argentina in 1965 and Chile in 1973. However, such foreign ‘assistance’ has not gone unnoticed entirely, as in 1971 there was violent resistance by radical university students and faculty at the University of Valle in Colombia, “a favored recipient of Ford and Rockefeller monies.”[29] As noted in the book, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:

The power of the foundation is not that of dictating what will be studied. Its power consists in defining professional and intellectual parameters, in determining who will receive support to study what subjects in what settings. And the foundation’s power resides in suggesting certain types of activities it favors and is willing to support. As [political theorist and economist Harold] Laski noted, “the foundations do not control, simply because, in the direct and simple sense of the word, there is no need for them to do so. They have only to indicate the immediate direction of their minds for the whole university world to discover that it always meant to gravitate to that angle of the intellectual compass.”[30]

It is interesting to note the purposes and consequences of foundation funding for highly critical scholars in the ‘developing’ world, who are often very critical of American economic, political, and cultural domination of their countries and regions. Often, these scholars were able to collect information and go places that Western scholars were unable to, “generating alternative paradigms which are likely to provide more realistic and accurate assessments of events overseas.” One example was the funding of dependency theorists, who rose in opposition to the prevailing development theorists, suggesting that the reason for the Global South’s perceived “backwardness” was not that it was further behind the natural progression of industrial development (as development theorists postulated), but rather that they were kept subjugated to the Western powers, and were specifically maintained as ‘dependent’ upon the North, thus maintaining a neo-imperial status directly resulting from their former overt colonial status. Thus, the foundations have gained better, more accurate information about the regions they seek to dominate, simultaneously employing and cultivating talented scholars and professionals, who might otherwise be drawn to more activist areas of involvement, as opposed to academic. Thus:

[A] situation exists where information, produced by Latin Americans on situations of internal and external domination, is flowing to the alleged sources of oppression – rather than toward those who need the information to defend themselves against exploitation.[31]

An example of this is in Brazil, where a regime tolerated the writings of radical social scientists who are supported by foundations. Many of these scholars have received international recognition for their work, which would make it unlikely that the regime itself would be unaware of it. Thus, the work itself may not be perceived as an actual threat to the regime, for two major reasons:

(1) it is not intelligible to the masses, for certainly, if the same sentiments were expressed not in academic journals but from a street corner or as part of a political movement which mobilized large numbers, the individual would be jailed or exiled; and (2) the regime itself benefits from the knowledge generated, while simultaneously enhancing its international image by permitting academic freedom.[32]

Thus, the ultimate effect abroad is the same as that at home: prominent and talented scholars and intellectuals are drawn into safe channels whereby they can aim and hope to achieve small improvements through reform, to ‘better’ a bad situation, improve social justice, human rights, welfare, and ultimately divert these talented intellectuals “from more realistic, and perhaps revolutionary, efforts at social change.”[33]

Again, we have an image of the major philanthropic foundations as “engines of social engineering,” and agents of social control. Not only are their efforts aimed at domestic America or the West alone, but rather, to the whole world. As such, foundations have been and in large part, remain, as some of the most subtle, yet dominant institutions in the global power structure. Their effectiveness lies in their subtle methods, in their aims at incremental change, organizing, funding, and in the power of ideas. Of all other institutions, foundations are perhaps the most effective when it comes to the process of effecting the ‘institutionalization of ideas,’ which is, as a concept in and of itself, the central facet to domination over all humanity.

 

This has been a brief excerpt from a chapter on the birth of the American Empire, in an upcoming book by Andrew Gavin Marshall, as part of The People’s Book Project. Please support the Book Project and help this book come to completion.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project.

Notes

[1]            Robert F. Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Indiana University Press, 1980), pages 180-181.

[2]            Ibid, page 181.

[3]            Ibid.

[4]            Ibid, page 182.

[5]            Ibid, pages 182-184.

[6]            Ibid, pages 184-185.

[7]            Ibid, pages 185-186.

[8]            Ibid, page 186.

[9]            Ibid, pages 187-188.

[10]            Ibid, pages 188-190.

[11]            Ibid, page 194.

[12]            Ibid, pages 203-205.

[13]            Ibid, page 206.

[14]            Ibid, pages 207-208.

[15]            Ibid, pages 208-209.

[16]            Ibid, pages 209-210.

[17]            Ibid, pages 210-211.

[18]            Ibid, page 213.

[19]            Ibid, pages 213-214.

[20]            William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II. (Common Courage Press: Monroe, Main, 2004), pages 155-156

[21]            Ibid, pages 157-158.

[22]            Ibid, pages 158-159.

[23]            Robert F. Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Indiana University Press, 1980), page 215.

[24]            Ibid, page 217.

[25]            Ibid, page 218.

[26]            Ibid, pages 220-221.

[27]            Ibid, pages 221-222.

[28]            Ibid, pages 306-307.

[29]            Ibid, pages 308-309.

[30]            Ibid, page 319.

[31]            Ibid, pages 320-321.

[32]            Ibid, pages 321-322.

[33]            Ibid, pages 322-323.

Libya, Syria, and the West: An Interview With Andrew Gavin Marshall

Interview with Devon D.B.

The Progressive Playbook, 9 September 2011

This is the transcript of an interview I had with Andrew Gavin Marshall, an independent researcher and writer. His work can be seen here. In the following interview, we discuss the US-NATO “intervention” in Libya and its effects on the African continent, as well as whether or not a Western intervention of Syria is possible. For more information on Libya, read Mr. Marshall’s article entitled Lies, War, and Empire: NATO’s “Humanitarian Imperialism” in Libya.

Devon DB: Seeing as how the rebels are split into factions, do you think this will come back to haunt the US and NATO in the formation of the new Libyan government?

Mr. Marshall: The fact that the rebels are split into factions is not a surprise to the West. From the beginning of the TNC (Transitional National Council), the organization was factionalized, and with the recent assassination of one of the military commanders (several weeks prior to the storming of Tripoli), these factions were known to be in competition. Thus, it is likely that this potential was taken into consideration by Western strategists. Whomever may become supreme within the TNC in a power struggle, it would be likely that the country could descend into a more chaotic system or civil war. If the al-Qaeda rebel factions (those with the most military training and experience) were to get a strong foothold in the country, this could even provide the West with a pretext for an occupation of Libya in order to “secure” the “transition” of the country into a liberal democratic structure.

It seems unlikely that the West would support a new dictatorship in Libya. In 2005, the Council on Foriegn Relations (the premier strategic policy planning institution in the United States – the “imperial brain trust” as some theorists have referred to them) produced a document, “In Support of Arab Democracy” (http://www.cfr.org/democracy-promotion/support-arab-democracy/p8166). One of its chief authors was Madeleine Albright, a protégé of the most influential strategic thinker in the American Empire, Zbigniew Brzezinski. The ultimate conclusion laid out in the report was that the United States needed to undertake a strategy of “democracy promotion” in the Arab world, replacing once-plient dictatorships with more stable, secure liberal democratic states. The report stated quite emphatically, that democracy should be promoted through “Evolution, not revolution.” However, it also emphasized the need to employ different strategies in different countries, and not resort to a “one-size fits all” strategy. With the ‘Arab Spring’, the democracy promotion agenda was forced to the forefront and had to act, pre-empt, and co-opt at a rate in which it was perhaps not prepared. Thus, we have seen the co-optation (or attempted co-optation, since these events have not yet subsided) of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

A true revolution is a threat to Western domination of the region, its resources and population. Thus, evolution into liberal democratic states is preferable to a true people’s revolution. True democracy, however, is not desired by Western strategists. True democracy (where the people would rule) is anathema to American imperial interests for a very clear reason: the public opinion of the Arab world.

In 2010, a major Western polling agency conducted a survery of popular opinion in the Arab world. Among the findings were that a vast majority felt that Iran had a right to a nuclear program (as high as 97% agreed with that in Egypt), that a majority felt Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would be good for the stability of the Middle East, and that the two countries which were perceived as the “biggest threat” to the Middle East were Israel and the United States, respectively (with 88% and 77%) while Iran was perceived as a major threat by only 10%, China by 3%, and Syria by 1%. [Download document at: http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0805_arab_opinion_poll_telhami.aspx]

Thus, we must see the current upheavals in the Arab world as part of a larger, global strategy. Following the collapse of the USSR, Western liberal capitalist democracy was promoted as the “winner” of the Cold War, and the only system worthy of upholding. Thus, Yugoslavia, a socialist state, had to be dismantled so that no “alternatives” to the Western dominated system may persevere. The Latin American dictatorships, so strongly supported for decades (and indeed much longer), were no longer sustainable. The neoliberal reforms of the age of ‘structural adjustment’ (promoted and implemented by the IMF and World Bank from the 1980s onward) had thoroughly discredited the states that implemented them, both in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

As poverty spread, and social destruction accelerated, we saw the proliferation of NGOs as modern missionaries, seeking to treat the symptoms of our system of ‘global apartheid’ (seeking to releive poverty, address health care, education, etc), while refusing to challenge the system that created these conditions. It was also in this context that we saw the emergence of the “democratization” agenda of Western powers. The “failure” of the ‘structural adjustment programs’ was framed as being the responsibility of the governments that implemented them, largely dictatorships, and thus, it was perceived as a “governance” issue, not a failure of the economic conditions imposed upon those nations.Thus, democracy promotion became part of future “adjustment” programs. Yet, this version of democracy is very specific, not populist: build a liberal democratic state with multi-party elections, civil society, and a constitution. The aim and result, however, was to create factions of elites which would compete for power in elections (often taking the form of ethno-centric parties, further dividing subject populations among ethnic lines); civil society would seek to promote and implement the contours of a liberal democratic Western-oriented capitalist state, institutionalizing this Western ideology into the construction of the state system, promoting “human rights”, accountability, poverty-reduction, etc., all which while often providing some minimal relief and constructive support to people in need, ultimately provide the hegemonic system (imperial in nature) with an aspect of consent. Hegemony, as defined by Antonio Gramsci, is of a dual nature: coercion and consent.

While the coercive apparatus of the state (police, military, etc) is essential in creating and maintaining hegemony (as the dozens of IMF riots where people rose up and protested against ‘structural adjustment’ in the 80s and 90s were often violently repressed by the state). However, consent to the system creates a more stable, lasting hegemony. Consent is engineered largely through civil society, which seeks to make ‘reforms’ to the system, which lessen the symptoms of imperialist oppression and domination, but thereby enhance the stability of that very system by acting as a pressure valve against revolution. This system was promoted in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Thus, dictatorships were slowly replaced with liberal democratic states, which were not only more effective in terms of securing consent to the global apartheid system, but were also more subservient to Western domination, as instead of having to deal with entrenched local dictatorships, which could (and have often) challenged Western domination over their country (Saddam Hussein is a good example), they would simply be able to “promote democracy” through funding opposition parties, and just as in the United States itself, you change the parties, but the system remains the same, the same interests are served, and the people are divided into “party politics” instead of united against their true challenge: empire. In Latin America, this system became largely discredited, and thus we saw the emergence of populist democracies, with Jean-Bertrande Aristide in Haiti (who was twice overthrown by the West), and Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, et. al. These populist leaders have challenged (to various degrees) Western domination over their nations and peoples.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the wave of populist democracies has yet to emerge, if at all. Yet, the liberal democratic states have already been largely discredited in the eyes of the majority of people. The Arab world, long dominated by pliant Western dictatorships (and a few anti-Western dictatorships), is now experiencing its wave of “democratization.” The true question then, is whether we will see the emergence of pliant liberal democratic capitalist states (as is preferred by the West in order to maintain hegemony over the region, an absolute imperial necessity), or if we will see the development of populist democracies. It should be noted that populist revolutions and democracies would be ardently opposed by the Western nations. So, just as in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and elsewhere, we will see different strategies and methods all seeking to achieve roughly similar goals: “democratization” of the state in order to secure Western regional hegemony.

As we have seen with Libya, one strategy that will not be shied away from is war (or “humanitarian intervention”). We must also not rule out the possibility of an occupation, presumably under the auspices of securing the “transition to democracy”, which I think is a very likely scenario in Libya. Support for radical, militant elements in the Libyan rebels (specifically those linked to al-Qaeda) was a specific strategy which achieved its objective: change of government. This strategy may be employed elsewhere, such as in Syria, Yemen, et. al. However, from an imperial-strategic standpoint, it is not favourable to have a radical Islamist government in power, as the threat of popular revolution would remain. We may see some form of radicalized dictatorships being established for short periods of time, but these would ultimately be harder to control; thus, the ulitmate objective is totally dependent, and pliant regimes. In such a situation, I believe the West will prefer to see the faction in which the leader of the TNC, Jabril, takes control of the country, as he has made it quite clear that he favours neoliberal reforms and Western “investment” in Libya. Documents released by Wikileaks revealed in a 2009 diplomatic cable from the US Ambassador to Libya referring to Jabril as someone who “gets the US persepctive” on investment, and suggested supporting him further. Just as has been done from the very origins of al-Qaeda, the United States has covertly supported the organization in order to achieve strategic objectives, largely in terms of overthrowing or waging war against unfavourable regimes. However, another popular strategic aim of supporting al-Qaeda affiliated organizations lies in using them as a pretext to invade and occupy particular countries. We have seen the former strategy already used in Libya, the question is: will we see the latter?

Devon DB: How will other nations react now that the West has a foothold in Africa? Do you think that they will obey the West for fear of “humanitarian invervention?”

Mr. Marshall: The reactions from other nations will vary. Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, many nations were scared into cooperating with the West, including Gaddafi and Libya itself. It was in 2004 that the sanctions were ended and economic cooperation and investment began. The United States and NATO, having displayed their willingness to use force in achieving objectives in Africa, will likely create a more compliant atmosphere among several states in the Arab and African world. However, the populations would likely be more opposed to Western domination over their own nations, so the political leaders will have to play a dangerous game of attempting to secure their own position vis a vis, meeting the demands of the West while placating the demands of their own people. In the current ‘Age of Awakening’ (the Arab Spring), domestic leaders are increasingly fearful of their own populations, and must take popular opinion into account more than they previously have. An occupation of Libya would also give the West the opportunity to enhance its military presence on the continent, establish military bases, and possibly even establish a continental headquaretrs for the Pentagon’s newest strategic command, AFRICOM (which is currently based out of Germany, due to no African nations being willing to host it). This would be a strong indication of maintaining a military presence on the continent and thus, resembles a geopolitical threat to all other nations.

Devon DB: Would you say that the African Union truly stood up to the US and NATO? Do you think they could have done more?

Mr Marshall:  No, the African Union did not truly stand up to NATO. Certainly, their rhetoric of opposition revealed that the only ones who were not buying the line of “humanitarian intervention” in Africa were Africans themselves. This was the most important aspect of the AU’s opposition to such an operation. However, ultimately, South Africa was pressured into releasing its frozen Libyan assets for the new government, and the AU is falling into line. In terms of whether or not they could have “done more,” their abilities are highly limited. They did, early on, attempt to land in Libya (prior to the intervention, but immediately following the no-fly zone) in order to attempt to negotiate a seize fire and come to a peaceful solution. Yet, as a result of the no-fly zone, the dominant Western powers (in particular, the US, France, and UK) refused to allow the AU’s plane to land in Libya and pursue a peaceful resolution. Ultimately, the AU, like the Palestinian Authority in the occupied territories, is not a separate power from that of the greater institution. It is an organization whose power is derived from that which is given to it. The PA is able to employ the authority which it is given to it by Israel. The AU is able to use the authority which is granted to it by the UN, US and the “international community.”

The AU takes part in “peacekeeping operations” which are rhetorical covers for occupations, such as in Sudan and Somalia and elsewhere. In such cases, the more Western-complaint nations (such as Uganda and Rwanda in Central Africa) send in their military forces (heavily trained, armed, and subsidized by American “aid”) to nations such as Somalia (whose government the US overthrew in 2007) as “AU peacekeepers”, thus creating a sense of legitimacy, as it is Africans policing Africans, not white Westerners. In short, the AU is not able to be an effective counter to Western domination because it has been allowed to be built up only so much as it can be integrated into a system of global domination (or “global governance”).

A new part for the AU which could potentially challenge Western domination would be to pursue a more overt non-aligned movement type of institution, anti-imperialist and pro-African, bringing Africa together not to allow for more effective co-optation of the continent, but to allow for more effective opposition to Western domination. My hopes for such an organization to achieve that objective are minimal however; I have little to no faith in the ‘nation-state’ or supra-national institutions in countering the system of domination, as they are institutionally and ideologically a product and part of that very system.

Devon DB: How likely is it that the West will intervene in Syria? If the West does intervene, do you think that the intervention will be in the style of Egypt, with the co-opting of the protest movement or will they decide to militarily intervene, as in the situation with Libya?

Mr. Marshall: I think a Western intervention in Syria is very likely. This is a dictator who has not been a stalwart puppet of the Western nations. This, in what we refer to as “international politics” is among the greatest sins a nation can commit. Any and all means could be undertaken in order to replace this regime. As the situation is already one mired in violence, it would appear likely that a violent “solution” would be undertaken. Thus far, in the Arab Spring, we have seen very different strategies taking place in very different countries: civil society co-optation in Tunisia, support for the military in creating a new government in Egypt, violent and brutal repression in Bahrain, war and “intervention” in Libya, etc. I think it is premature to declare which strategy will be used in Syria, as I think it will ultimately become the “Syria strategy.”

