-- Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan speaking in NYC yesterday. Peace Mom heads to Boston:
7PM: First Parish In Cambridge (Harvard Square)
3 Church St
The Third Estate Sunday Review focuses on politics and culture. We're an online magazine. We don't play nice and we don't kiss butt. In the words of Tuesday Weld: "I do not ever want to be a huge star. Do you think I want a success? I refused "Bonnie and Clyde" because I was nursing at the time but also because deep down I knew that it was going to be a huge success. The same was true of "Bob and Carol and Fred and Sue" or whatever it was called. It reeked of success."
John Tyner triggered a wave of protest against the Transportation Security Administration when he recorded himself saying, "If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested," pithily paraphrased as "Don’t touch my junk!" But this protest was anathema to the thought police at The Nation, because after all it is now Obama's TSA, and the virtue of the Messiah's works is not to be doubted. On top of that, Tyner is (gasp!) a self-declared libertarian.
A smear was in order, and so The Nation quickly served up an innuendo-laden piece attacking Tyner by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine. And it has quite properly provoked a chorus of disapproval. Glenn Greenwald writing at Salon.com was first to criticize Ames and Levine, calling their smear of Tyner a "shoddy, fact-free, and reckless hit piece." Next up was Justin Raimondo, who chided Ames ("I spit on libertarians") and Levine for their "implausible fiction." Raimondo suggested a modicum of competence would serve them well and that if they wished to be "the 'go to' team for the dirt on libertarians … they ought to learn their subject." By now the critique of Ames and Levine's trash must be turning into a cottage industry on the Web.
The right-wing, imperialist Italian government headed by Silvio Berlusconi has joined France, Qatar and Kuwait in recognizing the so-called “rebel” Libyan National Transitional Council.
The recognition comes after chief executive officer Paolo Scaroni of Italy’s giant oil monopoly, Eni, met with council members to discuss reviving the company’s access to oil production now in “rebel” territory.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, referring to Scaroni, said: “He had important meetings on restarting cooperation about energy.
“Rome’s support is a boost to rebel forces because Italy is Libya’s largest trading partner and the biggest buyer of the North African country’s oil and natural gas supplies.” (Wall Street Journal, April 4)
This move by the Italian government serves to highlight what is behind this brutal, illegal and unprovoked aggression by the entire array of Western imperialist powers and their hangers-on. They are using massive military might in an attempt to overthrow the sovereign government of an underdeveloped, oil-rich country of 6.5 million people.
Colonial reconquest the aim
Backed by U.S. imperialism, the ruling classes of Italy, France and Britain, all former colonial masters in Libya, are seeking to recolonize the country. They want to do to Libya what they did to Iraq and what they are itching to do to Iran. They want to take back the oil, which was nationalized by these country’s revolutions. They want to re-establish military bases that were shut down by the revolutions and to install client regimes that will subordinate the country’s wealth and labor to imperialist corporate interests. All else is lies and deception.
Italy carried out the brutal occupation and colonization of Libya from 1911 to 1943, when it was ousted by the British, French and U.S. at the end of World War II. When these powers set up a Libyan state in 1951, they did so to allow Britain, France and the U.S. to each retain military bases and corporate interests there.
Britain kept the bases and political dominance in the east, bordering its former colony Egypt, where Benghazi and the “rebels” are.
France kept its military and its dominance in the southwest, near its colonies Algeria and Tunisia.
And the U.S. military kept Wheelus Air Force base outside Tripoli to dominate the Mediterranean. All these imperialist parasites thrived even further once oil was discovered in Libya in 1955.
But the gravy train ended with the 1969 revolution led by Moammar Gadhafi. U.S., British and French military bases were shut down, oil companies were eventually nationalized. And the oil wealth of the country was used to raise the standard of living of the Libyan people to the highest in Africa.
Big Oil and Western capital want it all back
While the Gadhafi government made major concessions to the Western corporations and oil companies in 2004, these concessions were given grudgingly and always with a price.
For example, Occidental Petroleum and Petro-Canada both had to pay $1 billion for oil exploration rights. Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Boeing, Raytheon, Conoco Phillips and Halliburton have all had to make concessions to the Libyan government or have had deals fall through. (New York Times, March 28)
Hedge funds and private equity firms have tried to get their hands on the $70 billion sovereign state funds of Libya, built up from the oil wealth of the country.
But the former overlords of Libya want it all back.
They want to eliminate all government resistance. They want a compliant, dependent, collaborative puppet regime, such as the National Transitional Council — which can only get to Tripoli, if at all, under the hail of the bombs and bullets of imperialism.
