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No to military intervention in Libya

Let’s be clear from the outset. Whatever the leaders of Britain, France and the US say, taking military action against Libya is not primarily aimed at protecting civilians. Human rights have never been top of their agenda, as victims of Western foreign policy around the world will testify.

There are more strategic interests involved here. What wasn’t spelled out at the United Nations Security Council is that the objective is regime change in Tripoli that produces a pro-Western government in place of the unpredictable Colonel Gaddafi. A government that will permit the unhindered exploitation of the country’s oil resources and move towards a market economy.

Far from supporting the new Arab revolution, the no-fly zone and other military action is aimed at limiting and distorting its evolution. It opens up opportunities for the West to launch a whole new set of conspiracies in the Middle East and well as putting Libyan civilians at risk of death from air strikes.

Pressure is being exerted on Egypt to involve its air force in attacks on Libya. The Egyptian armed forces, which are deeply split, will be compromised if they agree. Collaborating with former colonial powers Britain and France, which invaded the country in 1956, will be a blow to the Egyptian people and their history.

Support from the Arab League is no basis for military action either. This decrepit organisation is stuffed full of dictators and sheikdoms like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia who are jointly gunning down unarmed civilians. US defence secretary Robert Gates was in Saudi last weekend and undoubtedly gave them the green light to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations. More like a free fire zone in this case.

So the stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. Robert Mugabe can murder trade unionists and opposition forces in Zimbabwe, Israel can bomb defenceless Gaza on an almost daily basis and the Burmese junta can continue its brutal rule. The major powers either stand by or, in the case of the Israeli government, furnish it with money and weapons. They deny the legitimacy of the Hamas government in Gaza because they didn’t like the result of the elections there.

There are, naturally, other aspects to the posturing of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy. Both lead governments that are deeply despised in their own countries for imposing cuts and austerity measures on their people in desperate attempts to revive an increasingly distressed capitalist system. There’s nothing like a little war somewhere to subdue opposition and divert attention with doses of patriotism and jingoism.

Venezuela and Turkey have offered to mediate between Gaddafi and the revolutionary forces ranged against his troops. But Britain, France and the US rejected these overtures although Tripoli did not rule out talks. Where was the UN when negotiation was still a possibility? As usual, the UN is no guarantor of rights either.

Those who proposed action against Gaddafi collaborated with his murderous regime for many years, bringing him back into the “international community” (whatever that is). They could as just easily go back to supporting him on the basis of some deal tomorrow.

The Arab revolution is entering a new phase, when it is urgent that the masses form alliances across borders. In Egypt, in particular, the task is to remove the corrupt general staff – who control 25% of the country’s economy – and create a revolutionary armed forces who will be able to support the Libyan revolt.

There are reports of Egyptians who took part in the revolution that overthrew Mubarak arriving in Benghazi in solidarity with the Libyan uprising against the Gaddafi dictatorship. That could be made into the start of direct help from Egypt so that the people of Libya can settle their accounts with Gaddafi by way of self-determination.

In Britain, we should campaign against military intervention in Libya and redouble our efforts to remove the Coalition government from power. Labour, which jointly led the invasion of Iraq, is fully backing Cameron. No surprises there. The political class in Parliament is reactionary and bankrupt. Our own revolutionary movement can’t come soon enough.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
18 March 2011

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Your Say


Tim Hart says:

First of all perhaps I could distinguish myself from the Tim who supports military action against Libya in the name of 'something better' in the Middle East and agree with Penny's response to Tim's comments. I, Tim Hart, would also like to see something better in the Middle East but I think it is unlikely to be achieved at the hands of, well.... Penny's comment sums it up. This is an excellent piece by Paul exposing the double standards of the West in its dealings with the Middle East - except that the opening paragraph is far too tentative. Military aggression against Libya is not at all about protecting civilians. If the US and UK were concerned about civilians they might have thought more about the wars waged against Iraq and Afghanistan which has mostly killed civilians; in Iraq's case over 1,000,000 and still counting.


