Thursday, September 15, 2011

The B word rises again

When civil society rises up, the US government has some choices, most of which are available, and they all have costs and benefits:

US response to civil society uprising
accusations of collusion with oppressor
nothing provable
rhetorical support
accusations of moral abdication
citable support
$ to nonviolent CSOs
contamination of resistance with US meddling
citable and efficient
military support
  • ·         blowback
  • ·         costs to US taxpayer
profits for war profiteers

And so, here we are with Libya, a bit like another Afghanistan waiting to happen, since we backed the military uprising and Islamists are now emerging as the leadership, including allies with al-Qaida. Though Chalmers Johnson is an expert on blowback and says it only applies to covert ops, I think that definition has morphed and we can apply it now to the overt Libyan mess.

Reagan gave military support to the Taliban, al-Qaida and the other mujahedeen in Afghanistan, $hundreds of millions every year in the 1980s. Thanks for your role in setting up 9.11.01, Ronnie (didn't hear about that at Ground Zero ceremonies, did we?). Clinton gave tiny amounts of financial support (ca. $25 million) to the nonviolent resistance in Serbia (after his failed $billions in a 78-day military attack). Obama did almost nothing for anyone except the armed Libyan rebellion. Brilliant.

As ever, backing the nonviolent horse will give the best sustainable results. Are Obama's advisers so clueless? Is the CIA urging this sort of ahistorical analysis and action? Meanwhile, US-friendly oppressors, such as the royals in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, continue to get away with murder of--oh, that's right--civilians, the ones Obomber said he was protecting in Libya. The only hope of replacing the state terrorist Qaddafi with a decent Libyan government was by using the financial aid to civil society organizations that Clinton used in the 2000 Serb case. That was a victory, but the war machine thrives on conflict. Now more of that promises to emanate from the "new" Libya, which will look a lot like the old Libya, only possibly worse.

It is one thing for the spooks to miss the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ben Ali and Mubarak. They just don't get nonviolence. It is another thing for them to fail utterly to learn and to continue the military model that has multiple costs in the short and long terms.

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