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 Most RecentForeign Policy Archive
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Libya

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The culpability of the British government and its intelligence agencies in enabling suicide bomber Salman Abedi to blow himself up at a pop concert in Manchester is being masked one year later by the mood of grief and mourning over the death and injury of so many people. It is heartrending to hear injured children... Read More
After Pyongyang railed this week that the U.S.-South Korean Max Thunder military drills were a rehearsal for an invasion of the North, and imperiled the Singapore summit, the Pentagon dialed them back. The B-52 exercises alongside F-22 stealth fighters were canceled. But Pyongyang had other objections. Sunday, NSC adviser John Bolton spoke of a "Libyan... Read More
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There was something refreshing about watching former French president Nicholas Sarkozy being interrogated in a French jail. Particularly since he may soon be accused of conspiracy in the murder of my old friend, Col. Muammar Khadaffi of Libya. Sarkozy and his former chief of staff, Claude Guéant, are being investigated for secretly accepting at least... Read More
The massacre in Manchester is a horrific event born out of the violence raging in a vast area stretching from Pakistan to Nigeria and Syria to South Sudan. Britain is on the outer periphery of this cauldron of war, but it would be surprising if we were not hit by sparks thrown up by these... Read More
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“We came, we saw…he died” boasted a beaming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, speaking of the 2011 western overthrow of Libya’s leader Muammar Khadaffi. She was, of course, shamelessly paraphrasing Caesar’s famous summary of his campaign around the Black Sea. Mrs. Clinton, who seems ordained to be America’s next president, should have been rather more... Read More
Today, October 20, 2016, is the fifth anniversary of the murder of Muammar Gaddafi by forces organized and unleashed by US President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Remember the killer bitch’s performance, with gleeful laughter, on CBS “News”: “We came, we saw, he died.” Muammar Gaddafi was the most progressive political leader in... Read More
The 800-plus-page report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi was released earlier this week. It slams former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her willful indifference to her obligation to repel military-style attacks on American interests and personnel at the U.S. Consulate and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. She particularly failed to... Read More
Normally anybody who criticises Jeremy Corbyn is guaranteed knee-jerk support by the British media which apparently feels that it does not even have to pretend to be non-partisan when it comes to the Labour leader. The only political figure similarly subjected to automatic demonisation is Tony Blair, so when he fiercely attacked Corbyn last week... Read More
The Arab Spring reported and misreported
I was sceptical from an early stage about the Arab Spring uprisings leading to the replacement of authoritarian regimes by secular democracies. Optimistic forecasts I was hearing in the first heady months of 2011 sounded suspiciously similar to what I had heard in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and in Baghdad... Read More
George W. Bush destroyed the state and army of Iraq, but it was located within a constellation of relatively powerful and capable states interested in some form of stability or control. The United States also poured massive doses of money and power into Iraq in an attempt to influence its outcomes. However, when the US... Read More
I went to Libya in 1987 to interview its strongman, Muammar Khadaffi. We spent an evening talking in his colorful Bedouin tent outside the Bab al-Azizya Barracks in Tripoli which had been bombed a year earlier by the US in an attempt to kill the troublesome Libyan leader. Khadaffi predicted to me that if he... Read More
The use of the US military overseas seems to have become so commonplace that the Obama Administration can bomb a country with no Congressional input and very little media interest at all. Such was the case on Friday, when the US military killed some 49 people in a bombing run near Tripoli, Libya.We had to... Read More
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In my opinion, a lot of the mockery of the North Korean nuclear test—the silly little man with his silly little bomb—is racism that reassures. It evokes the explanation for why many poor rural whites adopted a posture of racial exclusion instead of class solidarity with poor rural blacks in the American South: “because 'If... Read More
The Libyan uprising always contained more extreme Islamists than portrayed by its supporters inside and outside Libya. There is a measure of truth in Muammar Gaddafi's claim to Tony Blair that the jihadis had "managed to set up local stations and in Benghazi have spread the thoughts and ideas of al Qaeda." His claims sound... Read More
The self-inflicted wounds of Hillary Rodham Clinton just keep manifesting themselves. She has two serious issues that have arisen in the past week; one is political and the other is legal. Both have deception at their root. Her political problem is one of credibility. We know from her emails that she informed her daughter Chelsea... Read More
The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd captured the moment last weekend when she referred to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “the midwife to chaos” in Libya. Dowd apparently came to that conclusion after watching Clinton bobbing and weaving and admitting and denying as she was confronted with the partial record of her failures... Read More
There is a strong case against Clinton’s actions in Libya, but they relate to her support for the overthrow of Muammar...
