A new beginning for Libya

By Stefan Wolff
October 20, 2011

By Stefan Wolff
The views expressed are his own.

The fall of Sirte and the death of Colonel Gaddafi today most likely represents the finishing blow for the remnants of the old regime in Libya. They are a highly valuable prize that the National Transitional Council (NTC) fought hard to obtain and that should trigger the formal transition period that Libya’s now widely recognized government has envisaged to lead to democratic elections and a new constitution. Comparable only to the fall of Tripoli in late August, today marks a momentous achievement for a popular movement that twelve months ago was hardly conceivable, let alone in existence. For all intents and purposes, Libya’s is the only successful uprising of the Arab Spring to date.

Though Libyans and their allies across the world are right to celebrate, we must not ignore the challenges ahead. Building a new and legitimate state in Libya remains a difficult task. Gaddafi’s death may well take the sting out of any loyalist resistance for now. The question of what the NTC will do with Gaddafi – try him in Libya or extradite him to the International Criminal Court – no longer exists, but there are others from his inner circle that will have to be dealt with in the future. Both trials at home, like Saddam Hussein’s, and trials abroad, like those handled by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, have their different problems and neither option is likely to avoid a sense of victors’ (in-) justice among Gaddafi loyalists.

There might now be fewer Gaddafi supporters, but those that remain will be no less determined and might find a new leader in any of Gaddafi’s inner circle that is still at large, initially most likely in his son Saif al-Islam. In other words, the security threat is likely to diminish, but will almost certainly not evaporate completely or quickly. At the same time, NTC forces must resist the temptation of vengeful retribution. The fierce fighting in Sirte in particular was highly costly, but as much as the NTC benefitted from a UN Security Council Resolution that mandated a military operation to protect civilians, as much does it now have a responsibility to make sure that crimes are prosecuted through the courts, not by lynch mobs.

As the government no longer has to focus on its military operations, much of its capacity can now be directed at dealing with the political challenges that it faces. The loose coalition of anti-Gaddafi forces needs to remain focused on building a state that serves its citizens and that deserves their respect and loyalty. This will require a concerted effort at unity among the different factions of the NTC, agreement on the broad parameters of how they will work together during the transition period, their gradual transformation into political parties capable not only of contesting future elections but also of participating in a political process that will see some of them in government and others in opposition.

Taking Sirte and Gaddafi’s death also mean that pressure on the Libyan government is going to grow to make quick and decisive progress on rebuilding the country economically. There has been progress, at times quite remarkable, on this front over the past two months, but with the war now well and truly over, Libyans will want to see a real peace dividend. The quicker Libya manages the transition from a country in war with itself to one that has decisively moved on from the violence of the past months, the more assured investors will be and the faster the Libyan economy can be put back on a track of sustainable growth. Libya has the benefit of vast resources, but they need to be managed carefully and for the benefit of all Libyans.

The promise that Libya holds is enormous. Libyans now, perhaps for the first time ever, have a real opportunity to decide for themselves what kind of country it is they want to live in. This puts a lot of responsibility and pressure on the Libyan government and its international allies. The success of the Arab Spring more broadly depends on, and will be judged by, the ability of Libyans to complete a transition process to a brighter future that, while not complete, has reached a major milestone today.

PHOTO: Anti-Gaddafi fighters celebrate the fall of Sirte October 20, 2011. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

22 comments

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[...] [toread] A new beginning for Libya | The Great Debate – [...]

Totaly wrong! There is total anarchy not just in Libya but coming to the entire world. Leader assassinated, countries bombed with total impunity. There are riots and demonstration spreading all over. NATO and the genocidal mass murderers are clinging unto power, goon squands in New York are trying to control the people with little success. Libya will descent into total chaos, but by then the Western cleptocracies will have other things to worry about: their own survival!

Posted by Renox | Report as abusive

While understanding the need for change in Libya, and the need for an end to the brutality of Gaddafi’s government against certain innocent Libyans, and the need for political closure; I feel uncomfortable with the coverage of Gaddafi’s death as a public execution event. This violates my feelings of the sanctity of death.

