Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by X-PASTER, Apr 1, 2011.
(1) Right and Left
The principle imperial powers and their mass media mouthpieces claim they are bombing Libya for humanitarian reasons. Their recent past and current military interventions present a different picture: The intervention in Iraq resulted in well over a million civilian deaths, four million refugees and the systematic destruction of a complex society and its infrastructure, including its water supplies and sewage treatment, irrigation, electricity grid, factories, not to mention research centers, schools, historical archives, museums and Iraqs extensive social welfare system.
A worse disaster followed the invasion of Afghanistan. What was trumpeted as a humanitarian intervention to liberate Afghan women and drive out the Taliban resulted in a human catastrophe for the Afghan people.
The road to imperial barbarism in Iraq began with sanctions, progressed to no fly zones, then de facto partition of the north, invasion and foreign occupation and the unleashing of sectarian warfare among the liberated Iraqi death squads.
Equally telling, the imperial assault against Yugoslavia in the 1990s, trotted out as the great humanitarian war to stop genocide, led to a 40-day aerial bombardment and destruction of Belgrade and other major cities, the imposition of a gangster terrorist regime (KLA) in Kosovo, the near-total ethnic cleansing of all non-Albanian residents from Kosovo and the construction of the largest US military base on the continent (Camp Bondsteel).
The bombing of Libya has already destroyed major civilian infrastructure, airports, roads, seaports and communication centers, as well as military targets. The blockade of Libya and military attacks have driven out scores of multi-national corporations and led to the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Asian, Eastern European, Sub-Saharan African, Middle Eastern and North African skilled and unskilled immigrant workers and specialists of all types, devastating the economy and creating, virtually overnight, massive unemployment, bread-lines and critical gasoline shortages.
Moreover, following the logic of previous imperial military interventions, the seemingly restrained call to patrol the skies via no fly zone, has led directly to bombing civilian as well as military targets on the ground, and is pushing to overthrow the legitimate government.
The current imperial warmongers leading the attack on Libya, just like their predecessors, are not engaged in anything remotely resembling a humanitarian mission: they are destroying the fundamental basis of the civilian lives they claim to be saving or as an earlier generation of American generals would claim in Vietnam, they are destroying the villages in order to save them.
(2) War for Oil or Oil for Sale?
The critical Lefts favorite cliché is that the imperial invasion is all about seizing control of Libyas oil and turning it over to their multi-nationals. This is despite the fact that US, French and British multinationals (as well as their Asian competitors) had already taken over millions of acres of Libyan oil fields without dropping a single bomb. For the past decade, Big Oil had been pumping and exporting Libyan oil and gas and reaping huge profits. Gaddafi welcomed the biggest MNCs to exploit the oil wealth of Libya from the early 1990s to the present day. There are more major oil companies doing business in Libya than in most oil producing regions in the world.
British Petroleum, with a seven-year contract on two concessions and over $1 billion dollars in planned investments. Each BP concession exploits huge geographic areas of Libya, one the size of Kuwait and the other the size of Belgium (Libyonline.com). In addition, five Japanese major corporations, including Mitsubishi and Nippon Petroleum, Italys Eni Gas, British Gas and the US giant Exxon Mobil signed new exploration and exploitation contracts in October 2010. The most recent oil concession signed in January 2010 mainly benefited US oil companies, especially Occidental Petroleum. Other multi-nationals operating in Libya include Royal Dutch Shell, Total (France), Oil India, CNBC (China), Indonesias Pertamina and Norways Norsk Hydro (BBC News, 10/03/2005).
Despite the economic sanctions against Libya, imposed by US President Reagan in 1986, US multinational giant, Halliburton, had secured multi-billion dollar gas and oil projects since the 1980s.
During his tenure as CEO of Halliburton, former Defense Secretary Cheney led the fight against these sanctions stating, as a nation (there is) enormous value having American businesses engaged around the world (Halliburtonwatch.com).
