Ukraine, Intervention, and America’s Doublethink

At what point does the hypocrisy of the United States become too much to bear?

With the deployment of Russian forces into Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the US-NATO propaganda machine has kicked into high gear.  Putin has been portrayed as a tyrannical aggressor, while the Obama administration and its European allies have attempted to stake out the moral high ground, declaring that peace, respect for sovereignty and international law should be the guiding principles.  Naturally, such rhetoric warrants closer analysis.

The deployment of a small contingent of Russian forces into the autonomous region of Crimea is an important development in the continuing conflict in Ukraine.  Because of the majority Russian population of Crimea, the seizure of power by vehemently anti-Russian Nazis and their Western-friendly neoliberal collaborators has sent a chill throughout Crimea and eastern Ukraine more broadly, leading to massive protests in a number of major cities in the region, and calls for support and protection from Moscow.  This should come as no surprise considering the political, economic, cultural, and military ties between Crimea and the Russian Federation.

Russia maintains a naval base and other support facilities in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, home to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet.  Additionally, the region’s industry is heavily dependent both on Russian energy and the Russian market for its economic survival.  Moreover, Crimea was in fact part of Russia proper until it was ceded to Ukraine by the Soviet Union in 1954 under then Premier Khruschev.  However, despite becoming nominally part of Ukraine, Crimea (and most of the East and South of Ukraine) maintained close ties with “Mother Russia,” continuing to identify with Russia linguistically and politically, and governing itself with autonomous status within greater Ukraine. 

In addition, it should be noted that the majority of Crimea and eastern Ukraine identify with Russia and the Moscow patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Church, unlike the west of Ukraine which, like its Polish neighbor, is traditionally aligned with the Western Church.   This point should not be understated considering the fact that it is precisely these cultural ties that bind Ukrainian Crimea to Russia, and create the sense of community and shared experience that lead to the appeals for Russian protection against the putsch government in Kiev and its Nazi paramilitaries.

The Politics on the Ground

Some international observers question why the Crimea is calling on Putin to intervene on their behalf, portraying the move by Moscow as pure opportunism.  This is far from the truth, as the political climate in Kiev seems to be the motivating factor.  As I, and many others, have documented throughout the conflict in Ukraine, Nazi elements played, and continue to play, a key role in the overthrow of the democratically elected, though utterly corrupt and incompetent, Ukrainian President Yanukovich. 

Avowed Nazi groups such as Right Sector, Trizub, Svoboda and others constituted the muscle of the putsch in Maidan and around the country.  It was they who attacked riot police, stormed government buildings, threw petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails, and generally instigated the violence and unrest.  Consequently, the so called “interim government” led by Victoria Nuland’s handpicked neoliberal puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has been forced to cede control of the national security forces to the openly Nazi leaders of these organizations. 

In particular, Andriy Parubiy, a co-founder of the Nazi Svoboda Party, has been made Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, with Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the Nazi paramilitary Right Sector group, as Parubiy’s deputy.  These appointments, along with a number of other troubling power sharing arrangements, have created a putsch government that is essentially a collaboration between pro-EU liberals and right wing ultra-nationalists whose expressed aim, aside from seizing power for themselves, is to cleanse Ukraine of Jews and Russians. 

As part of this ideology of “cleansing” Ukraine of Russian influence, one of the first actions of the occupying government in Kiev was to officially repeal a previous law that guaranteed the legal right of minorities in Ukraine to conduct business and education in their own languages.   This move was seen by international observers, including representatives of governments sympathetic to Kiev’s new rulers, as a direct assault not only on minorities in general, but on the Russian-speaking population specifically.  So much for democracy and human rights.

It is precisely these developments that have created a grave sense of fear and impending danger in Crimea and led to the calls for Russian protection.  However it is not merely average civilians who have expressed their skepticism and trepidation at the putsch government in Kiev and sided with Russia. 

In fact, recent days have seen a number of key defections within the military and bureaucracy of Crimea.  The newly appointed head of Ukraine’s Navy has officially “defected” from the putsch government in Kiev, instead swearing loyalty to the pro-Russian Prime Minister of Crimea.  Other high ranking and influential figures within the military and bureaucratic structures have also refused to recognize the authority of Kiev, choosing instead to remain loyal to Crimea and, de facto, to Russia.  In addition, reports have surfaced that Ukraine’s flagship naval vessel, the Hetman Sahaidachny has also defected to the Russian side.  These and other defections demonstrate a growing trend in Crimea: de facto independence from Ukraine and a move towards full integration with Russia.

However, beyond defections and political developments, one must also recognize the security situation for ordinary citizens on the ground in Crimea.  Eyewitness accounts confirm that ethnic Tatars have attacked peaceful, pro-Russian demonstrators throughout the region in an attempt to intimidate them into silence. As one eyewitness at a major protest recounts:

The radical Tatars, together with the people wearing the symbols of “Maidan,” started throwing bottles (some with “Molotov Cocktails”) and attacking the peaceful demonstration of Russian-speaking protesters with sticks, knives, aerosol and gas.  Unarmed Russian protesters, numbering twice as many as the opposite demonstrators, were fiercely smashed by the aggressive crowd of radicals and extremists together with Crimean Tatars.  About 30 people were injured…two people died…After that the group of aggressive Tatars rushed into the administrative building, crushed the furniture, but was pushed away by the militia officers.

Such stories are numerous throughout the major cities of Crimea, and the east of the country more generally.  Today, the Russian flag can be seen flying above a number of important cities in the region, including Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, as well as Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, and other cities outside Crimea.  It is against this backdrop that one must ask the most pressing question: Is Russia’s military presence a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty? Or, is it rather a moral obligation to protect their people and their interests against a growing fascist menace along their border?

Intervention and “Democracy”

The movement of Russian troops into Crimea has caused an international outcry.  Western leaders have been quick to condemn the move as an “invasion”, and assault on “democracy” and international law.  However, there are a number of points that must first be examined.  First and foremost is the fact that the Russia-Ukraine Friendship Treaty establishes that Crimea, and Sevastopol specifically, represents a strategic national interest for Russia.  Moreover, it codifies the fact that the protection of the rights of the people of Crimea is the responsibility of the Ukrainian government.  However, what happens when a so called government in Kiev is openly hostile to the region? Who then is responsible for the Russians living there?  With Kiev’s putsch government having the backing of the US, NATO and Europe, it seems that no one other than Russia could possibly guarantee the security of Crimea.

Second is the fact that Russia’s naval facilities are undoubtedly of vital national security interest to Moscow.  Considering the openly hostile attitude expressed by the new Security and National Defense Committee leadership in Kiev, it seems clear that Russia’s national security interests would be under threat.  There is ample precedent in international law justifying Russia moving to protect its forces in Crimea.  Moreover, with Ukraine falling into the hands of Nazi elements, a sound argument could be made that, beyond the Crimea, Ukraine poses a danger to the security of Russia proper.  Naturally, all of these nuances are left completely out of the narrative of Western corporate media.

Third, and perhaps most important, is the fact that the putsch government in Kiev is absolutely illegal under international law.  Yanukovich, whatever negative things could be said about him and his government (and there are many), was never defeated in a democratic election.  Rather, he was chased out of the country by a violent mob that has now been consecrated by the much touted “international community” (read US-EU-NATO) as the recognized government.  This is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s Constitution, not to mention international law and the accepted principles of modern democracy.  With Yanukovich having taken refuge in Russia, and still being the legal President of Ukraine, isn’t it fair to say that Russia is acting as the guarantor of international law, rather than its enemy?

Now it would be easy to dismiss this is as simple apologism for the actions of Putin and the Russian government.  However, this is far too simplistic because one must consider, what would be the alternative?  With international institutions such as the United Nations and International Criminal Court firmly under the “influence” (read control) of the United States, what other institution could possibly enforce international law in Ukraine? Surely not NATO, the alliance that has been angling to bring Ukraine into the fold since the fall of the Soviet Union.  And so, it would seem that Ukraine’s fate, and that of Crimea specifically, rests on the shoulders of Russia and Putin.

Of course, the United States has taken the lead in blasting Russia for its intervention in Ukraine.  On Sunday March 2nd, US Secretary of State John Kerry made the rounds of the major political talk shows.  He stated, “You don’t just invade another country on a phony pretext in order to assert your own interests.”  The Orwellian doublethink required to make such a statement is palpable.  The United States has invaded or, as the political Thought Police would say, “intervened,” all over the world countless times, each time violating those principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity that Kerry and the Obama administration seem to hold so dear today. 

In Libya, US-NATO used its own phony pretext to coax the United Nations Security Council into passing Resolution 1973 which authorized a No-Fly Zone that NATO immediately transformed into an authorization for war, including bombing and aerial support to an insurgent army seeking to topple the legal authority in that country.  The NATO mission led to the illegal assassination of Gaddafi, ethnic cleansing of black Libyans, the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and economy, and unleashed a continuing political and social nightmare that is tearing that country, or what used to be called a country, apart. 

In Iraq, the United States skirted international law and all norms of international relations, unleashing a brutal war and occupation that has led to the deaths of more than a million Iraqis and the destruction of that country which continues to this day.  The war on Iraq, universally recognized as having been waged under the phoniest of pretexts, is an ongoing war crime of the highest order.

One could cite many other examples of US-led “interventions” based on, as Kerry termed them, “phony pretexts,” including the bombing and destruction of Yugoslavia, the continued merciless drone bombings of Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, as well as the vicious wars in Central America which, for decades, were supported by the United States in the name of “peace” and “stability”.  At what point does the hypocrisy of the United States become too much to bear?

Of course, the fundamental question with regard to all these conflicts is the question of US interests.  Were there Americans directly under threat by the Gaddafi government? Certainly not.  Was the US Navy in danger of being seized by hostile forces in Somalia or Nicaragua? Of course not.  Were the American people under threat from Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic? Undeniably no.  And yet, somehow these “interventions” were deemed acceptable, but Russia’s attempt to protect its own people and military installations in the face of a clear and present danger is a crime and breach of international law?

George Orwell wrote that doublethink was:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process…

Doesn’t this aptly describe US foreign policy and its attitudes?  When examining the current situation in Ukraine and the Russian response to the conflict, let us recall Mr. Orwell’s prophetic words.  Let us recall the principles of modern democracy and international law.  And let us reject the Empire’s propaganda and double standards.

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Eric Draitser- Boiling Frogs Post Contributing Author &  Analyst
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. He is the editor and host of StopImperialism.com and the Stop Imperialism podcast.

Ukraine’s Sickness & Europe’s Cure

“The specter of profit-seeking financiers with dollar signs in their eyes is all the Ukrainian people can expect”

The situation in Ukraine is evolving by the hour.  Right wing ultranationalists and their “liberal” collaborators have taken control of the Rada (Ukrainian parliament) and deposed the democratically elected, though utterly corrupt and incompetent, President Yanukovich. 

Former Prime Minister, and convicted criminal, Yulia Tymoshenko has been freed, and is now making common cause with Right Sector, Svoboda, and the other fascist elements, while the opposition’s nominal leaders such as Arseny Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko begin to fade into the background. 

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin undoubtedly watches with anxiousness.  In Washington, Victoria Nuland and the Obama administration rejoice.  However, perhaps the most critical development of all is soon to emerge in Europe, as the forces of Western finance capital prepare to welcome Ukraine into the fold.  They will come bearing the usual neoliberal gifts: austerity and “economic liberalization.”

With the overthrow of the Yanukovich government, the $15 billion of promised Russian financial assistance to Ukraine is in doubt.  According to Moody’s rating agency, “Ukraine will require $24 billion to cover a budget deficit, debt repayments, natural gas bills and pension support just in 2014.”  Without Moscow’s continued bond purchasing and other forms of financial aid, and with pro-EU forces taking control of the country’s economic and foreign policy, the outcome is not hard to predict: a rescue package from Europe with all the usual austerity conditions attached.

In exchange for European “aid”, Ukraine will be forced to accept the driving down of wages, significant cuts to the public sector and social services, in addition to a rise in taxes on the working class and slashing of pensions.  Moreover, the country will be compelled to accede to a liberalization program that will allow Europe to dump goods into the Ukrainian market, deregulation and the further opening up the country’s financial sector to predatory speculation and privatization. 

It doesn’t take psychic powers to predict these developments.  One merely has to look at the wave of austerity in European countries such as Greece and Cyprus.  Furthermore, Eastern European countries with similar economic and historical conditions to Ukraine – Latvia and Slovenia specifically – provide a roadmap for what Ukraine should expect.

The Model of “Success”

As Ukraine’s pro-EU “leadership” under Tymoshenko & Co. (and the fascist Right) begins to eye the future, they will immediately look to Europe to address the most pressing economic concerns.  The Ukrainian people however would do well to examine the precedent of Latvia to understand what lies in store for them.  As renowned economists Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers wrote in 2012:

What enabled Latvia to survive the crisis were EU and IMF bailouts…Elites aside, many emigrated…Demographers estimate that 200,000 have departed the past decade – roughly 10 per cent of the population…Latvia experienced the full effects of austerity and neoliberalism. Birth rates fell during the crisis – as is the case almost everywhere austerity programs are imposed. It continues having among Europe’s highest rates of suicide and of road deaths caused by drunk driving. Violent crime is high, arguably, because of prolonged unemployment and police budget cuts. Moreover, a soaring brain drain moves in tandem with blue-collar emigration.

The myth of prosperity to follow EU integration and bailouts is just that, a myth.  The reality is pain and suffering on a scale far greater than the poverty and unemployment Ukraine, especially the western portion of the country, have already experienced.  The most highly educated, those most equipped to take up the mantle of leadership, will flee en masse.   Those leaders who remain will do so while lining their pockets and ingratiating themselves to the European and American financiers who will flock to Ukraine like vultures to carrion.  In short, the corruption and mismanagement of the Yanukovich government will seem like a pleasant memory.

The “liberalization” that Europe demands will create massive profits for speculators, but very few jobs for working people.  The best land will be sold to foreign corporations and land-grabbers, while the resources, including the highly regarded agricultural sector, will be stripped and sold on the world market, leaving farmers and city dwellers alike in grinding poverty, their children going to bed hungry.  This will be the “success” of Ukraine.  One shudders to think what failure would look like.

In Slovenia, another Eastern European country that has experienced the “success” Europe strives for, the economic dictates of Brussels have ravaged the country’s working people and its institutions.  The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued a 2013 report in which it recommended that, as a first step, Slovenia act to “help the banking sector stand on its feet again,” adding that, “additional and radical measures are necessary as soon as possible.” 

Furthermore, the OECD recommended the full privatization of Slovenia’s banks and other major firms, despite predicting a more than 2% contraction of the economy.  In laymen’s terms, Europe recommends that Slovenia sacrifice itself and its people to the forces of international finance capital, nothing less.  Such is the cost of European “integration.”

Ukraine is undergoing a transformation of the worst kind.  Its political institutions have been trampled upon by a motley collection of delusional liberals, slick politicians in fancy suits, and Nazi extremists.  The social fabric is tearing apart at the seams, with each region searching for a local solution to the problems of what used to be their nation.  And, in the midst of it all, the specter of profit-seeking financiers with dollar signs in their eyes is all the Ukrainian people can expect. 

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Eric Draitser- Boiling Frogs Post Contributing Author &  Analyst
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. He is the editor and host of StopImperialism.com and the Stop Imperialism podcast.

Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism in Europe

“Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could.”

The violence on the streets of Ukraine is far more than an expression of popular anger against a government.  Instead, it is merely the latest example of the rise of the most insidious form of fascism that Europe has seen since the fall of the Third Reich.

Recent months have seen regular protests by the Ukrainian political opposition and its supporters –  protests ostensibly in response to Ukrainian President Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade agreement with the European Union that was seen by many political observers as the first step towards European integration.  The protests remained largely peaceful until January 17th when protesters armed with clubs, helmets, and improvised bombs unleashed brutal violence on the police, storming government buildings, beating anyone suspected of pro-government sympathies, and generally wreaking havoc on the streets of Kiev.  But who are these violent extremists and what is their ideology?

The political formation is known as “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector), which is essentially an umbrella organization for a number of ultra-nationalist (read fascist) right wing groups including supporters of the “Svoboda” (Freedom) Party, “Patriots of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense” (UNA-UNSO), and “Trizub”.  All of these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things.  In addition they share a common reverence for the so called “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the infamous Nazi collaborators who actively fought against the Soviet Union and engaged in some of the worst atrocities committed by any side in World War II.

While Ukrainian political forces, opposition and government, continue to negotiate, a very different battle is being waged in the streets.  Using intimidation and brute force more typical of Hitler’s “Brownshirts” or Mussolini’s “Blackshirts” than a contemporary political movement, these groups have managed to turn a conflict over economic policy and the political allegiances of the country into an existential struggle for the very survival of the nation that these so called “nationalists” claim to love so dearly.  The images of Kiev burning, Lviv streets filled with thugs, and other chilling examples of the chaos in the country, illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the political negotiation with the Maidan (Kiev’s central square and center of the protests) opposition is now no longer the central issue.  Rather, it is the question of Ukrainian fascism and whether it is to be supported or rejected.

For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the opposition, regardless of its political character.  In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters.  However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent in recent days, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascist upsurge.  Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be “no threat.”  In other words, the US and its allies have given their tacit approval for the continuation and proliferation of the violence in the name of their ultimate goal: regime change.

In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists.  Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States.  The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia.  And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel.  There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.

The situation in Ukraine is deeply troubling because it represents a political conflagration that could very easily tear the country apart less than 25 years after it gained independence from the Soviet Union.  However, there is another equally disturbing aspect to the rise of fascism in that country – it is not alone.

The Fascist Menace Across the Continent

Ukraine and the rise of right wing extremism there cannot be seen, let alone understood, in isolation.  Rather, it must be examined as part of a growing trend throughout Europe (and indeed the world) – a trend which threatens the very foundations of democracy.

In Greece, savage austerity imposed by the troika (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) has crippled the country’s economy, leading to a depression as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression in the United States.  It is against this backdrop of economic collapse that the Golden Dawn party has grown to become the third most popular political party in the country.  Espousing an ideology of hate, the Golden Dawn – in effect a Nazi party that promotes anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-women chauvinism – is a political force that the government in Athens has understood to be a serious threat to the very fabric of society.  It is this threat which led the government to arrest the party’s leadership after a Golden Dawn Nazi fatally stabbed an anti-fascist rapper.  Athens has launched an investigation into the party, though the results of this investigation and trial remain somewhat unclear.