I realise Gaddafi denied many of his enemies a dignified death; but to do the same to him and afterward show pictures of his bloody, injured, lifeless body on all the main news channels; I don’t see how this represents a new Libya. Could it be that the same old hats are merely being worn on different heads?

The new Libya must be better than the old. And I believe it can be…

Posted by matthewslyman | Report as abusive

Renox,

Please spew your hatred in the toilet and not here in plain site. It’s pathetic.

The riots, strikes and “demonstrations” across the world are an unfortunate bunch of individuals left behind in the current transition by developed nations into an “information age”. There were similar sociological convulsions at the dawn of the industrial age, as the combustion engine replaced the horse. While the plight of the disaffected was genuine, it did not change or slow the transition underway.

The youthful looters of Britain are not a social movement, they are a criminal mob that will be effectively dealt with and eliminated as a “force”. The protesters and strikers of Greece are largely uneducated workers in denial that their government for too long has made promises it’s productivity cannot pay for. That doesn’t change the fact nor the remedial actions necessary to restore fiscal sanity.

The only people that would today complain of “genocidial mass murderers” would be those who were on the wrong side in WW II, a portion of whose former lands were confiscated by the victors to create a sanctuary for those long persecuted and/or murdered the world over for the “sin” of being of Jewish blood. These same 1DioTs then unsuccessfully attacked Israel repeatedly, losing every time; and have difficulty understanding that losing wars has genuine long-term consequences.

The “Occupy Wall Street” mobs are “human smoothies”, so blended that no single cohesive element is identifiable. Something with no head and no tail cannot be lead. It is best compated with a mutant an octopus with eight heads and one tentacle, a freak incapable of even feeding itself utterly dependent upon those who feel sorry for it’s miserable, useless temporary existence.

These “I’m afraid for my job”s, the unemployed, the unemployable, the unmotivated, the incapable, the unions. and a few genuinely confused and greatly concerned individuals from the articulate “middle class” show up on the evening news as a leaderless squirming mass. Unlikely and uncommfortable bedmates st best.

But the world can rest assured that Western knowledge and progress will continue to light and guide humanity forward from the darkness of twelfth-century Islam.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

One of the sheep,
Are you? Reading your lines points to long exposure to ideological subversion. A kind of one- dimensional thinking that allowed us to be where we are. I have not spewed hatred but rather concern over the demise of our society. There are very similar parallels today to the rise of Fascism in the 1930′s. The Nazis attacked Poland to “protect civilians” which started a war wiping out 40 million people. You might feel more comfortable with the fact that today’s genocide mainly affects “brown people” in the Asian/African continents, in smaller numbers, nevertheless, it is genocide. May I also remind you that the definition of Fascism is the merge of state, and corporate powers, not just some 60 year retrospective on historical events transpired in Germany. The “uneducated workers” as you put it, is a mob with master degrees in uselessness. They see no future or hope in the current system, but why would they? There is plenty of money, but not for them. The money is there to feed the war machine to ensure that the Western Societies can continue plundering resources from the Third World. Sadly the western “progress” was built on the sweat and blood of third world nations, and for a while, it ensured that the even the uneducated mob can live comfortably. However, it is no longer so. They have become uncompetitive and complacent. But instead of reinventing themselves Western Governments continue with their Ponzi scheme as if nothing happened. The stolen Gaddafi billions are just another drop in that Ponzi bucket, hoping to buy some more time.

Posted by Renox | Report as abusive

Renox, your concepts are hopelessly muddled.

You claim concern for “our society”, but the way you refer to “brown people” and genocide is not of MY society. Indeed, it should be obvious that far, far more “brown people” and “black people” on the Asian/African continents have been exploited or killed by others of identical or similar color than by MY society.

