Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Pentagon-Arab Spring love story By Pepe Escobar

The Pentagon-Arab Spring love story
By Pepe Escobar

Anyone who hoped the Arab Spring might eventually take over the Persian Gulf and those lands once known as Arabia Felix has enough reason to drown in sadness.

The Arab counter-revolution is stronger than ever - led by the House of Saud and its monarchy minions at the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), officially known as Gulf Cooperation Council. And their most precious ally is the Pentagon.

The New York Times made it official by relaying related White House/Pentagon spin. Considering the NYT can hardly pose as an icon of credibility since those months in 2002/2003 when its front page peddled outright lies about Iraq's nukes and/or its carnal ties with al-Qaeda, the spin must be translated.

The further militarization of the counter-revolutionary Persian Gulf - especially via more boots on the ground in Kuwait, and more warships - is being sold as a response to "a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran".

Note that both are pure wishful thinking. The NYT's martial sources insist, "the withdrawal [from Iraq] could leave instability". The fact is the Nuri al-Maliki government in Baghdad effectively booted the Americans out (the Pentagon wanted at least 20,000 US boots on the ground after late 2011).

Thus the necessity of revamped Pentagon Central Command (Centcom) newspeak, as well as a Plan B, a grand new "security architecture" for the Persian Gulf crammed with air and naval hardware and even missile defense sold as a bland "post-Iraq footprint in the region".

As for "the threat of a belligerent Iran", very precise interests - sections of the industrial-military complex, the Republican party as a whole, the Israel lobby, the majority of corporate media - have been cheerleading for a strike on Iran for years.

Major General Karl R Horst, Centcom's chief of staff, is a big fan of "commitment in building partner capability and partner capacity" (translation; what we say, goes). He sold the firepower increase in the Persian Gulf to the NYT as a bland, Hollywoodish "back to the future" strategy, focused on "smaller but highly capable deployments and training partnerships with regional militaries".

Translation: lots of special forces, lots of weaponized drones and an inflation of those "partnerships" the Pentagon and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are so fond of. This is spun as "more efficient ways to deploy forces and maximize cooperation with regional partners"; or the best way to "expand security relationships", especially when there will be a "steep decrease in the number of intelligence analysts assigned to the region" (translation; let the towel heads do the footwork).

It also helps that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) proved their unlimited love for NATO in the Libya war (while Bahrain and the UAE have boots on the ground in Afghanistan). That Arab willingness to please the masters goes a step further than the standard mantra, "the United States will not abandon its commitments in the Persian Gulf."

To sum it all up; think of all this as the GCC as a de facto annex to NATO.

Behind the 'security architecture'
Out there in Tajikistan - where she was examining the non-proliferation of the Arab Spring in Central Asia - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged what was later leaked to the NYT as "a robust continuing presence" throughout a region that "should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy."

So this means the further militarization of the Persian Gulf comes as a response for US/Saudi interference preventing democracy? That can't possibly be; somebody's got to rewrite the script.

This whole scenario was predictable ever since Washington struck a deal with Riyadh for the consolidation of the Arab counter-revolution; you get us an Arab League vote so we take Muammar Gaddafi out, and we leave you alone to do what you want in the Persian Gulf (see Exposed: The US-Saudi deal Asia Times Online, April 2, 2011).

This led to the House of Saud invading Bahrain; Qatar training Libyan NATO rebels in their own territory while also sending Qatari special forces to Libya; and now a "stronger, multilateral security alliance" between the GCC and the Pentagon.

Lost in space US senators spinning that the US withdrawal from Iraq will be interpreted as a "strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East", is business as usual. But it's another thing to see the NYT being gullible enough - or basically treating its readers as idiots - as it swallows the Saudi propaganda line that Iran is "the most worrisome threat" to all GCC members "as well as to Iraq itself". It's as if the paper was edited in Riyadh.

As a matter of fact, the Barack Obama administration's foreign policy in the Middle East seems to be edited in Riyadh. One just had to follow the US corporate media falling over themselves to kiss the hem of the gown of the new crown prince (the next in line for the throne) at the House of Saud, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz.
Nayef, 78, supported by the nec plus ultra of medievalism and counter-revolutionary, damn-this-Arab Spring forces, is essentially the House of Saud's inquisitor-in-chief. Since 1975 he has presided over the security apparatus at the Ministry of Interior, which along with the US-trained National Guard, faithful to frail King Abdullah, 87, are the best weaponized bodies in Saudi Arabia.

Nayef is the Darth Vader of a 130,000-strong paramilitary force, all the national and local police, customs, immigration, the coast guard, the border guard and the dreaded religious police. His ministry's response to the Arab Spring has been a non-stop crackdown. Anyone who's even suspected of trying to start a political demonstration, not to mention a movement, is arrested; that includes young people uploading YouTube videos.

