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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

@DemocracyNow on the Libyan Model: Who killed Gaddafi?

Much of the Left has a great deal of unity with alt-right warmongers in their understanding of recent Libyan history. As you know, Donald Trump and other prominent members of his administration have been threatening North Korea with something they call the “Libyan model.” This is a view of Libyan history that leaves the Libyans out of it. It ignores their suffering under the 42 years of Gaddafi's dictatorship, including the hundred of thousands of Libyans, and other Africans, he murdered. It ignores their equally long fight against his brutal regime, and it especially ignores the heroic struggle by the Libyan thuwar [freedom fighters] that began in January 2011, and after the cost of thousands of Libyan lives by October 2011, finally put that regime out of their misery.

After a bit of hesitation, and a UN authorization that even Russia voted for, not to mention the need of certain French refineries for Libya's irreplaceable light-sweet crude on the heels of a European economic crisis, NATO intervened in the civil war. This “Libyan model” uses the fact that NATO protected the civilian population with a no-fly zone, and gave the revolution air support, to take the Libyan people out of the picture. This “Libyan model” is based on the idea that it was the omnipotent US imperialists that took out Muammar Gaddafi. The story is that they treacherously did this even though he had yielded to their demands, and he gave up his nuclear weapons eight years earlier.

While Trump and company use this “Libyan model” as a threat of what might happen to Kim Jong-un, 3rd Supreme Leader of North Korea, if he doesn't play ball (or even if he does!), the white-Left condemns this use of the “Libyan model,” but they don't dispute its core assumption, which is that the US imperialist made a decision to conduct a “regime change” operation in Libya, and then they just made it happen. The whole history of the uprising; its connection to the Arab Spring; the unarmed protesters that braved Gaddafi regime bullets; the patriotic soldiers that defected to the revolution rather than fire on their own people; Gaddafi's merciless siege Misrata; are all washed away in this unified American version of what went down in Libya in 2011.

“Anti-imperialist” support for this vision of US imperialist omnipotence, as embodied in Trump's definition of the “Libyan model,” was on full display on Democracy Now, Friday, 25 May 2018. Amy Goodman first touched upon it in the headlines:
AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s withdrawal came after North Korea blasted recent comments by Vice President Mike Pence, who suggested Kim Jong-un will end up like slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if he doesn’t denuclearize North Korea.
She went into greater detail later in the show with investigative journalist Tim Shorrock:
AMY GOODMAN: NBC reports Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has privately blamed National Security Adviser John Bolton for torpedoing the talks. North Korea first threatened to pull out of the talks after Bolton said the U.S. should use the Libyan model for denuclearization. In 2003, Libya negotiated sanctions relief from the United States in exchange for renouncing its nuclear program and welcoming international inspectors to verify the dismantlement. Eight years later, the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump have also talked about the Libyan model in recent weeks.
That's the white supremacist short story on the revolutionary struggle to end a 42-year fascist dictatorship, and the 30,000 Libyan lives that were lost in that struggle. U.S. and other nations attacked Libya and killed Gaddafi. End of story. Finis. She continues:
AMY GOODMAN: Last week—last week, President Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could suffer the same fate as former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, if he refuses to give up his nuclear weapons:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now, that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.
It should be noted that Amy Goodman cut short the Trump quote before he made it clear that he was offering US imperial protection to yet another dictator [i.e. “leader” in DN parlance.] as long as he plays ball. The Guardian continued its coverage to include this clarification from Trump:
“This with Kim Jong-un would be something where he would be there. He would be running his country. His country would be very rich.”
“We’re willing to do a lot, and he’s willing … to do a lot also, and I think we’ll actually have a good relationship, assuming we have the meeting and assuming something comes of it. And he’ll get protections that will be very strong.”
Democracy Now would just as soon as not have to question this side of the deal. Trump is interested in control, not democracy, so he is willing to offer the Kim dynasty “protections” provided they “have a good relationship.” Gone is even the suggestion that the dictator step down and allow for free elections. No threat of “regime change” here, so long as he plays ball. DN should be pleased; they like some dictators    like Kim and Gaddafi. One thing they have in common with Trump, Putin, and Kim, is that they can't afford to actually admit that it was the Libyan people that took Gaddafi out, and it is the Korean people that pose the greatest threat to the Kim dynasty, the Russian people to Putin, and so on. Instead, she side-steps that issue and continues her objections to the use of the Libyan model as a threat. Then she introduces Tim Shorrock. Amy Goodman likes to bring subject matter experts onto the show:
AMY GOODMAN: So, Tim Shorrock, the issue of Mike Pence, the vice president, reiterating what John Bolton said about the Libyan model—again, if people remember, after the denuclearization deal, U.S. allies attacked Libya, and Muammar Gaddafi was not only overthrown, he was murdered in the streets of Libya by U.S.-backed rebels.
She wouldn't say “JFK was murdered in the streets of America.” What's up with this language?