In this I refer more recently to the Iraq-Iran war, Ide Amin in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the ongoing situation in Somalia and Kenya, as well as the political murders of Lebanese by Syrians, by Egyptians of Egyptians, by Libyans of Libyans, by Iranians of Iranians and by Syrians of Syrians, of Afghanis by Afghanis and Pakistanis, of Pakistanis of Pakistanis, ad infinitum. I speak not of “Palestinians” because these people are all Arabs made victims by their brothers for political purpose. There is no “Palestinian people” today, so let us instead speak of political murders of Arabs by Arabs in terms of the relationship of Fatah, Hamas and Hezbollah.

None of these places has shown itself capable of producing anything the rest of the world wants except oil, and their ability to exploit even that expendable resource has been utterly dependent on western technology and demand. The money from it’s sale to the weat (they don’t use much) has rarely, if ever, been used to improve the literacy or productivity of their citizens, with the primary exceptions of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc.

You speak of “Western Societies plundering the Third World, absolutely true in part of the last century but hardly recent generations. “We” thought that when we fostered the rebuilding of Japan and Europe following WW II that the “Third World would also eventually want to participate in the prosperity of the modern world.

Our error. All they can do is squabble and complain about their “lot in life”, unwilling or unable to accept the slightest personal responsibility to improve it with personal sacrifice and sweat if not brains.

I agree that much of Western Society has become complacent and uncompetitive, and will HAVE to reinvent themselves. Your suggestion that “we” have “stolen Gaddafi billions” is fully as ludicrous as it is untrue. Many, many American dollars have been expended towards bringing a better life to Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and Libyans NONE of which have been repaid or will ever be repaid.

“We, the people” are the sole victims of our governmental “Ponzi schemes”. Wherever you live, it’s quite clear you’re NOT one with whom I could philosophically identify. But, for the record, I think Libya from here on has a genuine opportunity for a bright future (if they don’t screw it up).

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

oneofthesheep is playing his Grandpa Empire routine again. He sounds like Norman Rockwell on steroids.

I’m surprised you didn’t dismiss the whole Middle East as animals like you did most of Africa on an earlier post. After all they do it like bunnies, have up to four wives and have the largest under 30 populations in the world.

I’m very surprised at your comment “there’s no Palestinian people”? There are several million people who once claimed a home in Palestine and many had substantial property that they became alienated from by “a people” very eager to get their hands on it. I’m afraid to deconstruct your idea of “a People” because it may not apply to the US at all. So many of us were immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Who, other than the Israeli’s (and only the Jewish Israelis , no?) would qualify as “a people” by you estimation?

As for the generosity of the American tax payer, you don’t mention the long lines of domestic contractors who were so very eager to be generous with the Afghas, Iraqis and no doubt soon, the Iranians. We can see that Kuwait and the Saudis are already off limits. But as Rumsfeld is supposed to have said about Afghanistan “there aren’t enough targets…”
And if Wall Street, Bonn and London control the markets in all the major ME countries, what difference does it make if a few small countries, who are already so tame, escape with their treasuries intact?

I tend to look at Libya as Europe’s Iraq. Things weren’t quite as tight when Bush went after Saddam and they could take the moral high road or the “liberal” road or adhere to doctrines like the Treaty of Westphalia. But ten years has done a job on their banks and they are hungry now.

It’s nice to hear you admit that colonialism is a plunderer. Wise up – we’re all the colonies now.

I’m waiting to hear what happened to the Gaddafi billions too. We never heard what happened to the 90 billion Oil for Food fund payment the UN handed the US at the start of the occupation Iraq. The best road to income growth for the past ten years has been ready access to the government till. And everyone is complaining that both parties know how to do it.

But we’ll never see the “I don’t want anything from big government” party. They wouldn’t get in the door at the capital building except as tourists of the Rotunda.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Ahhh paintcan, still whining about things long past, I see.

I was using the word “people” in a genetic, or “blood” sense, for that was the foundation on which prejudice, persecution and the killing of “Jews” was “justified” for many, many centuries before the sanctuary of Israel was created by a consensus of victors of WW II. Such would include Jews who do not practice their religion.

