August 26, 2009

Qaddafi Can Celebrate His Filthy Regime Without Us

The British government has been roundly criticized for freeing Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan national convicted of murdering 270 people when he blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The Libyan government, meanwhile, has been roundly criticized by even the British for hailing him as a hero when he returned to his homeland. Britain has no leg to stand on, however—not because the government released a convicted terrorist out of “mercy” last week but because it is still considering its plan to dispatch the Duke of York to Libya next week for Moammar Qaddafi’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of his seizure of power.

Qaddafi was Megrahi’s boss when that plane exploded over Lockerbie. The only reason he isn’t in jail is that it’s as hard to arrest him as it is to arrest Sudan’s genocidal Omar Bashir, even after an international warrant has been issued against him. (Bashir, by the way, will be attending Qaddafi’s party without fear of capture.)

Britain is “reconsidering” its decision to send a member of its royal family to toast a Stalinist and a terrorist. That’s something. But as Gene put it at the British blog Harry’s Place, “What’s disturbing is not that the plans are being reconsidered, but rather that there were plans in the first place.”

The Duke of York’s scheduled appearance at Qaddafi’s gala is unseemly, but that’s “diplomacy” for you. Plenty of diplomats from democratic countries attend events hosted by dictators.

Qaddafi’s one-man rule, however, is almost uniquely grotesque. He closely studied Nicolae Ceauşescu’s vicious regime in Romania and imposed the same system on Libyans after he overthrew King Idris in 1969. His government is so repressive that the Islamic Republic of Iran looks libertarian by comparison. Unlike in Iran and even in Burma, there are no protests against government power in Libya ever. State control over the people is absolute.

Freedom House gives Libya scores of 7 in political rights and civil liberties—the lowest possible scores in each category, with a score of 1 being the highest. Iran, by contrast, scores 6 in each category. Saudi Arabia is slightly less free than Iran, as is Syria, but both are freer than Libya. Only seven countries in the entire world are as miserably oppressive according to Freedom House: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Somalia, Equatorial Guinea, Burma, Sudan, and North Korea.

I’m one of the very few Americans who has visited Libya since Qaddafi seized power. (Setting foot there was illegal until recently.) And I can attest that it is, indeed, one of the most thoroughly totalitarian countries on the face of the earth.

The place stinks of oppression. You can’t escape the state without leaving the country or going off-road and into the desert. Informers and secret police are omnipresent and all but omniscient. Hotel rooms are bugged. No one can travel from one city to another without a thick stack of permits and papers. I saw propaganda posters and billboards literally everywhere, even alongside roads in the wilderness where nobody lived. State propaganda is even carved into the sides of the mountains. Pictures of Qaddafi hang inside every building, and an entire floor of the museum in the capital is dedicated to glorifying him personally. Libya even looks like a communist country, with its Stalinist tower blocks outside Tripoli’s old city center and its socialist-realist paintings depicting happy proletarians in their Workers’ Paradise.

No one I met would talk about politics if there was the slightest chance anyone might overhear us. Those who did open up when we were safely in private were unanimous in their hatred, fear, and loathing of the regime. And they made sure to tell me that their entire families would be thrown in prison if I repeated what they said to anyone.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 26, 2009 10:10 AM
Comments

Testing. (A reader emailed and told me the comments were broken, but the problem seems to be fixed now.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 26, 2009 2:54 PM

Wondered about the dearth of comments.

Good post Mr. T., thanks.

Posted by: Ron Snyder Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 4:14 AM

"The British government has been roundly criticized for freeing Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi..."

Surprising, considering it had nothing to do with Westminster or Number 10 and was purely a decision by the devolved Scottish Government.

Posted by: Andrew Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 6:24 AM

Somewhat off-topic, but I don't trust Freedom House's ratings worth a darn anymore. Their mechanism is non-transparent and I've learned a little bit about their unfortunate history and origins. They need some competition and they need it bad. I know there are a few other academic methdologies out there that ty to compete, but they do much worse in non-specialist awareness, possibly because of the smaller budget and unflashy website.

As an example - Somalia?? They don't have any functioning laws at all; no one person or coherent organization has more than 10 miles of jurisdiction, so how exactly are they "unfree"? Chaotic, yes. War-torn, violent, and at risk of death at anytime, yes, but that's either random or factional. If you assume that "high crime and sectarian violence" = unfree, not only are you conflating physical safety and political repression when they should be kept as distinct problems, but how and why are the DRC and, for that matter Iraq not rated as 7's? So if it's based on violence alone, that seems to be a criteria with highly manipulated revelance, and if not, they're crazy.

Meanwhile, Ethopia gets a 5?? While Russia gets a 6?? They kill - 'they' meaning an untouchable central government with a coherent plan and set of interests - WAY more journalists in Ethiopia than they do in Russia.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 7:52 AM

I note that Iraq and the DRC also have very terrible freedom house ratings, which mitigates the inconsistency charge. However, it's still the wrong idea to give a country a 7 simply because journalists are being killed - it has to matter why they're being killed. Journalists are killed for money by common criminals in the US, but we don't have a 7 rating. Political unfreedom relates to killings of journalists only when those killing are structured so as to disincentivise the publishing of information critical of power. The fact that a lot of journalists die in Somalia doesn't demonstrate information control unless, first, journalists are dying at a higher rate than other random people, and second, that journalists who have some particular point of view are being killed more frequently than those who have some other point of view.

Also, I should note that Freedom House provides some info on its criteria, but not enough to be considered 'transparent'.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 9:21 AM

A perfect entrepreneurial opportunity for you, glasnost! Become the go-to guy on political freedom!

Posted by: Gene Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 12:59 PM

....Re: British Politics...people of a certain age might remember the appropriate phrase here..."Perfidious Albion". The British Government (Downing Street) seems to be distancing itself from the legal side of the Scottish Government, playing word games, all the while planning to send down a British Duke (an Englishman?) to celebrate a dangerous anniversary. Real tactful.
From what I've read on this internet, the scent of an oil supply-hedging deal is greasily in the air and has been for awhile. Apologies for not remembering where I read this, but it's out there for a little clicking around. Lubricant for thoughts.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 4:18 PM

The brits lost me on this one. I've been a critic of the UK for quite some time, but what I'm feeling now is substantially worse than "critical". And while Libya has done much to merit criticism in recent years, I don't really see how Libya is at fault for a decision the British have been clearly moving towards for years. The brits sold us out. Not Q-man's fault.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 5:50 PM

"Somewhat off-topic"

Horseshit. It's exactly on-topic, glasnost implicitly whitewashing Kadaffy. As soon as I saw that first sentence I knew it was glasnost, before I saw the "Posted by" line.

" I don't trust Freedom House's ratings worth a darn anymore"

Yeah, let's get HRW on the case, where Israel = Darfur.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at August 27, 2009 10:35 PM

Please permit here, for the moment, a small, only possibly "off-topic" insertion: Gary Rosen immediately above has mentioned that reliable antenna-erector, Human Rights Watch, and to that group I'd add the American Civil Liberties Union, who reliably broaden any critical opportunity.
OK now, it won't be too long before this becomes on-topic.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at August 28, 2009 7:34 AM

Qaddafi was planning to address the United Nations next month, and to stay at a Libyan owned estate in Englewood New Jersey. We in New Jersey, attitude capital of the world, had no intention of tolerating this terrorist, and we were planning to protest.

According to a recent NY Times report, the Jersey visit was canceled thanks to the efforts of NJ Representative Steven R. Rothman. Qaddafi will be confined to Manhattan.

I'm not sure where Qaddafi will be pitching his infamous tent in Manahattan, but I do know that the subways and parks are full of bedbugs and rats during the summer. Hopefully, Qaddafi will bring many new, little friends back to Libya

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at August 29, 2009 8:05 PM

I don't do things implicitly. Gary. If I thought that there was anything wrong with Libya's 7's, I'd have said so. As usual, you're emotionally invested in a cariacture of me, driven by urges and habits - a need to destroy, I would call it, even if it requires you to make up very unlikely things.

Why, Gary, would I harbor a belief that Libya is an awesome place? Because that's what you seem to think that I think. I suppose it's possible that I could be really worked up about some other dictatorship to whom we have a closer relationship, or one that happens to kill people we've made into a popular enemy and is thus defended by conservatives, or whatever. And let's say I was worked up about those other dictatorships and looked at the stats and decided that Libya should really only be a pair of 6's because those other countries got 6's and we should be consistent about these things.

That's the most I can imagine coming to the defense of Libya. Except, I suppose, pointing out that leaders often exhibit more irrationality and brutality after people have repeatedly tried to bump them off - just like soldiers, cops, insurgents or anyone else who gets shot at a lot.

