Libya, Kaddafi, and the Marketing of Dictators

By Numerian

Nobody knows, which is precisely why leadership everywhere is addled and uncertain how to respond. What they should most fear, however, is someone who connects together the riots in Greece several years ago, the demonstrations in Iceland, and the events throughout the Middle East, with the protests in Wisconsin, and who then draws a picture which makes sense and which everyone can understand.

Driving in from the airport to the center of Tripoli, as you pass Pepsi-Cola Road and approach the old city, you see one billboard after another featuring Mohammar Qaddafi. He has different guises, depending on whether he wishes to be Col. Qaddafi in military uniform, or tribal Qaddafi in flowing robes, or religious Qaddafi in the turban and cloak of an imam. Overlooking the central square is Qaddafi the modernizer of Libya, sporting brownish-yellow sunglasses that might have been stylish in 1969 when Qaddafi first came to power in a military coup, but today give him the appearance of trying too hard to be young.

I wondered why there were no pictures of Qaddafi in a hard hat standing next to an oil rig. It is, after all, the miles and miles of oil derricks and refineries situated south of Tripoli, and at the edge of the great expanse of Saharan desert comprising most of the country, that give Libya its wealth and Qaddafi his importance on the world stage. Libya is a founding member of OPEC, and it was Qaddafi’s alliance with the Shah of Iran that spurred OPEC in 1979 to increase oil prices four fold. What the Shah wanted out of such an arrangement was wealth; what Qaddafi wanted was the attention of the West to the plight of the great mass of dispossessed Arabs – the Palestinians. How ironic, therefore, that both leaders have met their end by ignoring a whole group of other dispossessed Arabs: the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the unemployed, and the powerless millions who toiled daily under the billboard visages of their “leader”.

Qaddafi Meets the People

I think we can pretty much speak of Qaddafi in the past tense. He squandered whatever shred of respect he still had from the people he ruled by mowing them down with machine guns this past week. His only hope for survival rests on some faction of the military willing to support him and suppress public demonstrations with whatever brutality is necessary. Even so, there is no guarantee that faction can stay in power, and certainly not without offering up Qaddafi himself as proof of their willingness to bring a new leader to Libya, flying a flag of “reform”. (Image: Kaddafi)
How odd that it should be Col. Qaddafi who has fallen victim to a true revolution, not the phony revolution he talked about endlessly when he extolled the coup d’etat he and some other junior officers staged to oust old King Idris over forty years ago. Qaddafi did everything possible to be the perfect Arab ruler. He spoke up for the Palestinians and against the Israelis, he supported terrorist groups engaged in attacks against Israel and the West, and he behaved himself in public as a pious Muslim. There are rumors that alcohol can be had at some embassy private parties, but it is otherwise impossible to buy in Libya (until recently you could not buy a Coca-Cola, since Pepsi has had the soft drink franchise for years). There is not one pig in the entire country; it is an unclean animal. Qaddafi did his best to ward off a Muslim Brotherhood uprising by being more Muslim and more revolutionary than any who might challenge him on religious grounds.

What more, then, could the people want from him? Why have they been amassing this past week in public squares, taking bullets to the chest from snipers, allowing themselves to be run down by tanks, or strafed by fighter jets? Libyans have lived under this man for forty years. What is it now that provides them the courage to risk death in order to get rid of Mohammar Qaddafi?

The Longer They Rule, the Quicker They Fall?

People certainly can be shocked into action. It had to be a shock to the people of Libya to see within the space of a month the lifetime rulers of their neighbors to the west and the east of them both deposed because of civic demonstrations. Who would have thought you could get rid of someone like Hosni Mubarak merely by taking control of public spaces? Part of the shock must have been the realization that these dictators for life, holding in their hands all important social and political controls, and unafraid to use the most pernicious tools of persuasion, could so suddenly be prompted to give it all up and flee the country. Of course, to be accurate, everyone recognizes that the demonstrators didn’t really depose these dictators; they forced the military to withdraw support and deliver not so much a coup d’etat, as the coup de grace.

