In my previous post, I commented on an example of the New York Times tossing inconvenient truths down the memory hole (regarding intervention in Syria). Here’s another example:
Jihadists’ Surge in North Africa Reveals Grim Side of Arab Spring
That’s the headline of a truly remarkable Times article from earlier this month. The article then begins:
As the uprising closed in around him, the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi warned that if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa. “Bin Laden’s people would come to impose ransoms by land and sea,” he told reporters. “We will go back to the time of Redbeard, of pirates, of Ottomans imposing ransoms on boats.”
In recent days, that unhinged prophecy has acquired a grim new currency.
Recent events in Mali and Algeria, following on the heels of the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, has
contributed to a sense that North Africa — long a dormant backwater for Al Qaeda — is turning into another zone of dangerous instability, much like Syria, site of an increasingly bloody civil war. The mayhem in this vast desert region has many roots, but it is also a sobering reminder that the euphoric toppling of dictators in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt has come at a price.
“It’s one of the darker sides of the Arab uprisings,” said Robert Malley, the Middle East and North Africa director at the International Crisis Group. “Their peaceful nature may have damaged Al Qaeda and its allies ideologically, but logistically, in terms of the new porousness of borders, the expansion of ungoverned areas, the proliferation of weapons, the disorganization of police and security services in all these countries — it’s been a real boon to jihadists.”
And the article goes on like that for a while, with comments like this thrown in:
Some have called for a more active American role, noting that the hostage-taking in Algeria demonstrates how hard it can be to avoid entanglement.
In a sense, both the hostage crisis in Algeria and the battle raging in Mali are consequences of the fall of Colonel Qaddafi in 2011.
What is astonishing about this article, and the reason I said it is remarkable, is that not once does it acknowledge the uncontroversial fact that the “Grim Side” referred to is not a consequence of the “Arab Spring”, but of Western interventionist policies. One would get the sense that the U.S. has been trying to “avoid entanglement” in North Africa, as though the situation that exists wasn’t a consequence of it trying not at all to “avoid entanglement”.
Not once does the Times mention the U.S./NATO war on Libya to overthrow the Qaddafi regime in this article. It is as though this never even happened. So the destabilization of North Africa, the troubles in Mali and Algeria, are not a consequence of Western intervention in Libya, but rather just a “Grim Side” of the “Arab Spring” that is troubling to the U.S. and friends because the kidnapping of Western citizens in Algeria “demonstrates how hard it can be to avoid entanglement”.
This is truly Orwellian. Never mind that the kidnapping was a direct consequence of the eagerness of the West to entangle itself, a retaliation for the French intervention in Mali.
Similarly, not once does it mention that the situation in Africa is “much like Syria” in no small part because, there, too (as I commented in my previous post), the West is intervening to support armed rebels whose ranks include radical jihadists (i.e., Al Qaeda) in order to advance a policy of regime change.
Consider that Robert Malley is quoted as saying that the “peaceful nature” of the “Arab Spring” has had as a consequence a “proliferation of weapons”. Well, if the Arab uprisings have been “peaceful”, then why would that lead to a “proliferation of weapons”? Uprisings against autocratic regimes have indeed been peaceful in countries like Egypt and Bahrain, where the U.S. has supported autocratic regimes against the people. But in Libya and Syria, where the U.S. has had a policy of regime change, it is an entirely different story.
Here is the closest the Times comes to informing its readers in this article that the West has had a deeply interventionist foreign policy that has directly resulted in the “Grim” consequences it attributes to the “Arab Spring”:
The Algerians also have little patience with what they see as Western naïveté about the Arab spring, analysts say.
“Their attitude was, ‘Please don’t intervene in Libya or you will create another Iraq on our border,’ ” said Geoff D. Porter, an Algeria expert and founder of North Africa Risk Consulting, which advises investors in the region. “And then, ‘Please don’t intervene in Mali or you will create a mess on our other border.’ But they were dismissed as nervous Nellies, and now Algeria says to the West: ‘Goddamn it, we told you so.’ ”
“Western naïveté about the Arab spring”? This is the Times‘s apparent euphemism for “Western lack of regard for the predictable disastrous consequences of its interventionist policies”. It is, after all, only in that context that the cited pleadings of Algerians not to intervene any further make any sense.
But we aren’t supposed to think that deeply about it. We aren’t supposed to question such doublethink. We aren’t supposed to remember the U.S./NATO war on Libya. We aren’t supposed to dwell on the fact that the destabilization of Mali and Algeria is a direct consequence of Western support for armed rebels to overthrow Qaddafi. No, this is all just a “Grim Side” of the “Arab Spring”, people. Any U.S. intervention is a consequence of this destabilization caused by the Arabs, rather than the converse. That is all you need to know.