Tuesday, August 30, 2011

After Gaddafi: Oil and Policy

Now that Gaddafi has been overthrown, there is much afoot in Libya. Western oil companies are charging in and China and Russia are going to have to adjust their policies to the new Libyan government.

Currently, it has been reported that "Major British companies are hatching plans to relaunch their businesses in Libya," such as BP which "had announced plans to spend upwards of £540m to fund a joint venture with the Libyans to search for gas and oil that would have seen it take about 19% of any future production revenues," yet had to halt their plans due to the uprising. However, the British aren't the only ones. Other NATO members such as the US and France are also scrambling for Libyan oil, with Italy's ENI leading the way. They recently signed a deal with the Libyan rebels which would restart a natural gas pipeline and give a technical assessment of Libya's oil infrastructure, with hopes of quickly restarting their operations in Libya.

Thus, the coalition that came together to support a hodgepodge group of Al Qaeda linked, racist rebels, is now falling over themselves to get at the nation's natural wealth. However, the overthrow of Gaddafi was of great interests to all the oil companies involved as many feared that Libya's oil would be nationalized, thus sealing them out of the oil wealth and leaving it for BRICS.

The Libyan rebel success also has had adverse effects as well, mainly on Russia and China who will now have to rethink their foreign policy towards Libya. As soon as a manager of the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company stated that they would favor Western oil corporations as the expense of the oil corporations of BRICS nations, China and Russia became quite worried. Chinese officials "called on the rebel leadership to protect the country’s investments in Libya" and "Russian foreign minister Seirgey Lavrov sought to put a good face on his country’s position by insisting that Russia was ready to mediate even at this late hour a political solution to the crisis." Yet once Gaddafi had been overthrown and it was clear that the rebels had won, China called for  "'a stable transition of power' in Libya and said it had made contact with the rebels there" (as did Russia) and argued for a UN-led rebuilding of Libya. This is of course to protect their interest in Libya, as the Chinese have invested over $20 billion in Libya in the form of oil, telecommunications, building, and infrastructure projects.

This intervention is having its effects on Africa as well. South Africa is not only refusing to recognize the Libyan rebels as the legitimate government, but have also refused to unfreeze $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan government assets on the grounds that the new Libyan government has not been recognized by the UN. Due to their plan for a power-sharing agreement having failed, South Africa and the African Union have suffered a serious setback, as South African is a "continental power broker" and the African Union exists in part to foster peace and cooperation on the continent.

We'll all have to wait and see how the situation plays itself out. 

Will NATO-led Rebels Ethnically Cleanse Libya?

About Andrew Gavin Marshall: Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer, covering a broad range of issues – economic, political, social, cultural, and historical – in an effort to bring a critical perspective to world events. He has authored dozens of articles, essays, and reports online and for various magazines and other publications, and is regularly interviewed by radio and television programs on a number of different issues. He recently co-edited a book with Professor Michel Chossudovsky entitled, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century,” a collection of essays by a number of authors and researchers presenting a more critical and nuanced examination of the economic crisis that began in 2008.

Global Research articles by Andrew Gavin Marshall: http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=listByAuthor&authorFirst=Andrew%20Gavin&authorName=Marshall

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arab Spring: Revolution, Lies, and Intervention

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming article American Empire Part 3: Sunset Empire, the final installment of the American Empire series. 

In 2011, the United States had its dominance of the Middle East seriously threatened due to massive peaceful protests that were sweeping the Arab world. No longer were people going to put up with corrupt and oppressive regimes that were backed by Washington. No longer would they put up with horrid dictatorships in which the only freedom they had was to obey. In 2011 protests in Tunisia began what would become known as the Arab Spring.


The spark that launched the Arab Spring began on December 17th, 2010. Mohammed Bouazizi was selling fruit without a license and when the authorities confiscated his scale, he became enraged, confronted the police, and was slapped in the face. This led him to plead his case in the town’s government office, but when it was rebuffed, he went outside and lit himself aflame. This small act became noticed by the populace at large and the anger “spread to other towns in the interior of the country, where unemployment among university graduates was approaching 50 percent.” [1] Mass protests soon began with calls to end dictator Ben Ali’s rule and democratic elections, however, Ali turned to the police and the slaughtering of protesters began in earnest.