Officially, sanctions against Libya were only lifted under Bush in 2004. Clearly, with all the European and US imperial countries already exploiting Libya oil on a massive scale, the mantra that the war is about oil doesnt hold water or oil!
(3) Gaddafi is a Terrorist
In the run-up to the current military assault on Tripoli,the US Treasury Departments (and Israels special agent) Stuart Levey, authored a sanctions policy freezing $30 billion dollars in Libyan assets on the pretext that Gaddafi was a murderous tyrant (Washington Post, 3/24/11).
However, seven years earlier, Cheney, Bush and Condoleezza Rice had taken Libya off the list of terrorist regimes and ordered Levey and his minions to lift the Reagan-era sanctions.
Every major European power quickly followed suite: Gaddafi was welcomed in European capitals, prime ministers visited Tripoli and Gaddafi reciprocated by unilaterally dismantling his nuclear and chemical weapons programs (BBC, 9/5/2008). Gaddafi became Washingtons partner in its campaign against a broad array of groups, political movements and individuals arbitrarily placed on the US terror list, arresting, torturing and killing Al Qaeda suspects, expelling Palestinian militants and openly criticizing Hezbollah, Hamas and other opponents of Israel. The United Nations Human Rights Commission gave the Gaddafi regime a clean bill of health in 2010.
In the end Gaddafis political turnabout, however much celebrated by the Western elite, did not save him from this massive military assault.
The imposition of neo-liberal reforms, his political apostasy and cooperation in the War on Terror and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, only weakened the regime. Libya became vulnerable to attack and isolated from any consequential anti-imperialist allies. Gaddafis much ballyhooed concessions to the West set his regime up as an easy target for the militarists of Washington, London and Paris, eager for a quick victory.
(4) The Myth of the Revolutionary Masses
The Left, including the mainly electoral social democrat, green and even left-socialist parties of Europe and the US swallowed the entire mass media propaganda package demonizing the Gaddafi regime while lauding the rebels. Parroting their imperial mentors, the Left justified their support for imperial military intervention in the name of the revolutionary Libyan people, the peace-loving masses fighting tyranny and organizing peoples militias to liberate their country.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The center of the armed uprising is Benghazi, longtime monarchist hotbed of tribal supporters and clients of the deposed King Idris and his family. Idris, until he was overthrown by the young firebrand Col. Gaddafi, had ruled Libya with an iron fist over a semi-feudal backwater and was popular with Washington, having given the US its largest air base (Wheeler) in the Mediterranean. Among the feuding leaders of the transitional council in Benghazi (who purport to lead but have few organized followers) one finds neo-liberal expats, who first promoted the Euro-US military invasion envisioning their ride to power on the back of Western missiles .They openly favor dismantling the Libyan state oil companies currently engaged in joint ventures with foreign MNCs.
Independent observers have commented on the lack of any clear reformist tendencies, let alone revolutionary organizations or democratic popular movements among the rebels.
While the US, British and French are firing missiles, loaded with depleted uranium, at the Libyan military and key civilian installations, their allies the armed militias in Benghazi, rather than go to battle against the regimes armed forces, are busy rounding up, arresting and often executing any suspected members of Gaddafis revolutionary committees, arbitrarily labeling these civilians as fifth columnists.
The top leaders of these revolutionary masses in Benghazi include two recent defectors from what the Left dubs Gaddafis murderous regime: Mustafa Abdul Jalil, a former Justice minister, who prosecuted dissenters up to the day before the armed uprising, Mahmoud Jebri, who was prominent in inviting multi-nationals to take over the oil fields (FT, March 23, 2011, p. 7), and Gaddafis former ambassador to India, Ali Aziz al-Eisawa, who jumped ship as soon as it looked like the uprising appeared to be succeeding.
These self-appointed leaders of the rebels who now staunchly support the Euro-US military intervention, were long-time supporters of the Gaddafis dictatorship and promoters of MNC takeovers of oil and gas fields. The heads of the rebels military council is Omar Hariri and General Abdul Fattah Younis, former head of the Ministry of Interior.