In Tunisia, the well-spring of these upheavals, the spark of revolution came from the self-immolation of a young man unable to find any job. This is a reality that resonates deeply with young men and women throughout the Arab world, and a common language allows them to shares their experiences from Morocco to Syria. A restaurant I like to frequent in Damascus is rather like a sports bar, with good pizza and several televisions available showing different football matches. Viewers are encouraged to text in their opinions of the match, and a scroll on the bottom of each screen shows who has just sent a message. It is an unending parade of Middle East countries: Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt, etc. It is a reminder of how many Arabs are Egyptian, but also how connected the Arab world now is through Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, texting, social networks, cell phones, and so on.

This sense of being part of a larger Arab world is relatively new and clearly reflects the importance of technological advances in communications. It overcomes something that has always kept Arabs apart: the fact, for example, that Arabs in Syria cannot understand Arabs in Morocco or elsewhere in the Maghreb. The dialects are way too different. In fact, Syrians and Jordanians not only have trouble understanding their neighbors next door in Iraq, they can barely understand the Bedouins who live in the desert herding goats and sheep. Hardly anyone can understand the Egyptians because they speak too fast, and religious leaders can be incomprehensible when reading from the Holy Quran because it is spoken in the Arabic equivalent of Old English.

Written Arabic, the type used in emails, is what has bound young Arabs together in recent years, as has shorthand Arabic used in texting. What about the mothers, the taxi drivers, the professors, the small businessmen, the clergy, and the elderly who came out in the thousands to these demonstrations in support of their children? What was their motivation? It no doubt was sympathy if not empathy for those desperate for employment, but it also has to be frustration and perhaps desperation at the increasing difficulty people have in supporting a family in these countries. The most important components of family budgets in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt are food and energy, both of which have increased dramatically in the past year, just at the time Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve announced he wanted “a little bit of inflation” to combat the global economic crisis.

The Rich Want Inflation, While the Poor Need Deflation

There are lots of other causes for rising commodity prices, such as material shortages, droughts, and growing demand in markets like India and China. But no other cause has one man’s name on it, and no other person has let loose a ravenous pack of hedge fund speculators, provided them trillions of dollars of “liquidity” with which to speculate, and protected them from losses. Bernanke has much to answer for, because it is very unlikely we would have seen these uprisings if he had allowed deflation to take its course. Deflation is the friend of the poor. The average Egyptian or Libyan has no concept of a bank account, because they don’t exist for the retail market in those countries. Poor people would not be hurt by a banking crisis, or a stock market crash, or a derivatives calamity, or a housing bubble, because none of these things directly affect their lives. On the other hand, basic necessities would go down in value under deflation.

The West is fearful of deflation because it undermines the whole concept of a fiat currency, which has brought growth through inflation year after year to the industrialized economies, even though the currency gets progressively debased as a result. Central banks always think they can keep the inflation growing at a modest rate, but along came Alan Greenspan and his protégé Ben Bernanke, who threw away any caution on the amount of currency in circulation, and who refused to acknowledge assets bubbles in the making. Maybe this is because the two of them looked about and saw the specter of deflation undermining all their work – deflation brought about principally by China as manufacturing locus of the world, but any third world country with a work force willing to earn $2 a day could challenge Western supremacy at manufacturing.

At first it wasn’t clear whether Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Iran or any of these countries facing challenges to the political status quo were part of the dynamic that was undermining living standards in the West. Now it appears that they were, just as it appears the West was horribly wrong on what “Arabs on the street” really want. They do not see everything in the eyes of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They aren’t obsessed over radical Islam and don’t want to be ruled by some imam or ayatollah living in the 15th century. No wonder Thomas Friedman is back in the Middle East trying to get his bearings again; if only he spoke Arabic he could, depending on the dialect he knew, talk to the people in the public squares and ask them what they wanted, rather than spend his time talking to people who graduated from Harvard and Oxford and travel to Davos every year in their private jet.

Is Anybody Really Listening?

Talking and listening to the real dispossessed Arabs would be at least a start for the West, even though the demonstrators and their millions of supporters can’t tell us yet if they want a parliamentary democracy, or a bicameral Republican government, or a constitutional monarchy, or even capitalism (don’t underestimate the appeal of Chinese mercantilism to countries new to the global market). The real question for the West, though, is whether the people running things want to talk to any of the dispossessed millions, even those in their own country. In the US, the Republican party leadership is doing as much as possible to ignore and marginalize the Tea Party voices newly-elected to Congress, just as Democratic politicians are trying to appear supportive of the Wisconsin demonstrators without appearing to offend corporate donors who don’t like unions.