When protests began to occur, the US was deeply worried as Tunisia had significant military ties to the US. Tunisia cooperated “in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor, which provides counter-terrorism surveillance in the Mediterranean,” participated in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, “and allow[ed] NATO ships to make port calls at Tunis.” [2] Every now and then the US would criticize Tunisia for its record on political rights and freedom of expression, yet “In parallel with these expressions of concern, the United States continued to provide military and economic assistance to the Tunisian government.” [3] Thus, the US began to play both sides, in an effort to maintain its hold over Tunisia, no matter the outcome. 
About two weeks after Ben Ali had fled the nation, America sent their top Middle East envoy to Tunisia and tried “to press its advantage to push for democratic reforms in the country and further afield,” [4] yet what was truly occurring was that the US was trying to help shape the outcome of the revolution in its favor. America's main goal was to make sure that Tunisia would still be on the side of NATO and allow for NATO to dock there. Thus, when Ben Ali fled, an interim government was set up that consisted mainly of members who had been part of the former regime. 

Today, the country remains in a delicate state in between authoritarian government and democracy as elections for a constituent assembly, which will form a new constitution, are scheduled for October 23rd. 

Almost as soon as the US was finished in Tunisia, they had even bigger problems on their hands with the protests in Egypt.


Due to being inspired by the success of the Tunisian protests, the Egyptian people launched their own protest movement, calling for the overthrow of US puppet Hosni Mubarak. However, the US was busy co-opting the protest movement.

The US used the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as a cover to help co-opt the protest movement. Ironically, the NED is not used for the spreading of democracy, rather it was established by the Reagan administration to aid in the overthrow of foreign governments, after the CIA’s covert operations were revealed. The NED was "took over the financing of foreign overthrow movements, but overtly and under the rubric of ‘democracy promotion.’” [6] Thus, the US supported both Mubarak and the protesters, in a bid to make sure that no matter what occurred, America would still get its way.

Washington already had influence in Egyptian pro-democracy circles as in May 2009 many Egyptian activists that would eventually organize protests calling for the end of the dictator Mubarak's reign

spent a week in Washington receiving training in advocacy and getting an inside look at the way U.S. democracy works. After their training, the fellows were matched with civil society organizations throughout the country where they shared experiences with U.S. counterparts. The activists [wrapped]  up their program this week by visiting U.S. government officials, members of Congress, media outlets and think tanks. [7] (emphasis added)

Thus, due to the US aiding the activists, the Americans ensured that the protesters owed them a debt and that US interests would be secure even if Mubarak was ousted. 

The military also played a role in US plans. While they originally had protected protesters and refused to fire upon them, the Egyptian military showed just how supportive they were of a democratic Egypt when they began arresting and trying them before military courts, dissolved parliament, and suspended the constitution. In reality, the military junta that now controls Egypt is no different than the Mubarak regime when it controlled Egypt.

While the Egyptian military is currently in control until elections, no matter what occurs, America will still have its way.


Protests also began taking place in Bahrain. The people were tired of a government which “ failed to abide by their own constitution, refused to investigate the crimes of torture and continued to expropriate more than half of the land of the country.” [8] The Bahrani government was controlled by the Al Khalifa family, which has ruled Bahrain for over 300 years and has created an economy where there is a powerful and wealthy Sunni minority while the Shiite majority constantly faces discrimination in jobs and education, has little political representation, and are barred from many government and military positions.

The US was deeply troubled because of the protests as the Al Khalifa regime allowed for the Americans to station their Fifth Fleet in the country, which allows the US to patrol “the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the east coast of Africa,” “keep an eye on – and, if necessary, rattle sabers – close to oil shipping lanes, Iran, and the increasing activity of pirates,” and “ [provide] basing and overflight clearances for US aircraft engaged in Afghanistan and [help] cut off money supplies to suspected Islamic terrorists.” [9] Thus, the Bahraini regime was of major importance to US regional interests.

The US showed that it would do anything to make sure that its puppet stayed in power when they backed the Saudi military intervention in Bahrain. The Saudis intervened on the behalf of the Bahraini government as their major concern was that the protests would quickly spread to their own country. Once in Bahrain, the Saudis began aiding in the suppression of protesters and shooting into crowds of Bahraini protesters. [10] However, even though the protesters were being gunned down, they still were determined to fight for their rights against America’s puppets.


The Arab Spring movement also reached all the way to Libya, however, things were quite different as instead of having peaceful protests, opposition forces were picking up arms and fighting the Libyan military. Due to the then-leader of Libya, Col. Mummar Gaddafi, having never truly been a Western puppet, America launched a propaganda war to allow the US-NATO war machine to intervene in Libya on the grounds of “humanitarian intervention.”

