Gaddafi’s Fateful Speech

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In February of 2011, Libya was convulsing with revolution against autocrat Muammar Gaddafi. Many Westerners were certain that Gaddafi would fall within days.

He did not. Rather, with the help of African mercenaries and loyalists, Gaddafi retook control of the streets of Tripoli. Rebel offensives in the east petered out, and Gaddafi’s armed forces began advancing towards the rebel capital Benghazi. Then the West intervened, and the rest is history.

It did have not to be this way, in fact. One main – and frequently underestimated – thing that caused Western intervention was Gaddafi’s rhetoric.

Specifically, on February 22 Gaddafi gave a speech to the Libyan people addressing the unrest in his country. This speech included such gems as:

Get out of your homes, to the streets, secure the streets, take the rats, the greasy rats out of the streets…

Now, Gaddafi had frequently given such speeches in the past; this was nothing new to those familiar with him. Libyans used to Gaddafi’s eccentricities were probably not that surprised by the rhetoric. Indeed, most people familiar with Gaddafi generally had tended to ignore his speeches.

Except on February 22nd things were different. This time the whole world was watching Gaddafi. On February 22nd, even the American cable networks (notoriously uninterested in world affairs) interrupted regular programming to hear him speak.

Most people probably expected Gaddafi to offer some concessions. Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak, for instance, dismissed his cabinet during one such speech and promised to address the lack of jobs available for Egypt’s youth. People probably expected Gaddafi to sound like a reasonable person, like Mubarak.

Instead, they heard this:

So tonight, the youth, all the youths, not those rats who’ve taken the pills, all the youths tomorrow form security committees from tonight, they put green with red writing secure the cities, to bring back security to the cities.

When the Western elite heard Gaddafi say things like this (probably the first time many of them heard him speak at all), they were utterly shocked. Eventually they concluded two things. First, Gaddafi was a madman. Second, there would be a massacre if he ever took back the rebelling eastern regions.

Newspapers wrote articles with titles such as “Gaddafi: ‘I will not give up’, ‘we will chase the cockroaches’ .” They published his most inflammatory rhetoric; one Times article quoted him:

“We are coming tonight,” Colonel Qaddafi said. “You will come out from inside. Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets.”

There are hints of the effect the rhetoric had on Western officials. For instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Gaddafi:

a ruthless dictator that has no conscience and will destroy anyone or anything in his way…That is just his nature. There are some creatures that are like that.

This is quite undiplomatic language, and it probably reveals a lot about what Clinton actually thought about Gaddafi. Later on she became a very influential advocate for American intervention to stop Gaddafi (indeed, it may have been Clinton that convinced Obama to intervene). It’s probable that Clinton watched Gaddafi speak on February 22nd, and that her impression of Gaddafi – as a “creature” – was formed in part by hearing his rhetoric.

In this sense Gaddafi made a great strategic mistake when he spoke on February 22nd. For decades Gaddafi had spoke in a similar mad style, and for decades he’d gotten away with it. When he spoke on February 22nd, he was probably addressing a domestic audience and trying to frighten the opposition. But not just the opposition was listening; so was the world.

 

 

Gaddafi’s Fateful Speech

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In February of 2011, Libya was convulsing with revolution against autocrat Muammar Gaddafi. Many Westerners were certain that Gaddafi would fall within days.

He did not. Rather, with the help of African mercenaries and loyalists, Gaddafi retook control of the streets of Tripoli. Rebel offensives in the east petered out, and Gaddafi’s armed forces began advancing towards the rebel capital Benghazi. Then the West intervened, and the rest is history.

It did have not to be this way, in fact. One main – and frequently underestimated – thing that caused Western intervention was Gaddafi’s rhetoric.

Specifically, on February 22 Gaddafi gave a speech to the Libyan people addressing the unrest in his country. This speech included such gems as:

Get out of your homes, to the streets, secure the streets, take the rats, the greasy rats out of the streets…

Now, Gaddafi had frequently given such speeches in the past; this was nothing new to those familiar with him. Libyans used to Gaddafi’s eccentricities were probably not that surprised by the rhetoric. Indeed, most people familiar with Gaddafi generally had tended to ignore his speeches.

