Western Journalism’s analysis of the “Benghazi Accountability Report” in two parts
The following scene is fictitious. Any resemblance between the characters, or the events they refer to, and real people or real events, is purely coincidental.
A stretch of wasteground, deserted but for two figures approaching each other from opposite sides. No buildings in sight. No road, no passing traffic or pedestrians. Both figures, one elderly female (Hillary), one elderly male (Tom), are muffled up to the ears and have hats with brims pulled down over their faces. Both look nervously about them to make sure they’re not being followed or observed.
When they’re close to each other Tom speaks.
Tom: Hi Hillary. So what is it you need to see me urgently and secretly about?
Hillary: It’s the Benghazi thing. We managed to keep it off the front pages, but you know what happened. I got Susan to stick her neck out trying to spread the video story. Told her I’d definitely tell Barack that she was the one to have my job at State when I retire if she’d do that little thing for me. But then some people may they rot in hell let out part of the truth about what really happened, and we just didn’t manage to make the video story stick, and now the Republicans are trying to make a scandal of it.
Tom: So where do I come in?
Hillary: I told Barack we must set up an official inquiry that can take some weeks so it only comes out when we’re safely over the election, and while its going on we won’t have to answer any questions - we can say we don’t want to anticipate the findings. With luck by the time the inquiry’s finished the whole thing will be forgotten or at least seem very stale news.
Tom: And you want me to head this inquiry – right?
Hillary: It has to be you, Tom. You know the area. You know the people. You know how Barack feels about them. The same way you do.
Tom: But why the secrecy? You’ll be making a public announcement that I’ll be heading it, won’t you?
Hillary: Of course. But we have to talk about what your inquiry will find out.
Tom: I get you. Okay, tell me what you want me to hide.
Hillary: Well, its really, really important to Barack to have everyone believe he’s defeated al-Qaeda. You know?
Tom: Sure, I understand that. Though I personally always thought that bin Laden guy was a fine looking fellow. Good at what he did too. Bit of a shame that he had to go. I understand Valerie nearly got Barack to leave him be, but the navy people just wouldn’t stop pushing once they’d found out where he was and they knew they could do it.
Hillary: Thing is, the vast right wing conspiracy has found out that there may have been some al-Qaeda people among the mob who killed Chris.
Hillary: Stevens. Our ambassador to Libya.
Tom: And you want that kept that out of my findings?
Hillary: Well, it’s out now so you may not be able to. They’ve even picked up leads to our weapons transfers.
Tom: Weapons transfers?
Hillary: Yeah – guns and stuff. Stuff left over from when we supplied the rebels against Gaddafi. Stingers – whatever they are. Chris was organizing their transfer through Turkey to the rebels in Syria.
Tom: Good. I mean – bad if anyone found out about that, eh? By the way, who are these Syrian rebels, d’you know?
Hillary: Well, that could be even more embarrassing. Some of them are also al-Qaeda.
Tom: Okay. Okay. Sure. Fine.
Hillary: We don’t want that to come out in the inquiry. And certain other things that you’ll come across will have to be …. you get me?
Tom: Suppressed. Of course. So let me ask you this. What can come out in my report?
Hillary: You can find that Chris didn’t get enough protection. Everyone knows that much by now. But you mustn’t blame me or Barack. You mustn’t find his policies at fault. And Barack himself mustn’t come into it at all. Or me.
Tom: Okay. I see. Fine.
Hillary: Without actually naming names you can hold some of my underlings responsible for refusing protection. I mean, everyone knows we refused more protection when Chris asked for it so there’s no point in trying to hush that up.
Tom: You want anyone in particular named?
Hillary: No. No names. You can say that nothing anyone did is a firing offense. I mean, I might fire a few people anyway just to make it look as if I’m so angry with them that I’m ready to go beyond your recommendations. Zeal. I’ll show zeal.
Tom: And what about Chris himself? Can we put some of the blame on him?
Tom: He asked for too much?
Hillary: Er – rather he didn’t make his needs clear enough.
Tom: They might call that “blaming the victim”.
Hillary: Well don’t make too much of that. What you can make as much as you like of is the Republicans in the House not voting us enough money for the proper protection of our embassies and diplomats.
Tom: Is it true?
Hillary: True enough. There’s a grain of truth … and it’s something people will believe. Above all, keep me out of the picture. Me and Barack.
Tom: Didn’t you make a public statement that you accepted responsibility?
Hillary: Yep. I thought that was a good move. Made me sound courageous. And honest. Didn’t it?
Tom: Sure it did.
Hillary: I was rather hoping it would be enough and I wouldn’t have to do anything more.
Tom: Doesn’t the House want you to answer some questions?
Hillary: Yep. That’s bad. They’ve got film of me saying it was all because of the video when Barack and I met the coffins coming home. I even told one of the dead guys’ father that we would punish the disgusting little man who made the video. But I think I can get out of having to testify. I have important engagements abroad. A wine-tasting in Australia, as a matter of fact. And after that – well maybe I’ll fall sick or something. Bang my head and lose my memory if the worst comes to the worst. I’ll think of something.