The imperialist powers are not analyzing and implementing strategies in a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all method, so outside analyists and observers should not view the situation as such. In order to understand imperialism and contemplate imperial strategies, one must allow themselves to think like an imperialist. What is the aim in Syria? Put simply: a change of government. What are external forces which could likely step into an internal conflict in Syria? Iran, for one; but also Israel. Israel will simply not tolerate a radical and populist government coming to power in Syria. Iran does not want to lose a regional ally. Thus, the costs and consequences of a foreign intervention in Syria are far different from those of Libya.

A foreign military intervention in the country (which I think is a likely possibility), has an enormous potential to result in a rapid and exponentially accelerated descent into chaos for the entire region. One must not rule out the possibility of a major regional war and destabilization campaign being on the table of imperial strategists. If all else fails, plunge a region into absolute war, and you will, in time, be able to re-shape its political structures through violence and destruction, and “reconstruction”. It was, after all, World War I that brought an end to the Ottoman Empire, where at the Paris Peace talks of 1919, the nations of the Middle East were drawn up by French and British imperialists who implanted pliant leaders and consuls. War is a highly effective strategic tool for the aim of total reorganization. For decades now, there have been discussions in various strategic circles about the “re-making of the Middle East”, re-drawing the borders, etc. To undertake such a task, if that is the current desired strategy, destabilization and war is the most effective means.

Devon DB: If the West does intervene in Syria, what will be the consequences for Iran and the great Middle East region? How do you think Iran and its allies will react?

Mr. Marshall: I think Iran would attempt to counter an intervention in Syria through support to counter-revolutionary forces in Syria, supporting such organizations like Hezbollah or Hamas as they do in Palestine and Lebanon. Iran must be careful of being drawn into a more direct conflict by the West, (which could be a strategic aim of a Syrian intervention), as it could likely incur a Western reaction directly against Iran. If Iran becomes involved, militarily, in Syria, it is unlikely that Israel would remain uninvolved. This would lead to a rapid acceleration of conflict: Israel and Iran would likely go to war, and the entire region would become engulfed in conflict. We must remember that Israel has upwards of 200 nuclear weapons, the only regional nuclear superpower. Israel, also, would not hesitate to use those weapons. In such a situation, I think it would be likely that we could begin using the term, “World War Three” to describe the global context of such a conflict, which would surely draw in Russia, China, India, and Pakistan, all of which are also nuclear powers.

Will NATO-led Rebels Ethnically Cleanse Libya?

 

 

 

Lies, War, and Empire: NATO’s “Humanitarian Imperialism” in Libya

Lies, War, and Empire: NATO’s “Humanitarian Imperialism” in Libya

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

In this report I seek to examine the war against Libya in a more critical and comprehensive manner than that of the story we have been told. We hear a grand fairy tale about powerful Western nations working together to save innocent civilians in a far-off country who simply want the freedoms and rights we already have. Here we are, our nations and governments – whose officials we elect (generally) – are bombing and killing people on the other side of the world. Is it not our responsibility, as citizens of these very Western nations, to examine and critique the claims of our governments? They are, after all, killing people around the world in our name. Should we not seek to discover if they are lying?

It has been said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Libya is no exception. From the lies that started the war, to the rebels linked to al-Qaeda, ethnically cleansing black Libyans, killing civilians, propaganda, PR firms, intelligence agents, and possible occupation; Libya is a more complex story than the fairy tale we have been sold. Reality always is.

What Were the ‘Reasons’ for ‘Intervention’?

We were sold the case for war in Libya as a “humanitarian intervention.” We were told, of course, that we “needed” to intervene in Libya because Muammar Gaddafi was killing his own people in large numbers; those people, on the same token, were presented as peaceful protesters resisting the 40-plus year reign of a brutal dictator.

In early March of 2011, news headlines in Western nations reported that Gaddafi would kill half a million people.[1] On March 18, as the UN agreed to launch air strikes on Libya, it was reported that Gaddafi had begun an assault against the rebel-held town of Benghazi. The Daily Mail reported that Gaddafi had threatened to send in his African mercenaries to crush the rebellion.[2] Reports of Libyan government tanks sitting outside Benghazi poised for an invasion were propagated in the Western media.[3] In the lead-up to the United Nations imposing a no-fly zone, reports spread rapidly through the media of Libyan government jets bombing the rebels.[4] Even in February, the New York Times – the sacred temple for the ‘stenographers of power’ we call “journalists” – reported that Gaddafi was amassing “thousands of mercenaries” to defend Tripoli and crush the rebels.[5] Italy’s Foreign Minister declared that over 1,000 people were killed in the fighting in February, citing the number as “credible.”[6] Even a top official with Human Rights Watch declared the rebels to be “peaceful protesters” who “are nice, sincere people who want a better future for Libya.”[7] The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that “thousands” of people were likely killed by Gaddafi, “and called for international intervention to protect civilians.”[8] In April, reports spread near and far at lightning speed of Gaddafi’s forces using rape as a weapon of war, with the first sentence in a Daily Mail article declaring, “Children as young as eight are being raped in front of their families by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya,” with Gaddafi handing out Viagra to his troops in a planned and organized effort to promote rape.[9]

As it turned out, these claims – as posterity notes – turned out to be largely false and contrived. Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International both investigated the claims of rape, and “have found no first-hand evidence in Libya that rapes are systematic and being used as part of war strategy,” and their investigations in Eastern Libya “have not turned up significant hard evidence supporting allegations of rapes by Qaddafi’s forces.” Yet, just as these reports came out, Hillary Clinton declared that the U.S. is “deeply concerned by reports of wide-scale rape” in Libya.[10] Even U.S. military and intelligence officials had to admit that, “there is no evidence that Libyan military forces are being given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas”; at the same time Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, “told a closed-door meeting of officials at the UN that the Libyan military is using rape as a weapon in the war with the rebels and some had been issued the anti-impotency drug. She reportedly offered no evidence to backup the claim.”[11]

An investigation by Amnesty International, released in June, attempted to assess the on-the-ground (as opposed to ‘in-the-newspapers’) reality of the claims made which led to Western “intervention” in Libya. Among the stories of mass rapes were the use, by Gaddafi, of “foreign mercenaries” and using helicopters and jets to attack rebel forces and protesters. As the Independent reported in June:

An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for these human rights violations and in many cases has discredited or cast doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence.[12]

Hillary Clinton stated, “Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called ‘virginity tests’ have taken place in countries throughout the region,” and at the same time, the senior crisis responder for Amnesty International who was in Libya for three months following the uprising stated, “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Human Rights Watch reported, “We have not been able to find evidence.” The rebels had been very active, in fact, in manufacturing and propagating lies that supported intervention and war, as the Amnesty representative explained, “rebels dealing with the foreign media in Benghazi started showing journalists packets of Viagra, claiming they came from burned-out tanks, though it is unclear why the packets were not charred.” Further, in regards to the use of foreign mercenaries, for which many black Africans were killed and imprisoned by the rebels, Amnesty reported, “there was no evidence for this.” The Amnesty rep in Libya declared: “Those shown to journalists as foreign mercenaries were later quietly released… Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents.” Others, Amnesty reported, “were not so lucky and were lynched or executed,” as “the politicians kept talking about mercenaries, which inflamed public opinion and the myth has continued because they were released without publicity.”[13]

Those migrants who were shown to foreign media were not represented in that media in a friendly or even falsely unbiased manner. As the Daily Mail reported at the time, publishing photos of the “savage mercenaries” who later turned out to be migrant workers, “they were a pretty sorry bunch,” and that, “you could smell their fear.” The article then went on to declare, “these men are alleged to have been among several thousand foreign thugs and gunmen that Muammar Gaddafi sent against his own people, to kill and destroy and quell the uprising in eastern Libya.” Now, claimed the Daily Mail, “they are the prisoners of the people.” However, the article continued to – several paragraphs below, mind you – quote some of the “savage mercenaries” who made statements to the reporter such as: “We did not do anything… We are all construction workers from Ghana. We harmed no one… they are lying about us. We were taken from our house at night when we were sleeping.” The reporter assessed the situation with: “Still complaining, they were led away. It was hard to judge their guilt.”[14]

Further, with the “credible” reports – as the Italian Foreign Minister referred to them – of “thousands” of civilians killed by Gaddafi in the early weeks of rebellion, the Amnesty International investigation found that, “there is no proof of mass killing of civilians.” During the first days of the uprising, most of the fighting was in Benghazi, “where 100 to 110 people were killed, and the city of Baida to the east, where 59 to 64 were killed.” However, there were indications that some of these deaths were also pro-Gaddafi forces, and that some “protesters” had weapons, indicating that it may have been a fight as opposed to a massacre. Further, reported Amnesty: “There is no evidence that aircraft or heavy anti-aircraft machine guns were used against crowds. Spent cartridges picked up after protesters were shot at came from Kalashnikovs or similar calibre weapons.” The Amnesty report further criticized Western media coverage of the war:

Much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge.[15]

As for the notion that NATO was bombing Gaddafi troops poised for an invasion, even the New York Times quoted a Libyan official who claimed, “that Western powers were now attacking the Libyan Army in retreat, a far cry from the United Nations mandate to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians.” This is an important point, because the reason for the UN no-fly zone was purportedly to “protect civilians,” not to “take sides” in the civil conflict between the government and the rebels. As a Libyan official stated, some Libyan forces “were attacked as they were clearly moving westbound,” as in, away from Benghazi and the rebels in the east. He further stated, “Clearly NATO is taking sides in this civil conflict. It is illegal. It is not allowed by the Security Council resolution. And it is immoral, of course.” At the same time, the NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, declared that, “NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution. Nothing more, nothing less.”[16]

Days before the Libyan government official claimed that Libyan forces were in retreat as they were bombed (something which would no doubt be immediately cast aside as Libyan propaganda by Western media sources), the New York Times, within days of NATO strikes beginning, reported on 20 March 2011 that, “with brutal efficiency, allied warplanes bombed tanks, missile launchers and civilian cars, leaving a smoldering trail of wreckage that stretched for miles,” and further, outside of Benghazi, “many of the tanks seemed to have been retreating, or at least facing the other way. And others were simply abandoned.”[17]

Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, the most prestigious and influential think tank in the United States, was also a former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. Department of State, former National Security Council Senior Director, who has also been a key figure within the Brookings Institution, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In short, it is a hard thing to be a more institutionalized imperial strategist than Haas; however, even he wrote in early April that, “I did not support the U.S. decision to intervene with military force in Libya. The evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.” However, he of course went on to support NATO’s efforts, as – he explained – “we are where we are.”[18]

Long before the UN resolution 1973 and the NATO air strikes began, the Russian military, who had been monitoring events in Libya from satellites, said that Libya never launched attacks from helicopters or jets against its own civilians, and that, “as far as they are concerned, the attacks some media were reporting have never occurred.”[19] Of course, this was later confirmed by an independent investigation,[20] however the war had already been sold on the basis of such dubious reporting. Indeed, far more journalists are “stenographers of power” rather than ‘investigators of truth.’

On March 1, the same day that the Russian military reported that there had been no jets used in attacks by Gaddafi against his own civilians, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, gave a press conference at the Pentagon where one reporter posed the question: “Do you see any evidence that he actually has fired on his own people from the air?  There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation?  If so, to what extent?” Secretary Gates responded: “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that,” and Admiral Mullen added, “That’s correct.  We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.”[21] So even the Pentagon itself admitted that it had absolutely “no confirmation whatsoever” that jets and helicopters had been used to attack civilians, yet the whole Western world took this as de facto truth. In this, we can see the power of the media in making a case for war, where their propaganda is more absurd and manufactured than that of the Pentagon’s.

Stenographers of Power?

Glenn Greenwald, an American constitutional and civil rights lawyer who writes for Salon.com wrote an article about the notion of reporters as “stenographers of power.” He quoted an article entitled, “How to be a stenographer,” in which it was written:

If you are considering a career as a stenographer, one of the most important things that you should consider is what type of job duties stenographers have. They transcribe, or type, material which they are dictated. This can include orders, memos, correspondence, reports and various other types of information.[22]

Greenwald, in describing his own personal experience with courtroom stenographers, wrote:

Their defining trait is that they have a fierce devotion to transcribing accurately everything that is said and doing nothing else. It’s not uncommon for lawyers, in the heat of some dispute, to attempt to recruit the stenographer into the controversy in order to say who is right… Stenographers will never do that. They will emphasize that they are only there to write down what is said, not to resolve disputes or say what actually happened… But there’s a fundamental difference: stenographers are far better at their job, since they give equal weight to what all parties say. But Time and friends exist principally to trumpet government claims and minimize and belittle anything to the contrary, and they pretend to “balance” it all only when they’re caught mindlessly transcribing these one-sided claims and are forced to write down what the other side says, too. The bulk of our establishment journalists aren’t merely stenographers. They’re bad stenographers.[23]

Following the beginning of the Iraq war, many newspapers had to publish small pieces outlining their role as “[bad] stenographers of power” in presenting the case for war in the first place. Of course, at the time that the New York Times, the Washington Post and others were selling the war to the American people, dissenters and critics were unabashedly seeking truth and were able to assess the claims made as “false” long before the war, let alone before these news publications had “discovered” the falsities they reported. Of course, claims will always be made that “hindsight is 20/20” and “we didn’t know,” but such claims don’t stand to scrutiny when the dissenters whose voices were never heard in the Times or Post were far ahead of the media in assessing the validity of the government’s assertions. In 2004, the New York Times had to publish a brief report on its own pre-Iraq war coverage, stating:

We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.[24]

The Washington Post ran a similar story, detailing the attitude its editors and journalists took in the run up to the war in Iraq. It was reported that any article questioning the validity of claims made by the administration, such as the notion that there were WMDs in Iraq, wouldn’t make the front page. Bob Woodward, Assistant Managing Editor at the Post stated, “We should have warned readers we had information that the basis for this was shakier.” The article further explained:

Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration’s evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times… Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?..

Across the country, “the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones,” [Washington Post Executive Editor] Downie said. “We didn’t pay enough attention to the minority.”…

From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq. Some examples: “Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified”; “War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack”; “Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will”; “Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat”; “Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War.”[25]

One story that was submitted to the Post for publication, which threw into doubt all the claims made by the U.S. administration, and which largely quoted retired military officials and outside experts, “was killed by Matthew Vita, then the national security editor and now a deputy assistant managing editor” of the Post. Karen DeYoung, a former assistant managing editor who covered the prewar diplomacy, said quite bluntly that, “Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials had no problem commanding prime real estate in the paper, even when their warnings were repetitive”:

We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power,” DeYoung said. “If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said.” And if contrary arguments are put “in the eighth paragraph, where they’re not on the front page, a lot of people don’t read that far.”[26]

There you have it, a former assistant managing editor of the Washington Post herself admitted that, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” If there had ever been a clearer admission of being stenographers of power, I have yet to hear it.

No doubt, then, that upon the militaristic adventurism of yet another war, the media is again doing what it does best: being a “mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” Yet, with Libya it is even more profound; sold as a “humanitarian intervention,” this war must be presented in the media as a type of “rescue” operation as opposed to an imperial adventure. This task requires all the more deception on the part of both official statements and media “mouthpieces.”

As the saying goes, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Indeed, it was so in Libya, and continues to be assaulted day-in day-out so long as this unjustified war continues.

Who are the Rebels?

We have been told a great many things about the rebels in Libya. We were told that they were “peaceful protesters,” that they were “nice guys,” and represented a popular uprising. From the flurry of reports about the rebels, the general ‘presentation’ given by Western governments and media was that the rebels are average Libyan civilians seeking to liberate themselves from a brutal tyrant who was indiscriminately killing them. Invariably and incessantly, the media in the West, such as the Financial Times, frame the forces as “pro-democracy rebels.”[27] Naturally, such assertions must be more diligently questioned and investigated. So who are the rebels? Who makes up Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC), largely recognized by the Western nations as the “legitimate” government in Libya?

The protests in Libya began in Benghazi on February 15, 2011. Fighting broke out between protesters and government forces, though it was naturally framed by Western media as a massacre, which ultimately turned out to be false.[28] On 27 February, the National Transition Council (NTC) (also referred to as the Transitional National Council – TNC) was formed as a consolidated effort on the part of rebel groups to form an opposition ‘government.’ The TNC immediately called for a no-fly zone to be imposed by the U.N. and for air strikes against Gaddafi forces, which the TNC claimed were committing air strikes against them, which also turned out to be false. The rebels, however, were composed of a wide array of different groups. Among them, as Political Scientist and Sociologist Mahmood Mamdani explained, are “four different political trends: radical Islamists, royalists, tribalists, and secular middle class activists produced by a Western-oriented educational system.” Further, “of these, only the radical Islamists, especially those linked organisationally to Al Qaeda, have battle experience.”[29]

While many Western media outlets initially tried to frame the rebels as simply, “lawyers, academics, businessmen and youths,” trying to sidetrack the Islamist elements within the rebel groups, eventually the story started to slowly break, though still largely downplayed. The TNC includes many former Libyan government officials who defected to the rebel camp at the start of the fighting. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, “some of the officials are known in Washington and European capitals as secular, pro-Western and pro-business,” and that, “Islamists among the rebels have been largely kept out of the public spotlight, though they are believed to have support in eastern Libya and have assumed key functions in the rebel efforts.” The head of the TNC is a man named Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-educated political scientist and economist who previously headed Libya’s National Economic Development Board, “with the mandate to boost foreign investment and economic growth in country.”[30] By putting Jibril at the head of the TNC, the Council is “sending a message to foreign companies that the future Libyan government is interested in foreign investment and privatization.”[31] According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks from 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Libya wrote that Jibril “gets the U.S. perspective,” as in a meeting with Jibril, he had “highlighted the need to replace the country’s decrepit infrastructure and train Libyans,” and “requested American public and private assistance to do so.” Jibril, in his pitch to the ambassador, stated that Libya “has a stable regime and is ‘virgin country’ for investors,” leading the ambassador to conclude: “we should take him up on his offer.”[32]

Jibril and the TNC released, in late March, a document entitled, “A Vision of a Democratic Libya,” as a type of blueprint for building a ‘new’ Libya. Among the many points in the blueprint were to: “Draft a national constitution”, “Form political organisations and civil institutions including the formation of political parties, popular organisations, unions, societies and other civil and peaceful associations”, “Maintain a constitutional civil and free state by upholding intellectual and political pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power, opening the way for genuine political participation, without discrimination”, “Guarantee every Libyan citizen, of statutory age, the right to vote in free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections”, “Guarantee and respect the freedom of expression”, and a firm commitment to “political democracy.” The ‘vision’ further states that it seeks, “the development of genuine economic partnerships between a strong and productive public sector, a free private sector and a supportive and effective civil society.”[33]

Well, that all sounds well and good, but just how truly “democratic” or “respectful” of ‘human rights’ are the rebels and the TNC? How does their purported statements of support for Libyans “without discrimination” stand up to scrutiny? How truly democratic and peaceful are these groups?