It would not include those resident Arabs that were originally allowed residency when Israel was partitioned. Used in that sense, I would agree that there would be no such thing as an “American people” other than the native Americans present when the European colonial powers arrived. Colonization was once common, acceptable, and in some cases actually raised the standard of living for entire “peoples”. On the other hand, I would describe the “conversion” of natives to Christianity as an abomination in almost every possible method and ultimate effect.

Need I point out that no “advanced” civilization in history is without blame when it comes to colonialism? If I were today required to make a choice between being a conqueror or a slave, I would not hesitate to choose the former. In looking back, I will not condemn or regret my forefathers for having made a choice I, too, would make today, if I had to. If you say otherwise, you lie.

You speak with contempt of American “contractors”, and some of that emotion would seem appropriate given 20-20 hindsight. But when America brought about the rebuilding of Japan and Europe after WW II, our “Foreign Aid” made sure that a reasonable chunk of the money HAD to be spent on U.S. products.

Being a society whose success is based on the capitalistic aspects of our economy, that is merely “doing well by doing good” and evidence that America wasn’t as stupid as it was generous. Since ours is one of the few economies in the world in which the “poor” DRIVE, we must be doing something right.

Libya could do worse than adopt western society or China as economic or educational role models.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

[...] Constitutie. Totusi construirea unui stat legitim si nou se va dovedi o sarcina foarte grea, anunta Reuters. Tagged CNT, colonelul Muammar Ghadafi, Consiliul Nationala DE tranzitie, Libia, lupte, Moartea [...]

Right, Libya is reduced to rubble, now they have a great future! You have been completely brainwashed by Fox news. The reason why these countries could never become democratic and self sufficient is because we corrupt their leaders. We arm them, finance them, give them loans which they can never repay, then slowly drain their blood and resources. Follow the money! Isn’t it bigotry, while 30 million people live in poverty in the US, to finance wars in other countries? As you put it: it is purely an philanthropic exercise, American generosity to other nations. From what money? Holes in your socks but drinking Don Perignon? It is either a total disregard to the needs of the American people or perhaps the agenda is financially motivated. Which one is it? $200 billion to fight a war far away from home is merely an investment to make more from oil, reconstruction and other exploitative moves. It is truly a wonder why nothing ever came out of Africa in the form of scientific, no entrepreneurial discoveries, no successful creative business ventures. Why? People have never benefited from the “investment.” The world has been brainwashed. The “New schools in Afganistan. “ are nothing more than brick structures with chairs and tables. Might say that it is development, but where are the prestigious Universities in Kabul where the nation’s future lies? There are none.

“None of these places has shown itself capable of producing anything the rest of the world wants except oil,” says One of the sheep.
Libya actually had the highest literacy rate in Africa. Water and Electricity was free. Petrol 0.49c/gallon, education is free, 50% of their car and home costs are sponsored by the Government.
So, down with these dictators who provide care for the people!
Long live the bankrupt western democracies with their superb austerity measures, long term unemployment, corrupt banking system and “no future” policies.

Posted by Renox | Report as abusive

@oneofthesheep: “I was using the word “people” in a genetic, or “blood” sense,….

That is also the definition used by all racists. That was also the UN’s general consensus about the meaning of the word “Zionism” until the last ten years. If you recall, they said that Zionism was simply another form of racism in disguise.

And “the sanctuary” has been deciding for the past 60 years that it gets what it wants and the hell with anything or anyone that stands in its way.

BTW -”ours is one of the few economies in the world in which the “poor” DRIVE, we must be doing something right.”

Actually we “poor” drive because there are few options to owning a car. Unless one lives in the inner city or a suburban area (generally with less public transportation) one doesn’t have much of a choice.

This country burns 200.000.000 gals of oil every day just for transportation needs. That isn’t doing things “right”. China on the other hand, built along very different development lines, uses a much higher percentage of fossil fuels for industrial purposes. And so much of Europe still has a very good public transportation infrastructure based on the earlier railway lines it established in the 19th century. The Latin American countries seem to be building in public transportation with their newer and very extensive urban projects.

