Libya: The latest victim of imperialist predatory war
A war prepared in advance
The imperialist war against Libya, now under way, has been in preparation for a long time, needing only a flimsy pretext to be triggered. This pretext, well-prepared by imperialism through its Libyan stooges, arose on 16 February when anti-government insurgents began their armed rebellion against the government of Colonel Gaddafi. No sooner had this rebellion started than imperialist propaganda went into overdrive, denouncing the Libyan government for defending itself. In unison, imperialist statesmen and the despicable fraternity of mercenary journalists asserted that the “international community”, i.e., a tiny clique of blood-thirsty and predatory imperialist powers, had a “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) the Libyan people, allegedly under attack from the Libyan regime, demanding the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent the Libyan air force from taking to the skies and harming civilians.
Advocating the institution of a no-fly zone over Libya, the Financial Times of 14 March sanctimoniously declared that the “… overriding consideration must be to protect Libyans from Colonel Gaddafi’s brutality” (‘Face down Gaddafi’).
The US, Britain and France were not just helpless spectators, passively waiting for a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution before going into battle against the Libyan regime. According to DEBAKAfiles military sources (Israel) website, hundreds of US, British and French military advisors were dropped from warships and missile boats on 24 February at the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk in Cyrenaica, Libya’s eastern breakaway province, to help rebels consolidate their hold on the region and ensure the flow of oil from the oil fields and terminals under their control – as a prelude to the de facto bifurcation of the country.
It would be surprising, indeed, if this was not the case, for this war has long been in preparation. Only the feeble-minded Troto-revisionist fraternity and such-like cretins could believe otherwise.
Resolution 1973, passed by the UNSC on 17 March, authorising member states to use “all necessary measures” (a euphemism for use of armed force), allegedly to “help protect civilians”, did no more than provide an ex post facto legal fig leaf for the imperialist war of aggression against the Libyan people which had started well before the UNSC resolution was passed.
All the same, to its eternal shame, the UNSC in passing this resolution has become an accomplice of this predatory war, while meaninglessly professing “its strong commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of the Libyan people”. How can the UNSC talk about its commitment to “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity”, while at the same time giving the green light to the imperialist powers to violate most blatantly Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with a massive armed onslaught? How can it pontificate about the “unity of the Libyan people”, while legitimising the actions of imperialism to detach the eastern part of the country from the rest of it? That part of the resolution which excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”, is practically useless in view of the “all necessary measures” that the interventionist powers have been granted by the same resolution to “help protect civilians”.
When introducing boots on the ground, the imperialist gentry are not going to admit that their soldiery had become an army of occupation. Heaven forbid, on the contrary they are bound to claim to be acting as the “protectors” and “ liberators” of the Libyan people. No one who has not as yet been certified could believe otherwise. Those members of the UNSC who abstained on the resolution, in the belief that the provision concerning the exclusion of “a foreign occupation force” from Libyan territory would act as a deterrent to imperialism sending in an army of occupation, must have either suspended their judgement, or forgotten the characteristics and history of imperialism or indulged in wishful thinking, or simply decided for narrow selfish reasons simply to look the other way.
Either way, in passing this resolution, the UNSC has furnished the latest proof of what we have repeatedly said, namely, that since the demise of the Soviet Union and the eastern Central European socialist countries, the UN has become the colonial office of imperialism, with its Secretary-General officiating as the chief civil servant running errands on behalf, and at the command, of imperialism.
Within 48 hours of the passing of the resolution by the UNSC, imperialist forces, assembled well in advance, started enforcing the no-fly zone with a savage bombardment of Libya. On the very first night, that of Saturday 19 March, the US and Britain unleashed well over a hundred Tomahawk cruise missiles, which targeted military and civilian sites alike, killing scores of innocent people – all, of course, in the interests of “protecting civilians”! During several weeks of relentless bombing, Libyan infrastructure – airports, harbours, fuel storage depots, bridges and roads – has been destroyed or badly damaged. Even a heart clinic was not spared.
NATO leaders had hoped that parallel with their massive bombardment, the rebel forces would quickly walk into Tripoli and overthrow the Libyan regime, or that the Libyan regime would simply collapse under the combined weight of the rebel offensive and NATO bombing. None of this has materialised. The armed forces of Libya have turned the tables on the ragtag rebel army and reversed their earlier gains; only the massive NATO air power prevents the Libyan army from recapturing Benghazi.