Both men have long histories (since 1969) of repressing democratic movements within Libya. Given their unsavory background, it is not surprising that these top level military defectors to the rebel cause have been unable to arouse their troops, mostly conscripts, to engage the loyalist forces backing Gaddafi.
They too will have to take ride into Tripoli on the coattails of the Anglo-US-French armed forces.
The anti-Gaddafi forces lack of any democratic credentials and mass support is evident in their reliance on foreign imperial armed forces to bring them to power and their subservience to imperial demands.
Their abuse and persecution of immigrant workers from Asia, Turkey and especially sub-Sahara Africa, as well as black Libyan citizens, is well documented in the international press.
Their brutal treatment of black Libyans, falsely accused of being Gaddafis mercenaries, includes torture, mutilation and horrific executions, does not auger well for the advent of a new democratic order, or even the revival of an economy, which has been dependent on immigrant labor, let alone a unified country with national institutions and a national economy.
The self-declared leadership of the National Transitional Council is not democratic, nationalist or even capable of uniting the country. These are not credible leaders capable of restoring the economy and creating jobs lost as a result of their armed power grab. No one seriously envisions these exiles, tribalists, monarchists and Islamists maintaining the paternalistic social welfare and employment programs created by the Gaddafi government and which gave Libyans the highest per-capita income in Africa.
(5) Al Qaeda
The greatest geographical concentration of suspected terrorists with links to Al Qaeda just happens to be in the areas dominated by the rebels (see Alexander Cockburn: Counterpunch, March 24, 2011).
For over a decade Gaddafi has been in the forefront of the fight against Al Qaeda, following his embrace of the Bush-Obama War on Terror doctrine.
These jihadist Libyans, having honed their skills in US-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, are now among the ranks of the rebels fighting the much more secular Libyan government. Likewise, the tribal chiefs, fundamentalist clerics and monarchists in the East have been active in a holy war against Gaddafi welcoming arms and air support from the Anglo-French-US crusaders - just like the mullahs and tribal chiefs welcomed the arms and training from the Carter-Reagan White House to overthrow a secular regime in Afghanistan.
Once again, imperial intervention is based on alliances with the most retrograde forces. The composition of the future regime (or regimes, if Libya is divided) is a big question and the prospects of a return to political stability for Big Oil to profitably exploit Libyas resources are dubious.
(6) Genocide or Armed Civil War
Unlike all ongoing mass popular Arab uprisings, the Libyan conflict began as an armed insurrection, directed at seizing power by force. Unlike the autocratic rulers of Egypt and Tunisia, Gaddafi has secured a mass regional base among a substantial sector of the Libyan population.
This support is based on the fact that almost two generations of Libyans have benefited from Gaddafis petroleum-financed welfare, educational, employment and housing programs, none of which existed under Americas favorite, King Idris. Since violence is inherent in any armed uprising, once one picks up the gun to seize power, they lose their claim on civil rights.
In armed civil conflicts, civil rights are violated on all sides. Regardless of the Western medias lurid portrayal of Gaddafis African mercenary forces and its more muted approval of revolutionary justice against Gaddafi supporters and government soldiers captured in the rebel strongholds, the rules of warfare should have come into play, including the protection of non-combatants-civilians (including government supporters and officials), as well as protection of Libyan prisoners of war in the areas under NATO-rebel control.
The unsubstantiated Euro-US claim of genocide amplified by the mass media and parroted by left spokespersons is contradicted by the daily reports of single and double digit deaths and injuries, resulting from urban violence on both sides, as control of cities and towns shifts between the two sides.
Truth is the first casualty of war, and especially of civil war. Both sides have resorted to monstrous fabrications of victories, casualties, monsters and victims.
