Richard Seymour (“Libya: Spring time for NATO”, GLW #876) has done an admirable job debunking justifications of “humanitarian” wars and its defenders. But his analysis of the internal dynamics of Libya leads him astray — so much so that bold assertions are taken as facts with nothing to back it up. He says the co-option of the Libyan revolution by NATO is a victory for reaction. Then he says it is no good hoping that the militias will shake themselves free of such constraints if they take power.
Two wars are being waged simultaneously in Libya. One has grown out of a revolutionary struggle for democracy. The other is an attempt by imperialism to strengthen its domination of the country. Both wars appear to share the goal of “regime change”, but they stand at opposite ends of the political spectrum. The regime change that the revolutionary struggle seeks to achieve is the overthrow of the Muammar Gaddafi dictatorship and the establishment of a system of democratic rule.
We now know what Washington’s model is for the Middle East, in its most attractive guise. In answer to Egypt’s Tahrir Square uprising, they have smoking craters filled with the charred remains of rebels, conscript soldiers, civilians and other blameless people who must have seen the joy in Egypt and Tunisia and wished it for themselves. In answer to the turbulent, democratic republic, with its tumult of leftist, Nasserist, Islamist and liberal currents, they offer a prolonged civil war at best, culminating in a settlement with Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif and his sibling.
The online journal Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is hosting a series of commentaries from left-wing groups and commentators from around the world on the crucial question of whether or not to support the US-NATO military intervention in Libya.
The US-NATO intervention in Libya, with United Nations Security Council cover, is part of an orchestrated response to show support for the movement against one dictator in particular. In doing so, it aims to bring the Arab rebellions to an end by asserting Western control, confiscating their impetus and spontaneity and trying to restore the status quo. It is absurd to think that the reasons for bombing Tripoli or for the French airforce’s “turkey shoot” (the bombing of fleeing Libyan soldiers) outside Benghazi are designed to protect civilians.
The hypocrisy, double standards and selectivity displayed in the Western military action in Libya defy enumeration. In Yemen and Bahrain, Western-backed regimes are violently repressing the democracy movement the West claims to back in Libya. In Iraq, a US-sponsored regime protected by 47,000 US troops is trying to do the same —shooting demonstrators, detaining thousands and subjecting many to torture.
The United Nations Security Council voted on March 19 to approve a military intervention into Libya, with 10 votes in favour and five absentions. It was presented as a response to calls from besieged rebels fighting the Muammar Gaddafi dictatorship for a “no-fly zone” to protect them, especially in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The rebels also said they opposed “Western intervention”.
Power worship is what the corporate media does best, and there has been plenty of that on display in recent Libya coverage. Donning his “white man’s burden” hat, Peter Hartcher, in the March 22 Sydney Morning Herald, responded to the United States/European Union bombing by saying: “To the relief of millions in Libya and millions more around the world, the West has unsheathed the sword against [Gaddafi’s] resurgent forces.” Such comments are the background noise that has lent a veneer of legitimacy to the West’s imperialist adventures since the end of the Cold War.
Isn’t it marvellous that all these governments are determined to do “something” about Colonel Gaddafi? For example Hillary Clinton said she supported military action once the Arab League — made up of countries such as Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia — backed air strikes. And it is encouraging that the policy of not tolerating a dictator has the backing of so many dictators.
On March 25, much of the community in Maharlika Village in Manila turned out after Friday prayers to protest against the Western powers’ military attacks against Libya. Maharlika Village is a predominantly Moro community in Taguig City, in the south-east of Metro Manila. The protest was organised by the local council, community leaders, religious leaders from the community’s 16 mosques, the Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement and the Anak Mindanao Party (Amin).
On March 17, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) “effectively authorized the use of force in Libya”, the UN News Center said that day. “Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed,” the report said, “the Council adopted a resolution by 10 votes to zero, with five abstentions, authorizing Member States ‘to take all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.’”
Saif al-Islam, the billionaire son of Muammar Gaddafi who was the neoliberal darling of Western governments until only recently, boasted in a March 10 interview with Reuters that forces loyal to his family were now on the offensive against rebel forces. NATO, for its part, has decided against military intervention — for the time being. However, France became the first government to recognise the rebel Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) set up in Benghazi on March 5. AFP reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also proposed “targeted air strikes” on Libya.
Squatters have taken over a mansion in London owned by the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, AFP said on March 8. The eight-bedroom house in Hampstead, north London, is owned by Seif al-Islam Gaddafi. The article said: “Members of a campaign group called ‘Topple the Tyrants’ said they had occupied the mansion and wanted it transferred to the people of Libya.” “The plush home, in a secluded, leafy close surrounded by some of Britain’s most expensive residential streets, boasts an indoor swimming pool, a sauna room and a cinema room.”
The regime of Muammar Gaddafi has escalated its violence against rebel forces seeking to bring it down. On March 6, opponents of the regime were reported to be in control of several cities, especially in Libya’s east. AlJazeera.net said on March 4 that anti-government protests in the capital, Tripoli, had been met with tear gas by security forces. Opponents said Az Zawiyah, a town just 40 kilometres from Tripoli that is home to an oil refinery, was mostly under rebel control.
Stop the massacre in Libya! Power to the people A February 26 statement by the Socialist Alliance in solidarity with the people's uprisings in Libya and the Arab world * * * The Socialist Alliance extends its full solidarity to the people of Libya now being brutally repressed for demanding an end to the corrupt and unjust regime of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
About 200 people rallied in Brisbane's King George Square on February 25 to show solidarity with the people of Libya resisting the oppressive regime of Muammar Gaddafi. A banner proclaiming "Free Libya" was fixed to a wall, together with photos of victims of the Libyan military and police. Placards carried by members of the Libyan community, many of them students, read "Stop using mercenaries to kill our people" and "Please help our country".