DSGE models — overconfident macroeconomic story-telling
for 3 timer siden
"Kraven på att stoppa blodbad i Libyen påminner starkt om tidigare humanitära interventioner. Av dem kan vi lära oss att löftet om en snabb militär lösning ofta visar sig ihåligt. Sedan Srebrenica vet vi att flygförbudszoner inte räcker för att stoppa massakrer. Sedan Rwanda att FN-trupper på marken inte nödvändigtvis förhindrar massmord. Risken är betydande för att man nu när tärningen ändå är kastad snart anser att stridande marktrupper trots allt måste sättas in.
Också för rebellerna borde varningar för att låta sig inhägnas av stormakter ringa. Om priset för att bli av med Gaddafi är att Libyen i likhet med Kosovo blir ett dysfunktionellt FN-protektorat med en permanent amerikansk militär närvaro, eller om man som Irak förlorar kontrollen över sin olja kan upproret sluta i dubbel tragedi.
Mest tragiskt är att varje tanke på att lösa svåra konflikter med annat än krig verkar ha försvunnit helt ur den allmänna debatten. Kan man endast välja mellan passivitet och missilanfall kommer många, inklusive vänsterkrafter, att välja missiler. Men både FN och vänstern borde sträva efter aktiv konfliktlösning på fredlig väg."
"What's the reason we can't we intervene here? If anything, this seems like a much more obvious humanitarian intervention than Libya where a spontaneous uprising to overthrow the government has not even come close to the mayhem and displacement in Ivory Coast. It's not that I think we should intervene in every humanitarian crisis. But honestly, the truth is that we don't intervene in any humanitarian crises. We intervene in places in which we have large financial and strategic interests, period. It's merely a convenience to attach a humanitarian label to it and persuade everyone that we are doing God's work instead. Even the arguments for Iraq were all wrapped up in "rape rooms" and "he gassed his own people" rhetoric. The entire debacle eventually rested on the trope "the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein."
I used to think in these terms --- using our military power for good and all that rot. But as I've grown older I've come to the conclusion that wars are almost always the wrong choice. If Hitler is sweeping across Europe, committing genocide and declaring his intention to take over the world, I'm reluctantly in. But short of that I'm always going to be extremely skeptical of motives and interest about any of these military adventures. It's rare that this extreme form of violence is used for the reasons stated and far more often than not it creates more mayhem and instability than it stops. The law of unintended consequences is never more consequential.
The reasons being stated for this one are even more unconvincing than usual. Insulting, actually. Millions of people are suffering all over the world, even here in the US. And the money that's spent to protect oilfields and our "strategic interest" in keeping people drunk on scarce resources so that the already wealthy can get wealthier would go a long way toward alleviating it. Calling these oil field protection operations "humanitarian" is Orwellian and it prevents the American people from facing the real questions before them about their own futures and how to genuinely work toward a more peaceful, equitable and decent world."
"Ironically, one of the reasons many people supported the call for a no-fly zone was the fear that if Gaddafi managed to crush the Libyan people's uprising and remain in power, it would send a devastating message to other Arab dictators: Use enough military force and you will keep your job.
Instead, it turns out that just the opposite may be the result: It was after the UN passed its no-fly zone and use-of-force resolution, and just as US, British, French and other warplanes and warships launched their attacks against Libya, that other Arab regimes escalated their crack-down on their own democratic movements.
In Yemen, 52 unarmed protesters were killed and more than 200 wounded on Friday by forces of the US-backed and US-armed government of Ali Abdullah Saleh. It was the bloodiest day of the month-long Yemeni uprising. President Obama "strongly condemned" the attacks and called on Saleh to "allow demonstrations to take place peacefully".
But while a number of Saleh's government officials resigned in protest, there was no talk from Saleh's US backers of real accountability, of a travel ban or asset freeze, not even of slowing the financial and military aid flowing into Yemen in the name of fighting terrorism.