Western Intelligence and the Rebels

The rebel groups are not simply disparate, localized, and grassroots individuals rising up in support of democracy and against a brutal tyrant. In fact, from the very beginning of the fighting, many rebels have been actively supported by Western and NATO intelligence agencies and special forces, including the CIA.

In March it was reported that the CIA had been authorized by President Obama to begin operations in Libya.[34] The CIA was reportedly sent to Libya to gather intelligence for air strikes and “to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels.” As Obama said no U.S. forces were on the ground in Libya, which itself is a direct violation of the UN resolution 1973 which authorized a no-fly zone in Libya (but directly forbade foreign troops on the ground), “small groups of C.I.A. operatives [had] been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military,” reported the New York Times. As they had been in Libya “for several weeks,” they had arrived prior to even the passing of UN resolution 1973 and the imposition of a no-fly zone, indicating directly that there were no plans for peace, and war was the favoured option. Further, in the same report, it was revealed that British special forces and MI6 intelligence agents were also active in Libya. Prior to the UN resolution, which was implemented to only “protect civilians” and not to take sides in the conflict, President Obama signed a secret finding “authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels.”[35]

The CIA officers in Libya, reported the Los Angeles Times, are “coordinating with rebels and sharing intelligence,” and that, “the CIA has been in rebel-held areas of Libya since shortly after the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tripoli, was evacuated in February.” As the article pointed out, in a clear indication of where the war might be headed:

In the early days of the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, teams of CIA officers and U.S. special operations troops entered secretly, coordinated with opposition groups and used handheld equipment to call in and aim airstrikes against the government armies.[36]

However, at the time, in late March, Obama and the White House were declaring that, “no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya.”[37] Before the UN resolution was even passed in early March, a report broke in the Independent which revealed a secret plan by the U.S. to arm the Libyan rebels through Saudi Arabia.[38] Also before the U.N. resolution was passed, the Wall Street Journal revealed that, “Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge.”[39] The Egyptian military is largely subsidized and supported by the United States, thus what it does with U.S. “knowledge” is also done with U.S. ‘consent.’

The leader of the Libyan rebel’s military command is a man named Khalifa Hifter. As McClatchy Newspapers revealed in March, he had “spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled — even in his late-60s — to return to the battlefield in his homeland,” and explained that he had maintained, over those 20 years in Virginia, strong ties to anti-Gaddafi groups without any ‘known’ financial support, while living a mere 20 miles from CIA headquarters.[40] There is a significant amount of investigative research, largely not undertaken by the mainstream media, who largely kept Hifter’s name out of the press, that he is, in fact, an asset of the CIA, and has been for a great many years.[41] However, the Guardian, in April of 2011, reported that Hifter had, in the early 1980s, “joined a CIA-run anti-Gaddafi force.”[42]

Gaddafi, al-Qaeda, and … Charlie Sheen?

In late February and early March, Gaddafi was claiming that the rebel groups were linked to al-Qaeda, a claim which was largely ridiculed by Western media. Apparently, it is only the Western nations and media who have the ability to claim that all their ‘enemies’ are linked to al-Qaeda. As the Guardian reported on 1 March, “Muammar Gaddafi’s insistent claim that al-Qaida is behind the Libyan uprising – made in all his public appearances since the crisis began – has been dismissed at home and abroad as propaganda.” The group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an affiliate of al-Qaeda, have long been in Libya, and have been long-opposed to Gaddafi’s rule. Established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the group has been responsible for assassinating dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen. At the time, MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, was accused of supporting the LIFG in Britain’s vehement campaign to rid Libya of Gaddafi.[43]

The Western media attempted to ridicule Gaddafi for making such claims, as MSNBC reported Gaddafi’s denouncement as a “rambling phone call to Libyan state TV.”[44] The media kept up its campaign, with a Guardian headline in early March asking readers to participate in an online questionnaire entitled, “Charlie Sheen v Muammar Gaddafi: whose line is it anyway?”[45] Or how about Vanity Fair, which ‘challenged’ their readers with a hard-bitten ‘journalistic’ quiz, asking, “The Two and a Half Men star and the Libyan dictator delivered rambling rants this week. Can you tell who said what?”[46] As the National Post – Canada’s vociferously imperial national newspaper – wrote in early March:

It’s rare that the news stories that would usually be relegated to the “bizarre news” section make it onto the front pages, but over the last few days the fantasies of two famous men have forced their way into the public consciousness. Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen have probably never met (though given the proclivity for Hollywood stars to dabble in foreign policy, you never know), but they share a number of qualities, such as a slipping grip on reality and easy access to TV interviewers through which to share their musings.[47]

This line of ridicule comparing Gaddafi to Charlie Sheen was repeated all over Western news media, as a simple Google search of both of their names will indicate, with several publications engaging in the rank-and-file self-assured ridicule, including the Mirror, MSNBC, New York Magazine, The First Post, the Chicago Tribune, Life, Reuters, Salon, the Telegraph, the Atlantic, ABC News, and comedy pundits like Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central, among many others. So this is what our ‘news’ media has come to, in a situation of impending war and devastation, the destruction of human life and invasion of foreign countries and occupation of foreign peoples, sending our young, largely poor domestic populations to go kill or be killed, turning their guns on other poor, forgotten peoples for the benefit of those who send them. Instead of taking an issue like “humanitarian intervention” in the proper context of a war, which like all wars, would kill inordinate amounts of innocent civilians, our media chose to engage in the disgraceful frenzy of a group joke.

As the claims of Gaddafi were increasingly ridiculed as the crazy rants of a beleaguered psychopathic dictator (note: I am not casting doubt on the fact that he IS a dictator), several intermittent reports slipped through the cracks which in fact validated many of Gaddafi’s “crazy” claims.

The Wall Street Journal reported in early April that ex-Mujahideen (CIA-trained) fighters from the Afghan-Soviet war are in Libya aiding the rebels. The ex-Mujahideen fighters that the West trained, armed and supported in Afghanistan in the 1980s are now referred to in common parlance as “al-Qaeda,” unless of course we are supporting them. Then, just as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, we call them “freedom fighters” or “pro-democracy protesters” in Obama’s case. In fact, the actual term “al-Qaeda”, as explained by former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, literally means “the database,” which “was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.”[48] In short, al-Qaeda is a “database” of Western intelligence assets used to expand Western imperial interests around the world. They provide an excuse for intervention in countries whose governments you want to overthrow or whose people you want to prevent from ushering in a popular liberation struggle. Or, conversely, you can support them covertly in engaging in warfare against a hated regime, but invariably you would not want to refer to them as ‘al-Qaeda’ in such an instance, as it would conflict with the propagated concept of a worldwide “war on terror”, instead of what it actually is: a “war of terror.”

However, as the WSJ reported from Beghazi, “Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden’s holding company in Sudan and later for an al Qaeda-linked charity in Afghanistan, is training many of the city’s rebel recruits.” Many other officials within the rebel command come from similar backgrounds, as they make up the experienced elements of the rebel army, which is incidentally led by a CIA asset (as explained above).[49] Even a rebel leader admitted that his fighters have al-Qaeda links, as reported by the Telegraph.[50] Further, a senior American Admiral, and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander (leading the attack on Libya), admitted that al-Qaeda was among the rebels.[51]

Yet, while these admissions surfaced in the mainstream media, once reported, in true Orwellian fashion, they were cast into the “memory hole,” all but forgotten. Thus, when any reference or indeed dissenter continues to refer to the rebel’s links to al-Qaeda, they are cast aside as a “crackpot” or a “conspiracy theorist.” It may have even been the very news outlet which is denouncing such claims that actually reported them as fact in the first place. The National Post recently engaged in a hit-piece against independent journalists who were based in Tripoli covering events and views unwanted by the NATO powers. In ridiculing these reports of NATO involvement with al-Qaeda linked rebels, the National Post journalist stated, cynically, “No massive popular uprising, no victorious rebels flooding into Tripoli greeted by throngs of well-wishers among the city’s populace. It was a NATO – Al Qaida job.”[52]

The writer went on to denounce my former employers and colleagues at the Centre for Research on Globalization as “a Canadian clubhouse for crackpots of the anti-war, 911-truth, anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist variety. The Centre would not normally be worth noticing except for a laugh.” Seemingly, in the eyes of Terry Glavin and the National Post, “anti-war” and “anti-imperialist” sentiments are the intellectual bastion of “crackpots.” What, might I ask, does that say about the National Post? Personally, the label of “anti-war” and “anti-imperialist” is not an insult to me, nor to my former colleagues; it is a badge of honour, a source of pride and a directive for action. The framing of such anti-war and anti-imperialist sentiments as a ‘negative’ label, indeed says more about the National Post than it does about Global Research and its writers.

Is this a Popular Democratic Uprising?

The National Post refers to the rebels as a “massive popular uprising” of “victorious rebels” who entered Tripoli “greeted by throngs of well-wishers among the city’s populace,” perhaps we should ask if this is indeed the case. Scott Taylor, a Canadian journalist writing for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald in late August, observed (and it is worth quoting at some length):

The rebellion in Libya has been more of a media war than a full-scale armed clash… To prevent Gaddafi from inflicting reprisals on the rebels, the UN authorized a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Libya to protect unarmed civilians from being bombed. That, of course, did not apply to civilians living in Gadhafi-controlled sectors, as the Canadian-led NATO coalition soon began mounting airstrikes against government targets.

For more than five months now NATO planes have supported the rebels, and NATO warships have enforced a one-sided arms embargo against Gadhafi’s forces. And all foreign-held Libyan financial assets have been frozen, making it virtually impossible for Libya to purchase any war materiel, or even basic necessities such as fuel…

On a fact-finding trip into Tripoli last week, I saw first-hand that Gaddafi has solidified his control over the capital and most of western Libya. Foreign diplomats still based in Tripoli confirmed to me that, since NATO started bombing, Gaddafi support and approval ratings have actually soared to about 85 per cent.

Of the 2,335 tribes in Libya, over 2,000 are still pledging their allegiance to the embattled president. At present, it is the gasoline shortage due to the embargo and lack of electricity from NATO’s bombing that are causing the most hardship to Libyans inside Gadhafi-controlled sectors.

However, at present, the people still blame NATO — not Gaddafi — for the shortages. In an effort to combat that sentiment and to encourage a popular uprising against Gadhafi, NATO planes have taken to dropping leaflets in canisters over the streets of Tripoli. Unfortunately for the NATO planning staff, the canisters are heavy enough to cause injury and damage roofs when they plummet to the ground…

It is possible that the continued embargo, shortage of fuel and downgrading of Libyan utilities will create a humanitarian crisis inside Gadhafi’s Libya so severe that his followers have no choice but to turn on him for their own survival. However, if that indeed transpires it will be impossible for the West to justify this as being a humanitarian intervention.[53]

It is no surprise that Gaddafi’s support has risen to such extreme levels, as this tends to be the case whenever a country is bombed and attacked by an outside imperial power. It is also no wonder that Gaddafi has such strong support among his people when one considers the human toll of fighting. Reports vary on the amount of deaths, both combatant and civilian, but in early June, the U.N. Human Rights Council mission to Tripoli reported that between 10-15,000 people have been killed in the fighting thus far.[54] Reports of NATO strikes killing civilians do not help “win the hearts and minds” of Libyans, especially when one such strike killed over 85 innocent civilians, including 33 children.[55] Also in June, the Italian Foreign Minister, following a NATO bombing of a house in Tripoli, declared, “NATO is endangering its credibility,” and in an extrapolation of how the West is losing the ‘propaganda war’, he stated, “We cannot continue our shortcomings in the way we communicate with the public, which doesn’t keep up with the daily propaganda of Gaddafi.”[56]

‘Worthy’ vs. ‘Unworthy’ Victims: Are the Rebels Committing ‘Ethnic Cleansing’?

A typical propaganda tactic used by Western media, throughout the entire Cold War (and arguably much longer) is the notion of “worthy” and “unworthy” victims. In any conflict in which the Western world engages and seeks a particular outcome, the presentation to the public – (i.e., propaganda) – determines, by the very way in which it reports the conflict, who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys.” It is important for conflicts to be framed – from the view of the propagandist – in a black and white, simplified manner. Effective propaganda tends to play to the lowest common denominator. If everything is geared towards a very base, simplified audience, with minimal critical thinking and contemplation required, it tends to manifest those very sensibilities in the audience who consumes it. In short, by the very method of reporting, they create the audience they seek.

Make it simple to create a simple audience. Then, that which is contrary to the saturated and filtered version of ‘reality’ is simply rejected outright as lunacy, fantasy, conspiracy theory, or worse. It is rejected almost instinctively because it requires more effort to determine accuracy, to investigate claims, to understand much broader concepts and employ far more contemplation and thinking than is required by the propaganda system. It is not simply that the ‘truth’ itself is more complicated, which makes lies so appealing to the masses, but it is exactly because the method of investigating truth is far more complicated. Thus, setting back into the comforts of ‘simplicity’ (“let the TV tell me what to think”), is far more attractive an option than taking painstaking efforts to investigate and understand an issue.

Thus, in conflicts we come to the nomenclature of ‘worthy’ versus ‘unworthy’ victims. This allows the West – and the public especially – to “take sides” in a conflict before understanding the realities of the conflict itself. That way, intervention can be justified and assured. Strategy, more today than ever before, requires the need of an efficient, organized, and effective propaganda machine. In Israel-Palestine, Israeli citizens and even soldiers (within the Occupied Territories) are deemed as ‘worthy victims’, while Palestinians are deemed ‘unworthy’ victims. When an Israeli dies, whether a civilian or soldier, the media ensures that the ‘consumer’ knows the names, is exposed to the families, learns the ambitions and dreams of the victims. When Palestinians die, however, they become – if at all even reported – mere statistics, and more often than not, they are blamed for their own deaths, vilified and generally dehumanized. The Palestinians are the ‘unworthy’ victims.

In Libya, it is apparent that the rebels are ‘worthy victims’, while the majority of civilians, (as roughly 85% support Gaddafi) are deemed ‘unworthy’ victims. The deaths of rebels are often hyped and exaggerated; others are denied, underplayed, justified, or simply not covered at all.

