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Joe Emersberger

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  • Lockerbie Bomber in Coma in Tripoli, as retreating Qaddafi Troops use Human Shields
    • Joe Emersberger 08/30/2011 at 7:06 am

      Averny, whom you praised above, opposes the use of boycotts against Israel intended to halt its murder and thsft, but supports bombing Libya. See a contradiction there?

  • Top Ten Myths about the Libya War
    • Joe Emersberger 08/23/2011 at 11:17 pm

      You wrote that if NATO powers - in particular the US - withdrew their support for dictators in the ME and their support for Israeli Apartheid that

      "..the effect is not likely to be substantial, many oppressive countries such as iran get on by without the support of the US and a number of its allies, if anything the US sanctions as a whole just hurt the people of iran. What makes you think that sanctions would not just hurt the populations of other nations while failing to lodge the oppressive governments from power?"

      It is hard to credibly argue that the effects would be minor when the regimes are struggling DESPITE support from the US and other NATO powers.

      Please explain how canceling $6 billio per year in direct and indirect US assistance to Isaarli Apartheid would hurt Palestinians.

      Please explain how an arms embargo on the region - easily enforced by NATO powers who collectively dominate the arms trade - would be hurt the majority of people in the region or how it would bolster reactionary extremists (i.e as US and Israeli stance towards Iran has done)?

    • Joe Emersberger 08/23/2011 at 11:04 pm

      East Timor wasn't liberated by "Humanitarian intervention".
      After decades of direct support for Indonesia's murderous agression, the US finally ordered its Indonesian clients to pull out. Australian led troops went into East Tinmor as Indonesian troops were pulling out. Comparing that to Libya is like comparing a nasty phone call to a drive-by shooting.

    • Joe Emersberger 08/23/2011 at 2:46 pm

      Hi yet again Joe from Lowell

      You say that my "lazy appeals to vastly different episodes from history aren’t going to help you here. If you can’t understand that something rather dramatic happened in American foreign policy this past spring, you’ll be forever wandering in a haze, making inapt comparisons."

      Actually, I appeal to the present - not just to history. The US continues to provide crucial military, economic and political support to neighboring dictators - and to Israeli apartheid. That is the same policy as usual - no "dramatic" change at all. Care to guess how many hundreds of thousands of lives are crushed because of those utterly indefensible policies? Care to explain how removing such polices woud not have led - not only to Gaddafi faling of his his own weight - but to several other tyrants falling who are teetering despite US support?

      When Duvalier fell in Haiti, Somoza in Naircagua, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippes - the US used the same ploy as they did with Mubarak in Egypt. Welcome the change only when it was impossible to do otherwise and then sweep aside decades of support for the tyrants citing a "dramatic" "change of course". Incredibly people fall for this even when US affection for the tyrant is openly displayed in his last days - as when Joe Biden, comically, refused to call Mabarak a dictator Another part of the playbook is to manouvre to keep the old order in place. We're seeing all of that in the US response to the Arab Spring.

      Look for the leaders of any new government in Libya to speedily go from being heroes to zeroes if they dare to seriously challenge any US priorities in the region.

    • Hi Again Joe from Lowell:

      You’re still ignoring the fact that the US (and its rich allies) could easily strike major blow for democracy and human rights in the region by simply removing support for dictators in the region – and for Israeli apartheid – no bombing required. That is especially true now when the regimes are tottering under their own weight. And frankly, it does call pose serious questions about the “values” – or perhaps the ability to perceive reality - of anyone who evades this obvious point.

      It speak volumes that you have to go back over 30 years – to Jimmy Carter – to find a president who didn’t engage in bombing a poor country. By the way, you may recall that Carter’s term lasted only four years and took place while the US political class was still significantly hampered by the dreaded “Vietnam syndrome” and the Watergate scandal.
      You might also want to read up on the slaughter in East Timor which was perpetrated by Indonesia with the Carter Admin’s strong military and political support. Carter still found ways to support bloodbaths by proxy.

      I believe that you are quite right that Carter presided over a massive increase in military spending just before Reagan took over. That bolsters one of my points. MIlitarizaton is extremely important to the US elites (and their rich allies) for various reasons. Whether a liberal or conservative sits in the White House, they are always on the prowl for ways to justify it.

    • Indeed, last time I checked Canada was the number one oil supplier to the United States. To the list I posted a little ways below - of places where the West has intervened with tremendous brutality despite the lack of any significant resource wealth incentive - I should the Balkans. Apologists for those bombings just love to point out how their noble intentions were proven by the absence of natural wealth in the Balkans. Few pointed out that many of the most brutal Western interventions have been in such areas.

    • Joe Emersberger 08/22/2011 at 7:13 pm

      I could never deny that oil ia part of what makes Libya an attractive target for Western "liberation", but the fact is the West has often intervened in areas of the world with minimal natural wealth - certainly not nearly enough to explain the inerventions. Consider Vietnamm, Granada, Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador.

      Read the Wikileaks on Haiti - poorest country in the western Hemisphere - where the US has been very thorough in its efforst to squash a vibrant pro-deomcacy movement and prop up an incredibly brutal and rapacious elite.

    • Hi Joe From Lowell:
      You naturally avoided the point about the Arab uprisings being linked - and about the awesome contribution NATO could have made to not only overthrowing Gaddafi but all the other tyrants they support - with no bombing required at all.

      You second point about US ccntribtion to the Libya as percentage of it war budget is irrelevant to my point. What Libya's crimbling dictatorship handed the US and its rich allies (who are also major arms merchants - the world's leading arms merchants are the self proclaimed "civilized" countries) is an opportunity to pass off their military might as a force for good. Hard to justify massive military expenditures if you never use your military. "Humanitarian intervention " is a way - liberals expecially - want to sell militarism. The doctrine has taken a beating in recent years and Libya obviously offered an opportunity to revive it.

    • As for oil being the driving force for NATO’s intervention, I never bought that argument and here is what I wrote to Greenwald back in June

      link to

      I have a small disagrement with Glenn Greenwald (whose work I can't praise highly enough) over his latest about the war in Libya.

      In a pure coincidence, Gaddafi impeded U.S. oil interests before the war

      link to

      In response to Greenwald I say

      1) US puppets sometimes drive a hard bargain behind the scenes (i.e tweak the boss's nose a bit). Francois Duvalier did a lot of this - and the US did toy with the idea of deposing him for this reason- but they didn't. I
      don't see the kind of "pain in the ass" behaviour Gaddafi demonstrated being the major driving force behind the war though I don't deny it was a factor.

      2) The Arab Spring was showing up the complete irrelevance of western military might for any liberatory purpose. Militarization is crucial to the West
      for numerous reasons and they will jump at any chance to pass off their military might as a force for good. Of course they will not do this by driving Israel out of Palestine - or Saudi Arabia out of Bahrain. The West will
      choose targets that make sense from its imperial point of view. Gaddafi was a disposable and annoying employee. However, I think it is wrong - based on what Greenwald presents - to suggest Gaddafi's rule posed any serious or even significant threat to Western interests.

      Instead, I would argue Gaddafi's(seemingly) imminent collapse provided an irresistible opportunity for the West to restore credibility to the idea of "humanitarian intervention" which has taken a severe beating in Iraq and
      Afghanistan. Of course, the fact that Gaddafi was a pain in the ass, and easy to demonize (without need for much lying) contributed to making this an irresistible opportunity.

      You can't steal/control foreign resources - or maintain incredibly bloated military budgets at home - if you can't use your military. The West has a huge incentive to jump at anything that looks like a good opportunity to use its

    • Myth 11: There was no constructive action that NATO countries could have taken to promote democracy and human rights in Lybia - or to avoid a potential massacre in Benghazi other than bombing.

      NATO countries have removed their crucial support from the neighboring dictators (and the Egytian military) in the region - and its support for Israeli Apratheid - thereby generating a tidal wave of revolutionary momentum that would have flushed Gaddafi out of power. If a poor fruit vendor in Tunisia set off a such tidal wave , imagine what NATO could have done - and could still do.

      While doing that NATO could also have imposed an oil emargo on Lybia to dissuade Gaddafi from perpetrating a massacre in Benghazi.

      As a last resort (rather than a first) they could have used very limited force to keep Gaddafi's troops out of Benghazi.

      Of course, none of these suggestions provide an excuse for bloated military budgets in NATO countries, or leaves in place western support for friendly despots (as Gaddafi was once considered).

  • Qaddafi, son, indicted by International Criminal Court
    • Joe Emersberger 06/29/2011 at 10:42 pm


      Why do you think the following has not been extremely widely reported -
      i.e. at least as widely as the claims Amnesty and HRW have found no evidence
      to substantiate?:

      "An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for
      these human rights violations and in many cases has discredited or cast
      doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels
      in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured
      evidence ....