This country enslaved itself to the most inefficient form of population mover invented and then allowed the railways to die. It is now “underwater” in real estate that every wanna be millionaire speculated to ridiculous levels. And so many of those still treading are “slaves” to their mortgages.

You are an arrogant old man apologizing for an arrogant country that thinks it has the right to murder thousands for the sake of it’s own lack of foresight, imagination, and “Grease”.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

So Renox is crying for Gaddafi by saying “…down with these dictators who provide care for the people!”

“…wars in other countries…purely an philanthropic exercise, American generosity to other nations. From what money? …a total disregard to the needs of the American people…”

He would prefer we battle suicide bombers on American soil instead? Yes, our military took out Saddam’s vaunted military and it’s “latest and greatest” hardware bought from the Soviets in a real-time American “turkey shoot”. In war, second best is DEAD! The people who design, build and maintain all our military hardware and software are American workers that are well paid, as are the ones that move it around the world where it is needed.

Military investments of past years have given civilians the world over GPS, transistors, computer chips, cell phones, iPods, PCs, laptops, microwaves; in short, much of what defines the improvements to how members of advanced societies enjoy life in the 21st century. The commercial return as that and other military technology built in the good ol’ U.S.A. is about all that keeps this progressively “welfare state” from insolvency.

America will be just fine once it’s priorities, goals and best interests untangle from the present transition of it’s economy into a form sustainable in a world in the oceans no longer provide financial or economic protections and other nations have a more active part and voice in global commerce.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@one of the sheep: I’m not at all sure what your last paragraph is saying? It’s the transition from “world in the oceans” and “no longer provide…” that needs a few more words.

Is that why the US is rushing to protectionist measures?

You claim the military invented all sorts of consumer gadgets. The space race was credited with them too. And that was always sold to us gullible voters as the peaceful use of space. Although there is no mention in the popular media, don’t look now kids but the major governments of the world are rapidly trying to weaponize space. The Chinese staged a demonstration of a satellite-killing laser a few years a back, as I recall.

The governments of Europe prior to WWI and WWII would have used the argument that military expenditure was vital to their national interests. And look what it got them. The 20th century version of the argument claimed it is the bedrock of the economy. The UN was founded to provide for peaceful avenues to resolve world conflicts.

The US will milk those suicide bombers until the last of them dies of old age and then will continue to fight their ghosts because they seem to have forgotten there is no way to sign a treaty with them. The suicide bombers are like the proverbial tar baby. The more you hit them, the stickier they get. The war on terror will waste it’s strength and resources trying to kill the tar baby and will be in no condition to adapt to anything. That should be very obvious by now. The countries that are adapting to the 21st century are those who are staying away from it.

And with a military industrial complex as the sole savior of the economy, how long do you think the governance will remain in civilian hands? And this country is better than a military regime – how? This country has the largest prison populations on earth. Of course the Chinese cheated and used to kill a lot of their convicts. Texas is still the most Chinese state in the union actually.

The country is already insolvent in that expenditure exceeds revenues – for years. It is the same insolvency that has caused many private companies to file for bankruptcy. It’s the same kind of insolvency that caused the French and Russian Revolutions.

Perhaps the Internet is the 21st century equivalent of the publication of the Red Book during the reign of Louis XVI? The crown couldn’t retrieve copies of the book but if the internet gets out of hand, I’m sure we could expect a black out of the Internet that all protests and resistance depends on now. And no one should forget that.

A virtual “advanced” civilization can be evaporated virtually over night. That is the blinding inadequacy of the Internet. That and a lot of the information on it is rubbish. Fact checking appears to be a thing of the past.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Substitute “terrorists” for “suicide bombers” and the fifth paragraph isn’t quite so ridiculous sounding. I can almost convince myself it makes sense as it stands, but I was using Oneofthesheeps’ terms. It’s a little too metaphorical.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

[...] the formal transition period… to democratic elections and a new constitution,” says Stefan Wolff in Reuters. Libyans, possibly for the first time ever, have a real shot to determine the kind of country they [...]