The best example of this in the current conflict is the rebels themselves committing atrocities, particularly against black African migrants in Libya. In this scenario, rebels remain the ‘worthy’ victims, and the black Africans ‘unworthy.’ This disparity is increased in that the deaths of black Africans were not only largely ignored, but they were first demonized, and thus their deaths became justified. This was the basis for the propaganda rhetoric regarding Gaddafi’s “African mercenaries.” These stories proliferated through the Western media ad nauseum and largely unquestioned; they were accepted at face value. As an Amnesty International investigation revealed, the stories of African mercenaries massacring rebels for Gaddafi emerged largely from the rebels themselves, and as it turned out, was false.[57]

A Google search of “African mercenaries” and “Libya” from February 15 (when the rebellion began) to March 30, less than two weeks following the NATO ‘intervention’, turned up over 86,000 matches. As it turned out, the “mercenaries” were in fact African migrants working in Libya. A Google search over the same period (Feb. 15 – March 30), but with the terms “African migrants” and “Libya” revealed just under 48,000 results. Yet, from as early as February, African migrants reported that, “they’ve become targets for Libyans who are enraged that African mercenaries are fighting on behalf of the regime.” The migrants work in Libya’s oil industry and certain other sectors. It was the reports of African mercenaries – which later turned out to be false – that induced the violence against African migrants, instead of simply justifying them. The Deputy Director of the North Africa Center at Cambridge University stated in late February, in an interview with NPR, “I tell you, these people, because of their skin, they will be slaughtered in Libya. There is so much anger there against those mercenaries, which suddenly sprung up. I think it is urgent to do something about it now, otherwise, a genocide [could occur] against anyone who has black skin and who doesn’t speak perfect Arabic.”[58]

Al-Jazeera reported in late February that dozens of black Africans were killed, with hundreds more in hiding, as “anti-government protesters” (read: ‘worthy victims’) “hunt down” the “black African mercenaries” (read: ‘unworthy victims’). Migrants fleeing the violence who returned to their home countries were interviewed, and reported that, “We were being attacked by local people who said that we were mercenaries killing people. Let me say that they did not want to see black people.” Further, one witness reported, “Our camp was burnt down, and we were assisted by the Kenyan embassy and our company to get to the airport.” A Senior Fellow with the International Migration Institute posed the question:

But why is nobody concerned about the plight of sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya? As victims of racism and ruthless exploitation, they are Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population, and their home country governments do not give them any support.[59]

These cases were rarely reported in Western media, however, African media sources reported much more diligently on these events, as they were more directly effecting their own citizens; thus, the victims are those who may deemed – in the African media – as ‘worthy victims.’ Thus, the coverage was much more extensive. One African media outlet reported in early March, that “rebel fighters and their supporters in eastern Libya are detaining, beating and intimidating African immigrants and black Libyans, accusing them of being African mercenaries.” In some instances, “rebels have executed suspected mercenaries captured in battle, according to Human Rights Watch and local Libyans.” Even the rebel-led government “concedes it is rounding up suspects and detaining them for questioning.” Not only is it African migrants who were in danger, but regular black Libyans as well, as in some cases rebels had lynched black Africans, claiming they were mercenaries. Human Rights Watch referred to the assault against black Libyans as “widespread and systematic attacks… by rebels and their supporters.” A Human Rights Watch official explained, “thousands of Africans have come under attack and lost their homes and possessions during the recent fighting,” and referred to the rebels (who are, in our media mostly referred to as ‘pro-democracy’ protesters) as “ad hoc military and security forces.”[60]

Another report explained that the assaults against blacks have “revived a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans” in Libya, as “discrimination is common not only against migrant Black Africans, but also against darker-skinned Libyans, especially from the south of the country.” The Executive Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in South Africa told IPS in late March, “Against this background, one needs to be a little wary of the accusations of ‘African mercenaries’ or even ‘Black African mercenaries’ that have been bandied around.” Further, he reported that, “about one and a half million Sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees, out of a population of nearly two to two and a half million migrants, work as cheap labour in Libya’s oil industry, agriculture, construction and other service sectors.” As it turned out, “this is not the first time Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population has fallen victim to racist attack,” as in 2000, “dozens of migrant workers from Ghana, Cameroon, Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Nigeria were targeted during street killings in the wake of government officials blaming them for rising crime, disease and drug trafficking.”[61]

One apparent victim of these assaults told media that, “I bet you many Ghanaians and Nigerians and other nationals of south of the Sahara have been killed and murdered,” and further, “they put the dead bodies in mass graves, while they still pursued others. Sometimes we had to dig deep and wide holes to hide ourselves for fear of being identified by the opposition forces.”[62] By early March, there were reports of hundreds of black Africans from over a dozen countries who landed at Nairobi Airport after fleeing Libya by plane, and were arriving “with horrific tales of violence.”[63] Even in early March, Human Rights Watch told the Sydney-Morning Herald that they were “yet to confirm a single case of a mercenary being used in the conflict.” Even as reports spread out regarding Gaddafi’s “African mercenaries,” Human Rights Watch stated that, “of the hundreds of suspected mercenaries detained in the east, all had turned out to be innocent workers or Libyans in the regular army.”[64]

The most high-profile coverage in the West perhaps came from the Los Angeles Times, in which the reporter had been led by the rebels to view some of their captured “mercenaries,” and the reporter wrote that the so-called mercenaries told the media, “We are construction workers,” as they pleaded their innocence, and then “the interview was abruptly ended and the group of Africans were led away to detention by Muhammed Bala, who described himself as a security officer for the rebel government.” Bala added, “We’re out looking for mercenaries every day.”[65]

Some reports in late March suggested that black Africans had been “slaughtered in the thousands in the ongoing civil war in Libya.”[66] As the rebels claimed that Gaddafi’s forces were engaging in mass rape, other reports (otherwise unconfirmed) reported that the rebels were themselves, were starting “to detain, insult, rape and even executing black immigrants, students and refugees,” stating that more than 100 Africans were killed by early March, and “some of them were led into the desert and stabbed to death,” while other “black Libyan men receiving medical care in hospitals in Benghazi were reportedly abducted by armed rebels.” Further, there were “more than 200 African immigrants held in secret locations by the rebels.” As the Somaliland Press reported in early March, the attacks reflect racist and xenophobic attitudes among many Arabs in Libya (specifically the east, where the rebels were largely based), some of which was a result of Gaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanist’ views, which many Arabs felt betrayed by:

In many situations, Gaddafi and his inner circle preferred black Africans and Libyans from the south over Libyans from the east. Now the angry mobs using the revolutionary movement across Arabia and North Africa are hunting down black people.

Mohamed Abdillahi, Somaliland, 25, was sleeping at his home in Zouara, when the mobs arrived. “They knocked on the door around 1 o’clock in the morning. They said get out, we’ll kill you, you are blacks, foreigners, clear.”

The testimonials are very similar among the thousands of Africans that saw the ugly side of Libya in the past weeks. “They have attacked us, they took everything from us,” said Ali Farah, Somali labourer 29 years…

Many of the fleeing Africans are terrified to tell their stories. At the checkpoint, they do not mingle with others. When asked about their ordeal, they just freeze, “they stopped us many times and said not tell what has happened here, say there are no problems,” Elias Nour from Ethiopia said.[67]

Of all the publications, the Wall Street Journal reported in late June that within the rebel-held city of Misrata, black Libyans were being targeted by the rebels who were ethnically cleansing Misrata of its black population. Espousing the lies that the black Libyans from Tawergha, a small mostly black town 25 miles south of Misrata, were being used as mercenaries, this galvanized the rebels and their supporters against them, referring to them as “traitors.” Prior to the siege of Misrata, roughly four-fifths of the population in the poor housing project of Misrata’s Ghoushi neighbourhood were black Tawergha natives. Now, reported the WSJ, “they are gone or in hiding, fearing revenge attacks by Misratans, amid reports of bounties for their capture.” The rebel leadership in Benghazi reportedly stated that they were working on a “post-Gadhafi reconciliation plan,” yet claim that, “Libya is one tribe.” Some were calling for the expulsion of the Tawerghans from the area, and one rebel commander said, “They should pack up… Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata.” As further evidence of the increasingly ethnically focused rebel leadership, some “rebel leaders are also calling for drastic measures like banning Tawergha natives from ever working, living or sending their children to schools in Misrata.” One rebel slogan that has appeared on the road between Misrata and Tawergha refers to the rebels as “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin.”[68]

It is thus a very legitimate concern that if the rebels take power in Libya, they may undertake an “ethnic cleansing” of Libya in order to eliminate threats to their power (as the black Libyans by and large are supportive of Gaddafi), as well as to have a convenient scapegoat target population upon whom they can place blame for all the ills that a post-Gaddafi Libya would surely face. Scapegoats are always necessary for leaders that seek to centralize their power and brutally enforce their rule. Totalitarian leaders throughout history have always employed such a tactic. The possibility of a rebel-led government committing ethnic cleansing in Libya is, I think, an imminent and extremely likely possibility.

By mid-March, the United Nations reported that black migrants were fleeing Libya at a rate of about 6,000 a day, while “some 280,000 have already escaped to neighboring states.”[69] As one report in Uganda articulated, a major concern for European nations (who are actively engaged in the NATO assault) was in the possible exodus of black Africans into Europe, as Libya is one of the main routes for African immigrants into Western Europe, a major source of internal social stratification, xenophobia, racism, and political pressure. Thus, if Libya collapsed into a “state of lawlessness,” it could become a major problem for Western Europe. As one BBC reporter stated, “The fear with Libya is that sub-Saharan Africans will try to leave and there are more of them.” The Ugandan Independent reported that following the stories in the Western press about the “African immigrant” came the stories about the “African mercenary.”[70]

In fact, the West European media did prominently feature stories about the impending ‘threat’ of a wave of African immigrants into their countries. An article in the major German publication, Der Spiegel, in late February reported that, “Moammar Gadhafi, in recent years, has enjoyed a cynical role as Europe’s border guard against African immigrants. Italian ministers now warn that if his Libyan government collapses, people will flow across the Mediterranean.” Italy’s Interior Minister, ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, warned that, “hundreds of thousands of immigrants could head for Europe” which would create a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency.” While immediately fearing a wave of immigrants due to “violence that Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has reportedly visited on its own people.” But, according to some observers, “if Libya collapses into anarchy… it could become an immigration route for far more people from sub-Saharan Africa.” Der Spiegel reported:

Gadhafi in recent years has played up his role as a bulwark against African immigrants to Europe. Italy and Libya began joint naval patrols in 2008 to stop boatloads of illegal or trafficked immigrants from crossing the Mediterranean, and last year Libya signed a 50 billion euro deal with the European Union to manage its borders as a “transit country” for sub-Saharan Africans.

Italian Foreign Minister Frattini said that some 2.5 million people in Libya — about a third of the population — are non-Libyan immigrants who would flee if the government fell.

Gadhafi himself has enjoyed stoking these fears. “Europe will become black,” he said last December, if European leaders failed to cooperate with him on immigration controls.[71]

The fear of a wave of African immigrants into Europe was a major topic of discussion at the EU summit in Brussels in February, according to the Financial Times.[72] EU ministers heard that, “the collapse of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime could result in a tidal wave of refugees and illegal immigrants pouring into Europe,” as roughly 1-2 million refugees “could attempt to make their way across the Mediterranean into southern Europe if the Gaddafi regime collapses.” The Italian Foreign Minister told the members at the EU summit:

We are following very closely the situation. Italy as you know is the closest neighbour, both of Tunisia and Libya, so we are extremely concerned about the repercussions on the migratory situation in the southern Mediterranean… We need a European comprehensive action plan. We should support all peaceful transitional processes that are ongoing in the Middle East while avoiding a patronising position.[73]

The Minister further warned that, the collapse of the regime would lead to the “self proclamation of the so-called Islamic emirate of Benghazi.” He added: “I’m very concerned about the idea of dividing Libya in two, in Cyrenaica and in Tripoli. That would be really dangerous. Can you imagine having an Islamic Arab emirate on the borders of Europe? This would be a really serious threat.” The Czech Foreign Minister echoed this fear, warning that the fall of Gadhaffi could pave the way for “bigger catastrophes.”[74]

The rebels are aided in their war – which is largely a “propaganda war”[75] – by an American public relations firm “to help them earn recognition from the U.S. government.” The firm – the Harbour Group – in early April “signed a pro-bono contract with the National Transitional Council.” Pro-bono? Since when do public relations firms do charity work? In an article in the Hill, it was reported that Harbour Group “will be working with the council’s U.S. representative, Ali Aujali, who resigned as Libya’s ambassador to the U.S. in protest in February as the revolution began to hold.” The Harbour Group’s Managing Director Richard Mintz “will help manage the PR effort on behalf of the council.” Mintz told The Hill, “It’s the right thing to do. They need help and we are pleased that we are able to do that. It is in the U.S.’s interest, in the world’s interest.” Part of the firm’s work was to be aimed at gaining U.S. recognition of the TNC as the “legitimate” government in Libya, while “other goals for the Harbour Group are to encourage U.S. humanitarian aid to Libya and to push for the release of Gadhafi’s assets frozen by U.S. financial institutions to help pay for that aid.” The article went on:

To achieve those goals, the firm will help prepare speeches, press releases and op-eds, contact reporters and think tanks and develop a website and social media for the council.

According to the contract, the firm “will provide all of its professional services free of charge to the council,” though the council will be “directly responsible” for “major expenses,” such as Web design and travel.

The Harbour Group is plugged in politically — Mintz is a former director of public affairs for the Clinton administration’s Transportation Department — and is already familiar with the Middle East. The firm is helping to implement “a public diplomacy program” on behalf of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, according to Justice records.[76]

In early July, Patton Boggs, the number one lobby firm in the United States, was hired by the rebels to promote their cause in the U.S., to get America to recognize the TNC as the “legitimate government” in Libya, as well as to unfreeze Libya’s assets in order to provide funds for them. One outside counsel at Patton Boggs stated, “We care about the cause… We want the Transitional National Council to succeed on behalf of all the Libyan people… We are proud that they selected us in assisting them and we hope that we can continue being effective for them.” According to an article in The Hill, a Washington-D.C. paper, “Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., a partner at the firm who is one of Washington’s top lobbyists, will be leading the Libya account.” Boggs wrote that, “We understand that at this time the [Transitional National] Council may not have sufficient funds to pay our fees for these important services… We will charge the Council on an hourly basis for our work, according to our customary hourly billable rates… [and] will not seek payment for these funds and costs until the Council obtains sufficient funds to pay for them.” Further:

Two lobbyists at Patton Boggs, Stephen McHale and Vincent Frillici, have filed so far to lobby on behalf of the council. Frillici previously served as the director of operations at NATO for the 50th Anniversary Host Committee and was deputy director of finance operations for the Democratic National Convention in 1996. McHale served as the first deputy administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and helped merge the administration into the Homeland Security Department.

Robert Kapla, who has represented foreign governments in the past, and Matthew Oresman, formerly a law clerk within the State Department and the Senate Judiciary Committee, will also work for the council…

Announcing recognition of the Libyan council would cut Gadhafi off from any legal legitimacy, allow the rebels access to funding to help the Libyan people and announce to the international community that only the rebels have the right to “transfer the country’s natural resources,” [Patton Boggs counsel David]Tafuri wrote in a Washington Post editorial.[77]

The notion that a rag-tag group of rebels fighting a war in a far-off foreign nation know exactly who the best lobbying firm and one of the best PR firms in Washington, D.C. are is hard to believe. The decision to contact these firms, then, was likely suggested by an American voice. As reported, the point man of contact between both firms and the rebels is Ali Aujali, the former Libyan Ambassador to the United States, who clearly still maintains his close ties to Washington.

Sure enough, in July the United States recognized the rebels as the “legitimate” government in Libya.[78] And now in August, there are major pushes for Libya’s frozen assets to be unfrozen for the new rebel government.[79]

Could Libya Collapse?

Naturally, to prevent such a “catastrophe” as a “tidal wave” of African immigrants, the Europeans – who are now fully involved in the Libyan war – will need to push for an occupation of Libya. While most ad-hoc coalitions try to maintain some vestiges of unity until their initial objectives (overthrowing the state) are achieved, the Libyan rebels have already descended into infighting and murder. In late July, members of the rebel armed forces killed the commander of the armed forces, Abdel Fatah Younis, who was a former Libyan government official who defected to the rebels in the early days of protests.[80]

This event “triggered fears that opposition fighters battling to oust Col Muammar Gaddafi could instead turn their weapons on each other.” When news spread, many units who were loyal to Younis abandoned their front line posts at the oil town of Brega, and poured into Benghazi “to avenge their commander’s death.” The TNC attempted to blame the murder on pro-Gaddafi loyalists, but his supporters believed he was killed by “his rivals within the rebel leadership.” Some of the supporters even fired on the hotel in Benghazi which the TNC leader and a favourite of the U.S., Abdul-Jalil, earlier gave a press conference. The General, when he was killed, was headed to defend himself in front of four rebel judges who were questioning “illicit contacts he may have had with the Gaddafi regime,” which were instigated when the Daily Telegraph reported that he was “the regime’s main point of contact with the rebels.” As another Telegraph article revealed, “Gen Younes was also engaged in a very public feud with the rebels’ most celebrated battlefield commander, Khalifa Hifter,” which “was seen as an important factor in the pervasive chaos along the front line as the two frequently countermanded one another’s orders.” Thus, the elimination of the General could possibly allow for “greater cohesion” among the rebels on the front lines.[81] Unreported in that article, however, was the previously revealed fact that Khalifa Hifter, the man who profits most from the assassination, also has a long history of working with the CIA.[82]

Yet, it would still appear inevitable, with remaining divisions among the rebels and competing and contradictory ideas of what a post-Gaddafi Libya would be like, infighting will continue and likely accelerate. There is the possibility of a scenario in which one faction, and most likely the most militant and well-quipped faction (being the Islamist, al-Qaeda-linked faction run by a CIA-operative), simply purges the rebels entirely of competing visions. This assassination could have been the start of that effort already, and even a warning to potential challengers. Regardless of the specifics, the Libyan war is likely to plunge into a total civil war, so the Western nations would perhaps be most interested in having a united, militant, and ruthless proxy army under one leadership and vision, not many. With such enormous support for Gaddafi remaining in the country, and in fact, accelerating as the NATO bombings and rebel attacks continue, a rapid overthrowing of the Gaddafi government would certainly spark major national unrest far more severe than at present. In such a power vacuum, the Western powers certainly want to ensure the group they backed will be the winning horse on the way to fill the empty seat of power.

