Russia/china Dual Veto Designed to Promote Peaceful Outcome

by Yu Zhixiao, from Xinhua
BEIJING, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) — Russia and China’s double veto of an Arab-European draft resolution on Syria Saturday was aimed at further seeking peaceful settlement of the chronic Syrian crisis and preventing possible drastic and risky solutions to it.

It was the second time since last October that Russia and China used double veto to block a UN Security Council draft on Syria, which they deemed was not the best choice to promote peace in the Middle East country.

The unadopted draft meant to say the UN Security Council “fully supports” the Jan. 22 Arab League plan to ask Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, one of the major stumbling blocks in pre-vote consultations.

With the veto, Russia and China believed more time and patience should be given to a political solution to the Syrian crisis, which would prevent the Syrian people from more turbulence and fatalities.

Hours before the Security Council’s vote on the draft, Russia circulated an amended resolution, which it said “aims to fix two basic problems.” The first was the imposition of conditions on dialogue, and the second was that measures must be taken to influence not only the government but also anti-government armed groups.

“The draft resolution that was put to a vote did not adequately reflect the real state of affairs in Syria and has sent an unbalanced signal to the Syrian parties,” Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said after the vote.

For his part, Li Baodong, the Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, regretted the Russian amendments were ignored.

“China supports the revision proposals raised by Russia,” Li told the council, adding the request for continued consultation on the draft by some council members is reasonable.”

“To push through a vote when parties are still seriously divided over the issue will not help maintain the unity and authority of the Security Council, or help resolve the issue,” he said.

The United Nations put the total death toll in Syria during the months-long unrest at more than 5,400, while the Syrian government said more than 2,000 army and security personnel have been killed.

In order to deter fresh bloodshed and violence, an inclusive political process should be started immediately in Syria, and it is the Syrian people instead of outside forces that should decide its fate.

199 comments on “Russia/china Dual Veto Designed to Promote Peaceful Outcome

  1. paul fauvet on said:

    To prevent more “turbulence and fatalities” at the very moment when Assad’s armed forces are destroying the city of Homs!

    What a disgusting and hypocritical position!

    Plenty of people who imagine that they are on the left wail about a western intervention in Syria which has yet to happen. While the real problem is that the Chinese and Russian backers of Assad have just stuck a knife into the back of the Syrian insurrection.

    The concept of international solidarity is now something that belongs in the distant past in both Moscow and Beijing.

  2. Perhaps Paul could dismount from his moral high horse and explain to us what he thinks are the material reasons for China and Russia taking this stance and while he is about what might be the material reasons for the USA, the Saudis etc and the EU powers taking a different stand.

  3. paul fauvet: Plenty of people who imagine that they are on the left wail about a western intervention in Syria which has yet to happen.

    ‘Yet to happen’, not ‘unlikely to happen’ or ‘not on the agenda’. So would you be in favour of such an intervention? Do you have lists of countries where it is permisable for outside intervention to change the government and where it is not? What are the criteria? Which countries are qualified to be involved in such operations?

  4. Given the Western powers’ penchant for stretching the terms of any UN resolution to give a “UN-authorised” figleaf for any intervention NATO might wish to undertake, the actions of Russia and China are entirely understandable. Russia in particular has no interest whatsoever in betraying its old ally Assad. It is unlikely to be able to keep its naval base at Tartus if Assad falls, after all.

  5. The west wanted a UN resolution because it would have operated as a ‘come on in’ sign, allowing them to intervene in the situation to get the regime that they want in Syria post-Assad. It is absolutely right that China and Russia prevented this from happening. Paul Fauvet’s contribution at #1 accepts uncritically that imperialist intervention in the guise of an ‘international peace-keeping’ force would be a forward step for the Syrian people. This is repeating an age-old mistake. Must the left really go through this debate all over again as if Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya et al never occurred?

  6. Manzil on said:

    Given the UN resolution on Libya quickly escalated, despite its initial humanitarian rationale, into allowing the Western powers to act as the air force of one side of a civil war, is it any wonder that Russia and China have chosen not to submit to these latest self-serving justifications? Where, after all, was the UN resolution authorising ‘all necessary measures’ to protect Bahraini civilians, while Saudi forces helped crush a popular revolt?

    After Syria, Iran would be next, and a conflagration that could suck in the whole region. The UN is not independent of the geopolitical interests of its members. People who regard these proposals as selfless expressions of concern for civilians display a remarkably naive attitude, one that imperialism is counting on to succeed.

  7. paul fauvet: The concept of international solidarity is now something that belongs in the distant past in both Moscow and Beijing.

    What have they done in the past which contrasts with this decision?

  8. paul fauvet on said:

    Nick Wright thinks my revulsion at the Russian and Chinese vetoes mean that I’m on a “moral high horse”.

    If by that he means that I stand in solidarity with the Syrian insurrection, then he’s right.

    In case Nick has forgetten, the left is in the business of removing tyrannies, not supporting them.

    Nick was once an enthusiast for pretty much everything the Soviet Union did, notably the crushing of the Prague Spring. It’s more than two decades since the Soviet Union collapsed, but it seems that comrades like Nick Wright can’t stop licking Russian boots!

    Vanya asks if I would be in favour of a western intervention in Syria.

    I hope the Syrian revolutionaries will be able to get rid of Assad without western help. But if they ask for western assistance, then yes, it should be provided, and the left should demand that our governments assist those attempting to overthrow despots.

    “What have they done in the past that contrasts with this decision?” Vanya asks – well, the historical record shows that the Soviet Union, and to a much lesser extent China, did have a record of supporting national liberation movements, albeit often with a large dose of realpolitik. This was crucial, for example, in the defeat of colonialism and apartheid in southern Africa.

  9. #9

    ‘the left is in the business of removing tyrannies, not supporting them.’

    Really? I thought it was in the business of resisting captialism and its many and manifold depredations, such as imperialism and colonialism.

    Western intervention in the Middle East is the cause not the solution, Paul. Just as it has been everywhere throughout the developing world.

    Btw, have you any thoughts on the up to date situation in Libya, the last Arab regime to be toppled with the assistance of the West? Any analysis on the ensuing chaos, summary executions, torture, imprisonment without trial and lynching of black Libyans?

    I’m genuinely interested in hearing from you on this. I assume you believe the chaos taking place in Libya now that the news cameras have gone meets with your approval as a vociferous supporter of NATO’s bombing campaign.

  10. Karl Stewart on said:

    Russia and China are to be applauded for vetoing the Syrian invasion plans of the US, France and UK.

    Clearly hard lessons have been learned by the non-NATO nations from the underhand tactics used by the NATO powers in order to seize Libya’s oil last year – and Russia and China seem determined not to be conned again.

    PaulF, clearly you’ve learned nothing from that episode. It’s frankly bizarre that you still seem determined to swallow the lies of the NATO nations’ propaganda – in spite of everything that’s happened.

  11. Revolutionaries are incurable romantics. Occasionally – just occasionally – a despotism is overthrown and replaced by liberty and the rule of law. More usually, their overthrow is followed by a period of chaos, maybe a bit of civil war, and then order is restored by a new despotism. I’d be surprised if the fall of Assad – especially if he is pushed – results in anything better for ordinary Syrians.

  12. Paul F writes at #9 that:

    “I hope the Syrian revolutionaries will be able to get rid of Assad without western help. But if they ask for western assistance, then yes, it should be provided, and the left should demand that our governments assist those attempting to overthrow despots.”

    In a parallel universe, perhaps the situation would be that the West, reluctant to intervene on the side of the Syrian people, would be forced by the left in their countries to ride in to save the day. But in our universe, the ruling class of the United States, France and Britain among others are falling over themselves to push towards military intervention in Syria.

    If Paul F or anyone else wants to think this is because of the humanitarian impulses and democratic values of the leaderships of the imperialist powers, then good luck to him and his delusions.

  13. brokenwindow on said:

    China and Russia have only their self-interest in this current predicament with their investments key in their minds. If you think that sounds like the USA or the UK you’d be right. I can’t understand why anyone here is pretending that there is some moral high-ground,there isn’t.

    There is nothing for the Left here.

  14. Jellytot on said:

    @16China and Russia have only their self-interest in this current predicament with their investments key in their minds

    Maybe, Maybe not but the veto does have the role of promoting (in the words of the article) a “peaceful settlement of the chronic Syrian crisis and preventing possible drastic and risky solutions to it.”

    Sometimes Great Powers take a positive and progressive position almost despite themselves.

    I can’t understand why anyone here is pretending that there is some moral high-ground,there isn’t.

    I wouldn’t know what a ‘moral high ground’ is if I tripped over it in the street. For me, things are political.

  15. paul fauvet on said:

    “Western intervention in the Middle East is the cause not the solution”, thunders John.

    Yet there isn’t a single NATO soldier on the ground in Syria, and not a single NATO plane in the Syrian skies – despite this clear absence of western military intervention, people are dying in large numbers at the hands of their own government.

    At the moment, the Syrian people are not being massacred by western imperialists. It is the forces of the Assad regime, with the tacit support of the Russian and Chinese governments, that have reduced much of the city of Homs to rubble, and have been slaughtering the citizens of the eastern suburbs of Danascus as they retake themn from the Free Syrian Army.

    The Syrian revolutionaries are not being shot at by abstractions such as “capitalism” and “imperialism”, but by armed forces following orders given by Bashar al-Assad.

    We are told that the UN resolution would have opened the way to western intervention. On the other hand, if Russia and China had abandoned Assad, that might have precipitated a split in the regime, paving the way to negotiations. Predicting the future is always a risky business – but one thing is absolutely certain: the Russian and Chinese vetoes have strengthened the regime’s hand, and are thus almost certain to worsen the bloodshed.

    What about Libya ?, John asks accusingly, as if the recent armed clashes show that Libyans should never have risen up against Gaddaffi.

    But revolutions and insurrections are scarcely ever neat and tidy affairs. No-one should be surprised that, just a few months after the fall of Gaddaffi, Libya is not yet a paradise, old scores are being settled, and far too many guns are in circulation.

    As for summary executions and the lynching of black Libyans and migrant workers, of course I condemn such crimes. But the idea that all the Libyan revolutionaries are racists and all black Libyans supported Gaddaffi is plain wrong. Anyone who watched footage of the rebellion would have seen that the fighters were ethnically mixed, and that black faces were among the defenders of Benghazi.

    During the insurrection the rebel claim that Gaddaffi had recruited mercenaries from elsewhere in Africa was sometimes denied. Such claims were said to be merely a cover for attacks against black Libyans.

    But we now know it was true because some of these Tuareg mercenaries have crossed the border and are creating havoc in northern Mali.

    The new Libyan leadership insists it is not turning its back on Africa, and will play a full role in the African Union – but it will do so institutionally, and not in pursuit of the dreams of one deranged individual.

    Speaking just before the AU summit in late January, Libyan deputy foreign minister Mohamed Abdulaziz said that Libya’s relations with Africa under Gaddaffi had been so personalized that the National Transitional Council has no idea how much Libya had invested in other African countries, and is now trying to trace all the money involved.

    Karl Stewart thinks the Libyan war was all about the oil – thus conveniently ignoring Gaddaffi’s dealings with western oil companies.

    Karl says I have “learnt nothing from that episode”. On the contary, it is comrades such as Karl who, from Sarajevo to Tripoli and now to Damascus, have learnt nothing and unfailingly place themselves on the side of the enemies of the working people.

  16. Martel on said:

    # 10 ‘Really? I thought it was in the business of resisting captialism and its many and manifold depredations, such as imperialism and colonialism.’

    The fact that you are so callous, and dismissive, towards the most basic human and civic rights is part of the reason why most find your version of socialism so wretched.

    Most working people find the right to chose their government, the right to oppose their country’s government without death, injury or persercution, freedom of speech and access to a relatively uncorrupt justice systems as pretty important.

    #11 ‘the underhand tactics used by the NATO powers in order to seize Libya’s oil last year’

    This ‘it’s all about oil’ arguement really is the preserve of morons.

    Western powers did not have to sieze Libyan oil since companies like Eni were drilling it and selling to the West at a very reasonable price. It will be the same post revolution as it was pre revolution.

    #13 ‘If Paul F or anyone else wants to think this is because of the humanitarian impulses and democratic values of the leaderships of the imperialist powers, then good luck to him and his delusions.’

    I doubt Paul, or anyone, else believes that states are motivated by humanitarian impulses and democratic values alone.

    As China and Russia demonstrate. Russia’s naval base obviously played a role in its decision. China was just following its cynical foriegn policy of not interferring in countries that it has profitable trading interests with.
    ‘Oh,and the idea that the left is in a position to ‘demand’ from Western governments major shifts in foreign policy is laughable.’

    Public opinion matters, especially in democracies. You think the anti-Vietnamese War movement or Anti-Apartheid movements had no bearing at all on the political climate at the time?

