Libya: The left should not oppose call for military intervention

May 2, 2011

I firmly believe the left and progressive forces have made a serious error in viewing and equating Libya with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Libya is not the same situation; there has been a popular people's uprising.

Other Libya articles
Libya: 'Humanitarian' war escalates
Two wars in Libya
Springtime for NATO in Libya
Libya: A different view of the rebels
Editorial: Support uprising, not Western bombs
Arab revolt
Repression and hypocrisy in Arab world
Bahraih: tensions rise despite repression
Video: Electronic Intifada journalist Matthew Cassell on 'activist journalism' and the Arab Spring
Antony Loewenstein on Israel and the Arab revolutions part 1
Antony Loewenstein on Israel and the Arab revolutions part 2

That revolt risked being wiped out by Gaddafi’s better-armed and more merciless army. The rebel leadership appealed for limited outside help, but have been specific that they didn’t want extensive external intervention in their freedom struggle.

I think they are being very careful, temperate and sensible about the aid they receive and on what terms. The rebel alliance is obviously very mindful about the West’s past colonial role in the Middle East and particularly wary of too much involvement and interference in Libya.

They also know any revolution perceived by the Libyan people to be imposed by outside forces will not succeed.

Of course the policies of the USA, Britain and France are carried out on the basis of geopolitical and national interests. So of course the USA and other European powers didn’t enter the conflict in Libya motivated by humanitarian concerns for the lives of civilians.

But I do believe the UN action saved many thousands of lives in eastern Libya and was therefore justified. Otherwise the people of the east would have suffered the same fate, with mass killings torture and imprisonment as those who rose in revolt in the western Libyan towns of Tripoli, Zuwara, Zawiyah, Misratah, etc.

Considering that any aid the left could offer would be inadequate in helping out the rebels and that boycotts or protests would be ineffectual in stopping massacres, something needed to be done - and quickly.

For whatever combination of reasons that UN and NATO allies decided to intervene in Libya, it was the right thing to do. I think that the public outcry around the world to stop the impending massacres had a lot to do with it. Similarly, previously in Bosnia and East Timor, the west was pressed to act by the tide of public opinion.

But also the very public exposures of US, British and French political and military support for the oppressive dictatorships in Egypt, Tunisia and others in the Middle East have had a big effect on the Western powers. The West wants to appear to be helping those suffering under a cruel regime.

I also think that Britain, France and the US thought they would win back some friends and regain some credibility and influence in the region by backing the right side this time. If this was the case, then I believe they are gravely mistaken.

Of course the US, Britain and France are not motivated by the welfare of Libyan civilians, but they sometimes must act as if they are for self-promotion, media-manipulation and their public relations image.

Note the reluctant US attitude to getting involved in Libya, markedly different than the aggressive gung-ho approach to the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions.

The fact that the USA had to be dragged into it by France and Britain illustrates the different situation. The Libyan rebels knew the situation was dire and called for outside assistance. The Libyan rebellion faced annihilation and many more thousands of Libyans would have certainly died. The rebel call for intervention by these countries was in reality a choice between the lesser of two evils.

Sometimes in life it comes down to these types of life or death choices. The Gaddafi regime is the main problem at the moment; other things must be sorted out later. Of course the USA and the other major powers are the enemies of the Libyan people, but it a matter of being practical and having priorities.

Most people in the Middle East are only too painfully aware of the extensive past history of interference by the USA, Britain and France in the region. And the immense suffering and slaughter the west’s backing of these disgusting and brutal regimes has caused.

The Arab and other peoples of the area also know who has funded and supplied the military hardware and political support that has permitted Israel to dispossess and oppress the Palestinians and steal their land.

They know these major powers as well provided the substantial assistance that propped up all the brutal dictatorships the people have just overthrown in Egypt and Tunisia and are boldly confronting throughout the region.

While Libyans are pleased to see the USA, the Europeans and other UN countries fighting the Gaddafi forces, they do not want foreign ground forces in their country. And the Libyans and other Arab countries have had enough of colonialist and imperialist intervention and being used as client states by the major powers.

While the USA, Britain and France are the enemies of the Libyan people, the rebels need to survive and defeat Gaddafi today if they are to be able to fight another enemy tomorrow. We cannot let the Libyans be defeated, as many Libyans will be massacred and the Libyan struggle will be very seriously setback.

Also their defeat will dishearten and impede other revolts going on in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria and in other parts of the region and other places. It's easy for the western left to give advice, but we must remember it is their revolution to make and any support the left could offer is too feeble to really help them at this time.

Let's trust and support the struggling Libyan people and not make premature, speculative and baseless decisions about the Libyan situation and the development and outcome of the Libyan revolution.

The changes taking place in the region are empowering the people and I’m sure it will not be business as usual in the Middle East for the imperialist West or any new dictatorships that try to impose themselves on the peoples of the region.