I know you hate my guts, Gary, because I don't share your unquestioning narrative of saint and sinner, or your pass your purity test of Two Minutes' Hate, or whatever, but are you so far out there that you really believe that I, or anyone, thinks that Libya is a good place, run fairly by decent people who just deserve a break from our hegemony? Seriously, give me a freaking break.

If I found some legit evidence that Libya wasn't a 7, I'd get right in Mike's face and present it. Until then, Freedom House's rating system seems haphazard and out of sync with good comparisons in many cases, but in the case of Libya they're right on the mark.

I saw an actually good map of political freedom once that made actual distinctions between Western States once- 98% of the land mass of the globe was either totally f*cked (about half, including most everything in Africa and Asia between Austria and China), and everything else was from seriously flawed to almost completely f*cked. If I find it, I'll post it.

Until then, I have a suggestion for you. Why don't you occasionally share your own feelings on topics related to Mike's actual blog post? Have you noticed that all you do on here is harass people you feel to be expressing evil ideas? You're the unappointed, unacknowledged, resented, unhelpful World Policeman of Mike's blog. Why don't you try being a participant instead of a meta sniper? I'm sure I'll disagree with you, but I'll try to stick to evidence and logic that your opinions and assessments are crazy, and not accuse you of wanting to commit genocide and so forth.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 30, 2009 9:39 AM

The brits lost me on this one. I've been a critic of the UK for quite some time, but what I'm feeling now is substantially worse than "critical". And while Libya has done much to merit criticism in recent years, I don't really see how Libya is at fault for a decision the British have been clearly moving towards for years. The brits sold us out. Not Q-man's fault.

To devil-advocate from the right, people are pissing on Qaddafi not for the Brits releasing him (they agree with you and are pissing on the brits for doing that),
but for giving him a big old hero's welcome when they came home and celebrating his blowing up of the plane, etc. If he's slunk into the capitol unrecognized, there would be less backlash.

My question is, who cares? We all know that throwing subordinates in prison is a very poor way of leading the leader to believe that his plans are a bad idea, because the kind of people who blow up planes are often willing to let subordinates suffer incarceration or death, if neccessary by the truckload. meanwhile, the conventional logic of prison - fear of the punishment leading to obedience to the law - has very little fear for government agents, who are introduced through training that they might have to rot in a cell for their actions to obey their country and are self-selected for being willing to live with that.

So releasing the guy or even celebrating him doesn't matter for future predictions. Either he's learned his lesson by now or he hasn't, and either way it doesn't matter if he has or not, because the Libyan police state, now that we're all buddy-buddy with them, will bury him in a shallow grave if he jeopardizes oil contracts with plans to blow up passenger planes. What matters, from a safety perspective, is whether Qaddafi has decided to play ball and save the knuckles and violent death for Arabs and Aficans in exchange for our bribery, which he shows every sign of having come to genuinely believe represents the better deal for himself and his clan of thugs.

What are we left with? Are we mad because justice demands that we relive every moment of righteous punishment with another one, out to three generations? Or are we mad because we think someone somewhere thought that Qaddafi had become a "good guy" who "really likes us" now and thinks that terrorism is really just a mean, nasty evil thing and feels bad about it? hahahaha!

Yes, yes, he's teaching his population to associate guys who blow up jets with heroism and martrydom and reward, etc, etc. I'm pretty sure he can do that with or without this guy's personal presence. He's already doing it, and we're not going to do anything about it, and i'm not sure it makes the habit, or the population, more dangerous than fifty other countries who do the same thing.

Also, out of curiosity, what's the rest of your beef with the UK?

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 30, 2009 9:56 AM

The above comment is not really a defense of the Brits releasing the bomber. I'm obviously not against that in all cases, because most of the arguments against the release of any given individual from a national security point of view, unless they're an unusually powerful individual, are pretty lame. But there aren't really any good reasons to have released him, either, so I'd have been marginally happier to see him rot until he died. The deal with Libya, for better or for worse, is already done, and there's no way Qaddafi cares enough about this guy either way for it to have been really neccessary to do this.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 30, 2009 10:00 AM

