Lance McLain | 1 Apr 03:38 2011

The Fed Bailed Out A Libya-Owned Bank

zero hedge - on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero
March 31, 2011 4:57 PM
by Tyler Durden

The Fed Bailed Out A Libya-Owned Bank

Here's one for the WTF files. While it is neither a secret that back in 2009 America had a thriving relationship with the world's suddenly most hated man Moammar Gaddafi (see "Obama is the first U.S. president to shake Gaddafi's hand") only to turn around and bomb him, nor is it surprising since after all when it comes to oil our administration will do anything and everything to procure it, no matter how many Nobel peace prizes are trampled in the process, it may come as a surprise to some that a bank majority owned by the Libya Central Bank, was the direct recipient of US taxpayer largesse in the form of discount window borrowing. Bloomberg writes that Arab Banking Corp., a lender part- owned by the Central Bank of Libya, used a branch in New York to borrow at least $5 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve as credit markets seized up in 2008 and 2009. Indeed a quick word search through the compiled daily releases will confirm that the Fed dispersed funds to the Libya-owned venture on well over 30 occasions. And while we have querried in the past how it is possible that various Libyan financial interests managed to get past domestic Anti Money Laundering provisions, when it comes to direct funding from taxpayers would it be too much to ask of Ben Bernanke not to transact with institutions operating on behalf of various so-called tyrants, mutants and, broadly, Antichrists?

More from Bloomberg:

The bank, then 29 percent-owned by the Libyan state, drew $1.1 billion from the Fed’s so-called discount window in October 2008, Including $450 million during the week when hundreds of financial firms drew a record amount of emergency funding from the U.S lending program, according to data released by the Fed today. Arab Banking Corp. also owed about $4 billion to the Fed under other bailout programs in the fall of 2009, data released in December show.

The U.S. government has since frozen assets linked to the regime of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi and engaged in air strikes against his military forces as they battle a rebel uprising in the North African country. Arab Banking Corp. received an exemption that allows the firm to continue operating while prohibiting it from engaging in any transactions with the government of Libya, according to the Treasury Department.

Libya’s stake in Manama, Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corp. increased to 59 percent in December 2010, the company said on Dec. 2.

David Siegel, treasurer of Arab Banking Corp.’s branch on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan, declined to comment when contacted. The bank’s board is chaired by Mohammed Hussain Layas, chief executive officer of the Libyan Investment Authority. The CEO is Bahrain-based Hassan Ali Juma.

Ben Bernanke Discount Window Federal Reserve Treasury Department

Sent from my iPhone

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Peter T. Chattaway | 1 Apr 07:23 2011

Re: The Fed Bailed Out A Libya-Owned Bank

On Thu, 31 Mar 2011, Lance McLain wrote:
> Here's one for the WTF files. While it is neither a secret that back in 
> 2009 America had a thriving relationship with the world's suddenly most 
> hated man Moammar Gaddafi (see "Obama is the first U.S. president to 
> shake Gaddafi's hand") . . .

Seriously?  Huh.


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Lance McLain | 1 Apr 08:18 2011

Re: The Fed Bailed Out A Libya-Owned Bank

On Apr 1, 2011, at 12:23 AM, Peter T. Chattaway wrote:

> On Thu, 31 Mar 2011, Lance McLain wrote:
>> Here's one for the WTF files. While it is neither a secret that  
>> back in 2009 America had a thriving relationship with the world's  
>> suddenly most hated man Moammar Gaddafi (see "Obama is the first  
>> U.S. president to shake Gaddafi's hand") . . .
> Seriously?  Huh.
> -- 
> dadl-ot mailing list


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Peter Chattaway | 1 Apr 11:42 2011

Among the Hagiographers

Early on Gandhi was dubbed a 'mortal demi-god'—and he has been regarded that way ever since

MARCH 26, 2011

Joseph Lelyveld has written a ­generally admiring book about ­Mohandas Gandhi, the man credited with
leading India to independence from Britain in 1947. Yet "Great Soul" also obligingly gives readers more
than enough information to discern that he was a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical
faddist—one who was often downright cruel to those around him. Gandhi was therefore the archetypal
20th-century progressive ­intellectual, professing his love for ­mankind as a concept while
actually ­despising people as individuals.

For all his lifelong campaign for Swaraj ("self-rule"), India could have achieved it many years earlier if
­Gandhi had not continually abandoned his civil-disobedience campaigns just as they were beginning to
be successful. With 300 million Indians ruled over by 0.1% of that number of Britons, the subcontinent
could have ended the Raj with barely a shrug if it had been politically united. Yet Gandhi's uncanny
ability to irritate and frustrate the leader of India's 90 million Muslims, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (whom he
called "a maniac"), wrecked any hope of early independence. He equally alienated B.R. Ambedkar, who
spoke for the country's 55 million Untouchables (the lowest caste of Hindus, whose very touch was thought
to defile the four higher classes). Ambedkar pronounced Gandhi "devious and untrustworthy." Between
1900 and 1922, Gandhi ­suspended his efforts no fewer than three times, leaving in the lurch more than
15,000 supporters who had gone to jail for the cause.

A ceaseless self-promoter, Gandhi bought up the entire first edition of his first, hagiographical
biography to send to people and ensure a reprint. Yet we cannot be certain that he really made all the
pronouncements attributed to him, since, according to Mr. Lelyveld, Gandhi insisted that journalists
file "not the words that had actually come from his mouth but a version he ­authorized after his sometimes
heavy editing of the transcripts."

We do know for certain that he ­advised the Czechs and Jews to adopt nonviolence toward the Nazis, saying
that "a single Jew standing up and ­refusing to bow to Hitler's decrees" might be enough "to melt Hitler's
heart." (Nonviolence, in Gandhi's view, would apparently have also worked for the Chinese against the
Japanese ­invaders.) Starting a letter to Adolf ­Hitler with the words "My friend," Gandhi
egotistically asked: "Will you listen to the appeal of one who has ­deliberately shunned the method of
war not without considerable success?" He advised the Jews of Palestine to "rely on the goodwill of the
Arabs" and wait for a Jewish state "till Arab ­opinion is ripe for it."

In August 1942, with the Japanese at the gates of India, having captured most of Burma, Gandhi initiated a
­campaign designed to hinder the war effort and force the British to "Quit ­India." Had the genocidal
Tokyo regime captured northeastern India, as it ­almost certainly would have succeeded in doing
without British troops to halt it, the results for the Indian population would have been catastrophic. No
fewer than 17% of Filipinos perished under Japanese occupation, and there is no reason to suppose that
Indians would have fared any better. Fortunately, the British viceroy, Lord Wavell, simply imprisoned
Gandhi and 60,000 of his followers and got on with the business of fighting the Japanese.

Gandhi claimed that there was "an exact parallel" between the British ­Empire and the Third Reich, yet
while the British imprisoned him in luxury in the Aga Khan's palace for 21 months ­until the Japanese tide
had receded in 1944, Hitler stated that he would simply have had Gandhi and his supporters shot. (Gandhi
and Mussolini got on well when they met in December 1931, with the Great Soul praising the Duce's "service
to the poor, his opposition to super-urbanization, his efforts to bring about a coordination between
Capital and ­Labour, his passionate love for his people.") During his 21 years in South Africa
(1893-1914), Gandhi had not opposed the Boer War or the Zulu War of 1906—he raised a battalion of
stretcher-bearers in both cases—and after his return to India during World War I he offered to be
Britain's "recruiting agent-in-chief." Yet he was comfortable opposing the war against fascism.

Although Gandhi's nonviolence made him an icon to the American civil-rights movement, Mr. Lelyveld shows
how ­implacably racist he was toward the blacks of South Africa. "We were then marched off to a prison
intended for Kaffirs," Gandhi complained during one of his campaigns for the rights of ­Indians settled
there. "We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the
­Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized—the convicts even more so.
They are troublesome, very dirty and live like animals."

In an open letter to the legislature of South Africa's Natal province, ­Gandhi wrote of how "the Indian is
­being dragged down to the position of the raw Kaffir," someone, he later stated, "whose occupation is
hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a number of cattle to buy a wife, and then pass his life in
indolence and ­nakedness." Of white Afrikaaners and Indians, he wrote: "We believe as much in the purity
of races as we think they do." That was possibly why he refused to allow his son Manilal to marry ­Fatima
Gool, a Muslim, despite publicly promoting Muslim-Hindu unity.

Gandhi's pejorative reference to ­nakedness is ironic considering that, as Mr. Lelyveld details, when
he was in his 70s and close to leading India to ­independence, he encouraged his ­17-year-old
great-niece, Manu, to be naked during her "nightly cuddles" with him. After sacking several
long-standing and loyal members of his 100-strong ­personal entourage who might disapprove of this
part of his spiritual quest, Gandhi began sleeping naked with Manu and other young women. He told a woman on
one occasion: "Despite my best efforts, the organ remained aroused. It was an altogether strange and
shameful experience."

Yet he could also be vicious to Manu, whom he on one occasion forced to walk through a thick jungle where
sexual assaults had occurred in order for her to retrieve a pumice stone that he liked to use on his feet.
When she returned in tears, Gandhi "cackled" with laughter at her and said: "If some ruffian had carried
you off and you had met your death courageously, my heart would have danced with joy."

Yet as Mr. Lelyveld makes abundantly clear, Gandhi's organ probably only rarely became aroused with his
naked young ladies, because the love of his life was a German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann
Kallenbach, for whom Gandhi left his wife in 1908. "Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece
in my bedroom," he wrote to Kallenbach. "The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed." For some ­reason,
cotton wool and Vaseline were "a constant reminder" of Kallenbach, which Mr. Lelyveld believes might
­relate to the enemas Gandhi gave ­himself, although there could be other, less generous, explanations.

Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about "how completely you have taken ­possession of my body. This is slavery
with a vengeance." Gandhi nicknamed himself "Upper House" and Kallenbach "Lower House," and he made
Lower House promise not to "look lustfully upon any woman." The two then pledged "more love, and yet more
love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen."

They were parted when Gandhi ­returned to India in 1914, since the German national could not get
permission to travel to India during ­wartime—though Gandhi never gave up the dream of having him
back, writing him in 1933 that "you are always ­before my mind's eye." Later, on his ashram, where even
married "inmates" had to swear celibacy, Gandhi said: "I cannot imagine a thing as ugly as the intercourse
of men and women." You could even be thrown off the ashram for "excessive tickling." (Salt was also
forbidden, because it "arouses the senses.")

In his tract "Hind Swaraj" ("India's Freedom"), Gandhi denounced lawyers, railways and parliamentary
politics, even though he was a professional lawyer who constantly used railways to get to meetings to
argue that India ­deserved its own parliament. After ­taking a vow against milk for its ­supposed
aphrodisiac properties, he ­contracted hemorrhoids, so he said that it was only cow's milk that he had
­forsworn, not goat's. His absolute ­opposition to any birth control except sexual abstinence, in a
country that ­today has more people living on less than $1.25 a day than there were Indians in his
lifetime, was more dangerous.

Telling the Muslims who had been responsible for the massacres of thousands of Hindus in East Bengal in 1946
that Islam "was a religion of peace," Gandhi nonetheless said to three of his workers who preceded him into
its ­villages: "There will be no tears but only joy if tomorrow I get the news that all three of you were
killed." To a Hindu who asked how his co-religionists could ever return to villages from which they had
been ethnically cleansed, Gandhi blithely replied: "I do not mind if each and every one of the 500 families
in your area is done to death." What mattered for him was the principle of nonviolence, and anyhow, as he
told an orthodox Brahmin, he believed in re­incarnation.

Gandhi's support for the Muslim ­caliphate in the 1920s—for which he said he was "ready today to
sacrifice my sons, my wife and my friends"—Mr. Lelyveld shows to have been merely a cynical maneuver to
keep the Muslim League in his coalition for as long as possible. When his campaign for unity failed, he
blamed a higher power, ­saying in 1927: "I toiled for it here, I did penance for it, but God was not
­satisfied. God did not want me to take any credit for the work."

Gandhi was willing to stand up for the Untouchables, just not at the ­crucial moment when they were
­demanding the right to pray in temples in 1924-25. He was worried about alienating high-caste Hindus.
"Would you teach the Gospel to a cow?" he asked a visiting missionary in 1936. "Well, some of the
Untouchables are worse than cows in their understanding."

Gandhi's first Great Fast—undertaken despite his belief that hunger strikes were "the worst form of
coercion, which militates against the fundamental principles of non-violence"—was launched in 1932
to prevent Untouchables from ­having their own reserved seats in any future Indian parliament. Because
he said that it was "a religious, not a political question," he accepted no debate on the matter. He
elsewhere stated that "the abolition of Untouchability would not entail caste Hindus having to dine with
former Untouchables." At his ­monster rallies against Untouchability in the 1930s, which tens of
thousands of people attended, the Untouchables themselves were kept in holding pens well away from the
caste Hindus.

Of course, any coalition movement ­involves a certain degree of compromise and occasional hypocrisy.
But Gandhi's saintly image, his martyrdom at the hands of a Hindu fanatic in 1948 and Martin Luther King
Jr.'s adoption of him as a role model for the American civil-rights movement have largely protected him
from critical scrutiny. The French man of letters Romain Rolland called Gandhi "a mortal demi-god" in a
1924 hagiography, catching the tone of most writing about him. People used to take away the sand that had
touched his feet as relics—one relation kept Gandhi's ­fingernail clippings—and modern
biographers seem to treat him with much the same reverence today. Mr. Lelyveld is not immune, making
labored excuses for him at every turn of this nonetheless well-researched and well-written book.

Yet of the four great campaigns of Gandhi's life—for Hindu-Muslim unity, against importing British
textiles, for ending Untouchability and for getting the British off the subcontinent—only the last
succeeded, and that simply ­because the near-bankrupt British led by the anti-imperialist Clement
Attlee desperately wanted to leave India anyhow after a debilitating world war.

It was not much of a record for someone who had been invested with "sole ­executive authority" over the
Indian ­National Congress as early as in December 1921. But then, unlike any other ­politician, Gandhi
cannot be judged by ­actual results, because he was the "Great Soul."

—Mr. Roberts's "Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War" will be published in May.


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Peter Chattaway | 1 Apr 11:45 2011

The debates mess (1) -- The Greens

by Andrew Coyne on Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:15pm - 37 Comments

Let’s suppose Ford, GM and Chrysler sat down with all the television networks, and agreed to ban Toyota
ads from the airwaves. Would anyone think this was right? To be sure, these are all private companies, who
are entitled to decide for themselves with whom they will deal. But there would presumably be some
anti-competition concerns raised even then.