Tom: Is there anything else you should tell me now? I mean, what other cats are already out of the bag?
Hillary: Let me see. They may make a lot of noise about us paying local militias to guard our installations.
Tom: You hired Arabs to guard them? Armed?
Hillary: Of course armed.
Tom: Trained to use arms?
Hllary: They knew how to use them. They were militants. No point in …
Tom: Hold it right there a moment. Let me get this straight. You’re saying that you hired terrorists to guard our people in Libya?
Hillary: Don’t use that word! You know Barack won’t allow it.
Tom: (Whistles) I didn’t realize he’d gone as far as that. Didn’t you tell him it would be dangerous? I mean, I know what he’s aiming at, but I thought he was better at the art of throwing dust in people’s eyes than that. I think we should suppress that.
Hillary: It’s already known.
Tom: Already known? (Whistles again)
Hillary: Stop doing that, Tom. It’s not that bad. I don’t want it to be that bad.
Tom: This ain’t gonna be easy, sister. Anything else that could be an impeachable offense? Better you tell me now …
Hillary: Well, there was a secret CIA operation going on. Taking prisoners. Interrogations.
Tom: (Taking a deep breath) I don’t know if I can do this, Hillary. An illegal operation?
Hillary: I don’t know. Honestly, Tom, I don’t know anything about that. I – I – . It wasn’t my idea. I’ll have to get Petraeus to fill you in about that.
Tom: Speaking of Petraeus – he seems to resent Susan putting the blame on the info his people gave her. He seems to be wanting to tell the truth – I mean the real truth. Out loud. In public.
Hillary: Don’t worry about him. I promise you, we’ve got him where we want him.
Tom: You have? I see. I see. But now tell me. What’s the real story why we didn’t send anyone to help them. Our people in Benghazi. Why didn’t we? Don’t worry, you know what you tell me here will go no further. But to satisfy my own curisity. After all, we could have, couldn’t we? We even got a plane from Italy to within a couple of hours from Benghazi. What happened then?
Hillary: I told them … I mean we told them … I mean, Barack said … At least, Valerie said … Jeez Tom, you expect me to know? You can ask Leon. But whatever he tells you, remember what I’m telling you now. Nothing that would be bad for Barack – or me …
Tom: So let me be clear what you want from me. Bottom line – you’re asking for a whitewash?
Hillary: Well yes, of course. But it mustn’t seem like a whitewash. You know? You must make it seem really, really tough. I want them to use words like “scathing”.
Tom: A scathing report. Yep. Sounds right.
Hillary: And make recommendations for how we should get our act together and improve the way we deal with protecting our people abroad. That sort of thing. A whole lot of recommendations. And make them sound … draconian. Make it sound as though we take the whole thing to be a teaching moment and we really want to learn from it going forward.
Hillary: Yes. But not so draconian that I can’t say I accept them. I need to say I accept them all. It will make me sound …
Tom: You’re setting me quite a challenge here.
Hillary: I know you’re up to it, Tom. Will you do it? For the cause. You know what I mean?
Tom: Okay, Hillary. I’ll do it. I’ll do my best … but you understand it might not work?
Hillary: Just do it. We’ll make it work. Me and Barack. Between the two of us we can’t fail. I’m very experienced, you know, in getting out of tight corners. And Barack is incredibly –
Both together: LUCKY.
We delight in the fact that capitalism provides opportunity for anyone to become rich. We applaud those clever/industrious/lucky people who have achieved great wealth in our (comparatively) free society. We feel energized and encouraged by the happy spectacle of “conspicuous consumption” that some visible billionaires display with their mansions, their yachts, their jets, their football teams … For we see them as the living proof to us all that it is perfectly possible to become “filthy rich”. If they can do it, maybe we can to. They’re a spur to noble effort.
We are therefore bewildered by the cognitive dissonance of those self-made billionaires who vote Democratic. For instance, those who have made their fortunes in Silicon Valley by their marvelous inventions precisely because they were able to take advantage of circumstances – freedom, leisure, investment – which capitalism alone can provide. Do they not realize that to vote for Obama and the Democratic Party is to vote for socialism? Do they not know that socialism is a killer of private enterprise? That collectivism puts an end to innovation? We cannot suppose them to be so mean-spirited that, having made their own fortunes, they want to prevent others following in their footsteps. We’d rather conclude that very clever people can be very stupid about things outside their expertise.
The Democrats of course notoriously pour scorn on “the 1%” and long to make them poorer and ashamed of themselves. So a question arises: How come the extremely wealthy political elite of the Left are not ashamed of their hypocrisy?
This is from PJ Media, by Victor Davis Hanson:
I confess I never admired John Edwards … I didn’t think much of Al Gore or John Kerry … I was not surprised when Susan Rice just disclosed that she is worth considerably over $30 million — and has money in Keystone no less. Are they all part of the “one percent”? Did they pay “their fair share”? Do they “spread the wealth”? At what point in his life did Al Gore know that he had made enough money (before barreling ahead and making more)?
