The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    Making It Up As We Go Along

    The US obviously doesn't like Qaddafi (except when he's convenient, like assisting in our extraordinary renditions).

    So it's one thing for Yemen to kill its own people, but another for Libya.
    One thing for Bahrain to invite in Saudis and other foreign troops to squash a rebellion, but if Qaddafi does it it's a sign that he's an animal.
    Egypt required a smooth transition and maintaining a bit of the old guard - Libya needs a clean start.

    While I appreciate in principle defending people who are protesting their corrupt governments, it'd be nice if we managed some teensy bit of consistency across the region in doing so. Otherwise, our hypocrisy and particular bias is just a tad too obvious.


    Probably should note, as Digby did, places like Ivory Coast where the government and rebels traditionally kill civilians in droves. But too messy for a hypocritical UN resolution.

    Par for the course, though I think that the distinction is becoming increasingly untenable. See my post on the cat.

    Was there a reason why you created a new account?

    Likely he couldn't decide...

    I put it down to inconsistency, with a dash of hypocrisy. 

    I'd say incoherent indecision, but then we wouldn't know to whom I'm referring.

    I'll go with the James Bond equation: twisted, not just stirred (up), with a dash of bitter(s)

    Other account stopped logging in, wouldn't send out emails, quit coming to my parties or laughing at my jokes. Had to eat it. Donner would have been proud, most others disgusted.

    Well, I was hinting that it was more the administration's policy confusion in terms of which opposition groups to support or ignore, but then....  ;o)

    I've had trouble off and on logging in, too, and my OpenID frequently doesn't work (even got a new one); same at other sites.  I thought it was an IP non-recognition problem; hell, I can't even get my own Posterous site to recognize me so that I can answer comments. 


    It's a complicated world. I thought we might give Qadaffi a pass on the first 1000 dead as he was such a gracious host to John McCain in the summer of 2009, who tweeted he had "an interesting evening with an interesting man" and then he stayed overnight at the Qadaffi 'ranch' in Libya.

    Of course another great irony is that Pakistan both provides training, money, arms and safe haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban, yet they are also called a 'key ally' in the GWOT.

    I do not think diplomacy has changed all that much over the mellenia.

    Our elected leaders decide what is in OUR interests.

    I have written at least three times today that we have attempted to kill this sob many times. hahaha

    Qadaffi is ubermench. hahah

    Your argument is correct if you let the neo-cons frame your world.

    On the other hand, if you look at it from the perspective of a United Nations or League of Nations or similar, that finally after many tries, basically ended up being created to prevent another WWII, and not to install democracies everywhere, it's not so hypocritical.

    In U.N. world, there's your dictators that are for stability and status quo, sometimes desperately so, even to the point of using horrific police states to insure stability. And they agree to send representatives to a  U.N. body (ironically, a democratic body that neo-cons love to hate,) and play along with the whole "people can't we all get along," game.

    Then's there's your dictators that are like NUTS, just plain nuts, where you never know what the heck they are going to do, including whether they will just say fuck it, if I am going down, I am going to try to drag the whole world with me. (Or even just pretend and say one thing to the international community, and then do something totally different like fund or support terrorist actions to upset the status quo of the international community.)  Not to mention when those dictators have ambassadors to the U.N. who after decades of loyally spouting the dictator's p.o.v. at the U.N., break down in tears to his colleagues about what a monster he has become and how unhinged he has become, that might influence those colleagues.

    P.S. Just because coverage of some things by the international media aren't on the "most popular" lists on the big media websites doesn't mean it's not happening. See The International Criminal Court is ready to "move fast" against the perpetrators of crimes against civilians in Ivory Coast, its deputy prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda said Saturday. and Clinton Calls for Immediate End to I Coast violence from March 4 and US condemns Gbagbo attacks on ICoast civilians from yesterday.

    Also I'd like to suggest that Obama was actually totally with you and against France and the UK until only a day or two ago, when Hillary apparently started thinking about Kosovo and Rwanda. He really really was strongly partial to just let Libya play out on its own. even if it meant an extended period of death and torture until he was gone.

    I also want to make it clear that I am not sure myself on these questions and am just doing a devil's advocate because I think the counter argument to yours can't be dismissed so simplistically as you did. This whole problem is something that's always strongly interested me, as I used to be a big supporter of the U.N. dream and become much more cynical about it the last couple years.