Penny says:

Tim, it's not a question of damned if you do and damned if you don't. As far as we're concerned, the regimes that make up the undemocratic, corporation-serving, planet-destroying war mongering powers are just damned! A World to Win would never, ever, have called for the west to bomb Libya under any circumstances. I think it's pretty clear now what the war aims are and humanitarianism doesn't enter into it.


Jonathan says:

Let us be clear where we stood and have yet to finish that organizational stand with regards to Iran and Libya. In both cases there was a rejection of both Washington’s Imperialism and the Stalinist Bureaucracy. This is not to confuse the stand taken at the time, in the 70’s and 80’s with that of the wimpish International Socialist. ‘The SWP - a history of left reformism’ and ‘Going round in circles’ amongst some of the excellent and necessary materials produced by AWTW following in the works produced by the WRP.

In fact all the analysis since the deviousness of the SWP and its international ‘friends’ give organisational lessons for today. However, they are but an example. The planned economy verses the penetration of capital world wide with the coups, the bribery and corruption, the cheap markets, and a tailored economy to take advantage of the conflicts world wide. In this new, this latest phase, this cancerous formation, it is clear that no real concourse plan exists truly a formation run amok. Russian Television, especially Max Keiser take real delight in pointing out; well you think you won, now look. Its sense of direction, its ‘National Interest’ is by a blind, deaf, a senseless machine. It has no choice, and the leadership it produced whether Obama, Blair or Cameron, are directed by the decay.

Indeed the analysis of these currents of the example of SWP with the intersection of the method of Marxism; dialectical materialism and the role of matter and how to view states and systems such as in Iran and Libya return us to unfinished business.

The role of Libya in various liberation struggles, particularly in Ireland, could have supported a massive defeat on British Imperialism. That it didn’t was not a result of the policies of Libya, but again can be traced to the role of Stalinism in Ireland and elsewhere. The fight of Marxist’s on this question should be to the fore. How to blame workers, intellectuals, even liberation movements for not grasping the deepest philosophical question if they were hidden from them, lied as too, and generally distorted by the most crass professional opportunism paving the way for new defeats? The struggles before the fall of the SU showed that sections would rather crush everything than to show their roots.

As with Iran standing against the US while not leaning on the Stalinist Bureaucracy led to understandable isolation. Libya's latter rapprochement with ‘the west’ can only be explained in our analysis through the matter of method. Now an important moment appears with this method showing its superiority in both the above and the comment by Ray. It must go further: it must penetrate the social movements throughout the Globe. Still an iron fist must be formed to press the program and argument and spread it.

Thus the central organisation role in forming Assemblies and winning over through the completion of that ‘unfinished business’ while addressing all those questions and spreading the social organisation on all matters put to it. It would be an error to imagine, to throw up a Chinese lantern’s shadows that matters are not pressing. Look into what passes for the mind of this British regime.

Libya presents a challenge; it will also confuse many who need the leadership + the method.

As the central category of dialectics Contradiction needs all the bravery and refinement possible, it does not suffer fools, and as in reality the contradictory develops out of itself what is becoming, and does so implacably, then as with its theory Dialectical Logic necessary for the application of science, of which scientific socialism is the highest form: has wielded together advancements in the science of social formation and thinking. It also does, and must, be the basis of organising. With analysis of events such as the present in Libya the contradictory social forces appear very slippery to grasp and portray, this allows, even on the back foot, much mischief for disinformation and lies with control over the media and the use of ‘sources’ hidden to keep their own role a secret and make it all appear and their ‘line’ more palatable. This is becoming ever more transparent: but only seen through if looked at. Also much casting about by those presenting themselves as revolutionaries, or concerned. Weeping comes easy.

