Monday, 18 April 2011

On John Pilger and Libya.

John Pilger has written in the New Statesman ( Westminster warriors untouched by Libya’s suffering and bloodshed, April 8 2011 ),
"The Euro-American attack on Libya has nothing to do with protecting anyone; only the terminally naive believe such nonsense. It is the west's response to popular uprisings in strategic, resource-rich regions of the world and the beginning of a war of attrition against the new imperial rival, China".
Perhaps. but the alternative might be for China to be given a free hand to control Libyan oil and its record of supporting dictatorships at least gets around the problem of double standards by not having standards at all, other than the one of backing dictatorships in Africa with no questions asked.

Given that the Libyan crisis began by a revolt against Gaddafi's dictatorship, it's clear that the dictator the UK had supported right until the Arab Revolutions began had lost de facto control and the Western powers had decided that Libya would be better off without him and to support those who called on the West for help.

Pilger asserts,
"The Libyan "pro-democracy rebels" are reportedly commanded by Colonel Khalifa Haftar who, according to a study by the US Jamestown Foundation, set up the Libyan National Army in 1988 "with strong backing from the Central Intelligence Agency". For 20 years, Colonel Haftar has lived not far from Langley, Virginia, home of the CIA, which also provides him with a training camp. ...
"Libya's other "rebel" leaders include Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Gaddafi's justice minister until February, and General Abdel-Fattah Younes, who ran Gaddafi's interior ministry. Both men have formidable reputations for savagely putting down dissent.
The rebel leadership might "include" such people. But does it necessarily define the leadership? Pilger provides only three names.

Even so, the evidence needs to be provided that all the rebels are necessarily engaged in fighting a tribal war for a new dictatorship to rival Gaddafi's regime, which comes close to suggesting that they are all mere dupes of Imperial Power because they have accepted support from NATO.

If evidence has not been supposedly proved that Benghazi was not in danger of being crushed brutally by Gaddafi, then at least evidence could be given that the rebels are not, in fact, pro-democracy.

Unfortunately, oil fuels the Western economies and in a period of global economic depression in the West, it is hardly surprising that the powers are trying to influence events there.

Pilger earlier suggested that if Libya did not have oil but grew carrots, then the West would not bother intervening. ( West should get out of Libya, Herald Sun, April 4 2011),
“What the West should do is absolutely nothing.....Stay away from other countries of the world, stay away from their resources, stay away from their people, let countries develop in their own way, let the Libyan people deal with (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi...

“This isn’t really about Libya … it’s about the US,”

“If Libya grew carrots there would be no no-fly zone. Libya has oil (and is) a strategic part of the world and is independent … and that is the reason Libya is being attacked.”

Libya's revolt was being threatened by Gaddafi's military. Rebel leaders and activists requested NATO intervention.

And if Libya is about oil, then it it's true that the great Car Economy, the flying in of produce from around the globe to feed Western consumers ( many of whom are "anti-war" protesters ) means that either the West acts to preserve oil supplies or the Western style of life will decline. Carrots do not fuel the economy.

Clearly, Pilger would not want to tell his fans that if the West does not intervene to ensure global oil supplies, then they must learn to live with a lower standard of living.

But, that could be the horrid truth. As John Gray and Michael T Klare have suggested, unless alternatives to oil dependence are found, conflicts over supplies is set to be the norm in the 21st century.

Radical progressives such as Pilger have not dealt with such brutal naturalistic facts because they fail to fit the notion that if only the West was not so "rapacious" and just stopped intervening the world would be better.

Yet Pilger's own failure to mention the scope, cynicism and contempt for human rights in resource rich zones pursued by China in opposition to the West is also an example of perverting truth through omission and comes across as somewhat parochial.

Seumas Milne, an erstwhile supporter of the British StWC and journalist praised by Pilger dismissed the idea of Chinese Imperialism in a recent debate in London. But, as Pilger himself suggested in The New Rulers of the World, the New Great Game is on.

By all means "unearth the filthy truth", as Harold Pinter advocated. However, if that means deliberately omitting the fact that the wealth and comfort of the people of the West will not be affected by non-intervention in areas of oil and gas, then this reduces Pilger's perspective, that it's all about "Them" and greedy politicians and corporations, to somewhat populist and cowardly propaganda riffs.


  1. clealy ur dismissive of ANYONE on the left
    u said
    "The rebel leadership might "include" such people. But does it necessarily define the leadership?Even so, the evidence needs to be provided that all the rebels are necessarily engaged in fighting a tribal war for a new dictatorship to rival Gaddafi's regime. which comes close to suggesting that they are all mere dupes of Imperial Power."

    nearly ALL the leadership used to work for gaddafi!
    Major suleiman defected in february 2011
    Mahmood Jibril worked for the Gaddafi govt until march 2011
    abdul fatah younes who was a general ALSO defected
    I could go on n on n on

    clearly u havent done any research but any excuse to have a go at the left eh
    BTW I attended a socialise demonstration and many ppl there were in FAVOUR of the no fly zone
    contrast this with perhaps peter hitchen, right winger, whos against the no fly zone or any intervention

    know ur facts before u write

    Pilger has years of experience as a reporter and investigative journalist whereas ur just a sad blogger who knows nothing

  2. Pilger might well be an investigative journalist. Yet he isn't some cult guru to those who have an independent mind and see him as a rather silly polemecist at times ( especially in his New Statesman columns ).

    The fact some in the NTC worked for Gaddafi does not define the leadership.

    Ali Tarhouni is the important minister for oil and finance who hasn't set foot in Libya since 1973. Numerous others were not part of the Gaddafi regime. So you need to get your facts right before accusing me of lacking in that.

    The leader of the military ( Belhadj ) is actually an Islamist.

    The fact is that Pilger was uncritically opposed to the NATO intervention only because he dislikes the West more than he cares about dictatorships or the callous realpolitik of other states, not least his hero Chavez who embraced both Gaddafi and Mugabe. Silence on that from him "by omission" as he would say.

    It's possible to be against wars based on understanding the facts without fitting the facts into the pre-existing mould of ideological creeds as Pilger does.

    I am against it too but from a different perspective. Those who complain that Libya is oil about oil and imperialism for ideological reasons fail to get it that oil underpins economic growth and prosperity in the West.

    It isn't just about sinister 'Westminster warriors' but about over dependence upon oil that consumerist democracies increasingly gain their legitimacy from. Or to use Cameron's words ( in a different context ) "we're all in this together".