Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gaddafi and Latin America

Conservative commentators are jumping on the Latin American reaction to the Libyan uprisings, even criticizing the Obama administration for, well, I am not quite sure even what.  Regardless, it is useful to start thinking about what Latin America lessons we can take from Libya, though of course we need to wait until events unfold more before we can make firm conclusions.

Perhaps the most important is that the U.S. was uninvolved in prompting these protests, and they are likely more powerful as a result because accusations of meddling--as from Fidel Castro--come off as hollow echoes of the Cold War.  Strangely enough, for those who support the Cuban embargo, the U.S. (starting with George W. Bush, in fact) had even been liberalizing relations with Libya, which obviously did not have the effect of making him stronger politically.  Whether you believe the liberalization was good or bad is irrelevant--the point is that there is no automatic correlation between such liberalization and the strength of a dictatorship.  If there is one thing Cuba policy teaches us, it is that intervention can create blowback and give you the exact opposite result from what you want.


leftside 5:30 PM  

How exactly are your so sure the US or its Western allies are "uninvolved in prompting these protests"? I have no proof of the opposite, but if there was ever a candidate for a Western intelligence assist, this would be it.

And this is not coming out of right field. We know the US funded and trained various Libyan oppostion groups - to begin an intermittent "campaign of sabotage and violence which could prompt further challenges to Gaddafi's authority (Bob Woodward's CIA book Veil). We know the main Libyan opposition group (National Front for Salvation of Libya) has funding from Saudi Arabia, French and US intelligence (Mark Perry's book "The Last Days of the CIA." This was the main group calling for the "Day of Rage," which certainly lived up to its name in this case - setting all state buildings in Benghazi on fire. And then there is this well-placed story of M1-6 in the UK funding Al-Qaeda operatives in Libya in the 90s.

Do I have proof of a foreign hand behind all this? No, but to assume there is none seems wildly naive at best considering the history of involvement with Libya.

Greg Weeks 6:13 PM  

I actually agree with Gaddafi, that it must be Al Qaeda giving people Nescafe spiked with hallucinogens. Though of course no one has any proof of that.

ConsDemo 9:59 PM  

The latin american left is doing summersaults. A few days ago Ortega was defending Gaddafi's repression while the Hugo was silent but the chavista press was repeating Libyan state TV's claims almost verbatim. Today, the chavista press contained a few articles implying Gaddafi was really in cahoots with the west. They can't make up their minds, but of course, whatever happens, blame the US!!!!

Sorry, leftside, you're supposition doesn't wash. I don't doubt western intel services worked with anti-Gaddafi forces in the, although the claims that Guardian article you cite seem to originate with crackpot David Shayler, so I can't take them seriously. Having said, that, the clear picture I'm getting from the famous pro-American journalistic outlet Al Jazeera suggests much of the opposition to Gaddafi is internal and spontaneous. The "big bad American boogeyman" argument tends to wear thin after it is repeated too many times without evidence.

Pablo 10:25 PM  


Chavez may be unsure of how to deal with democratization movement in the Arab world, but I think he is secretly cheering for more chaos. For chaos raises oil prices and the increased revenue might help Venezuela rid itself of being the only major Latin American country that hasn't recovered from the recession. Chavez can always spin the meaning of democracy. His government needs revenue though.

Randy Paul 11:02 AM  

I believe Leftside is actually a unicorn that descended from a family of Gorgons. Of course I have no proof of that, but given the mythological nature of his comments, to assume that he is not a mythological creature would be wildly naïve.

Alfredo 12:32 PM  

You play with garbage you end up getting dirty.

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