What makes Golden Dawn such an insidious threat is the fact that, despite their central ideology of Nazism, their anti-EU, anti-austerity rhetoric appeals to many in the economically devastated Greece.  As with many fascist movements in the 20th Century, Golden Dawn scapegoats immigrants, Muslim and African primarily, for many of the problems facing Greeks.  In dire economic circumstances, such irrational hate becomes appealing; an answer to the question of how to solve society’s problems.  Indeed, despite Golden Dawn’s leaders being jailed, other party members are still in parliament, still running for major offices including mayor of Athens.  Though an electoral victory is unlikely, another strong showing at the polls will make the eradication of fascism in Greece that much harder.

Were this phenomenon confined to Greece and Ukraine, it would not constitute a continental trend.  Sadly however, we see the rise of similar, albeit slightly less overtly fascist, political parties all over Europe.  In Spain, the ruling pro-austerity People’s Party has moved to establish draconian laws restricting protest and free speech, and empowering and sanctioning repressive police tactics.  In France, the National Front Party of Marine Le Pen, which vehemently scapegoats Muslim and African immigrants, won nearly twenty percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections.  Similarly, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands – which promotes anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies – has grown to be the third largest in parliament.  Throughout Scandinavia, ultra nationalist parties which once toiled in complete irrelevance and obscurity are now significant players in elections.  These trends are worrying to say the least.

It should be noted too that, beyond Europe, there are a number of quasi-fascist political formations which are, in one way or another, supported by the United States.  The right wing coups that overthrew the governments of Paraguay and Honduras were tacitly and/or overtly supported by Washington in their seemingly endless quest to suppress the Left in Latin America.  Of course, one should also remember that the protest movement in Russia was spearheaded by Alexei Navalny and his nationalist followers who espouse a virulently anti-Muslim, racist ideology that views immigrants from the Russian Caucasus and former Soviet republics as beneath “European Russians”.  These and other examples begin to paint a very ugly portrait of a US foreign policy that attempts to use economic hardship and political upheaval to extend US hegemony around the world.

In Ukraine, the “Right Sector” has taken the fight from the negotiating table to the streets in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Stepan Bandera – a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and all other “undesirables” as they see it.  Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could.  If Europe and the United States don’t recognize this threat in its infancy, by the time they finally do, it might just be too late.

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Eric Draitser- Boiling Frogs Post Contributing Author &  Analyst
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. He is the editor and host of StopImperialism.com and the Stop Imperialism podcast.

The Secret War in Libya

“The war for Libya rages on, whether the world wants to admit it or not.”

The battles currently raging in the South of Libya are no mere tribal clashes.  Instead, they represent a possible burgeoning alliance between black Libyan ethnic groups and pro-Gaddafi forces intent upon liberating their country of a neocolonial NATO-installed government.

On Saturday January 18th, a group of heavily armed fighters stormed an air force base outside the city of Sabha in southern Libya, expelling forces loyal to the “government” of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and occupying the base.  At the same time, reports from inside the country began to trickle in that the green flag of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was flying over a number of cities throughout the country.  Despite the dearth of verifiable information – the government in Tripoli has provided only vague details and corroboration – one thing is certain: the war for Libya continues.

On the Ground

Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan called an emergency session of the General National Congress to declare a state of alert for the country after news of the storming of the air base broke.  The Prime Minister announced that he had ordered troops south to quell the rebellion, telling reporters that, “This confrontation is continuing but in a few hours it will be solved.”  A spokesman for the Defense Ministry later claimed that the central government had reclaimed control of the air base, stating that “A force was readied, then aircraft moved and took off and dealt with the targets…The situation in the south opened a chance for some criminals...loyal to the Gaddafi regime to exploit this and to attack the Tamahind air force base…We will protect the revolution and the Libyan people.”

In addition to the assault on the airbase, there have been other attacks on individual members of the government in Tripoli.  The highest profile incident was the recent assassination of the Deputy Industry Minister Hassan al-Droui in the city of Sirte.  Although it is still unclear whether he was killed by Islamist forces or Green resistance fighters, the unmistakable fact is that the central government is under assault and is unable to exercise true authority or provide security in the country.  Many have begun speculating that his killing, rather than being an isolated, targeted assassination, is part of a growing trend of resistance in which pro-Gaddafi Green fighters figure prominently.