  17. paul fauvet: and unfailingly place themselves on the side of the enemies of the working people

    Right there is your error, paul. You don’t seem to understand that the ruling class of NATO countries are as much the enemies of our class as the ruling classes of Russia and China.

  18. #19

    Martel:

    ‘The fact that you are so callous, and dismissive, towards the most basic human and civic rights is part of the reason why most find your version of socialism so wretched.’

    Reply:

    So speaks the voice of western intervention, responsible for the combined deaths of untold hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

    If this is your conception of ‘basic human and civic rights’, thanks but I’ll stick with anti-imperialism.

    Martel:

    ‘Most working people find the right to chose their government, the right to oppose their country’s government without death, injury or persercution, freedom of speech and access to a relatively uncorrupt justice systems as pretty important.’

    Reply:

    Most working people would also no doubt resist military intervention and/or occupation of their countries by liberal democracies who talk freedom and liberty but practice super exploitation and mass murder.

    Martel:

    ‘Western powers did not have to sieze Libyan oil since companies like Eni were drilling it and selling to the West at a very reasonable price. It will be the same post revolution as it was pre revolution.’

    Reply:

    No, but they certainly had to protect their considerable existing investments and oil contracts by controlling the Libyan opposition and directing its insurrection.

    Martel:

    ‘China was just following its cynical foriegn policy of not interferring in countries that it has profitable trading interests with.’

    Reply:

    Or alternatively perhaps China’s attachment to the principle of national sovereignty is a product of its own history at the hands of western colonialism.

  19. Robert on said:

    I am not exactly an Assad fanboy, but turning Syria into the next Libya would be a disaster for the entire region and a calamity for the Resistance (to Israel).

    I am delighted that Russia is standing firm and that it will not do what it did with Libya (which it deliberately betrayed at the UNSC – Lavrov and Churkin are both very savvy diplomats who must have known what they were doing).

    More generally, considering the latest NATO attacks on Russia (ABM system in Europe and strategic psyops about “election fraud” in Russia) is it now time for Russia to bear its teeth and growl with a more menacing tone.

    The West wants a “new Cold War”?

    I say “let’s have it!” (they are imposing it on Russia anyway…)

  20. Alternatively perhaps South Africa’s vote in favour of the Arab League plan is a product of its own history in which minority rule and state terror was excused by the claim that dark foreign forces and criminals would destroy the country if the regime’s grip on power was weakened.

    It’s no wonder there’s Cynicism around Syria.

    Cracker of a headline by the way.

  21. Karl Stewart on said:

    The NATO powers rattle their sabres and up pops PaulF and his fellow imperialist cheerleader Martel right on cue.

    The pair of them utterly consistent in their support for NATO’s war aims.

    Of course last year’s NATO conquest of Libya was all about oil – the country has the largest oil reserves in Africa.

    PaulF excuses the racist progroms in Libya as “settling of scores” just as the KKK “settled scores” with those they considered “uppity blacks” in the US deep south.

    The difference this time is the two of the five veto-holding UNSC members have been fooled once and won’t be fooled again.

    And as for talk of “public opinion,” anyone who was conned by last year’s guff about “humanitarian intervention only has to look at the utter disaster that is today’s Libya to see what NATO will do to Syria given the chance.

    Our pro-NATO cheerleaders Martel and PaulF are a lot more isolated now than they were last year.

  22. Martel on said:

    #21 ‘So speaks the voice of western intervention, responsible for the combined deaths of untold hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.’

    I opposed the military action in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Unlike you I do not adopt some cartoon division of the world into good and bad.

    Which is why your take on questions such as Syria is so perverse.

    Well, that and your complete disregard for basic human and civic rights. And your contempt for oppressed people who fight against rotten dictatorships.

    ‘Or alternatively perhaps China’s attachment to the principle of national sovereignty is a product of its own history at the hands of western colonialism.’

    It does not make their approach to foriegn policy less cynical.

  23. Martel on said:

    # 24 Empty vessels really do chime loudest.

    ‘Of course last year’s NATO conquest of Libya was all about oil’

    Are you going to give a clear arguement for that statement or is it just yet another empty slogan?

    It is the same companies drilling in Libya, i.e. Eni, Esso, Oasis etc. post-Gadaffi, as was drilling pre-Gadaffi under the same contracts.

    How is this a conquest?

  24. #25

    ‘And your contempt for oppressed people who fight against rotten dictatorships.’

    And what about the majority of Syrians who support the regime? Are they to be dismissed in your crusade to inflict even more chaos and bloodshed on the country than now?

    This is what I find so utterly reprehensible when it comes to pro-war liberals, this blatant disregard for the consequences of military intervention, which they regard with the same ease a straightforward, everyday surgical procedure – like taking out a bad appendix.

  25. Martel on said:

    # 26 ‘It is the same companies drilling in Libya, i.e. Eni, Esso, Oasis etc. post-Gadaffi, as was drilling pre-Gadaffi under the same contracts.’

    Typo. Rather its the same companies drilling post-Gadaffi as pre-Gadaffi’s removal.

  26. Martel on said:

    # 27 I am not advocating military intervention in Syria.

    I would like to see international isolation of the Assad regime, including sanctions.

    I was not impressed by by China/Russia’s veto.

    But who knows maybe Russia is working behind the scenes to maneouvre Assad out.

    ‘this blatant disregard for the consequences of military intervention, which they regard with the same ease a straightforward, everyday surgical procedure – like taking out a bad appendix.’

    I imagine, unless you are completely deluded, everyone recognises any military intervention in Syria would be extremely messy.

  27. anon #29: “And then you have the Stalinoids extolling the virtues of Assad, not to mention Russia and China.”

    The Russians & Chinese are ensuring no NATO invasion or airstrikes on Syria. Yet you condemn them.

    And by the way, what have you to say re: the Western, Saudi & Qatari support of the Syrian ‘opposition’ including its terrorist activities?

  28. #9
    A simple request, to Paul Fauvet, that he provide an explanation for the actions of the various powers in relation to the conflict in Syria produces another moralistic outburst, a striking absence of analysis and what he imagines to be a personal insult about the 1968 intervention in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic by its Warsaw Pact allies.

    Imagine this scenario, a profound conflict is shaking a given society giving rise to serious doubts that the regime, and perhaps the social system that is defended by that regime, can survive.

    The ‘international community’ is divided but some foreign powers intervene. Do you make up your mind about the rights and wrongs of the case exclusively on the basis of shortcomings or even crimes of the existing regime or do you look for the larger factors at play.

    After 1968 I changed my mind about the events of that year – with some difficulty and based on several factors. Firstly, I was there that summer, several times in years before and many after the intervention. Secondly, because I knew people, including citizens of the CSSR and other Socialist countries, on both sides of the argument and had to weigh up the sometimes contradictory facts. Thirdly, on the basis of a broad view of international politics and a class approach.

    This is not ‘licking Russian boots’ but struggling to make a materialist analysis of a complex situation.

    In the same way making a judgement that the fall of this regime in present circumstances is most likely to lead to an irreparably divided society and Syria becoming a client state of a US, British, French, Saudi consortium than any situation more desirable does not imply approval of Assad, the regime or its tactics. Neither does it necessarily imply approval of the regimes in China or Russia. That requires a materialist analysis aswell.

    A regrettable necessity I know, but better than abstract moralising.

  29. John: And what about the majority of Syrians who support the regime?

    What’s the basis for that assertion? Not saying you’re wrong because I don’t pretend to know either way.

  30. Morning Star Comment
    The West’s short memory
    Sunday 05 February 2012

    Former Labour prime minister Harold Wilson once observed that a week is a long time in politics.

    Western politicians clearly estimate that the average goldfish has a longer attention span than most people if their condemnation of Russia and China at the UN security council is to be taken seriously.

    Nato military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya has cost over a million civilian lives and left all three countries in a state of dislocation.

    Iraq was once renowned for its health service and social infrastructure as well as for the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist dictatorship.

    Nine years after George W Bush and Tony Blair laid waste to the country, much remains in ruins and sectarian slaughter stalks Iraq’s cities.

    Bush also invaded Afghanistan under the false prospectus that it was responsible for the 2001 terrorist attacks on US soil.

    US-led forces drove out the Taliban government, imposing a military occupation, and Washington is now encouraging negotiations between its figurehead Hamid Karzai and the same Taliban to cover its troops’ withdrawal.

    Afghan civilians and the grieving relatives of working-class cannon fodder despatched by Nato countries must ponder the point of this war.

    Supporters of the underhand Nato campaign of regime change in Libya claim that the country is now free.

    They ignore inconvenient facts such as former key Gadaffi personnel sitting in the National Transitional Council (NTC), armed clashes between anti-Gadaffi paramilitary groups and widespread use of torture and discrimination against those dubbed Gadaffi loyalists.

    Russia and China also recall being deceived by the Nato powers into supporting a no-fly zone and arms embargo as essential steps towards a negotiated solution.

    The no-fly zone became a free-fire zone for Nato warplanes as they acted as the NTC air force.

    The arms embargo was one-sided since Gulf absolute monarchy Qatar sent arms and troops to fight alongside the NTC, which was also assisted by special forces from Nato states, including Britain.

    Neither Moscow nor Beijing is willing to be duped into authorising another imperialist war on Syrian soil, no matter how much sanctimonious claptrap about having “blood on their hands,” as US ambassador Susan Rice insisted without any apparent self-awareness.

    President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are undoubtedly using extreme state violence to hang on to power, although leading imperialist news agencies, including the BBC, have been late to recognise the nature of the military challenge facing it.

    Opponents of the Assad regime, including significant numbers of army deserters, have been supplemented by armed assistance from Gulf states and Turkey, encouraging the Syrian National Council and its Free Syrian Army to believe that military intervention by the US and its allies is around the corner and will guarantee success.

    That would be so only if success equated to Syria being reduced to the condition of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

    There is no simple solution to the nightmare situation in which Syria finds itself at present, which is why Russia and China will persist, through a torrent of abuse, to seek a peaceful solution, even as Nato urges the Syrian opposition to reject negotiations.

    There should be no rerun of Libya in Syria. Nor should the desperation of the “something must be done” inclination give way to a green light for military intervention.

    The first priority in a perilous situation is not to make things even worse.

  31. Mar tel

    I think the idea that China & Russia are working behind the scenes highly credible. China has made better progress in both Burma & DPRK through diplomacy than others have with threats

  32. paul fauvet on said:

    Try reading my comment again, Karl Stewart. I thought I had clearly, and unequivocally condemned summary executions and racist lynchings.

    But, unlike you, I am not selective in my condemnation of atrocities. The people who write off the entire Libyan insurrection because of the crimes committed by some of the revolutionaries, are remarkably quiet about the crimes committed in Syria by the Assad regime.

    Indeed those of us who point to those crimes are denounced, idiotically, as “pro-imperialist”.

    The UN resolution that China and Russia vetoes didn’t authorise an invasion of Syria, or even impose a no-fly zone. It simply urged Assad to stand down, hand over to a deputy, withdraw troops from the cities the regime has been bombarding, and begin a transition to democracy.

    It also called for an end to all violence “irrespective of where it comes from”, the release of all those detained in what the resolution quaintly describes as “the current incidents”, and a guarantee of the right to peaceful demonstration.

    Do you have a problem with any of these points, Karl? I cannot see anything in the resolution that socialists could conceivably object to, and I wonder whether the self-styled “anti-imperialists” in this discussion have even bothered to read it.

    Russia says that the resolution would promote “regime change”. Well of course it would! Karl Stewart may believe that loathsome regimes should stay in power for as long as they like, but I always thought that socialists were in favour of removing rotten regimes.

  33. Karl Stewart on said:

    Thanks for posting the Morning Star leader JohnH – the Morning Star gets it absolutely right.

    PaulF, Russia and China have, thankfully, learned from the bitter experience of last year that any UNSC resolution sponsored by NATO, regardless of the wording, will be used as a green light for military action and the installation of a client regime.

    There was nothing in UNSC Resolution 1973 that specifically authorised the slaughter of 30,000 Libyans, the killing Gadaffi and the mass rounding up, beating, torturing and killing of black men – but it was UNSC Resolution 1973 that was used by the NATO powers to “legitimise” all of this.

    Just as the US and UK won’t ever be believed again if they accuse other nations of developing WMD, so they won’t ever be believed again if they seek UN approval for “humanitarian intervention.”

  34. #38 although Karl can speak for himself, I really have to respond to some of that.

    Firstly, while the resolution may not call specifically for military intervention, that is what many of those who support it (you included) are in favour of.

    Let’s face it, if its actual effect was likely to as limited as you suggest, why not have a serious discussion with a view to consensus given that the Russians and Chinese had an amended version of the resolution? And, crucially, the resolution on Libya didn’t sanction much of what NATO actually did in its name, something those like yourself who supported intervention appear to have no problem with, a point which has clearly influenced Russia and China.