Similarly in US-allied Bahrain, home of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, at least 13 civilians have been killed by government forces. Since the March 15 arrival of 1,500 foreign troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, brought in to protect the absolute power of the king of Bahrain, 63 people have been reported missing.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said: "We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain. Violence is not the answer, a political process is."
But she never demanded that foreign troops leave Bahrain, let alone threatened a no-fly zone or targeted air strikes to stop their attacks."
"This is why it’s so nuts for intervention enthusiasts to dismiss out of hand the obvious concerns that have been raised about US-subsidized regimes in Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia attacking un-armed protestors even as we intervene militarily in Libya to halt repression. There’s an obvious question as to what, in reality, American policy in the Arab world is. Is this part of a policy of boosting democratic change in the region, or is it part of a policy of bolstering the position of the Persian Gulf dictators who are important clients of American arms manufacturers? Basically what Eugene Robinson said."
"The stench of death hanging over protest centers in the Arab world is more than matched by the rank hypocrisy befouling Washington and the lesser capitals of Western Empire. There is, however, not the slightest allusion to “hypocrisy,” in the imperial media. The “H” word is not to be used with respect to Obama or the other lords of Empire, even though it is as obvious as the proverbial nose on one’s face; the censorship in the mass media is holding.
Consider it. The Western powers have now launched a full-scale military assault on Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya, never a reliable “partner” of the West. First there were denunciations and demonization of Qaddafi following the Libyan uprising in the East, then sanctions, then the attack. Ostensibly, the attack is to “protect” the Libyan people from the hand of Qaddafi. But is such a rationale even remotely credible?
Look at other events happening on the very same weekend the attacks began. In Bahrain Shia protesters by the score are being gunned down by the Sunni police of the Al Khalifa “royal family,” sometimes killing the protesters like animals with hunting rifles. They are joined by the tanks of the Saudi “royals,” the same Saudi Arabia whence came the majority of the perpetrators of 9/11. There are no American cruise missiles aimed at the Saudi tanks and no threats from the Western powers to stop the carnage of the thugs ruling Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. What comes from the U.S.? No denunciation, no demonization, no sanctions, no attack."
"Did the United States win legitimacy through the vote at the UN? Hardly. Five huge world powers abstained: India, Brazil, Germany, China and Russia. Using its enormous clout as the world’s last, if declining, hyperpower, the United States had to dragoon tiny little countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Portugal to vote yes, or it couldn’t have won the nine votes it needed to pass the resolution. At one point, Susan Rice had to scurry out to find the South African ambassador, who’s apparently tried to avoid the vote. The vote almost didn’t pass, since the United States, the UK and France ended up with only ten votes in the UNSC.
Did the UNSC resolution that passed demand that Muammar Qaddafi step down? No, it didn’t. While it gave open-ended permission to the United States, the UK, France, and other powers to attack Libya (short of an invasion), it has nothing whatsoever to say about regime change. (Go ahead, read the whole text.) It calls for “the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians,” demands “ a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people,” and “demands that the Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law.” That, however, hasn’t stopped President Obama from acting like he has a mandate for regime change, and US officials are making it clear that even if Qaddafi accepts the UN's terms, he can't survive. And Susan Rice says that the United States is prepared to go beyond the UN resolution, by arming the anti-Qaddafi forces.
So who’s in the new “coalition of the willing”? So far, it looks like it’s the United States, the British, the French and that bastion of democracy, the United Arab Emirates. That vicious and undemocratic kleptocracy, whose troops recently invaded Bahrain to put down a democratic rebellion there, is sending its jet to participate in the attack on Libya. In a painful and delivious irony, Clinton was meeting with the UAE’s foreign minister in Paris, and here’s how the Times described her dilemma: “In a Paris hotel room on Monday night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found herself juggling the inconsistencies of American foreign policy in a turbulent Middle East. She criticized the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates for sending troops to quash protests in Bahrain even as she pressed him to send planes to intervene in Libya.” Or was it really a dilemma? Qaddafi has long been a thorn in the side of the United States, so toppling him is a good thing, but the rulers of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf have long been subservient stooges, so why not keep them around?"