As the military campaign has turned into a stalemate, and it has become increasingly clear that air strikes alone will not bring the downfall of the Gaddafi regime, the imperialist powers are faced with the choice of either openly intervening with ground forces or retire from the entire adventure with total disgrace.
On Sunday 20 March, the day after the start of NATO’s air campaign against Libya, Colonel Gaddafi, in a telephone call to Libyan state TV stated: “We promise you a long drawn-out war with no limits”. So far, his government has been faithful to that promise. Its continued perseverance and resistance is beginning to confront imperialism with some very unpleasant options.
The rabble that passes for the rebel army has not had the luck that it had hoped for. In addition to being pressed by the Libyan army, it has so far twice faced friendly fire from NATO bombers. On 7 April, disaster struck the rebels when NATO forces unleashed their deadly fire on them, at about the same time as the Libyan army advanced on the eastern town of Adjabiya and Colonel Gaddafi defiantly and confidently toured a school two days later pumping his fists in the air to loud cheers from his supporters. Aghast at the devastating friendly fire, some of the rebels were heard calling the NATO bombers “murderers”.
To make matters worse for them, the rebels are gripped by serious divisions in their ranks. The military leadership of General Abdul Fatah Younis, the rebels’ army chief, is contested by Khalifa Haftar, a CIA asset. The issue has yet to be resolved.
As the war has progressed, what was allegedly a “humanitarian” mission to “save civilian lives” in Libya has, not unexpectedly, metamorphosed into an operation for regime change, if need be through the assassination of the Libyan leadership.
With a mixture of breathtaking hypocrisy, arrogance and wishful thinking, the Financial Times stated that “the most desirable outcome of the Libyan conflict would be a negotiated settlement that halted the fighting, removed Muammer Gaddafi from power and from the country [no less], and permitted the Libyan people to make a free choice [not without a little help from the imperialist war machine] about their political future” (‘Africa’s defective Libya peace plan’, 12 April 2011).
The leading article from which the above lines are taken was expressing its disapproval of the African Union’s mission to Tripoli. On April 10, Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, accompanied by the leaders of Mali, Congo, Uganda and Mauritania, visited Libya and presented their road map, which involved a ceasefire, a national dialogue and reform, to Colonel Gaddafi, as a basis for a negotiated resolution of the conflict. While Colonel Gaddafi, during the meeting with the delegation, expressed his willingness to accept the AU plan, the opposition rejected it out of hand, for the plan involved a role for Colonel Gaddafi in any future dispensation. Imperialism and its puppets want nothing short of a departure of Colonel Gaddafi from government and from the country.
The Libyan opposition is not powerful enough to enforce its demand, which can only be realised through a military victory over the government forces. Imperialist air power alone, formidable as it is, will not defeat the Libyan armed forces.
After weeks of bombing, the imperialist powers have reached an impasse – they must either find a face-saving formula for an exit and relearn to build bridges, and live with the government of Colonel Gaddafi, or send several thousands of soldiers to Libya for yet another war, on top of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for an indefinite period of time with unpredictable consequences. Such a war would be very unpopular in the principal centres of imperialism and face the most determined resistance on the part of the Libyan people, who have a glorious history of struggle against colonialism.
The brave people of Libya won their precious independence from Italian fascism at the cost of one million people. They are not going to willingly surrender their hard-won gains and freedom to the present-day Hitlerites led by US imperialism. Italy has agreed to take part in NATO’s bombing campaign against Libya. The Italian authorities ought to remember that exactly 100 years ago, in 1911, Italy bombed Libya, but in the end lost to the Libyan patriots. It will be no different this time.
Imperialism seeks domination
Imperialism seeks domination, not freedom. The imperialist powers are seeking domination everywhere, including in the Middle East, not democracy. A democratised Middle East, with governments responsive to their people’s desires, needs and interests, is less likely to either provide cheap oil, which is the staple diet of modern industry, or be an accomplice in the US-led so-called war on terror, or collaborate with Israeli Zionism’s genocidal occupation of Palestine.