Why do a Timmy Geithner and John Kerry preach about raising taxes while trying their best … to avoid them? I remember the Clintons seeking write-offs for the donation of their underwear, Tom Daschle not counting limo service as income, and Hilda Solis with a lien on her husband’s property. Why wouldn’t the above pay too much rather than too little? If Barack Obama did not get free government everything … would he still preach that guys like him need their taxes raised?
Of course, I accept without much worry that government service can lead to the contacts that lead to big money. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld made millions in the private sector in between D.C. jobs. I grant too that old-boy networking is lucrative. George W. Bush’s Texas Rangers small fortune came from having powerful friends in the right places. No doubt Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are multimillionaires. Bravo to them both.
And Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush are not of the Party that pretends to despise the rich. Democrats who are keen on redistributing wealth should start by redistributing their own.
What we cannot stomach is all the sermonizing about “fair share” and “play by the rules” and “the one percent” from those who seek to be exempt from their own rhetoric. Can’t Warren Buffett keep quiet and just leave his $50 billion to his heirs — and let the wonderful federal government do what it must with a $30 billion estate tax on his earnings? … His estate will dodge more tax liabilities than what millions of his proverbial overtaxed secretaries pay. Why isn’t George Soros one of the despised money speculators of the sort that Occupy Wall Street was enraged about? … So weird what constitutes good and bad riches!
I guess the rub is not big or small money, or what you must do to get it and keep it. No, the lesson instead is what you say when you get it. If I were to advise a young rich man, I would promote entering politics or the media and talking up the liberal redistributionist state, the model being a sort of Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Nancy Pelosi, Jon Corzine, or Jay Rockefeller.
If you know what to say against the rich -
You may meet and marry a rich person … all sorts of doors will open that allow you to keep and compound what you garner — and you will feel wonderful in the bargain.
And Larry Elder writes at Townhall:
Ah, the hypocrisy of tax-hikers who do everything they can to avoid the taxes they wish to impose on others.
Sen. John Kerry … tried to avoid $500K in his home state’s sales and excise taxes by docking his newly purchased $7 million 76-foot yacht in Rhode Island.
Massachusetts lowered its state income tax in 2001. Given the presumably large number of rich people who pine to pay more taxes, the state allowed tax filers to check a box and voluntarily pay the old, higher rate. In a liberal state of over 3 million tax filers, how many volunteered to pay the higher rate in 2004? A tiny fraction of 1 percent — 930 taxpayers.
We’re astounded that there were any. To the well-known statement, “tax payers are entitled to arrange their affairs to attract the least taxation”, the retort must be, “what sort of fool would arrange his affairs to attract the most taxation?”
Among those who refused to pay the higher rate? Sen. Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank. …
John Edwards, former senator and Democratic presidential candidate: His wife, Elizabeth, once called him a person of “character” because Edwards voted against his own economic “interests” by voting for higher taxes. Well, OK, but like billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who urges higher taxes, Edwards is less than keen on paying them. As a lawyer winning major jury awards, John set up a subchapter S corporation to pay himself through dividends — and thus avoid $600K in Medicare payroll taxes.
Well, the guy may be nasty – is infamously so! – but he’s not an idiot.
Ted Kennedy and his family shield[ed] their money through a series of complicated family trusts first begun by father Joe Kennedy. The trusts transfer wealth from generation to generation while avoiding estate taxes.
The late Ohio Democratic Sen. Howard Metzenbaum … enjoyed a lifetime rating from Americans for Democratic Action of 95 (100 being perfect) and a zero from the American Conservative Union. He never met a tax hike he did not like. [But] he moved to Florida when he retired from the Senate. Why Florida? No state estate or personal income taxes.
“Civil rights” leader and MSNB-Hee Haw host Al Sharpton: Though he supports increasing taxes on the rich, Sharpton, it seems, fails to do his part as a member of the 1 percent. As of last year, according to the New York Post, Sharpton owed $3.5 million in state and federal income taxes. His nonprofit, the National Action Network, as of 2011 owes nearly $900K in unpaid federal payroll taxes.
What do these individual instances of hypocrisy say about whether taxes should be increased on the so-called rich? …
The Congressional Budget Office just issued a report on what would happen to the economy if Congress fails to retain the Bush-era tax rates. Keeping the Bush-era rates for all but the rich, the CBO says, adds 1.25 percentage points to GDP. Retaining tax rates for all, including the rich, however, adds 1.5 percent to the economy. In other words, raising taxes on the rich lowers economic output.
Obama cannot really believe that making the rich pay more will help the economy out of recession. Even he knows it won’t. His reason is ideological. He is a communist by breeding and instinct, which is to say an egalitarian, a leveler. He must inform his voting fans, both rich and poor, that he is against the rich in principle. He knows that just so long as he talks that way, it’s okay for him to be rich himself. Okay to be a hypocrite.