The question that must first be asked is why the West even wanted to intervene in Libya. The answer is because Libya has Africa’s largest oil reserves and Western oil companies wanted access to them. However, there are also larger economic reasons. Months prior to the intervention, Gaddafi had called upon African and Muslims nations to adopt a single currency: the gold dinar. This would have excluded the dollar as the gold dinar would have been used to purchase goods, thus threatening the economies of Western nations. However, the creation of a gold dinar may have also

empowered the people of Africa, something black activists say the US wants to avoid at all costs.

“The US have denied self-determination to Africans inside the US, so we are not surprised by anything the US would do to hinder the self-determination of Africans on the continent,” says Cynthia Ann McKinney, a former US Congresswoman. [11]

There was also geopolitics at work as during the war, Gaddafi “vowed to expel Western energy companies from the country and replace them with oil firms from China, India, and Russia.” [12] This would have effectively excluded the West from ever getting at Libya’s oil. By ousting Gaddafi, the West would be able to have a puppet regime to counter Chinese and Russian moves in North Africa as well as access to Libyan oil.

What many of the media never asked until the conflict was nearing its end was who exactly were the rebels. In the Iraq war, most of the foreign fighters came from Libya and in that,
almost all of them came from eastern Libya, the center of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion.” [13] (emphasis added) A Libyan rebel commander even admitted that some of his soldiers had links to Al Qaeda:

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited "around 25" men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are "today are on the front lines in Adjabiya".
Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,"but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader". [14] (emphasis added)

Thus, the US and NATO were backing terrorists, yet they may have known seeing as how a 2007 West Point Study revealed that the Benghazi-Darnah-Tobruk area was a world leader in Al Qaeda suicide bomber recruitment. [15]

Due to the US and its NATO allies not wanting to look like the imperialists they truly were, Obama pressured the UN to pass a resolution allowing for the establishment of a no fly zone over Libya and an arms embargo on the nation. However, both were broken quite soon. The UN resolution clearly allowed all member states “acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.” [16] However, the imperialists admitted that they wanted to overthrow Gaddafi in an op-ed piece, when Cameron, Sarkozy, and Obama stated: “Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove [G]addafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with [G]addafi in power.” [17] (emphasis added) The US and NATO clearly stated that their main goal was to overthrow Gaddafi.

The hypocrisy of the West ran deep as they found an excuse to intervene in Libya, but not in Egypt, Bahrain, Palestine, or any other location where people were being oppressed by local regimes. However, Western hypocrisy was shown near the outset of the conflict when it was reported that Egypt’s military had begun to ship arms to the rebels with Washington’s knowledge. [18] This clearly shows that supposed arms embargo on Libya was in reality, an embargo on Gaddafi’s forces.

To whip up support for their “intervention,” a massive media propaganda campaign was conducted against Gaddafi. The mainstream media were reporting things such as Gaddafi gave his troops Viagra to rape women, bombed civilians, and that Libyan troops gunned down civilians. Despite these claims being false, the mainstream media still reported it. However, what many people ignored was the fact that the rebel and NATO war crimes. In mid-August, “a NATO bombing campaign near the Libyan city of Zlitan earlier this month reportedly killed almost 100 civilians — more than half of them women and children.” [19] However, NATO denied all claims arguing that they had struck legitimate targets. This is just one example of many NATO war crimes in Libya, ranging from killing civilians to bombing the rebels themselves. There were also reports that Libyan rebels were targeting and killing black Africans. All across eastern Libya the rebels “and their supporters [were] detaining, intimidating and frequently beating African immigrants and black Libyans, accusing them of fighting as mercenaries on behalf of [Gaddafi],” in some cases “executed suspected mercenaries captured in battle, according to Human Rights Watch and local Libyans,” and “arbitrarily killed some mercenaries and in others cases failed to distinguish between them and non-combatants.” [20] Yet, despite these and other numerous reports, the Libyan rebels excused their war crimes, saying that they didn’t have the structures in place to deal with matters such as these.

What was also somewhat ignored was the fact that the rebels were extremely fractured, only united in their goal to overthrow Gaddafi. This was clearly seen after the assassination of General Al-Younes and two top military commanders aides. Their deaths “resulted in internal fighting within the Transitional Council” with “Factional divisions [developing] within rebel forces.” [21] This factional divide may soon play itself out in the creation of a new Libyan government.