    Secondly, there is no necessary correlation between the view that it is not the job of the UN or NATO acting in its name, to overthrow governments, and support for a particular government or failure to condemn its treatment of its people.

    The points you make about intervention you have made before and I am still not clear as to where you draw the line (if at all) in terms of which governments NATO is entitled to use force against to overthrow.

    What are your criteria?

  35. I’ve just seen the headlines on al-Jazeera. They report indiscriminate heavy shelling of Homs, scores of civilian deaths and license to kill anybody Assad death squads roaming the outskirts. This is the context of an uprising (yes, yes, yes with contradictions, weaknesses like any uprising) against possibly the nastiest, most brutal, venal and unprincipled – ask any Palestinian – regime not just in the ME, but in the world.

    And then I turn to SU – a website that I like 1000s of others respect and often, given the lack of an alternative voice, ‘need’ – and read what looks to an article that gives tacit endorsement to the diplomatic position vis Syria of Russia and China – as if the foreign policy of those authoritarian states is anything other than self-interest. Then, looking over the posts that follow I see, I see contributions that take as their starting point and raison e’etre not solidarity with those fighting (and dieng by the 1000 in the process) that brutal regime, but opposing imperialism – and thereby managing to just about endorse the Assad regime because the West, Arab League, are against it.

    To quote Trotsky (albeit speaking about Fabianism): ‘How disgusting are your mental contortions’.

  36. paul fauvet on said:

    What are my criteria for the use of force, Vanya asks.

    Basically, there are only two. Any country is entitled to respond to aggression. So when Al-Qaeda used Afghan soil to launch terrorist attacks against the United States, it was legitimate for the US to strike back.

    Secondly, intervention may be appropriate if, as in the Libyan case, the insurgents ask for assistance. As far as I am aware, the Free Syrian Army has not yet asked for any no-fly zone, much less a foreign invasion.

    As for Karl Stewart’s figure of 30,000 deaths – are you seriously trying to pin all the carnage in Libya on NATO? Do you hold NATO responsible for the deaths in Misrata, a city that heroically resisted a siege by Gaddaffi forces for several months?

    And do you believe that, if Gaddaffi had retaken Benghazi (which was on the cards before the NATO intervention), everything would have been sweetness and light? Since Gaddaffi himself referred to the rebels as “rats” who would be hunted down from house to house, a hideous massacre would probably have followed on the heels of Gaddaffi troops entering Benghazi.

    From this exchange, one thing is eminently clear – far too much of the British left has forgotten all the lessons of anti-fascist struggles of the past, and now believes that US imperialism is the worst thing in the world. Those living under regimes such as those of Gaddaffi or Assad might beg to differ.

  37. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    The Free Syrian Army has called for foreign military intervention. Its leader, Riad al-Assad, over two weeks ago called for military action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorises the Security Council to take such action.

  38. ‘As far as I am aware, the Free Syrian Army has not yet asked for any no-fly zone, much less a foreign invasion.’

    Well I have seen spokesmen for the Syrian opposition – which is of course divided – call for a no fly zone. But it is possible to oppose external intervention (that would be shot through with imperialist motives) in Syria, whilst having as a starting point of solidarity with those fighting a brutal oppressor. There may be exceptions in opposition to external intervention – like when Gaddafis troops were set to massacre ‘the rats’ of Benghazi and dramatically set back the whole Arab Spring. Trying to think through and come out with a politics that combines anti-imperialism and solidarity with movements that, given their weakness and composition, will inevitably in part look to external powers is awkward. But then reality in Syria and elsewhere is a mess. However, solidarity is a better political and moral starting point than constantly veering to the simplistic ‘How can be ‘against’ imperialism?’ That ends up with in a contemptible de facto ‘My enemies enemy is my friend’.

  39. #42 This requires no mental contortions on my part.

    You talk about imperialism as if it is not even a significant factor, which given the history and politics of the region is strange to say the least.

    I agree with much of what you say about the nature of Assad’s regime.
    If the Syrian people end up with something better as a result of the current turmoil I will be more than happy.

    But something better cannot be achieved on the basis of a NATO military intervention under the flag of the UN.

    And as for Trotsky, (a) The same sort of pro-intervention arguments as are being raised would have been used to justify action against the regime he was a central figure in, (b) he not only opposed fascism but he also opposed League of Nations sanctions against Italy when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia (mental contortions?)

  40. # 46 ‘But something better cannot be achieved on the basis of a NATO military intervention under the flag of the UN’.

    Well actually it might be. It might objectively be better to be a citizen – by extension a socialist, trade unionist etc. – of Libya now than when Gadaffi was in power. I’m not convinced but it might be better to be a woman in Afghanistan now than when the Taliban ruled. So you could be wrong in practice about that, rather than being right that foreign intervention is always worse ‘in principle’.

    But even if that was the case, that imperialism is ‘better’ – and it certainly wasn’t in Iraq – that certainly doesn’t justify it. That’s not the point. The point is, my point was, that in opposing imperialism some people on the Left, well represented here, forget the political and moral starting point and guiding principle of solidarity – and end up trying to find something progressive in the machinations of Russia and China at the UN Security Council. That amounts to a digusting mental contortion. Whilst they ‘debated’, whilst we type, the thugs of that most brutal of regimes murders opponents in the streets, their homes.

  41. prianikoff on said:

    The question I asked here over a month ago was “who are the Free Syrian Army”?
    As yet I haven’t seen a convincing answer.

    The fact that the FSA is allowed to base itself inTurkey (a NATO member state) and can cross the Syrian border with impunity, indicates that it’s being actively sponsored by them.
    Some of the other Syrian political forces now calling for a “no-fly zone” in Northern Syria also have dubious allies.

    During the early stages of the Libyan crisis, the idea of Western armed intervention seemed quite remote. Then some commentators on this blog started floating it as a possibility.
    Soon we saw it was being actively considered by NATO, then it was implemented. Some people on the left defended it and still do, stupidly arguing that it would have no effect on the political makeup of any new government.

    This is remarkably naive and stupid. Outside intervention using an internal civil war as a pretext is a policy as old as the Roman Empire. The fact that the rebels may have a good case isn’t really the point, the political outcome is.

    The idea of a “No-Fly Zone” over Northern Syria is now being floated once again. Clearly there is no particular threat to demonstrators from the Syrian Air Force as such, so such a demand would simply be used to allow the FSA to operate with impunity.

    It serves the forces that want to prosecute outside intervention to bring down the regime, not because they support “democracy”, but because Syria under Assad is a rejectionist state which is allied to Iran.

    But it’s not possible for such a regime to be overthrown in a progressive direction by such means, as is shown in the case of Libya and many other examples.

  42. #34

    Vanya, my reference here is this recent article by Jonathan Steele in the Guardian, in which he cites a recent opinion poll carried out by a Qatari NGO.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

    #45

    ‘like when Gaddafis troops were set to massacre ‘the rats’ of Benghazi and dramatically set back the whole Arab Spring.’

    Gaddafi never set back the Arab Spring, the West did with its military intervention. Thereafter we’ve had a western orchestrated offensive against any and every regime in the region that still resists its writ.

    This is what both Russia and China understand. And this was the basis of their principled veto to opening the door to legitimising yet another military adventure by NATO under the guise of the UN.

  43. #43

    paul fauvet: Any country is entitled to respond to aggression. So when Al-Qaeda used Afghan soil to launch terrorist attacks against the United States, it was legitimate for the US to strike back.

    interesting example, because it is now clear that you think that the USA should be able to attack anyone they want, whatver the consequences, however slight the pretext.

    Afghanistan did not attack the USA, even if we accept that the 9/11 plot came from Afghanistan (there is equal liklihood it was planned in Saudi Arabia), then the appropriate way forward was to negotiate extradition of Bin Laden.

    This is where the problem was, because no extradition treaty existed, and the USA expected bin laden to be handed over immediately without following due process. This was not possible for the Taliban, nor indeed would it have been possible for most states.

    Clearly what was needed was diplomacy, using mutually trusted interlocutors, to incentivise the Taliban government to hand over Bin Laden and close the Al Qaeda camps.

    Instead what happened was a farcical invasion, where even initial supporters of the invasion like Ahmed rashed report how the Pakistani military airlifted Al Qaeda out, and US political cowardrice about taking American casualties means they used Afghan warlord mercenaries in Bora Bora, who simply took a higher payment from Bin Laden to assist him to travel to Paksitan.

    The US action was designed to fail in its own terms, and because they rearmed and funded the warlords, while starving Karzai of funds and support for a central govt, the US policy perpetuated Afghanistan as a failed state and source of danger.

  44. #49 I was beginning to think that perhaps my reference to ‘disgusting mental contortions’ was an over reaction stemming from watching the news this morning and then immediately checking SU.

    I can see from this post that it wasn’t.

    Are you seriously suggesting John that, assuming it would have happened, (and there are those who say it wouldn’t) a massacre of the Libyan opposition in Benghazi by the forces of a tyrant hell bent on crushing any opposition to his despostic rule, wouldn’t have been an actual and symbolic set back for a region wide movement that aims, broadly, to remove despotic tyrants? What would it have been then? A move forward, a no score draw?

    Are you seriously suggesting John that the contemporary regimes of Russia and China are ‘principled’ and not motivated by their own foreign and domestic agendas – not least when it comes to selling arms and wanting a clean run when it comes to murdering their own opponents?

    But then perhaps you think that imperialism is only imperialism when the flag is the Stars & Stripes, Union Jack or Tricolour?

  45. This reminds me of Juan Coles article on his website, ‘Informed Comment’ that argued that Christians had never had it so good in Muslim countries. Manure.

  46. #52

    ‘a massacre of the Libyan opposition in Benghazi by the forces of a tyrant hell bent on crushing any opposition to his despostic rule, wouldn’t have been an actual and symbolic set back for a region wide movement that aims, broadly, to remove despotic tyrants? What would it have been then? A move forward, a no score draw?’

    I think you need to take a breath, as you are becoming incoherent in your desire to paint those of us who oppose the West’s role in the region as complicit in crimes against humanity.

    You are clearly blind to the wider context to what it taking place. Any regime, including the one that currently runs this country, which finds its power being challenged by an armed insurrection, supported by external actors and foreign countries whose recent record in this respect has resulted in carnage and chaos, would resort to violence to maintain itself in power. This is the first priority of any regime, maintaining its power and authority by any means at its disposal.

    The contradictions throughout the Arab world are clear – an inability to develop their societies while resisting the economic and political penetration of the West while at the same time allowing the development of functional democratic rights. The lack of political freedoms throughout the region is a consequence of external pressure married to internal divisions congruent with tribal/factional/and sectarian divisions, which in the context of a global recession have exploded. To fail to factor any of the aforementioned into your analysis reveals a lapse into Kantian moralism that in effect accepts the writ of the West and our own liberal democracies to control these societies as soon as the need to maintain their power and interests presents itself.

    It is instructive that the level of anger you display is absent when dealing with your own government or its role as an agent of mass murder and slaughter of civilians throughout the developing world. Perhaps you feel that as long as the words liberal democracy can be attached to this mass slaughter it somehow makes it less of a crime.

    Specifically with regard to Gaddafi and Benghazi, Gaddafi’s speech made clear that his forces would show no mercy to those who ‘resisted them’. He did not pledge to massacre every last man, woman and child as the propaganda in the West has it, and as you’ve just repeate. Check the transcript of his speech if you do not believe me.

    In the aftermath of his removal from power and summary torture and execution by Libyan ‘freedom fighters’, atrocities are still being carried out against any dissenting voice in a society in which support for Gaddafi was significant. You think this is progress, black Libyans being lynched, prisoners being tortured, armed gangs controlling their own fiefdoms?

    If Syria were to go down the same road the consequences would be far worse. Is your memory so short that you’ve already made peace with the carnage in Iraq?

    All I can say is that I haven’t and won’t.

  47. Paul F.: “Any country is entitled to respond to aggression.” Any country? So, if Saddam Hussein really had had weapons of mass destruction and the ability to use them against the UK and US in response to aggression, that would have been fair play in 2003?

    Statements of grand principle are dangerous, and best avoided.

  48. Sam64 #42: “I’ve just seen the headlines on al-Jazeera.”

    Al-Jazeera is hardly a source of objective information on Syria. It is owned & controlled by the royal family of Qatar, which is supplying weapons & funds to the anti-government armed groups and, together with Saudi Arabia, sabotaged the previous Arab League peace initiative.