"Support for war against Libya has risen to a fever pitch even among liberals. I would point out that Russia, China, India, Brazil and Germany abstained from the UN Security Council vote yesterday, belying the Obama administration’s contention that bombing Libya has worldwide support. There is very little difference between George Bush’s 2003 “coalition of the willing” and Barack Obama’s “alliance” in 2010, since it is comprised of the US, UK, France and a handful of reactionary Arab states in the Persian Gulf who are meanwhile using brutal force against their own dissidents and rebels.
In response to President Obama’s warlike declaration of intent against Libya, Representative Dennis Kucinich issued the following statement today. Needless to say, I agree. Here is the statement:"
"UPDATE Tuesday 2:30 pm:The entire conclave of neoconservatives, virtually an identical collection to the cohorts of the Project for a New American Century and the pro-Iraq war lobby before 2003, issued another call for President Obama to intervene in Libya, including air strikes on Libyan military positions.
Says the statement issued by the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI), Bill Kristol’s thinktank:
"Thirty-eight former U.S. government officials, human rights and democracy advocates, and foreign policy experts expressed concern Tuesday regarding the ongoing crisis in Libya, urging President Obama to: urgently institute a no fly zone over key Libyan cities and towns, recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council, and explore the possibility of targeted strikes against Qaddafi regime assets."
You can read the whole letter at their site. Signers include Randy Scheunemann, who is chief foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin, Martin Peretz and Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic, Gary Schmitt, Tom Donnelly, and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, Robert Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, Bill Kristol of FPI and the Weekly Standard, Eric Edelman, Reuel Marc Gerecht, and many others.
UPDATE Monday, 4:45 pm: The United States public is overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. intervention in Libya, according to a new Pew poll:
"The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 10-13 among 1,001 adults, finds that 63% say the United States does not have a responsibility to act in Libya; fewer than half as many (27%) say the U.S. has this responsibility. Opinion about U.S. responsibility to take action in Libya is comparable to views about the conflict between Serbs and Bosnians in 1995; just 30% said the U.S. had a responsibility in that case. By contrast, far more Americans said the U.S. had a responsibility to take action in Kosovo in 1999 and in the Darfur crisis of 2007. …
"Roughly half of Americans (51%) say that the best argument for not using military force in Libya is that U.S. military forces are already overcommitted.""
"Well, then – you ask – why not help the Libyans throw off the yoke of Gadhafi’s tyrannical rule?
I come up with five distinct albeit interrelated reasons (my readers are invited to add to the list in the comments below):
Because the moment we intervene, we’ll own what’s going on in Libya – just like we own Iraq.
Because we can’t afford it, either financially or militarily.
Because there are no half-measures in war.
Because we don’t know who we’re supporting.
Because actions have unintended consequences, and actions taken by governments are almost guaranteed to boomerang."
"The Financial Times cites French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe as saying "it was an important and historic moment for the UN to stand up against dictators willing to attack their own people to stifle democracy. ‘If we did not do what we are doing now, we would be ashamed.’" As the Arab Awakening challenges the power of the Arab League – a sorry collection of monarchs and assorted despots – the true extent of Messr. Juppe’s shamefulness will stand revealed, in all its shameless glory.
The Benghazi bubble – the high expectations of the rebels, and the Western public – is bound to burst. It’s only a question of when. Gadhafi has real support in Tripoli and among some of the southern clans. As the West gets drawn into an increasingly complicated civil war, and the omens of disaster fly overhead, there is still time for President Obama – or Congress – to pull us back from the brink."
"There are no half measures in war. Sooner rather than later, the President is going to have to decide if the US wants to commit US forces to Libya in a big way. “Days, not weeks,” is a fantasy. The Libyan rebels have now been placed under our protection: we are the champions of their cause. From protecting Benghazi, we are already well on our way to establishing yet another American protectorate in the Middle East. The empire expands, even as the economy shrinks, and one has to wonder: how long can this go on?