But now suppose we are talking not about the auto industry, but an election campaign — the very essence of a
public matter — the centrepiece of which is a televised election debate: the more so because there will
be only one such debate, in each official language. Yet the dynamics of what has just happened are the same:
the networks, in collusion with the four established political parties, have agreed to exclude another
party from the debate(s) — that is, to exclude one of the established parties’ competitors, the Green Party.

Personally, I think this is outrageous. It’s obviously impossible to include every single party, no
matter how marginal, in the debates, or mayhem would ensue. But the Greens are hardly a marginal party. In
the last election, they pulled nearly 1-million votes, or 7 per cent of the vote: all the smaller parties
combined added up to less than 1 per cent. The Greens have clearly broken from the pack. They have much more
in common with the big four than the others, including running candidates in all (or nearly all) 308 ridings.

Whoops. The Bloc runs candidates in barely a quarter of the ridings, but they’re in. But — as a thousand
bloggers rise to point out — the Bloc has seats in Parliament, unlike the Greens. But why should that be
the decisive factor? Surely that’s a comment more on our broken electoral system than anything else. As
it is, the Greens are able to attract nearly a million voters to trudge to the polls on their behalf, in the
certain knowledge that they will not elect a single member. Imagine how many votes they might get if they
actually had a chance of electing someone. Or if people had a chance to see their leader in the debate(s).

Anyway. I have my views on whether the Greens should be allowed in, and you have yours. But there should be
some transparent, generally accepted rule that guides these decisions, rather than ad hoc negotiations
behind closed doors. And surely we can agree that whatever the rule is, it should not be set by a consortium
of the self-interested, but by some independent, impartial arbiter. Yet here we are, yet again, with the
same rampantly conflicted crew being allowed to decide the rules of our democracy.


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Peter Chattaway | 1 Apr 11:47 2011

The debates mess (2) -- Harper v Ignatieff?

by Andrew Coyne on Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:53pm - 17 Comments

Some propose going further than just excluding the Greens. Why, they say, are even the NDP or the Bloc
invited? These aren’t, after all, realistic contenders for power. The next prime minister will be,
let’s face it, either Stephen Harper or Michael Ignatieff. Surely the debates should be a one-on-one affair.

The party leaders can debate who they like, of course, and the networks are free to broadcast them if they
wish. If someone — even Maclean’s — would like to arrange an additional debate between just Harper
and Ignatieff, I don’t suppose I have any objection. But the idea that this should take place instead of a
debate featuring all of the leaders (all except one, of course), as Harper apparently suggested, and as
some commentators would prefer, is just not on.

And it’s based on a flawed premise: that when we vote in elections, we vote, collectively, to choose a
government, or indeed a prime minister — as if the ballot contained the names Stephen Harper, Michael
Ignatieff et al. We don’t. We elect a Parliament. We vote in 308 ridings, and in every one of those ridings
the choice is not between prime ministers or even parties but candidates.

We choose, what is more, between several candidates, not just two. But whichever one of them we elect, they
do not disappear into smoke if they do not happen to come from the party that wins the most seat, or the party
that finishes second. Indeed, we may vote for them in the full knowledge that they have no chance of forming
a government, but wanting to be represented by them nevertheless. That is just as valid a choice, and the
MPs from those parties are just as legitimate as the MPs from the two parties that traditionally contend
for power.

So the premise that there is some special merit in a one-on-one debate between the leaders of the two parties
which the best chance of winning suffers from a fatal flaw: that’s not actually what goes on in a Canadian
election. I don’t mean that leaders don’t matter, or that they are irrelevant to voters’ decision
to support this or that candidate in each riding. Of course not: indeed, they are probably the single most
important factor, at least for uncommitted voters, in deciding which party they prefer, and party
preference is overwhelmingly important in deciding the choice of local candidate.

So a debate between Harper and Ignatieff would be of compelling interest — to voters who were undecided
between the two. That is, voters who had narrowed their choice down to one the two parties, Conservative or
Liberal, but were not firmly committed to either. That’s about 10 per cent of the electorate. The rest
— that is among the relatively small percentage that have not already made up their mind — are facing
different choices: between the Conservatives and the NDP, or between the NDP and the Liberals, or between
one of those parties and the Bloc, or the Greens. Or any combination of the five.

If helping voters to make up their minds is the objective, in other words – as opposed to providing an
prize-fight atmosphere for the networks, and horse-race coverage for the media — then there is no
particular reason to single out the Harper-Ignatieff combination.

And there is even less to hyper-ventilating about who challenged whom, and who backed down, and all the rest
of the ridiculous macho posturing in which otherwise sensible people have indulged the past 24 hours.


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Peter Chattaway | 1 Apr 11:49 2011

The debates mess (3) -- The whole thing

by Andrew Coyne on Thursday, March 31, 2011 7:21pm - 20 Comments

What both the preceding posts point to is the urgent necessity of reforming how we do the debates. We need to
take the process out of the hands of the networks, and the parties, with their self-evident biases. And we
need to set the rules for elections in general, rather than negotiating them ad hoc, each time, in the
middle of a campaign.