Except on February 22nd things were different. This time the whole world was watching Gaddafi. On February 22nd, even the American cable networks (notoriously uninterested in world affairs) interrupted regular programming to hear him speak.

Most people probably expected Gaddafi to offer some concessions. Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak, for instance, dismissed his cabinet during one such speech and promised to address the lack of jobs available for Egypt’s youth. People probably expected Gaddafi to sound like a reasonable person, like Mubarak.

Instead, they heard this:

So tonight, the youth, all the youths, not those rats who’ve taken the pills, all the youths tomorrow form security committees from tonight, they put green with red writing secure the cities, to bring back security to the cities.

When the Western elite heard Gaddafi say things like this (probably the first time many of them heard him speak at all), they were utterly shocked. Eventually they concluded two things. First, Gaddafi was a madman. Second, there would be a massacre if he ever took back the rebelling eastern regions.

Newspapers wrote articles with titles such as “Gaddafi: ‘I will not give up’, ‘we will chase the cockroaches’ .” They published his most inflammatory rhetoric; one Times article quoted him:

“We are coming tonight,” Colonel Qaddafi said. “You will come out from inside. Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets.”

There are hints of the effect the rhetoric had on Western officials. For instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Gaddafi:

a ruthless dictator that has no conscience and will destroy anyone or anything in his way…That is just his nature. There are some creatures that are like that.

This is quite undiplomatic language, and it probably reveals a lot about what Clinton actually thought about Gaddafi. Later on she became a very influential advocate for American intervention to stop Gaddafi (indeed, it may have been Clinton that convinced Obama to intervene). It’s probable that Clinton watched Gaddafi speak on February 22nd, and that her impression of Gaddafi – as a “creature” – was formed in part by hearing his rhetoric.

In this sense Gaddafi made a great strategic mistake when he spoke on February 22nd. For decades Gaddafi had spoke in a similar mad style, and for decades he’d gotten away with it. When he spoke on February 22nd, he was probably addressing a domestic audience and trying to frighten the opposition. But not just the opposition was listening; so was the world.

 

 

The Speech Obama Must Give on Afghanistan

From my time in the country, I promise if this speech is given, there will be fireworks over Kabul and Afghans cheering in the streets at three in the morning.

Fellow Americans,

Today we are at a crossroads in our foreign policy, and in how we respond to the challenges abroad which lay before us.  For too long we have refused to acknowledge mistakes and new ways of thinking, of thinking "outside the box," and there was never a more important time for new thinking than now.  Acknowledging mistakes, and correcting course from those mistakes, is never a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of strength.  Today I have made my decision on how we will proceed in Afghanistan.

The hard fact in Afghanistan is that we need stability, and we need to be assured that this does not become a haven for Al Qaeda.  Now the question is, how do we do this most efficiently, and how do we do this with the least danger to our troops?  Our troops will always accomplish their mission, but how do we as policy makers prepare the ground, diplomatically and economically, to make it possible to accomplish this at the least possible human cost?  These are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors. I have promised them I will never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary, nor into a situation more dangerous than it has to be.   And I'm going to keep that promise.  

We know that in Afghanistan, the Taliban ideology is not popular, and Afghans, the vast majority of them, welcomed the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001.  Let's remember the Taliban shot its way into power after the chaos of many years of civil war, and ruled by force and fear.  Friday night at the National Stadium was execution night, stoning night, and mutilation night.  Today few Afghans want to see the return of the Taliban, just as after World War II, few Europeans in war-torn Western Europe wanted to see communists come into power.  But before the Marshall Plan, extremist ideologies in Europe were making gains nevertheless.  This is because amid the ruins of World War II, hunger and even starvation threatened the continent, and the lure of extremist ideologies promising utopia was strong.  

Fortunately, in the Truman administration, General George C. Marshall, President Truman's Secretary of State, saw the needful, and announced in a Harvard Commencement speech in 1947 the Marshall Plan.  The Marshall Plan was not nation-building, for only the people of a nation can build that nation.  It was a helping hand, designed and implemented for a short duration, at a time when a helping hand was badly needed. Four years later, Europe was walking on its own, and the world enjoyed an unprecedented period of economic expansion in relative peace.  

Mistakes have been made in Afghanistan, especially as regarding the reconstruction.  Eight years after the overthrow of the Taliban, 35% of Afghans are malnourished according to the UN, and one out of five infants dies before the age of five.  It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to give childbirth, due to lack of basic medical supplies.  Our troops have been doing their jobs, but too many of us, here in Washington, have not done ours.  And as I have been part of Washington since the liberation in 2001, that means me too.  But mistakes can be made right.  A fumbled ball can be recovered.  

In Afghanistan today, too many young men are losing hope.  As in Europe after World War II, some are succumbing to the lure of an extremist ideology.  And with its opium money, acting as the middle man between poor farmers who must feed their families and the world drug trade, the Taliban is able to pay insurgents anywhere from $8 to $10 a day in a country where unemployment is running at 40%, higher in the countryside.  As our former Pentagon spokesman in Afghanistan, Col. Tom Collins said in 2007, "There is a low percentage of the total Taliban force who we  would call ideologically driven. We refer to them as Tier 1 people who  believe their ideology, that what they're doing is right. The vast  majority of Taliban fighters are essentially economically  disadvantaged young men." And our distinguished Ambassador to Afghanistan, General Karl Eikenberry, who was the commander of US forces there in 2006 and 2007 told the House Armed Services Committee in 2007 that "much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families."

Today we announce a new compact with the Afghan people, who will become one of our best and most reliable partners in the struggle against extremism.  To the terrorists, the Taliban high command, and Al Qaeda we continue to say, we will hunt you down.  There is no place to hide.  To the Afghan people who, after 30 years of war and strife, want nothing more than peace and a normal life, building your own country, and feeding your families through hard work, we say, no one can build your country but you.  But we will provide the tools, the technical assistance, and the project funding so that you can feed your families, for a period of time so that the well-known Afghan entrepreneurial spirit can take over.  Your children will have clean water, and you will be able to grow food again after the devastation to your irrigation systems and waterways of 30 years of war, and the path of your growth will be determined by you, as it should be.

There is no shortage of work to be done.  Many of the country's irrigation systems are in shambles.  The country's canals and karezes, which are the traditional and ingenious underground channels which bring water down to a village, are clogged with debris.  There are many, many miles of unsurfaced roads which could benefit from the work of Afghans with hand tools and gravel trucks, which will employ many, many Afghans.  At at the end of each day or week, they will be paid in cash, to use as they see fit.

How will we deliver this aid, this new compact with Afghans which will keep many young men out of the hands of the hated Taliban?  It is too simplistic to say that no part of President Karzai's government works properly. The fact is there are many capable and dedicated Afghan administrators and bureaucrats who work with dedicated and capable foreign technical experts on the evaluation of work projects, even today, which reach the lives of ordinary Afghans.  The problem is not that cash-for-work infrastructure projects cannot work in Afghanistan.  They are working, you can see them today.  The problem is there aren't nearly enough of them.  The task is to take what works, expand on it, and keep trying to fix what doesn't work. Opium farmers will be given other, profitable crops to grow, as well as work, and the base of the enemy's financial power will be destroyed.

Today we recognize the work of the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, which has created over 22,000 Community Development Councils, which are committees at the village level which include nearly half women, which work with the Ministry and the NSP, the National Solidarity Plan, to determine which projects would be of most value to communities in Afghanistan, and help the most people.  

We will not to tolerate an economically-driven insurgency, just as we will not tolerate one driven by a dark, nihilistic ideology.  When you win a war, you win it by attacking on many levels, not just one.  Plans for work projects, with the input of the Afghan people, will commence immediately, because the hunger will not wait.  I will not tolerate one more American soldier coming under fire by men who fight because, and only because, they have no alternatives.  The cost of this program, which can bring stability, will be modest compared to the cost of a long, protracted war in which we shortsightedly do not address the economic drivers of the renewed insurgency.  

Today we start fresh with the Afghan people, some of the hardiest, most resilient, and most talented people on Earth.  Look it up: Afghans have always placed well in Olympic wrestling, as poor as the nation has always been.  Afghans, after their liberation, recently scaled the nation's highest peak for the first time.  We look forward to the day when the Afghan nation brings to mind not war and strife, but wonderful accomplishments in athletics, in science, and in literature, the latter in which Afghan authors are already becoming distinguished, such as Khaled Hosseini, author of the Kite Runner.  

Failure is not an option.  With Afghanistan firmly embraced in the community of nations, as partners all nations can face the challenges which face us as a planet, as an international community.  Failure is not an option, and the destiny of the Afghan and the American people can only be one thing: friendship. And this friendship will be the rock upon which the world moves forward. Thank you and God Bless America.

The diarist is the author of "Stabilizing Afghanistan Through a Cash-for-Work Initiative" and co-founder of Jobs for Afghans.
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Dennis Kucinich and the Future Leaders of the Democratic Party

(Cross posted from 21st Century Democrats)

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is joining 21st Century Democrats' Youth Leadership Speaker Series tomorrow (November 4 at 12:30 P.M.), inspiring and education young progressive Democrats across Washington, D.C.  

We are excited to have the participation of Congressman Kucinich, one of the fiercest fighters for progress and the welfare of the American people.

Congressman Kucinich recently appeared on MSNBC's The Ed Show, where he said of the healthcare bills in Congress that mandate health insurance without a single-payer or other public option, "What we're looking at here is another way that Wall Street's speculative engine can be fueled, this time with the help of the [health insurance] premiums of tens of millions of Americans."

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Daily Pulse: Obama's Health Care Speech

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger

Last night, President Obama laid out his vision for health care reform before a special joint session of Congress. The pillars of his plan are: i) Curbing the worst abuses of private insurance, ii) Requiring everyone to have insurance, iii) Insurance exchanges, which are basically government websites where customers can order insurance off a "menu" of plans, the idea being that if tens of millions of people order the #2 Combo, everyone's lunch will be cheaper.

The president made it clear that the country can't afford to wait for reform. Last night, he took on the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives who claim that they oppose reform because it would increase the deficit. "Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close," Obama said. The president reminded the audience that each of us pays a "hidden tax" of $1000 dollars a year to subsidize charity and emergency care for the uninsured.

It was an impressive performance, but as John Nichols of the Nation observes, it was hardly a rousing, "to-the-barricades" oration:

Obama still talked about "options" and "choices." But he suggested that they would be offered mainly by insurance companies that would be enjoy "incentives"--i.e., new streams of taxpayer dollars--if they agree to abide by consumer-friendly regulations and come up with strategies for covering more of the uninsured.

The president expressed support for a very limited public option, a kind of welfare program that only about 5% of Americans would choose to join. This is not the public option his liberal supporters had in mind. It's non-threatening to the insurance companies, though. Private insurers love the idea of the government low-grading the insurance pool and taking on the sickest people who can't get coverage anywhere else. That means private insurers can make even more money off the remaining healthy, paying customers.

James Ridgeway of Mother Jones is even less optimistic, "As for the public option, that's pretty clearly gone down the drain."

One GOP legislator decided that a joint session of Congress was basically a town hall with the president. Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) screamed "You lie!" when the president explained, for the umpteenth time that undocumented immigrants will not be covered. As with the town halls, Wilson's performance had a whiff astroturf about it. Sure enough, Sue Sturgis of Raw Story found that Wilson pocketed over $2 million in campaign contributions from the health care industry.

The president also reminded America that health care reform will not pay for abortions. (For more on myth-making around women's health, see Laurie Rubiner's excellent post at RH Reality.)

Instead of presenting a vision and asking Congress to line up behind him, the president stressed that he was synthesizing a compromise position incorporating ideas from the left and the right. Instead of a coherent vision, the president's scheme sounds more like a last-ditch compromise plan to enable him to declare victory. Like many Democrats, the president seems to be confusing the strategic with the expedient. If "reform" means saddling ordinary Americans with expensive mandatory insurance without a meaningful public option to keep costs in check he could doom the electoral fortunes of the Democrats for years to come.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care and is free to reprint. Visit  Healthcare.newsladder.net for a complete list of articles on health care affordability, health care laws, and health care controversy. For the best progressive reporting on the Economy, and Immigration, check out Economy.Newsladder.net and Immigration.Newsladder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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