...glasnost (just above) has posted..."If he's slunk into the capitol unrecognized, there would be less backlash.
My question is, who cares?".
Well, the families of all those on board that particular Pan American jet exploding over Scotland care, and I care even if not involved immediately; but I am involved ultimately, as you are. Backlash, indeed.
The idea that this convicted and imprisoned bomber, an agent of Libyan intelligence, who placed explosives inside a suitcase into the baggage belly compartment of the Pan American aircraft while working the ramp at Frankfurt Airport (if I have my details correct) is subsequently released has understandably created backlash. His arrival in Libya on an official aircraft of the Libyan Government, elaborately choreographed welcome or not, is an obscenity.
The usual denials are coming in from all around.
You and I are involved ultimately because we are survivors, so far, in this very nasty war. So you should care. I certainly care.
Qaddafi cared very much because his man was seen then as a bargaining chip to the successful end of a very lucrative oil deal with the English. This was such an important "win-win" deal for both the English and U.K. as a whole, and the Libyans that this pawn-bomber himself has now passed his usefulness to either side. The thing about cancer is a red herring.
We'll never know the full details.
But the "..perfidious Albion.." quip rears up yet again because trade (crass trade) has always been the motive behind England's foreign policy at least since the days of the East India Company and the American Colonies.
Some things just never change.
Please care.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at August 30, 2009 4:27 PM

Qaddafi cared very much because his man was seen then as a bargaining chip to the successful end of a very lucrative oil deal with the English.

I'm sure Qaddafi cared about the oil deal. I doubt he cared about his agent.

Please care.

I care about not getting unneccessary people - Libyans, Americans others - killed. You have failed to convince me that this murderer and intelligence agent's release bears any causal relationship to any specific or general future violence. Qaddafi's a thug who we have successfully bought off. It's ugly, but Qaddafi has killed more Africans than he ever has westerners, by a factor of about 100 or 1000. I don't know whether our reconciliation will lead to a higher or lower rate of his foreign policy obstructionism and support of further sociopaths in other African countries, but I suspect lower. I think our foreign policy of sucking up to thugs, frankly, sucks. But we're pouring a trillion dollars a year into war toys, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Given the budgetary limits, sucking up to thugs looks better than hubristic and semi-random bombing and letting Africans reap the whirlwind of impotent rage and self-centered spoilerism on that is the predictable response when you fuck with people without a plan. Even thugs. So, to clarify, my choice is neither, but I'd have to think pretty hard before turning down the "bribe Qaddafi to get less people in other African countries killed for no reason" deal in exchange for the sort of "Ineffectual, Symbolic, Status Quo Fuck You So We Can Feel Good About Ourselves" that we tend to see with North Korea.

It's pretty rare that any particular trigger puller matters in determining the fate of struggles to stop bad things from happening. Libya has no problem fucking shit up without what's-his-name, and we're rather obviously unprepared, quite possibly incapable, of preventing him and/or his regime and/or successors of harming other people with sticks alone, anymore than we were able to stop the Baathist minority in Iraq from committing heinous atrocities with our sticks alone (sticks as in, 'carrots and sticks', ours). Not with sanctions. Not with bombings. Not with full-scale invasion. Not with capturing Saddamn Hussein and having his Shiite semi-equivalent hang him on videotape. The atrocities continued until we cut some deals. It was that or exterminate them, and frankly that might have also led to more atrocities from a new location, such as Syria.

I'm sorry that you feel anger or sadness because this guy's punishment is over, but I'm a pragmatist. Nobody in his right mind thinks that this act portends the arrival of an easier time for people who blow up airplanes personally or Libyans who kill Westerners in the forseeable future. I personally don't like that he was released because I doubt it was neccessary, and unneccessary concessions to dictators are poor ones. But his continued incarceration also wasn't very meaningful systemically.

But the "..perfidious Albion.." quip rears up yet again because trade (crass trade) has always been the motive behind England's foreign policy at least since the days of the East India Company and the American Colonies.

They were no different than every other leading Western European power, whose motives were basically the same, except when they were worse, such as conquest or genocide. You're also describing America's primary foreign policy for about 140 years, most of East Asia' foreign policy today, and - hell, most of the world's, again, excepting those more interesting in blowing someone up. Nations seek power. On the scale of power-seeking immorality, you can do worse than crass trade.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at August 30, 2009 9:55 PM

"I don't do things implicitly. Gary."

Bwahahaha.

"The above comment is not really a defense of the Brits releasing the bomber."