[...] the formal transition period… to democratic elections and a new constitution,” says Stefan Wolff in Reuters. Libyans, possibly for the first time ever, have a real shot to determine the kind of country they [...]

Gee, paintcan. Your frustration is showing. Why do you live in the U.S. since you seem to hate it and all that it stands for? Nonetheless, I’ll try to explain the “ocean” thing to you.

Well into the 1950′s, America was an economic “island” surrounded by oceans expensive to cross. A lot was learned in WW II about how to ship machines and materials world wide relatively inexpensively.

Once Japan and Europe (with the help of the Marshall Plan) replaced their outdated industries destroyed in WW II with the “latest and greatest” technology, they became more and more able to provide the American “consumer market” with products of increasing quality at prices lower than products produced here.

Foreign cars became more and more popular. Soon all our television sets and many other things could be produced for much less in Japan and elsewhere than America, including shipping. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Mexico, all in turn now have a piece of manufacturing the washers, dryers, CD Players, iPods, laptops, computers, etc. in our stores today.

Even our food comes from all over the world. We LIKE having grapes and fruit from South America, etc. here in our “off season” for these things.

Increasingly, it is primarily items made for our military that are designed, built, maintained and upgraded in this country. Increasingly our in-country food production is being centralized and industrialized.

What is left in America that contributes to “gross national product” that can’t be relocated? Mostly service industries.

The alchemy and sweat of energy production, conversion, storage, transmission and/or transportation, whether by truck, train, plane, boat or pipeline comes down to taking something from or out of the land and delivering it where it needs to be. The efficient capture and use of water resources, including reclamation and purification is a similar example.

As to the unsustainable prison population of the U.S., for far too long an underclass of incompetent unmotivated “dead enders” have received government-subsidized “financial assistance” that increases with each child. Most of these children then themselves become another generation of breeders or sociopaths who take from society and do not contribute.

Those who cannot assimilate into the “civil” population must be removed from preying on it. Yes, the present measures are horribly expensive and ineffective, and they will be improved. There is no choice except when this is done and how.

Nonetheless, I remain confident that U.S. citizens will continue to enjoy an ever-rising standard of living because it is the very nature of a capitalistic system to transform rapidly from one method of success to the next no matter how great the challenge. The internet will be but one of the means of this transition, and it is only totalitarian dictators that would see benefit in its destruction.

The wise comprehend profit as necessary, empowering and transformational to society. It will be such legitimate pursuit, whether by construct or thought, that will inspire and support man’s honorable journey to his manifest destiny.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Oneofthesheep: NO frustration – You show a false sense of confidence.

I believe in profit too. The question is – what am I willing to do to be profitable? The Mafia believed in profits. I suppose they also appreciated capitalism.

And you confuse profit with empire building. Many people would have a problem with your very comfortable sense of entitlement. In fact many of the wrong people may be in the country’s prisons. I can think of a few who really didn’t belong there. They are not all there because they “prey” on society. The rest of that paragraph shows you are the kind of man – if the law allowed it – who would feed people to gas chambers and that you think you know who deserves to live or die. That attitude is making the rounds and why we have been engaged in ten years of continuous warfare. You are the very soul of fascism.

I am quite sure the US citizens and quite probably the rest of the world will not enjoy a rising standard of living. I am used to a small income and a small scaled standard of living. It’s not a very complicated way to live and I feel very comfortable.

In your outline of the global market – you write as though the US is the only county with fruits from South America or electronics from the Far East. What’s your point in all of that? The US didn’t invent global trade. It isn’t even getting the best of it now.

How do you explain away that the developed world is so deep in debt

I think I finally catch on that money doesn’t make the world go round – debt does. That’s why people are mentioning the word Ponzi schemes so frequently now. That debt needs servicing and it is getting harder to do. The national debt can’t be fiddled with too much or the currency becomes garbage. The real estate market collapsed because it incurred too much debt.

