Monday, September 19, 2011

Gullibility in Action

Why did conspiracy theorists just side with the Bush Administration, mega-corporations, and tyrants the world over?

9/11 deniers have fallen for exactly the kind of conspiracy they pretend to be speaking out against. The movement has come out against the Libyan revolution, saying that an alliance of global humanitarian forces, a unified NATO pact including regional powers and an indigenous, popular rebel movement opposed to a savage dictator and his army of private mercenaries is just another puppet of "Them." Ironically, "They" were clearly on Qaddafi's side all along. Al-Jazeera reports:

I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.

During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi's team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several "confidence-building measures", according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.

The documents read: "Any information related to al-Qaeda or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It's better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries..."

On the floor of the intelligence chief's office lay an envelope addressed to Gaddafi's son Saif Al-Islam. Inside, I found what appears to be a summary of a conversation between US congressman Denis Kucinich, who publicly opposed US policy on Libya, and an intermediary for the Libyan leader's son.

It details a request by the congressman for information he needed to lobby US lawmakers to suspend their support for the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and to put an end to NATO airstrikes.

According to the document, Kucinich wanted evidence of corruption within the NTC and, like Welch, any possible links within rebel ranks to al-Qaeda.

The document also lists specific information needed to defend Saif Al-Islam, who is currently on the International Criminal Court's most-wanted list.

(Emphasis added)

In response, PrisonPlanet has attacked al-Jazeera as a "the prolific propaganda house out of Qatar." In a fact-free screed against one of the best sources of journalistic coverage of the Maghreb, Madison Ruppert pathetically argues:

The alleged minutes claim that Welch advised the Gaddafi regime to use Israel to funnel intelligence that could impede the uprising.

Why on Earth would Israel have any interest in setting back a group of rebels that openly supports them?

When confronted with the fact that al Qaeda operatives are among the rebel forces, the rebel spokesman Ahmad Shabani told Haaretz that “Al-Qaida activists have been working for Gadhafi, among them Libyans and, according to reliable intelligence reports, foreigners who infiltrated the country’s porous borders.”

Shabani pointing out “foreigners who infiltrated the country’s porous borders” is laughable as well, seeing as the rebels have been working side-by-side with foreign intelligence agencies and covert operatives before the United Nations Security Council Resolution was even put on the table.

The first question is resting on a false assumption about Welch's competence as an advisor, and came before there was even any remote suspicion that the NTC would even recognize Israel. To the second point, it seems odd to argue that the NTC is in al Qaeda hands when Qaddafi's loyalists are fleeing to Islamist-friendly hideouts in Niger on a daily basis. And the third point is simply attempting to strike a blow at the legitimacy of popular revolt itself: With the rebels backed by an international force seeking to topple a dictator and aid a popular revolution, Ruppert loathes the mere idea that "foreigners" can work together at all and make the notion of "human rights" meaningful, it seems.

9/11 deniers are joined in their defense of Qaddafi by the dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela, right-wing nationalists in Serbia fond of the old Milosevic regime, and the vast propaganda network this implies.

Sadly, this network includes peace activists like Alexander Cockburn, whose drastically, laughably wrong prognostications for the shakeout in Libya have all but discredited him.

It requites no great prescience to see that this will all end up badly. Qaddafi’s failure to collapse on schedule is prompting increasing pressure to start a ground war, since the NATO operation is, in terms of prestige, like the banks Obama has bailed out, Too Big to Fail. Libya will probably be balkanized.

Whoops. Though this dim view has already been discredited by current events, it would already be read as total nonsense by anyone familiar with the history of Libya, who knows that without Tripolitania, there is no viable state. This is a geopolitical fail akin to arguing that, say, oil-rich Alaska could secede and easily rise to superpower status without the rest of the United States.

And yet the most disappointing part of the pro-Qaddafi chorus is yet to come. Cockurn has one last, most insidious argument to make, and with it he lays bare his forfeiture to be taken seriously.

In four decades, Libyans have gone from being among the most wretched in Africa, to considerable elevation in terms of social amenities.

This is precisely the argument used by sympathizers of Pinochet and Hussein, Franco and Suharto, Chung-Hee and Basher.

We have no "control 20th century" to compare these dictators who ruled during the modernization period to, but there is extensive economic reasoning arguing against the proposition that dictatorship is in any way useful for an economy. Those who credit iron-fisted autocrats for strong growth are overstepping their bounds. Never mind the costs of enduring such tyranny.

So, why? What has happened? Why has the conspiracy movement aligned itself with the Bush Administration, a psychotic dictator, and huge private paramilitary corporations? Why is it employing its enemies' arguments in favor of tyranny and subjugation? What has happened?

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