This must be a time of great confusion for leaders everywhere. In Egypt Hosni Mubarak had taken to erecting billboards featuring his son Gamal as heir-apparent. In Jordan King Abdullah II replaced his billboard photo with one showing him side by side with his teenage son, the Crown Prince. It is an obvious attempt to familiarize the Jordanian public with their ruler-to-be, but is it having the opposite effect? Are people tiring of monarchies and dynastic rulers? If so, the Chinese seem to be a step ahead of the game, assuring that a new head of the Communist Party appears on the scene every few years. But if it is true, then Saudi Arabia’s monarchy is in trouble, and demonstrations should be occurring in Cuba and North Korea.

It is one thing for the West to see the backside of Mohammar Qaddafi, but quite another to have the Saudi monarchy overthrown. By what, and by whom? Would their oil reserves be secure and would Saudi Arabia remain a stanch friend of the West? In the Middle East, power in these situations is devolving so far to the military, but is installing another military dictator, however benign, going to satisfy the demands of the people? Can anyone satisfy these demands if people want to see the price of wheat, rice, chicken, cotton, sugar, petrol, and other essentials back down to where they were in 2009?

Nobody knows, which is precisely why leadership everywhere is addled and uncertain how to respond. What they should most fear, however, is someone who connects together the riots in Greece several years ago, the demonstrations in Iceland, and the events throughout the Middle East, with the protests in Wisconsin, and who then draws a picture which makes sense and which everyone can understand.

As People Come to Think They Are an Afterthought

The picture is not in focus yet, but the outlines are beginning to appear. They show a collapse of the world economic order because free trade was never free except for the wealthy at the top of the system, and because billions of people are discovering they have been enslaved in sweat shops, or enslaved to the banks through debt which can never be legally discharged. The picture is emerging of crony capitalism run rampant, of fraud perpetrated out in the open because it is never punished, of the sons of rich men like Rupert Murdoch anointed to run his business empire (even though it is a public company), just as the sons of dictators are given the divine right to rule and plunder a country. It is a picture in country after country of wealth, power, and privilege being concentrated in the hands of the few, while poverty spreads to millions.

As these depredations become clearer to the public, the powerful mumble bromides about the necessity for order and security, because they have no other answer. All they have left are the tools of control – the curfews, the police surveillance, the arrests, the fear-mongering designed to convince the public their own safety should be the foremost thing on their mind. It has worked in the past, but maybe now the public is realizing the greatest risk to their safety is the government itself. Maybe this is what they wonder when they see the face of their government everyday on a billboard in a public square, or on the internet, or on the television news programs.

Government which works only for the interest of those who do the governing ultimately loses the consent of the governed. That is the point we now seem to have reached, whether in Tripoli or Dublin or Madison, Wisconsin. It is a truth being comprehended almost simultaneously by billions of people, and this is something that has never happened on a global scale before. We know it is a truth by seeing the bodies of Libyans on the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi, murdered by a government that clearly does not have the consent of the governed.

We would also like to believe that a government cannot last long if it does not have the consent of the governed, but the Middle East has proven this to be untrue. It does seem to be the case that the longer repression and tyranny goes on, the more sudden and unexpected is the collapse of such regimes. This has been so with the USSR and all such closed, one-party systems, and the Middle East is now experiencing its moment of revelation.

The ultimate question for democracies is whether they are immune from such upheavals, by virtue of merely being a democracy with supposed safety valves, or whether democracy has been so degraded by corporatism, oligarchy, and plutocracy that a sudden, wrenching change of the existing order is possible here too. At least for a democracy like the United States, where the two parties seem indistinguishable in their eagerness to provide corporations and the wealthy with whatever they demand, no one should be surprised if there is a wrenching change of the existing order. Let us hope it is a change within the existing structures of democracy, or perhaps better said, as a restoration of those atrophied structures of democracy long in disuse because the wealthy have found ways to achieve their objectives without bothering with the consent of the governed.