The problem now is that everyone involved knows where their self-interest lies. This doesn’t just
affect decisions of who gets in. It permeates every line of the rules. The party that is ahead in the polls,
for example, wants to have as few debates as it can get away with: ideally, none. The party that’s behind
wants to have six. So they saw it off at two: one in each official language.

Again, I have my preferences, you have yours. For me, I’d like there to be several debates, perhaps one a
week for the course of the campaign. That would take away some of the prize-fight nonsense: we would be less
obsessed with who “won” or “lost” the debate, as if that were an indication of anything, and more
concerned with what we learned about each leader and their positions on the issues, which surely ought to
be the point. The leaders, in turn, would be less wired and over-rehearsed if they knew they could recover
from a bad performance in subsequent debates.

We should also abolish this odious business of having separate debates in each language. The end result is
not only to halve the audience for each debate — an election, of all times, ought to be a time when the whole
country comes together — but the French debate becomes, inevitably, a debate for and about Quebec, with
shameless pandering to match.

If there were no other way to accommodate the two official language groups, that would be one thing. But
it’s not. We needn’t have all the leaders speaking both languages all the time. We could divide up each
debate into half-hour or hour-long segments, alternating English and French between them. We’re
quite used to simultaneous translation in this country. So why on earth do we put up with this linguistic segregation?

Holding more debates, each of them bilingual, would open the way for other innovations. Perhaps some of the
debates could be devoted to particular subjects. Perhaps instead of just the leaders, they could be
between the critics for a given portfolio. Perhaps we could experiment with different formats. And so on.

Best of all, more debates would give the media something to talk about, besides gaffes, and photo-ops, and
broken-down bus metaphors. I can’t see us changing otherwise.

Anyway. Whatever format we choose, whatever rules we set, they should be set outside the confines of any one
election campaign. We have to stop pretending that televised debates are some sort of novelty. They’ve
been with us for 50 years, and are now as integral to any election campaign as lawn signs and all-candidates
meetings. It’s time they were incorporated into the election laws.

To be sure, the parties would have their say: there’s no way of setting rules that could not involve them.
But if no party knew where it stood in the polls — if the rules were set behind a Rawlsian “veil of
ignorance” — then it should be possible to agreed on rules that were fair to all, and accepted as such.

Otherwise we are condemned to repeat the same travesty, election after election after election.


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Peter Chattaway | 1 Apr 11:52 2011

Our Allies, the Libyan Rebels

by Ross Douthat
March 31, 2011, 12:38 pm

In the last 24 hours, we’ve learned three important things about the Libyan rebellion. First, judging by
events on the battlefield, its fighters probably won’t be able to topple Qaddafi’s government
unless we find a way to significantly step our support. Second, we’ve already offered them more support
than anyone realized, since it turns out that the C.I.A. has been assisting the rebel leadership since
well before the United Nations resolution that officially justifies our involvement in this conflict.
And third, the jihadist presence within the rebellion, while not dominant by any means, may nonetheless
be real and meaningful — and growing apace, perhaps, as the civil war drags on.

All of this suggests that the best case scenario for the United States might be (and perhaps has always been)
not an outright rebel victory but a palace coup within Qaddafi’s regime — which could lead in turn to a
negotiated cease-fire, amnesty for the rebels, and a “new Libya” in which the dictator slips into
exile but some of his lieutenants remain in charge, stage-managing a transition to quasi-democracy.
I’m not sure whether yesterday’s high-profile defections make a soft coup much more likely (if they
persuade the remaining leadership that the writing is on the wall) or much less so (if they strip the
Tripoli government of all but the hardest-core Qaddafi loyalists). But either way, it seems like a better
scenario  than the only obvious alternative, which is to funnel American armaments and money into a fluid,
chaotic situation that produces scenes like this one:

    … Bin Jawad may be the first town in the rebels’ westward push where many of the townspeople are not on
their side. Treason is a word the fighters use liberally in describing the town. And conspicuously, there
are no local fighters among them. “No one is from Bin Jawad,” says Khaled Mohamed, a policeman from
Ajdabiyah, of the men gathered around him. Like many of the other fighters, he believes the locals receive
money from Gaddafi (in fact, residents say that Gaddafi’s military trucked in food aid from Sert in
recent weeks). “There is treason in Bin Jawad.”

    … The rebels did not take chances with a town they could no longer trust. After pushing back into Bin Jawad
on Tuesday afternoon, the rebels quickly set about searching the streets and homes of the town for hidden
troops, mercenaries and traitors. “Alley to alley, house to house,” shouted one man at the fighters
as trucks veered down Bin Jawad’s unpaved, bumpy side streets. He used Gaddafi’s own words — an
infamous threat from an earlier speech that is often repeated in the rebel-held east. It’s meant to mock
the Colonel; it’s even graffitied on the walls. But as the rebels tread into unwelcome territory, they
seem to mean it in much the way Gaddafi did — in a kind of unrelenting and paranoid door-to-door campaign
to rout their enemies. “Search the houses,” another man shouted, as fighters ran down Bin Jawad’s
alleys and took up position behind walls. Gunfire and the explosions of rocket-propelled grenades
reverberated from within the town. At least one house was set on fire after rebels located a suspected
Gaddafi loyalist there.