Americans, in voting for Barack Obama, voted for less intervention, fewer wars, and the prospect of real change in our foreign policy of global intervention. They didn’t sign on to a “team of equals,” and nobody asked them if they wanted American foreign policy turned over to the Clintons.
The President will live to regret the day he allowed himself to be nagged into ordering US military intervention in the Libyan civil war. Gadhafi is not just a clown, he’s a dangerous and sinister clown: to get in the ring with this madman is a mistake. Gadhafi will goad and lure him and his Amazons ever deeper into the Libyan quicksand, until there is no hope of early extrication. Now that the US and its allies are involved, the Libyan despot can play the anti-Western, anti-imperialist card with some credibility: this will shore up his previously waning support in the west and the south.
It is indeed going to be a long war, one that will cost us much more than we can ever hope to gain."
"Bush, too, assured us “the locals” would be supportive: remember how we were supposed to be greeted as “liberators,” and showered with rose petals? Except it didn’t quite work out that way.
As for the “humanitarian” nature of this intervention, I have my doubts. Obama’s rationale for military action is that
“Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Qaddafi would commit atrocities against his people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.”
The emphasis is mine, and it illustrates just how completely enslaved to the Bush Doctrine the current administration really is. For the essence of the Bush Doctrine was and is the principle of preemption: for the first time, the United States was saying to the world that it would not only respond to actual threats but to any potential threat anywhere in the world. The Obama Doctrine takes this one step further, and says that we have a responsibility to protect not only our own alleged interests, but also the interests of peoples vulnerable to potential violence directed at them by their own governments. Bush told us Saddam was “killing his own people,” and now Obama is telling us Gadhafi could possibly kill “many thousands” of Libyans."
"Obviously, a strong humanitarian appeal can be crafted in support of military intervention in Libya. Any decent human being would loathe Moammar Gadaffi and find his attacks on his unarmed population to be repulsive. But exactly the same could be said -- and was constantly said -- about the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. There's an obvious emotional appeal in vanquishing murderous tyrants out of power through the use of force. But even leaving aside the question of whether the U.S. can effectively shape outcomes in distant lands with complex foreign cultures -- even after a full decade, our confusion seems greater than ever in Afghanistan -- nations don't fight wars primarily with humanitarian aims; they fight them to advance their interests.
Humanitarianism is the pretty package in which every new war is wrapped. That's just the Manichean propaganda tactic needed to induce public support for killing human beings: it's justified because we're there to destroy Evil and do Good. Wars can sometimes incidentally produce humanitarian benefits, but that isn't the real aim of war. We can (perhaps) remove Gadaffi from power, but we'll then up defending and propping up (and thus be responsible for) whatever faction will heed our dictates and serve our interests regardless of their humanitarian impulses (see our good friends Nouri al-Malaki and Hamid Karzai as examples).
As our other good friends Saudi Arabia and Bahrain collaborate on attacking civilian protesters, there are no calls for U.S. intervention there -- even though that's arguably more serious than what's happening in Libya -- because those governments serve our interests. Nor is there much anger among Americans (as opposed to Egyptians) over our decades-long support for the dictator of Egypt (and most of the other tyrants now suddenly being vilified). That's because our conduct in the Middle East isn't driven by humanitarian objectives no matter how manipulatively that flag is waved. It's driven by a desire to advance our perceived interests regardless of humanitarian outcomes, and exactly the same would be true for any intervention in Libya. Even if we were capable of fostering humanitarian outcomes in that nation -- and that's highly doubtful -- that wouldn't be our mission."
"Obama's answer seems dispositive to me on the Libya question: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." And he went on to say that the President could constitutionally deploy the military only "in instances of self-defense." Nobody is arguing -- nor can one rationally argue -- that the situation in Libya constitutes either an act of "self-defense" or the "stopping of an actual or imminent threat to the nation." How, then, can Obama's campaign position possibly be reconciled with his ordering military action in Libya without Congressional approval (something, it should be said, he has not yet done)?