Finally, there was the fact that Western special forces were on the ground. The initial appearance of Western special forces was when British SAS troops were captured near Benghazi in March. However, US CIA agents were in Libya [22] and there may have been French and US special forces in Libya aiding the rebels. In a March interview on the O’Reilly Show, retired Colonel David Hunt of the US Army and Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a former Army intelligence officer were interviewed about the situation in Libya. Hunt stated the following when asked about special forces being in Libya:

Yes, absolutely. You've got British service been in there about three weeks ago and actually got captured and released. The French GIGN have been in there and our special forces and our U.S. intelligence operatives and their assets. We do not conduct operations like this, large scale air operations, without people on the ground. They have been very successful, very good, not a lot of contact with the rebels because you don't know who to talk to. But, yes, we have got intel gathering and rescue guys and special operations guys on the ground, have had them for about 12 days. [23] (emphasis added)

Shaffer agreed, saying:

Yes, I have heard from my sources -- I got a call from one of my key sources on Monday and that's exactly what's going on. Let's be really clear here. You have got to have these individuals doing what Dave just said, especially when you are talking about trying to protect, and the stated goal here, Bill, is humanitarian support. So you don't want to have weapons hitting the wrong targets. So, Dave is very good on the fact that we have special operations guys sitting there with laser designators. Bill, you saw… [24] (emphasis added)

The Americans constantly denied that they had boots on the ground, yet, as usual, they were lying.

The imperialists already had plans for a post-Gaddafi Libya, which consisted of "proposals for a 10,000-15,000 strong 'Tripoli task force', resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Libyan capital, secure key sites and arrest high-level Gaddafi supporters.” [25] However, the plan may be problematic as it is “highly reliant on the defection of parts of the Gaddafi security apparatus to the rebels after his overthrow.” [26] There were far reaching economic consequences as it was reported that the new government would favor Western oil companies at the expense of Russian, Chinese, and Brazilian firms. [27]
Due to the imperialists succeeding in Libya, many are worried that the US-NATO war machine may set its sights on a new target: Syria.


Protests in Syria began in earnest in May and have not let up since then. While there are calls for intervention into Syria, there is much at stake for America in terms of Syria’s relationship with Iran.

The Americans are quite interested in the link between Iran and Syria, noting that there have been several joint ventures between the two nations in the financial and manufacturing sectors, as it was noted that “there have been several reports of increased Iranian investment and trade with Syria,” “Iran has stated its intention to establish a joint Iranian-Syrian bank,  possibly involving Bank Saderat and the Commercial Bank of Syria,” and “the Iran Khodro Industrial Group has established a car assembly plant in Syria through a joint venture known as the Syrian-Iranian Motor Company.” [28] There are also military links as Iran supplies weapons to Syria which, from the US perspective, pose a threat to its ally Israel. “In June 2010, Iran reportedly sent Syria an air defense radar system designed to detect Israeli aircraft or possibly increase the accuracy of Syrian and Hezbollah missile strikes against Israel in the event of a regional war.” [29] Thus, the US was deeply worried about the link between two anti-American nations and the growing friendship between them.

Due to these worries, the US became involved in Syria’s protest movement, using methods that are similar to the ones the Americans used in the Egyptian revolution and in the Libya conflict..

For the past five to six years, the US policy toward Syria has used what could be called a two-pronged strategy to push for regime change. The US has supported “civil society” activists or external opposition organizations. It has also worked to delegitimize, destabilize and isolate the country through the application of sanctions and various other measures, which could be applied to exploit vulnerabilities. [30] (emphasis added)

One “civil society” organization that is being used by the US is the Movement for Justice and Development (MJD), which is “closely affiliated with the London-based satellite channel Barada TV, which started broadcasting in April 2009 but ‘ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria.’” [31] The Americans may have wanted to work with MJD due to the fact that they are a moderate Islamic group which wants to end the Assad regime via democratic reform. This democratic reform may very well play right into America’s hands if the US does intervene in Syria, they can back the MJD and argue that they are the same as Libya’s rebels: people who want to end their oppressive regime and replace it with a democracy.

The US is using US organizations such as “Freedom House, American Bar Association, American University, Internews and work done by MEPI with the Aspen Strategic Initiative Institute, Democracy Council of California, Regents of the University of New Mexico and the International Republican Institute” [32] to aid in fomenting regime change in Syria by working with and funding Syrian “civil society” groups.

There have been many reports of the Syrian regime attacking unarmed protesters, however, one should be quite skeptical of these reports. The US media has reported that there are violent Syrian protesters [33], which should make one question the official narrative that the protesters are peaceful. One must also include the fact that there are absolutely no outside media sources in Syria whatsoever. Journalists have contacts whom they can get information from, but who says that these sources are being objective, much less telling the truth? All the reports that are being shown in the mainstream media may very well be half-truths, if not outright fabrications.

The Arab Spring, while an overall movement to overthrow oppressive regimes, has too many times been co-opted by foreign powers who seek only their personal gain. Due to this, the Arab people may never experience true freedom.