I don’t even want to touch you notions of “honorable”. It’s a very selective definition no doubt. Mafiosi were also obsessed with honor. Gaddafi would have believed in Honor. So did Saddam. “Honor” implies that you expect people to admire you.

I haven’t seen much to admire about the last ten years. Honor, or Vainglory, or just desperation may be hard to distinguish until the dust settles and the victims have been counted and a lot of time has passed.

History will decide whether any of the wars going on now deserved to be called honorable and neither of us might be around to hear the verdict. The future may have bigger issues to worry about than whether it got there honorably. In fact, I’m very sure it won’t care.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

paintcan,

You don’t read or understand your own thoughts and perceptions as expressed in this thread. Your frustration is palpable throughout what you write, as is your apparent jealousy that I comprehend truths invisible to your eyes.

You seem obsessed with people in prisons. Maybe you need better role models? A productive country is that way because it functions every day.

That starts with breakfast. Society and schools do not function well or efficiently if disruptive elements are not removed. If you’re going to make an omlette, you’re going to have to break a few eggs. Bad apples in a barrel will spoil some good apples if not removed. You know that, but people who lack the conviction to do what must be done are but mere observers of history. They will never “make” history.

My explanation of global trade was to illustrate that many things once made in the U.S. for the U.S. are no longer economical to make here. The jobs such manufacturing once provided Americans are gone and they’re not coming back. Food we buy grown elsewhere we don’t grow here; so our agricultural production has to instead produce other products that the world will buy.

Capitalism does that day after day. This is it’s advantage over the socialist or communist system, which keeps on producing stuff no one wants or needs and then wonders why it doesn’t sell.

You ask why the developed world is so deep in debt? That’s easy. They have spent more on themselves than they have earned for far too long. They have lived beyond their means. Debt is but one side of the yin and yang of any monetary system.

You say you “don’t want to touch” my “notions of honorable” and purport to conclude that I “expect people to admire” me. It is obvious that emotions control your thoughts and actions. Again, I’ll try to explain logically.

When one’s goals and actions are agreed as “honorable” by an observer, admiration is the automatic and earned expression of their common values and related individual support. Those who are active participants in life understand this and the best and brightest are positively motivated by it.

Those who just drift through life, straining the crumbs left by the activity of others, live like barnacles and contribute about as much to the econiomic ecosystem. It logically follows that they would lack the understanding that comes from active mental awareness, because using one’s brain takes effort.

History is the dust of the past. It has lessons to offer, but the vitality of life springs from enthusiastically rising to meet the challenges of each new day so as to live fully and well. Those who wring their hands and whine day after day become more and more jealous day after day.

I’m sure if you tried the difference, you’d like it!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

“They have spent more on themselves than they have earned for far too long. They have lived beyond their means. Debt is but one side of the yin and yang of any monetary system.”

That’s it in a nutshell. And the wars are the past ten years of the way a bankrupt country tries to remain a world power.

If the new Libyans have any sense they should avoid being roped into too much of the developed world’s debt trap. If they played it right they could have Gaddafi’s common sense without his brutality or grasp for power or his ideological quirks. The fact that the country could provide free education, free water, auto and housing subsidies, and Gaddafi and family could salt away billions, suggests that they could continue on that solvent standard of living, actually. They could still arouse the envy of the powers that be in as much as those powers can’t afford their imperial pretensions any longer.

Sans Gaddafi and sons they would have billions to spare even if the new government never sets eyes again on the vanished funds. How mush do you think the “honorable” legal profession in the developed countries will charge the poor bastards to ever see a fraction of it again?

But if they are a bunch of crooks or idiots, they will follow the developed countries down the short road to insolvency.

You don’t seem to recognize that you lost all the points you tried to make but insist in clothing your nakedness in homilies.

The developed world is way into the Yin. Even the Yen is in the yin. The Yuan isn’t into the yin yet. But you and yours are working on it, I’m sure!