You do seem to have some talent for low comedy.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at August 31, 2009 1:56 AM

You're also describing America's primary foreign policy for about 140 years, most of East Asia' foreign policy today, and - hell, most of the world's, again, excepting those more interesting in blowing someone up. Nations seek power. On the scale of power-seeking immorality, you can do worse than crass trade.

Most nations are doing worse than relying on crass trade to gain power - they're using terrorist nations like Libya, Iran and Saudi Arabia as proxies in their various trade wars. They use terrorists to wage little wars in the same way that the nobles used piracy in the bad old days. Millions of civilians were enslaved or killed by pirates, while politicians benefited. The situation didn't change until politicians felt that their personal power was threatened.

It's the same situation now, but many of these nations are supposed to be democracies, run for the people by the people. Sure, that's not always the case, but large scale terrorist attacks are proof that, if we tolerate these political games, thousands of civilians, including our friends and relatives, will continue to be used as cannon fodder in these political games. People in a democracy shouldn't put with this.

Personally, I'm glad people are finally getting angry about this arrangement.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at August 31, 2009 6:54 AM

......"You're also describing America's primary foreign policy for about 140 years, most of East Asia' foreign policy today..."
----------
But, the essential difference here is that we Americans and those East Asians have not had time to earn the moniker, "Perfidius Americani" or "Perfidious Orientalis Asiaticae". "Perfidious Albion" goes back several centuries. So it seems almost maybe genetically inbred by this point.

During most of the 1960's I lived in colonial Hong Kong and regularly read the shipping section of the South China Morning Post and used to note the ships of legitimate British registry calling at Haiphong while American troops were dying not too many miles away in South Viet Nam. Eyebrow raising? Certainly.

During the buildup in the south of England for the Normandy invasions, we Americans were referred to as .."over fed, over paid, over sexed, and over here". That was not complimentary. After that war was over, the British flag carrier B.O.A.C. was referred to mockingly as ..."Bring Over American Cash".

Now, we find ourselves reading about the developing revelations of a murky oil business inserting itself more visibly in this Scottish-English-Libyan-terrorist-bomber-repatriation- caper.

My growing disgust and anger over this whole thing is based upon personal remembrances of my "British" experiences, plus my insistence that we must not remain naive and permit ourselves to be "used". It appears we've been had.
Whatever Esso may have done in Saudi Arabia as a result of Roosevelt's machinations, or Dole in Hawaii or Central America....can't hold a candle to this latest smelly and murky mess. There is simply no comparison.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at August 31, 2009 1:34 PM

@ Morningside

"My growing disgust and anger over this whole thing is based upon personal remembrances of my "British" experiences, plus my insistence that we must not remain naive and permit ourselves to be "used". It appears we've been had."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8230332.stm

Looks like your inferences that this "smelly and murky" event was a political one may look a bit stupid on Tuesday.

One man in the Scottish government makes a (very naive) decision based on compassionate grounds and you then wheel out these bizarre memories that you have to reinforce your "disgust and anger" at the British. I mean WW2 references, seriously? I suggest you stop looking for reasons to hate us and get off your high horse. Accept that although this was a stupid thing for the developing Scottish government to do but was not meant as an insult to America. People here are equally angry at Kenny MacAskill.

Posted by: Andrew Author Profile Page at August 31, 2009 4:12 PM

......"Looks like your inferences that this "smelly and murky" event was a political one may look a bit stupid on Tuesday."...
----------
...perhaps short run, and that's not troubling me because I think we'll never really know all the details.

"It has yet to become clear exactly which documents will be released or excluded."

...that last word is pregnant. I just pasted that from the BBC via Google mentioning Tuesday's release.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at August 31, 2009 9:19 PM

Now it's Wednesday, and as some of the dust settles, the U.K.'s David Cameron has some thoughts in today's London Times. It's too long to paste here, but can be read by looking for this:

....."From The Times
September 1, 2009
A catalogue of errors that shames the UK
After the bizarre release of al-Megrahi, the British public have been left disgracefully in the dark."

But here's one I like better because of it's more direct approach....

...."http://www.meforum.org/2456/british-government-lockerbie-bomber"....and, this accompanying headline....

".... British government's deal involving Lockerbie bomber shatters 'Special Relationship' with U.S.

by Michael Rubin
New York Daily News
September 2, 2009" .....citing the seventy year relationship.

There was a similar opinion piece yesterday in the London Times about the "Special Relationship" being finished, but I can't find it now.