Western government have recognized the TNC as the “legitimate” government of the Libyan people, while the Libyan people – to the tune of 85% – largely support Gaddafi.[83] So, in the face of such enormous opposition, this ‘horse’ in the race would by necessity have to be brutal, exacting, precise, and ruthless. If they do not seize power instantly, and establish a firm control over the country, it would be likely that the nation would plunge into a vicious civil war. Further, if Gaddafi supporters quickly regain the seat of power, Western powers may seek to stoke and actively create the conditions for civil war. It is arguable that they are attempting to do this already. In such a case, it would – from the imperial perspective – be better to ‘divide’ the people among each other, and ‘rule’ over them as a justification for maintaining ‘order.’ In this instance, using recent precedents of the past decades – two conflicts which Western powers claim they “don’t” want Libya to turn into – Rwanda and Iraq, became likely outcomes. Either a situation in which a Western-supported rebel army rushes to power amid a massive wave of carnage and establishes a strong dictatorship, ultimately resulting in the ‘cleansing’ of opponents to the potential of genocide (such as with U.S. support for the RPF in Rwanda). Or, there could be an attempt to establish a liberal democratic government, with a mix of rebels and former government officials, yet dividing power among ethnic or tribal lines, further inflaming those very divisions, and possibly resulting in a total civil war (such as in Iraq). Further, if pro-Gaddafi supporters re-take power quickly and effectively, the rebels would likely go underground and attempt a more insurgent war, attempting to plunge the country into a civil war. The dismantling of Yugoslavia also presents a telling example. In this case, ethnic or tribal rivalries are inflamed, al-Qaeda-linked radical sects are actively armed and aided; these groups engage in ethnic cleansing and a territorial war, with the country ultimately breaking up into several small and easily manageable parts. In whichever case, the potential for Western troops on the ground in Libya is a stark reality.

The Occupation of Libya

In late August, Libyan rebels rapidly advanced on Tripoli, preceded by a massive NATO bombardment of the city. The operation – Mermaid Dawn – was planned weeks in advance by the rebels and NATO. As the Guardian reported: “British military and civilian advisers, including special forces troops, along with those from France, Italy and Qatar, have spent months with rebel fighters, giving them key, up-to-date intelligence,” though the article then claimed that they were also “watching out for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate the rebellion,” ignoring, of course, that we have long been supporting the ‘infiltrated’ elements. One of the rebel organizers of the operation said, “Honestly, Nato played a very big role in liberating Tripoli. They bombed all the main locations that we couldn’t handle with our light weapons.” While “sleeper cells rose up and rebel soldiers advanced on the city, Nato launched targeted bombings,” and American hunter-killer drones were also used in the attacks. According to a NATO diplomat, “Covert special forces teams from Qatar, France, Britain and some east European states provided critical assistance, such as logisticians, forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as damage-assessment analysts and other experts.” Foreign military advisers were on the ground providing “real-time intelligence to the rebels,” or in other words, ‘directing’ the rebels. Apparently, Gaddafi aides attempted to communicate with Obama administration officials, including the Ambassador and Jeffrey Feltman, the Assistant Secretary of State, in order to “broker a truce.” Yet, reported the Guardian, “the calls were not taken seriously.” NATO warplanes bombed convoys of Libyan troops as they sought to re-take rebel advances within Tripoli and elsewhere, and further, NATO undertook “bombing raids on bunkers set up in civilian buildings in Tripoli.” The article continued:

The western advisers are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi’s downfall. They have learned the lessons of Iraq, when the US got rid of all prominent officials who had been members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party and dissolved the Iraqi army and security forces.[84]

The rebels who helped in planning the operation had hoped that an invasion of Tripoli would have sparked an uprising among the people, joining with the rebels against Gaddafi, clearly indicating their own ignorance of the support for Gaddafi within Libya and especially Tripoli. The New York Times, explaining why the mass popular uprising never took place, claimed that it was a result of “a bloody crackdown on protesters in February by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces [which] had served as a grim deterrent to those inside Tripoli who might try to challenge the government’s authority.”[85] Naturally, the New York Times failed to report, as Amnesty International confirmed, that those reports were largely exaggerated, and there were deaths on both sides, indicating that the “peaceful protesters” had – at least a few – fighters among them.

With British and French Special Forces troops on the ground alongside CIA operatives, NATO was integral in launching this “pincer” campaign in Libya, often bombing government troops in retreat.[86] Britain played a strong role with both military and intelligence officials – Special Forces and MI6 – in planning and coordinating the assault on Tripoli. As the Telegraph reported, “MI6 officers based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi had honed battle plans drawn up by Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) which were agreed 10 weeks ago,” while “the RAF stepped up raids on Tripoli on Saturday morning [August 20] in a pre-arranged plan to pave the way for the rebel advance.” Before the official rebel attack even began, the RAF bombed a key communications facility in Tripoli “as part of the agreed battle plan.”[87] It is likely that in a rebel government, two prominent factions, that which is composed of the former Libyan National Army, founded and now currently run by Khalifa Hafter, a CIA asset; and the Islamist al-Qaeda linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), both of which are currently supported through the TNC by the CIA, MI6, and NATO military structures.[88]

So while it is clear that not only are NATO forces already in Libya, but they are in fact directing the operations of rebel forces, far beyond the mandate from the United Nations to simply “protect civilians.” But then, that wasn’t the point of the war.

Even as the rebels continue to fight in Tripoli, Western media has jubilantly and prematurely declared a victory for the rebels and for NATO. The Washington Post reported that the ‘lesson of Libya’ was that, “limited intervention can work.”[89] But then, this is no surprise from the Post, considering that one of their editors had previously said, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.”[90] As the rebels were far from victorious – though victory had already been declared – the media engaged in a ‘discussion’ of “post-Gaddafi Libya.” Meanwhile, fighting continued in the streets of Tripoli, as one resident told the Independent, “The rebels are attacking our homes. This should not be happening,” and further:

The rebels are saying they are fighting government troops here, but all those getting hurt are ordinary people, the only buildings being damaged are those of local people. There has also been looting by the rebels, they have gone into houses to search for people and taken away things. Why are they doing this? They should be looking for Gaddafi, he is not here.[91]

While British SAS Special Forces were on the ground in Libya helping to hunt down Gaddafi, the British Foreign Secretary declared that, “Gaddafi must accept defeat,” and President Sarkozy of France said, “Gaddafi’s time has run out.”[92] Average Libyans in Tripoli were nervous with the celebratory rebels, claiming, “The situation here reminds me of Iraq in 2003,” and that, “We don’t know who has entered the city. We don’t know anything about the people who will rule this country, about their mentality.” As one resident explained to the Independent:

The past 42 years we knew everything about the country: our people, our politics, everything. Now we don’t know anything about the future. We are afraid of the end of this, that Gaddafi will use chemical weapons, that there will be a massacre. I am afraid of both sides – of the rebels and of Gaddafi… We have no safety in this city. Now most of the people in this area have left. There are no families in the building now, just the young men.[93]

Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, drew several parallels between Libya and Iraq, such as the fact when the Americans took Baghdad, Saddam fled underground promising to fight to the death, as Gaddafi just did. Further, as the U.S. was faced with the birth of the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, officials and media pundits alike claimed that the insurgents were “die-hards” who apparently “didn’t realise that the war was over.” As Fisk observed, already a pundit on SkyNews in Britain had claimed the remaining fighters were “die-hards.” Fisk repudiates the notion, as repeated throughout the media and by Western officials, that it is now “up to the Libyans,” as amidst “the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen – all pretending to be ‘advisers’ rather than participants – is the Benghazi Green Zone.” Fisk explained:

Of course, this war is not the same as our perverted invasion of Iraq. Saddam’s capture only provoked the resistance to infinitely more attacks on Western troops – because those who had declined to take part in the insurgency for fear that the Americans would put Saddam back in charge of Iraq now had no such inhibitions. But Gaddafi’s arrest along with Saif’s would undoubtedly hasten the end of pro-Gaddafi resistance to the rebels. The West’s real fear – right now, and this could change overnight – should be the possibility that the author of the Green Book [Gaddafi] has made it safely through to his old stomping ground in Sirte, where tribal loyalty might prove stronger than fear of a Nato-backed Libyan force.[94]

Sirte, Fisk elaborated, is an oil rich region with a strongly pro-Gaddafi populace. It was in Sirte where the rebels were defeated by the loyalists in the current war. However, as Fisk opined, “we shall soon, no doubt, have to swap these preposterous labels – when those who support the pro-Western Transitional National Council will have to be called loyalists, and pro-Gaddafi rebels turn into the ‘terrorists’ who may attack our new Western-friendly Libyan administration.”[95]

NATO officials stated that the alliance “will not put troops on the ground,” ignoring the fact that already there are special forces and intelligence operatives on the ground who have been there for several months since even before the war broke out. Though, NATO officials claimed that if any organization sends in troops, it would be the UN, with one official commenting, “It is a classic case for blue helmets,” and that, “Nato will help the UN if asked.” The Western “advisers,” according to NATO officials, “are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi’s downfall.”[96]

The Telegraph reported that, “Britain is preparing to send a team to Tripoli to help with a key plan to stabilise Libya after the fall of the Gaddafi regime and prevent any repeat of the chaos seen in post-war Iraq.” Thus, the Western nations are engaging in double-speak, whereby they claim that no boots will be put on the ground, yet simultaneously send boots onto the ground. The trick, however, is in calling these boots “advisers.” This has been a common tactic for decades, as even before the escalation of the Vietnam War, President Kennedy, and Eisenhower before him, had sent “advisers” to Vietnam, which slowly, and inevitably became a massive occupying force. The British plan, which has already begun in effect, “included contacting officials in ministries in Libya by mobile phone to try to persuade them not to abandon their posts.” The British “stabilisation response team” has been sent to Libya by the Foreign Office, Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence. The Development Secretary stated, “It has been clear that we needed to learn the lessons of Iraq and plan for stabilisation and that that needed to take place in an organised and timely way.” Yet, in the same breath – and in the usual double-speak – he claimed, “It was equally clear that the process had to be Libyan led and owned.” The EU also offered to send “experts” to Tripoli “at any minute.” Libyan government officials have been and continue to be contacted “to let them let them know that they could stay in place under the new regime,” which Western officials proclaim is a lesson they learned from Iraq, where they had simply purged the former Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein and dismantled the army, adding to the chaos and crisis of post-Saddam Iraq. Commenting on this, the Development Secretary stated, “if you can get hold of the chief of police and tell him, ‘You’ve got a job, don’t take to the hills, and you will get paid,’ we can avoid that.” Another aspect of the plan includes unfreezing Libya’s assets around the world to give them to the new provisional government of the TNC.[97]

The plans for the latest assault were organized far in advance. As Debkafile, an Israeli publication, revealed, they were established back in July between the US and France, as they were organizing plans for managing the Israel-Palestine issue:

According to the US-French plan, [an agreement] will take place shortly after the Libyan war is brought to a close – ideally by a four-way accord between the US, France, Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan rebels or, failing agreement, by a crushing NATO military blow in which the United States will also take part. The proposed accord would be based on Muammar Qaddafi’s departure and the establishment of a power-sharing transitional administration in Tripoli between the incumbent government and rebel leaders.[98]

As recently as April, the EU said that they had a ‘ready’ force of 1,000 soldiers poised to be sent in to Libya in case they were needed. The Guardian reported that the EU “has drawn up a ‘concept of operations’ for the deployment of military forces in Libya, but needs UN approval for what would be the riskiest and most controversial mission undertaken by Brussels.” Purportedly, the combat troops would not be engaged in a combat role but would be authorised to fight if they or their humanitarian wards were threatened.” As one EU official stated, “It would be to secure sea and land corridors inside the country.” Another EU official declared, “The operation is agreed. It’s ready to go when we get the nod from the UN.”[99]

How to Get NATO Support: Die and Lie

However, if the EU, NATO, or the UN were to deploy troops into Libya, it would need to be under the guise of providing “peacekeeping” or other “aid” support. Thus, it would only be possible to do so in the event that Libya collapses into chaos, whether there be mass killings, genocide, or civil war. In such a situation, one is reminded of the events surrounding the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ in Bosnia in 1995.

The official account was that roughly 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Serb aggressors, thus justifying a NATO intervention. The reality, however, was that the Bosnian Muslims had been struggling for years to “persuade the NATO powers to intervene more forcibly on their behalf,” writes Edward Herman. In fact: “Bosnian Muslim officials have claimed that their leader, Alija Izetbegovic, told them that [Bill] Clinton had advised him that U.S. intervention would only occur if the Serbs killed at least 5000 at Srebrenica.”[100] As a result of Clinton’s statement, the town was sacrificed by the Bosnian Muslims, and the propagated claim was that the Serbs had gone in and killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, thus justifying the NATO intervention in Bosnia. However, not only did the Bosnians sacrifice the town, but the numbers themselves were subject to much manipulation, and the facts of the circumstances surrounding the event were ignored by the media. The Croatians, along with Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton, were delighted at the reporting of the ‘massacre,’ as for the Croats, explained Herman:

this deflected attention from their prior devastating ethnic cleansing of Serbs and Bosnian Muslims in Western Bosnia (almost entirely ignored by the Western media), and it provided a cover for their already planned removal of several hundred thousand Serbs from the Krajina area in Croatia. This massive ethnic cleansing operation was carried out with U.S. approval and logistical support within a month of the Srebrenica events, and it may well have involved the killing of more Serbian civilians than Bosnian Muslim civilians killed in the Srebrenica area in July: most of the Bosnian Muslim victims were fighters, not civilians, as the Bosnian Serbs bused the Srebrenica women and children to safety.[101]

In short, NATO (and Bill Clinton in particular) told the Bosnian Muslims that at least 5,000 Muslims needed to die at the hands of the Serbs in order to justify an intervention and the continuing war against Serbs all across the former Yugoslavia. The fact that a number of 8,000 Muslims having been killed was (and remains) widely propagated, though widely inflated and unsubstantiated (save for the investigations into the manipulation of those numbers), was a ‘convenient’ event for NATO and the Bosnians. Also significant is the fact that such an event took place in the midst of massive ethnic cleansing of Serbs, largely ignored by the Western media, as it was committed by those who NATO were claiming to “save” from “Serbian aggression”; in particular, the Bosnian Muslims and Croatians. Some years later, Madeleine Albright, upon being told of another massacre which was good for U.S. interests, stated that, “spring has come early this year.”[102] Of course, this is also the same woman who said that 500,000 dead Iraqi children (killed by the UN sanctions Albright helped impose and enforce during the Clinton administration) was “worth it.”[103] So, it is safe to say that we can dispense with any claims of “humanitarian” concerns on the part of NATO leaders. Their interests are imperial. Their propaganda is humanitarian.

The same must be kept in mind about Libya, where we were told we went to “intervene” in order to “protect civilians.” Yet, immediately we began supporting what turned out to be a ruthless military outfit, including al-Qaeda-linked Islamists, who have concocted lies to justify their cause and foreign intervention, and who have been committing ethnic cleansing of black migrants and citizens in Libya. We call these people “pro-democracy” and claim that they represent a “popular uprising.”

The British government stated on 22 August that, “hundreds of British soldiers could be sent to Libya to serve as peacekeepers if the country descends into chaos,” with two hundred troops on standby since the start of July, as well as 600 Royal Marines who “are also deployed in the Mediterranean and would be available to support humanitarian operations.”[104]

The possibility of an invasion seems imminent, as even if the rebels take Tripoli and overthrow Gaddafi, since thereafter the real struggle would begin, and the rebel TNC would likely struggle to maintain unity and possibly engage in attempts to purge various factions from the leadership, as the assassination of the former army commander in late July indicated is already taking place. Uniting these factions remains one of the greatest challenges the rebels will face.[105]

Military sources revealed to some alternative media the plans for the U.S. to occupy Libya with upwards of 30,000 soldiers by October.[106] A Debkafile report from July indicates that Western leaders were actively planning for a military invasion and occupation of Libya, starting with the French and British and followed by American troops.[107] In early July, the Russian envoy to NATO stated that, “I think that now we are witnessing the preparation stage of a ground operation which NATO, or at least some of its members… are ready to begin.”[108]

The Barons of ‘Humanitarian Imperialism’

As the rebels entered the capital, the true nature and purpose of the war and “intervention” in Libya was made known, as Western oil companies made their intentions and interests public, and the rebel TNC established themselves as subservient to those very interests.