Libya and the Arab Revolt in Perspective

Imperialism has nothing to offer the Middle East

The Arab world “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country's battles in the air, on land, and sea.” So begins the official hymn of the U.S. Marines, setting out in one short sentence the long history of U.S. expansionism and intervention across the globe. Tripoli, the current capital of Libya, has a special place in this history because of the Barbary Wars, the first wars waged by the U.S. government in the early 1800s to protect its commercial interests in the Mediterranean Sea.

Starting in the 1940s, the Middle East and North Africa—which hold two-thirds of the world’s known oil reserves—again assumed a central place in U.S. foreign policy and geopolitical strategy. Reading statements from the State Department and the White House, one might think that all Washington cares about is peace, democracy, human rights and freedom of speech. They have continuously expressed “alarm” and “disapproval” at the incidents of violence.

A quick review of U.S. foreign policy in the region reveals that the government has never had an interest in peace, democracy or universal rights. They care not one whit about the Arab masses. Every word out of their mouths, no matter how it is sugar-coated, flows from their desire to retain U.S. political and economic hegemony.

To maintain access to the region’s vast natural resources, the U.S. government has propped up the most violent dictatorships of all kinds, from secular to religious. It has poured in hundreds of millions of dollars to buy politicians and influence elections. It has carried out countless covert operations—sabotage, assassinations, infiltration—to undermine popular figures and movements that have resisted U.S. domination. It has armed the colonial-settler state of Israel to the teeth, allowing it to strike out against its Arab neighbors and suppress the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination. It has helped divide nations, artificially created new ones, fought against all attempts at real Arab unity, and worked tirelessly to prevent any strong, independent countries from emerging in the region.

Washington imposed sanctions that took the lives of over one million Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of children before 2003. Well over 1.3 million Iraqis have died as a result of the current war and occupation. In addition, there are 2 million people displaced inside of Iraq, and 2.5 million who are refugees in neighboring Syria and Jordan.

There are no figures available for the number of Iraqis wounded, but the most conservative estimate would be twice the number killed. Altogether, nearly one in three Iraqis have been killed, wounded or displaced since 2003. The spirit of resistance has not died in the Iraqi people, but their nation has been torn apart.

A third wave of Arab revolution

What is taking place across the Middle East and North Africa is the third great wave of revolts and revolutions against colonialism, neo-colonialism, and the regimes installed and sustained by imperialism. It is a reaffirmation that there is indeed an Arab Nation divided into many countries. While there are many differences between (and often within) Arab countries, there are also powerful elements of shared nationhood: language, common territory, culture and so on. How else can it be explained that the upheaval that started in Tunisia in January has spread to at least 10 other countries in the Arab world—and none outside?

The first revolutionary wave following World War I fought the takeover and division of the Middle East by British and French imperialism. The revolts were so strong in Egypt and Iraq that the British granted nominal independence to Egypt in 1922 and Iraq in 1932, while in reality retaining colonial control of both.

The second wave followed World War II with the overthrow of the old dependent regimes and monarchies in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Libya in the 1950s and 1960s, the victorious anti-colonial wars in Algeria and Yemen in the 1960s, the rise of the Palestinian revolutionary movement in the late 1960s, and the civil war in Lebanon in the 1970s, where the progressive Lebanese National Movement/PLO alliance was on the verge of victory until Syria intervened against it. There were also mass Palestinian intifadas in 1936-39, 1987-1991 and 2000-2002.

During these first two waves, the U.S. government and its allies were able to preserve the police-state hereditary monarchies in Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and, above all in their estimation, Saudi Arabia. Starting with Anwar Sadat, and especially with his successor Hosni Mubarak, the U.S. government was able to buy off Egypt and bring it decisively into their sphere of influence.

These states became strategic beachheads for U.S. imperialism, especially important in checking the influence of Iran after its popular, nationalist revolution of 1979.

Taken collectively, the protest movements and uprisings today in the Arab world have threatened this whole arrangement of power. They have proven once again—to the dismay of Washington—that it is the masses of people who make and change history. The U.S. government is not in control of events, but is desperately trying to influence them behind the scenes to guarantee the preservation of its political and economic interests.

Yemen and Bahrain

While the U.S. government now speaks about “universal rights” and “freedom of expression” in Yemen, just last year they were bombing it with drone attacks. In 2009, special-operations commandos began training President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s security forces—the same forces now firing on protesters.