So, after more years have passed and this very sad debacle has been further absorbed and more "leaks" and "disclosures" have surfaced, we'll be able to see how Kadaffi's son has handled this.

Cameron thinks there may be no "...righting this wrong".

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 8:28 AM

....This is the opinion piece from the London Times I was looking for:

......"From The Times
September 1, 2009
Special Relationship. Passed away 2009. R.I.P.,

For some time America has regarded this country as Little Britain. The Lockerbie bomber case is seen as the final straw.

Rachel Sylvester"

One of these days I'll learn how to reproduce such things with a click-able colored link. There seems a trick to making it work...any suggestions?

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 2:41 PM

"many of these nations are supposed to be democracies, run for the people by the people."

You're guilty, Mary! Guilty of thinking like an American! To many countries, including other democracies, we are competition, and the good of the country comes first, not its democratic system. Just ask the French, they've alternated between five republics and various dictatorships while we're still living in the same one. As Churchill explained, what matters to the French is obeying the lawful order of their superior, that way they don't get in trouble when the regime changes.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at September 2, 2009 7:25 PM

large scale terrorist attacks are proof that, if we tolerate these political games, thousands of civilians, including our friends and relatives, will continue to be used as cannon fodder in these political games. People in a democracy shouldn't put with this.
Personally, I'm glad people are finally getting angry about this arrangement.

There's something to be said for your problem analysis, but your 'solution' is a giant lapse into magical thinking. Aren't you a little beyond Green Lantern Theory thinking?

You seem to be deliberately missing the point that the motive behind the ugly bargain with Qaddafi in the first place is predicted, rather obviously, on an absence of anti-Western Libyan terrorism - which isn't much of a stretch, since he'd been bascially out of the game for two decades or so already.

I just want to get you on record as to the causal chain you're endorsing. So, your suggestion is, that the release of this old terrorist is going to embolden Qaddafi, or this dude's friends, or whomever, that it's safe to resume bombing American airplanes? Really?????

If that's not your point, than what the fuck exactly is your point? Even if there are essentially zero specific risks or nonsymbolic costs in this particular case, releasing terrorists in general can embolden them? Thanks for your insight.

The problem with your POV is that you haven't faced the implications of the limits of the utility of force for your worldview. Qaddafi's a thug willing to use terrorists, but because there are so many like him, knocking over their beehives en masse is not a realistic option and they know it. Moreover, we lack the tools to induce the cessation of terrorism by force alone, globally. If you don't understand that after Iraq, you're being deliberately obfuscatory. All that's left is to throw in some persuasion with that force, and that's going to include cutting deals with evil men who dealt in terrorism.

If that doesn't interest you, than I can offer you fifty bloody stalemates a la North Korea, or perhaps fifty proxy wars run by the CIA to "take care of these guys". But since irregular regime change, violent conflict, and terrorism are mutually reinforcing elements, I guarantee that either of these scenarios will leave us worse off than the bribing.

The good guys don't get everything they want. This thing with the bomber is, for better or for worse, trivia. Ugly trivia, but to sensationalize its significance is as dangerous as complacency. That atmosphere of hysteria is the kind of thing that gets us neck deep in the next wadi.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at September 3, 2009 3:30 AM

...."This thing with the bomber is, for better or for worse, trivia."
--------------
....What an astonishing sentence to read here on the still evolving Lockerbie tragedy, and on an adult blog...it's even "bizarre". The sudden explosive death of 270 unwitting civilians caused by any means at all is..."trivia"?

None of "glasnost's" future postings can have any sensible application anywhere.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at September 3, 2009 8:17 AM

"This thing with the bomber is, for better or for worse, trivia. Ugly trivia, but to sensationalize its significance is as dangerous as complacency."

EVERY time. Every single time. Every single goddamn motherfucking time when the opportunity presents itself glasnost will whitewash bloody savages and murderers.

Note also the weaseling "[u]gly trivia", to make us think this depraved scumbag actually gives, or ever gave, a flying fuck that 270 people were murdered. That is classic glasnost - a gutless weasel.

"None of "glasnost's" future postings can have any sensible application anywhere."

Well to tell the truth, Morningside, none of his past postings ever had any sensible application either. He has always been full of this kind of grotesque, sickening bullshit.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at September 5, 2009 10:31 PM

Here's a bit more on the still-developing word games becoming part of the release-story of that convicted bomber of the Pan American 747.....

"http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/6140801/Jack-Straw-admits-Lockerbie-bombers-release-was-linked-to-oil.html"

I still can't make a link in clickable color, but it probably can be pasted into Google.

Here's more...from Bloomberg News:

" Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A U.K. official said that oil and trade links with Libya were a part of the government’s decision to release the Lockerbie bomber in a prisoner transfer deal, the Daily Telegraph reported today.

U.K. Justice Secretary Jack Straw said in an interview with the paper that he was unapologetic about including Abdelbaset al Megrahi in the agreement, citing a multi-million-pound oil deal between BP and Libya, the paper said.

Straw’s admission contradicts U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said days earlier that oil deals were not a factor in the prisoner’s release, the Daily Telegraph reported."

I don't have to post these things here, they're fairly easily found by clicking around.

It seems that our Blog Host's:
"Qaddafi Can Celebrate His Filthy Regime Without Us...", was prescient.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at September 6, 2009 10:10 AM

Hey, Gary Rosen...

Here's an insert for the Labor Day Weekend while everyone's out at the beach, or shore, depending on your viewpoint...read John Bolton's book about his tenure as US Rep at the United Nations.."Surrender Is Not An Option", © 2007. ISBN 13:978-1-4165-5284-0. This book is best summarized by the cartoon showing him at the door to the UN with a sign reading:"Does not play well with strangers."

We need more John Boltons.

Loved the book, but it's not bedside reading as it will leave you shaking your head.
There will not be a quiz. This is seminar stuff.
Happy Labor Day.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at September 6, 2009 6:58 PM

I'm tired of you, Gary. I'm done sharing a thread with you. Done talking to you and done talking with other commenters where you leave your stool. I'm sure that intelligent conversation and reasoned debate in this comment section will be enhanced by the substitution of your endless character assassination of anyone left of the Kach movement for whatever I was doing here.

I'll use this as my response for a while for the next few times I'm talking to someone else and you bring your nuance around, until anyone who wants to know has figured it out.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at September 7, 2009 4:04 PM

Gary, I do need you to dial it down. I'm getting requests by email that you be banned from leaving comments here, and I'm getting those requests from more than one person. Banning people does not make me happy, nor does being asked to ban people. I have better things to do with my time than babysit the comments section, so knock it off.

I don't have any trouble having a civil conversation with Glasnost, Anand, and others you like to harrangue, and it isn't their fault that you do.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at September 7, 2009 4:09 PM

No problem, Michael. I don't believe that I have a "right" to post here (or anywhere). It is your blog - a great one it is - and I respect your right to run it as you see fit. If you choose to ban me I certainly won't hold it against you.

glasnost, would you mind citing exactly which post I have made where I endorsed the Kach position of expelling all Palestinians from Israel? Looking over my post it doesn't seem to me that I advocated that position, or even talked about Israel/Palestine at all but maybe that's just my bias. And if someone has never endorsed the racist policies of Kach, would you consider it "character assassination" to associate that person with them?

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at September 7, 2009 5:08 PM

Thanks for understanding, Gary. I dont't want to ban you, especially since you are polite to me personally. Let's just all be cool.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at September 7, 2009 5:13 PM

Moreover, we lack the tools to induce the cessation of terrorism by force alone, globally. If you don't understand that after Iraq, you're being deliberately obfuscatory. All that's left is to throw in some persuasion with that force, and that's going to include cutting deals with evil men who dealt in terrorism.

glasnost - sorry I didn't reply earlier-

Your response shows that I didn't explain the facts about government alliances with terrorists properly. All governments who ally with terrorist states have the ability to induce the cessation of terrorism. The upward and downward career trajectory of terrorists like Qaddafi and Mookie al Sadr are proof of that.

Qaddafi was formerly the most feared terrorist in the world. Al Sadr was formerly crowned the most dangerous man in Iraq. But when both men lost favor with their generous, politically powerful patrons, their careers and their armies were unceremoniously flushed away. The people who make deals with these terrorists know their daily routines, and they know where their bank accounts are located. When we decide that they're no longer useful, they tend to disappear in one way or another, in a quiet way that usually requires minimal military involvement.

Our governments don't make deals with these oil ticks because they have to, they make deals with them because they want to. Britain, the US, Russia and France ally with pompous buffoons like Qaddafi, Ahmadinejad and the Saudi royals because they know how powerless and easily manipulated they really are. They know that terrorism frightens both enemies and voters.