1: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/20/60minutes/main20033404.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody
2: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RS21666.pdf
3: Ibid
4: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hDbfg1WFaPPd7sbU5Ghogi4YHQ2w?docId=CNG.148a6c382024ebbebe64021de441dac9.b91
5: http://gowans.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/the-ned-tibet-north-korea-and-zimbabwe/
6: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=989
7: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/press-releases/9568-bahrains-revolution-underway-as-the-day-of-rage-announced
8: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2011/0219/US-faces-difficult-situation-in-Bahrain-home-to-US-Fifth-Fleet
9: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnwCHs_a9cs&feature=player_embedded&skipcontrinter=1
10: http://rt.com/news/economy-oil-gold-libya/
11: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/gadhafi-west-oilcompanies-conflict/2011/03/17/id/389809
12: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/19/extremists-among-libya-rebels_n_837894.html
14: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23949
15: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10200.doc.htm#Resolution
16: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/opinion/15iht-edlibya15.html
17: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704360404576206992835270906.html
19: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/04/world/la-fg-libya-mercenaries-20110305
20: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25827
21: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/world/africa/31intel.html?_r=1
22: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/transcript/are-us-troops-already-ground-libya
23: Ibid
25: Ibid
26: http://www.euronews.net/2011/08/22/libya-end-game-pulls-down-oil-prices/

27: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33487.pdf
28: Ibid
30: Ibid
31: Ibid
32: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/30/501364/main20067379.shtml

The Libyan Soldier: The True Heroes of NATO’s War by Glen Ford

This article was originally published on Black Agenda Report on August 24, 2011.

The story is not over – not by a long shot – but the saga of the Libyan resistance to the superpower might of the United States and its degenerate European neocolonial allies will surely occupy a very special place in history. For five months, beginning March 19, the armed forces of a small country of six million people dared to defy the most advanced weapons systems on the planet, on terrain with virtually no cover, against an enemy capable of killing whatever could be seen from the sky or electronically sensed. Night and day, the eyes of the Euro-American war machine looked down from space on the Libyan soldiers’ positions, with the aim of incinerating them. And yet, the Libyan armed forces maintained their unit integrity and personal honor, with a heroism reminiscent of the loyalist soldiers of the Spanish Republic under siege by German, Italian and homegrown fascists, in the late 1930s.
The Germans and Italians and Generalissimo Franco won that war, just as the Americans, British, French and Italians may ultimately overcome the Libyan army. But they cannot convey honor or national legitimacy to their flunkies from Benghazi, who have won nothing but a badge of servitude to foreign overseers. The so-called rebels won not a single battle, except as walk-ons to a Euro-American military production. They are little more than extras for imperial theater, a mob that traveled to battle under the protective umbrella of American full spectrum dominance of the air. They advanced along roads already littered with the charcoal-blackened bodies of far better men, who died challenging Empire.

One thing is sure: the Americans and Europeans have never respected their servants. The so-called rebels of Libya will be no different. Washington, Paris and London know perfectly well that is was their 18,000 aircraft sorties, their cruise missiles, their attack helicopters, their surveillance satellites and drones, their command and control systems, their weapons, and their money, that managed to kill or wound possibly half the Libyan army. Not the rabble from Benghazi.
The rebels should not take too seriously being fawned over by the ridiculous hordes of corporate media tourists that have come to Tripoli to record the five-month war's finale. They are highly paid cheerleaders. And, although it may appear that they are cheering for the rebels, don't be fooled – at the end of the day, the western corporate media only cheer for their own kind. They are celebrating what they believe is a victory over the Libyan demon they have helped to construct in their countrymen's minds. Next year, rebel, that demon might be you.
Or next year, it might be many Libyans, including those who were no friends of Col. Moammar Gaddafi. The Americans treat their native minions like children in need of supervision – and there is a certain logic to this, since whoever would entrust his nation's sovereignty and resources to the Americans is, surely, either exceedingly stupid, or hopelessly corrupt. But Libya's honor and her place in history has already been secured by a small African army that held out nearly half a year against the NATO barbarians.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Portugal, America, and Drugs