On the screen she shows images of the slain Brother Leader. Of all the 30,000 Libyans, on both sides, that died in the civil war, the one most mourned by the white-Left, one might say, the only one mourned by them, is Muammar Gaddafi. Tim Shorrock joins in:
TIM SHORROCK: And, you know, clearly, Bolton understands, when he talks about the Libya solution, there’s two parts to it. You know, Libya gave up its nuclear weapons without making—you know, gave up its nuclear weapons before receiving any kind of economic aid or support. So that was one part of it. And then, of course, after he did give them up, his regime was overthrown by the U.S. and NATO.
Now their Libya myth has been stretched to the point where they are claiming Muammar Gaddafi even gave up nuclear weapons into the bargain. They've been spreading his propaganda for years. To hear them tell it, under Gaddafi, Libya had the best of everything! The best schools, a tremendous healthcare system, free housing and income for all, a great man-made river, even marvelous nuclear weapons! It was all a lie. As I reported just days ago, Gaddafi's “nuclear program” consisted of some unprocessed and unenriched uranium, a handful of centrifuges that they couldn't get to work, and purchased bomb plans they couldn't understand. The only enriching it ever did was accomplished by putting more Libyan oil money into the pockets of Gaddafi-connected contractors. It probably also added to the mercenary violence in Africa, as he sought to illegally import thousands of tons of uranium ore concentrate from neighboring Niger. Now, through the magic of time and corruption, this nothing has miraculously morphed into nuclear weapons! Who knew it could be so easy?

Given the terminal confusion this concept of the “Libyan model” embodies about who is responsible for the death of Libyan “Brother Leader” Muammar Gaddafi, I thought it might be useful to review some known facts surrounding his death. I like having those stubborn things on my side. Facts are a real problem for proponents of the “Libyan model” like John Bolton and Amy Goodman. But before we get to that, since the thesis of Bolton and Goodman is that it was just a US led regime change operation, it would be useful to review some lesser known facts about the Libyan revolt before NATO came in.

The Libyan Revolution before NATO

Neither the US imperialists or “Anti-imperialist” want to remember that there was a time when NATO supported Gaddafi, before it opposed him. That gets in the way of everybody's narrative that what happened to Gaddafi was the result of a US driven “regime change” plot. Allow me to refresh their memories. From my piece NATO's Game Plan in Libya,” 3 July 2011:
NATO countries had little more than words to show for their humanitarian concerns” after Qaddafi killed 700 protesters in Tripoli on February 21, some of them bombed with jet aircraft, and maybe 2000 in Benghazi days before. When President Obama spoke of this on February 23, he condemned the Libyan government, saying “suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable,” but he did not call for Qaddafi to step down nor did he announce any new sanctions the US would support to punish the leader that he said “violate international norms and every standard of common decency.”
Qaddafi started using military violence against protest rallies as early as Feb. 20, yet UN/NATO did not act militarily until March 19. They were willing to give Qaddafi almost a month to put down the rebellion with tanks, artillery and aircraft.

As Qaddafi's violent repression was taking thousands of lives in Libya, NATO was taking a wait and see attitude. On February 25, the NATO Secretary General made an official statement“I do not consider the situation in Libya a direct threat to NATO or NATO Allies ...I would like to stress that NATO as such has no plans to intervene. The next day he elaborated NATO's plan to deal with the Libyan crisis, priority must be given to evacuation and possibly, also, humanitarian assistance.”
Here is a little more detail on how those 700 protesters died. It has a new relevance today, now that we are all more aware of the nefarious side of social media: while both Putin and Trump have put it to evil intent, Gaddafi topped them both years ago. On 21 February 2011, a date that will forever be remembered as Tripoli's “Long Night,” Gaddafi first used tweets to convince people that he had fled to Venezuela; then he used fake-activist accounts to call for a “celebration rally” in Green Square. The real activists in Tripoli, like the Free Generation Movement, tried to get the word out that it was a trap. Still, hundreds showed up. Then Gaddafi brought out the machine guns and worst, and slaughtered them. He killed 700 that night, mostly young people.

In this 29 June 2011, Al Jazeera video we hear from an eyewitness to this massacre. He also tells us of some measures NATO took to minimize civilian casualties. After the first few air strikes, the people of Tripoli saw how precise they were, and learned to stop worrying and love the bombing. They knew only Gaddafi's compounds were being targeted, so all over Tripoli, people could be heard cheering from the rooftops as NATO hit those targets.

An orderly in the hospital that night was interviewed by the BBC’s Pascale Harter in Tunisia, 17 June 2011, about what happened:
Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.

Between 600 and 700 people were killed. I know this because I carried the bodies into my hospital.

Each ambulance brought three or four dead people. And the ambulances just kept coming and going, like delivery vans dropping off goods.
I think Col Gaddafi’s forces were using anti-aircraft guns on people.

The people had gunshot wounds to their heads or chests. The bullets had exploded and some of the people had their heads blown open. I tried to pick up the pieces.
This history is conveniently forgotten by believers in the “Libyan model” on both sides because that white chauvinist position holds that it was the autonomous decision of the US imperialists to take Gaddafi out even though he gave up his imaginary nuclear weapons eight years earlier.

While NATO air support stopped Gaddafi from using his air force and heavy armor against both the people and their freedom fighters, mostly; it didn't stop him from using his artillery or superior firepower on the ground. The National Transitional Council [NTC] very wisely forbid NATO ground troops, something NATO always strove for, but never achieved; the fighting on the ground was done by Libyans. Some thuwar had come over from the army and had some military training, most were citizen-soldiers, activists that formed themselves into brigades and found weapons, after Gaddafi made it clear a peaceful transition was off the table. Unlike Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, there were never US boots on the ground in Libya. So while the NATO air cover prevented Gaddafi from doing to Libya what Assad has been allowed to do to Syria, it was still a hard slogging eight months of fighting by the revolutionary brigades before Gaddafi was finally run to ground in his last stronghold of Sirte.

The Death of Muammar Gaddafi

A National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter points a gun at Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi in Sirte in this still image taken from video shot on October 20, 2011 and released on October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Reuters TV/Files
Muammar Gaddafi, was captured and killed on 20 October 2011. He was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by NTC forces. He was dead shortly afterwards. This is how it happened.

Gaddafi and his mob had been hunkered down in a makeshift bunker for ten days as the seige of Sirte closed in on them. On that day, they made a desperate break for it in a 100 vehicle convoy that included Gaddafi and his closest cohorts in five cars at its heart. As the convoy left Sirte, it split up, but a large contingent stayed with Gaddafi.

In a Trump-like move, Gaddafi ignored the advice of his security people, and used his satellite phone. He did this knowing that when they had earlier fled from Tripoli to Sirte, his son, Mo’tassim, had traveled separately because he was still using his satellite phone to command what was left of their collapsing military effort. He suspected it could be tracked, and didn't want to endanger his father.

Once Gaddafi's voice was recognized by a NATO electronic warfare aircraft, most likely a French C160 Gabriel, it was “Game On!” The focus shifted to that contingent, and a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s aerial surveillance jets started tracking him. NATO command notified the NTC, which already had forces on the ground looking for Gaddafi, and hit the convoy with either $800,000 AASM smart munitions or 500lb Paveway smart bombs from a French Rafales jet, and Hellfire missiles from a US drone piloted from Las Vegas.

NATO used smart ordinances overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, in Libya. This kept civilian loses, and infrastructure damage lower than your average war. This limitation was used by the “anti-imperialists” for a propaganda advantage. There were times went NATO would announce a pause in airstrikes, citing a shortage of smart munitions as the reason. Without ever mentioning the smart bomb limitation, the “anti-imperialists” would say that showed NATO was dropping so many bombs on Libya that they were running out of bombs!

It's very likely that even with that limitation, this excuse for these pauses was a lie. Close observers noticed how they always seemed to coincide with NATO attempts to wrangle concessions from the NTC on one question or another. The “anti-imperialist” protests actually supported NATO's public relations efforts to look like they were trying as hard as they could, when they were actually holding back.

Anyway, remember those airstrikes on Gaddafi's column? Those airstrikes left 15 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns burnt out, smashed and smouldering next to an electricity substation 20 yards from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte. See below:

The picture above is from the Daily Mail on the day after Gaddafi was killed. It clearly shows how Gaddafi's escape convoy was devastated by NATO air strikes. It is easy to see the violence of NATO's assault on Libya in this picture, but it also shows something else, it shows the extremely unusual delicacy and precision with which NATO carried out its war against Gaddafi, not Libya. While that is also clearly shown in this picture, it is easy to miss, if it's not pointed out.

Notice the high voltage towers and electrical transmission facility in the background? What's unusual about that picture? This is near the very end of the war, in fact one of NATO's last strike missions. This is also an electrical substation outside of Sirte, which the NTC, with NATO air support, has had under siege for months. Clearly that power substation would be an easy target, easier than a moving convoy, and yet there it stands, apparently unscathed. That is because in its air campaign over Libya, unlike the way the US made war in Iraq, Afghanistan and just about everywhere else, NATO took serious pains to avoid damaging the infrastructure. The NTC had other ways to turn the lights out in Sirte during the siege. As a result, while Libya had many problems after the war ended, replacing a bomb-damaged electrical grid wasn't one of them. Bashar al-Assad didn't even take such care in bombing his own cities. That is why where some see in this picture the results of a vicious NATO air attack on “Brother Leader,” I see airwar done right.

This may be because it was the European allies that carried out the overwhelming majority of the strike missions, and they used a care and precision that is foreign to the US Air Force. The US carried out less than 17% of the NATO strike sorties over Libya, less than half as many as France, and the US actual “dropped ordinances” in less than 17% of those “strike sorties.” ; no doubt Libya is better off for that. I guess they didn't like only using expensive bombs, but that doesn't stop the joint US imperialist/anti-imperialist project from complaining that the US is responsible for these bad things that happened to Libya.
After the airstrike, which destroyed the vehicle in front of Muammar Gaddafi's car, he and his son Mo’tassim, and defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, took shelter in a nearby house, which was then shelled by NTC forces.

Mo’tassim then took 20 fighters and went to look for undamaged cars, having persuaded his father to come too. “The group belly-crawled to a sand berm,” a UN report, released in March 2012 said, and then through two drainage pipes and set up a defensive position. One of Gaddafi's guards threw a grenade at advancing thuwar on the road above, but it bounced off the concrete wall above the pipes and fell in front of Gaddafi. The guard tried to pick it up, but it exploded, killing both the guard and Yunis Jabr.

Did this bounced grenade cause most of the bloody injuries we see in the pictures of the dead Gaddafi, or was it just beatings by a mob, as we are led to believe? The 2012 UN report says he was wounded by grenade fragmentation, which shredded his flak jacket, and left him on the floor, dazed and in shock, bleeding from a wound in the left temple. Gaddafi next took refuge in a large drainage pipe with several bodyguards. A nearby group of NTC fighters opened fire, wounding Gaddafi with gunshots to his leg and back. According to one unnamed NTC fighter, one of Gaddafi's bodyguards also shot him, apparently to spare him from being captured.

A senior NTC official said that no order was given to execute Gaddafi. According to another NTC source, “they captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and, then they killed him.” Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the NTC, gave an alternative account, stating that “when the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head.” The UN commission was unable to determine exactly how Gaddafi died, or whether it was an unlawful killing.

If the NATO air strikes had taken out Gaddafi directly, this joint imperialist/anti-imperialist claim that NATO killed Gaddafi would be much easier to make, but they didn't. By all accounts, he was taken out by the thuwar, if he wasn't killed by his own people. This is a real problem for this most basic claim of the “Libyan model. Nowadays this is being dealt with by not even mentioning the role of the thuwar, or when forced to recognize their role they are the “US-backed rebels.” In their thesaurus “backed” is a synonym for “controlled,” meaning the thuwar were agents of US imperialism, so their role can be zeroed out anyway.

Could the NTC have taken out Gaddafi without NATO support? There is no doubt that NATO played an indispensable role in locating and stopping Gaddafi so soon after he abandoned his human shield in Sirte and got out in the open, just as it was indispensable in bringing the whole conflict to this point so quickly. However, it's not clear how long Gaddafi could have evaded capture in any case. It's not even clear where they thought they were going. They were fleeing their last stronghold. They were like the Jefferson Davis train fleeing South at the end of the US Civil War, hoping some foreign country might take them in.