The rise of the Green resistance forces in Sabha and elsewhere is merely one part of larger and more complex political and military calculus in the South where a number of tribes and various ethnic groups have risen against what they correctly perceive to be their political, economic, and social marginalization.  Groups such as the Tawergha and Tobou ethnic minorities, both of which are black African groups, have endured vicious attacks at the hands of Arab militias with no support from the central government.  Not only have these and other groups been the victims of ethnic cleansing, but they have been systematically shut out of participation in Libyan political and economic life.

The tensions came to a head earlier this month when a rebel chief from the Arab Awled Sleiman tribe was killed.  Rather than an official investigation or legal process, the Awled tribesmen attacked their black Toubou neighbors, accusing them of involvement in the murder.  The resulting clashes have since killed dozens, once again demonstrating that the dominant Arab groups still view their dark skinned neighbors as something other than countrymen.  Undoubtedly, this has led to a reorganization of the alliances in the region, with the Toubou, Tuareg and other black minority groups that inhabit southern Libya, northern Chad and Niger moving closer to the pro-Gaddafi forces.  Whether or not these alliances are formal or not still remains unclear, however it is apparent that many groups in Libya have come to the realization that the government installed by NATO has not lived up to its promises, and that something must be done.

 The Politics of Race in Libya

Despite the high-minded rhetoric from Western interventionists regarding “democracy” and “freedom” in Libya, the reality is far from it, especially for dark skinned Libyans who have seen their socioeconomic and political status diminished with the end of the Jamahiriya government of Muammar Gaddafi.  While these peoples enjoyed a large measure of political equality and protection under the law in Gaddafi’s Libya, the post-Gaddafi era has seen their rights all but stripped from them.  Rather than being integrated into a new democratic state, the black Libyan groups have been systematically excluded. 

In fact, even Human Rights Watch – an organization which in no small measure helped to justify the NATO war by falsely claiming that Gaddafi forces used rape as a weapon and were preparing “imminent genocide” – has reported that, “A crime against humanity of mass forced displacement continues unabated, as militias mainly from Misrata prevented 40,000 people from the town of Tawergha from returning to their homes from where they had been expelled in 2011.”  This fact, coupled with the horrific stories and images of lynchings, rapes, and other crimes against humanity, paints a very bleak picture of life in Libya for these groups. 

In its 2011 report, Amnesty International documented a number of flagrant war crimes carried out by the so called “freedom fighters” of Libya who, despite being hailed in the Western media as “liberators”, used the opportunity of the war to carry out mass executions of black Libyans as well as rival clans and ethnic groups.  This is of course in stark contrast to the treatment of black Libyans under the Jamahiriya government of Gaddafi which was praised up and down by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in their 2011 report which noted that Gaddafi had gone to great lengths to ensure economic and social development, as well as specifically providing economic opportunities and political protections to black Libyans and migrant workers from neighboring African countries.  With this in mind, is it any wonder that Al Jazeera quoted a pro-Gaddafi Tuareg fighter in September 2011 as saying, “fighting for Gaddafi is like a son fighting for his father…[We will be] ready to fight for him until the last drop of blood.”

As the Toubou and other black ethnic groups clash with Arab militias, their struggle should be understood in the context of a continued struggle for peace and equality.  Moreover, the fact that they must engage in this form of armed struggle again illustrates the point that many international observers made from the very beginning of the war: NATO’s aggression was never about protecting civilians or human rights, but rather regime change for economic and geopolitical interests.  That the majority of the population, including black ethnic minorities, is worse off today than they ever were under Gaddafi is a fact that is actively suppressed.

 Black, Green, and the Struggle for Libya

It would be presumptuous to assume that the military victories made by the pro-Gaddafi Green resistance in recent days will be long-lasting, or that they represent an irreversible shift in the political and military landscape of the country.  Though decidedly unstable, the neocolonial puppet government in Tripoli is supported economically and militarily by some of the most powerful interests in the world, making it difficult to simply overthrow it with minor victories.  However, these developments do signal an interesting shift in the calculus on the ground.  Undoubtedly there is a confluence between the black ethnic minorities and the Green fighters as both recognize their enemy as being the tribal militias who participated in the overthrow of Gaddafi as well as the central government in Tripoli.  Whether a formal alliance emerges from this remains to be seen.

Were such an alliance to develop however, it would be a watershed moment in the continued war for Libya.  As Green resistance fighters have shown in Sabha, they are able to organize themselves in the south of the country where they enjoy a large degree of popular support.  One could imagine an alliance in the south that would be able to hold territory and possibly consolidate power throughout the southern part of Libya, creating a de facto independent state.  Naturally, the cry from NATO and its apologists would be that this is anti-democratic and counter-revolution.   This would be understandable as their goal of a unified Libya subservient to international finance capital and oil interests would become unattainable.