Gaddafi may have signed his own death warrant back in 2009, when his government gathered 15 executives from global oil and energy corporations and demanded that they foot the bill – to the tune of $1.5 billion – for Libya’s settlement with victims of the downed Pan Am Flight 103 (itself a very mysterious terrorist attack possibly tracing back to the CIA itself[109]). Libya had been subjected to UN sanctions from 1992-2003 as punishment for the terrorist attack, though it has never been conclusively proven that Libya had any involvement. Gaddafi, for his part, was seeking to make those who profited off of his country’s wealth (foreign oil conglomerates) pay for the costs of their punishment, as the sanctions had largely affected the nation’s economy. Libyan officials warned the oil companies that if they did not comply, there would be “serious consequences” for their oil leases. In 2004, when trade restrictions were lifted with Libya, Gaddafi gave in to Western interests in the aftermath of the Iraq war, fearing that Libya would be next. As the trade barriers broke down, the U.S. Department of Commerce “began to serve as self-described matchmakers for American businesses,” as companies like Halliburton, Boeing, Raytheon, ConocoPhillips, Occidental, and Caterpillar tried to “gain footholds” in the country. However, there were several problems and corporate plundering was increasingly stalled. The Gaddafis often demanded the corporations plunder the nation in joint partnerships with state-owned (and Gaddafi family run) companies, which the foreign conglomerates resisted, in which the State Department tried to intervene (according to diplomatic cables), but often failed to come to an agreement. However, some companies such as Occidental Petroleum, Petro-Canada, and Canadian arms manufacturer, SNC-Lavalin made inroads into Libya.[110]

In January of 2009, Gaddafi threatened that Libyan oil “maybe should be owned by national companies or the public sector at this point, in order to control the oil prices, the oil production or maybe to stop it.” Forbes magazine asked: “Is Libya about to take the lead of its friends in Venezuela and Russia and launch a new round of energy-sector nationalism?” Postulating on the answer, Forbes wrote: “The thought sends a shiver through the collective spines of ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Amerada Hess, and Royal Dutch Shell. All have made massive new investments in Libya.” Libyan papers had all been discussing the possibility of nationalization.[111]

Libya, as Africa’s largest oil producer, even far surpassing the proven reserves of Nigeria, would be an enormous loss to Western interests. In March of 2009, Libya was trying to convince three American oil companies operating in the country “to sign revised contracts giving the North African nation a greater share of its oil production.” Libya had already revised its contracts with Petro-Canada, ENI of Italy, and Repsol of Spain, as well as Occidental Petroleum in the U.S. It was seeking to revise its contracts with ConcocoPhillips, Amerada Hess, and Marathon Oil, all U.S. companies.[112]

In March of 2010, Middle Eastern press reported that, “Libya is an economic force to be reckoned with,” as it challenged both Europe and America, and gave “a warning to US oil firms that their contracts are in danger.” Oil companies were finding it increasingly difficult to do business in Libya. As one oil industry expert reported, many companies are seeking an exit, “That’s partly because Libyan authorities have, over the past year, taken a very hard line on contract negotiations and renegotiations. A lot of companies developing oilfields are finding it incredibly difficult to make money.” Libya also expelled Swiss companies and even detained two Swiss businessmen after police in Geneva arrested one of Gaddafi’s sons. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley publicly derided Gaddafi, “which in turn provoked a warning from Libya that failure to apologise could hurt US oil companies.” Crowley, in a not-so-subtle display of who the State Department really works for, apologized. As one commentator from an American think tank explained, Libya’s use of oil as political leverage represents a new turn in the country’s leadership: “After decades in isolation, Libya’s oil reserves and a sovereign wealth fund worth around US$60 billion (Dh220bn) have given it unprecedented leverage with western governments.” Italy received roughly a quarter of its energy supplies from Libya, and many other Europeans hoped that Libya’s natural gas fields would free them from dependence upon Russia. One industry analyst explained, “Libya mostly gets its way because people are prepared to pay the price,” and that, “the future of new discoveries really boils down to a small number of companies – such as BP, Shell, ExxonMobil – which have massive exploration programmes going on for the next few years, and which could open new frontiers.” However, “for time being, oil companies are leaving rather than entering.”[113] There was even a diplomatic row in November of 2010 when Libya expelled an American diplomat from the country “for breaching diplomatic rules.”[114]

In October of 2010, U.S. oil companies Chevron and Occidental Petroleum did not extend their 5-year licenses with Libya, and instead left the country. The companies, among the first to rush to Libya following the lifting of international sanctions and formation of bilateral relations with the U.S. in 2004, established 5-year contracts with Libya in 2005. Libya, while home to Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, remained largely ‘under-explored’, and thus, unexploited.[115]

Gaddafi’s Libya had many shady dealings with foreign (primarily British, but also French, Italian, and American) companies and individuals. Prime Minister Tony Blair had especially facilitated the emergence of prominent British industrial and financial interests into Libya, setting up meetings with top executives and Libyan officials, both while in office and after leaving. Blair and a former top MI6 official who joined BP, helped the oil conglomerate establish itself in Libya. Business and social relationships were also established between top British elites and Gaddafi’s family. Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, had a cozy relationship with British Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, and in 2009, both men were guests of Lord Jacob Rothschild’s at his villa in Corfu. Until 2009, Lord Rothschild was an adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA). Tony Blair, who after leaving office, took up a job at JP Morgan, continued to go to Libya as a representative of the bank, and Gaddafi’s son referred to Tony Blair as “a personal family friend.”[116]

JP Morgan Chase reportedly, as of late January 2011, “handles much of the Libyan Investment Authority’s [LIA’s] cash, and some of the Libyan central bank’s reserves.” According to one Libyan financier, by the summer of 2008, “a great percentage of the L.I.A.’s funds were in the interbank money markets, channelled through the central bank. They have given mandates to some of the international banks to manage this liquidity,” such as JP Morgan Chase.[117]

Within ten days of Britain’s sanctions on Libya having been lifted in 2004, a secret delegation of British officials had rushed to Libya to open the way for British business interests. Among the officials were Lord Foster of Thames Bank; Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, the former Army Chief of Staff; and the financier Lord Rothschild, who brought his son Nathaniel, “and the party was accompanied by four executives from a public relations firm run by Lord Bell.” As reported by the Times, “At stake was access to oil and gas reserves and the opportunity to profit from the country’s $90 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority.” Lord Rothschild became an adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority, until 2009.[118]

As Tony Blair and his secret delegation went to Libya in 2004, their meeting with Gaddafi “led to lucrative Libyan oil contracts for Shell,” and “a month before stepping down as PM, Mr Blair visited-Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli again at the same time that BP signed a $900million deal with the Libyan National Oil Company.” On behalf of JP Morgan, Blair helped develop banking opportunities in Libya.[119] As the fighting broke out in February of 2011, Gaddafi’s “friends” in the West immediately turned their backs on him. A statement from Tony Blair’s office stated: “Tony Blair does not and has never had any sort of commercial relationship or any sort of advisory role with any member of the Gaddafi family, the government of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority nor any Libyan companies.”[120]

In early March, Britain (and several other nations, including the United States and Canada) froze Libya’s foreign assets in their countries, which had been managed by the Libyan Investment Authority. Over $3.2 billion in assets were frozen in London, and over $32 billion were frozen in the U.S.[121] As the fighting began, the major Western oil conglomerates closed down their operations and fled.[122]

Clearly, Gaddafi, after establishing significant ties with foreign elites, from JP Morgan, to Rothschild, to Prince Andrew of the British Royals and Tony Blair, made ‘friends’ of himself and his family to the dominant foreign financial and oil interests. When he began using Libya’s newfound oil wealth as a political tool, his “new friends” quickly became “old enemies.” These Western elites had helped Gaddafi gain access to Western markets and invest in their companies, while those companies tried to plunder the resources of Libya, as soon as Gaddafi felt secure enough, he began to use his new oil and financial leverage as a political tool. As this began, the West – and in particular the banking and oil elites – found Gaddafi to be much more of a liability than an asset. Now that Gaddafi is “gone,” the jubilation of Western conglomerates can barely be contained.

This is evident in the fact that as the rebels have gone into Libya, foreign oil conglomerates quickly followed behind. On 24 August 2011, the Independent reported that, “British businesses are scrambling to return to Libya in anticipation of the end to the country’s civil war,” yet, “they are concerned that European and North American rivals are already stealing a march as a new race to turn a profit out of the war-torn nation begins.” Thus, it is a new ‘scramble for Africa’ as the Western nations and corporations rush to plunder the country’s resources and wealth. British business leaders said that, “plans are in hand to send a trade mission to Benghazi to meet leaders of the Transitional National Council (TNC).” Among the stampeding oil conglomerates, there “is also intense lobbying for the multibillion-pound reconstruction contracts that are likely to be offered once fighting ends.”[123]

Even as the rebels had not taken Tripoli, reported the Globe and Mail, “already the leaders of France and Italy, and their national oil champions, were openly courting the top men of the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC).” As for who will get to reap the rewards of Libya’s newly “liberated” oil, “the NTC has already said it will reward the countries that bombed Col. Gadhafi’s forces.” One rebel official stated, “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like Italians, French and U.K. companies,” however, he added, “we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.” These were, of course, the countries that did not back the strong sanctions on Gaddafi’s regime.[124]

Conclusion

This is what we call “humanitarian intervention.” A situation in which we go to war against a foreign nation, based upon lies; in which we support – arm, organize, and lead – a militant rebel army; an army which has been committing atrocities, ethnic cleansing, and spreading lies and misinformation; in which we call these rebels ‘pro-democracy’ protesters; in which we call a group with less than 15% of the support of the people a “popular uprising”; in which we bomb innocent civilians to allow these rebels to move forward and occupy new territory; in which our oil companies move in to plunder the wealth of the most oil-rich country in Africa. This – this! – is what we call “humanitarian intervention.”

Our leaders do not care for human life. They care about power and profits. They will tell you anything you want to hear in order to justify their imperial conquests around the world. They will send you – most especially the poor ‘you’ – off to foreign countries in order to kill poor, foreign people. They will do this in order to obtain control over resources and strategic routes. One of America’s most pre-eminent imperial strategists, Zbigniew Brzezinski, wrote in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, that America must maintain hegemony over the entire world, but – he wrote – “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of well-being.”[125] In the same book, Brzezinski, in blunt language explained the purpose and role for America to play in the world:

To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.[126]

Brzezinski, incidentally, supported the military intervention in Libya, which he claimed is “something between war and military intervention, to stop something that is going on, but without really trying to conquer the country,” and that, “if we didn’t act it would be worse.”[127]

Who are we really helping? Who are we really hurting? And why?

We must not support this cynical and disastrous conquest of “humanitarian imperialism,” whether it is in Libya, or perhaps – quite soon – in Syria. Wherever we “intervene,” we make everything much worse for that vast majority of the people involved. Where our nations go, they spread chaos, war, death, destruction and genocide. When our nations speak, they speak of hypocritical morality and paradoxical ethics. They speak with twisted tongues and poison words.

We must speak truth back. We must “intervene” in the discourse of the powerful around the world, in order to promote the true interests of humanity: freedom, peace, and solidarity. Only when we seek – and speak – truth, can we ever hope to meet the true ‘humanitarian’ needs of the world’s people.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is co-editor of the book, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.” His website is http://www.andrewgavinmarshall.com

Notes

[1]            Chris McGreal, Gaddafi’s army will kill half a million, warn Libyan rebels, The Guardian, 12 March 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/12/gaddafi-army-kill-half-million

[2]            Daily Mail Reporter, Libya declares immediate ceasefire… but Gaddafi forces keep on bombing, The Daily Mail, 18 March 2011:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367063/Libya-crisis-World-strikes-Gaddafi-UN-votes-protect-Libyan-rebels.html

[3]            Mark Townsend, Benghazi attack by Gaddafi’s forces was ‘ploy to negate air strikes’, The Guardian, 19 March 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/19/benghazi-gaddafi-military-air-strikes

[4]            Libya jets bomb rebels, Reuters, 14 March 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/libya-jets-bomb-rebels-2241707.html

[5]            KAREEM FAHIM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, Qaddafi Massing Forces in Tripoli as Rebellion Spreads, The New York Times, 23 February 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/world/africa/24libya.html?hp

[6]            Msnbc.com staff and news service reports, Libya protesters to try to capture Gadhafi, MSNBC, 24 February 2011:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41731365/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/libya-protesters-try-capture-gadhafi/#.TlSc0jtEPpt

[7]            Laura Rozen, Who are the Libyan rebels? U.S. tries to figure out, The Envoy, 22 March 2011:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/envoy/libyan-rebels-u-tries-figure-20110322-150042-513.html

[8]            Ahmed Jadallah, Gaddafi defiant as protesters killed, The Independent, 25 February 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/gaddafi-defiant-as-protesters-killed-2225667.html

[9]            Daily Mail Reporter, Fuelled ‘by Viagra’, Gaddafi’s troops use rape as a weapon of war with children as young as EIGHT among the victims, The Daily Mail, 25 April 2011: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1380364/Libya-Gaddafis-troops-rape-children-young-eight.html#ixzz1VvWtkIFK

[10]            Flavia Krause-Jackson and Caroline Alexander, Rape as Weapon of War Is UN Focus, Bloomberg, 6 July 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-06/rape-as-weapon-of-war-is-un-focus-after-libyan-woman-s-plight.html

[11]            NBC News, US intel: No evidence of Viagra as weapon in Libya, MSNBC, 29 April 2011:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42824884/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/#.TlSRVztEPps

[12]            Patrick Cockburn, Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war, The Independent, 24 June 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html

[13]            Ibid.

[14]            Richard Pendlebury, Outside the rebels were jubilant. Inside the court I came face to face with Gaddafi’s savage mercenaries, The Daily Mail, 25 February 2011:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1360457/Libya-Inside-Benghazi-court-Gaddafis-mercenaries.html#ixzz1VvdyPumz

[15]            Patrick Cockburn, Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war, The Independent, 24 June 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html

[16]            DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and KAREEM FAHIM, Libyan Rebels March Toward Qaddafi Stronghold, The New York Times, 27 March 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/world/africa/28libya.html?pagewanted=all

[17]            KAREEM FAHIM, With Confidence and Skittishness, Libyan Rebels Renew Charge, The New York Times, 20 march 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/world/africa/21benghazi.html

[18]            Richard N. Haas, What Next in Libya?, Huffington Post, 6 April 2011:

http://www.cfr.org/libya/next-libya/p24611

[19]            RT, “Airstrikes in Libya did not take place” – Russian military, Russia Today, 1 March 2011:

http://rt.com/news/airstrikes-libya-russian-military/

[20]            Patrick Cockburn, Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war, The Independent, 24 June 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html

[21]            News Transcript, DOD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen from the Pentagon, U.S. Department of Defense, 1 March 2011:

http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4777

[22]            Glenn Greenwald, Bad stenographers, Salon, 28 November 2007:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2007/11/28/stenography

[23]            Ibid.

[24]            From the Editors, The Times and Iraq, The New York Times, 26 May 2004:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/26/international/middleeast/26FTE_NOTE.html?ex=1400990400&en=94c17fcffad92ca9&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND

[25]            Howard Kurtz, The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story, The Washington Post, 12 August 2004:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A58127-2004Aug11?language=printer

[26]            Howard Kurtz, The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story, The Washington Post, 12 August 2004:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A58127-2004Aug11?language=printer

[27]            Neil MacDonald, Rebels vow to open up Libya to investment, Financial Times, 15 June 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b97dd138-976d-11e0-af13-00144feab49a,s01=1.html#axzz1Vyjfx6z3

[28]            Patrick Cockburn, Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war, The Independent, 24 June 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html

[29]            Mahmood Mamdani, Libya: Politics of humanitarian intervention, Al-Jazeera, 31 March 2011:

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201133111277476962.html

[30]            Uri Friedman, Meet the Libyan Rebels the West Is Supporting, The Atlantic Wire, 24 March 2011:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/03/meet-the-libyan-rebels-west-is-supporting/36048/

[31]            CHARLES LEVINSON, Rebel Leadership Casts a Wide Net, The Wall Street Journal, 10 March 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704629104576190720901643258.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

[32]            Daniel Schwartz, Mahmoud Jibril: the international face of Libya’s rebels, CBC News, 29 March 2011:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/03/29/f-libya-jibril.html

[33]            The interim national council, A vision of a democratic Libya, The Guardian, 29 March 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/29/vision-democratic-libya-interim-national-council

[34]            NBC, CIA feelers in Libya; rebels lose lots of ground, MSNBC, 30 March 2011:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42334849/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/cia-feelers-libya-rebels-lose-lots-ground/#.TlSQ9TtEPps

[35]            MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT, C.I.A. Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels, The New York Times, 30 March 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/world/africa/31intel.html?_r=1&hp

[36]            Ken Dilanian, CIA officers working with Libya rebels, The Los Angeles Times, 31 March 2011:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/31/world/la-fg-cia-libya-20110331

[37]            Ibid.