There are at least 20,000 political prisoners in Saudi jails. Since April, it's illegal to "threaten national security" or "insult Islam"; Nayef was responsible for the vagueness of the new law and all that implies. Anyone trying an Occupy Riyadh or Occupy Jeddah would be beheaded.

Yet for his countless Washington fans, who beam at this 36-year counter-terror CV, Nayef is a "conservative pragmatist". This is his official denomination since revealed by a WikiLeaks 2009 State Department cable.

No wonder they love Nayef in Washington. His Holy Trinity is Washington-Riyadh joined at the hip; his hatred of Iran and Shi'ites in general (even Saudi Shi'ites); and his war on terror commitment against al-Qaeda.

No one talks about his visceral hatred of women's rights, and his visceral hatred of all things democratic; that's when the label "social conservative" comes handy. At the start of the Arab Spring, Nayef dismissed Tunisians as "basically French", and Cairo residents as "louche urbanites". The only true Arabs were Saudis; democracy, as they see it (or as the House of Saud sees for them) is for sissies.

In internal House of Saud politics, that palace intrigue realm of desert macho men who love to dye their moustaches black, Nayef's top opponents are not his brothers, the powerful Sudayri seven, who are now five (after the death of King Fahd and recently Prince Sultan), named after the tribe of their mother Hassa, Ibn Saud's favorite wife.

Still gerontocracy is the name of the game; brothers Bandar, Musaid and Mishaal's health conditions are appalling. As for brother Salman, the governor of Riyadh, he likes to pose as a journalist, as owner of the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Nayef's top opponents are the nephews of Ibn Saud, starting with wily former Washington ambassador Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush; Prince Talal, father of billionaire prince al-Waleed; Vice Minister of Defense Khaled bin Sultan; and Prince Turki al-Faisal, former head of intelligence in the 1980s and former Osama bin Laden pal.

None of these will threaten Nayef; what matters for the House of Saud is the dynasty's survival. As King Abdullah prepares to meet his maker, the Pentagon could not find a more reliable regional partner: Grand Inquisitor Nayef.

NATO will soon rule over the whole Mediterranean as a NATO lake. Africom is implanting itself deeper and deeper in Africa. Centcom rules the Persian Gulf with the GCC in tow. Democracy is for sissies; there's no business like the "security architecture" business.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It doesn't matter to them if it's untrue. It's a higher truth.

The Anti-Empire Report

It doesn't matter to them if it's untrue. It's a higher truth.

"We came, we saw, he died."
— US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,
giggling, as she spoke of the depraved murder of Moammar Gaddafi
Imagine Osama bin Laden or some other Islamic leader speaking of 9-11: "We came, we saw, 3,000 died ... ha- ha."

Clinton and her partners-in-crime in NATO can also have a good laugh at how they deceived the world. The destruction of Libya, the reduction of a modern welfare state to piles of rubble, to ghost towns, the murder of thousands ... this tragedy was the culmination of a series of falsehoods spread by the Libyan rebels, the Western powers, and Qatar (through its television station, al-Jazeera) — from the declared imminence of a "bloodbath" in rebel-held Benghazi if the West didn't intervene to stories of government helicopter-gunships and airplanes spraying gunfire onto large numbers of civilians to tales of Viagra-induced mass rapes by Gaddafi's army. (This last fable was proclaimed at the United Nations by the American Ambassador, as if young soldiers needed Viagra to get it up!)1
The New York Times (March 22) observed:
... the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories, asserting they were still fighting in a key city days after it fell to Qaddafi forces, and making vastly inflated claims of his barbaric behavior.
The Los Angeles Times (April 7) added this about the rebels' media operation:
It's not exactly fair and balanced media. In fact, as [its editor] helpfully pointed out, there are four inviolate rules of coverage on the two rebel radio stations, TV station and newspaper:
  • No pro-[Qaddafi] reportage or commentary
  • No mention of a civil war. (The Libyan people, east and west, are unified in a war against a totalitarian regime.)
  • No discussion of tribes or tribalism. (There is only one tribe: Libya.)
  • No references to Al Qaeda or Islamic extremism. (That's [Qaddafi's] propaganda.)
The Libyan government undoubtedly spouted its share of misinformation, but it was the rebels' trail of lies, both of omission and commission, which was used by the UN Security Council to justify its vote for "humanitarian" intervention; followed in Act Three by unrelenting NATO/US bombs and drone missiles, day after day, week after week, month after month; you can't get much more humanitarian than that. If the people of Libya prior to the NATO/US bombardment had been offered a referendum on it, can it be imagined that they would have endorsed it?