Libyans deserve freedom. But Libyans need order as well. So do their neighbors (and our allies), in Africa
and across the Mediterranean alike. And it’s quite possible that this rebellion, on its own or with
American arms, will be unable to deliver anything but chaos.


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Peter Chattaway | 1 Apr 11:58 2011

The Iraq Effect

If Saddam Hussein were still in power, this year's Arab uprisings could never have happened.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, March 28, 2011, at 12:32 PM ET

The most heartening single image of the past month—eclipsing even the bravery and dignity of the
civilian fighters against despotism in Syria and Libya—was the sight of Hoshyar Zebari arriving in
Paris to call for strong action against the depraved regime of Col. Muammar Qaddafi. Here was the foreign
minister of Iraq, and the new head of the Arab League, helping to tilt the whole axis of local diplomacy
against one-man rule. In May, Iraq will act as host to the Arab League summit, and it will be distinctly
amusing and highly instructive to see which Arab leaders have the courage, or even the ability, to leave
their own capitals and attend. The whole scene is especially gratifying for those of us who remember
Zebari as the dedicated exile militant that he was 10 years ago, striving to defend his dispossessed
people from the effects of Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons.

Can anyone imagine how the Arab spring would have played out if a keystone Arab state, oil-rich and heavily
armed with a track record of intervention in its neighbors' affairs and a history of all-out mass
repression against its own civilians, were still the private property of a sadistic crime family? As it
is, to have had Iraq on the other scale from the outset has been an unnoticed and unacknowledged benefit
whose extent is impossible to compute. And the influence of Iraq on the Libyan equation has also been
uniformly positive in ways that are likewise often overlooked.

On the first point, I admit that Egyptian and Tunisian and other demonstrators did not take to the streets
waving Iraqi flags, as if in emulation. (Though Saad-Eddin Ibrahim, intellectual godfather of the
Egyptian democracy movement, did publicly hail the fall of Saddam as an inspiration, and many leaders of
the early Lebanese "spring" spoke openly in similar terms.) This reticence is quite understandable
since, apart from the northern Kurdish region of Iraq from which Foreign Minister Zebari hails, the
liberation of the country was not entirely the work of its own people. But this point has become a more
arguable one since the Arab League itself admitted that there are certain regimes that are impervious to
unassisted overthrow from within. Qaddafi's is pre-eminently one of these, and Saddam's was
notoriously so, as the repeated terror-bombings and gassings of the Shiite and Kurdish populations
amply proved. Meanwhile, Iraq already has, albeit in rudimentary and tenuous form, the free press, the
written constitution, and the parliamentary election system that is the minimum demand of Arab civil
society. It has also passed through a test of fire in which the Bin Ladenists threw everything they had
against an emergent democracy and were largely defeated and discredited. These are lessons and
experiences that are useful not just for Mesopotamia.

As for the Iraq effect on Libya: Here is what I was told in confidence by the British diplomat who helped
negotiate the surrender of Qaddafi's stockpile of WMD. Not by any means a neoconservative (a breed in any
case rare in her majesty's Foreign and Commonwealth Office), he emphasized three factors. First, and on
this occasion at least, the West had extremely good intelligence and was able to astonish and demoralize
Qaddafi by the amount it knew about his secret programs. Added to this, and acting cumulatively over time,
was the adamant persistence of the Scottish courts in the matter of the Lockerbie atrocity. (Don't mess
with Scottish law, a maxim imperfectly understood by the sort of people who style themselves "king of
kings.") Third, and very important in the timing, was Qaddafi's abject fear at watching the fate of Saddam
Hussein. This has been amply reconfirmed by many Libyan officials in the hearing of many of my friends. He
did, after all, approach George W. Bush and Tony Blair, not the United Nations. So now Qaddafi's
stockpiles are under lock and key in Oak Ridge, Tenn. —their trace elements having successfully
incriminated the A.Q. Khan network in Pakistan—and who can conceivably wish it had been otherwise? 

But even with his fangs drawn, Qaddafi remained a filthy nuisance. As the New York Times reported in a
brilliant dispatch last week, he forced Western oil companies to pay the $1.5 billion fine levied on him
for Lockerbie. He continued to deprive his people—just look at how poor and scruffy everybody is when
seen on television—while squandering Libya's immense wealth on personal prestige projects. His
bloody interventions in Liberia and Darfur and Chad—where yet another civilian airliner was blown up,
this time a French one—should long ago have earned him an indictment for war crimes and crimes against
humanity. Like Saddam Hussein, he has flagrantly and hysterically insisted on defining himself as the
problem, the fons et origo of Libya's misery and the region's woes. Why, then, do we coyly insist on the
pretence that we are targeting "his forces" but not him?

