Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

There’s No Place Like CounterPunch

There's no place like CounterPunch, it's just that simple. And as the radical space within the "alternative media"(whatever that means) landscape continues to shrink, sanctuaries such as CounterPunch become all the more crucial for our political, intellectual, and moral survival. Add to that the fact that CounterPunch won't inundate you with ads and corporate propaganda. So it should be clear why CounterPunch needs your support: so it can keep doing what it's been doing for nearly 25 years. As CP Editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, succinctly explained, "We lure you in, and then punch you in the kidneys." Pleasant and true though that may be, the hard-working CP staff is more than just a few grunts greasing the gears of the status quo.

So come on, be a pal, make a tax deductible donation to CounterPunch today to support our annual fund drive, if you have already donated we thank you! If you haven't, do it because you want to. Do it because you know what CounterPunch is worth. Do it because CounterPunch needs you. Every dollar is tax-deductible. (PayPal accepted)

Thank you,
Eric Draitser

Skin in the Game: Obama and the Destruction of Libya


Of the many crimes committed in the name of humanitarian intervention by the West, the destruction of Libya in 2011 is among the most heinous. It was a classic example of ‘destroying the village in order to save it’ that will and must never be forgotten.

In 2016 seek not a truthful or accurate rendering of liberal democracy in the words of the US Declaration of Independence, US Constitution or Bill of Rights. Seek it not either in the grand statues and monuments that clog Whitehall in central London, nor in the stirring words of the Marseillaise, the national anthem of the French Republic.

No, for a truthful and accurate rendering of liberal democracy in 2016, cast your eyes over to Libya. For it is there, in a country reduced to a swamp of human despair, extremism, and primitivism – a once functioning society reduced to a failed state – that the true meaning of liberal democracy resides

So damning is the evidence of the crime committed against Libya and its people by those who claim to act in the name of freedom and civilization that one of those responsible, President Obama, is now seeking to deny his guilt. Indeed, how else are we to explain the President’s criticism of British Prime Minister David Cameron, and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, in his recent interview with the Washington-based Atlantic magazine, during which he discusses events in Libya, Syria, and his wider approach to US foreign policy and the use of military intervention.

“You have massive protests against Qaddafi (Gaddafi),” the President tells Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg. “You’ve got tribal divisions inside of Libya. Benghazi is a focal point for the opposition regime. And Qaddafi is marching his army towards Benghazi, and he has said, ‘We will kill them like rats.’”

The aforementioned supposed threat from Gaddafi to civilians in Benghazi is continually held up as justification for UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which mandated military intervention in Libya during the uprising on the basis of protecting civilians. However, as we know now, 1973 was used instead to enact regime change.

But even taking the claim that Gaddafi was intent on the wholesale massacre of civilians in Benghazi in March 2011 on its own terms, this in itself is disputatious. In an article titled ‘False pretense for war in Libya?’ which appeared in the Boston Globe in April 2011, US foreign policy expert and academic, Alan J Kuperman, asserts that prior to the Libyan army’s move on Benghazi Human Rights Watch had ‘released data on Misurata [Misrata] the next-biggest city in Libya and scene of protracted fighting, revealing that Moammar Khadafy [Gaddafi] is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government.’

Later in the same article Kuperman continues, ‘Nor did Khadafy [Gaddafi] ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The “no mercy’’ warning of March 17 targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away.” Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight “to the bitter end.”’

Returning to Obama’s interview with The Atlantic, the President’s critique of US allies Britain and France over Libya is startling for the disdain in which he holds some of Washington’s closest allies. “You’ve got Europe and a number of Gulf countries who despise Qaddafi, or are concerned on a humanitarian basis, who are calling for action. But what has been a habit over the last several decades in these circumstances is people pushing us to act but then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game.”

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of this quote is the way Obama sees fit to describe the intervention in Libya as a ‘game’. He should know that for the Libyan people, who saw their country and lives destroyed, what befell them was certainly no ‘game’.

Yet despite the lack of sensitivity over the language employed, the President is certainly onto something in his criticism of the role played by Britain and France. The political class in both countries has been the equivalent of that sniveling little boy in the school playground we all grew up with, the one who ingratiates himself with the biggest boy in order to compensate for his own weakness.

Cameron and Sarkozy, we should recall, extended themselves in basking in the glory of NATO’s Libyan intervention. In September 2011, a month before Gaddafi was killed trying to escape his home town of Sirte in the west of the country, both leaders arrived in Benghazi to give the new ‘democratic’ Libya their stamp of approval. In words that should forever haunt his legacy, David Cameron announced to a mob of admiring supporters that, “It is great to be here, in a free Benghazi and in free Libya.”

As for President Barack Obama, in 2016 as his presidency draws to a close we are dealing with a man who is in a hurry to clean up his legacy, one that is on target to place him among the most crisis prone presidents in the country’s recent history – something which given the field of candidates is no mean achievement.

The notorious drone program he inherited from the Bush administration in 2009 is one Obama embraced with the gusto of a man eager to conduct war on the cheap, placing an emphasis not on protecting innocent civilians, including children, but on keeping American soldiers and military personnel out of harm’s way at any price. Conducted without any transparency or oversight, instead of making any inroads against global terrorism, the President’s drone war has only succeeded in ensuring its proliferation, utilized by extremists as a recruiting tool. As if this isn’t bad enough, he has also presided over a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the devastation of Iraq and Syria by ISIS.

In the last analysis, no matter how hard he may try to distance himself from the destruction of Libya by blaming Washington’s European allies, Barack Obama bears ultimate responsibility.

That’s kind of how it works when you’re the CEO of an empire.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians