The Media

On Amphibian Onanism and Reading Comprehension: Libyan Democracy!

The truth is that I have largely ignored one of the newest blogs in Montana, because it’s little more than a collection of conspiracy theories and smug derision directed at anyone childish enough to care about domestic politics when the world is at stake, man. That being said, the site is run by a bizarrely personal author who, more frequently and with more anger than I can understand, directs his pseudonymous rants at some of the authors who write here at Intelligent Discontent.

While I pop by once in awhile for amusement, the latest posts offered a reason to comment. In a rant that covered Bernie Sanders as a shill working for Hillary Clinton, the proposed Missoula gun ordinance, and Pete Talbot, the author proposed this fascinating contention:

Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, presided over the utter destruction of Africa’s best hope for Democracy.

What country was that, you ask? Libya. Libya. A country under the rule of one man for decades, a man who consolidated his power through brutal repression and sham democratic institutions, was the leader of “best hope” for democracy in Africa until that globalist meanie Hillary Clinton ruined it. MA

That idea is so transparently ridiculous as to make absurd the time spent countering it, but one detail is worth pointing out. The source for this absurd claim is an article on Counterpunch that contends the following:

In 2009, Mr. Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. The New York Times, that has traditionally been highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi’s democratic experiment, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that “everyone is involved in every decision…

There’s just one little problem with the citation of the New York Times article as justification for Libyan democracy. Here’s what the Times actually said after their visit:

The New York Times was invited to Libya to spend about two weeks observing what officials here bill as direct democracy. Colonel Qaddafi’s idea is that representative democracy is inadequate because it involves citizens assigning their rights and responsibilities to someone else. In Libya, the theory goes, everyone is involved in every decision. People meet in committees and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.
Authoritarian leaders all over the world take steps to create a veneer of democracy. In Egypt, for example, there are elections, though there is never any doubt that the governing party will win.
Libya outdoes almost all of them.

It’s got to be quite gratifying to imagine that you’re some kind of champion for truth in a world full of sheep consuming the propaganda without thinking as deeply as you do. That probably makes it tempting to repeatedly cite articles that don’t claim what you say they do, or to rely on links from alternative news sources without taking the time to investigate the actual evidence. But you’d think someone who imagines himself so much more sophisticated than the rest of us might just consider reading some of the swill he links to.



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    • That’s exactly my point. While you like to reduce complex foreign policy questions into black and white dichotomies in which the US is always a force for evil, the truth is often far more complicated than your narrative. You have no idea if the situation is better or worse, because that depends greatly on the people you’d ask.

      Libya as the best hope for African democracy! And now you want to be taken seriously in a foreign policy debate. Come on, man.

        • The answer is far more complex than your infantile question can address. Is a failed state always worse than an authoritarian one? Do you have a handy list that puts them in order? That would be convenient.

          Keep apologizing for the truly brutal dictators and autocrats in the world. It makes your critique of US foreign policy so much more credible.

          • keep pretending that the brutal dictators and autocrats who run afoul of America do so because of things like “human rights”. Libya exposed the charade. you are a dupe.

            • Wait. The guy who just relied on an article that lied about its source material and then claimed that Libya was a model democracy under its brutal dictator thinks I am a “dupe.” That’s priceless.

              I never argued that the United States hasn’t had and doesn’t employ a deeply cynical, often ethically, legally, and morally wrong foreign policy. You want to misrepresent my argument (as you so often do to me and others) to deflect attention from the fact that you swallow any anti-American claim, no matter how absurd, with as much credulousness as you do.

              Just because you have a simplistic, Manichaean worldview doesn’t mean you get to assert that others do as well.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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