In Britain, for example, the argument has reached farcical proportions. Nobody really doubts that it was a
British cruise missile that plastered Qaddafi's Bab-al-Azizya "compound" the other day, but while
Prime Minister David Cameron says that the dictator might conceivably be considered a target at some
stage, his chief of defense staff, Gen. Sir David Richards, says "absolutely not," because the U.N.
resolution does not cover the contingency. In Washington, President Barack Obama rightly says that
Qaddafi "must go," but the mission itself is described as one with the objective of protecting civilians
from massacre. Even in straight or quasi-technical military speak, this is incoherent. If the words
command and control have any meaning, they surely identify the slobbering monarch who has commanded and
controlled Libyans for far too long.

Hoshyar Zebari happily cited as precedent the no-fly zone that for a long time protected northern and
southern Iraq from Saddam Hussein's helicopter gunships. But he knows perfectly well that the logic of
this is inexorable. Every day, Saddam's ground forces fired on those planes. Every day, the post-Kuwait
cease-fire agreement became more frayed and breached. Every day, it became plainer that Iraq was the
miserable hostage to the whims of a single tyrant. 

The immediate task now is to assimilate those lessons, shorten the time in which the knowledge gained can be
applied, call the evil by its right name, and face Qaddafi with a stark choice between his own death and his
appearance in the dock. It is morally unthinkable that he should emerge from this episode with even a rag of
authority to call his own, and it is morally feeble not to say so out loud. The ugly and clumsy words mission
creep take on a sudden beauty all of their own. When the Arab League meets in May, it should welcome a new
Libyan provisional government on the soil of a free Iraq. Then we will have closed the circle—and
vindicated all those brave people who fell in bringing down the first and worst bastion of the ancien regime.


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Peter Chattaway | 1 Apr 12:05 2011

Mark Steyn on Obama's lack of conviction on foreign policy, and Republicans' lack of conviction on l

Mark Steyn on Obama's lack of conviction on foreign policy, and Republicans' lack of conviction on laying
down markers on spending cuts.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

HH: I begin with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s work at I’m going to be seeing you out this way in a couple of weeks, Mark Steyn. I find you
in the Big Apple tonight. Do they have any better sense of what the American foreign policy is in Libya in New
York than they do in California? 

MS: No. And indeed, it may be an entirely different foreign policy in New York than it is in California. This
war is getting more incoherent by the day, and I think the reason for that is, to a certain extent, I agree
with Jay Carney that it’s not a war. Jay Carney said it’s not a war because we haven’t invaded there,
which is ridiculous, of course. We’re flying over the country dropping bombs on it. That is by
definition an act of war. But it’s not a war in the sense that it’s not being prosecuted in the national
interest of the United States, and with identifiable war aims. And I think it’s a kind of, you know,
it’s a tragedy, really, to take the nation to war without war aims, because it’s most unlikely that
that will end well.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I had Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday on the program, and he declared the President’s
administration statements on Syria to be a crock, very eloquently stated, because they were downplaying
the brutal nature of the Syrian regime. But I don’t know that they have any theory on, this is something
Romney said on this show last week. If you don’t have a theory on what the United States is and how its
supposed to act, you’re befuddled at every turn.

MS: No, and I think this goes beyond that, in that I think this is, President Obama, in a sense, comparisons
with people like Jimmy Carter and Michael Dukakis are unfair to those guys, because Obama’s really the
next stage of that. He has been a man who has been so marinated in post-nationalist, postmodern,
transnational, progressive, multicultural mumbo-jumbo his entire life, that he does not actually
believe there is such a thing as the national interest of the United States. And that is why in a sense, he
wouldn’t even accept the premise of what you just said Mitt Romney said. He wouldn’t even accept that
premise, because he’s way beyond all that. He thinks that the advanced, developed, Western nations no
longer have anything quite so déclassé as a national interest.

HH: Now I’ve got to ask you, having stated that, I want to switch to domestic politics to the Republicans.
Last week on this show, Mark, you made a comment that John Boehner’s climbed into the Bob Dole suit, which
has gotten enormous play around the country, an approving note, but also, I’m sure, it’s been read
across D.C. However, tonight we’re being told that a deal is all but done, it’s going to be $33 billion
dollars in cuts. Others are saying Republicans had better get ready not to get the waivers, the riders that
they want. I think this will be a strategic defeat for the Republicans. What do you think?

MS: Yeah, I’m inclined to believe that in a way that I think the lame duck session was also a strategic
defeat for the Republicans. I think what’s at issue here is momentum. I accept a lot of the things that my
friends say that the 2012 budget is more important, and that in a sense, this is unfinished business from
the Democrat hegemony that prevailed until November. But the fact of the matter is that we should be
further along in the debate by now. And the idea of tussling, and in fact, what is pathetic and contemptible
here, and I agree with what Marco Rubio said, but that Chuck Schumer’s got it wrong. It is not the
Republican Party that is extreme. The real extremists, the real extremists are those contemptible
people who think that the model for government, American government in the beginning of the 21st Century,
is to spend $4 trillion dollars of which $2 trillion is borrowed. There is nothing, nothing as extremist as
that. That is sufficiently extreme to destroy the future of every child and grandchild in the United
States today. So Chuck Schumer’s the extremist in this debate. And if the Republicans are dumb enough to
get hung with the extremist label over this battle, then more fool them.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I think the problem is that a lot of the Republicans in the Congress do not believe that we
believe what you just said, not just us, but that millions of people who voted for them believe what you just
said. It’s as though they were treating a serious cancer, a melanoma, with aspirin.

MS: Right, right.

HH: and I think, go ahead…

MS: No, I think you’re right. I think that they think, they look on November as a hissy fit, and that it’s,
one is occasionally obliged to string along with the more intemperate members of one’s base. But once
the election’s safely in the bag, it’s back to business as usual. And that’s the danger. I think that
is the danger here. I like, I mean, I like what Rubio said yesterday, and I like what Mike Pence said. But they
all should be talking like that. And someone, you know, even Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe ought to be
talking like that. This is an existential crisis for the United States of America. The debt ceiling, I
mean, in a sense, there are no good answers to that question. If we don’t approve the raising of the debt
ceiling, then we’re telling the world that the superpower is on the brink of defaulting, and that will
end the dollar as a global currency. But if we do just raise the debt ceiling in business as usual terms, then
we’re also telling the world that we’re fundamentally unserious about getting control of this
insane level of spending. So the extremists here, the extremists are the guys who are not recognizing the
reality of the situation. It has nothing to do with mid-century. It has nothing to do with 2030. It’s
nothing to do with 2020. The consequences of this irresponsible and in fact wicked behavior are going to
kick in long before 2020.

HH: And so this brings me back to Republicans considering whether or not to vote for any so-called
compromise package that comes out of the leadership. I think this vote will leave a mark. I think that
people are not going to forget this vote for a very long time, and that if you’re a Republican
Congressman, especially a freshman, and if you’re a Republican Senator who’s got to think about ever
running for higher office or being on a national ticket, or looking for reelection, this one, you really
can’t go along, Mark Steyn. What do you think?

MS: No, I think that’s right. I think this is going to be one of those things where you want to think how your
vote is going to look two to four to six to eight years down the road. And this is going to be one of those, I
think you’re right, that this is going to be one of those issues that defines who you are, and whether you
understand where the United States is at this moment in history. And I think there are obviously certain
careerist hacks who that means nothing to them, but there are young people there. There are fresh faces
there who are, who were elected explicitly on a ticket to get serious about insane levels of government
spending. And they have got to demonstrate that November meant something. And if November didn’t mean
something, then we are in very dark terrain.

HH: Let me play a what if with you, Mark Steyn. I have been indicating, if they stopped Obamacare by putting a
freeze on the regs, if they stopped the EPA carbon by getting a rider, if they defunded CPB and they defunded
Planned Parenthood, okay, then I could live with $45 billion in cuts. I could say okay, you had to give up
something. But I don’t think they’re going to get anything. Is there a mix in there that you would be
satisfied was a tactically decent answer as they postpone the big fight to 2012?

MS: Yeah, I think that’s the good way to look at it, that if your argument is that 2012 is the big battle, then
what you need to do now is lay out some markers that make claim to principles for 2012.

HH: Exactly.

MS: For example, your EPA suggestion is a good one, because one of the things the Republicans ought to be
fundamentally committed to is the restoration of responsible government in this republic, where laws
are made by legislators accountable to citizens, which means we roll back regulation, and we constrain
agencies who have grown far too used to legislating on their own, regardless of how the legislature votes,
or how the voters vote. And so something like that actually lays down, it’s not important,
particularly, in terms of the budget for 2011, but it lays down a marker. It says that this is who we are as a
party. We believe in responsible government, we believe in a land where the laws are made by legislators
accountable to the citizens. And that, things like that are worth doing, and they’re worth
compromising on $10 or $15 billion, or whatever here and there, but they’ve got to be talking in those,
they’ve got to be framing the debate in those terms. Otherwise, it’s just the usual nickel and dime,
Washington deal-making, reach across the aisle-y stuff that everybody loathes. Everybody loathes.

HH: And I do not, correct me if you’ve heard someone talking in those terms. I have yet to hear any
Republican leader talk in those terms of markers and principle.

MS: No, and I think that’s because, I think regulation is throttling this country. Regulation is killing
this country. Regulation is ensuring that as such economic prosperity survives on this planet will be
created elsewhere. And the Republican party ought to be on the side of that. That’s nothing to do with
taking social issues off the table, and not wanting to go into any of those awkward subjects that embarrass
these sophisticated Beltway types. That is fundamental to retaining America’s competitive
advantage in the world. And if Republicans, if even the squishiest, RINO, jelly-spine nothing can’t
actually stand up for rolling back the regulatory state, then he is entirely worthless.

HH: Mark Steyn, a pleasure,

End of interview.


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