    Sam64 #42: “assuming it would have happened, (and there are those who say it wouldn’t) a massacre of the Libyan opposition in Benghazi by the forces of a tyrant”

    The prospective so-called ‘massacre in Benghazi’ was an invention of the Western media & politicians in order to justify the NATO air & missile attacks. I’ve looked in some detail at that deception in the following article:

    http://21stcenturysocialism.com/article/death_by_humanitarianism_02056.html

    BTW the media reports (that is, the Western media and the Gulf Monarchy owned media) are putting out wildly exaggerated casualty figures for the Syrian conflict, a point made clearly by the Arab League observer mission:

    http://21stcenturysocialism.com/article/text_of_the_arab_league_monitors_report_on_syria_02089.html

  49. prianikoff: During the early stages of the Libyan crisis, the idea of Western armed intervention seemed quite remote. Then some commentators on this blog started floating it as a possibility.
    Soon we saw it was being actively considered by NATO, then it was implemented.

    My thoughts exactly.

  50. More from Sam64 #52: “a region wide movement that aims, broadly, to remove despotic tyrants?”

    Oh really? Rather odd then, that the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and UAE were & are in the forefront of support for this ‘movement’ in Libya and Syria!

    And further: “Are you seriously suggesting John that the contemporary regimes of Russia and China are ‘principled’ and not motivated by their own foreign and domestic agendas”

    Turn that idea the right way up (given that Russia and China are working to _prevent_ an aggressive military action) and ask yourself what is really motivating the West, Turkey & the Gulf Kingdoms.

  51. # 54 ‘I think you need to take a breath, as you are becoming incoherent in your desire to paint those of us who oppose the West’s role in the region as complicit in crimes against humanity.’

    Well, this is completely hypocritical. Anyone who wants to see the back of Assad is tarred by you with responsibility for every crime of imperialism.

    ‘Any regime….would resort to violence to maintain itself in power.’

    ‘This is the first priority of any regime, maintaining its power and authority by any means at its disposal.’

    Nonsense. Many regimes facing their immediate downfall have not had the stomach, or even had too much conscience, to turn their troops on the civilian population e.g. Honnecker did not turn his troops on the demonstrators in the GDR.

    It takes a particular type of bastard, like Assad, to massacre your own people.

    ‘You are clearly blind to the wider context to what it taking place.’

    Says a man who believes that China’s and Russia’s vetoes were principled and nothing else.

    I accept that you post all these state press releases but I did not think that you swallowed them whole as well.

  52. # 54 & probably the others since.

    I note that you fail to answer the specific question: ‘Would a massacre have been a setback for the Arab Spring?’ Instead, you side step the issue by a touching faith in the mercy of Muammar Gaddafi to his opponents – conspicuous by its absence over the previous 40 years. As it happens, I heard the words of Gaddafi live (via translation on the al-Jazeera English Channel), his slurred references to seeking out the rats street by street, cellar by cellar, one by one and crushing them. That’s what convinced me that an external intervention, regardless of the longer term motives, was in that context at that time, vital. Now it wasn’t exactly ‘ideal’ that foreign forces, mainly French jet fighters, stopped the military advance at the outskirts of Benghazi. But I stand by the position that it was politically and morally preferable to the alternative: a Shrebreniza (opps shouldn’t have mentioned that, somebody is bound to pop up to say that was Western myth designed to demonise the Serbs and justify imperialist intervention in the Balkans!) style massacre. No apologies.

    For the rest – leaving aside the authorial attempt to take a dispassionate intellectual tone and paint me as a rabid champion of imperialism – your position is clear: Your support for the Assad regime is not tacit but explicit given that he’s opposed by enemy number one (imperialists) and given the complicating factor of ethnic division within Syria – as if that wasn’t a general issue. How else are your words to be interpreted? ‘Any regime, including the one that currently runs this country, which finds its power being challenged by an armed insurrection, supported by external actors and foreign countries whose recent record in this respect has resulted in carnage and chaos, would resort to violence to maintain itself in power. This is the first priority of any regime, maintaining its power and authority by any means at its disposal’.

    Err, yes John. But it’s the prioirty of socialists to support those fighting those regimes. And, yes, the fact that many of those doing just that are currently being slaughtered in Syria does add a little emotion to the argument. No apologies there either.

  53. paul fauvet on said:

    “Gaddafi’s speech made clear that his forces would show no mercy to those who ‘resisted them’. He did not pledge to massacre every last man, woman and child as the propaganda in the West has it”.

    I see. So he would only have massacred those who resisted him. So that’s all right, then. Three cheers for Brother colonel!

  54. #62

    ‘So he would only have massacred those who resisted him.’

    Well, he did happen to be head of the legally and internationally recognised government in Libya at the time.

    The merits or demerits of that govt is not the issue. The issue is how western intervention guaranteed even more carnage in the country, which still continues, and the lessons to be learned from it.

    You either refuse to or are incapable of learning those lessons, unless of course you just don’t care about the fate of those who now find themselves being lynched, tortured and butchered in the wake of Gaddafi’s removal from power.

    As for Sam at #61, I am not a supporter of Assad. I am an opponent of western intervention. There is a difference.

  55. # 63 ‘So he would only have massacred those who resisted him.’

    Well, he did happen to be head of the legally and internationally recognised government in Libya at the time’.

    That is a truly wretched statement and as far from socialism as you can get.

    If you are a recognised government you can massacre your citizens with impunity?

    I see why you hate Thomas Paine so much, the only right you think citizens should have is to be tortured and murdered by their governments.

  56. # 63 Yes John. But I’m suggesting that in a near theological obsessional with being ‘against imperialism’, you overlook another corner stone of socialist politics of solidarity – and end up producing some, not all, lousy analysis. Your article blaming the West for the break up of Yugoslavia was a particular case in point.

    I’m all for political intransigence by the way, but not at the cost of relegating support for those fighting tyranny. As I say, the world, not least the ME, is a mess and absolutes don’t help or illuminate.

    Anyway, that’s all from me, got to go out.

  57. paul fauvet #62: “So he would only have massacred those who resisted him.”

    Actually the most likely outcome (ie, had the French, UK & US not attacked) was the rebel fighters fleeing from Benghazi and then being routed towards the border with Egypt.

    But in any situation, the options for fighters facing an advancing & overwhelmingly superior enemy are rather limited, to variations on retreating / fleeing, surrendering, or fighting on to face likely death.

  58. @ Martel #64. Well, if killing members of enemy armed forces who are actively fighting against you is ‘massacring’ them, then all successful armed forces carry out massacres. Nothing whatsoever specific to Libya & Gaddafi there.

    Though as it happens, the difference in military capabilities of the Libyan troops & the NATO air forces was such that, if anything like a massacre occurred in the region of Benghazi, it was the killing of large numbers of Libyan soldiers by the NATO bombers.

  59. ‘I see why you hate Thomas Paine so much, the only right you think citizens should have is to be tortured and murdered by their governments.’

    You’ve clearly lost the plot. There is no point in continuing this debate.

  60. I would have thought that you don’t need to admire Syria or the kind of ‘anti-imperialist’ arguments some advocate here to see that foreign military intervention in the country would be an utter disaster.

    So, if us pro-Lybian people’s uprising people have any influence on NATO let’s hope they listen to that view.

  61. Martel #60: “Many regimes facing their immediate downfall have not had the stomach, or even had too much conscience, to turn their troops on the civilian population”

    Not that a socialist revolution has ever been an immediate prospect in Britain, but there are indications that our ruling class would be prepared to contemplate the use of military force against the population should that be necessary.

  62. # 67 ‘Well, if killing members of enemy armed forces who are actively fighting against you is ‘massacring’ them, then all successful armed forces carry out massacres. Nothing whatsoever specific to Libya & Gaddafi there.’

    Er no, among other things Gadaffi was firing heavy artillery and mortars into major population centres (Mistra,Zuwara).

    #68 ‘You’ve clearly lost the plot.’

    You are the one claiming that recognised governments have the right to massacre those who resist them.

  63. Martel: “Gadaffi was firing heavy artillery and mortars into major population centres”

    Actually the casualty stats released during the war for the rebel-held areas show almost all those killed and injured were men, with very few women and children casualties.

    Which suggests that the government forces were not deliberately targeting civilians, but rather seeking to focus fire on rebel fighters.

  64. Martel:

    ‘You are the one claiming that recognised governments have the right to massacre those who resist them’

    This is a lie. Please point to where I said that.

  65. Further @ #71. Martel, if you + a bunch of like minded people decided to openly take up arms against the UK government, don’t you think that you would quite likely be ‘massacred’ tout de suite?

  66. Martel on said:

    # 73 See….

    ‘‘So he would only have massacred those who resisted him.’

    Well, he did happen to be head of the legally and internationally recognised government in Libya at the time.

    The merits or demerits of that govt is not the issue.’

  67. Martel on said:

    # 74 I really do not want to indulge some old tankie’s toytown fantasies about a Marxist-Leninst revolution in the UK.

  68. Martel on said:

    # 74 The last time I did that Nick Wright started banging on about how he would use the requistioned Royal Navy to torpedo dentists fleeing across the English Channel.

  69. Well Martel, however fantastical the thought is that you might take up arms against the government (& the idea of you doing so for ‘Marxist-Leninst’ reasons is your own invention), nevertheless the fact remains that you or anyone else who did so would be quite likely killed by government forces.

    Hence the point that you are trying to make is ridiculous.

  70. #75

    So I was right, it was a lie.

    I never said he had the ‘right’ to massacre those who resist him at all, did I?

    I did say that as the head of the Libyan govt he would have clearly used any means necessary to put down an armed insurrection. Any govt would, including ours, as it did in Ireland for 30 years. This is self evident.

    But of course you continue to refuse to address the point repeatedly made about the atrocities that were and are still being carried out by the Libyans who opposed Gaddafi.

  71. Martel on said:

    # 78 No, the point you are making, which is to be expected by a supporter of the Soviet’s actions in Berlin ’53, Hungary ’56, Prague ’68 etc., is that authoritarian government’s have a moral right to crush opposition to their regimes.

    I do not happen to agree with this.

    I do, however, believe that populations have a moral right to oppose tyrants.

  72. Martel on said:

    # 79 Fine John, try and dig yourself out of a hole.

    ‘But of course you continue to refuse to address the point repeatedly made about the atrocities that were and are still being carried out by the Libyans who opposed Gaddafi.’

    I have never refused to address this point.

    I was under no allusions that the transistion to some form of democracy in Libya would be far from easy, especially after a civil war.

    And I condemn atrocities post-conflict as I condemn those during and after.

    However, atrocities will lessen as the militias are brought under control, a government legitimised by a national election is established and a functioning system of justice is put in place.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Libya has a much more hopeful future now Gadaffi has gone.

  73. ‘There is no doubt in my mind that Libya has a much more hopeful future now Gadaffi has gone.’

    This is the same line adopted by pro-war liberals amid the ensuing carnage in Iraq.

    It follows the logic of the US officer in Vietnam who said, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”.

  74. #79

    Martel: However, atrocities will lessen as the militias are brought under control, a government legitimised by a national election is established and a functioning system of justice is put in place.

    More than ten years on in Afghanistan, how is that coming along?

    I am just trying to get an idea of the timescales you expect?

    Obviously you take the long view, and can see that Karzai’s talks to bring the Taliban back into the government are just a little hiccup on the march to a liberal democracy

  75. Martel on said:

    # 81 Aghanistan is a completely different situation than Libya.

    An action I opposed at the time and continue to think it was completely the wrong thing to do.

  76. Any socialist or working class partisan must support the struggle of the Syrian masses against the murderous regime of Assad. Of course US imperialism has its own interests, which we oppose, but there should be no doubt that we support the mass struggle against the Bathist regime and support the demand for democratic rights

    sandy

  77. #82

    Martel: Aghanistan is a completely different situation than Libya.

    Well thwe cause for war may have been different, but the military model of the conflict, with US air power used to support militia on the ground is similar; and the difficulty of putting it all back in the box afterwards is also similar.

  78. Karl Stewart on said:

    paul fauvet: As for Karl Stewart’s figure of 30,000 deaths – are you seriously trying to pin all the carnage in Libya on NATO? Do you hold NATO responsible for the deaths in Misrata, a city that heroically resisted a siege by Gaddaffi forces for several months? And do you believe that, if Gaddaffi had retaken Benghazi (which was on the cards before the NATO intervention), everything would have been sweetness and light?

    The figure of 30,000 deaths is not “Karl Stewart’s” figure, it’s an estimate that was given by NATO’s “NTC” before the final overthrow of Gadaffi – so the actual figure, if we take into account the post-conquest period, is certain to be significantly higher than that.

    And yes, NATO is entirely responsible for these deaths – it was the Libyan government that wanted a ceasefire and negotiations – the African Union peace plan – with its opponents and it was NATO that rejected any resolution short of unconditional surrender.
    It was, therefore, NATO that was solely responsible for the subsequent slaughter and for every single subsequent death on both sides.

    There was no “massacre of Banghazi” by the Gadaffi forces – it’s an utter fantasy cooked up by NATO and NATO’s cheerleaders such as you and Martel.