Due to the current debt crisis in the United States, there are some who argue that the US should decriminalize drugs. That in doing so, it would allow for the government to tax drug user, thus increasing revenue. There is some opposition to this idea, yet one only need to look at Portugal to see that decriminalizing drugs can very well be a positive occurrence.
Prior to the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal, there was a moderate drug policy as “drug use, possession, and acquisition in Portugal were punishable by penalties up to 3 months in prison or a fine for small quantities.” [1] Drug usage among 13-to-15 years olds was 14.1% and 27.6% among 16-to-18 year olds. [2]
However, in 2001 there was a shift in policy due to seeing that treating drug usage as criminal was ineffective. Now, instead of locking up those who used drugs for personal  use,  the goal was to decriminalize personal drug possession and treat those who were drug users. When this was reported in the media there was much apprehension and critics argued that “decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to ‘drug tourists’ and exacerbate Portugal’s drug problem.” [3] The naysayers were  proven wrong as a study done by the Cato Institute proved that the drug decriminalization effort was working. [4]
The decriminalization effort was a success due to the fact that the government began treating drug addiction as what it is, a health problem, not a criminal offense. Drug users who are caught by the authorities “are sent to a tribunal of health professionals, where they are offered the opportunity, but are not compelled, to seek government-provided treatment.” [5] Portugal now has the lowest usage rate for marijuana and one of the lowest for cocaine. While there have been increases in other drug areas, “the increases have been modest — far less than in most other European Union nations, which continue to use a criminalization approach.” [6]
We must keep in mind that Portugal’s radical new drug program was a success for several reasons:
1. Drug addiction was treated as a health problem.
For quite a long time, people have treated substance abuse as a criminal problem, rather than a health one. However, throwing someone in a cage and leaving them to experience horrible withdraw symptoms is not the way to help someone end their drug addiction. Rather, a non-aggressive intervention policy will more than likely aid them in kicking the habit.
2. The programs setup to help substance abusers treated them with respect.
In Western society, drug users are looked down upon and treated with disdain in most circles. Thus, they are less likely to look for help from either religious or secular institutions that disrespect them. By not demonizing substance abusers and treating them with common decency, more drug users worked with the authorities and ended up dealing with their problems.
3. The freedoms of drug users were respected.
By giving drug users the option as to whether or not they wanted to recieve treatment from the state, the freedoms of the users were respected. No one wants to be forced into doing anything and by knowing that if caught, they had the freedom to get treatment or not, users would feel more in control of the situation and this, coupled with the fact that they were not demonized, would more likely increase the chances that they chose to get help.
Without these three main pillars, drug usage in Portugal would still be a problem of major concern.
The United States ought to rethink its position on its war on drugs, not only due to Portugal, but also because of the recent assessment which stated that the war on drugs has failed. [7] If the US were to take the same steps Portugal did, they may see that decriminalizing drugs was one of the best things they ever did.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Journalists Evacuated from Hotel in Tripoli

This article was originally posted on August 24, 2011 on Global Research. 

New reports indicate that the journalists who have been trapped for several days at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli have been safely evacuated and are scheduled to be repatriated under the auspices of the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Members of the media who have been evacuated include all independent and alternative journalists, including Global Research Correspondent Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. The report we received is that he is safe along with the other journalists, all of whom are currently in the custody of the IOM aboard their vessel. (emphasis added)

Global Research has been waging a long battle against media disinformation and has been delivering the truth about the situation in Libya in the face of false mainstream reports which have categorically and aggressively served the interests of the US/NATO war agenda.

As Michel Chossudovsky recently wrote:

We ask our readers to reflect on what Mahdi was attempting to achieve at the media center of the Rixos hotel: honest factual reporting, with a concern for human life, in solidarity with those Libyan men, women and children who lost their lives in bombing raids on residential areas, schools and hospitals. 
Mahdi's life is threatened for telling the truth, for exposing NATO war crimes. 
"Democracy building" in Libya, we are told, requires the extensive bombing of an entire country, under NATO's "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P).
But Mahdi questions that concept. He challenges the very foundations of war propaganda, which upholds an act of war as a peacemaking endeavor. 
We look forward to welcoming our correspondent home after this tremendous ordeal, whose commitment to the truth exemplifies his dedication both as a journalist and as a true humanitarian who has struggled alongside those who pay the heavy price for media disinformation. 

Editor's Note: This has been confirmed by mainstream sources




KILLING THE TRUTH: Mahdi Nazemroaya Is Threatened by NATO's "Pro-Democracy" Rebels by Michel Chossudovsky

This article was originally posted on August 23, 2011 on Global Research,

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, together with Thierry Meyssan are currently stranded in the media centre of the Rixos hotel in Tripoli amidst heavy fighting around the hotel.

We ask our readers to reflect on what Mahdi was attempting to achieve at the media center of the Rixos hotel: honest factual reporting, with a concern for human life, in solidarity with those Libyan men, women and children who lost their lives in bombing raids on residential areas, schools and hospitals.
Mahdi's life is threatened for telling the truth, for exposing NATO war crimes.

