Nato-sponsored regime change
The jubilation of the anti-Gaddafi dictatorship fighters who have entered Tripoli is tempered by the fact that what is taking place is effectively a Nato-facilitated regime change in Libya.
In Tunisia and then Egypt, the mass of the people rose up and accomplished their own revolution (which is now confronted by unfinished business in relation to the economy and the old state machine).
These revolutions inspired some sections of Libya’s population, notably in the east of the country, to take to the streets in a bid to overthrow a Gaddafi regime that degenerated into brutal rule from the 1990s onwards.
Nato, which we should never forget is the military arm of the major capitalist states, was summonsed into action by Britain and France when the uprising quickly reached a stalemate.
Behind the fig-leaf of a United Nations security council resolution – how many wars has this discredited organisation now facilitated? – military power was used to advance the cause of the Benghazi-based forces in clear breach of the terms of the UN mandate.
As rebel fighter Hisham, speaking to the BBC's World Service, said today: "Nato is the master – it is something we admit. If Nato had not been bombing and shooting them, they would have killed us, this is a fact."
Nato never acts for “humanitarian reasons”, however its leaders dress up bombing and missile attacks with honeyed words about “democracy” etc. Other interests – political and economic – lay behind the intervention.
The Arab Spring caught out the political elites in Washington, London and Paris who had spent decades courting and propping up dictatorships from Cairo to Tunis, from Riyadh to Damascus.
As Egypt’s attitude towards Israel began to turn away from joint policing of the Palestinians in Gaza, it was clear that the West needed a new foothold in the region. And Libya appeared to give them that opportunity.
Nato’s intervention had the effect of corralling the Libya uprising and preventing its potential evolution into a truly revolutionary movement. Instead, the Transitional National Council (TNC) was given total support. The TNC is a self-appointed mixed bag of former opportunists who switched sides, careerists, Washington stooges and Islamists who are divided amongst themselves.
Attempts by the Arab Union and others to broker a ceasefire and a compromise settlement were scuttled by the US State Department on the orders of the White House, which had bypassed Congress to take part in attacks on Libya.
As in Iraq, the military intervention in Libya is designed to create a regime that is favourable to the West and one which will open up its oil resources to capitalist corporations without hindrance and that will introduce “market reforms” in place of state subsidies.
Undoubtedly, the “planning” for a post-Gaddafi Libya includes an air base and possible ground forces. Richard Haass, president of the US council on foreign relations, has told the Financial Times that an international force is "likely to be needed to restore and maintain order".
The scenario planners at Nato HQ and the Pentagon don’t exactly have a great track record, however. In Iraq, China (not the US) secured the first major oil deal after the fall of Saddam Hussein and has just started crude production in the Al Ahdab field in the centre of the country. Ten years of occupation of Afghanistan have only served to inspire an ongoing insurgency.
With their own economies falling apart as a new financial meltdown takes hold, Washington, London and Paris are in no position to give advice about “nation-building”. Destruction of resources and a resort to force characterises the period we are living in. That’s the real story about Nato’s intervention in Libya.
22 August 2011