[38]            Robert Fisk, America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels, The Independent, 7 March 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/americas-secret-plan-to-arm-libyas-rebels-2234227.html

[39]            CHARLES LEVINSON And MATTHEW ROSENBERG, Egypt Said to Arm Libya Rebels, The Wall Street Journal, 17 March 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704360404576206992835270906.html

[40]            Chris Adams, Libyan rebel leader spent much of past 20 years in suburban Virginia, McClatchy Newspapers, 26 March 2011:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/26/111109/new-rebel-leader-spent-much-of.html

[41]            Russ Baker, Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?, Business Insider, 22 April 2011:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-cias-man-in-libya-2011-4

Amy Goodman, A Debate on U.S. Military Intervention in Libya: Juan Cole v. Vijay Prashad, Democracy Now!, 29 March 2011:

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/29/a_debate_on_us_military_intervention

Patrick Martin, American media silent on CIA ties to Libya rebel commander, World Socialist Web Site, 30 March 2011:

http://wsws.org/articles/2011/mar2011/hift-m30.shtml

[42]            Chris McGreal, Libyan rebel efforts frustrated by internal disputes over leadership, The Guardian, 3 April 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/03/libya-rebel-leadership-split

[43]            Ian Black, Libya rebels rejects Gaddafi’s al-Qaida spin, The Guardian, 1 March 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/01/gaddafi-libya-al-qaida-lifg-protesters

[44]            Gadhafi blames bin Laden, drugs for Libya unrest, MSNBC, 24 February 2011:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41753687/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/gadhafi-blames-bin-laden-drugs-libya-unrest/#.TlVymztEPps

[45]            Richard Adams, Charlie Sheen v Muammar Gaddafi: whose line is it anyway?, The Guardian, 1 March 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/quiz/2011/mar/01/muammar-gaddafi-charlie-sheen-quiz

[46]            Michael Solomon, Quiz: Charlie Sheen or Muammar Qaddafi?, Vanity Fair, 25 February 2011:

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2011/02/quiz-charlie-sheen-or-muammar-qaddafi

[47]            Matt Gurney, Matt Gurney: Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen, spot the difference, The National Post, 1 March 2011:

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/03/01/matt-gurney-muammar-gaddafi-and-charlie-sheen-spot-the-difference/

[48]            Robin Cook, The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means, The Guardian, 8 July 2005:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/08/july7.development

[49]            CHARLES LEVINSON, Ex-Mujahedeen Help Lead Libyan Rebels, The Wall Street Journal, 2 April 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703712504576237042432212406.html

[50]            Praveen Swami, Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links, The Telegraph, 25 March 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8407047/Libyan-rebel-commander-admits-his-fighters-have-al-Qaeda-links.html

[51]            Robert Winnett, Libya: al-Qaeda among Libya rebels, Nato chief fears, The Telegraph, 29 March 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8414583/Libya-al-Qaeda-among-Libya-rebels-Nato-chief-fears.html

[52]            Terry Glavin, Ottawa’s Gaddafi fans find their world crumbling, The National Post, 23 August 2011:

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/23/terry-glavin-ottawas-gaddafi-fans-find-their-world-crumbling/#more-48400

[53]            Scott Taylor, Support for Gaddafi soars amid NATO bombing on civilians, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 August 2011:

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110821/Timestwo/int013.html

[54]            Up to 15,000 killed in Libya war: U.N. rights expert, Reuters, 9 June 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/09/us-libya-un-deaths-idUSTRE7584UY20110609

[55]            Media Advisory, Libyan Deaths, Media Silence, FAIR, 18 August 2011:

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4379

[56]            Libya civilian deaths ‘sap NATO credibility’, Al-Jazeera, 20 June 2011:

http://english.aljazeera.net/video/africa/2011/06/2011620144740151623.html

[57]            Patrick Cockburn, Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war, The Independent, 24 June 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html

[58]            MICHELE NORRIS, In Libya, African Migrants Say They Face Hostility, NPR, 25 February 2011:

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/25/134065767/-African-Migrants-Say-They-Face-Hostility-From-Libyans

[59]            African migrants targeted in Libya, Al-Jazeera, 28 February 2011:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/02/201122865814378541.html

[60]            Peter Mietzner, Rebels target suspected mercenaries in Libya, iNamibia, 5 March 2011:

http://www.inamibia.co.na/news-and-weather/15-africa/810-rebels-target-suspected-mercenaries-in-libya-.html

[61]            Simba Russeau, Uprising Revives Entrenched Racism Towards Black Africans, IPS, 21 March 2011:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201103211518.html

[62]            News Desk Report, Massacre of Blacks in Libya, The Ghanaian Journal, 9 March 2011:

http://www.theghanaianjournal.com/2011/03/09/massacre-of-blacks-in-libya/

[63]            IBT, Black Africans and other non-Libyans targeted for revenge killings: reports, International Business Times, 1 March 2011:

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/117665/20110301/libya-africans.htm

[64]            Jason Koutsoukis, Black men mistaken for mercenaries, The Sydney-Morning Herald, 6 March 2011:

http://www.smh.com.au/world/black-men-mistaken-for-mercenaries-20110305-1biwb.html

[65]            David Zucchino, Libyan rebels accused of targeting blacks, The Los Angeles Times, 4 March 2011:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/04/world/la-fg-libya-mercenaries-20110305

[66]            Onwuchekwa Jemie, Black Africans slaughtered in Libya, Business Day, 22 March 2011:

http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/analysis/columnists/19302-black-africans-slaughtered-in-libya-

[67]            LIBYA: Rebels execute black immigrants while forces kidnap others, Somaliland Press, 4 March 2011:

http://somalilandpress.com/libya-rebels-execute-black-immigrants-while-forces-kidnap-others-20586

[68]            Sam Dagher, Libya City Torn by Tribal Feud, The Wall Street Journal, 21 June 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304887904576395143328336026.html

[69]            Michel Martin, Black Migrants Caught In Libya Unrest, NPR, 16 March 2011:

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/16/134596590/Black-Migrants-Caught-In-Libya-Unrest

[70]            Rosebell Kagumire, Guest article: A mercenary and an immigrant; a story of black Africans and Libya, The Independent, 3 March 2011:

http://www.independent.co.ug/component/wordpress/2011/03/guest-articlea-mercenary-and-an-immigrant-a-story-of-black-africans-and-libya/?Itemid=331

[71]            Italy Warns of a New Wave of Immigrants to Europe, Der Spiegel, 24 February 2011:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,747459,00.html

[72]            Stanley Pignal and Giulia Segreti, Italians fear African migration surge, The Financial Times, 21 February 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/46b9e68c-3dea-11e0-99ac-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1Vyjfx6z3

[73]            Libya: up to a million refugees could pour into Europe, The Telegraph, 21 February 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8339225/Libya-up-to-a-million-refugees-could-pour-into-Europe.html

[74]            Ibid.

[75]            Canada joins propaganda war aimed at Gadhafi forces, CBC News, 26 August 2011:

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/SciTech/20110729/canada-joins-propaganda-war-aimed-at-gadhafi-forces-110729/

William Maclean, Analysis: Seeking leverage, Libya foes in propaganda war, Reuters, 5 August 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/05/us-libya-propaganda-idUSTRE7744K620110805

[76]            Kevin Bogardus, PR firm helps Libyan rebels to campaign for support from US, The Hill, 12 April 2011:

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/155379-pr-firm-helps-libyan-rebels-to-campaign-for-us-support

[77]            Rachel Leven, Libyan rebels hire Washington’s No. 1 lobby firm for ‘advice and assistance’, The Hill, 2 July 2011:

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/169509-libyan-rebels-hire-washingtons-no-1-lobby-firm?page=2#comments

[78]            CNN wire staff, U.S. recognizes Libyan rebels’ authority, CNN, 15 July 2011:

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-07-15/world/libya.us.recognition_1_libyan-rebels-transitional-national-council-misrata?_s=PM:WORLD

[79]            Molly Hennessy-Fiske, LIBYA: Push to unfreeze Libyan assets, LA Times Blog, 25 August 2011:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/08/united-nations-security-council-diplomats-said-thursday-that-south-africa-will-likely-drop-its-opposition-to-unfreezing-15.html

[80]            AP, Libyan rebel forces leader shot dead, The Guardian, 28 July 2011:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/28/libya-rebel-forces-leader-killed

[81]            Adrian Blomfield, Libyan rebels in disarray after mysterious killing of leading military commander, The Telegraph, 29 July 2011:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8670137/Libyan-rebels-in-disarray-after-mysterious-killing-of-leading-military-commander.html

[82]            Russ Baker, Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?, Business Insider, 22 April 2011:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-cias-man-in-libya-2011-4

Amy Goodman, A Debate on U.S. Military Intervention in Libya: Juan Cole v. Vijay Prashad, Democracy Now!, 29 March 2011:

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/29/a_debate_on_us_military_intervention

Patrick Martin, American media silent on CIA ties to Libya rebel commander, World Socialist Web Site, 30 March 2011:

http://wsws.org/articles/2011/mar2011/hift-m30.shtml

Chris McGreal, Libyan rebel efforts frustrated by internal disputes over leadership, The Guardian, 3 April 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/03/libya-rebel-leadership-split

[83]            Scott Taylor, Support for Gaddafi soars amid NATO bombing on civilians, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 August 2011:

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110821/Timestwo/int013.html

[84]            Richard Norton-Taylor and Dominic Rushe, Assault on Tripoli ‘planned weeks ago’, The Guardian, 25 August 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/25/libya-rebel-backers-free-funds

[85]            KAREEM FAHIM and MARK MAZZETTI, Rebels’ Assault on Tripoli Began With Careful Work Inside, The New York Times, 22 August 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/world/africa/23reconstruct.html

[86]            Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Allies guided rebel ‘pincer’ assault on Tripoli, The Washington Post, 22 August 2011:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/allies-guided-rebel-pincer-assault-on-tripoli/2011/08/22/gIQAeAMaWJ_story.html

[87]            Gordon Rayner, Libya: secret role played by Britain creating path to the fall of Tripoli, The Telegraph, 22 August 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8716758/Libya-secret-role-played-by-Britain-creating-path-to-the-fall-of-Tripoli.html

[88]            Daya Gamage, Gaddafi under siege: Two CIA-backed groups, an al-Qaeda-linked LIFG on top of power stakes, The Asia Tribune, 22 August 2011:
http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2011/08/22/gaddafi-under-siege-two-cia-backed-groups-al-qaeda-linked-lifg-top-power-stakes

[89]            Jason Ukman, The lesson of Libya: Limited intervention can work, The Washington Post, 22 August 2011:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/the-lesson-of-libya-limited-engagement-can-work/2011/08/22/gIQAl8WQWJ_blog.html

[90]            Howard Kurtz, The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story, The Washington Post, 12 August 2004:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A58127-2004Aug11?language=printer

[91]            Kim Sengupta, Terror in Tripoli as loyalists fight to the death, The Independent, 25 August 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/terror-in-tripoli-as-loyalists-fight-to-the-death-2343458.html

[92]            Ibid.

[93]            Portia Walker, ‘We are afraid of both Gaddafi and the rebels’, The Independent, 25 August 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/we-are-afraid-of-both-gaddafi-and-the-rebels-2343462.html

[94]            Robert Fisk, History repeats itself, with mistakes of Iraq rehearsed afresh, The Independent, 25 August 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-history-repeats-itself-with-mistakes-of-iraq-rehearsed-afresh-2343459.html

[95]            Ibid.

[96]            Richard Norton-Taylor, Nato will not put troops on ground in Libya, The Guardian, 24 August 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/24/nato-will-not-put-troops-ground-libya

[97]            Duncan Gardham, Libya: Britain prepares to send team to help with stability plan, The Telegraph, 23 August 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8718947/Libya-Britain-prepares-to-send-team-to-help-with-stability-plan.html

[98]            DEBKAfile Exclusive Report, Palestinians to apply to Security Council next week for UN membership, DEBKAfile, 7 July 2011:

http://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/palestinians-to-apply-to-security-council-next-week-for-un-membership/

[99]            Ian Traynor, Libya conflict: EU awaits UN approval for deployment of ground troops, The Guardian, 18 April 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/18/libya-conflict-eu-deployment-ground-troops

[100]            Edward S. Herman, “THE APPROVED NARRATIVE OF THE SREBRENICA

MASSACRE,” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (Vol. 19, No. 4, 2006), pages 411-412.

[101]            Ibid, page 412.

[102]            Ibid, page 411.

[103]            Rahul Mahajan, ‘We Think the Price Is Worth It’, FAIR, November/December 2001:

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1084

[104]            Jason Groves, Ian Drury and Nick Fagge, British troops may act as peacekeepers if Libya descends into chaos, The Daily Mail, 23 August 2011:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2029013/Libya-war-British-troops-act-peacekeepers-Gaddafis-downfall.html

[105]            Martin Chulov, Libya rebels have won the war but biggest battle will be uniting factions, The Guardian, 22 August 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/22/libya-rebels-ntc-future

[106]            Aaron Dykes, U.S. Invasion of Libya Set for October, Infowars.com, 15 June 2011:

http://www.infowars.com/u-s-invasion-of-libya-set-for-october/

[107]            US and NATO prepare final assault on Qaddafi. He threatens terror, DEBKAfile, 3 July 2011:

http://www.melchizedekpriest.com/?p=5149

[108]            NATO may be preparing ground operation in Libya – Russian envoy, RIA Novosti, 1 July 2011:

http://en.rian.ru/world/20110701/164951748.html

[109]            Marcello Mega, Police chief: Lockerbie evidence was faked, The Scotsman, 28 August 2006:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14908

Steve James, Lockerbie-Pan Am 103: Prosecution case evaporates, World Socialist Web Site, 17 October 2000:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/oct2000/lock-o17.shtml

Susan Lindauer, Libya’s Blood For Oil: The Vampire War, The Intel Hub, 28 March 2011:

http://theintelhub.com/2011/03/28/libyas-blood-for-oil-the-vampire-war/

[110]            ERIC LICHTBLAU, DAVID ROHDE and JAMES RISEN, Shady Dealings Helped Qaddafi Build Fortune and Regime, The New York Times, 24 March 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/world/africa/24qaddafi.html?_r=1

[111]            Christopher Helman, Is Libya Going To Boot U.S. Oil Companies?, Forbes, 22 January 2009:

http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/22/libya-gaddafi-oil-biz-energy-cx_ch_0122libya.html

[112]            AP, Libya Wants Greater Share of Its Oil Revenue, CNBC, 3 March 2009:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/29494495/Libya_Wants_Greater_Share_of_Its_Oil_Revenue

[113]            John Thorne, Libya flexes its new oil wealth muscles, The National, 14 March 2010:

http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/africa/libya-flexes-its-new-oil-wealth-muscles

[114]            Libya orders U.S. diplomat to leave: reports, Reuters, 7 November 2010:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/11/07/us-libya-usa-diplomat-idUSTRE6A61T720101107

[115]            Ali Shuaib, Libya says Chevron and Oxy exit licenses, Reuters, 2 October 2010:

http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFJOE69100F20101002

[116]            David Rose, The Lockerbie Deal, Vanity Fair, 26 January 2011:

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/01/libya-201101#gotopage1

[117]            Ibid.

[118]            David Robertson, Richard Kerbaj and David Brown, Secret delegation went batting for British interests in Tripoli, The Times, 29 August 2009:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6814420.ece

[119]            Nabila Ramdani, Tim Shipman and Peter Allen, Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi’s son, The Daily Mail, 5 June 2010:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1284132/Tony-Blair-special-adviser-dictator-Gaddafis-son.html

[120]            Michael Peel, Friends in high places turn their back on Tripoli, The Financial Times, 23 February 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b0df218a-3f7f-11e0-a1ba-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1Vyjfx6z3

[121]            Roula Khalaf, James Blitz and Lina Saigol, UK freezes Libyan wealth fund assets, The Financial Times, 3 March 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/5882452c-45d7-11e0-acd8-00144feab49a.html#axzz1Vyjfx6z3

[122]            Javier Blas, Oil groups prepare to close down in Libya, The Financial Times, 21 February 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/702f5730-3dd7-11e0-ae2a-00144feabdc0,s01=1.html#axzz1Vyjfx6z3

[123]            Jerome Taylor, Kevin Rawlinson, Laurie Martin and Charlotte Allen, Dash for profit in post-war Libya carve-up, The Independent, 24 August 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/dash-for-profit-in-postwar-libya-carveup-2342798.html

[124]            Eric Reguly, They bombed and therefore they shall reap, The Globe and Mail, 24 August 2011:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/eric-reguly/they-bombed-and-therefore-they-shall-reap/article2140453/

[125]            Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (Basic Books: New York, 1997), page 36.

[126]            Ibid, page 40.

[127]            Hiram Reisner, Brzezinski: Libya Action Isn’t War, But Necessary Intervention, NewsMax, 24 March 2011:
http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/Brzezinski-Libya-intervention-MorningJoe/2011/03/24/id/390587

The Logic of Imperial Insanity and the Road to World War III

The Logic of Imperial Insanity and the Road to World War III
Global Research, January 14, 2011

Defining the Imperial Stratagem

In the late 1990s Brzezinski wrote up the design for America’s imperial project in the 21st century in his book, “The Grand Chessboard.” He stated bluntly that, “it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America,” and then made clear the imperial nature of his strategy:

To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.[1]

He further explained that the Central Asian nations (or “Eurasian Balkans” as he refers to them):

are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.[2]

Brzezinski emphasizes “that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”[3]

Obama as a Rabid Imperialist

Obama wasted no time in rapidly accelerating America’s imperial adventures. While dropping the term “War on Terror” from usage, the Pentagon adopted the term, “overseas contingency operations.”[4] This was to be the typical strategy of the Obama administration: change the appearance, not the substance. The name was changed, but the “War on Terror” remained, and not only that, it was rapidly accelerated to a level that would not have been possible if undertaken by the previous administration.

The current expansion of American imperialism globally has been rapidly accelerated since Obama became President, and seems intent on starting and expanding wars all over the world. When Obama became President, America and its Western allies were engaged in a number of wars, occupations and covert destabilizations, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, to the Congo, and Obama took office in the midst of Israel’s brutal assault against Gaza. From the beginning of his presidency, Obama immediately justified Israel’s vicious attack against innocent Palestinians, rapidly accelerated the war and occupation of Afghanistan, expanded the war into Pakistan, started a new war in Yemen, and supported a military coup in Honduras, which removed a popular democratic government in favour of a brutal dictatorship. Obama’s administration has expanded covert special operations throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, and is paving the way for a war against Iran.[5] In fact, the Obama administration has expanded Special Operations forces into 75 countries around the world (compared with a height of 60 during the Bush regime). Among the many countries with expanded operations are Yemen, Colombia, the Philippines, Somalia, Pakistan, among many others.[6] Further, in recent months, the Obama administration has been saber rattling with North Korea, potentially starting a war on the Korean Peninsula. With the creation of the Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), American foreign policy on the continent has become increasingly militarized.

No continent is safe, it seems. America and its NATO cohorts are undertaking a seemingly insane foreign policy of dramatically accelerating overt and covert military imperialism. This policy seems to be headed for an eventual confrontation with the rising eastern powers, in particular China, but potentially India and Russia as well. China and America, specifically, are headed on an imperial collision course: in East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The competition for access to resources is reminiscent of the ‘Great Game’ of the 19th century, of which Afghanistan was a central battlefield.

One would think that in the midst of a massive global economic crisis, the worst the world has ever seen, the major nations would scale back their imperial over-reach and militarism in order to reduce their debts and preserve their economies. However, there is an ‘imperial logic’ behind this situation, and one that must be placed within a wider geopolitical context.