Never has such a naval and air armada been assembled and so much destructive power been rained down on such a small country to foster the progress of such an insignificant and dysfunctional group as the so-called “rebels” of Libya.
Washington spent $550 million in nine days sending “Tomahawk” missiles, moving seven ships and dozens of bombers and fighter planes into the Mediterranean and guiding the entire air war. The Pentagon never carried out a single mission for “humanitarian” purposes unless it was a cover for promoting U.S. imperialist interests.
Right now, this first attempt at shock and awe from the air has failed. The “rebels” resemble the gang that could not shoot straight. While Barack Obama was giving an interview on NBC-TV to Brian Williams saying that the “noose was tightening around Gadhafi,” the rebels were running in disarray from government forces. They had advanced under cover of “Tomahawk” missiles. Once the missiles stopped, the “rebels” were quickly dispersed.
Their “high command” consists of a trio of rivals who almost came to blows with one another after the retreat of the pro-imperialist “rebels.” The trio, including a retired general, Khalifa Heftar, an exile flown in from Virginia, “behaved like children,” according to a member of the council’s political committee. (New York Times, April 4)
Right now Washington and NATO have to recalibrate their efforts. The word “stalemate” is appearing more and more in the capitalist press. The Western imperialists have carried out an adventure and called for “regime change” in the name of democracy, but their contradictions are piling up.
Washington supports the bourgeois/feudal monarch of Saudi Arabia, where hands are cut off as routine punishment, women are treated like property, and the royal family rules. It supports reactionary oil monarchies in Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates — all creations of imperialism in the first place. So-called “dictatorship” has nothing to do with the bloody assault on the Gadhafi government.
The real purveyors of massacres
Every word spoken by President Obama and all the heads of NATO about “preventing massacres” and protecting civilians are utter falsehoods spoken by governments that have brought nothing but the greatest death and destruction to countless civilians in modern history.
Washington killed a million and a half Iraqi civilians, including half a million children, in 10 years of sanctions. It then killed another million in the second Iraq war, displaced 3 million more and destroyed the civilian infrastructure of the economy.
The Pentagon massacres civilians with regularity in Afghanistan, using Predator drones and other gunships. It pays for every bullet, missile, tank and helicopter used by the Israeli settler state for the destruction of Palestinian homes, orchards, buildings and for use in “collective punishment” against civilians — not to mention the massacres carried out during the war on Gaza.
Washington supports death squads in Colombia that kill trade union and peasant leaders, as well as the wholesale murder of villagers. Its record of sponsoring mass murder in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala is well known.
How can the power that dropped atomic bombs on the heavily populated cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, firebombed Tokyo and dozens of other cities in Japan, as well as Dresden, Germany, suffocating and burning hundreds of thousands of people, possibly be concerned with protecting civilians?
NATO: the gang of colonizers
NATO represents the powers that colonized, tortured and enslaved Africa, East Asia, India, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and Latin America as well as the Middle East — the powers that divided the globe for profit. These powers still have their banks, their oil companies, their mining companies, their drug companies, their construction companies and every imperialist, super-exploiting corporation spread around the world sucking the wealth and resources out of their former colonies.
These are the powers now flying sorties over a former colonial country and dropping 2,000-pound bombs, 500-pound bombs, firing “Tomahawk” missiles and using gunships to pound government forces, under the guise of humanitarianism.
They have mobilized world opinion by repeating big lies over and over again. But no one should believe for a moment that the greatest robbers and plunderers on the planet would spend so much treasure and risk such an adventure for anything other than what they have been after since colonialism and imperialism came into existence — loot!
To illustrate the point, the U.S. just sent Ali Tarhouni to Benghazi to be appointed finance and oil minister of the “rebel” regime. Tarhouni spent 36 years in exile in the U.S. and since 1985 has been teaching at the University of Washington Foster School of Business in Seattle where he became a senior lecturer in microeconomics.
Tarhouni is now managing the process of setting up oil exports from eastern Libya to Qatar. Tarhouni has also been present at several “post-Gadhafi” conferences in Washington and London over the years.
The worst possible outcome of this intervention would be the return of imperialism to rule over Libya. Such a result would be the most reactionary result possible. It would open up the Libyan people to intense exploitation and complete domination by the world’s most powerful monopolies of the type that they suffered before the 1969 revolution. It would give the corporations and NATO a presence in the southern Mediterranean and increase the threat to North Africa.
Every effort should be made by all progressive and revolutionary forces to stop imperialist intervention in Libya, now.
Ruth Benn, Coordinator
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC)
PO Box 150553
Brooklyn, NY 11215
"Death and Taxes" – watch our 30-minute film about motivations, methods, risks, and rewards of war tax resistance