In 2010, the U.S. government pumped in $155 million in military aid to help the Yemeni president fight against two separate rebel movements. While all of this was justified under the “war on terror,” the U.S.-backed airstrike in December 2009 killed 42 civilians, the vast majority of whom were women and children. A released Wikileaks cable from 2009 revealed that Saleh gave the Pentagon an “open door” to launch bombing assaults on any person or group deemed a “terrorist” by Washington.

The absolute monarchy in Bahrain has been fully backed by Washington for its entire existence.

Bahrain was a long-time protectorate of Britain, which exerted all of its pressure to keep the country from holding democratic elections. The majority Shia population occupies the lowest rungs in the Bahraini economy and is disenfranchised in every way. Until 2002, women could not vote. All political opposition has been suppressed. But the United States has protected the kingdom throughout. Why? Because of Bahrain’s oil wealth, its increasingly important role in regional and world finance, and its location on the geo-strategic Persian Gulf.

Does Washington care about democracy in the Middle East? Hardly!

The White House declares its concern for the protesters only to protect their own image and mythology. In reality, it is an enemy of the Arab masses who have taken it upon themselves to reclaim their countries and their destinies. To the extent that the people succeed in defeating the dictatorships and replacing them with freer and more just societies, they will have to confront the Empire. It will not, and cannot, be an honest partner in this process. The Arab people, of course, know this all too well. From Tunisia to Yemen, the deep skepticism and hostility toward Western governments is well-deserved.

Western powers bring death and destruction, nothing else

This must be a starting point for activists located in the United States and Europe when it comes to the Libyan revolt.

Unlike in Egypt, where it was clear that all of society with the exception of a tiny comprador elite opposed Mubarak, there is comparatively little information about the remaining base of support for Col. Moammar Gaddafi. If it is substantial, the country could fall into civil war with a scale of violence that far exceeds that seen in Egypt. If such a tragedy ensues, a variety of political forces—from liberal to neoconservative—will begin to call for the U.S. government to “do something.” This could take the form of sanctions, U.N. intervention, or the imposition of no-fly zones.

Already some, like neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraqi genocide, are advocating for such a “pro-active” approach. Sen. John Kerry, another pro-imperialist politician, is calling for sanctions, despite the horrific toll such a policy took on the Iraqi people during the 1990s.

Such threats must be absolutely rejected by progressive people. For one, the West would love to get boots on the ground in the region, with which they could influence and pressure the emerging Arab revolution. Secondly, these measures would be perceived as, and amount to, acts of war. The “peacekeeping” missions of the United States in Somalia and Yugoslavia were nothing other than bloody and destructive wars that widened conflict instead of solving it. Ask the people’s movements in Haiti or Palestine if the United Nation’s blue-helmeted occupations are any better.

The language of “we have to do something” is based on a fundamental misconception; the U.S., U.N. and NATO militaries are not “ours” to begin with, so “we” cannot use them for progressive aims.

The Libyan revolt

The revolt in Libya appears to have started among the long-time opposition to Gaddafi in the city of Benghazi. Initial reports indicated that the movement in Libya was primarily composed of lawyers, judges, doctors and police officers. Very early on, it appeared that the defection of police and military units provided the anti-Gaddafi movement with arms. The fact that they have now reportedly “seized” entire cities in both the east and west of the country reflects a high degree of military sophistication.

Libya sits between Tunisia and Egypt, and it was only natural that the Arab revolt would draw in and inspire discontented youth in Libya. Their protest against Gaddafi undoubtedly has different roots than that of the middle-class opposition, which for decades resented Gaddafi’s formerly anti-imperialist stances. Like their counterparts elsewhere, many youth are in the streets because of high unemployment, inequality, and to demand a more open political system. The Libyan state’s military response—which, according to Al-Jazeera, included indiscriminate bombing of certain sections of Tripoli where protesters had gathered—appears to have only intensified opposition to the regime. As we write, the revolt appears to have control over broad sections of Libyan territory.

At present, the revolt has not produced any organizational form or leader that would make it possible to characterize it politically. It does not appear to be led or directed by “foreign forces.”

