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Liberal imperialism rears its ugly head over Libya

Scratch a liberal and you’ll find just about any political disease you care to name. Just look at the Lib Dems’ contribution to the reactionary coalition. Or just read The Observer’s call for Nato to “up its game and finish what it started in Libya”.

In the true spirit of the 19th century “liberal” Lord Palmerston, notorious for his “gun-boat diplomacy” used to advance Britain’s imperial interests, The Observer is concerned at the slow progress after 100 days of bombing Libya under the guise of enforcing a no-fly zone.

So the answer, as far as The Observer is concerned, is not peace talks and a negotiated settlement between the two sides of an apparent civil war but for Nato to “abandon its limited, cautious, low-risk approach and flex far more of its muscle”. You can’t get more bellicose than that.

Apart from the appalling use of the word “game” to describe attacks that have cost many lives, the appeal to intensify the bombing only confirms that all is not well in the war camp.

The US Congress has voted to block President Obama from going any further in Libya as he never sought their approval in the first place as required under the US constitution. The Arab League is split following civilian casualties and even Italy has called for a cessation of bombing to allow humanitarian aide to get through.

On the ground, the so-called rebels are making little military progress and the self-appointed Interim Transitional National Council based in Benghazi is divided about what to do next. Some have suggested that Colonel Gaddafi could remain in the country but not in power, for example.

David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, the prime movers in the bombing campaign, have discovered that the TNC is not exactly the rabid pro-Western alliance they dreamt would emerge. It contains discredited defectors from Tripoli, monarchists, militant Islamists and not a few opportunists.

To maintain a semblance of public support for the attacks, which have cost the British taxpayer about £260 million so far, Nato has, as usual, invented a series of mass rapes, genocide and assorted other atrocities to lay at the door of the Gaddafi regime. Amnesty International and others have discredited these lies.

The intervention in Libya has nothing to do with protecting civilians from the Gaddafi regime. He’s been persecuting them long enough with the tacit support of the US, Britain and France. Nor is it about delivering some abstract “democracy” to a Libyan or Arab people suffering under dictatorships because the Syrian, Saudi and Bahrain regimes have carte blanche to carry on killing. It’s not even particularly about access to Libya’s oil, which Western companies enjoy in any case.

What spurred Cameron (with Labour's backing) into action was a deep concern that the Arab Spring that swept away the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes was running out of control. Libya, with its brutal repression of its own uprising, seemed a good place to get a grip on the process.

The military intervention in Libya is aimed at delimiting the revolution’s direction and usurping the way it unfolds. It is a denial of Libya’s self-determination and, however cruel the Gaddafi regime has become, this is a good enough reason to oppose the bombing.

With Western influence diminishing as Egyptians renew their self-determination, Libya must have seemed a relatively easy way to establish a presence in the region. But, as the invasion and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated, it is easier to make such plans than carry them out.

Even the killing of Gaddafi might only add to their problems. A report in the Daily Record suggests that British troops will be deployed if Gaddafi is ousted or killed. A Whitehall source told the paper "I always find myself getting to my knees and praying to God that we don't bomb Gaddafi that night because what the f*** would we do next?" Cameron’s war could turn out to be his own political graveyard.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
27 June 2011

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Jonathan says:

According to the press releases that preceded the ICC warrant on Gaddafi and his 'henchmen' [behind which the West has more henchmen than angels on the head of a pin] it was reported that 'he gave his supporters Viagra to rape', etc., as is referred to. The greening of the desert and Libya’s policy inside Africa must never be mentioned, the advances made, and how that contradicts (as in Egypt) the swing of sections, including as to his family, in the natural enrichment caused by the relationship to Global Capital, as put so well previously by AWTW, must never be seen as to lay at the door of that Global Capital; more recently it turns out that during the 42 years 'his' régime introduced no infrastructure, no educational facilities, no development: we supported his stand against imperialism, and the régime’s support of those fighting occupation ; economic, political or geographic, it would seem as dupes.

The battle reported through Russian Television of social networking (Russia Today: ) either giving to the activist they want to aid activities, or the régimes they need equipment to block networks, etc., therefore the blog Militarism comes to Obama's America shows that these matters take personnel and funding. The reference to Palmerston is not an accidental one I am sure: Marx's great work on Lord Palmerston paints a beautiful picture: and if not deliberate then Blair copied the interventionist policy, yet in the area of decline, of decay; parallels him in the number of wars entered into thinking more of modern arts of presentation and media front, of panache in its more decadent sense, than ever of 'right and wrong'. “If not a good statesman of all work, he is at least a good actor of all work. He succeeds in the comic as in the heroic–in pathos as in familiarity–in tragedy as in farce; although the latter maybe more congenial to his feelings.” Marx: Lord Palmerston. One ought not mention this work without noting the related work, and equally stylistic in importance, Herr Vogt. Undoubtedly Marx attended the gallery in Westminster and public meetings to see the creature at work as well as his reading of the debates, etc., in the, then, British Museum library. The English ruling class drags its creatures out of any 'nook and cranny' and playing to the gallery doesn't expect such a penetrating mind and method as that. History comes alive, is given flesh, more fitting for satire, but flesh non-the-less: Marx is still with us, Palmerston's policy leaves its legacy, also in Afghanistan, and previously the Balkans: the man almost unknown. As with his Revelations of the Diplomatic History of the 18th Century the correctness of his insights as to the perfidy of British foreign policy had to wait decades, in some cases, for the proof to out: we do not have such luxuries, we must rely on method only. The connection between the three works and the role of Napoleon III's agent Vogt was not proven until the Commune in 1871. 'My preoccupation with Palmerston and Anglo-Russian diplomacy in general therefore, occurred, as one can see, without the slightest suspicion that behind Lord Palmerston there stands Herr Vogt.' Marx: Herr Vogt New Park p.101.

As there may be variations in policy, and involvement and techniques used in the present, in those involving us all now, this analysis in preparation for actions needs fine work. 'Ceaseless meddling in the affairs' of all nations the powers now bowing to Global Capital see as their God Given Right, sometimes being the more obvious in the class of sectional interests between them. It can be seen as the inverse of how they see any other power, or pressure group, or social class's right to 'meddle' in their affairs, and that is how they see it; ever since the penetration of those campaigning against power stations in Britain and such 'soft issues' sleeping with the enemy' takes on really sinister twists: as to anybody else, any other power, one need not have great imagination, or the need to 'suspend disbelief' to grasp the truth of the matter. However, still the massage of all that comes out of the fountain of truth must be continual even as it surfaces. The clash of national interest is diminishing with GC at which time matters may seem more obvious.

That Gaddafi was forced to make a foreign policy change at a most inopportune, for the Libyans, moment in the developing world crisis and advances of GC and of the equally unpredicted advance in the demands, more importantly their increased interrelationships, of the masses across North Africa and the 'middle east' meant that neither his base nor the advances made had been completely undermined when this turn took place: the US, France and Britain on-the-hop; like someone caught with a lover, stepping back and accusing them of breaking and entry. Opportunist as only their foreign policy knows: shamelessly stating one thing today, its opposite the next, and even more shamelessly their media not even bothering with archive materiel. Even if the above were correct as to Cameron’s graveyard, they would twist that as matters stand, policy can be changed, the might of the organised masses, there or in Britain is another matter. It is now the oppositions opposition that is being ignored, silenced, and what else?

The political class, and Whitehall, in Britain, know the risk because they realise the depth of the crisis. Neither the US nor Libya, for totally different reasons, are signatories to the ICC: put out the warrants for Blair and Bush.

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