    What did happen in Benghazi was widespread lynchings of black men by pro-NATO elements – but then that was just a bit of “score settling” so nothing to worry about eh PaulF?

  79. Martel on said:

    # 85 You are like a broken record.

    The African Union plan was NEVER going to be workable, as it was completely opposed by one side.

    So much so, that even if the NTC accepted it (which they would nt as they would be denounced as traitors by their constituents), the rebellion would have been continued by those opposed to Gadaffi remaining in power.

    So your post was pointless.

    Like your silly claim that Libya was all about the oil.

  80. Martel on said:

    # 85 ‘It was, therefore, NATO that was solely responsible for the subsequent slaughter and for every single subsequent death on both sides.’

    More sixth form logic.

    Maybe every death was Gadaffi’s responsibility because he did not jump on a plane to Cuba in February 2010.

    Or Mohamed Bouazizi’s fault because he set himself on fire in protest at police harrassment.

  81. stuart on said:

    Martel: # 81 Aghanistan is a completely different situation than Libya.An action I opposed at the time and continue to think it was completely the wrong thing to do.

    So no to military action in Afghanistan, yes to Libya? What about military action by NATO in Syria?

  82. #86

    Martel: The African Union plan was NEVER going to be workable, as it was completely opposed by one side.
    So much so, that even if the NTC accepted it (which they would nt as they would be denounced as traitors by their constituents), the rebellion would have been continued by those opposed to Gadaffi remaining in power.

    So on the one hand you argue that only NATO prevented a massacre that the NTC were powerless to prevent; and on the other hand you argue that the NTC were in a position to refuse a ceasfire and fight on to overthrow Gaddafi.

  83. Martel on said:

    # 88 I oppose military action in Syria.

    It is highly unlikely anyway.

    Obama is shrewd enough to recognise an almighty mess is going to be inherited by anyone who sends troops into Syria.

    #89 I do not know what point you are making.

    I am saying that the African Union plan was unacceptable to the vast majority of rebels and I do not think the NTC could have persuaded the rebels to back it even if they wanted to.

    It would not be accepted unless the NTC were pummelled into accepting whatever agreement Gadaffi put on the table.

    Which is not really a diplomatic solution or peace plan, it is a conquest.

    One like to be followed by contined rebel uprisings.

  84. #90

    Martel: ‘It is highly unlikely anyway.’

    On what basis do you say military action is highly unlikely?

  85. #86 But the rebels rejected peace negotiations in the fulll knowledge that they would have NATO firepower to back them up.

    The choice in terms of outside intervention was assistance with peace talks or military support for either side, and Zimbabwe et all were not about to send an army to help the Colonel.

  86. Karl Stewart on said:

    Martel: # 85 You are like a broken record

    Perhaps we both do. The arguments you’re using are predictable in that your position is based on unconditional support for NATO come what may.

    I’m not denying that the African Union peace plan was unacceptable to NATO – NATO insisted on unconditional surrender as the only possible resolution and, eventually, NATO won the war. No-one’s denying the facts of what happened.

    But the African Union peace plan was an alternative to the war. It was an alternative to the 30,000 deaths that took place. It was an alternative to the lynchings of black men and the complete conquest of Libya by NATO.

    Of course NATO didn’t want a compromise peace – NATO wanted outright victory.

    The difference now is that NATO will not be able to go to war again under the figleaf of the UN – that’s a very positive development.

    Martel: Like your silly claim that Libya was all about the oil.

    Of course it was all about the oil. Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa. Of course control of a country with so much oil is a huge prize. The only other explanation is a face-value acceptance of the “humanitarian” argument.

  87. paul fauvet on said:

    John notes that Gaddaffi was “head of the legally and internationally recognised government in Libya”, and this apparently gave him the right to mow down his own citizens.

    I note that Tsar Nicholas II was head of the legally and internationally recognised government in Russia, and no doubt, had John been around in 1917, he would have condemned the dastardly regime change engineered by the Bolsheviks, with the aid of the Kaiser who provided transport for the German imperialist agent Vladimir Lenin.

    At least, if he were minimally consistent, that would be his position.

  88. Martel on said:

    # 93 ‘predictable in that your position is based on unconditional support for NATO come what may.’

    Bollocks.

    ‘I’m not denying that the African Union peace plan was unacceptable to NATO…..’

    Do you think such dumb rhetorical tricks are going to fool anyone?

    I was talking about whether the plan was acceptable to the NTC and rebels, not NATO.

    ‘Of course it was all about the oil.’

    That’s a slogan not an argument.

  89. paul fauvet on said:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, we have this report from Homs today, which shows how the Assad regime has reacted to the Chinese and Russian vetos:

    “Shelling resumed shortly after daybreak on Monday, says BBC’s Paul Wood who has managed to get into the city, and hundreds of shells and mortars have been fired throughout the day.

    “Eyewitness Danny Abdul Dayem told the BBC the army was using rockets for the first time, with more than 300 falling on his locality since dawn.

    “It’s not safe at all, a rocket could land in this house right now,” he said

    Some rebel fighters have been firing automatic weapons in return, in what our correspondent calls a futile gesture.

    The rebels claim that the shelling has hit a field hospital in the Baba Amr district, causing casualties. However, our correspondent says this is impossible to verify.

    The facility is treating dozens of people wounded in previous assaults on Homs.

    Mr Dayem said only one field hospital with four doctors was still operating in the city, and it was virtually impossible to get additional medication without being shot.

    Another anti-government campaigner told the BBC the government was also using helicopters and tanks in the assault.”

    And in his blog, Paul Woods adds: “Syrian state television denied that there had been any bombardment. It said residents were setting fire to piles of rubbish on the roofs of their homes to trick the world into thinking that there was an attack.

    “There is no doubt, however, from what we have seen and heard, that hundreds of shells and mortars have been fired at this place during the day. As I write this, the windows of the house we are in are still reverberating from the impact of a shell, probably in the next street.

    “It is true that people have been setting fire to rubbish in the streets. They believe it will confuse the guidance systems of rockets apparently being fired at them. They are probably mistaken.

    “People in this part of Homs say these attacks are the worst they have known since the beginning of the uprising, almost a year ago”.

    Still, not to worry – Assad is the legally and internationally recognized head of the Syrian government, so must be presumed to have the right to blow up his own cities.

    And doubtless, by citing a BBC journalist who is actually in Homs, I have proved once again how cravenly pro-imperialist I am.

  90. Martel: I was talking about whether the plan was acceptable to the NTC and rebels, not NATO.

    But, again, do you not think that there may have been any connection between the fact that the rebels/NTC knew that they would have the support of massive NATO firepower whether they tried negotiations or not?

  91. Martel on said:

    #97 What NATO would or would not do would obviously factor into the NTC’s decisions. That is obvious.

    However, I think the NTC was right in refusing to countenance any deal that kept the Gadaffi dynasty in power.

    If the AU deal was going to have any legs it could not maintain Gadaffi in power.

  92. Paul Fauvet

    Assad’s armed forces killing people is deplorable, I am sure we all agree. We could also agree that the dis functional nature of Syrian state has prevented normal political processes being peacefully expressed.

    But the opposition are in fact armed and also killing people.

    What is necessary is to encourage a peace process that involves a ceasation of violence and seek to divert the dispute into political rather than military channels.

    Making the overthrow of Assad a pre condition not only gives a pretext for foreign intervention, but more importantly means that there will inevitably be a resolution based upon killing not talking.

    Given the potential for sectarian violence in Syria, a military outcome could be a long term disaster

  93. #94

    ‘John notes that Gaddaffi was “head of the legally and internationally recognised government in Libya”, and this apparently gave him the right to mow down his own citizens.’

    Like your friend, Martel, you resort to lies and distortion in order to bolster an increasingly unsustainable position. The word ‘right’ was never written by me, so I’d appreciate a retraction.

    Gaddafi was head of the Libyan govt, and the point I was making is that any govt, including any in the West, would respond with force when faced with an armed uprising in any of its towns or cities.

    Are you disputing this?

    Your pattern of throwing around false historical analogies is well known, Paul. They continue to weaken rather than strengthen your arguments.

    Again, you have drunk the kool-aid where NATO/Western intervention is concerned. Those of us arguing against this possibility, based on the concrete and recent examples of how such intervention has done nothing apart from leave a mountain of bodies in its wake, are interested in stopping the bloodshed. Your position actively proposes perpetuating it.

  94. #100

    John: any govt, including any in the West, would respond with force when faced with an armed uprising in any of its towns or cities.

    The last time an armed uprising hapened in England was I beleive the misleadingly named “Bristol riots” of 1831. The yeomanry did indeed supress the uprising with maximum force and violence.

  95. Martel on said:

    # 100 Maybe, rather than calling people liars, which you have no case for doing so, you should be a little more careful with your phraseology.

    Your post at 61 did read like a justification for ‘recognised’ government’s repression of opposition movements.

    I take you at your word that it was not, instead you were making some bizarre point about repression of armed uprisings being inevitable or something.

    Which it isn’t.

  96. Paul Fauvet #96: “Meanwhile, back in the real world, we have this report from Homs today, which shows how the Assad regime has reacted to the Chinese and Russian vetos…”

    Actually that report seems to be mainly based on the claims of opposition supporters, which have not so far shown to be particularly reliable.

    Eg by Saturday evening, opposition sources were alleging 360 people killed in Homs since Friday, then on Sunday morning the BBC world service was giving 50 as a more probable figure, and today the media is claiming 200 killed since Friday. Basically, they seem to be making it up as they go along.

    Most likely, the reason for such a very high figure being circulated on Saturday evening was to try to maximise pressure on Russia prior to the UNSC vote.

    And, while the Arab League monitors were in Syria, those observers noted a reducing death toll- while the opposition & the media were claiming a rising death toll, and figures many times what the observer mission reported.

    So little if any credence can be given to the claims made by the Syrian opposition and uncritically relayed by the Western, Saudi & Qatari media.

  97. #102

    No, again, you’re lying. You wrote that I said it had the ‘right’ to massacre those who resist it.

    That word did not appear in my comments anywhere.

    Meanwhile, every post of yours drips with justification for NATO military intervention in Syria, along with justification for the murderous NATO operation in Libya.

    You have shown no concern over the deaths that resulted in Libya as a consequence, or the chaos taking place there in its aftermath. In fact you even had the temerity to write,”There is no doubt in my mind that Libya has a much more hopeful future now Gadaffi has gone”.

    This was the same line taken by pro-war liberals when it became apparent that the occupation of Iraq had led to disaster and carnage rather than liberation and flowers.

    As I said previously, it is redolent of the comment made by a US officer in Vietnam, who said, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

  98. Martel: However, I think the NTC was right in refusing to countenance any deal that kept the Gadaffi dynasty in power.If the AU deal was going to have any legs it could not maintain Gadaffi in power.

    So your objection to the deal is based not only on the supposition that it could not have worked because one side was against it (knowing that they could rely on NATO force if they preferred to carry on with the bloodshed) but also on your own views of the preferable outcome.

    Without NATO force the choice for the rebels was defeat or negotiation, and I strongly suspect that a significant proportion would have preferred the latter.

  99. @ Martel #102. You’re being deliberately obtuse in order to try to score a point. It’s quite clear what John meant.

  100. Martel on said:

    # 104 I think I am being very charitable in accepting your interpetation of a rather dubious post.

    Are you a big fan on Sylvia Plath? The rest of your post is just your usual melodramatics, instead of trying to say anything.

    And as I have said before I do not believe in military intervention in Syria.

  101. Martel, you are continuing with your silly attempts at point-scoring rather than engaging in fruitful debate. John’s meaning was perfectly clear, ie: any govt, including any in the West, would respond with force when faced with an armed uprising in any of its towns or cities.

  102. BTW inflated casualty figures may not be deliberate propaganda.in Angus Calder’s book “the peoples war” he reports how those who experienced their towns being bombed habitually ovetestimted the casualties, often by a factor if ten. It is an understandable reaction to trauma to be systematicly pessimistic.

  103. These two lads from Homs understand what some purported socialists are saying about what is happening to them. (I’m in no position to judge whether they’re being pessimistic.)

    Yesterday they made this compelling message which is @ youtube.com; it was uploaded by Tchie91, & it is identifiable as it’s the only film lasting 52 seconds.

    (Unfortunately I don’t know how to make a live link; nevertheless, they’ve gone to the trouble of allowing this message to be made, and all you have to do is search by keying in “Tchie91″. I’ve tested it so it works.)

    Thanks.

  104. Martel

    I am intrigued when you say that attempted repression of armed uprisings by a state is not inevitable

    Can you give me any examples of a state not attempting to use force to resolve an armed rebellion. Especially when the rebels themselves refuse talks.

  105. @ Andy # 110, yes, that’s an important & most likely very relevant point. However, re: Syria, these wildly overstated death reports are never challenged by the media, whereas eg the findings of the Arab League observer mission were almost completely ignored.

  106. Martel on said:

    #112 ‘Can you give me any examples of a state not attempting to use force to resolve an armed rebellion.’

    The Glorious Revolution was pretty bloodless. James effectively gave up after a few insignificant skirmishes.

  107. Martel, I think it’s time you got yourself a life, mate. You’re way past the point of being embarrassing.

    Time for bed.

    Night-night, son.

  108. The rebels rejected peace talks? Uh, who are these “rebels” that can speak for the rebellion? The SNC are largely emigres with little support inside the country. The FSA leadership are based in Turkey and also likely to have little sway in terms of how things are playing out on the ground. The LCC seem to be the most rooted but it’s not clear – other than wanting Assad to go – if there is a united program.

    This isn’t surprising given that Syria is a police state with a history of violent repression, including between 10-40,000 on Homs back in 1982. Hard to build oppositional civil society organizations when the reward for doing so is torture or worse.

    And while I get why socialists would be wary of lining up with western imperialism – which is only too happy to try and use the Arab Spring strategically to try and advance their hegemony in the Middle East and north Africa – it is equally foolish to line up with Chinese and Russia imperialism. In the case of Russia they aren’t interested a whit (see Chechnya, Georgia, et al) in human rights or avoiding civil war or taking sides, blah blah. They are interested in their naval base that provides them with their only access to the Mediterranean. And the Chinese are worried about the pushback from the west against their inroads into Africa and the Middle East.

    It’s a mistake to get sidetracked by the machinations of imperialism – which are always there – and to forget that the uprising is part of a regional democratic revolt. And to support it doesn’t mean to support military invasions by the west or the Arab monarchies, fresh from crushing their own pro-democracy risings.

  109. Mar tel

    In 1688 the English army, the main armed force of the state almost unanimously backed the Orange take over.

    So the only example you have is where the government had no armed force to deploy against the rebels.

  110. Martel: #112 ‘Can you give me any examples of a state not attempting to use force to resolve an armed rebellion.’The Glorious Revolution was pretty bloodless. James effectively gave up after a few insignificant skirmishes.

    Um there was an awful lot of fighting in Ireland and some in Scotland though. Huge loss of life in fact so not bloodless at all then.

  111. A mother on said:

    For Callum. Tchnei (sp) http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=eaOZICNlmxo There comes a time when you can’t take this detached crap anymore. I agree with Sam and Callum. Follow Danny from Britain too. And Facebook page ‘We are all Hamza Alkateeb’ which despite having 24,000 likes is pathetically quiet on the solidarity front. I was one of the first 50. I have been unable to open videos for months. Too horrifying. But open that one above and then the one of the little girl the doctor is trying to keep cheerful. Then try to remain detached and academic. I come to this page for perspective too. But some people seem to have lost theirs.

  112. paul fauvet on said:

    “Actually that report seems to be mainly based on the claims of opposition supporters, which have not so far shown to be particularly reliable” – claims Noah.

    No it isn’t – it comes from a BBC correspondent, Paul Woods, who is inside Homs, witnessing the Assad assault on the city.

    Similarly Al-Jazeera has a correspondent on the spot (Jane Ferguson). These reporters are taking considerable risks on the front line of a conflict.

    Unlike the preferred news agency of this blog, Xinhua, which is just a propaganda arm of the Chinese state.

  113. Karl Stewart on said:

    Martel:
    I was talking about whether the plan was acceptable to the NTC and rebels not NATO.

    The “NTC” was entirely the creation of NATO. The decision to reject the AU peace plan was taken by the UK, France and US.

    The only independent actions of “NTC” supporters were running away every time they encountered the Libyan army, begging NATO to carry out air strikes and then returning afterwards to lynch unarmed and defenceless black men.

  114. Thanks for looking at Sunday’s video of the lads from Homs, and your comments.

    Unfortunately your link doesn’t go to the video. The details I gave above (comment 111), however, will get you there: @ youtube.com just search with “Tchie91″, & the lads’ message is the only film that’s 52 seconds long. As I implied, I think you’ll agree that they deserve less than a minute of your time.

    Thanks.

  115. Simon Smith on said:

    Since NATO’s victory in Libya, Syria has become the prime target of imperialism’s counterrevolutionary offensive in the Middle East. That offensive is being dramatically stepped up and imperialism seems resolved on making it extremely violent. The FSA and SNC (like the rebel fighters and NTC in Libya) are instruments of this Western intervention.

    Those on the left in Britain, like Counterfire, who encourage support for imperialism’s allies in Syria are making a big mistake. A victory for the alliance of imperialism-Israel-Saudi-FSA-SNC would give the West another client state which would be ravaged and plundered as is now taking place in Libya.

    Socialist Action has published a contribution to this discussion: ‘After Libya: Syria, counterrevolution and Counterfire’

    http://www.socialistaction.net/International/Middle-East/Middle-East-Politics/After-Libya-Syria-counterrevolution-and-Counterfire.html

  116. Simon Smith,

    Thanks for the comments & the link, Simon.

    I obviously can’t speak for the two lads from Homs, but I think you’ll agree we wouldn’t be surprised if they, their relatives & their friends might view living in a client state of the West, as you put it, a little less benignly than you do.

    Although, of course, I’m sure they wouldn’t want, as you put it, to be “ravaged and plundered” by imperialism.

    Which gives me, and perhaps others, pause for thought. Do you, and your co-thinkers, have any idea that in speaking the way you do about suffering, dictatorships and imperialism it might make it a tad more difficult to get people to trust us & to agree with us that they should choose socialism?

    Which brings me back to the lads from Homs, and the prospect of them living in a client state. Both you and I comment from a patron state, enjoying in that simple activity just one of the freedoms we all too often take for granted. I would just like to suggest that your perspective is somewhat detached from what it is to live, be it to flourish or to suffer. You are living your own detachment; the lads from Homs live their own but very different detachment.

    But perhaps I shouldn’t presume whether you’d agree that the lads from Homs would resent living in a client state of imperialism. Tell you what, have a look yourself at their message. Then let us know what you think.

    Thanks, Simon. It’s been an education. It’s been an education about how some of today’s socialists are trying to persuade people to agree with them. “Socialist Action” you say. And what you say is an example of socialist action? And we wonder why we are marginalised, treated as a joke, perhaps even ostracised?

    But as I say, listen to the lads’ message and tell us what you think. Even better, tell us what YOU would say to those two lads from Homs. Then we’d have some idea of what ‘socialist action’ amounts to in practice, something we could emulate. After all, there’s nothing better than a concrete analysis of a concrete situation.

  117. #119 ‘In 1688 the English army, the main armed force of the state almost unanimously backed the Orange take over.

    So the only example you have is where the government had no armed force to deploy against the rebels’

    Well, this is not my interpretation. He could always have fielded an army and it is argued that if James II has shown a backbone his standing army would have fought well for him.

    Complete desertion of his army was rather improbable, though granted there was widespread discontent within his forces. He could have always have formed some form of loyalist rump anyway and drawn on Scottish and Irish forces.

    Plus he could have always called on French and mercenary forces.

    I think James II ‘s unwillingness to fight kept the revolution itself rather bloodless. Cowardice is a good attribute in leaders.

    #119 ‘Um there was an awful lot of fighting in Ireland and some in Scotland though.’

    Yeah, after James II was desposed there were Jacobite uprisings and James led a French force in Ireland.

    However, I was talking about exclusively the Glorious revolution of 1688 not the subsequent uprisings in Scotland and Ireland.

  118. #125

    Calum, do you really think that coming on here and moralising or hectoring those of us who don’t share your views is the best way to persuade us to reconsider those views?

    That people are being killed and suffering in Homs isn’t in doubt. We in this part of the world have no control over that. How about the untold hundreds of thousands killed so far in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, slaughtered as a direct result of western intervention? Do you have any links to any of them you care to post? Do you have any thought for them or those still suffering as a result?

    This mawkish emotionalism you are promoting doesn’t negate the need for analysis as to the whys and wherefores of what is taking place and the role of the West in the region and its agenda when it comes to Syria.

    The suffering of those two men you can bet will be multiplied by many millions if the West is allowed to intervene as it would like to.

    As for being treated as a joke or ostracised, I think it’s safe to say this is already the case with the craven position taken by large sections of the left on Libya.

  119. #126

    Ok – so you have one example, from 350 years ago, that is anywat disputable.

    As someone from the West Country mysefl I find it offensive that you praise James II for not putting down an armed rebellion, when he slaughtered the menfolk of whole villages after Sedgemoor.

  120. #126

    Martel: I think James II ‘s unwillingness to fight kept the revolution itself rather bloodless.

    but in 1685 he had some 300 people hanged, drawn and quartered, and 1000 others hanged or beheaded as reprisal for a military uprising.

    So your only example of a government not fighting against an armed rebellion is one that actually did fight against an armed uprising; and supressed it so terrible that the repression has gone down into history as “the Bloddy Assizes”.

  121. #127

    John: Calum, do you really think that coming on here and moralising or hectoring those of us who don’t share your views is the best way to persuade us to reconsider those views?

    Sadly JOhn, as I have seen from twitter, sending links to war porn is being used as a “political argument” to silence those questioning the wisdom of Western military action.

  122. Martel: #119 ‘In 1688 the English army, the main armed force of the state almost unanimously backed the Orange take over.So the only example you have is where the government had no armed force to deploy against the rebels’Well, this is not my interpretation. He could always have fielded an army and it is argued that if James II has shown a backbone his standing army would have fought well for him.Complete desertion of his army was rather improbable, though granted there was widespread discontent within his forces. He could have always have formed some form of loyalist rump anyway and drawn on Scottish and Irish forces.Plus he could have always called on French and mercenary forces.I think James II ‘s unwillingness to fight kept the revolution itself rather bloodless. Cowardice is a good attribute in leaders.#119 ‘Um there was an awful lot of fighting in Ireland and some in Scotland though.’Yeah, after James II was desposed there were Jacobite uprisings and James led a French force in Ireland.However, I was talking about exclusively the Glorious revolution of 1688 not the subsequent uprisings in Scotland and Ireland.

    I won’t spend too much time on this as its not what this thread is about. That said the idea that the ‘Glorious Revolution’ was some sort of popular event is misplaced. Really it was a putsch in which a group of rich and powerful men seized control of the state with the help of a foriegn army. Now if you like that sort of thing it, in England, is a good example of the practice. However the resulting regime and its successors did lack popular legitamacy. If anyones interested Christopher Duffy’s initial chapters in The ’45 give a sound scholarly overview.

    On topic I have no wish to see a Libya 2 and no doubts that Russia and China have acted for the best on this occassion.

  123. # 128 I do not know why you are trying to maintain a rather ridiculous argument that armed resistance to a state is ALWAYS followed by armed repression by the state.

    There is inevitably going to lots exceptions to this rather pointless rule e.g. Siamese revolution of 1932, Alexios IV Angelos coup against Isaac II etc.etc..

    This is not the issue for me. It was rather the point that sometimes governments do the honourable thing when faced by a large opposition movement i.e. during the 1989 revolutions.

    Assad is not tied by any historical rule to act like a complete murderous bastard.

    Maybe he should have followed Honnecker’s example. Assad could have played a part in establishing some form of transititional government and then eased himself out.

    ‘As someone from the West Country mysefl I find it offensive that you praise James II for not putting down an armed rebellion….’

    What!? I have got no particular affection for James II. However, I am glad that he fled.

  124. Andy Newman,

    Your comment (#130) is regrettable. But perhaps its redeeming quality is that it makes plain your attitude towards human suffering.

    Why do you speak of “war porn”? What warrants that curious choice of words? Your choice reveals, again, so much more about the author than what you are writing about.

    Why speak of ‘silencing’ a viewpoint? Why elevate a contrary opinion to a striving to “silence” others? Isn’t this just further revelation of the state of mind of the author?

    My comment concerned how we as socialists should try to earn credibility and trust from those we try to persuade. So why you invoke talk of “the wisdom of Western military action” is puzzling. Puzzling because it cannot be either deduced or inferred from my comments. But again, not being rational tells us about the author, not the topic in hand.

    Perhaps to concretise the topic you should watch the message from the lads in Homs, then tell us what YOU would say to them. What ‘political arguments’ would you like them to listen to?

  125. #131

    Martel: Maybe he should have followed Honnecker’s example. Assad could have played a part in establishing some form of transititional government and then eased himself out.

    Quite so, although the credit goes to Egon Krenz.

    Can I point out that there was no armed uprising in the DDR

    Martel: What!? I have got no particular affection for James II. However, I am glad that he fled.

    Yes it was good there was littl bloodshed in 1688, but your prasie for James II is compromised by the bloody massacre 3 years earlier. In fact, what it shows is that when faced with an armed rebellion he DID restort to appallling repression.

