For weeks, before there was international effort to assist the Libyan freedom effort, I’d heard countless interviews with Libyans, describing their conditions. I heard details that confirmed desperation. I heard repeated statements of two kinds: “We desperately need help.” and “We need to physically survive; we do not want external forces to do this for us.” I heard Gadaffi’s announcements that reform efforts would be met with full force.
Details of suffering were vivid and compelling. Details of developing murderous bloodshed were also vivid and compelling. I supported actions to assist the Libyan people for the following reasons: (1) “Clear need”: I’d heard first hand accounts from Libyans of conditions, and details of what was and was not wanted. (2) The plan, once agreed, was not a ‘Western nations “let us save you”, hidden-empire plan’: The decision to become involved was based on a UN charter that included Arab-league members. It seemed there was much transparency all-around.
When I heard the announcement that President Obama and advisers were contributing armed drones to the Libyan effort, two ‘red flags’ specific to Libya instantly popped to mind. (1) “How come I’ve not heard specific calls for this from the Libyans?” (I’d heard nothing – a sharp contrast to the frequent calls for help I’d heard pre-UN chartered mandate.) And (2) “How come I’m not hearing follow-up programs of interview and comment on this development?” (I had BCC on throughout the day with no ‘drone news’ except the few sentences confirming they’d been sent; I ran a quick browser search a couple of times for wider news with the same result – nothing but the brief announcement.)
My first post on “drones for Libya” skips past the two ‘red flags’ noted above. Before writing it, I’d already shifted to ‘phase two’ of my own escalating sense of problem, and was outraged. I felt we, and more importantly, the people of Libya, had been duped. A ‘bait and switch’ was/is quite possibly underway. Transparency? – gone; in its place? – “Here come Empire and Associates.” (“Empire” in this case “American” but only because America has been taking “its turn at the historical wheel” of late. ‘Old order’ thinking, often cleverly disguised as ‘new order’ leadership, remains one of a giant chess game, often military in nature, with ‘grunts’ as pawns, civilians and homes as the board – and somebody, somewhere, is running an empire.)
A third flag, ‘not quite red’ has been on my mind. Why do so many continue to support Gaddafi? Why are people (we hear) choosing to go to Gaddafi strongholds and willingly offering themselves as human shields? (A quick search this minute for reports of this brings March 25 as the most recent date: see article here.
In any case, I spent considerable time Friday tracking down ‘interview and comment’ on drones-to-Libya. I’m not yet convinced to alter my views.
Here’s what I found. I give brief ‘hints’ of what you’ll find at each link. Please use links for more complete understanding of what is written/said.
You’ll notice almost none of these are ‘main-stream’. As I said – it took a while to find these! Silence does not fit ‘transparency’.
Radio Free Europe, print article: One (and only one) statement (very brief) on Libyan rebel thoughts about the drones. Article quote: ““Rebel spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told Al Jazeera television that the opposition fighters “welcome” the U.S. decision to send in drones. …”There’s no doubt that will help protect civilians,” he said.”” (No by-line with article, article posted: April 22.)
Free Speech Radio News: 4/22/2011: 2 min audio interview also with print version same page. Critics Say US Use of Armed Drones Oversteps the UN mandate: “”…Critics question mission creep and also collateral damage euphemistic reference to civilian deaths …Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Cartwright is quoted: “They’re uniquely suited for areas — urban areas where you can get low collateral damage. And so we’re trying to manage that collateral damage obviously, but that’s the best platform to do that with;…”.” Also in article, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on ‘mission creep’: “I think that the president has been firm, for example, on boots on the ground. And there is no wiggle room in that that certainly I’ve been able to detect in his views. This is a very limited capability. He said from the outset that where we had unique assets that could contribute, we would do that. I think this is a very limited additional role on our part, but it does provide some additional capabilities to NATO. So no, I don’t think there’s mission creep at all.” The same FSRN article ends with: “Opponents say the use of armed drones oversteps the US role in Libya. Others point to the CIA’s drone program In Pakistan, which has led to many civilian deaths and has grown increasingly unpopular with both civilians and leaders in Pakistan.”
Alternet posts a Reuter’s article (The Reuter’s article did not show as ‘hit’ with browser search for ‘drone Libya analysis’, but Alternet’s re-post did.). ANALYSIS-Drones a boost in Libya, but no “magic bullet“, 22 Apr 2011 14:31 – Source: Reuters, by-line David Brunnstrom, Brussels. Brunnstrom highlights 3 points above his article: *Predator drones a psychological boost for rebels, allies; *Deployment shows U.S. being drawn back to front-line.; *Drones cannot fully replace low-flying manned aircraft. (Use link to access and read full article on the 3 points.)
RT (Russia Today – international coverage, a resource of increasing popularity) had the most ‘hits’. A 2:23 min. interview video features Eric Stoner (editor, Wagingnonviolence.org), who cites America’s Brookings Institute report of drone ‘bad guys’ to civilian kill rate = 1:10 (2 yrs old Brookings report). The same report features an Asia Times correspondent who claims this is a US-driven move related to oil.
A second RT clip (3 min) Deadlock Costs Go Up (abbreviated title) Features several correspondents who express British concern of cost and involvement in a Civil War.
Through the RT links, I came across an Al Jazeera English in depth program. (I’d checked Al Jazeera but missed finding the 25:17 min in-depth discussion/debate among 3 experienced analysts!). Participants were Guma el Gamaty, (Libya Transitional National Council); David Mack, (former US Deputy Asst. Secretary of State, Near East Affairs, and diplomat of several countries of the region including Libya.); and Mounzer Slieman, (Center for American and Arab Studies.) The debate was passionate and vigorous. While it was posted in connection to the ‘drone development’, discussion more broadly examined the entire Libyan situation. I’ll not give detail on the Al Jazeera 25 min program but recommend readers view the debate for very interesting and informative descriptions of concerns and counter-concerns of three who all support best outcome for Libya.
I remind readers to notice my sources are not mainstream. One of the most mainstream sources is Reuters, but I only found their article through Alternet! Mainstream seems to have found the drone deployment “ho-hummish”, worthy of no questions? (Today is Sunday, I’ve not heard more, nor have I made a point to find more.)
I’ve inserted a brief ‘disclaimer’ into my first ‘drones’ post, because it’s true that in my first post, I did not focus on whether or not drones might really be helpful to the people of Libya. I said there, and say here: IF these drones were specifically and only to ‘gather intelligence’, if they had no fire-power capacity, I’d not have made any posts on the topic at all!
Any one who’s read my thoughts on President Obama’s ‘leadership’ on health care, on Private Manning’s imprisonment, on Guantanamo, and on his enthusiasm for seeking financial guidance from heads of assorted mega-corporations – and who’s compared these developments with his campaign statements, might appreciate my lack of trust, my ‘insight’ into how ‘bait and switch’ works its magic.
I remind readers of the reported Brookings Institute finding of 2 years ago: Drone ‘kill’ ratio of ‘bad guys’ to civilians was 1 to 10. I agree with Eric Stoner who gave the figures in his interview (linked above). He said: “I see no reason why these figures would be different in Libya than elsewhere.” (paraphrased)
My Best!! (to ALL of us!) –MaggieAnn