So Ambassador Susan Rice is set on being Secretary of State? Another woman to muck up US foreign affairs. She’s so upset that her lies about Benghazi (see here (!) and here) will be held against her and block her advancement, that she is now appealing directly to her critics, chiefly Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
And we know that John McCain is a pushover. He had only to be asked to speak up for Huma Abedin when some Republicans raised the issue of her being a Muslim Brotherhood associate, and queried whether that was the best qualification for her also being chief adviser to the US Secretary of State, for him – without apparently further enquiry or thought – to leap to her defense and swear (in effect) that she was the most trustworthy personage this country has had in the precincts of power since George Washington, and to rebuke his fellow Republicans for being so mean and horrid as to imagine she might be anything less than a loyal American patriot.
We know the lame excuse Susan Rice proffers for having lied to the nation on TV – that the intelligence services gave her false information. What we wait with keen anticipation to hear is the lamer excuse John McCain will make for believing such irresponsible nonsense, and his gallant declaration that it clears her of blame.
Same day, later: Senator John McCain says he is significantly troubled by the answers he has had, and not had, from Susan Rice. We’ll wait a while longer before we are sure that we have done him an injustice by expecting him to be gullible again.
Stephen Hayes writes that the murder of US Ambassador Stevens and three of his staff in Benghazi, Libya, on the anniversary of 9/11 is a “scandal of the first order”:
Either the intelligence community had a detailed picture of what happened in Benghazi that night and failed to share it with other administration officials and the White House. Or the intelligence community provided that detailed intelligence picture to others in the administration, and Obama, Biden, Clinton, Susan Rice, and others ignored and manipulated the intelligence to tell a politically convenient — but highly inaccurate — story.
If it’s the former, DNI [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper should be fired. If it’s the latter, what happened in Benghazi — and what happened afterwards — will go down as one of the worst scandals in recent memory.
It seems far more likely that it’s the latter. After all, is it conceivable that White House officials at the highest levels were not actively engaged in interagency meetings to determine what happened in Benghazi? Is it conceivable that intelligence officials, knowing there was no evidence at all of a link between the film and Benghazi, would fail to tell the president and his colleagues that their claims were unfounded? Is it conceivable that somehow the latest intelligence on the 9/11 attacks was left out of Obama’s intelligence briefings in the days after 9/11? It would have been a priority for every professional at the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council to discover exactly what happened in Benghazi as soon as possible. Is it conceivable that the information wasn’t passed to the most senior figures in the administration?
No, it’s really not. And therefore, the fact that these senior figures misled us — and still mislead us — is a scandal of the first order.
We agree. We think it is more shameful than Watergate, or the disgracing of the office of president by Bill Clinton.
Mark Steyn writes with his usual wit and acerbity that the events in Libya annoyingly distract the Obama administration from its self-assigned most vital duty of keeping some TV puppets in existence at public expense.
“The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.” Thus, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, speaking on CNN about an armed attack on the 9/11 anniversary that left a U.S. consulate a smoking ruin and killed four diplomatic staff, including the first American ambassador to be murdered in a third of a century. To discuss this event is apparently to “politicize” it and to distract from the real issues the American people are concerned about. For example, Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki, speaking on board Air Force One on Thursday: “There’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane.” She’s right! The United States is the first nation in history whose democracy has evolved to the point where its leader is provided with a wide-body transatlantic jet in order to campaign on the vital issue of public funding for sock puppets. Sure, Caligula put his horse in the Senate, but it was a real horse. At Ohio State University, the rapper will.i.am introduced the President by playing the Sesame Street theme tune, which, oddly enough, seems more apt presidential walk-on music for the Obama era than “Hail To The Chief.”
Obviously, Miss Cutter is right: A healthy mature democracy should spend its quadrennial election on critical issues like the Republican Party’s war on puppets rather than attempting to “politicize” the debate by dragging in stuff like foreign policy, national security, the economy and other obscure peripheral subjects. But, alas, it was her boss who chose to “politicize” a security fiasco and national humiliation in Benghazi. At 8.30 p.m., when Ambassador Stevens strolled outside the gate and bid his Turkish guest good night, the streets were calm and quiet. At 9.40 p.m., an armed assault on the compound began, well-planned and executed by men not only armed with mortars but capable of firing them to lethal purpose – a rare combination among the excitable mobs of the Middle East. There was no demonstration against an Islamophobic movie that just got a little out of hand. Indeed, there was no movie protest at all. Instead, a U.S. consulate was destroyed and four of its personnel were murdered in one of the most sophisticated military attacks ever launched at a diplomatic facility.
This was confirmed by testimony to Congress a few days ago … [Yet] for four weeks, the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and others have persistently attributed the Benghazi debacle to an obscure YouTube video – even though they knew that the two events had nothing to do with each other by no later than the crack of dawn Eastern time on Sept. 12 …
Given that Obama and Secretary Clinton refer to Stevens pneumatically as “Chris,” as if they’ve known him since third grade, why would they dishonor the sacrifice of their close personal friend by peddling an utterly false narrative as to why he died? You want “politicization”? Secretary Clinton linked the YouTube video to the murder of her colleagues even as the four caskets lay alongside her at Andrews Air Force Base – even though she had known for days that it had nothing to do with it. It’s weird enough that politicians now give campaign speeches to returning coffins. But to conscript your “friend’s” corpse as a straight man for some third-rate electoral opportunism is surely as shriveled and worthless as “politicization” gets. …
“Greater love hath no man than this,” quoth the President at Chris Stevens’ coffin, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Smaller love hath no man than Obama’s, than to lay down his “friend” for a couple of points in Ohio.