  126. Calum – ‘Perhaps to concretise the topic you should watch the message from the lads in Homs, then tell us what YOU would say to them. What ‘political arguments’ would you like them to listen to?’

    Perhaps to concretise the topic you should tell us what YOU would say to the families of those slaughtered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya under the rubric of humanitarian intervention and regime change, and then perhaps explain how Syria can expect anything different.

    Andy is correct. The peddling of war porn is as reprehensible as the attempt to pose as a gatekeeper of socialist morality.

  127. skidmarx on said:

    Perhaps to concretise the topic you should tell us what YOU would say to the families of those slaughtered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya
    That those were terrible imperial interventions. Now why don’t you answer the question of what to say to people in Homs?

  128. #132 Adopting a patronising passive-aggressive tone that sounds like it is picked up from a misunderstood GNVQ in councilling, is really just going annoy people?

    A lot.

    If you have got something to say, why don’t you say it?

  129. #132

    Callum

    The term “war porn” refers to films of casualties designed to engender an emotional response.

    It is not a political argument, for example, the Nazis used film of the victims of Dresden bombing for propaganda purposes; and the French/ apartheid South African backed Biafan sessionists from Nigeria used film of a famine that they themselves had created to bolster international support.

    Sadly, there will be terrile suffereing and casualties to people on BOTH sides in any war, and BOTH sides can use the horrific images of casualties to garner support.

    What you are overlooking is that the events in Syria, while truly terrible, do involve an armed rebellion by the SNA, armed and funded by Saudi, Qatar and Turkey, and operating over the Turkish and Jordanian borders.

  130. #136

    skidmarx: Now why don’t you answer the question of what to say to people in Homs?

    That there needs to be an immediate ceasefire, and demilitarisation of the situation, and a peace process that prevents descent into further sectarian strife.

    Evidence of past conflict resolution is that the first hand victims of war are often very receptive to peace moves, and are usually unintersted in revenge. The desire to strike back is usually from those who hear about it second hand.

    Note that there are Syrian opposition groups against Assad, like Abdulrahman and the NCB, who are opposed to foreign intervention

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/syrian-observatory-inside-story

    but these are being ignored by the Western press narrative.

  131. skidmarx on said:

    prevents descent into further sectarian strife.I think this is an Alice in Wonderland way of putting things. The state is established on a sectarian basis, would have you talked about apartheid South Africa’s “further descent into racial strife”?
    You can see from one of my links above that the opposition tried to keep things peaceful for a long time, if there is a genuine ceasefire good, but this seems more like a demand that the opposition be demilitarised and the state keep its weapons, a recipe for a massacre.

    John – That we refuse to support western military intervention
    Good.
    That your plight is being exploited by western governments
    And that should be ignored?
    That Syria’s crime in the eyes of those governments is not that it is repressing its people
    It is in the eyes of those Syrian people.
    It is a locus of support for the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance to Israel
    No,I think you mean Qatar, or are Fatah and Hamas now part of the GCC/Zionist conspiracy?
    That there are people on the left in the UK who supported the rebels in Libya, and NATO’s intervention, and are now conspicuous in their silence
    Then those people did the right thing in the first and the wrong thing in the latter two parts.
    But the point is that we in the West have no business saying anything to the people of Homs. Our conversation needs to be with our own government
    That may be OK if you have a Manicean view of the world that simply reverses the balck-and-whote view of Western imperialists, but when Marx wrote “Workers of the world, unite” I think he had something different in mind to supporting the ruling classes outside the camp of our own ruling class.
    Tell us how you would explain the ease with which you support conflict in these countries instead of peace and an end to bloodshed?
    Siding with dictators against a revolution by their own people doesn’t end bloodshed.
    the evident morbid satisfaction leftists in this part of the world derive from violent convulsion in countries they’ve probably never even visited or intend to visit, all part of their game of revolution.
    You’d rather fiddle while Homs burns.

  132. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Re 1685, I once read a fascinating book by the late W.M. Wigfield called “The Monmouth Rebels”. This listed nearly 4,000 rebels, though it was not a comprehensive record. Wigfield wrote that some probably escaped detection, and many of those killed at Sedgemoor either were not listed at all or a name and perhaps a home village were given but no other information. Wigfield’s list was mainly derived from records drawn up by the government to aid in punishing the rebels. The lists’ very existence shows the increasing bureaucratic efficiency of the early modern state. Moreover the rebels were defeated by one of the earliest standing armies in Britain, equipped with uniform clothing as part of a late 17th century trend in Europe as a whole. Monmouth’s ragtag militias hadn’t a hope against this trained and relatively modern force.

    Three years later that very same army turned on James II, forcing him to flee, though he tried to make a stand in Ireland.

  133. Pingback: Syria: when confusion trumps solidarity : David Osler

  134. paul fauvet #121: denying that the BBC article you posted (#96) seems to be mainly based on the claims of opposition supporters, you say:

    “No it isn’t – it comes from a BBC correspondent, Paul Woods, who is inside Homs, witnessing the Assad assault on the city.”

    Yet reading the article, most of its info on the events in Homs is based on what ‘Eyewitness Danny Abdul Dayem’, ‘Another anti-government campaigner’ (so Danny Abdul Dayem is an anti-government campaigner) and ‘People in this part of Homs’ (it would not be too wild a guess to presume these particular people are also opposition supporters) have reportedly said.

    From what Paul Woods actually claims to have observed himself in Homs, we can discern that there is a lot of shelling & mortaring going on, and that opposition supporters are setting fire to rubbish in the streets.

  135. Pingback: Syria: when confusion trumps solidarity | Left Futures

  136. skidmarx #141: “would have you talked about apartheid South Africa’s “further descent into racial strife”?”

    If you are suggesting that the social system in Syria is equivalent to that of Apartheid South Africa, you are being utterly ridiculous.

  137. #142

    Mark Victorystooge: Moreover the rebels were defeated by one of the earliest standing armies in Britain, equipped with uniform clothing as part of a late 17th century trend in Europe as a whole. Monmouth’s ragtag militias hadn’t a hope against this trained and relatively modern force.

    The increasing modernisation of the state was also evidenced by the fact that the rank and file followers of Monmouth were tried for treason. The understanding the rebels were working on was that under English common law, because Monmouth was crowned King in Taunton, those who followed him were not traitors. this was for example the precedent of the dynastic wars between the houses fo lancaster and York.

    The Bloody Assize trials established that the accused were tried as citizens of the state not just subjects of the crown (where they could claim that the institution of the monarchy was represented by Monmouth following his coronation).

    1685 therefore marked a landmark in the creation of a modern nation state.

  138. Noah: If you are suggesting that the social system in Syria is equivalent to that of Apartheid South Africa, you are being utterly ridiculous.

    If he was, which I doubt, this would be almost on on a par with AWL guru Matgamna stating that (Apartheid) South Africa was more democratic than (pre-Velvet revolution) Czechoslovakia back in the early 90s.

  139. Skidmarx – ‘Siding with dictators against a revolution by their own people doesn’t end bloodshed.’

    Siding with a western supported, trained and armed insurrection, in large part anyway, against a government that enjoys the support of the majority of its citizens. This is the other side of the equation that you seem to dismiss.

    But I’m interested. Do you have a material and historical analysis of these regimes other than a reductive reliance on the word dictatorship to lump them into a one-size-fits all template?

  140. Andy #139: “there needs to be an immediate ceasefire, and demilitarisation of the situation, and a peace process that prevents descent into further sectarian strife.”

    Quite. The original Arab league peace plan (which was supported by Russia) opened the way for such a prospect, but it was abandoned under pressure from the west & sabotage by Qatar & Saudi Arabia.

    Following the Russian & Chinese defeat of the Western / Gulf Kingdoms resolution at the UNSC, the Russians feel they are in a strong enough position to try to re-open the prospects for a peaceful political process, including beginning dialogue between government and opposition, and the return of the monitoring mission:

    http://rt.com/news/syria-lavrov-talks-damascus-657/

    Unfortunately however, success with this depends to a large extent on the position taken by the sponsors of the opposition, ie the West + GCC.

  141. Martel on said:

    # 147 ‘Siding with a western supported, trained and armed insurrection’

    What? The basis of Syrian Free army is defectors from the Syrian army itself. So most of the training will be from Syria’s own military academies, first hand or second hand.

    You would expect a large number of defectors considering what the Syrian armed forces are asked to do.

    ‘against a government that enjoys the support of the majority of its citizens.’

    You got any thing to back this up?

    I would imagine that there are two large minories on either side with a large section of uncommitted in the middle. Though I could be wrong.

    ‘Do you have a material and historical analysis of these regimes other than a reductive reliance on the word dictatorship to lump them into a one-size-fits all template?’

    I think it is pretty rich attacking skidmarx for this.

    You are one who tries to shoehorn every event into some rather primitive manichean metanarrative.

  142. John Grimshaw on said:

    It is worth pointing out I think that whatever opprobrium is heaped on China/Russia, deserved or otherwise, that there is one other country in the middle east that has decisions against it at the UN constantly vetoed. Namely Israel. China/Russia maybe protecting Assad as their surrogate but then they have had good lessons in it from the USA/Brits.

  143. John,

    I remember when I was a “Millie” reading that Syria and Burma were deformed workers’ states.

    I must stress that this does not inform my current attitude to either.

  144. #152 That was in response to your question to Skidmarx btw.

    And yes, I know he’s SWP, and not a Millie.

  145. It’s also worth remembering that in the early days of the uprising in Syria, Assad did offer reforms toward some of the grievances that were put forward by the insurgents. I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest that, based on events in Libya, the rebels may have been hedging their bets in the hopes of Western-backed regime change instead.

  146. skidmarx on said:

    ‘Do you have a material and historical analysis of these regimes other than a reductive reliance on the word dictatorship to lump them into a one-size-fits all template?’
    I like to think so.

    @Noah – I think apartheid South Africa was a much more extreme case, but the way sectarian differences are being used as an excuse to attack the opposition that has been almost universally clear on it opposition to same, while Alawis, not all Alawis, but many, identify with the regime because of their dominance in the military to a lesser extent the economy, means that there’s a justifiable comparison to be made.

  147. Jellytot on said:

    @150there is one other country in the middle east that has decisions against it at the UN constantly vetoed.

    Good point.

  148. Skid Marx

    If you don’y understand that the racialised different citizenship rights in South Africa under Apartheid was totally from a society where one group is institutionally favoured, then you are minimising Apartheid

  149. skidmarx: “…there’s a justifiable comparison to be made [between South African Apartheid and Syria’s social system]”

    Oh come off it. Unlike under Apartheid, Syria has no laws & regulations restricting eg jobs, property ownership, voting or other political rights, marriage, education etc etc etc on the basis of ethnicity / sectarian affiliation. And there are apparently plenty of Sunnis among the ‘business elite’. So there’s no analogy to be made.

    Also you say: “…the way sectarian differences are being used as an excuse to attack the opposition”

    How? And why? The government would have absolutely nothing to gain by that, as Alawites are a small minority.

    & you assert: “the opposition that has been almost universally clear on it opposition to same [ie, sectarianism]”

    So, ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the coffin’* not a sectarian slogan then?

    And in some areas, ‘Alawites to the coffin’ is not merely a theoretical proposition, eg:

    http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2011/07/21/sectarian-strife-strikes-syria/

  150. BTW skidmarx, you said this earlier on in the thread:

    “…perhaps South Africa’s vote in favour of the Arab League plan [presumably you mean Hilary Clinton’s UN Security Council resolution] is a product of its own history in which minority rule and state terror was excused… etc etc”

    Rather more likely, it was because (due to the US State Department’s desperation to avoid a veto + also Russia’s persistence and intransigence) the West had watered down the resolution to the extent that on face value it appeared innocuous.

    Eg, the final version seemed to rule out (though only for now) a foreign military attack, did not mention sanctions, called on the (anti-government) armed groups to cease their armed actions (though with no teeth to this request), and did not even explicitly seek regime change.

    Regime change was coded into the document via an obscure reference to ‘in accordance with’ (rather than, as the Russians insisted, ‘taking into account’ the Arab League timetable; and the future prospect of foreign military action was only slightly hinted at, in the vague threat to take further action in 21 days if the Syrians do not comply.

    So, Third World governments wishing to stay on good terms with the West, having no specific strategic interest, and having principles which are no better than they should be, would quite happily vote for the resolution.

    A South African spokesperson claimed: ‘We were also satisfied that the final draft resolution was not aimed at imposing regime change in Syria, which would be against the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.’

    Comforting, but- when the small print is interpreted in the way that the West and the GCC would of course (after the vote) interpret it- untrue.

    Had the resolution been passed, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the court of imperialist and Arab Gulf Monarchy opinion would declare 3 weeks later that Syria is guilty of not complying, and that a ‘humanitarian corridor’ &/or ‘no fly zone’ etc (ie, a war) must be the next step.

