‘Propaganda’ has become an excuse for our failure in Libya


8:54 am - August 12th 2011

by Flying Rodent    


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Deborah Haynes, defence editor at the Times, writes these strange words in a piece bemoaning the snafu that is our latest war.

In a war of information and perception, the truth no longer matters. It is all about the message and in Libya, the regime is coming out on top.
(Times, 11th August)

It’s an odd column, listing the following points as presentational problems for Nato and the Libyan rebels:

1.  Nato forces have killed quite a lot of kids in Tripoli recently.  Additionally, Nato’s bombing campaign is causing major medical shortages, power cuts and petrol shortfalls for the civilian population.
2.  Gaddafi’s stooges on TV are making much hay from these facts.
3.  The rebels claimed they’d killed one of Gaddafi’s sons, when he is in fact alive and well.
4.  The rebels are disorganised, fractious and appear to have a Jihadist problem.
5.  Our record of having bombed a whole series of Muslim countries this decade is making it very easy for Gaddafi’s stooges on TV to portray Nato as crusaders and aggressors.
6.  The failure of a coup to materialise is being exploited by Gaddafi’s stooges as evidence that there is no majority desire to end Gaddafi’s reign.
7.  This means that the rebels’ challenge appears fatally flawed and that Nato are after Libya’s oil, and that…

…this is a huge Propaganda Fail on Nato’s part.

Well.  Let’s note here that, while Haynes bemoans all of these points as propaganda problems, she doesn’t actually bother to question their accuracy at all.

To pick a few of these points – Britain and France are not leading a holy Christian war and are probably not primarily motivated by lust for Libya’s resources.  Nonetheless, Nato does appear to be killing quite a lot of kids and intentionally depriving the citizenry of medicine and fuel; the rebels are fractious and disorganised, and so on. 

Further, the failure of a coup to materialise may actually mean that there’s no majority desire in Tripoli to end Gaddafi’s reign.

The problems raised here are, for the most part,  facts and not inconvenient lies promulgated by a tyrant’s pet broadcaster.

The quote at the top of this post – “In a war of information and perception, the truth no longer matters” – would be a tiresome truism were it made by a disinterested observer.

Far from being disinterested, The Times has been the foremost cheerleader for the Libyan war from the start, bigging up our chances of quick victory and egging on intervention like Manchester United’s prawn-sandwich brigade in hospitality.

For the defence editor of the Times to disavow the importance of truth itself in piece which essentially concedes that the entire war is a travesty is… interesting, to say the least.

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Flying Rodent is a regular contributor and blogs more often at: Between the Hammer and the Anvil. He is also on Twitter.
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Reader comments


1. Robert the crip

I love the idea we are in Libya because of the evil tyrant, sadly of course that evil Tyrant has annoyed the British people, so he must be hit and hit hard, it’s a bit bloody late now, but hold oh he does have Oil.

Syria on the other hand of course has what evil nasty people or a leader that the Government in the UK love or the people revolution are evil.

seems we do pick wars when they have Oil

Er, Syria has oil. Next.

I presume Galen 10 will be around here shortly.

Before commenting, please read the above article carefully and then consider how wrong you were in advocating this particular strand of lunacy.

Oh fuck off, pagar. You have nothing useful to contribute.

Re oil exports.

Libya = 1.542 million barrels per day. (14th largest in the world)

Syria = 155,000 barrels per day. (55th largest in the world)

Syria exports LESS oil than Belgium, Japan,Taiwan, Spain etc. etc.

Need I go on?

OOPS ! Forgot the link to oil exporting countries and the amounts.

http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?c=sy&v=95

I imagine one of the reasons why Gaddafi’s support among the Lybian people remains high actually is propaganda. Who here thinks that for most of his reign he didn’t position himself as Lybia’s defender against western imperialist invaders who would come to destroy their livelihoods, their homes, their children? Then what do people think NATO’s alliance with the transitional council would look like with that pre-prepared mindset?

In these days of high oil prices any helps, but Syria exports mostly low quality oil while Libya has high quality. The French were particularly pissed off at Libya because Gaddafi cancelled an order for French weapons and bought from Russia instead

9. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Oh fuck off, pagar. You have nothing useful to contribute.

Ordinarily true, on this occasion he’s got a point.

It’s good that you’re now recognising that there is a problem with the Libyan war.