Hillary Clinton was battered for 10 hours on 22 October by Republican Congressmen seeking to blame her for security failings, when she was secretary of state, that led to the murder of United States ambassador Christopher Stevens in the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2012. The Republican purpose in grilling her for so... Read More
At long last, Hillary Clinton testifies on the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and her emails as secretary of state. Here are some suggested questions. Although these suggestions are based on the public record, we need to assume that the members of the House Benghazi Committee have seen far more than the public has.... Read More
Remember when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was so intent on a US attack on Libya that she disregarded the US Intelligence Community, the Pentagon, and even her colleagues in the Obama Administration to force her "humanitarian intervention"? Clinton was so distrusted by the Pentagon that they opened up their own lines of communication with... Read More
In a column I wrote in early July, based on research by my colleagues and my own analysis of government documents and eyewitness statements, I argued that in 2011 and 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waged a secret war on the governments of Libya and Syria, with the approval of President Obama and the... Read More
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What if President Obama secretly agreed with others in the government in 2011 to provide arms to rebels in Libya and Syria? What if the scheme called for American arms merchants to sell serious American military hardware to the government of Qatar, which would and did transfer it to rebel groups? What if the U.S.... Read More
When theydestabilizedLibya andoverthrewstrongman Muammar Gadhafi in 2011 the U.S. and its Canadian and European allies unleashed a series of events that accounts for the steady flood into Europe of migrants from North Africa. There are, purportedly,"up to 1 million"poor, uneducated, possibly illiterate, predominantly male, and by necessity violence-prone individuals, poised to board rickety freighters in... Read More
The wars that come back to haunt us
Few recall that David Cameron led Britain into one war in Libya that overthrew Gaddafi, but was disastrous for most Libyans. Without this conflict, the drowned bodies of would-be emigrants to Europe would not be washing up in their hundreds on Libyan beaches. To get the full flavour of what went wrong, it is worth... Read More
In 2011, there was jubilation at Gaddafi's demise. Not any more: the aftermath of foreign intervention is calamitous and...
Remember the time when Libya was being held up by the American, British, French and Qatari governments as a striking example of benign and successful foreign intervention? It is worth looking again at film of David Cameron grandstanding as liberator in Benghazi in September 2011 as he applauds the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and tells... Read More
Melting Hopes
The image of the Libyan revolution in 2011 was something of a fabrication in which the decisive role of Nato air power was understated. The same may be true of the counter-revolution in Libya that is being ushered in by ex-general Kalifa Hifter’s slow-motion coup which gathered support last week but without making a decisive... Read More
Rival militias position themselves for civil war as country disintegrates
Libya is tipping toward all-out civil war as rival militias take sides for and against an attempted coup led by a renegade general that has pushed the central government towards disintegration. In a move likely to deepen the crisis, the army chief of staff, whose regular forces are weak and ill-armed, called on Islamist-led militias... Read More
Be careful what you wish for. In 2011, a Libyan rebellion began against autocrat Muammar Gaddafi. It undoubtedly reflected the wish of many Libyans for a new world of their own without his heavy hand or that of his secret police and secret prisons. Wishing to be rid of a ruler long seen as a... Read More
How Not to End Violence in a War-Torn Land
Is the U.S. secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? And if not, are they planning to? That’s what I asked a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). “I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands,” he responded by email. “I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this.” As... Read More
Its government has no real power; militias are ever more entrenched, and now the state itself is under threat
The Libyan former prime minister Ali Zeidan fled last week after parliament voted him out of office. A North Korean-flagged oil tanker, the Morning Glory, illegally picked up a cargo of crude from rebels in the east of the country and sailed safely away, despite a government minister's threat that the vessel would be "turned... Read More
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The Truth of the Green Resistance
The battles currently raging in the South of Libya are no mere tribal clashes. Instead, they represent a possible burgeoning alliance between black Libyan ethnic groups and pro-Gaddafi forces intent upon liberating their country of a neocolonial NATO-installed government. On Saturday January 18th, a group of heavily armed fighters stormed an air force base outside... Read More
If we are so smart, why are we so dumb? I am referring to the "intelligence" that our spy agencies have gathered at great cost in both massive secret black-box budgets and, much more importantly, the surrender of our personal freedom to the snooping eyes of our modern surveillance state. "We know everything but learn... Read More
The real story of security after Gaddafi can be seen in the Foreign Office's advice to travellers
It is revealing to read Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advisories addressed to British citizens about security, or the lack of it, in countries where the Government otherwise plays down the dangers. I used to enjoy reading scary FCO advisories about Iraq eight or nine years ago, warning travellers not to set foot there because... Read More
Lessons From the Kidnapping of Ali Zeidan
Seldom has the failure of a state been so openly and humiliatingly confirmed as happened in Libya last week with the brief kidnapping the Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from his hotel in Tripoli by a militia allied to the government and without a shot being fired. Despite his swift release, the message is very clear:... Read More
The perception that the militiamen had beat Gaddafi through their own strength in 2011 was an illusion helped along by...