The dangers from unilateral, presidential-decreed wars are highlighted in the Libya situation. There has been very little public discussion (and even less explanation from the President) about the reasons we should do this, what the costs would be on any level, what the end goal would be, how mission creep would be avoided, whether the "Pottery Barn" rule will apply, or virtually anything else. Public opinion is at best divided on the question if not opposed. Even if you're someone who favors this intervention, what's the rationale for not requiring a debate and vote in Congress over whether the President should be able to commit the nation to a new military conflict? Candidate Obama, candidate Clinton, and the Bush-era Democrats all recognized the constitutional impropriety of unilateral actions like this one; why shouldn't they be held to that?"
"All that said, it is striking how wars -- no matter how they're packaged -- ultimately breed the same patterns. With public opinion split or even against the war in Libya (at least for now) -- and with questions naturally arising about why we're intervening here to stop the violence but ignoring the growing violence from our good friends in Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere -- the administration obviously knows that some good, old-fashioned fear-mongering and unique demonization (Gadaffi is a Terrorist with "deadly mustard gas" who might attack us!!) can only help. Then there's the fact that the same faction of war-loving-from-a-safe-distance "hawks" that took the lead in cheering for the attack on Iraq -- neocons on the Right and their "liberal interventionist" counterparts in The New Republic/Brookings/Democratic Party officialdom world -- are playing the same role here. And many of the same manipulative rhetorical tactics are now wielded against war opponents: the Libyan rebels are the new Kurds (they want us to act to protect them!), and just as those who opposed the attack on Iraq were routinely accused of indifference toward if not support for Saddam's tyranny, those who oppose this intervention are now accused of indifference to Gadaffi's butchery (as always: are those refraining from advocating for military intervention in Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or the Sudan or dozens of other places indifferent to the violence and other forms of suffering there?)."
"For the reasons I identified the other day, there are major differences between the military actions in Iraq and Libya. But what is true of both -- as is true for most wars -- is that each will spawn suffering for some people even if they alleviate it for others. Dropping lots of American bombs on a country tends to kill a lot of innocent people. For that reason, indifference to suffering is often what war proponents -- not war opponents -- are guilty of. But whatever else is true, the notion that opposing a war is evidence of indifference to tyranny and suffering is equally simple-minded, propagandistic, manipulative and intellectually bankrupt in both the Iraq and Libya contexts. And, in particular, those who opposed or still oppose intervention in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, the Sudan, against Israel, in the Ivory Coast -- and/or any other similar places where there is widespread human-caused suffering -- have no business advancing that argument."
"De samme kreftene og til dels de samme personene som ivret for at USA skulle gå til krig mot Irak, har nå lenge ivret for krigen mot Libya. Det er selvfølgelig en forskjell, fordi angrepet på Libya er legitimert av et vedtak i FNs sikkerhetsråd om flyforbudssone og beskyttelse av sivile liv. Men problemet med angrepskrigen mot Irak var ikke bare fravær av FN-vedtak, den var også feilaktig, mislykket og katastrofal av en rekke andre grunner, fra begynnelse til slutt. Hele ideen om at militært overlegne vestlige stormakter bør gå til krig med overlegne hærstyrker mot land på den andre siden av kloden, er en grunnleggende forfeilet strategi, hvis det er fred, demokrati og sosial utvikling som er målet. USA og Vesten har ikke nødvendigvis interesse av demokrati i andre land, noe Midtøstens historie viser med all ønskelig tydelighet. Da kan heller ikke den demokratiske opinionen i Vesten basere seg på at det finnes et slikt interessefellesskap mellom statslederne i Vesten og frigjøringskreftene i Midtøsten. Veien til helvete er brulagt med gode forsetter."