The National Front for the Salvation of Libya, an exile group that has been interviewed constantly by foreign media as a leading opposition force, was for decades trained by the CIA. They are loudly demanding that the imperialist countries “take action” against Gaddafi, and have appeared frustrated that the West has so far only issued statements. It is unclear what the NFSL has on the ground in Libya, and what role they are playing in the revolt.

Protesters have hoisted Libya’s first national flag, that of the exploitative, U.S.-backed monarch King Idris (1951-1969) over the areas they have seized. Some in the Libyan exile community consciously call for the return of the Idris monarchy, but it is unclear how deeply this sentiment runs among those in revolt.

Until the 1969 revolution, Libya was home to the U.S. Wheelus Air Force base—the largest airbase in the world at the time—and the average Libyan lived in dire poverty. For these reasons, there was essentially no resistance when Gaddafi and other military officers overthrew Idris. To return to such a kingdom—the goal of opportunistic monarchists in exile—could only be considered a step backward for the Libyan people, and would stand opposed to those striving for democracy.

During its leftist phase after 1969, the Libyan government used the country’s vast oil resources to carry out profound economic and social development, including in the fields of education, health care, nutrition, and a massive water project. In its proclamations, the Libyan government placed the country’s development within a radical and populist context, and promoted semi-socialist political and economic concepts.

Whereas in the 1950s over 80 percent of the population could not read or write, illiteracy was almost completely wiped out by the early 1970s. The Gaddafi government also provided significant aid to neighboring states and to national liberation movements around the world. Libya is still ranked the highest among African countries in the Human Development Index—which includes such factors as living conditions, life expectancy and education.

It was during the 1970s and 1980s that Libya was demonized, sanctioned and attacked by the U.S. government and its allies. In 1986, President Reagan ordered the bombing of downtown Tripoli in an attempt to assassinate Gaddafi. Gaddafi survived, but his infant daughter and more than 300 others were killed this murderous assault. Many more were maimed and wounded.

Although the Libyan regime appealed to the popular masses in its political program, the regime also included bourgeois forces within both the military and civilian sectors. Over time and under relentless pressure from western imperialism, these bourgeois forces—many of whom looked to the West—strengthened. In recent years, inequality has increased as the Libyan government has ushered in neoliberal reforms that have stripped social programs and subsidies for the poor and increasingly turned over the country’s oil wealth to foreign corporations.

Gaddafi is not a puppet of imperialism like Mubarak was, but he has decisively broken with the Arab popular liberation movements and has made many concessions to imperialism over the past decade. He has dismantled Libya’s weapons programs, officially supported the U.S. “war on terror,” and grown increasingly close to Italy, the former colonizer. In 2008, Gaddafi signed an accord with right-wing Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi to stop African immigrants from entering Italy in exchange for $5 billion in assistance over 25 years. While continuing to condemn Israel rhetorically, he expelled Palestinian migrant workers in the 1990s.

Gaddafi praised the popular uprising in Egypt, while also praising Tunisia’s former dictator Ben Ali after he was overthrown.

The developments in the last decade have greatly and understandably diminished his credibility among progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the region, almost all of which have declared their solidarity with the Libyan revolt.

While the U.S. media is in a particular frenzy against Gaddafi—speaking very suggestively about military intervention—Washington’s official line on Libya is at present similar to their messages regarding their puppets in Bahrain and Yemen. But as the revolt continues, taking on the characteristics of a civil war, U.S. policy may be shifting.

President Obama said about Libya on Feb. 23: “I have also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners or those that we'll carry out through multilateral institutions.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed this: “Everything will be on the table. We will look at all options.”

While the U.S. policymakers dream about owning Libya outright, and replacing Gaddafi with a client regime, their main concern is now, as it has always been, stable and guaranteed control over Middle East oil resources. To the extent Washington becomes more “pro-active” against Libya, it will mean they have devised a plan—or found someone better—to do that job.

As the third wave of revolution spreads, deepens, and faces new contradictions, it is the people of Libya and the Arab world who will determine their future. For activists here, our main task is to mobilize in opposition to any and all U.S. threats against Libya and the other countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

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Crony-Capitalism must die. My fellow Americans are being dispossessed in a relentless assault on unions, worker's rights, diversion of productivity gains, ad nauseum.

My customer base has been destroyed. Thank you, Bernanke.