The Democrats have lost the plot. Even their own plot. They desperately want to stay in power in order to … stay in power. Give them the bird.
It’s never a surprise when a political act turns out to be a bitter mockery of the humanitarian values it’s supposed to serve.
So the news that civilians in Libya are being bombed by NATO, which intervened in the Libyan civil war to protect civilians, elicits little more than a world-weary sigh from our Roving Eye War Reporter.
REWR, having sent the news but no detailed dispatch home, refers readers to two posts of ours (find them through the research slot): The danger of R2P, March 23, 2011, in which it is explained that R2P stands for Responsibility to Protect, a UN declaration which provided NATO’s pretext; and A siren song from hell, April 1, 2011. They trace the idea of invoking that piece of lethal self-righteousness to three women in the Obama administration:
- Samantha Power, Senior Director of Multicultural Affairs at the National Security Council
- Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations
- Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
To show just how NATO action in Libya is making a mockery of the R2P, we quote from a report by Mike McNally at PajamasMedia:
The fighters of Libya’s National Transitional Council, the rebel movement turned temporary government, have launched what they say is a “final assault” on Sirte — hometown of ousted dictator Colonel Gaddafi and one of the last redoubts of his supporters.
Thousands of civilians have fled the town, but thousands more are trapped inside, unable or unwilling to leave. The Red Cross reports that conditions inside Sirte are deteriorating, with people dying in the main hospital due to shortages of medical supplies, fuel, and water; food is also said to be in short supply.
There are no reliable casualty figures, although pro-Gaddafi forces — not surprisingly — are reporting hundreds of civilian deaths caused by both NTC fighters and NATO airstrikes. …
Even if rebel forces aren’t intentionally targeting civilians, the ramshackle nature of the rebel forces and much of their equipment suggests that much of the shelling and rocketing is indiscriminate. Red Cross workers have reported rockets landing among the hospital buildings. …
You could be forgiven for wondering what the NATO forces who are still engaged in Libya plan to do about the situation in Sirte, given that UN Resolution 1973, under which they’re operating, authorizes them to take “all necessary measures” to protect “civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. …
But far from defending the civilian population of Sirte, NATO warplanes were as recently as Sunday still conducting airstrikes in and around the town in support of the rebels. “Why is NATO bombing us?” asked one man who had fled with his family. It’s a fair question.
NATO had already put a highly elastic interpretation on its mandate under 1973, transitioning swiftly from protecting anti-Gaddafi protesters to flying close air support missions for the rebels.
And adding effective contingents of NATO soldiers to the feeble rag-tag rebel militia for the assault on Tripoli – a fact that NATO has tried to keep under wraps. (See our post Letting Arabs lie, August 24, 2011.)
But even if one takes the view that NATO’s actions from the start of its involvement up to the fall of Tripoli were legally and morally justified, it’s hard to argue that the Gaddafi loyalists besieged in Sirte and elsewhere present an imminent threat to the civilian population in areas now under NTC control. Far from protecting civilians, NATO now finds itself in the position of abetting a humanitarian crisis. Civilians in Sirte face a choice between enduring the shelling and the all-out assault on the town that’s likely within the next few days, and fleeing the city if they’re able. The Red Cross estimates that some 10,000 have fled, but that up to 30,000 more may still be trapped.
So why are NATO and the American, British, and French governments that were so eager to take charge of the “humanitarian” intervention, not doing more to ensure their safety? And where’s the media outcry, along the lines of the reporting which helped to persuade the West to get involved in Libya in the first place? …
At the very least NATO … could arrange the delivery of food, water, and medical supplies …
This is a civil war, and the only crime most of the civilians trapped in Sirte have committed is being on the losing side. Are they now to be denied the protection of the “international community” which a few months ago proclaimed itself so concerned at the loss of innocent life in the country? What happened to the UN’s much-vaunted “Responsibility to Protect”?
Commentators on both left and right raised doubts over NATO’s Libya mission, myself included. The removal of Gaddafi is of course to be welcomed, but while a stable and democratic regime that poses no threat to Western interests may yet emerge, recent events have suggested that outcome is still in doubt.
In doubt? A stable democratic regime in Libya? As in any other Arab country, it’s one of the most unlikely things in the world.
Just how phony the claim is (put out by Obama and his henchwomen*) that the Libyan engagement is all about the “responsibility to protect” civilians, is demonstrated by this report published two days ago on July 18, 2011, by Asia News – and nowhere in the West:
Benghazi-based rebels took Brega over night. The town, which is 740 km east of Tripoli, is the country’s main oil hub. The National Transitional Council (NTC) called the fall of the city its greatest victory since the war against Gaddafi began. However, doubts remain about rebel intentions. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused them of retaliatory violence against pro-Gaddafi regime civilians. … HRW said rebels looted and torched homes in towns that had fallen under NTC control. In villages south of Tripoli, Gaddafi loyalists were beaten, their houses set on fire.