"Tidligere var det antatt at folkemord og grove brudd på menneskerettighetene kunne legitimere innblanding fra «verdenssamfunnet», men man har ikke regnet med at dette også innbefattet utenlandsk militær innblanding i en borgerkrigsliknende situasjon. I prinsippet vet man heller ikke hvilken part som har flertallet på sin side. Vår sympati er utelukkende på de libyske opprørernes side, men det som til nå har rast i Libya, må karakteriseres som en borgerkrig, der regimet foreløpig ikke har gjennomført folkemord eller utrenskninger, selv om mange har fryktet at det kunne skje. Hovedproblemet med å gi grønt lys til militære intervensjoner i andre land, er at det er de militært sterkeste stormaktene som til enhver tid vil avgjøre hvilke regimer som skal styrtes og hvilke som skal bestå. I denne saken er det Tysklands utenriksminister Guido Westerwelle som representerer fornuften når han sier: «Ens eget instinkt sier ‘vi må gjøre noe’. Men militær intervensjon er å delta i en borgerkrig. Å vurdere alternativer til militær involvering er ikke det samme som ikke å gjøre noe»."
"Vi håper opprørerne i Libya klarer å slå tilbake Gaddafis framrykking og reorganisere motstandskreftene slik at de faktisk kan overta makten i landet. Men ingen vestlig intervensjon i verden kan skape nye sosiale maktforhold i Nord-Afrika. Noen ganger sprenger historias elv seg raskt framover, andre ganger hindres den av motstand og må ta omveier. Slik er menneskenes verden."
"In this very week in 1999 Britain took a leading role in the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
And on this very day in 2003, Britain took a leading role in the bombing – and invasion – of Iraq.
And now we're at it again in Libya.
Both in 1999 and 2003 our leaders lied to us about the real reasons for our country's involvement in military conflict. How can we be sure that what is happening in 2011 is any different?
If the US, Britain and France are acting out of genuine humanitarian concerns for Libyan civilians, why has there been no discussion of similar action against the government in Bahrain – which last week invited into the country military forces from that great democracy Saudi Arabia to crush pro-democracy protests – or against the regime in Yemen, where 45 anti-government protesters were killed on Thursday?
The other lesson to draw from the previous March conflicts is that military interventions – sold to the public as reasonably straightforward operations against dictators with little public support – rarely go to plan. Nato thought that a few days of heavy bombardment would force Milosevic to cave in – they were wrong: the war lasted 78 days and at the end of it the Yugoslav federal army was undefeated.
The invasion of Iraq, its neocon cheerleaders assured us, would be a cakewalk, with grateful Iraqis – all of whom hated Saddam Hussein – lining up to hand bouquets of flowers to their "liberators"."
"Här är några av mina skäl.
- Västerlandets nykoloniala projekt är inget att ha.
- Det finns inget uttalat mål med anfallet mot Libyen.
- Notoriska pyromaner bör inte få bli brandmän och några av de värsta massmördarna bör inte anlitas till att förhindra massmord.
- Revolten och diktatorens motangrepp i Libyen 2011 skiljer sig från det internationella kriget i Spanien 1936.
- Det är rimligt att förutsätta att det fanns ytterligare alternativ till Khadaffis fortsatta förbrytelser och ett västerländskt bombkrig.
- Diktaturer bör störtas av undersåtarna."
"Including the United States, the Security Council nations that voted for the no-fly zone resolution have a combined population of a little more than 700 million people and a combined GDP, in terms of purchasing power parity, of roughly $20 trillion. The Security Council countries that showed their disapproval of the Libyan war by abstaining from the vote have a combined population of about 3 billion people and a GDP of around $21 trillion.
If the U.S. is factored out, the disproportion between the pro-war and anti-war camps on the Security Council is even more striking. The countries that abstained from the vote account for more than 40 percent of the human race. The countries that joined the U.S. in voting to authorize attacks on Libya, including Britain and France, have a combined population that adds up to a little more than 5 percent of the human race.