Demons and angels aside, this conflict began as a civil war between two sets of Libyan elites: An established paternalistic, now burgeoning neo-liberal, autocracy with substantial popular backing versus a western imperialist financed and trained elite, backed by an amorphous group of regional, tribal and clerical chiefs, monarchists and neo-liberal professionals devoid of democratic and nationalist credentials and lacking broad-based mass support.
If not to prevent genocide, grab the oil or promote democracy (via Patriot missiles), what then is the driving force behind the Euro-US imperial intervention?
A clue is in the selectivity of Western military intervention: In Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Qatar and Oman ruling autocrats, allied with and backed by Euro-US imperial states go about arresting, torturing and murdering unarmed urban protestors with total impunity.
In Egypt and Tunisia, the US is backing a conservative junta of self-appointed civil-military elites in order to block the profound democratic and nationalist transformation of society demanded by the protesters.
The junta aims to push through neo-liberal economic reforms through carefully-vetted pro-Western elected officials.
While liberal critics may accuse the West of hypocrisy and double standards in bombing Gaddafi but not the Gulf butchers, in reality the imperial rulers consistently apply the same standards in each region: They defend strategic autocratic client regimes, which have allowed imperial states to build strategic air force and naval bases, run regional intelligence operations and set up logistical platforms for their ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their future planned conflict with Iran. They attack Gaddafis Libya precisely because Gaddafi had refused to actively contribute to Western military operations in Africa and the Middle East.
The key point is that while Libya allows the biggest US-European multi-nationals to plunder its oil wealth, it did not become a strategic geo-political-military asset of the empire. As we have written in many previous essays the driving force of US empire-building is military - and not economic.
This is why billions of dollars of Western economic interests and contracts had been sacrificed in the setting up of sanctions against Iraq and Iran with the costly result that the invasion and occupation of Iraq shut down most oil exploitation for over a decade.
The Washington-led assault on Libya, with the majority of air sorties and missiles strikes being carried out by the Obama regime, is part of a more general counter-attack in response to the most recent Arab popular pro-democracy movements. The West is backing the suppression of these pro-democracy movements throughout the Gulf; it finances the pro-imperial, pro-Israel junta in Egypt and it is intervening in Tunisia to ensure that any new regime is correctly aligned. It supports a despotic regime in Algeria as well as Israels daily assaults on Gaza. In line with this policy, the West backs the uprising of ex-Gaddafites and right-wing monarchists, confident that the liberated Libya will once again provide military bases for the US-European military empire-builders.
In contrast, the emerging market-driven global and regional powers have refused to support this conflict, which jeopardizes their access to oil and threatens the current large-scale oil exploration contracts signed with Gaddafi. The growing economies of Germany, China, Russia, Turkey, India and Brazil rely on exploiting new markets and natural resources all over Africa and the Middle East, while the US, Britain and France spend billions pursuing wars that de-stabilize these markets, destroy infrastructure and foment long-term wars of resistance.
The growing market powers recognize that the Libyan rebels cannot secure a quick victory or ensure a stable environment for long-term trade and investments. The rebels, once in power, will be political clients of their militarist imperial mentors. Clearly, imperial military intervention on behalf of regional separatists seriously threatens these emerging market economies: The US supports ethno-religious rebels in Chinas Tibetan province and as well as the Uyghur separatists; Washington and London have long backed the Chechen separatists in the Russian Caucuses.
India is wary of the US military support for Pakistan, which claims Kashmir. Turkey is facing Kurdish separatists who receive arms and safe haven from their US-supplied Iraqi Kurdish counterparts.
The North African precedent of an imperial invasion of Libya on behalf of its separatist clients worries the emerging market-powers. It is also an ongoing threat to the mass-based popular Arab freedom movements.
And the invasion sounds the death knell for the US economy and its fragile recovery: three ongoing, endless wars will break the budget much sooner than later. Most tragic of all, the Wests humanitarian invasion has fatally undermined genuine efforts by Libyas civilian democrats, socialists and nationalists to free their country from both a dictatorship and from imperial-backed reactionaries.