We have little respect for Human Rights Watch having observed their frequent incapacity or reluctance to tell the truth, but in this case their accusation is backed up by another source:
Tiziana Gamannossi, an Italian businesswoman in Tripoli, told AsiaNews that the rebels’ push is causing fear in the civilian population. …
In her view, NATO is funding and arming violent groups that lack any training or code of honour. …
For Gamannossi, a war that was launched to defend civilians is absurd. The latter watch powerless as their cities and country are torn down amid the silence of western media.
“These days, hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated against NATO in Tripoli, Zliten, Ajaylat and Sabha, demanding an end to the air strikes. No newspaper has given such news much importance, calling the protests ‘ demonstrations funded by the regime’.”
Last week the 30-member contact group on Libya, including the United States, China and Russia, “formally recognised the NTC as the sole representative of the Libyan people. This will give the council access to about US$200 billion in Libyan government assets held in foreign banks to fund the rebel advance.”
What makes this contact group expect that the people leading the National Transitional Council will be any better for Libyans, or for other states to deal with, than Gaddafi has been?
The answer is, absolutely nothing. They may even be worse.
* Samantha Power, Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs, National Security Council; Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN; Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. See our post A siren song from hell, April 1, 2011.
Ben Johnson lists what he believes are the real reasons why Obama started the war on Libya. See them all. We quote parts of the two we find most interesting:
It advances fundamentalist Muslim interests.
A West Point study found Libyans made up a large section of Iraq’s foreign jihadists, perhaps as high as 20 percent. Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi has admitted he fought the Crusader enemy (that’s us) on the hills of Pakistan before personally leading 25 Libyans to the Iraqi front. …
The civil war has reportedly given al-Qaeda the opportunity to steal surface-to-air missiles. ..
Empowering al-Qaeda in the Sahara is a risk the Community-Organizer-in-Chief is willing to take as part of his outreach to the Muslim ummah. Other examples include his limp-wristed approach to Iran, his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in neighboring Egypt, his instruction for NASA administrator Charles Bolden to make Muslims “feel good about their historic contribution to science,” his financing of mosques around the world, his pledge to make a priority of prosecuting anti-Muslim “hate crimes,” his promotion and financing of Al Jazeera broadcasts, and his lawsuit on behalf of a Muslim teacher seeking three weeks leave to make hajj. This is just the latest way of begging the world’s Mohammedans to like him.
Add to that his deliberate distancing of the US from Israel and his obvious personal hostility to the Jewish state – strong enough, we think, to connive at its destruction.
Strengthens the globalist socialists at the UN.
Obama stated Monday night if he had not gone into Libya, “The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security.” He had no trouble ignoring more than a dozen UNSC resolutions about Iraq before that war, but the Left typically genuflects at the altar of the UN and the “international community.” …
American liberals congregate at the UN, because they believe other nations are more enlightened than their fellow citizens and they hope Eurosocialists can save them from American yokels. They often say things like, “America is the only industrialized nation that….” Obama shares this view. He has derided “our tragic history” and said the U.S. Constitution “reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.” He has appointed Supreme Court nominees who believe in placing international law on equal footing with the U.S. Constitution. His UN-worship reached its apogee when he hauled Arizona before the United Nations Human Rights Council over its common sense immigration law, having the people of Arizona judged by the cronies of Cameroon. His first-ever U.S. report to the UNHRC provided a blueprint for socialism, which stated bluntly, “Our commitment to the rights protected in our Constitution is matched by a parallel commitment to foster a society characterized by shared prosperity.” The internationalist Left defers to the UN on domestic and foreign policy, including when to send American troops into harm’s way.
We think a very strong inducement, perhaps the strongest, was the siren song of the three harpies (to mix a couple of classical myths), Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and Hillary Clinton. We hear them singing an ominous lyric along these lines: “Let’s set a precedent for international action carrying out the UN approved Responsibility To Protect, and then we can attack Israel on the grounds that we are protecting the Palestinians.” See our post, The danger of R2P, March 23, 2011.
See also an article by Alan W. Dowd at Front Page, titled A Dangerous Doctrine, from which this comes:
Who at the UN, ICC, Arab League or European Union decides what justifies an R2P intervention? R2P advocates are quick to answer that an R2P intervention can only be triggered by genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity or inciting such actions. Of course, all of these are subjective terms. Just ask Armenia and Turkey, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, Russia and Chechnya, the people of Sudan. Everyone from Tony Blair to Tommy Franks was accused of war crimes during the Iraq war. Today, Libya’s rebels and Libya’s government, NATO’s leaders and Khadafy’s henchmen, are all accusing each other of war crimes. This isn’t to say that there aren’t genuine cases of war crimes, genocide and the like in the world, but rather that Americans may define these terms differently than the bureaucrats who roam the UN. …
if Khadafy is guilty of violating R2P principles, what about Syria’s Assad, Sudan’s Bashir, Cuba’s Castro, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, North Korea’s Kim? The list could go on and on. In fact, if I made the list, it might include China’s leaders and Russia’s leaders (see Tiananmen, Tibet and Chechnya). If they made the list, it might include the United States or Estonia. If Kosovo made the list, it might include Serbia. If the Serbs made the list, it might include Kosovo. If Pakistan made the list, it might include India. If India made the list, it might include Pakistan. You get the point.
Moreover, what level of negligence or outright willfulness constitutes “failure to protect”—disproportionate death rates among different ethnic groups, mass-arrests, seizure of property? These sorts of things could be twisted to apply to the United States, especially in a world awash in moral relativism. Before scoffing at this, recall that Belgian lawyers tried to put U.S. commanders in the dock for failing to stop postwar looting in Iraq. One wonders where their outrage was when a bona fide war criminal reigned in Baghdad. But this points out one of the problems with many R2P advocates. They are surprisingly silent on the obvious cases: the Saddam Husseins and Kim Jong Ils and Fidel Castros of the world. It’s difficult to understand why.
It’s only difficult to understand if one is so credulous as to believe that the Left gives a damn for victims of persecution as such. They only weep their crocodile tears over the plight of this or that selected group if doing so suits their agenda: Serb victims? Not interested. Bosnian or Kosovar victims? How terrible, let’s protect them with bombs and diplomatic outrage. Cuban victims? Shrug. Palestinians? Let’s send a “mammoth” force (Siren Samantha’s word) against Israel. Israelis? They’re asking for it by building homes where they shouldn’t be allowed to. Christian victims in Muslim lands? Don’t take any notice. Muslim “victims” in the US? Appalling.
Whatever their motives, it seems that advocates of R2P are opening the door to the further weakening of national sovereignty and the further weakening of the nation-state system—a system which has served America well. It pays to recall that the United States has thrived in the nation-state system. We were born into it, raised in it, grew to master and shape it, and today we benefit from it, sustain it and dominate it. When and if it ceases to be the main organizing structure for the world — if R2P seduces America into taking sides everywhere, weakening the responsibilities and benefits of sovereignty along the way — there is no guarantee that Americans will have the same position and place they enjoy today.
Too mildly imagined! It would be a communist-governed or Islam-governed world. In other words, one total global inescapable hell.
At last the day came when China and Russia agreed to support a US resolution in the UN Security Council that would make Iran regret it had defied the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, promise never to make nuclear bombs, stop threatening to destroy Israel, and utterly renounce its wicked ways.
As you can imagine, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton felt immensely triumphant – not so much because Iran would now be forced to do all that, but because getting Russia and China on their side had been really hard. It was especially great for Hillary, as she hadn’t achieved anything else to boast about since becoming Secretary of State.
What dire punishments, what unendurable difficulties, will the resolution impose on the Iranian regime?
Sorry, we can’t tell you. The draft of the resolution has not been made public.
However, some information about it comes from unofficial sources.
One report claims that it will ban Iran from building ballistic missiles. (Which it has already done, without permission.)
And what penalties will it impose if Iran disobeys? These:
It “calls on countries to block financial transactions, including insurance and reinsurance, and ban the licensing of Iranian banks if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.” And it “recalls the need for states to exercise vigilance over all Iranian banks, including the Central Bank, to prevent transactions contributing to proliferation activities.”
“Calls on them to”, and “recalls the need to”, but does not require them to do so.
Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, says it will give “greater teeth” to some sanctions already imposed which haven’t proved effective, and “add strong new measures to intensify pressure on the Iranian government to resolve concerns that its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at producing nuclear weapons.”
And that seems to be the most that can be hoped of it.
“The draft resolution is weaker than the original Western-backed proposal, especially on financial and energy-related measures. Rather than place sanctions on Iran’s oil industry, the proposed resolution simply notes the potential connection between Iranian energy revenues and funding for the country’s nuclear program and calls on U.N. members to be aware of it.”
The draft was introduced into the Security Council last Tuesday. (It was urgent, Ambassador Rice said, but she “wouldn’t speculate on when the resolution will be put to a vote”.)
On the day before, Iran announced an agreement it had made with Turkey and Brazil [?] to send some if its low-enriched uranium to Turkey (which has as yet no enrichment facility), in exchange for higher-enriched fuel rods – which Iran will use only in an innocent medical research reactor, built long ago for Tehran by the United States. (And meanwhile, of course, it will continue with its own high-enrichment program.)
But if Iran had hoped that this little ruse, this piece of side-play with Turkey and Brazil, would thwart the resolve of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, it was underestimating the stuff they’re made of! They pressed on, confident that Russia and China were right behind them.
That is, if those two powers stuck to their side of the bargain.
The US had had to pay a price for their co-operation.
First, various provisions had to be stripped from the draft before either of them would even consider giving their nods to it.
Chiefly, the one sanction that would really hurt Iran, aimed at its oil and gas industries, had to be removed. Both China and Russia had invested too heavily in them to allow anything like that.