  151. Darkness at Noon on said:

    “There’s mass support for Assad whether the liberal imperialists like it or not”

    And even if so?

    Is that the ‘anti-Imperialist’ position – to support a repressive police state? Is that your position?

    Personally I am against intervention (as I was with Libya, Iraq etc.) but an honest person would see Syria for what it is – an autocratic quasi-secular dictatorship enforced at the end of a barrel of a gun.

    Any potential for Syria as an economic or social success story has been firmly repressed by the Assad dynasty, that has milked it and its people for decades.

    The ‘Liberal Imperialists’ might now have their guns pointed at the Syrian regime, the Syrian regime has always had it firmly pointed at it’s own people as past and recent history has shown.

  152. @ Darkness at Noon. It is surely rather important that the Syrian government retains mass support.

    The ‘regime against the people’ script is deceptive, & aimed to support the scenario of foreign military attack.

    You add: “Any potential for Syria as an economic or social success story has been firmly repressed by the Assad dynasty, that has milked it and its people for decades.”

    This is laughable, given that Syria is a relatively poor Third World country, and now is hit by Western sanctions. Even so, in eg 2008-2010, Syria recorded quite respectable economic growth.

  153. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “given that Syria is a relatively poor Third World country, and now is hit by Western sanctions.”

    Relatively poor, yet still worth billions of dollars a year to the Russians in arms sales. I dare say that this has informed their calculus.

  154. Darkness at Noon on said:

    @Noah:

    “The ‘regime against the people’ script is deceptive, & aimed to support the scenario of foreign military attack.”

    Look if you really don’t believe that thousands of Syrians have been killed by the regime that’s your choice.

    “This is laughable, given that Syria is a relatively poor Third World country, and now is hit by Western sanctions. Even so, in eg 2008-2010, Syria recorded quite respectable economic growth.”

    Syria is in no way a ‘relatively poor third world country’. Not in a million years – where do you get this BS from? It is actually fairly well-developed, with a broadly well-educated urbanised, secular population, port access on the med and not insignificant oil/gas resources. It has the building blocks to be actually very successful as a nation. Most Syrians I have met have been very well-educated and polyglot (French. English, Arabic).

    My point is that, Syria has had a lot going for it but this was usurped by the kleptocratic regime that has spent millions on installing a police state and a very well-funded military to keep that regime in place. It was wealthy enough to invade and occupy Lebanon for decades.

    You deny this as well?

  155. Darkness at Noon on said:

    @Noah:

    “The ‘regime against the people’ script is deceptive, & aimed to support the scenario of foreign military attack.”

    Look if you really don’t believe that thousands of Syrians have been killed by the regime that’s your choice.

    “This is laughable, given that Syria is a relatively poor Third World country, and now is hit by Western sanctions. Even so, in eg 2008-2010, Syria recorded quite respectable economic growth.”

    Syria is in no way a ‘relatively poor third world country’. Not in a million years – where do you get this BS from? It is actually fairly well-developed, with a broadly well-educated urbanised, secular population, port access on the med and not insignificant oil/gas resources. It has the building blocks to be actually very successful as a nation. Most Syrians I have met have been very well-educated and polyglot (French. English, Arabic).

    My point is that, Syria has had a lot going for it but this was usurped by the kleptocratic regime that has spent millions on installing a police state and a very well-funded military to keep that regime in place.

    You deny this as well?

  156. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    This is laughable, given that Syria is a relatively poor Third World country, and now is hit by Western sanctions. Even so, in eg 2008-2010, Syria recorded quite respectable economic growth.

    Syria’s per capita gross national income isn’t all that low. Its higher than Egypt’s and just a bit lower than Ukraine’s.

  157. Karl Stewart on said:

    I don’t really think Syria’s relative wealth or poverty is the reason why it’s currently a target for the NATO powers.
    Just as NATO’s conquest of Libya was all about the oil, its present targetting of Syria is all about its strategic position as a counterweight to Israel’s pre-eminence in the region.

  158. skidmarx on said:

    @160 From the piece you link to:

    On Sunday, Homs, Syria’s third largest city, saw the first openly sectarian violence of the now almost five month old unrest. It appears that clashes erupted between members of the Sunni and Alawite communities after the mutilated bodies of three regime supporters (translation: Alawite supporters) were returned to their families,

    So the only example that can be found of supposedly sectarian action by the opposition is that three supporters of the regime who were killed were Alawites?

    @159 I’m not minimising apartheid. I’m not making a direct comparison. What I am comparing is the tendency of those who want to excuse, or partially excuse, a state biased in its sectarianism, by blaming the sectarian strife whipped up on that opposition, with the way those that excused apartheid blamed the ANC for being racially divisive. I think a more materialist basis for explaining sectarian tensions would be appropriate.

    @162 – I actually agree that the South African government will have had less than noble reasons for this vote, though you seem to be accusing them of being naive in a dismissive way (and describing South Africa as Third World is slightly outdated), My point was the comparison: Russia and China aren’t voting in a way that’s “designed to promote a peaceful outcome”, they are defending their own geo-political interests.

  159. #171

    Karl’s comment at #169 is spot on. Telling people they haven’t got a clue suggests you don’t have an argument and have to resort to immature mud slinging instead. Deal with his points or don’t comment.

  160. Martel: # 169 You really have n’t got a clue.

    The suggestion that western interventionist aims would have more to do with regional influence is far more credible than accepting that the west are motivated by peace or ‘human rights’.

  161. # 172 Fine..then give me a convincing argument about why Libya was all about the ‘conquest of oil.’

    I have argued on several occassions against this dubious claim but you and Karl like to sling the slogan round and then refuse to justify the claim.

    Deal with the point John or don’t comment.

  162. # 173 ‘is far more credible than accepting that the west are motivated by peace or ‘human rights’.’

    Who exactly is arguing that?

    I am certainly not.

  163. Martel: # 173 ‘is far more credible than accepting that the west are motivated by peace or ‘human rights’.’Who exactly is arguing that?I am certainly not.

    Do you agree with Karl Stewart that ‘its present targetting of Syria is all about its strategic position as a counterweight to Israel’s pre-eminence in the region.’?

  164. # 176 There is going to be calculations about the regional politics of the area.

    But the present targetting of Syria is primarily due to Assad murdering thousands of his own citizens.

  165. “All about the oil” could mean “NATO intervened in the Libyan uprising to stop the Libyans taking control of their own oil post Gadaffi”. Which is a reasonable argument.

    NATO was successful in maintaining the status quo in respect of Libyan oil.

  166. Martel: # 176 There is going to be calculations about the regional politics of the area. But the present targetting of Syria is primarily due to Assad murdering thousands of his own citizens.

    So you DO believe the motivation to be ‘primarily’ one of peace and human rights, after all?

  167. Martel: But the present targetting of Syria is primarily due to Assad murdering thousands of his own citizens.

    Why didn’t UK and USA exercise the considerable infleunce they both have over the bahraini government then?

  168. ringelblum on said:

    “Why didn’t UK and USA exercise the considerable influence they both have over the Bahraini government then?” Perhaps they have, and this explains why there havent been anything like the number of deaths there have been in Syria?

  169. # 178 NATO was successful in maintaining the status quo in respect of Libyan oil.

    Well that is hardly a conquest.

    ‘So you DO believe the motivation to be ‘primarily’ one of peace and human rights, after all?’

    #179 No, there is going to be regional interests at play.

    But if Assad had not started shooting his own citizens these would have not have come to the forefront or would not have been acted upon.

  170. # 180 The West’s interests in Syria coincide with those of the Syrian opposition.

    They did not in Bahrini.

  171. Martel: But the present targetting of Syria is primarily due to Assad murdering thousands of his own citizens.

    Obviously the humanitarian situation provides the catalyst and to that extent the regime’s choice of brutal repression brings international aprobation on their heads.

    That doesn’t really take us any further forward though, unless you believe (as you don’t apparently) in outside intervention to bring about regime change.

  172. Martel: #179 No, there is going to be regional interests at play. But if Assad had not started shooting his own citizens these would have not have come to the forefront or would not have been acted upon.

    How does that comment set you apart from those that you are ostensibly arguing against?

  173. Darkness at Noon #166: “Syria is in no way a ‘relatively poor third world country’. Not in a million years – where do you get this BS from?”

    Ahem. Syria’s per capita GDP (by PPP) was $5078 in 2011 according to the IMF.

    That’s about half the per capita GDP of South Africa and Peru, and comparable to the level of, eg, Sri Lanka, Guatemala and Bolivia.

    Please check your info before running off at the mouth. Such outbursts when you clearly have no grasp of the facts do your credibility (such as it is) no good.

  174. Skidmarx #170: “So the only example that can be found of supposedly sectarian action by the opposition is that three supporters of the regime who were killed were Alawites?”

    What do you mean ‘the only example’? Sadly there have been plenty, especially in Homs. According to a recent Reuters article:

    ‘Sectarian killings have racked the central city of Homs, and Alawites have been targeted because they were the same sect as the president.’

    Then you say: “Russia and China aren’t voting in a way that’s “designed to promote a peaceful outcome”, they are defending their own geo-political interests.”

    I don’t think you have really thought that through, Skidmarx. Promoting a peaceful outcome and defending geo-political interests are not mutually exclusive motivations. For Russia & China they coincide.

    Whereas for the West and the GCC, promoting a non-peaceful outcome and advancing their geo-political interests coincide.

  175. #186 The point about the oil is that the West wants the most reliable control (and preferably ownership) that it can get.

    The reality is that, while the toppling of Gadaffi in the short term required NATO force, the rebellion would inevitably have carried on for some time and his regime become increasingly weakened. What would follow would be anyone’s guess.

    And even while he was going through the poodle from mad dog phase, Gaddafi could never be perceived as being as reliable in terms of the oil supplies as a regime reliant on the west for its existence.

    Direct intervention ensured a foot (at the very least) in the door.

  176. Martel on said:

    # 190 ‘Direct intervention ensured a foot (at the very least) in the door.’

    What? They already had both their feet through the door and Eni, Esso, Oasis etc. are all still drilling under the contracts that Gadaffi negotiated with them.

    Gadaffi was getting a more and more reliable option as Saif was gaining more influence in preparation for his eventual take over.

  177. #191
    Well if that were the case, oil companies with interests in Libya would not have been linking up with the TNC during the uprising.

  178. It’s also about maintaining political control / influence over the region as a whole. The Arab world contains the planet’s major energy exporting areas. To imagine that this is not a major factor in Western strategy is hopelessly naive.

  179. #191
    I’m intrigued as to what is the source for Martel’s confident assertions about oil companies trust in Gaddafi. This article offers a contradictory story:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/business/global/the-scramble-for-access-to-libyas-oil-wealth-begins.html?_r=2&ref=world

    “Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with. Some experts say that given a free hand, oil companies could find considerably more oil in Libya than they were able to locate under the restrictions placed by the Qaddafi government”

  180. Martel on said:

    #192 ‘Well if that were the case, oil companies with interests in Libya would not have been linking up with the TNC during the uprising.’

    They were linking up to protect their infastructure and secure the continuation of their existing contracts.

    Italian company ENI continues to be the biggest player among the oil companies in Libya.

    As a Barclay’s Capital Report into Libyan oil situation last year noted, the death of Gaddafi changed ‘very little in the underlying dynamics of the oil picture on the ground.’

    Following, of course, the disruption caused by the civil war.

  181. #196
    So we can safely say, contrary to your admonishments of Karl, Noah et al, that oil did play a major part in the conflict? And it is not beyond the realms of possibility, given the behaviour of multi-nationals in the past, that they would actively seek a change in regime in order to obtain a more favourable business climate, especially when,contrary to your claims,Gaddafi was in fact very unpopular with these multi-nationals due to his demands ?

  182. Martel on said:

    # 197 Look, you want to indulge yourself in hair-brained teenage conspiracy theories, fine but do not bring me into it.

    I repeat, as you did not read my post, Libya was not about the conquest of oil. Despite disruption in production, it is the same companies drilling the same oil, under the same contracts as before.

    The opening up of oil production in Libya would have continued under Gadaffi, especially as Gadaffi junior became more influencial.

    So the statement ‘NATO’s conquest of Libya was all about the oil’ is nonsense.

  183. #198
    Not conspiracy theories, just a recognition that business interests very often influence foreign policy decisions.And, once again as the NYT article points out those contracts were being very flexibly interpreted by Gaddafi.

  184. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “Not conspiracy theories, just a recognition that business interests very often influence foreign policy decisions.And, once again as the NYT article points out those contracts were being very flexibly interpreted by Gaddafi.”

    Flexibility of interpretation is generally the norm amongst oil rich countries; when oil prices rise, countries (no matter their political stripe) seek higher royalties or impose windfall taxes. I don’t think that Gaddaffi was unique in that sense.