I’ve felt unable to criticise the Libya war. The Left in the UK immediately latched onto the meme that if we did nothing then thousands would die in Benghazi, and anyone suggesting that NATO’s action should be limited with an explicit exit strategy were criticised for procrastination when “immediate action is needed”. There is probably some truth that Ghadaffi would have sanctioned the killing of some civilians, but our actions have caused many more thousands to die (and we have killed many of them) with no end in sight to this war.

Ironically, I have been more comfortable expressing my doubts in the US forums where I am active. The US centre-Left are more reticent about this action than the UK’s centre-Left. So I welcome that – from the Left – you are opening up the discussion and recognising that this is a complex issue and that, possibly, a solution may be to stop our intervention.

The problems raised here are, for the most part, facts and not inconvenient lies promulgated by a tyrant’s pet broadcaster.

I may have missed it, but have they started bombing the TV centres and claiming it’s part of Gaddafi’s ‘war machine’ yet?

12. flyingrodent

have they started bombing the TV centres and claiming it’s part of Gaddafi’s ‘war machine’ yet?

Pertinent question. They’ve bombed transmitters, but apparently not the TV stations themselves.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/30/nato-bombs-libya-tv-transmitters

@10 To be fair “the left” over here has been fighting like cats in a bag over the issue with the battle lines drawn between the ‘anti-war left’ and the ‘humanitarian intervention left’.

@ Cylux

I imagine one of the reasons why Gaddafi’s support among the Lybian people remains high actually is propaganda. Who here thinks that for most of his reign he didn’t position himself as Lybia’s defender against western imperialist invaders

Are you implying he is not?

Whose propaganda have you been listening to?

15. flyingrodent

Are you implying he is not?

I’ll say he’s not. The man’s a gangster and a thug, and the only thing he’s interested in defending is his crime family’s interests. He couldn’t give a fuck about “Libyans” in the wider sense.

The man’s a gangster and a thug, and the only thing he’s interested in defending is his crime family’s interests.

Agreed.

But to be fair to him, he’s not done a bad job at keeping the Western imperial invaders at bay.

So far, we haven’t been able to get what we want either by charm or force of arms.

@10 Richard Blogger,

If you’re arguing the toss in the USA, don’t overlook the anti-war people from the libertarian / paleo side. Neo-cons love war, as we know, but the establishment Democrats are scarcely better in that respect, especially with an incumbant in the Whitehouse.

@16 pagar

So far, we haven’t been able to get what we want either by charm or force of arms.

Technically speaking didn’t we* actually get what we wanted via charm for a time, but then with the Arab spring and the overwhelming urge to be a bunch of bomb happy interfering cunts then changed what we wanted? Which then received a helpful “we’re saving them” coat of gloss from Interventionist champions.

*By ‘we’ I of course mean Cameron and Sarkozy and any pertinent predecessors.

Technically speaking didn’t we* actually get what we wanted via charm for a time, but then with the Arab spring and the overwhelming urge to be a bunch of bomb happy interfering cunts then changed what we wanted? Which then received a helpful “we’re saving them” coat of gloss from Interventionist champions.

Yes. You are absolutely correct.

8. Schmidt

” In these days of high oil prices any helps, but Syria exports mostly low quality oil while Libya has high quality. ”

Yes, it is mostly heavy oil that Syria has and their reserves are in decline. The Syrian government relies on the export earnings of the heavy oil for foreign exchange. However, it is not as valuable as the Libyan light-grade, low-sulphur oil. They do have significant natural gas reserves, but they need foreign investment and know how to exploit them. With 60% of the population under the age of 20, and huge youth unemployment the uprising in Syria is entirely predictable.

@20 Demographics. Who’d have guessed? Could that apply to our riotous zones too?

Note to pagar too: I presume you are one of these people who think some nationalities, perhaps in the middle east or north Africa, actually need violent, oppressive governments. You know, that old meme about arabs and strong leaders, that sort of racist shit. Torture and secret police are what they need.

Fuckwit.

@ Cherub

You have been highly aggressive and unpleasant on this thread.

The state of Libya was, itself, a Western construct. I do not believe that Arabs benefit from violent, oppressive government- I actually don’t believe anybody benefits much from any government.

I do have enough respect for the inhabitants of Libya to believe they should be allowed to determine their own destiny, whatever that may be, and that our intervention will only get in the way and make matters worse. I also believe that our arguments for getting involved are disingenuous.

Trust that explains.