The Arab and other peoples in the region have had enough of repressive, crony capitalist Arab regimes, but they don’t want western colonial and imperialist domination either. Historic changes are happening in the Middle East, the peoples there want genuine freedom, independence and liberation.


This is bull: 'That revolt risked being wiped out by Gaddafi’s better-armed and more merciless army' as Alan Kuperman tells us: False Pretense For War In Libya? By Alan J. Kuperman April 14, 2011 "Boston Globe" -- EVIDENCE IS now in that President Barack Obama grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat to justify military action in Libya. The president claimed that intervention was necessary to prevent a “bloodbath’’ in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and last rebel stronghold. etc So is it GLW policy now to back NATO war crimes? why has GLW not posted any of the following: The War in Libya: Race, "Humanitarianism," and the Media by Maximilian Forte Libya: Is This Kosovo All Over Again? By DIANA JOHNSTONE and much more that show that support for the US/NATO attacks is to support racists jihadis, human trafficking , free marketeers etc. That we are witnessing US/NATO war on Yugoslavia all over again so what about it GLW? are you really afraid of the above ? Because your slowly becoming irrelevant in the Libya story
GLW is a forum for debate and discussion on the left and has printed a range of views on the NATO intervention in Libya. This article is part of the discussion, but responsibility for the views expressed lie with the author. For GLW's editorial on the Libyan intervention see: Libya: West's bombs no solution
Brian wrote: "why hasn't GLW posted any of the following: Libya: Is This Kosovo All Over Again? By DIANA JOHNSTONE" Because Johnstone's piece is a load of monstrous lies and apologetics for genocide and crimes against humanity. It is pretty ahrd to find a shred of truth in that piece, or any of her work. Michael Karadjis
START OF STORY 1. Capitalism is the enemy. 2. The US is the citadel of world capitalism. 3. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. 4. Gaddafi is being attacked (again) by the US and NATO. 5. Therefore we must support Gaddafi. END OF STORY
It is with great regret that i read this article supporting western military intervention in the affairs of yet another middle eastern nation. Without wanting (or even needing) to consider the merits or shortfalls of the Gaddafi regime the left needs to steadfastly reject military interventionism whereever it occurs. Nothing which has happened in Libya could possibly justify the bombing of its infrastructure from thousands of feet! This is another shameless act of imperialism by the leading capitalist countries who clearly have their eye on one prize (THE OIL). Socialists the world over rejected military action against Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia and so on, despite the fact that these countries were run by tyrants of a much worse nature than Gaddafi. Supporting a military campaign against Libya displays a shameful double standard by the author and those who share his view. The small cracks of disagreement amoungst the imperialist countries, and the scepticism of their people regarding the latest military adventure need to be fostered by a strong, united anti-war movement, made up of true progressive who oppose bombing campaigns full stop.
Many on the left who are vocally opposed to this war, including some that have begun to whole heartedly support Gaddafi (Cynthia McKinney), have not even spoken to Libyans in their local community. They claim to be speaking out and 'protecting' the Libyans, but there's a clear void of any Libyans at their functions or protests, the speakers at their talks are a bunch of Westerners who have no ties to Libya. They dismiss all Libyans online as either fake CIA accounts or liars. I don't know how much more Libyans need to scream: Libyans overwhelming support the revolution and Libyans within Libya asked for international assistance. NATO intervention has saved thousands of lives. People claiming that there wasn't an impending massacre are ridiculous, massacres occurred prior to intervention and even with the intervention massacres have occurred. International involvement has severely limited the gaddafi war machine from carrying out massacres on the scope planned by him. My message is very simple, SPEAK TO LIBYAN ORGS IN YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY. They have family there, they know exactly what is going on. If you don't trust the media or the UN or Human Rights group or the ICC, surely you can at least trust the people who direct ties to Libya.
In response to the last post many on the left are concerned about the bombing of a third world country by the western capitalist nations. We are in no way defending gaddaffi nor are we claiming to know the full reality on the ground in Libya. We are against bombing campaigns in principle because (despite the best efforts of modern weapons developers) they are still largely indiscriminate weapons which damage, kill and terrorize working people whereever they are used. Your logic is so flawed it is dangerous... You are saying... Gaddaffi = bad therefore NATO = good. I beleive they are both bad. Both murderous and driven by greed and self interest rather than any kind of humanitarian agenda. It is truely sad that someone intelligent enough to seek out good alternative media like GLW is at the same time so interlectually bankrupt that they cannot see the false morality again being peddled by the capitalist nations to justify their increasing thirst for other country's resources. Speaking to expatriate communities about events occuring in their home countries can be interesting but is not always accurate. These people have an interest in distorting the truth for their western audience. We found this out in Iraq. There were no WMD, they were fabrications made by anti saddam expatriates which the west used to convince us of war.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.