The truth is that the U.S. is joined in its war on Libya by only two second-rank great powers, Britain and France, which between them carved up North Africa and the Middle East a century ago, slaughtering and torturing many Arabs in the process. Every other major power on earth (with the exception of Japan, which is not on the Council and has been quiet) opposed the Anglo-French-American attack in North Africa, registering that opposition by abstentions rather than "no" votes in the Security Council."
"But Saudi Arabia's dangerous quasi-invasion of Bahrain is a reminder that Libya is very far from being the only place where hopes are being stifled. The west's closest Arab ally, which has declared protest un-Islamic, bans political parties and holds an estimated 8,000 political prisoners, has sent troops to bolster the Bahraini autocracy's bloody resistance to democratic reform.
Underlying the Saudi provocation is a combustible cocktail of sectarian and strategic calculations. Bahrain's secular opposition to the Sunni ruling family is mainly supported by the island's Shia majority. The Saudi regime fears both the influence of Iran in a Shia-dominated Bahrain and the infection of its own repressed Shia minority – concentrated in the eastern region, centre of the largest oil reserves in the world.
Considering that both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, home to the United States fifth fleet, depend on American support, the crushing of the Bahraini democracy movement or the underground Saudi opposition should be a good deal easier for the west to fix than the Libyan maelstrom.
But neither the US nor its intervention-hungry allies show the slightest sign of using their leverage to help the people of either country decide their own future. Instead, as Bahrain's security forces tear-gassed and terrorised protesters, the White House merely repeated the mealy-mouthed call it made in the first weeks of the Egyptian revolution for "restraint on all sides".
It's more than understandable that the Libyan opposition now being ground down by superior firepower should be desperate for outside help. Sympathy for their plight runs deep in the Arab world and beyond. But western military intervention – whether in the form of arms supplies or Britain and France's favoured no-fly zone – would, as the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan argues, be "totally counter-productive" and "deepen the problem".
Experience in Iraq and elsewhere suggests it would prolong the war, increase the death toll, lead to demands for escalation and risk dividing the country. It would also be a knife at the heart of the Arab revolution, depriving Libyans and the people of the region of ownership of their own political renaissance.
Arab League support for a no-fly zone has little credibility, dominated as it still is by despots anxious to draw the US yet more deeply into the region; while the three Arab countries lined up to join the military effort – Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE – are themselves among the main barriers to the process of democratisation that intervention would be supposed to strengthen."
"The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power -- and especially its military power -- can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. Both groups are deeply alarmed at the prospect that WMD might be in the hands of anybody but the United States and its closest allies, and both groups think it is America's right and responsibility to fix lots of problems all over the world. Both groups consistently over-estimate how easy it will be to do this, however, which is why each has a propensity to get us involved in conflicts where our vital interests are not engaged and that end up costing a lot more than they initially expect.
So if you're baffled by how Mr. "Change You Can Believe In" morphed into Mr. "More of the Same," you shouldn't really be surprised. George Bush left in disgrace and Barack Obama took his place, but he brought with him a group of foreign policy advisors whose basic world views were not that different from the people they were replacing. I'm not saying their attitudes were identical, but the similarities are probably more important than the areas of disagreement. Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire, it seems, and it doesn't really matter which party happens to be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue.
So where does this leave us? For starters, Barack Obama now owns not one but two wars. He inherited a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, and he chose to escalate instead of withdrawing. Instead of being George Bush's mismanaged blunder, Afghanistan became "Obama's War." And now he's taken on a second, potentially open-ended military commitment, after no public debate, scant consultation with Congress, without a clear articulation of national interest, and in the face of great public skepticism. Talk about going with a gut instinct."
"Which brings us to whether a no-fly zone would even do much good in Libya. Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi could still use his superiority in tanks, artillery, and other ground forces to gain advantage over the poorly armed and trained rebels. If the no-fly zone failed to end Gadhafi’s offensive, pressure would then likely build for the U.S. to attack Libyan ground forces directly, thus commencing interventionist quagmire number three.