We can play media wars all we like but on the ground it is very real.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3G8CQ6pA8U

Do we really have to wait until this persists long enough for it to become very real for us.
What would you do tables reversed?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cPpCD05aYI

And is it any wonder that we are failing in Libya? As we’ve seen, our own government can’t even impose order on a bunch of stoned teenagers with BlackBerries, so how can they possibly hope to engineer a successful regime change in some far away land. Not. Going. To. Happen. Incredible as it it seems, we’ve been radically overestimating the competence of these people. Not only should they not be starting any wars aimed at remodelling entire societies, but they shouldn’t even bother with active foreign policy–they’re too likely to fsck it up.

@ Symon

Although I don’t agree with our attack on Libya, I have to say that the video you posted felt like manufactured propaganda.

26. Robert the crip

The hope is of course one bomb hits one building in which the Gadaffi family are having a meal of fish and chips with the leaders and generals, end of war.

Cost of that bombing may even reach another billion quid, but at least our troops are getting good training so when they come back get the sack they can have a resume to find a job in lets see Banking, or even dropping bombs on looters

Yup – there are lots of ethnic minority folk working in the local branch of my bank.

Very sensibly, the bank has figured that it’s good for business. And they are articulate, sharp and helpful in my experience. But I’ve come across some very dumb white folk working for banks too, like that lady with a Scots accent who told me in the autumn of 2008 that the Scots make good bankers.

28. flyingrodent

…there are lots of ethnic minority folk working in the local branch of my bank.

You are Mrs Brady: Old Lady and I claim my five pounds.

@pagar

I wouldn’t say manufactured, the bodies appear real enough. Capitalised upon for the resistance effort? of course, what would you do?

@All

The agenda is Syria which is allied to Iran and then Iran itself. We have already been told as much. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzXtccjUGrs There are several other sources confirming the agenda too. I’ll leave it to you to research. Lot’s of information on-line, not difficult to uncover. Take a look here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-XIeb879SY . Also research Project For The New American Century (PNAC)

Bahrain and Yemen are already client states, hence no mention of the protester crack downs that are taking place there.

Debate about what Gaddafi mighta coulda woulda done, are a waste of emotional energy. What we witnessing is the implementation of a plan the has been long in the works.

30. tom mcghee

i remember at the start much was made that the great champions of demcracy, the arab league were fully on board with the nato mission and that qatar were providing planes and were ready to fly combat missions. could someone tell me how many combat sorties the qataris or any other arab state has flown?!

The fact is that the people who looted did so because they thought they could get away with it. They saw that the police weren’t enforcing the law, and were allowing the riots to play themselves out, and they decided to go and loot themselves some “free stuff”.

That is the simplest and probably most logical explanation for people’s behaviour.

Some of them (like the girls above) were out to riot because it felt good, it was an opportunity for them to assert their “power” over “normal” people.

The fact is that some of the people were “just caught up in the madness”.

Others made the decision that it was OK for them to go and steal things from other people. – I don’t know why they think this is OK – perhaps there’s something wrong with them? Anyone who’s been burgled will have asked themselves this question at some point.

The job of society is to try and solve what is wrong with the people who think it’s OK to do that sort of thing.

The difference between left and right is how they believe that can be solved.

too many windows open, that was intended for a different thread (please ignore)


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    'Propaganda' has become an excuse for our failure in Libya http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  2. sunny hundal

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  3. Ahmar Mustikhan

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  4. flyingrodent

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  5. salardeen

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  6. ForestsInfo

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  7. Lee Hyde

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  8. Zak Golombeck

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  9. Mehdi Hasan

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  10. Simon Hayward

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  11. Carol Ann

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  12. bill bold

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  13. najib bencherif

    "Propaganda" has become an excuse for "#coalition" failure in #Libya | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/HntY9P4 via @libcon
    #Gaddafi #17Feb

  14. Sam Ambreen

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  15. Faaz

    ‘Propaganda’ has become an excuse for our failure in #Libya.. – The Times: “In a war [ ] , the truth no longer matters” http://bit.ly/qqIKug

  16. Hatuxka

    despite a couple of failings, very interesting piece: ‘Propaganda’ has become an excuse for our failure in #Libya http://t.co/dJT6cWB

  17. Anasim Qatoot

    despite a couple of failings, very interesting piece: ‘Propaganda’ has become an excuse for our failure in #Libya http://t.co/dJT6cWB

  18. riazbhatti

    Mea Culpa: our intervention in Libya *has* turned out to be a failure as others predicted http://bit.ly/nJh5ys

  19. Does Gaddafi’s end in Libya strengthen the interventionists? | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] met with little success for months, and various people (including @Flying_Rodent) have documented how badly it was […]





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