As with the intervention of a planned economy, of science as a whole, penetrating matter (also in its social formation) with Relations as an intricate aspects, inseparable (except in what passes for textbooks- blind to the developing whole), it can be said of grasping dialectics as Lee Marvin’s caricature does in Pekhinpar’s film ‘Cross of Iron’ of real courage; "And I will show you where the Iron Crosses grow."

The problem is with some of the analysis and moves afoot others will be thrown into the front line while the need to grasp the contradictory movement lags behind the spontaneous act of the death agony of the Capitalist formation. Death is not certain unless executed. Their crisis will be reflected in confusion if a method of analysis is not consciously grasped and applied. And that confusion might be enough for the various states to organise further.


Fiona says:

I had been thinking that something along the lines of Bruce's suggestion of an 'international brigade' would be a way to go, however the outcome of that civil war doesn't inspire confidence that such avolunteer force would be successful this time around. Unless perhaps the lessons learned from that time could be learned and applied to this set of circumstances and indeed it is already happening to a small extent with the arrival of some Egyptians there. I agree to an extent with Tim C too however, the time to get rid of Gaddafi is now, I don't think he is amenable to mediation and the rebel forces are being pushed back right now, without outside aid of some sort the revolution may well fail. Is this situation in any way comparable to Iraq in the wake of the Gulf War of 1991? That time Bush snr. offered support to insurgents who planned to organise a coup to topple Saddam Hussein, they took action, the U.S. stood back and left them to the very untender mercies of Saddam. Yes of course the 'West' doesn't want 'the wrong kind of democracy' in Libya or anywhere else, of course there are glaring hypocrisies all over the place but what in the meantime are the Libyan opposition to do? They asked for help with a no-fly zone after all.


Tim C says:

You guys are really losing it now! The West is damned in your eyes whatever it does. Sometimes the obvious is true. You know - popular revolutionary - once the darling/ hero of the left and enemy of the West now, despite efforts to try to bring him back into some sort of normal peaceful relations with the rest of the world is revealed as a fairly mad dictator on the verge of killing large numbers of his own people. Might be an idea to do something to stop it. No doubt if the the West had stood back and not intervened you would be claiming that we were tacitly supporting Gadaffi and undermining the uprising. The truth is that most people see the real hope of something better in the Middle East and don't want to see it fail. If you campaign against military intervention you will certainly not be on your own. The real right wing will totally agree with you. I am sure the people in Benghazi will be comforted to know who they can count on for help and who they can't.


Bruce says:

Solidarity with Libyan people. No to Western intervention they are not capable of sorting there own stuff out.

The West is hedging its bets, it is weak; the revolutionary forces of the world need to end the undemocratic tyrannies of the world from the USA to the UK to EGYPT AND Libya. The labour cowards as they have all ways done are relying on capitaism, the Com-dems. We need to build not only the revolutionary forces for this country but for the world. Perhaps a new International or the brigades of the Spanish civil War are now necessary.


Ray says:

The workers and soldiers of Libya - from Tripoli in the west through Sirte in the centre to Benghazi in the east, have nothing to gain from either a 'No Fly-No Tank Zone' of the proxy imperialists nor from a Gaddafi bombardment and shelling of those virtually defenceless civilians amidst misled fighters in the east. Only with the unity of workers, the poor and soldiers for the WHOLE Libyan national right to self determination through their own joint defence and reconstruction committees, can they secure and advance a clear path against both the Gaddafi-clan autocracy, on the one hand, and Imperialist imposition of governmental forms amenable to their 'oil democracy' and north African land-bases to install compliant regimes to stall and overthrow continent-wide revolutionary developments on the other. Precisely at the point that both Cameron and Sarkozy are staggering from one economic and social crisis to another in their own countries that these former colonial dictators act in the Imperialist vanguard as Pentagon and Gulf States proxies. Supplanting Gaddafi for Thatcher's Galtieri to assist their class wars at home, is far more difficult and involved this time.


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