But what about the vast accomplishments of interventionist quagmires numbers one (Afghanistan) and number two (Iraq)? As the U.S. gets ready to withdraw its remaining forces by the end of the year, Iraq is trending toward autocracy, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki running the armed forces and national police himself, closing down political parties that organized demonstrations, killing protesters, and gaining control over the previously independent central bank, the election commission, and the agency that investigates corruption. Such consolidation of power under an Arab Shi’ite prime minister could very well result in a backlash among Kurds and Sunnis, thus rekindling the civil war."
"The demonization of Gadhafi started back during the Reagan administration. Once a foreign dictator is demonized by the formidable U.S. government’s public relations juggernaut, pressure builds to oust him in any way possible after sanctions and a no-fly zone have failed to do so. So look out for a long U.S. entanglement in Libya and maybe a future American land war there.
Gadhafi’s human rights record is certainly nothing to write home about, but it is about the same as that of U.S. ally Saudi Arabia and not much worse than that of the Israelis in occupied Palestine, according to Freedom House. Besides, the U.S. has not used military forces to protect civilians being abused to an even greater extent than in Libya—in Rwanda, Sudan, the Congo, etc. And the Constitution says that the U.S. taxpayer is on the hook only to provide for a “common defense,” not to stop violence many countries around the world commit against their own people or neighboring nations."
Han mener nordnorske velgere tydelig sa hva de mente under stortingsvalget i fjor.Det burde ha vore sjølvsagt for eit sosialistisk venstreparti å tale industriens sak. Heldigvis er det iallfall eit partimedlem som er på rett side i denne saka:
– SV ble nesten utradert i Nord-Norge, mens partiene som var for petroleumsvirksomhet gjorde det godt. Jeg er sikker på at de fleste som stemte Ap hadde klare forventninger om at partiet ville åpne Lofoten for petroleumsvirksomhet, sier han.
Samtidig ønsker Stokka økt forståelse i offentlig sektor når det gjelder betydningen av å åpne for oljeboring i Lofoten.Mange i Finnmark SV tok for nokre år sidan til orde for ein meir industri- og arbeidarvenleg politikk. På tide at nordleningane fylgjer etter.
– Jeg håper offentlig sektor forstår hvor viktig det er for våre medlemmer med industrikraft og oljeboring. Vi snakker arbeidsplasser!
The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten released a series of US diplomatic cables from 2006 on massive and pervasive corruption and nepotism in Tunisia and its effect on economic development and social problems. The cables show that the United States government was fully aware of the dangerous and debilitating level of corruption in Tunisia, and its anti-democratic implications. But they raise the question of whether Washington was wise to make Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, despite his clear foibles, the pillar of its North Africa policy because of his role, as a secular strongman, in repressing Muslim movements (as William MacLean of Reuters argues).
Note that since the Tunisian crisis has to do with labor unions, unemployment, class anxieties, and a student youth movement rather than with Islam; and since the Tunisian government is counted as a firm US ally, the American mass media is largely ignoring this story. Ordinarily if it bleeds, it leads; but not when it is about class instead of about race or religion, since the latter categories are the only ones useful to monopoly capital in keeping ordinary people divided and distracted.
But it would be wrong to see the revolution only as a middle class movement against corruption and nepotism, fueled by facebook status updates and youth activism. The trade unions (al-niqabat) played an essential role, and were among those demanding the departure of the president. You don’t get massive crowds like the one in Tunis without a lot of workers joining in. There are few labor correspondents any longer, and the press downplays the role of workers as a result of neither having good sources among them nor an adequate understanding of the importance of labor mobilization. It is no accident that on Wednesday the head of the Communist workers movement was arrested (he has been released). The rural areas should also not be underestimated. The protests began in a small rural town, and have been nation-wide, not just in the capital. The role of rural workers is clearly important, and likely rather more important than Facebook.