      Liesel Gerntholtz, head of women's rights at Human Rights Watch, which also
      investigated the charge of mass rape, said: "We have not been able to find

      Joe Emersberger

      [1] Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war
      By Patrick Cockburn
      Independent, June24, 2011

  • Free Libyan fighters exult in small Victories, as US begins Drone Strikes
    • Joe Emersberger 04/22/2011 at 4:14 pm

      The New Military Humanism by Noam Choamsky provides a devastating rebuttal to Juan's claim that no one can doubt that NATO's murderous rampage in the Balkans was justified.

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • Joe Emersberger 03/29/2011 at 7:59 am

      Juan said

      “Our temporary good luck is that we have a president who knows what he is talking about, knows how to assemble a complex international alliance, and has the moral vision to do the right thing even if it is unpopular. It wasn’t so long ago that none of those things was true, and you can’t count on them being true much longer.”

      Obama is every bit a committed to defending the indefensible as Bush - hence the stupidity that has flowed from Obama's lips on a regular basis. Imagine the reaction from liberals if Bush had said the following

      When Obama has been pressed to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes, he said "I prefer to look forward rather than backwards".

      Of course Bush might have said "I wanna look ahead not back" - a huge grammatical difference.

      Another idiotic excuse offered by Obama was that many of the torturers just following orders. Why didn't the Nazis think of that one? Oh yeah, they did.

      Obama’s position on Bush/Cheney crimes is transparently stupid but also an exercise in CYA since, as commander-in-chief – Obama is responsible for the fact that Bradley Manning is being tortured in broad daylight. Obama’s response to Manning’s plight

      "I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are."

      Obama added "I can't go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Pvt. Manning's safety as well."

      Could Bush or Rumsfeld have offered stupider, or more disgusting, replies?

      About the uprisings in Egypt

      "All the forces that we're seeing at work in Egypt are forces that naturally should be aligned with us, should be aligned with Israel,"

      The protestors should “naturally” back the countries that support their oppressors?

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • Joe Emersberger 03/22/2011 at 8:04 am

      In response to point 10, the US and its allies (in particular the dictators it supports in the Middle East) are deeply opposed to democracy and are working to thwart democratic experiments around the world. Anyone familar with the machinations of US dominated institutions like the IMF and the World Bank already knows this. The resources they can employ to undemocratic ends dwarf Libya's.

      The US and its allies would likely have invaded Iran by now if they had not run into unexpected trouble (in fact an undeniale disaster) in Iraq. A bogus military "success" (Kosovo, Grenada, the 1990 Gulf War, the bombing of Libya in 1986) where the carnage can be easily covered up - softens the public up to get behind "disasters" in the future.

      Finally, if the politcal class in the West were capable of a "genuine sense of outrage at brutal crimes" (to quote your point number 9) most of them would be in jail.

  • Libya Threatens Mediterranean Planes, Ships if Attacked
    • Joe Emersberger 03/19/2011 at 12:31 am

      Some very good sense on Libya from Robert Fik in the UK Independent:

      link to

      "One thing we can do is spot the future Gaddafis and Saddams whom we are breeding right now, the future crackpot, torture-chamber sadists who are cultivating their young bats with our economic help. In Uzbekistan, for example. And in Turkmenistan. And in Tajikistan and Chechenya and other "stans". But no. These are men we have to deal with, men who will sell us oil, buy our arms and keep Muslim "terrorists" at bay.

      It is all wearingly familiar. And now we are back at it again, banging our desks in spiritual unity. We don't have many options, do we, unless we want to see another Srebrenica? But hold on. Didn't that happen long after we had imposed our "no-fly" zone over Bosnia?"

      Right on Robert Fisk, but the one useful thing we can do is the very thing we will not do until the democratic deficit in the West is closed.

    • Joe Emersberger 03/18/2011 at 9:47 pm

      Former British Ambassador, Craig Murray, wrote on his blog

      "As part of the US deal with Saudi Arabia, the Arab forces which are going to be used as poster boys for the action against Libya will come largely from the Gulf Cooperation Council, ie precisely the same organisation which the US and Saudi are using to put down democracy in Bahrain. So whatever this is about, it is not about support for democracy."

  • Ras Lanuf Falls to Rebels
    • Joe Emersberger 03/05/2011 at 11:58 pm

      Venezuela is a democracy. People who say otherwise demonstrate either ignorance or dishonesty. In fact, even if you read some of the harshest criticism of Chavez (put out by Human Rights Watch or Inter- American Commission of Human Rights) it is impossible not to conclude that the Chavez governmnet's human rights record is far superior to Obama's.

  • Egypt's Unfinished Revolution: PM Shafiq Ousted
    • Javier,
      Fortunately, not everyone shares your belief in the omnipotence of the USA and its allies. That belief is not only defeatist but wrong. Like Steve Biko said, the greatest weapon the oppressor has is the mind of his victim.

  • Qaddafi's Bombardments Recall Mussolini's
    • Joe Emersberger 02/22/2011 at 10:22 pm

      Amnesty's appeal for UK to stop arms sales to Lybia

      link to

    • Joe Emersberger 02/22/2011 at 4:18 pm

      I always remember how Ronald Reagan received overwhelming support for his bombing of Lybia in 1986 - a bombing that killed Qaddafi's infant daughter. Reagan called Qaddafi a "mad dog" and supporter of terrorism. Now the US government has to be prodded into expressing interest as Qaddafi is about to be overthrown and murderously clings to power.

      While Reagan was in power, Saddam Huseein was the tyrant nobody cared about, and few even knew about because he was a US ally. You have to marvel at the ability of the corporate media to manufacture villains on demand and also quietly convert villains into benign "statesmen" if need be.

  • Top Five Myths about the Middle East Protests
    • CORRECTION: I as wrong about the O'Hairs. They were not murdered by a Christain fanatic but my point stands about doctos murdered by Christian fanatics in the USA.

    • In Bill Maher's film Religulous, he travels all the way to Holland to find an example of Islamic extremists killing people. Though Maher's film ridiculed Christian fundamentalists in the US, he never pointed out how murderous they can be. He did not discuss the murder of his fellow US atheists - Madeliene O'Hair and her son - by a Christian Fundamentalist lunatic, or the murders of doctors who perform abortions in the US by other Christian fanatics.
      Mahr need not have travelled all the way to Holland, or singled out Muslims, to show the kind of threat posed by religious fanatism within relatively tolerant societies. He could have found plenty of examples at home among people with significant power - the Christian right.

      My bet is that Maher would concede this in prvate, but clearly lacked the courage to make the point in his film. Like many a high profile pundit, he knows what lines cannot be crossed.

  • Saad's Revolution: Cole at Truthdig
    • Joe Emersberger 02/01/2011 at 9:46 pm

      I wish more people were calling the US/UK/Israel on what self serving nonsense their supposed fear of islamic fundamentalism is.

      The US and its allies are fine with islamic fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. They also backed them in Bosnia.

      Israel funded Hamas in its early days to undermine the secular PLO.

      Some are invoking the Iranian revolution as the great fear but independece was the great crime of Bush's dreaded "moolahs" in Iran - not brutality and backwardness which is surpassed in Saudia Arabia.

      Venezuela is as secular democracy - more democratic than the US in meaningful ways - but is relentlessly demonized. Again, Independence from the US is the real fear for Obama.

      Israel, as always, fears not for its own security but an end to impunity with which it can dispossess Palestinians

  • Zewail's 4 point Plan for Egypt
    • Joe Emersberger 01/30/2011 at 1:26 am

      The US elite has found ways to take the risk out of demooracy - and have been on quite a roll (about 30 years) dismantling the welfare state. However, in countries like Egypt and Haiti - even formal democracy is disallowed - because the poor are the majority. Minimalist demands are rejected unless - as we see in the streets of Cairo - people become so enraged that they lose fear of state violence.

      The problem with "wise men" is that they are often completely unwise. Conventional wisdom is often conventinoal idiocy (or fanaticism which amounts to the same thing). The economic aspirations of the Egyptian people depend on being able to resist the neoliberal fanaticism that the US does everything it can to impose. As Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out, it is major cause of the fiasco in Iraq.

      Cuba and China - without formal deomcracy - have been able to outperform the US is numerous ways. Venezuela - where neoliberalism is rejected and democracy greatly deepened - is demonized by the US media (and the international press in other capitalist contries) in the most outrageous manner.

      Many battles lie ahead for Egytians even after (hopefully) ridding themselves of Mubarak and his henchmen.

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