In fact, it appears rather likely that a majority of Libyans supported Gaddafi. How else could the government have held off the most powerful military forces in the world for more than seven months? Before NATO and the US laid waste to the land, Libya had the highest life expectancy, lowest infant mortality, and highest UN Human Development Index in Africa. During the first few months of the civil war, giant rallies were held in support of the Libyan leader.2

For further discussion of why Libyans may have been motivated to support Gaddafi, have a look at this video.

If Gaddafi had been less oppressive of his political opposition over the years and had made some gestures of accommodation to them during the Arab Spring, the benevolent side of his regime might still be keeping him in power, although the world has plentiful evidence making it plain that the Western powers are not particularly concerned about political oppression except to use as an excuse for intervention when they want to; indeed, government files seized in Tripoli during the fighting show that the CIA and British intelligence worked with the Libyan government in tracking down dissidents, turning them over to Libya, and taking part in interrogations.3

In any event, many of the rebels had a religious motive for opposing the government and played dominant roles within the rebel army; previously a number of them had fought against the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq.4 The new Libyan regime promptly announced that Islamic sharia law would be the "basic source" of legislation, and laws that contradict "the teachings of Islam" would be nullified; there would also be a reinstitution of polygamy; the Muslim holy book, the Quran, allows men up to four wives.5

Thus, just as in Afghanistan in the 1980-90s, the United States has supported Islamic militants fighting against a secular government. The American government has imprisoned many people as "terrorists" in the United States for a lot less.

What began in Libya as "normal" civil war violence from both sides — repeated before and since by the governments of Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria without any Western military intervention at all (the US actually continues to arm the Bahrain and Yemen regimes) — was transformed by the Western propaganda machine into a serious Gaddafi genocide of innocent Libyans. Addressing the validity of this very key issue is another video, "Humanitarian War in Libya: There is no evidence". The main feature of the film is an interview with Soliman Bouchuiguir, Secretary-General, and one of the founders in 1989, of the Libyan League for Human Rights, perhaps the leading Libyan dissident group, in exile in Switzerland.

Bouchuiguir is asked several times if he can document various charges made against the Libyan leader. Where is the proof of the many rapes? The many other alleged atrocities? The more than 6,000 civilians alleged killed by Gaddafi's planes? Again and again Bouchuiguir cites the National Transitional Council as the source. Yes, that's the rebels who carried out the civil war in conjunction with the NATO/US forces. At other times Bouchuiguir speaks of "eyewitnesses": "little girls, boys who were there, whose families we know personally". After awhile, he declares that "there is no way" to document these things. This is probably true to some extent, but why, then, the UN Security Council resolution for a military intervention in Libya? Why almost eight months of bombing?

Bouchuiguir also mentions his organization's working with the National Endowment for Democracy in their effort against Gaddafi, and one has to wonder if the man has any idea that the NED was founded to be a front for the CIA. Literally.

Another source of charges against Gaddafi and his sons has been the International Criminal Court. The Court's Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is shown in this film at a news conference discussing the same question of proof of the charges. He refers to an ICC document of 77 pages which he says contains the evidence. The film displays the document's Table of Contents, which shows that pages 17-71 are not available to the public; these pages, apparently the ones containing the testimony and evidence, are marked as "redacted". In an appendix, the ICC report lists its news sources; these include Fox News, CNN, the CIA, Soliman Bouchuiguir, and the Libyan League for Human Rights. Earlier, the film had presented Bouchuiguir citing the ICC as one of his sources. The documentation is thus a closed circle.

Historical footnote: "Aerial bombing of civilians was pioneered by the Italians in Libya in 1911, perfected by the British in Iraq in 1920 and used by the French in 1925 to level whole quarters of Syrian cities. Home demolitions, collective punishment, summary execution, detention without trial, routine torture — these were the weapons of Europe's takeover" in the Mideast.6

The worldwide eternal belief that American foreign policy has a good side that can be appealed to

On April 6, 2011 Moammar Gaddafi wrote a letter to President Obama, in which he said: "We have been hurt more morally than physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you. Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened. ... Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu Oubama, your intervention in the name of the U.S.A. is a must, so that Nato would withdraw finally from the Libyan affair."7

Before the American invasion in March 2003, Iraq tried to negotiate a peace deal with the United States. Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction and offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search; they also offered full support for any US plan in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. If this is about oil, they added, they would also talk about US oil concessions.8 ... Then came shock and awe!