"Democracy building" in Libya, we are told, requires the extensive bombing of an entire country, under NATO's  "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P).

But Mahdi questions that concept. He challenges the very foundations of war propaganda, which upholds an act of war as a peacemaking endeavor.

In the course of the last few days, all our time and energy have been directed towards ensuring the safety of  Mahdi, Thierry and several other independent journalists trapped in the Rixos Hotel.

The atmosphere within the media centre of the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli must be understood.

The mainstream media, including CNN and the BBC have direct links to NATO, the Transitional Council and Rebel Forces. They are serving NATO interests in a direct way through massive media distortion.

At the same time, those within the Rixos Media Centre who are committed to the truth are the the object of veiled threats. In the case of Mahdi, the threats were very explicit.

Those who say the truth are threatened.

Those who lie and accept the NATO consensus, their lives will be protected. NATO special forces operating within rebel ranks will ensure their safety.

It this unsavoury environment, personal ties have broken down. The independent media journalists as well as those from non-NATO countries including China, Iran, Latin America are considered "persona non grata" by the mainstream media groups within the hotel.

Mahdi says the truth. He directly challenges the lies of the mainstream media.

Mahdi's reports threaten the NATO-media consensus.

What he is describing is the destruction of an entire country, of its institutions, its infrastructure.

This killing and destruction, we are told, is required to instate "democracy" under the colonial flag of King Idris.

We are being lied to in the most despicable way.  The victims of NATO aggression are designated as "war criminals", whereas the perpetrators of war are welcomed as Liberators.

The lie has become the truth. and that's why Mahdi life is threatened.

War becomes peace, according to the NATO consensus.

The "international community" has given a rubber stamp to NATO's bombing campaign on the grounds that Gadaffi is a dictator.

Repeated ad nauseam, people ultimately accept the consensus. Killing is a peacemaking endeavor.

How could it be otherwise: Every single news media across the land, people in government, intellectuals have accepted this consensus.

Realities are turned upside down. People are no longer able to think.

They accept the consensus because it emanates from a higher authority which they dare not question.

In fact that is the very basis of an inquisitorial doctrine.

The "humanitarian" underpinnings of  "Responsiblity to Protect", however, outdwarf the Spanish Inquisition by a long shot.

What we are dealing with is a dogma which nobody can question.

Mahdi Nazemroaya has challenged this consensus by revealing the lies of the mainstream media.

Once the NATO consensus is broken, the legitimacy of  the warmongers collapses like a deck of cards.

And that is why Mahdi Nazemroaya's life is threatened.

This is warfare in the 21st Century. It is a war which claims not to be a war.

All the protocols and conventions pertaining to war do not apply.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is not be found on the ground. They have no mandate because officially this is not a war.

This is the most despicable and immoral war in history, to the extent that even antiwar activists, left wing politicians and so-called progressives applaud. "Gadaffi is the dictator, he must go".

Its a Blitzkrieg with the most advanced weapons systems. 20,000 sorties since March 31, according to NATO stats, close to 8000 strike sorties.

Each strike sortie involves several targets, most of which are civilian targets.

Compare this to the bombings of World War II or Vietnam...

Our resolve is to bring back Mahdi to Canada, to ensure his safe return.

Spread the word far and wide.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global research, August 24, 2011. 12.22am EDT

The following CBC News program on Mahdi Nazemroaya was broadcast today, Tuesday August 23, 2011.


Editor's Note: For more information on Mahdi Nazemroaya's current situation, vist the following links:




For continued information visit Global Research, where Mr. Nazemroaya is a Research Associate. What About Peace will keep you continually updated on Mr. Nazemroaya's situation.

Personally, I hope that Mr. Nazemoraya and and Mr. Meyssan are returned safely to Canada and that not harm is done to them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Libya?

It was announced late last night that the rebels were in Tripoli and this morning the world is declaring a rebel victory, though there is still some fighting that is going on.

So, the question that must be asked now is what is going to occur in this new Libya? While many are hoping for democratic change, NATO already had plans for this, that included "proposals for a 10,000-15,000 strong 'Tripoli task force', resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Libyan capital, secure key sites and arrest high-level Gaddafi supporters" and is deeply reliant "on the defection of parts of the Gaddafi security apparatus to the rebels after his overthrow." (Germany may also be sending in troops as well.) Unlike in Iraq, the US plans to keep former Gaddafi regime members and use them to build a pro-Western Libya. However, due to the inclusion of former regime members, one must wonder how much change will truly occur? Will there be a an ousting of one oppressive regime to only be replaced by another oppressive regime?