The claim that the US overthrew and killed Gaddafi is really twice chauvinist vanity. It is the Libyan revolutionaries, under the leadership of the NTC, not NATO, that deserves the main credit, or blame, if you are a Gaddafi fan, for these accomplishments. It started and ended with them. NATO just reduced the cost in lives, and accelerated the same outcome that would probably have been reached anyway; unless Gaddafi was able to obtain the type of massive foreign support, including armies, that allowed Assad to turn the tide, kill hundreds of thousands, and hang on for another round.

NATO's role was a secondary one, but no matter how you view NATO's role, it is a big mistake to give the US all the credit (or blame) for it. The US flew a lot of missions because it provided the bulk of the air reconnaissance and refueling, but when it came to strike missions, not so much. The US had “dropped ordinances only 132 times in the first 92 days of flight operations! The US was a laggard in Libya. As compared to most NATO operations, this was a European led show. That is why I say that this united white-Left/alt-Right shorthand for the Libyan revolution, “the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is doubly chauvinistic.

I mean, honestly, since it was French warplanes that hit Gaddafi first, as his tanks approached Benghazi on 19 March 2011; a French plane that hit him last, as he was fleeing Sirte on 20 October 2011; French aircraft that air-dropped arms to thuwar stuck in a tight spot, and French planes that flew 33% of the strike sorties, twice as many as US planes, shouldn't Amy Goodman be saying “France and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi,” even if she insists on leaving the Libyans out of it? No! That won't do either. The Libyan Model requires the mythology of US dominance.

There were also a few other features from the Friday Headlines on Democracy Now that relate to these matters, such as this report on Syria:
Government Seizes ISIS-Held Refugee Camp Outside Damascus

In Syria, government forces have recaptured the Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees outside Damascus, after a brutal month-long campaign drove ISIS from the area. The assault reportedly killed scores of civilians and left most of the camp in ruins. With its capture, Syria’s military now controls all the areas around Damascus for the first time in seven years.
ISIS hasn't held the camp for seven years; it hasn't been around that long, so what history are we missing? The Free Syrian Army, and its Palestinian ally Liwa al-Asifa, freed much of it from Assad regime control in 2012. ISIS didn't overrun the camp until April 2015. Here are some screenshots from the DN video report:

As you can see, they recaptured it with indiscriminate artillery and barrel-bomb attacks. Yarmouk was once of the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. The silence of the white-Left, as the Assad regime treated it worse than Israel treats Gaza, did much to reveal the capricious nature of their support for the Palestinian people.

That was the last anti-Assad stronghold in Damascus. After seven years of unrestricted air assault by the Assad regime and its allies, bomb ravaged cityscapes like this are all too common in Syria. These pictures could have just as easily come from Aleppo, East Ghouta, Homs, Idlib, or Hama. This damage represents the triumph of the policy positions championed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. There was no UN sanctioned no-fly zone in Syria, and no countries, not even France, stepped forward to offer a shield to the civilians under the bombs. Code Pink would protest the thought!

That was followed by a report from Libya:
Car Bomb Explodes in Benghazi, Killing Seven and Injuring 20

In Benghazi, Libya, a car bomb exploded outside a hotel on a busy road in the city’s center late Thursday, killing at least seven people and injuring 20 others. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a series of bombings in Libya that followed the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped U.S.-backed rebels overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.
Notice how they have adopted the Trump policy of repeating lies so often they start being taken as the truth? Its like they can't even mention Libya without reminding us of “the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped U.S.-backed rebels overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.”

Below are a series of screenshots from that report. We can see from the damaged cars and destruction in the street that it was a terrible blast. In addition to seven people killed, 20 were injured. Sadly, it is a sign of these times. This could have happened in any major city in Africa, or in London or Paris, for that matter, and if it had happened in any other city in Africa, its chances of being covered by Democracy Now would have been a lot slimmer, but Democracy Now has a point to make about Libya, about how Libya was destroyed by NATO intervention, and even today is still dealing with the consequence.

Again, if you look at the background, rather than what is given to you in the foreground, these pictures tell a different story. If you look beyond the carnage in the street, you will see that the city of Benghazi is still standing proudly. While it's a little hard to be make out, because it is a night scene, none of the visible buildings appear to be bombed-out or war-damaged. Fortunately these night pictures do show us quite a bit because Benghazi appears to be a city of lights. This indicates that the NATO assault didn't take out the electrical infrastructure, and Gaddafi's air force wasn't allowed to do that either. It also indicates that the electrical grid has somehow “miraculously” been maintained these past seven years amidst all the Libyan chaos we keep hearing about.