One should be careful not to make too many assumptions about the situation in Libya today, as reliable details are hard to come by.  More to the point, Western media has attempted to completely suppress the fact that the Green resistance even exists, let alone is active and winning victories.  All this simply further illustrates that the war for Libya rages on, whether the world wants to admit it or not. 

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Eric Draitser- Boiling Frogs Post Contributing Author &  Analyst
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. He is the editor and host of StopImperialism.com and the Stop Imperialism podcast.

Debunking the “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013”

A poorly constructed attempt to justify the politically, militarily, and morally unjustifiable war against Syria

The document entitled “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013”, released in tandem with public statements made by Secretary of State John Kerry, is merely summary of a manufactured narrative designed to lead the US into yet another criminal and disastrous war in the Middle East.  Having been released prior to even preliminary reports from UN chemical weapons investigators on the ground in Syria, the document is as much a work of fiction as it is fact.

It begins with the conclusion that “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.”  Naturally, one would immediately wonder how such a conclusion was reached when even the expert investigators on the ground have yet to conclude their own study.  [Read more...]

Fomenting Civil War in Egypt

“Serious questions about the true nature of the conflict in Egypt & the disturbing similarities between this incident and similar ones in Syria, Thailand &Elsewhere”

The killing of more than 50 people at a demonstration in support of ousted Egyptian President Morsi in Cairo on Monday has justifiably horrified many in Egypt and internationally.  The pro-Morsi elements have placed the blame on the military forces, while the military claims it was attacked with live ammunition.  While accusations are hurled back and forth, a new aspect to this story is emerging – the presence of a third force, namely snipers stationed on rooftops firing at both sides of the conflict.  This revelation raises serious questions about the true nature of the conflict in Egypt and the disturbing similarities between this incident and similar ones in Syria, Thailand, and elsewhere. [Read more...]

Saudi Arabia, Qatar & the Struggle for Influence in Syria

The Bond Between the Monarchies is Fraying

This week’s resignation of Ghassan Hitto, the so-called “Prime Minister in waiting” of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, coupled with the July 6th election of Ahmed Assi al-Jarba to head the umbrella coalition of US-supported proxy groups attempting to topple the Assad government, has revealed further cracks in the edifice of the imperialist assault on Syria. [Read more...]

The Reality Principle -Episode 33

“Syria, NATO, and the Global Empire” with Rick Rozoff

RPLogoThis week Eric sits down for an in depth conversation with independent journalist and geopolitical expert Rick Rozoff of Stop NATO. Eric and Rick examine the latest developments in Syria with a particular focus on the regional and international geopolitics. They discuss the role of Russian diplomacy and Putin's strategic outlook in the Middle East and beyond. Additionally, Eric and Rick break down in detail the competing pipeline projects throughout Central Asia, and discuss how these developments impact current events internationally.

The second half of the interview focuses primarily on the global development of NATO, specifically its expansion to South America, Africa, and elsewhere. The conversation also touches upon the economic context within which these important geopolitical developments are occurring, with specific attention to free trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Rick Rozoff- Boiling Frogs Post Contributing Author & Analyst
Rick Rozoff is an investigative journalist based in Chicago and has been an active opponent of war, militarism and intervention for over 40 years. He manages the Stop NATO e-mail list, and is the editor of Stop NATO, a website on the threat of international militarization, especially on the globalization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Mr. Rozoff has a graduate degree in European literature

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The Reality Principle -Episode 32

“Elections in Iran” with Yassamine Mather

RPLogoThis week Eric sits down with Yassamine Mather to discuss this week's presidential elections in Iran. Eric and Yassamine discuss the important factions (Principlists vs. Reformists) and the ideologies and attitudes they represent. Yassamine provides critical insight into the political and economic conditions of ordinary, working class Iranians living under conditions of economic warfare. Eric and Yassamine examine the issue of economic development and whether the development in Iran has been productive and equitable. Additionally, they discuss the Sistan-Balochistan region both in terms of its strategic importance to the United States and the various terror groups that call it home.

Yassamine Mather is the Chair of the Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) organization. She teaches at the University of Glasgow's Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements. Visit the HOPI website at HOPOI.org.

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The Reality Principle -Episode 31

“Move to Amend” with David Cobb

RPLogoThis week, Eric sits down with David Cobb to discuss the nature of corporations and their immense power over our lives. Eric and David examine the symbiotic relationship between corporations and imperialism, with particular attention to key historical examples. The conversation touches upon some of the most insidious examples of corporate power in the world today, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Monsanto and big Agribusiness, etc. Additionally, David discusses the Move to Amend coalition which is leading a grassroots movement to amend the Constitution to limit the power of corporations. They analyze ways in which this issue is trans-partisan, uniting like-minded people from across the political spectrum behind the causes of freedom, sovereignty and human rights.