    This little bitlet from Al Jazeera's March 18 live blog really pricked some deep thoughts on the U.N. dream theme for me:


    The Libyan deputy foreign minister is speaking in Tripoli:

    We are very grateful for the five countries that abstained," he says, listing the countries. When he gets to Germany, he laughs, "And Germany - what a surprise."

    Well, I don't think it's all that simple, and appreciate the background on Ivory Coast.

    I've also posted on Al Jazeera sensitive that the US doesn't always have the most enlightened leaders to choose from in columns A, B or C, and most of the time we get dinged for meddling too much.

    In general, it's people's responsibility to elect and to try to overthrow their own governments. Against egregious behavior, we may try to help. And for support of democratic processes, we should also help. But we aren't quite the world's police - perhaps the good cop/bad cop of first resort.

    I'm trying to read Hillary's mind on Libya and other states. Her efforts and statements on the Congo, Ivory Coast, etc. do hint loudly at a broader purpose than just controlling the oil.

    While the Mubarak support might have been unpalatable, he did provide consistency in a world that did include Zia, Qaddafi, the Ayatollah, Assad and Hussein. As a necessary evil, abandoning him too coldly would not help our interests, and on the other hand, ít's really not required that we sign onto every uprising within the first 7 minutes of its existence.

    So the difference might be that our diplomatic pressure has influence in Egypt, Bahrain and even Yemen, whereas it's a lost cause in Libya.

    Or that with a state like Bahrain, once popular movements start, it's a short time - perhaps 5 years - before they're entrenched as part of a new order, whereas with Libya, it's either support it now or watch the genie stuffed back in the bottle another generation (for example the Prague Spring).

    So I'm not sure you read me right when you say, "Obama was totally with me". I'm not advocating benign neglect. I actually advocated pushing these countries into some kind of EU aspiration list as quickly as possible - it's hard for dictators to claim protesters are destablizing when they have the world's best model for allied democracy and capitalism/socialism as their goal and partner.

    And somehow Mr. Eloquent could have searched for some kind of memorable "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" statement to encourage the long-needed transition, rather than a pat on the back to the guys stripping down Manning every night.

    The odd thing for me is is that what pushed Manning over the edge was seeing how corrupt the governments and occupying forces and other controlling powers were, but the only way we responded to his plea, to the average Omar's plea for justice, was to help the government round up more protesters against wrong-doing. So to that end, it's not even benign neglect - Obama's betting on the wrong side of history - bottling up info, and enabling the kleptomaniac oligarchies against the little guy.

    Balkinization posits that Mubarak's efforts at making it easier to do business in Egypt pushed them towards democratization as well. He notes it dropping from $10K to $250 as the price to start a business, and the time going from over a month to a matter of days.

    It's an interesting treatise, that economic reforms create pressures for democratic reforms.

    It might bolster my assumption that democracy could catch on easier in Egypt and Bahrain than in Libya.

    It's an interesting treatise, that economic reforms create pressures for democratic reforms.

    See: China. And the flip side: India. Wink

    Well, I was thinking about China as I wrote it, and doing a mental coin toss.

    China does seem to be doing some democratic reforms. They do seem to pay more attention to needs of the people. The last few years they've ballooned expenditures and efforts for health care. Their stimulus during the financial crisis actually got money to people and industries that needed it. Their public transit system seems well adapted to get this amazing mass of people to and from work each day or back to their parents' for their frequent long holidays.

    Additionally, the amount that Chinese are able to speak up and criticize is growing, especially due to social media but more accepted levels of criticism.

    It's not perfect, you can make the argument at the same time that it's painfully slow, but then you have India where they can't even get a 3G license out the door after how many years. So combined with people needing a voice, they need a government that responds to the voice. If government anticipates basic needs for people, it obviously takes out some of the eruptive pressure for new reforms. How long the Chinese can continue this balancing act without really opening the door, don't know, but I'm also sympathetic to the difficulties. India's open, and hasn't managed the efficiencies. And China's well accustomed to mass catastrophe during "interesting times".

    [and this all ignores Xinjiang, Tibet, et al. which would make a much longer discussion, but pretty much irrelevant to core Han democracy, which is the only thing that has political power in China]

    It's all about the oil. Libyan crude is the best in the world. When I was working for ARAMCO in Saudi, the riggers told me it was so good you could pump it straight out of the ground and into a diesel truck tank and the truck didn't have a problem running...the refining process is minimal.

    So with all the civil unrest in the region, an astute oil corporatist with tons of cash to spend could easily sway disgruntled people to stage a revolt while working behind the scenes in Europe to convince individual NATO members it was Libyan's turn to throw off the yoke of oppression and the West should support their cause once blood began to flow.