Next, according to another report, they had to drop sanctions against three Russian organizations that had aided Iran’s nuclear program (and that until now the Russian government had denied were giving any support at all to Iran). And “penalties against a fourth Russian entity previously accused of illicit arms sales to Syria were also lifted” as part of the deal. So were “US sanctions imposed in October 2008 against Russian state arms trader Rosoboronexport for … illicit assistance to Iran’s nuclear program.”
Now Iran may expect aid from Russia to resume or continue. (And so may Syria.)
Then China had to be paid. Part of China’s demand was that America should take no notice of certain nuclear-related transactions it has made with Pakistan, in particular its contracts to build two reactors in that country, which is already a nuclear power.
Pakistan in its turn is providing nuclear and ballistic missile technologies to both Iran and North Korea.
And North Korea has announced that it is developing a hydrogen bomb – a claim that the Obama administration refuses to believe. (North Korea recently torpedoed a South Korean ship, and warned that any retaliation will mean all-out war.)
So let’s say well done Barack, Hillary, and Susan! And thank you for keeping us safe.
Marxists, Greens, collectivists, call them what you will, are trying to convince us that national sovereignty is a nasty old thing of the past, and the way to the future happiness of the human race is through ‘transnationalism’ and global government. This opinion may be held by very few people, but they wield a lot of power. One of them is Barack Obama.
Frank Gaffney writes this on ‘international opinion’ and its effects:
International-law professors, jurists, and bureaucrats announce some piety that they think everyone should follow (e.g., the death penalty is an unconscionable human-rights violation). Once enough of them have followed it for long enough (in recent years, ‘long enough’ seems to have become ‘ten minutes’. . . or the time it takes to announce these new international standards), the piety is deemed – at least by transnationalists – to be universally binding. In their view, it thus becomes the obligation of every nation to fall into line, changing their laws to whatever extent is necessary to do so. That is, the sensibilities of the ‘international community’ (i.e., the elites of the global Left) void the democratic self-determinism of the American people.” …
In giving Interpol carte blanche, the transnationalists in the Obama administration – a group that includes, notably, State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh, UN Ambassador Susan Rice and, not least, the President himself – have sliced away at the corpus of American sovereignty. They have done so in order to ensure that America conforms to the same standards as the other nations that host Interpol offices (namely, Third World nations like Cameroon, El Salvador and Zimbabwe),
Unfortunately, the Transies are whacking away at our rights and liberties in a host of other ways, as well. The administration wants to subject the United States to: the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which would allow (among other travesties) international regulation of U.S. air and water, even in the absence of the sort of climate change treaty sought at Copenhagen; the International Criminal Court, exposing our officials, troops and citizens to capricious, politicized foreign prosecution; radical “international norms” governing what the UN considers to be the “rights” of women and children; and a Shariah-mandated Islamic blasphemy code barring and criminalizing speech that offends Muslims, a blatant threat to the First Amendment.
Even if these myriad “cuts” were not in the offing, there would be powerful reasons for rejecting Team Obama’s efforts to expand Interpol’s powers in the United States. Towards the end of last year, the Islamic Republic of Iran enlisted Interpol in its campaign to intimidate, hunt down and, if possible, silence its opponents outside the country. Ten Kurds who became Swedish citizens after fleeing Iran twenty years ago are now on the international police organization’s wanted list – and at risk of arrest if they leave Sweden. The basis for these charges? Nothing more than Tehran’s unproven and highly political accusations that they have been involved in “terrorism” and “organized crime.”
Whether such abuses might be made more likely in America if this order is not rescinded or countermanded by Congress can only be speculated about at this point. What is unmistakable, though, is the cumulative effect of the thousand cuts being inflicted by the Obama transnationalists: a perilous bleeding out of the liberties and freedoms enshrined in and protected by our Constitution and sovereignty.
And here’s part of a report from PowerLine of John Bolton’s keynote speech at the Hudson Institute’s ‘Reclaim American Liberty’ Conference:
Ambassador Bolton argued that several elements have combined to induce President Obama to enroll in the essentially European project of global governance. Among these elements are Obama’s … sense that America is too powerful, and his desire to eschew old-fashioned patriotism in favor of a “post-American” presidency.
Although Obama is constrained by domestic political considerations from fully articulating his preference for ceding sovereignty in favor of global governance, Bolton finds clear evidence of that preference on several fronts. Obama’s approach to “climate change” is perhaps the clearest example. Climate change is the main issue through which the “global governance” crowd seeks to gain power. Far from resisting this attack on our right of self-governance, Obama has sided with the Europeans. …
Bolton also cited our approach to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. With respect to North Korea and Iran, we have deferred to the “global community” and now rely on a policy of begging these countries to negotiate with us. …
Thanks to an anonymous hero who published the ‘Climategate’ emails – and also, grudgingly on our part, to China – the Copenhagen Plot failed. But the ‘Transies’ won’t give up. Stay alert for whatever new ruses they think up to nudge us towards world government.