Seldom has the failure of a state been so openly and humiliatingly confirmed as happened in Libya this morning with the brief kidnapping the Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from his hotel in Tripoli by a militia allied to the government and without a shot being fired. Despite his swift release, the message is very clear:... Read More
[I got my Defcons flipflopped in the original post.  Herewith corrected.  According to Wikipedia, the US military has only gone to Defcon 2 once, for the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Even 9/11 was only Defcon 3.  The different levels also have catchy descriptions, like "Cocked Pistol" and "Double Take", that are used during exercises.  So if... Read More
A Region in Turmoil
A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources. Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of... Read More
Looking at the way this post scans on this site and over at Counterpunch, it occurs to me that I should have blockquoted the excerpts from the HRW report to make it clear they were direct quotes and not my paraphrases. So I've done that! Further my speculation that Edward Snowden, as a CIA guy,... Read More
Congressional hearings, White House damage control, endless op-eds, accusations, and defensive denials. Controversy over the events in Benghazi last September took center stage in Washington and elsewhere last week. However, the whole discussion is again more of a sideshow. Each side seeks to score political points instead of asking the real questions about the attack... Read More
Intelligence agents answer to Langley, not the State Department.
The various accounts of the Sept. 11 Benghazi incident in which four Americans died demonstrate that there is a profound misunderstanding of what the Central Intelligence Agency does and how it interacts with the State Department overseas. The U.S. ambassador in any country is the personal representative of the president of the United States, and... Read More
Passing Time in Libya
The boredom of travel is frequently understated by travel writers. They dwell on the exhilarating time spent on the Nile and the Grand Canal or seeing the wonders of Istanbul and Damascus rather than the hours of tedium in airport lounges and hotels bedrooms. What is true for tourists is true for foreign correspondents. For... Read More
Though I am in no way a fan of President Obama’s foreign and security policies, the flailing that the Republican Party is engaging in at the moment to demonstrate some kind of cover-up in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack reveals a complete lack of understanding of how intelligence collection and analysis works. David Ignatius... Read More
I well recall a CIA instructor at the agency's Williamsburg, Virginia training center (“The Farm”) who would stand in front of the class with his arms outstretched demonstrating that when the right arm “security” went up, the left arm “efficiency” went down. The instructor had unusually long arms and had apparently been hand-picked (or arm-picked)... Read More
A Legacy of Hatred
Libyans voted in their first democratic election yesterday to choose an interim national assembly to rule the country after the overthrow of Mu'ammer Gaddafi. International interest in this crucial election has been sparse compared to the wall-to-wall coverage by the foreign media during the eight-month war. Throughout the Libyan crisis, human rights organisations have on... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
If you want a sense of what could well lie in store for Syria, go no further than Anthony Shadid’s report from Libya in the New York Times for February 9. Shadid, a good reporter, describes a dismembered country, rent by banditry: One martial enterprise of some of these Misuratan militias is to attack a... Read More
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CounterPunch Diary
The last time we met Michael Bérubé on this site was back in 2007, and he was up to his neck in a rubbish dump, where I’d placed him, in the company of other promoters of the 2003 war on Iraq: where, I asked, are those parlor warriors now? Had any of them reconsidered their... Read More
“This was always a civil war, and the victors are not merciful”
The detention of 7,000 people in prisons and camps by the anti-Gaddafi forces is not surprising. The conflict in Libya was always much more of a civil war between Libyans than foreign governments pretended or the foreign media reported. The winning anti-Gaddafi militia are not proving merciful. Often they have had relatives killed in the... Read More
The Killing of Ahmed Abdullah al-Ghadamsi
I first met Ahmed Abdullah al-Ghadamsi in Tripoli last August about seven weeks before he was killed in one of the last battles of the Libyan war. I was staying in the Radisson Blu, a large hotel that overlooks the harbor and overfilled with journalists who had poured into the Libyan capital after the rebels... Read More
Macbeth knew what would be coming to him once his domestic enemies had the upper hand. He decided to go down fighting. The Roman dictator Sejanus was not given that opportunity. Sejanus had taken power in Rome when Tiberius, the official emperor, decided that playing with his tiddlers in Capri was more fun than ruling.... Read More
“What’s going on, what’s happening,” a wounded, dazed Muammar Gadaffi reportedly asked just before he was murdered in Sert, Libya. The “Brother Leader” had once asked me something similar. A year after the US sought to assassinate him by dropping a 2,000-pound bomb on his bedroom in Tripoli’s Baba al-Azizya barracks, Gaddafi took me by... Read More
“What’s going on, what’s happening,” a wounded, dazed Muammar Gadaffi reportedly asked just before he was murdered in Sirte, Libya. The “Brother Leader” had once asked me something similar. A year after the US sought to assassinate him by dropping a 2,000lb bomb on his bedroom at Tripoli’s Baba al-Azizya barracks, Gadaffi took me by... Read More
Category Classics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about...
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?