Conceptualizing the Rise of China

First, we must properly address the nature of China’s rise in the world order. What we are witnessing is an historically unique situation. For the first time, the rise of a ‘new’ power is taking place not in the context of rising against the hegemonic powers of the time, but within the hegemonic order. In short, China’s rise has not been a rise against America, but rather a rise within the American world order. Thus, China has risen as much as the West has allowed it to rise, but that does not mean that China will not seek to serve its own interests now that it has accumulated significant global status and power. China has risen by integrating with the Western-dominated economic system, and in particular the Western banking and central banking systems. China and America are economically dependent upon one another, as America purchases China’s cheap products, and China funds America’s debt. In effect, China is also funding America’s imperial adventurism.

Thus, we are presented with a unique situation: one of mutual dependence and competition. While China and America are dependent upon one another, they are also each other’s greatest competitors, specifically in terms of access to and control over resources. For example, China supports both Iran and Sudan. These two nations are major targets of American imperial ambitions, not because of any humanitarian or anti-terrorism concerns (although that is the propaganda espoused most often), but because of the significant resources and strategic relevance of these nations. As they are not subservient to the West and specifically America, they are considered ‘enemy nations’, and thus the media focus on demonizing these nations so that the public is supportive of military or other means of implementing “regime change.” China supports these nations because of its access to their resources, and as a counter to American influence.

Global Governance

To add another complex feature to this story, we must place this conflicting relationship in the context of the global economic crisis and the world response to it. The G20 is the principle forum for ‘global governance,’ in which the nations of the world are working together to increasingly integrate their governance approaches on a global scale. The economic crisis has provided the impetus to spur on calls for and the implementation of plans to construct a system of global economic governance: a global central bank and global currency. So, as China and America are seeking to further integrate economically and globally, they are also competing for access to and control over resources.

The logic behind this is that both powers want to be able to negotiate the process of constructing a system of global governance from a more secure standpoint. While it is generally acknowledged that the world is witnessing “the rise of the East,” in particular with China and India, we see the center of global power moving from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Several commentators for years have been analyzing and discussing this issue; however, the fact that power has been centered in the Atlantic for the past 500 years means that it will not be so easily moved to the Pacific. In fact, the Western powers not only acknowledge the rise of the East, but that the East has risen because they have allowed it to and aided it in this process. The Western powers have done this not out of some benevolent design, but because the organized intellectual powers of the West (namely, the principle think tanks and banking interests) have sought to create a perfect global system of governance, one in which power does not sway from nation to nation, or West to East, but rather that power is centralized globally. This is obviously a long-term project, and will not (if ever) be realized for several more decades. Yet, it is through crises – economic, political, and social – that this process of global governance can be rapidly accelerated.

See: “Crisis is an Opportunity”: Engineering a Global Depression to Create a Global Government

Understanding Imperial Dynamics

There is another dynamic to this complicated relationship that must be addressed, that of the internal dynamics between the political, economic and military elite of the dominant nations. For the sake of time, I will focus on the two principle nations: America and China. America’s national security apparatus, namely the Pentagon and intelligence services, have long worked in the service of the economic elite and in close cooperation with the political elite. There is a network that exists, which President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex” where the interests of these three sectors overlap and thus America is given its imperial impetus.

It is within the major think tanks of the nation, specifically the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where cohesion between these sectors is encouraged and managed. The think tanks, and the CFR most especially, are the policy-makers of the American Empire. Think tanks bring together elites from most power sectors of society – the military, political, corporate, banking, intelligence, academia, media, etc. – and they discuss, debate and ultimately produce strategy blueprints and recommendations for American foreign policy. Individuals from these think tanks move in and out of the policy-making circles, creating a revolving door between the policy-planners and those that implement them. The think tanks, in this context, are essentially the intellectual engines of the American Empire.

Still, we must not assume that because they are grouped together, work together, and strategize together, that they are identical in views or methods; there is significant debate, disagreement and conflict within and between the think tanks and policy-making circles. However, dissent within these institutions is of a particular nature: it focuses on disagreement over methods rather than aims and objectives. To elaborate, the members (at least the powerful members) of think tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations do not disagree on the cause of empire and supporting American hegemony, that is a given, and is not often even discussed. That is the environment in which the elite operate.

What is up for debate and discussion is the methods used to achieve this, and it is here where significant conflicts arise between elites. Bankers and corporations seek to protect their financial and economic interests around the world. Military officials are concerned with preserving and expanding American hegemony, and are largely focused on potential rivals to American military power, and tend to favour military options of foreign policy over diplomatic ones. Political representatives must be concerned with the total influence and projection of American power – economically, militarily, politically, etc. – and so they must weigh and balance these multiple interests and translate it into a cohesive policy. Often, they lean towards the use of military might, however, there have been many incidents and issues for which political leaders have had to reign in the military and pursue diplomatic objectives. There have also been instances where the military has attempted to reign in rabidly militaristic political leaders, such as during the Bush administration with the neo-conservatives pushing for direct confrontation with Iran, prompting direct and often public protests and rebuttals from the military establishment, as well as several resignations of top-ranking generals.

These differences are often represented directly within administrations. The Kennedy years, for example, saw a continual conflict between the military and intelligence circles and the civilian leadership of John Kennedy. His brief term as President was marked by a constant struggle to prevent the military and intelligence services of America – particularly the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA – from starting wars with Cuba, Vietnam and the Soviet Union. The Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved only after Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother and the Attorney General, convinced the Russians that Kennedy was at risk of being overthrown in a military coup, which would result in a direct nuclear war against the USSR.

See: The National Security State and the Assassination of JFK

Thus, within the key policy circles – namely the think tanks and presidential cabinets – there is always a delicate balancing act of these various interests. Fundamentally, with American power, they all rest and support American corporate and banking interests. Diplomacy, especially, is concerned with supporting American corporate and financial interests abroad. As the Wikileaks diplomatic cables have revealed in a number of cases, diplomats directly intervene on behalf of and work with various corporate interests. US diplomats acted as sales agents to foreign governments promoting Boeing planes over European competitors, they pressured the government of Bangladesh to reopen a widely-opposed mine in the country operated by a British company, they lobbied the Russian government directly on behalf of the interests of Visa and Mastercard, engaged in intelligence sharing with Shell in Nigeria, and in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, US diplomats worked with major British business interests and British Prince Andrew, who stated that, “the United Kingdom, Western Europe (and by extension you Americans too,” were “back in the thick of playing the Great Game,” and that, “this time we aim to win!”[7]

The military, in turn, acts in the interests of the corporate and financial elite, as those countries that do not submit to American economic hegemony are deemed enemies, and the military is ultimately sent in to implement “regime change.” Strategic concerns are de facto economic concerns. The military is concerned with preserving and expanding American hegemony, and to do so they must be focused on threats to American dominance, as well as securing strategic locations in the world. For example, the war in Yemen, a country with very little to offer economically, has a lot to do with strategic-economic interests. The ‘threat’ in Yemen is not in the form of al-Qaeda, though that is what is most propagandized, but rather it is the fact that the long-supported dictatorship of President Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, is threatened by a rebel movement in the North and a massive secessionist movement in the South, as the central government controls barely one-third of the country. In short, Yemen is on the verge of revolution, and thus, America’s trusted ally and local despot, President Saleh, is at risk of being usurped. Thus, America has heavily subsidized Yemen’s military, and has even directly launched cruise missiles, sent in Special Forces and other forms of assistance to help Yemen’s dictator suppress, repress and ultimately crush these popular people’s movements for independence and liberty.

Now why is this a strategic-economic concern to America, for a country that has little dwindling resources to offer? The answer is in Yemen’s geographic location. Directly below Saudi Arabia, a revolutionary government that would be highly antagonistic towards America’s trusted Saudi proxy state would be a threat to America’s interests throughout the entire Middle East. It would be likely that Iran would seek to ally itself and aid such a government, allowing Iran to expand its own political influence in the region. This is why Saudi Arabia is itself taking direct military action in Yemen against the rebels in the North, along its border. The Saudi elite are fearful of the rebellious sentiments spreading into Saudi Arabia itself. No wonder then, that America recently signed off on the largest arms deal in U.S. history with Saudi Arabia, totaling $60 billion, in an effort to support operations in Yemen but principally to act as a counter to Iranian influence in the region. Further, Yemen sits atop the Gulf of Aden, directly across from the Horn of Africa (namely Somalia), connecting the Black Sea to the Arabian Sea, which is itself one of the major oil transport routes in the world. Strategic control over the nations lining the Gulf of Aden is of primary interest to American imperial strategists, whether they are military, political or economic in nature.

Yemen is also directly across the water from Somalia, another country ravaged by the American war machine. As the diplomatic cables confirmed, in 2006, “the Bush Administration pushed Ethiopia to invade Somalia with an eye on crushing the Union of Islamic Courts,” which is exactly what happened, and Somalia has been a ‘failed state’ mired in civil war ever since.[8] The piracy that has exploded in the waters off of Somalia are a result of the massive toxic waste dumping and over-fishing done by European and American and other major shipping lines, and have served as an excuse for the militarization of the waters. In this context, it would be unacceptable from a strategic standpoint to allow Yemen to fall from American influence. Thus, America is at war in Yemen.

See: Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire

China, alternatively, does not have such direct cohesion between its political, economic and military sectors. China’s military is intensely nationalistic, and while the political elite are more cooperative with U.S. interests and often work to achieve mutual interests, the military sees America as a direct challenge and antagonistic (which of course, it is). China’s economic elite, specifically its banking elite, are heavily integrated with the West, so much so that it is very difficult to separate the two. There is not such an integration between the Chinese and American military establishments, nor is there an internal dynamic within China that reflects the American system of empire. The divisions between military, political and economic circles are more pronounced within China than in America. The Chinese political leadership is put into a very challenging situation. Determined to see China advance economically, they must work with America and the West. However, on key political issues (such as with Taiwan), the political leadership must adhere to an intensely nationalistic approach, which is counter to U.S. interests, and supportive of Chinese military interests. Increasing military superiority is seen as a key aspect and objective of China’s increasing political dominance in the world scene. As one top Chinese general stated in 2005, “China should use nuclear weapons against the United States if the American military intervenes in any conflict over Taiwan.” The General cited “war logic” which “dictates that a weaker power needs to use maximum efforts to defeat a stronger rival.” His view suggested that elements within the Chinese military are ‘determined’ to respond with extreme force if America intervenes in any potential conflict over Taiwan, saying that, “We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”[9]

The Logic of Competitive Co-Operation

The Chinese military must be ready to protect its economic interests abroad if it is to have control over its own economic growth and thus maintain international power. Thus, China’s political impetus to support and increase its international influence is very conflicting. On the one hand, this means actively cooperating with America and the West (primarily in economic matters, as we see with the G20, where China is engaging in the dialogue and the implementation of global governance arrangements); and on the other hand, China must also challenge America and the West in order to secure its own access to and control over vital resources necessary for its own economic and political growth. China is placed in a paradoxical situation. While working with the West to construct the apparatus of global governance, China does not want to be dictated to, and instead wants a strong negotiating position in these arrangements. So while engaging in discussions and negotiations for the construction of a system of global governance, China must also actively seek to increase its control over key strategic resources in the world in order to strengthen its own negotiating position. It is often the case that when warring parties come to the table for negotiations, the on-the-ground operations are rapidly accelerated in order to strengthen the negotiating position of the respective party.

This was the case during the Rwandan Civil War, where throughout the Arusha Peace Process, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), heavily supported by America against the Rwandan government (which was supported by France and Belgium), rapidly accelerated its military campaign, thus gaining the upper hand during negotiations, which worked in its favour, ultimately resulting in the Rwandan genocide (which was sparked by the RPF’s assassination of the Rwandan president), and the RPF usurped power in Rwanda.  This is also the case in Israel-Palestine “peace” negotiations, such as during the Oslo process, where Israel rapidly accelerated its expansion of settlements into the occupied territories, essentially ethnically cleansing much of the Palestinian populations of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This expanded process of ethnic cleansing is what the Western political leaders and media call a “peace process.” Thus, when Palestinians react to this ethnic cleansing and expansion of the settlements (which is an inherently violent process), or a suicide bombing or mortar attack takes place in reaction to this expansion of settlements, Western political leaders and media blame the Palestinians for breaking a period of “relative peace” or “relative calm.” Apparently, it is considered to be “relative peace” if only Palestinians are being killed. Thus, Israel always ensures that through any negotiation process, its interests are met above all others.

So we see this logic with China and America today. While not directly at war with one another, they are each other’s greatest competition. This competition is prevalent in Central Asia, where America is seeking dominance over the region’s enormous natural gas reserves, thus depriving China of access to and control over these vital strategic resources. It is also heavily present in Africa, where China has presented an alternative to going to the World Bank and IMF for African governments to get loans and support in exchange for resource access. In this context, America established its newest Pentagon command, Africa Command (AFRICOM) to merge American diplomatic, civil society and military policy in Africa under command of the Pentagon. In the Middle East, America is primarily dominant, thus leaving China pushed to ally itself with Iran. In South America, China is allying itself with the somewhat progressive governments which rose in opposition to American military and economic hegemony over the region.

This logic holds for both America and China. Both seek to secure a dominant position while engaging in discussions and the implementation of a global governance apparatus. This leads both powers to seek cooperation and mutual benefit, yet, simultaneously, compete globally for control of resources. This is magnified by the global economic crisis, which has revealed the weaknesses of the global economy, and indeed the global monetary and banking systems. The world economy is on the verge of total collapse. The next decade will be scarred by a new Great Depression. This provides a further impetus for both of these powers to rapidly accelerate their control over resources and expand their military adventurism.

The American Empire is in decline, and is utterly bankrupt; however, its elites, which are in fact more global than national in their ideology and orientation, are seeking to not simply have American power disappear, or be replaced with Chinese power, but rather to use American power to construct the apparatus of a new global structure of authority, and that the American Empire will simply fade into a global structure. This is a delicate balancing act for the global elite, and requires integrating China and the other dominant powers within this system. It also inherently implies the ultimate domination of the ‘global south’ (Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia). This is an entirely new process being undertaken. Empires have risen and fallen throughout all of human history. This time, the fall of the American Empire is taking place within the context of the rise of a totally new kind of power: global in scope, structure and authority. This will no doubt be one of the defining geopolitical events of the next several decades.

Historically, periods of imperial decline are marked by a rapid acceleration of international conflict and war, as the declining power seeks to control as much as it can as fast as it can (thus we see America’s seemingly insane expansion of war, conflict and militarization everywhere in the world), while rising powers seek to take advantage of this decline in order to accelerate the collapse of the declining power, and secure their position as the next dominant power. Yet, in this geopolitical landscape of the 21st century, we are faced with this entirely new context, where the decline of one empire and the rise of a new power are taking place while both seek to integrate and construct an entirely new system and structure of power, yet both seek to secure for themselves a dominant position within this new structure. The potential for conflict is enormous, possibly resulting in a direct war between America and China, or in a mass of global proxy wars between them.

This new century will indeed be an interesting one. The prospects of a new global war are increasing with every accelerated military adventure. The primary antagonist in this theatre of the absurd is without a doubt, the United States. If the world is headed for World War III, it is because America has made such a situation inevitable. One cannot preclude that for many global elites, such a result may be desirable in and of itself. After all, World War I provided the impetus for the formation of the League of Nations, and World War II provided the push for the United Nations to “secure peace between nations.” In a world largely run by global strategists, it would be naïve to assume that it has not occurred to some that a new world war could be precisely the event they need to convince the people of the world to accept their desired system of global governance; no doubt to secure ‘world peace.’ At least, I am sure it will be sold under that pretense.

Notes

[1]        Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books, 1997: Page 40

[2]        Ibid, page 124.

[3]        Ibid, page 148.

[4]        Scott Wilson and Al Kamen, ‘Global War On Terror’ Is Given New Name, The Washington Post: 25 March 2009: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/24/AR2009032402818.html

[5]        MARK MAZZETTI, U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast, The New York Times, 24 May 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/world/25military.html?_r=1

[6]        Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, U.S. ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role, The Washington Post, 4 June 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/03/AR2010060304965.html

[7]        Eric Lipton, Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market, The New York Times, 2 January 2011: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/business/03wikileaks-boeing.html?_r=2; Fariha Karim, WikiLeaks cables: US pushed for reopening of Bangladesh coal mine, The Guardian, 21 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/21/wikileaks-cables-us-bangladesh-coal-mine?INTCMP=SRCH; Luke Harding and Tom Parfitt, WikiLeaks cables: US ‘lobbied Russia on behalf of Visa and MasterCard’, The Guardian, 8 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-us-russia-visa-mastercard; David Smith, WikiLeaks cables: Shell’s grip on Nigerian state revealed, The Guardian, 8 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-cables-shell-nigeria-spying; Borzou Daragahi and Alexandra Sandels, CENTRAL ASIA: WikiLeaks dispatches reveal a Great Game for the 21st century, Babylon & Beyond: LA Times Blog, 14 December 2010: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2010/12/great-game-wikileaks-turkmenistan-prince-edward-chevron-kazakhstan-kyrgyzstan-azerbaijan-turkmenista.html

[8]        Rob Prince, WikiLeaks Reveals U.S. Twisted Ethiopia’s Arm to Invade Somalia, Global Research, 26 December 2010: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22512

[9]        JOSEPH KAHN, Chinese General Threatens Use of A-Bombs if U.S. Intrudes, The New York Times, 15 July 2005: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/15/international/asia/15china.html