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

paintcan,

You never fail to surprise in your ability to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. I shared your opinions and concerns almost word for word until your last two sentences.

You can’t debate effectively because you lack the consistency of principles necessary to be consistent. You do not seek common ground with anyone. The only purpose of your blather is to accuse others of wrongdoing and draw attention to your own pitiful self.

Too bad.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

oneofthesheep – give it you old fool!

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

one of the sheep

….would prefer we battle suicide bombers on American soil instead?”
Total fallacy. The so called terrorists, the Boogie men were created by Media propaganda. They might be good at waging a guerilla warfare in the middle of nowhere, but the notion that they would be capable attacking the US or Europe is proposterous. Your chances of dying in a car accident or walking around in the wrong part of town in Memphis or Stockton is a thousand times higher than being killed by a terrorist attack.

So, what do you care who rules Iraq, or Libya? Honestly, the notion of us eliminating social injustice in the world is a novel idea, but why does it seem to happen in ONLY those countries which posess natural resources we covet?

Posted by Renox | Report as abusive

oneofthesheep wrote “Your frustration is showing. Why do you live in the U.S. since you seem to hate it and all that it stands for?”

I don’t know why I missed that the first time? Why is it that so many think they have a right to revoke citizenship when they hear criticism? Two rock bottom attitudes are always living under the surface in the popular mind: Zenophobia, “they aren’t one of us”, or, “we rule the sty, get out of our trough.”

I don’t like your definition of what the US stands for and I don’t like what it has become in the past ten years. And neither would a lot of the founders of the country have liked it. Neither would a lot of people even as far back as the days of T. Roosevelt have liked it.

The robber baron years were followed by the wave of “socialist” reforms such as an income tax and numerous Good Government initiatives. It was also the time when legislation designed to break up monopolies like Standard Oil or the near monopoly of Carnegie’s steel empire, were passed. But Roosevelt was a mixed bag – his administration also saw the acquisition of the first off shore territories by the US.

BTW – re: your comment about being a master rather than a slave. No doubt you would. But Lincoln said – “As I would not be a slave, I would not be a master.” What’s so hard about that? Masters have to live with the perpetual fear that their slaves may rise up to murder them when they are asleep or too weak to tend to the chains.

If the economy can only survive on the taxpayer funded defense industry, than the jig is up already. Sure the country would be all right if it could figure out its priorities. Which ones? The world can’t seem to figure out its priorities either. I now know why Tiberius spent so much time on Capri talking to astrologers and fortunetellers. The priorities are very contradictory.

I definitely agree with Renox – the terrorist threat has been used to justify a degree of homeland surveillance that McCarthy would have envied. And that term “homeland” sprang up overnight after 9/11.

And I think an awful lot about what I write and I’m also an old man. You recite laissez faire platitudes. My last line was supposed to be “give it up”. I guess you did?

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Renox,

I don’t follow threads that look like they’re dead long; but now that I’ve read your latest pearls of wisdom, I just had to comment.

You said: “Your chances of dying in a car accident or walking around in the wrong part of town in Memphis or Stockton is a thousand times higher than being killed by a terrorist attack.

That’s actually quite true. But once again, you have your eye on the “wrong ball”. Terrorists want the biggest possible “bang for the effort” in terms of lives, publicity and effect on the victim country or regime.

So they focus their meagre resources on places like New York City, Washington, or Los Angeles. What were the odds of a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers before it happened? Just because the odds are low does not mean that Americans or their government can act as if these things can no and do not happen. The best defense has thus far proven to be a good offense…no more similarly spectacular low-budget attacks in the last decade.

I care about social justice only to the point of giving others an opportunity to success. That’s a lot easier and cheaper (and more just) than guaranteeing them success. But such may be beyond your level of comprehension.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Paintcan,

There is a limit to the time I can spend here with you and it’s over. Try to hold the ramblings above that spring forth from nowhere and sprinkle them in as appropriate in future debate.

‘bye

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive