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Entries tagged "Libya"

Rope-A-Dope Revives the Hope

October 16, 2012 ·

President Obama owned Governor Romney in their second debate on issues of foreign policy, women, immigration, and the 47 percent. He even leveled a fatal blow regarding Benghazi. Don't get me wrong: Mitt was no wimp, and Obama was no progressive, but Obama had the better plans, the better attacks, and the better handle on the truth than Romney.

Obama strongly called out the funny math of Romney's claims that he can lower taxes across the board and not raise the deficit. Mitt's only defense was: "Of course my numbers add up. I am Mitt Romney." He may convince Ann with that response, but such a defense does little to engender confidence in the rest of us.

Obama was aggressive on jobs, touting his added 5 million jobs and his support of high-wage, good jobs over winning the global race to the bottom apparently favored by Romney. Obama hit Romney over the head repeatedly with his tax-cutting record, while maintaining his position that the wealthy must pay more.

By contrast, Romney was evasive and inauthentic. He tried to get away with answering a question about equal pay for women with a strange explanation about asking women's groups to find qualified women for his Massachusetts cabinet. Mitt said that women could be hired if only employers would figure out that they also need time to cook for their families. Pay? Isn't the gratification these women gain from putting some Hamburge Helper into the bellies of their families pay enough?

In an equally evasive and puzzling response, Romney blamed single mothers and a failed federal sting operation in Mexico for assault weapon violence in the U.S.

Then came the knockout blow, something like this: "The President took two weeks to call the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya a terrorist attack." "Governor Romney, I called it a terrorist attack the very next day." "No, Mr. President, you most certainly did not." "Candy, tell him...I did, didn't I?" "Uh...yes Governor, the President did say that. He is right. You are wrong. You are down for the count."

Boom.

DonkeyHotey/FlickrObama, for all his aggressiveness and better policy positions from Romney on jobs, taxes, women's health and economic issues and immigration, failed on the question of energy and the kind of revenue raising we need to get the country on track and to be the kind of country we want to be.

The incumbent almost channeled Sarah Palin with refrains of Drill Baby Drill. He agreed with Romney that the corporate tax rate is too high, and he again missed the opportunity to tell the truth that Social Security, Medicare and social programs don't need fixing, reforming, and slashing to reduce our deficit.

I still want to see Obama lead on the direct creation of jobs, and taxing financial speculation, dividends, and interest. I want to see him stand up and tell the truth: With the right priorities, we can spend far less on military, close corporate tax loopholes, and fund a transformative shift to an economically and environmentally more sound energy policy. I want to see him lead on real cost-control in a universal type Medicare-for-All health plan.

I want more than just a rope-a-dope surprise and a knockout punch. I want to hear the words: America Is Not Broke, we just have our priorities wrong. Then, I will be able to cheer a victory as something that is a victory for all of us, not just for a candidate's campaign.

Karen Dolan is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. She'd appreciate it if the candidates could read the IPS report, America Is Not Broke.

HuffPost Live: Is Libya better off now?

September 27, 2012 ·

"I think we have to look at the situation as a very complex one," said Bennis, who runs the New Internationalism Project in our institute.

Other participants were HuffPost Live Host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin,  Mouaz Moustafa of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Steve Clemons, the Washington editor for The Atlantic, political analyst Raed Jarrar, and Dubai-based political analysr Taufiq Rahim. Watch the full discussion on the video below:

My Memories of Libya

November 17, 2011 ·

In the early spring 1982, I accompanied former U.S. Senator Jim Abourezk to Libya. National Geographic had asked him to get Libyan permission to film several sites of Roman ruins.

The case of 53 pro-gaddafi fighters' execution was not enough to stop NATO from calling its incursion humanitarian.

He met with officials; I walked Tripoli’s streets. At a coffee shop near the hotel, a group of young men stopped playing with their worry beads, brought their jumping knees into upright positions and followed me. Like most of the young men I saw, my followers were well-dressed and looked healthy, maybe a bit overdosed on caffeine.

I tried to ignore them as I wandered into the Suq – the old market – in downtown Tripoli. It was mostly boarded up. President Qaddafi had built new five-story department stores.

Two nights later, Abourezk took me to a new store. I saw large bins, typical of the U.S. Dollar stores, but filled with expensive cuisinearts. On another floor, shoeless men in robes tried on designer suits (on racks). The Pierre Cardin suits came in loud pink, orange and purple. Strange for a city without pimps or visible prostitutes! I watched some of these shoeless try the garments on and actually buy them.

One day, I dropped a post card to my daughter in a street letterbox. My uninvited escorts roared. In English, I demanded: “Why are you laughing?”

“No one pick up letters from that box,” one replied amidst giggles.

“Why are you all following me?”

The same man young man explained. “We members of secret police.”

“Secret?”

“All Libyans are members of Secret Police,” he clarified.

The group invited me for coffee. They had no jobs, and like most Libyans lived on subsidies. Foreigners did most of the non-government work. At the hotel, Philippino men served as porters, Egyptians manned the front desk, Nubians waited on us in the coffee shop. After coffee and questions about America, they walked “our brother” back to the hotel.

In my neighborhood walks I noticed day care centers, schools, and hospitals. Qaddafi had indeed distributed oil wealth to the more than two million people who made up 1982 Libya. 

Not all Libyans agreed. A waiter in a coffee shop on the road to the Roman ruins at Sabratha hated Qaddafi, “a man from a traitorous tribe.” Together with a National Geographic photographer, I explored the remains of Roman streets and architecture. Awesome, but we met no tourists.

In the early 21st Century, Qaddafi shifted his political stance. He had abandoned the terrorist support path and dropped his nuclear weapons program. In response, Western leaders welcomed the Libyan ruler – Berlusconi kissed his hand. Then, in 2011, after the Arab Spring, the elected pinnacles of democracy in NATO capitals charged him with threatening the lives of his own people – as if that would bother colonial powers who had routinely slaughtered Africans and still back ruthless repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The NATO elite convinced a bare majority vote of the Arab League, and maneuvered a UN supporting mandate. Then, NATO launched an eight-month blitz on Libya – to protect its people.

With still uncounted thousands dead, NATO leaders beamed: their air power had finally worked – as it had not in Vietnam or Korea – to destroy a “rogue” government. They forgot that the previous years they had feted Qaddafi; and the Libyan strongman had helped them in the war against terror. For abandoning his nuclear option, Qaddafi learned (briefly): no good deed goes unpunished or remembered.

NATO flew 26,000 sorties, many with bombs and missiles, but only against “military targets” – not the Roman ruins. They issued no reports of Libyan deaths. But news footage showed dead bodies and destroyed homes. NATO’s spin: “Hurrah, the world is rid of the evil Qaddafi.”

Anyway, the dead were bad guys; otherwise, good NATO pilots wouldn’t have killed them because their mission was to protect innocent civilians.

In 2010, the NATO government encouraged their arms merchants to supply Qaddafi with “a seemingly limitless supply of weapons.” Indeed, “at an arms fair in Tripoli; only a few days before the NATO operations started, French and Italian companies were busily upgrading Libyan air-force and army equipment.” . 

NATO and its entourage located and destroyed many of the European-supplied weapons. When the new government cohered, would the same weapons dealers replace the stock NATO forces had destroyed?

NATO recognized the victorious democratic Libyan rebels. These NATO “democrats” had committed numerous human-rights abuses according to Human Rights Watch monitors. In Sirte, investigators discovered 53 corpses were found in an abandoned hotel – all pro-Qaddafi people. 

In Tawarghaby, victorious insurgents took brutal reprisals against pro-Gaddafi residents. Secretary of State Clinton chortled (“We came, we saw, he died”) while reporters noted some rebel units refused to disarm; others looted and abused their captives. 

Not important. NATO’s adventure was a successful humanitarian intervention. It saved lives and upheld democracy. NATO withdrew. Who’s next?

P.S. Every day I spent in Libya I saw Qaddafi. At 5 p.m. the TV screen showed desert, with a small black spot in the middle. A very slow zoom began. By 5:05 a back shape emerged, which, by 5:07 appeared to be a man praying. You guessed it. By 5:10 Qaddafi bent his head to the ground and brought it up again in prayer. I won’t miss him – even on TV. But the postcard I mailed at the supposedly dead letterbox arrived in Washington – nine months later.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP plays Dec 3 at 5:30 and 7:30 at the Tishman Auditorium, New School for Social Research, 66 Fifth Avenue.

Unconventional Wisdom: Name This Moment

February 24, 2011 ·

Two weeks ago, I wrote in this space about Wisconsin and unions and the power of the people. My focus was on football, not workers defending their collective bargaining rights. But just as Hosni Mubarak was stepping down in Cairo, Governor Scott Walker was stepping up in Madison with his bill to slash these fundamental rights.


Nusair stands in solidarity from Cairo

Muhammad Saladin Nusair's sign in Tahrir Square, which read, "Egypt Supports Wisconsin Workers — One World, One Pain," sums up the extraordinary solidarity between protesters in both locations. Wisconsinites have chomped on pizza purchased by Egyptians as democratic revolutions continue to erupt.

Muammar Gaddafi's brutal response to Libya's uprising reveals democracy's high price. Yet, people power is gaining momentum and spreading across the Middle East and Africa — even reaching the stamp-size French-speaking country of Djibouti, where the police have clashed with anti-regime protesters. As IPS scholar Manuel Pérez-Rocha said during a recent protest that expressed global solidarity with Mexican unions, there's a "renewed international push against injustice."

We at the Institute for Policy Studies are actively involved with campaigns to end injustice, protect workers, and sensibly cut budgets. While state governments and the Obama administration complain that we're running out of money, IPS expert Chuck Collins offers a straight-forward solution for stopping corporate tax dodgers to fund the gap. This Saturday, there's a rally calling for corporations to pay their fair share of taxes before freezing civil servants' pay and cutting government services.

Last week, IPS scholars Janet Redman and Sarah Anderson joined people in more than 25 countries in a global day of action calling for a small financial transaction tax that would raise hundreds of billions of dollars of much-needed revenue while restraining speculation. In addition to these government-revenue-boosting solutions, IPS experts John Feffer, Miriam Pemberton, and Robert Alvarez all suggest ways to shrink the federal budget by cutting military spending.

What will we eventually call this historic wave of peaceful protests and solidarity that's spreading around the world? Write your suggestions below in our comments section, post them on our Facebook wall, or tweet them to @IPS_DC, and we'll post the best ones on our blog next week.