It is being shown that the EU and NATO are going to play a major role in the future of Libya:
On Sept. 1, Mr. Lesser [of the German Marshall Fund] will take over as the new director of the key think tank’s Brussels office. Libya will immediately be a top item on his agenda, he said.
NATO will “try from an institutional point of view to capture this as a success for the coalition,” said Mr. Lesser. “But there is a second phase of NATO involvement.” Just because Col. Gadhafi “is on his heels, it doesn’t mean that the potential for ongoing instability isn’t very high.” [...]
The stakes for the EU to get it right are high. “One has to consider the possibility that it’s continuing chaos,” said Mr. Lesser. “There are groups within these rebels we would not like to see come to power.”
Already, Western economic interests are at work as an Italian oil company returns to resume its activities in Libya. There are also greater economic concerns as
those who backed the anti-Gaddafi forces can expect to have greater access to them, including those like Qatar’s national oil company, while the rebels are warning Russian and Chinese firms can expect contract revisions. 
“We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil,” said Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO. 
About 75 Chinese companies operated in Libya before the war, involving about 36,000 staff and 50 projects, according to Chinese media. 
Russian companies, including oil firms Gazprom Neft and Tatneft, also had projects worth billions of dollars in Libya. Brazilian firms such as Petrobras and construction company Odebrecht were also in business there. 
“We have lost Libya completely,” Aram Shegunts, director general of the Russia-Libya Business Council, told Reuters. “Our companies will lose everything there because NATO will prevent them from doing their business in Libya.” (emphasis added)
This works quite well for the US and Europe as they have effectively taken China and Russia out of the Libyan oil market, thus they no longer have to worry about oil competitors.

However, there are still problems that need to be addressed, such as the divisions within the Libyan rebels as well as terrorist and radical Islamic links that some rebels have. (Some even argue that Libya could become a haven for Al Qaeda.)

Finally, there is the legal aspect of the entire situation. Both sides have been accused of war crimes, however, it seems that only Gaddafi and his loyal regime members will face any trial at all, while the Libyan rebels get to go free. There is also the question of the UN Security Council Resolution. The resolution clearly allowed all UN members "to take all necessary measures [...] to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,  including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory." This overthrow of the Gaddafi regime was clearly in violation of this resolution.

If the people of Libya and their supporters around the world want a true democracy in Libya, not run by Islamists or Western puppets, then they are going to have to pressure both the new Libyan government as well as the international community to make sure it occurs. If not, there may very well be a manifestation of the old regime, but with a new pro-Western face.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Attacks In Israel, Hamas Cancels Ceasefire

Just two days ago, a "multifocal" attack took place in north Eliat, killing at least seven Israelis and injuring more than 30 (there was also an attack in the Sinai). While Hamas denied any involvement in the attack, "Israel clearly believes that the origin of these attacks is in Gaza" and retaliated by launching airstrikes into Gaza. In response to this, Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, announced that they were ending the ceasefire with Israel (although that may not be true).

Eliat is in southern Israel, near the Sinai Desert in Egypt.

Currently, many jihadists are in the Sinai Desert and just recently Egypt launched an attack on them. This Egyptian offensive "has the backing of Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist organization that controls the Gaza Strip that has been trying to eradicate jihadist interlopers for years." (emphasis added) It is also supported by Israel as they don't "want security in the Sinai to collapse and provide a sanctuary for al-Qaida nor [do they] want Egyptian forces in the region in strength once again." While Egypt denied playing a role in the Eliat attack, the Israeli government still assumed that the perpetrators were from Gaza.

This is a major problem for everyone involved, but especially the Palestinians. It seemed that Israel was too quick to assume that Hamas was involved, as they hold Hamas responsible for any attacks that take place from Gaza. The Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, believes that the Palestinian Authority is to blame for the attacks in Eliat. 

Today, Hamas has launched several rockets into Israel. This is a serious problem as they are only verifying the questionable ceasefire cancellation and giving Israel an excuse to engage in even more bombings of the Gaza Strip. Also, it allows the Israeli government to invoke nationalism, thus sweeping Israel's recent social unrest under the rug. In a broader context, it also could potentially put the Palestinian UN statehood bid at risk because it allows the US and Israel to say that the reconciliation and unification of the Gazan and West Bank governments have failed and that Israel cannot live by a neighbor who threatens its security.

While there have been moves to restore the ceasefire, Hamas needs to show restraint in this situation, not only for themselves, but for the future Palestinian state.