The Arab way of warfare usually targets civilians (and only civilians). The targeting of civilians doesn't threaten Western politicians' power - it reinforces it. Most people react to terrorist attacks with calls for increased 'security' and government action. Frightened citizens put more faith in the politicians who are (indirectly or directly) supporting the terrorists.

The British government gives thousands of pounds to Hamas. We're planning to help the Saudis build a nuclear reactor. These deals aren't helping us fight terrorism, they're cementing alliances that will profit politicians and will cause more unrest and civilian deaths.

The only way ordinary voters can stop this cycle of violence is to get angry about our governments' alliances with our enemies, and to threaten the political power of any official who takes money or favors from terrorist states.

Right now, that would require us to be angry with the majority of our leaders on the left and the right. Which isn't such a bad idea.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at September 9, 2009 6:34 AM

"Britain, the US, Russia and France ally with pompous buffoons like Qaddafi, Ahmadinejad and the Saudi royals because they know how powerless and easily manipulated they really are."

I think you've got a mix-up in that statement I've pasted here....

...(unless I've misunderstood just who you mean by.."they")...and you seem to be lumping the U.S. with some who are allying with Qaddafi and Ahmadinejad. I'd be hard pressed to cite just where we Americans were in allegiance with Ahmadinejad....absent Columbia Univ. which had him as an eyebrow-raising speaker...nor do I think that Qaddafi was easily manipulated. He was simply made to see the reality of his folly of pursuing nuclear research. So far Ahmadinejad has not yet come around, at least in the mainstream media, but I bet genuine containment instigated by us Americans, a genuine possibility, would get his attention.
And, aren't those Saudi Royals very, very afraid of a Persian Bomb? And Persian dominance of the Arabian region? So they want their very own deterrent. It might just help American security to have the Saudi's on our side on that matter, after all, without our money buying their oil, the Saudi's would be still riding camels. Frankly, that's where they belong, but that's off-topic here.

I think you've jumped to conclusions, and lumped apples and oranges.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at September 9, 2009 7:37 PM

It might just help American security to have the Saudi's on our side on that matter, after all..

No it would not, and that attitude, more than anything written in the Koran, is responsible for the current strength of Islamist/terrorist armies worldwide.

95% of all wealthy Saudis supported bin Laden immediately after 9/11. With the cooperation of the Saudi king, the Saudi government supplied al Qaeda in Iraq with the majority of suicide bombers. Approx. 55% of AQ in Iraq was Saudi. Saudi money finances most Islamist terrorism worldwide.

The idea that the Saudi government could ever be 'on our side' is so mind bogglingly stupid, I'm always shocked to see it in print, yet I see it every day. Like the idea that one can lose weight without eating less or exercising, the idea that the 'quants' and the financial experts could guarantee profits for all in an infinitely expanding real estate market, or Scientology, I guess we all have to accept that threads of rampant, self-destructive idiocy will always run through any culture.

In any case, the Iranians are sort of allied with the Russians. The Russians use this sort of alliance to frighten us and our Saudi 'friends'. The Russians have also bought up a large part of Britain, and so the British are defacto allied with Iran too.

The British are entirely owned by the Saudis and the UAE, the Russians try to stay on their good side and we're their toadies too.

Most of the Sunni terrorist groups worldwide are financed and populated by Saudis, but the Libyans also provide training. According to most reports, the US turns a blind eye to Libyan involvement in terrorist training as long as it's not in the Middle East. For example, Libyans trained the Islamist 'separatists' in Thailand, and Thailand's problem with terrorism is second only to Iraq and India's.

None of these groups have 'come around', we're just shifting our alliances, financing one terrorist state to 'fight' another one, and giving them lots of money and legitimacy, which allows terrorism to thrive. The only people who suffer as a result of this are the thousands of civilians who will get caught in the crossfire.

If you're happy to be cannon fodder so that politicians can be immeasurably wealthy and happy at your expense, then you should continue to support our alliances with terrorism.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at September 10, 2009 7:22 AM

Whew!

My apologies to Michael Totten for provoking such a blather from you.

Take a pill, but don't call tomorrow.

Posted by: Morningside Author Profile Page at September 10, 2009 8:32 AM

Take a pill, but don't call tomorrow.

Morningside - it's always nice when people can back up their point of view with such an impressive array of facts and figures.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at September 10, 2009 8:44 AM
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