    And once the smoke settles, the oil corporatist will pounce on Libyan like starving vultures and divvy up the spoils...that being the oil pennies on the dollar.

    Libyans might get a new government that may very well be no better than what they already have, but they'll loose control over their only asset in the march towards democracy. And that's too large a price to pay for freedom and democracy, in my opinion. After all, what is Libya without it's oil?

    Beachfront property?






    Or as Laurie Anderson said, "Condominiums like great white sharks' teeth"

    Or as Marie Antoinette said, "Let them eat timeshares".

    I knew a Russell Antoinette once.

    Drove truck between Spruce Falls and Thunder Bay.

    Any relation I wonder?

    I kmew a Jack Russel Terrier named Antoinette once; mad about chasing trucks.  Definitely a relation of the Condominium Russel Empire.  They're second cousins to Donald Trumpet.

    "After all, what is Libya without it's oil?"

    Connect that question with this one. What is the world without the Middle East’s oil? That is where the tension arrises and the profit motive asserts itself, along with the survival motive. No matter the level of cynicism and venality of some within the various power structures, there is a reason that it is all about oil. It cannot be written off as only a bunch of bad guys just going after big bucks. Sure, there are bad guys doing bad things just for the big bucks as well as others doing what they think they must or at least should.

    Drugs, being illegal and much wanted, provide big bucks for many bad or desperate people. Oil, being absolutely necessary in the modern world and also running short, provides the big bucks for some bad guys. That is because oil would make people desperate if they didn’t get it. Those in the oil mix who are successful bad guys will lie, steal, connive, and send others to kill or be killed so as to keep their position of power and as the recipients of the big bucks.There are others in America and the world who will do the same because they see the critical importance of oil and believe that demand will actually create supply as long as the areas of supply are kept under control. Their actions, which are for the most part the same as those of the bad guys are,in their minds, justified.

    Most Americans go about their daily lives and don’t care enough to have an opinion that would influence their choices regarding votes or their way of life. While some percentage are emotionally or psychologically as well as financially stressed, almost all are still physically comfortable. A small majority is against more war and I believe it is only because they think the most recent wars have cost too much rather than showing a profit as far as they could tell. Their opinion is just a vague, uninformed, or misinformed vote. Just like their vote for president was, but their motive is to stay comfortable and they have shown that they can be quite comfortable while our military does what active militaries do so long as someone salves their easily salved conscience by saying we are bombing bad guys to protect good guys. An honest leader would tell the American public that it is all about oil.

    The TV news will show stand-off pictures of bombs and cruise missiles striking targets. It will not show the up close splatter of human bodies. That makes it being all about oil too uncomfortable and my bringing it up is pointless, I just do it anyway.

    Back to oil. If, and I believe absolutely that there will be a “when”, we run short on oil and people get physically uncomfortable, the statement, “It is all about oil”, will not be made with a dismissive tone as though recognizing that fact means that it is not a genuine problem but only is a problem because a few bad guys are making the big bucks while they can, and that that causes our price at the pump to get uncomfortably high. No, it will then be because people are cold and hungry if we do not change from spending all our wealth to guarantee access to the last drop of oil to a policy of investing heavily in a reorganization of our energy type and use.

    Military action in Libia and else ware may be a legitimate short term action to keep the world stable but if our long term strategy is not changed it will be bloody pointless.


    Sorry, hate to ruin your oil business plot narrative, but here's an example of the narratives that are actually occuring:

    Eni Chief Blasts Libya Sanctions
    Wall Street Journal - Guy Chazan - Stacy Meichtry - March 17

    The head of Italian oil giant Eni SpA called for Europe to drop sanctions against Libya, saying it was "shooting itself in the foot" and endangering its energy security by punishing the Gadhafi regime....

    Read more link.....

    Qaddafi Advance Poses Eni Expulsion Risk From Libyan Oil
    Bloomberg, March 18, 2011

    "China is far less interested in the strategic argument and much more concerned with its economic interests in Africa," Frattini told a parliamentary committee in Rome on March 16. "Out of this situation, great doors open for China."

    It may not be that simple, said Elizabeth Cheng, Hong Kong- based editor of China Hand, a publication of the Economist Intelligence Unit, by telephone.

    "It's a complicated issue," she said. "I don't think Chinese companies would be expected to make a reckless decision." Oil companies would have to consider their relations with western companies and security in Libya, as well as Qaddafi's ability to maintain power, she said..

    Risk Management....

    Read more link.....

    Latest Comments