There are a lot of people on the street. Does that mean things aren't so bad in Benghazi that people can't get on with their lives, meaning its not still the war zone many would have us believe? It also looks like they have a functioning emergency response system amidst all the anarchy and chaos.

People are not afraid to come out at night, in large numbers, even after there has been a terrorist attack. There is another thing about these terror attacks in Libya that gets little notice. Remnants of the Gaddafi regime are behind many of them. This isn't just random violence that has sprung up as a result of a poorly-conceived “regime-change” operation, as the Right/Left fusion would have you believe. That is another part of the myth. Although Gaddafi was killed, other leading members of his cabal went into hiding. They have been funding counter-revolutionary chaos as part of what they fancy is the “Green Resistance,” and they still have a lot of stolen Libyan money to do it with. It's no coincidence that Sirte, Gaddafi's home and last stronghold, became the center of ISIS in Libya before it was thrown out.

Even when they are reporting on the terrorist murder of seven Libyans just the day before, they can't help but mourn Gaddafi, and call him out by name. That's all Libya is to them; it's a place US/NATO bombed and killed Gaddafi. This report is not because they are in the habit of giving much coverage to recent happenings in Libya. This report is meant as an object lesson.

Back to Yarmouk:

Does anybody at Democracy Now really think these bombed out Syrian cities will look as good as Benghazi in a few years? This is what Benghazi would have looked like if Democracy Now had prevailed against the French jets that stopped Gaddafi from doing to Benghazi what he had just done to the much smaller Ajdabiya.

My current favorite “what if fantasy” begins with: What if the Left had given both material and ideological support to the Libyan thuwar from the very beginning? I know that there were significant elements within their revolutionary struggle that were open to that. Could that have helped in any way to move their struggle in a more cohesive and progressive direction? In my opinion, the main problem with the Libyan revolution has been the lack of a strong internal Left leadership, not the lack of revolutionary energy from the masses. That leadership can be simulated externally [Consider the French influence on Ho Chi Minh.], but that is most unlikely in an environment in which what is passing itself off as the international “Left” is so hostile to their revolution.

If things had went a little better in Libya, might the outcome in Syria have been different? There are many cascading effects to consider. Revolutionary Libya was already one of the strongest material and moral supports the Syrian people had. The new Libyan General National Congress voted hundreds of millions of dollars to support the uprising. Many Libyan thuwar, in the spirit of Che Guevara, joined the struggle in Syria as the one in Libya wound down. Many of Gaddafi weapons joined the fight on the other side. If Obama's CIA hadn't stopped them from getting his best anti-aircraft weapons [SA-7 MANPADS], much of Syria could have been spared being barrel-bombed into rumble.

A Left in the US and Europe that came to understand and support the Libyan revolution, probably would have supported the one in Syria too. What difference could that had made? If organizations like Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and Democracy Now had come into this struggle on the side of the Syrian people, rather than seeing in their struggle an opportunity to score points against “neoliberalism,” could that had helped move things in the right direction? If they had spent the years protesting Assad's daily barrel-bombing of civilians, rather than hitting the streets only to defend his occasional use of chemical weapons, would that have changed things? Would ISIS still have been able to take Mosul if Obama had not reneged on his “red-line” promise? Would ISIS, and other reactionary Islamists, even have the mass appeal they now enjoy, if the “Left” alternative hadn't been shown to be so bankrupt? And finally, if these things had been handled differently by the Left, would Trump even be president now?

That is all water under the bridge. The question of the day is: Shall we have a Left that has humanity's best interest at heart and can learn from its mistakes, or one that is an appendage to white fascism? There is another Libyan model that is being quite purposely obscured by this revised definition; it is the example of a people who took their destiny into their own hands and threw off a fascist dictatorship that had ruled most of them all their lives. In that, I see hope for all of us.

Libyan government fighters celebrated after routing the last remaining forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from the coastal town of Surt on Thursday. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times. [Please allow me one last observation on background. We are told that the rebels who fought Gaddafi were all Islamic extremists, yet few of the men in this picture are sporting the type of beard that many consider mandatory for a devout Muslim man.]

These are the people who killed Gaddafi, and no amount of white-Left/alt-Right unity, around a so-called “Libyan model” that leaves them out of the picture, will change this truth.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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