David Cobb is an activist and organizer. He is one of the founders of Move to Amend as well as a former presidential candidate from the Green Party. Visit the organization's website at movetoamend.org

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The Reality Principle -Episode 30

“Land, Food and the Fight for Justice” with Raj Patel

RPLogoThis week, Eric sits down with world renowned author and activist Raj Patel to discuss a number of important issues affecting all of us. Raj provides his insights and analysis on the growing global conflict between powerful multinational corporations and small farmers. Raj explains how this fundamental conflict is part of the larger issue of the globalization of food production. However, Eric and Raj broaden the conversation to discuss the role of land and water grabbing, commodity speculation and big Agribusiness in shaping this conflict. During their discussion, they also pay specific attention to the issue of class and the way in which, at its root, this is an extension of class conflict. While corporations and George Soros and his fellow financiers continue to buy up land and dominate resources, there is a growing resistance movement. May we all be part of that resistance...

Raj Patel is the bestselling author of The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy and Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power, and the Hidden Battle for the World's Food System. He is an activist and educator, currently serving as a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California Berkeley. Visit his website rajpatel.org.

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The Reality Principle -Episode 29

“Unmasking Empire” with Glen Ford

RPLogoThis week Eric sits down with journalist and commentator Glen Ford to discuss a number of key political and geopolitical issues. Eric and Glen examine the ongoing political theater surrounding the Benghazi attacks, providing their analysis of the real story that is being suppressed. They also provide their analysis of US imperialism in Africa, using Libya as a starting point, expanding the discussion to include other parts of the continent. Additionally, Glen presents his perspective on the continuing imperialist aggression against Syria and the possible motivations for the US. In the second part of the interview, Eric and Glen shift to focus on domestic issues, with particular attention to Obama's complete disregard and contempt for the Black community. Glen explains how the first black president has effectively criminalized black liberation ideology and used the power of the police state and corporate media machine to suppress dissent. All this and much more...

Glen Ford is the Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report. He has spent more than 40 years as a journalist and activist, documenting and speaking out against racism, injustice, and imperialism. He is the host of Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network and the newly created Black Agenda TV. Find all his work at BlackAgendaReport.com.

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The Reality Principle -Episode 28

“Gitmo, Syria, and Beyond” with Eugene Puryear

RPLogoThis week, Eric sits down with activist and organizer Eugene Puryear to discuss a number of important issues. First, Eric and Eugene discuss the ongoing hunger strike at the Guantanamo concentration camp and the continued use of torture by the US authorities. Eugene also informs listeners about the demonstration he has helped organize in Washington for May 18th demanding the closure of Guantanamo and the end of systematic torture. Eric and Eugene also discuss the US-sponsored destabilization of Venezuela and the nature of the imperialist ruling class in the United States. In addition, they examine the current situation in Syria and the role of the United States in perpetuating this conflict for geopolitical reasons.

Eugene Puryear is an activist and organizer with the ANSWER Coalition. He was the Vice Presidential candidate from the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) in 2008. Eugene has helped organize demonstrations against the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the use of torture by the United States, and countless other important political and social causes. He is based in Washington DC.

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The Reality Principle -Episode 27

“Free Mumia Now!” Johanna Fernandez

RPLogoThis week, Eric sits down with Johanna Fernandez to discuss the importance of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the movement to free him. Eric and Johanna examine some of the most critical details of the case while, at the same time, focusing on Mumia's significance in the struggle for peace and social justice. Prof. Fernandez provides some of the relevant historical context that both explains why he is important, and why the white establishment in Philadelphia feared (and continues to fear) him. Additionally, Eric and Johanna broaden the discussion into an analysis of come of the most important struggles today, including the fight to end mass incarceration and police brutality. Finally, they discuss Mumia's uncompromising stances on issues of imperialism and why, were he free today, we'd have a much better chance of mounting effective resistance.

Johanna Fernandez is a Professor of History at Baruch College - CUNY. Prof. Fernandez is a co-coordinator of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal. She is also the writer and producer of "Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal."

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Boiling Frogs Post’s Eric Draitser in Response to Webster Tarpley…

It is sad that, despite all the news about Boston and Central Asia, the continued collapse of the US economy, the further mobilization of the police state apparatus, and so much more, that I have to write something in response to Webster Tarpley.  However, that is precisely the situation I find myself in, having to respond to spurious charges and baseless demonization by someone who should spend more time in self-examination and less time attacking people out of pitiful jealousy.  Let me first explain the connection I have had with Tarpley and the likely reasons for this attack… [Read more...]