In 2002, before the coup in Venezuela that briefly ousted Hugo Chávez, some of the plotters went to Washington to get a green light from the Bush administration. Chávez learned of this visit and was so distressed by it that he sent officials from his government to plead his own case in Washington. The success of this endeavor can be judged by the fact that the coup took place shortly thereafter.9

In 1994, it was reported that the leader of the Zapatista rebels in Mexico, Subcommander Marcos, said that "he expects the United States to support the Zapatistas once US intelligence agencies are convinced the movement is not influenced by Cubans or Russians." "Finally," Marcos said, "they are going to conclude that this is a Mexican problem, with just and true causes."10 Yet for many years, the United States provided the Mexican military with all the training and tools needed to crush the Zapatistas.

The Guatemalan foreign minister in 1954, Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana in 1961, and Maurice Bishop of Grenada in 1983 all made their appeals to Washington to be left in peace.11 The governments of all three countries were overthrown by the United States.

In 1945 and 1946, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, a genuine admirer of America and the Declaration of Independence, wrote at least eight letters to President Harry Truman and the State Department asking for America's help in winning Vietnamese independence from the French. He wrote that world peace was being endangered by French efforts to reconquer Indochina and he requested that "the four powers" (US, USSR, China, and Great Britain) intervene in order to mediate a fair settlement and bring the Indochinese issue before the United Nations.12 Ho Chi Minh received no reply. He was, after all, some sort of communist.

America's presstitutes

Imagine that the vicious police attack of October 25 on the Occupy Oakland encampment had taken place in Iran or Cuba or Venezuela or in any other ODE (Officially Designated Enemy) ... Page One Righteous Indignation with Shocking Photos. But here's the Washington Post the next day: A three-inch story on page three with a headline: "Protesters wearing out their welcome nationwide"; no mention of the Iraqi veteran left unconscious from a police projectile making contact with his head; as to photos: just one — an Oakland police officer petting a cat that was left behind by the protesters.

And here's TV comedian Jay Leno the same night as the police attack in Oakland: "They say Moammar Gaddafi may have been one of the richest men in the world ... 200 billion dollars. With all of the billions he had, he spent very little on education or health care for his country. So I guess he was a Republican."13
The object of Leno's humor was of course the Republicans, but it served the cause of further demonizing Gaddafi and thus adding to the "justification" of America's murderous attack on Libya. If I had been one of Leno's guests sitting there, I would have turned to the audience and said: "Listen people, under Gaddafi health care and education were completely free. Wouldn't you like to have that here?"

I think that enough people in the audience would have applauded or shouted to force Leno to back off a bit from his indoctrinated, mindless remark.

And just for the record, the 200 billion dollars is not money found in Gaddafi's personal bank accounts anywhere in the world, but money belonging to the Libyan state. But why quibble? There's no business like show business.

The Iraqi Lullabye

On February 17, 2003, a month before the US bombing of Iraq began, I posted to the Internet an essay entitled "What Do the Imperial Mafia Really Want?" concerning the expected war. Included in this were the words of Michael Ledeen, former Reagan official, then at the American Enterprise Institute, which was one of the leading drum-beaters for attacking Iraq:
If we just let our own vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to be clever and piece together clever diplomatic solutions to this thing, but just wage a total war against these tyrants, I think we will do very well, and our children will sing great songs about us years from now.
After a year of the tragic farce that was the American intervention in Iraq I could not resist. I sent Mr. Ledeen an email reminding him of his words and saying simply: "I'd like to ask you what songs your children are singing these days."
I received no reply.

Has there ever been an empire that didn't tell itself and the world that it was unlike all other empires, that its mission was not to plunder and control but to enlighten and liberate?

The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo — 20 years in a row

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an "international pariah". We don't hear that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba". This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

How it began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: "The majority of Cubans support Castro ... The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. ... every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba." Mallory proposed "a line of action which ... makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government."14 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its eternally-declared enemy.


  1. Viagra: Reuters, April 29, 2011
  2. See, for example, "Million Man, Woman and Child March in Tripoli, Libya", June 20, 2011
  3. The Guardian (London), September 3, 2011
  4. Washington Post, September 15, 2011, "Islamists rise to fore in new Libya"
  5. USA Today, October 24, 2011
  6. Rashid Khalidi, professor of Arab studies, Columbia University, Washington Post, November 11, 2007
  7. Associated Press, April 6, 2011, some obvious errors in the original have been corrected
  8. New York Times, November 6, 2003
  9. New York Times, April 16, 2002
  10. Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1994, p.7
  11. Guatemala: Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (1982), p.183; Jagan: Arthur Schlesinger, A Thousand Days (1965), p.774-9; Bishop: Associated Press, May 29, 1983, "Leftist Government Officials Visit United States"
  12. The Pentagon Papers (NY Times edition, 1971), pp.4, 5, 8, 26; William Blum, Killing Hope, p.123)
  13. Washington Post, October 26, 2011
  14. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885

William Blum is the author of:
  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at
Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.
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