Far from promoting democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law, imperialism is busy toppling any regime that displays the slightest degree of independence and refuses to meekly comply with its diktat. One does not have to look very hard, or beyond the Middle East, to see through imperialism’s hypocrisy and double standards. Its support for the genocidal Israeli regime, for secular and religious autocracies and medieval relics, stand in glaring contrast to its attitude to Libya, Syria, Iran and the Iraq of the time of Saddam Hussein. The Israeli regime murders and tortures Palestinian people on a daily basis. Only two years ago, in their fascist onslaught on Gaza, the Israeli forces murdered more than 1,400 innocent men, women and children in cold blood. There was no call for a no-fly zone over Israel either from imperialist statesmen or from the representative organs of finance capital, such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, all of whom have presently worked themselves into a lurid frenzy over the alleged atrocities of the Libyan regime.
Israel would not last a year without the military, financial and diplomatic support of US imperialism, which has used its veto on 48 occasions to shield Israel from UNSC censure.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf medieval statelets oppress and suppress their populations and deny them the most basic of liberties. The ruling family in Bahrain has been engaged in the ruthless suppression of its own people, whose only crime has been to demand democratic elections and a constitutional monarchy. Since its start on 14 February, the democracy movement gained momentum, enjoying the support of the overwhelming majority of the people of this tiny kingdom, reaching dimensions beyond the power of the ruling family to control.
On Sunday, 13 March, the Bahraini riot police attacked a small protester camp outside Bahrain’s financial centre in Manama, only to be overwhelmed by tens of thousands of demonstrators, whereupon Bahrain’s ruling clique called on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman – to assist. The following day, Monday 14 March, a Saudi-led military force (the Gulf Peninsula Shield) of one thousand soldiers and several dozen tanks and other armour, crossed the causeway linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, to bludgeon an unarmed domestic Bahraini opposition demanding reform. Quite rightly, al-Wefaq, the largest opposition party in Bahrain, characterised GCC troops as an occupation force. There was no call for an R2P from the hypocritical political or ideological representatives of imperialism.
In a recent speech, US president Barack Obama, speaking on Libya, declared: “We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supply of cash, assist the opposition and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power”.
Instead of such calls being repeated in the case of Bahrain, or the condemnation of the Saudi-led occupation of Bahrain and calls for the ending of this occupation, there was deafening silence on the part of Obama and other imperialist statesmen. On the contrary, the medieval autocratic rulers of these rich oil corporations with flags – for that is what they are in reality – were mobilised on the same weekend by imperialism to get the Arab League to support the call for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to “protect Libyan civilian lives”! The sickening hypocrisy, the blatant double standards, the total breach between word and deed, involved in this charade is too obvious to require further comment. The regimes that deny their own people freedom of speech, assembly and association, let alone the right to elect governments of their own choice, the regimes that suppress by armed force unarmed peaceful protesters and cross their borders with tanks and soldiers to help their fellow hereditary autocrats to overwhelm peaceful protesters, have the temerity to condemn the Libyan regime for attempting to suppress an armed rebellion by the most obscurantist sections of Libyan society in league with imperialism.
Laughably, the GCC denounced Colonel Gaddafi’s regime as illegitimate, while backing the call for a no-fly zone! People who don’t, never have, and have no intention in the future, to submit themselves to their electorates, people who maintain their hereditary rule by force and a total denial of democratic expression to their people, calling the Gaddafi regime “illegitimate” is truly an example of the pot calling the kettle black.
An apparent contradiction
The above behaviour of imperialism and its puppets is only to be explained by the real material interests that bind the two sides to each other – not by some abstract notions of democracy, human rights and suchlike trivia, which so fascinate the fatuous petty bourgeois democrats, including our own fraternity of revisionists and Trotskyites. The material reality is that without imperialist support, the Kings, Sheikhs, Sultans and Emirs of the Gulf would not last a day; equally, without them imperialism will be in no position to dominate this region, endowed with such fabulous wealth, and which is the source of gargantuan profits to imperialist banks, oil giants, armament behemoths, construction companies and the like.
Thus there is no real – only an apparent – contradiction in the behaviour and attitude of imperialism in dealing with Libya, on the one hand, and Israel and the Gulf autocracies, on the other hand.
The same was true of imperialism’s attitude toward the suffocating and repressive dictatorships of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia. They were supported by all the imperialist powers to the hilt until they fell at the hands of their peoples. Only then did the leading imperialist powers suddenly start, no matter how insincerely, singing the praises of democracy, for the sole purpose of influencing the emerging political dispensation in favour of imperialism. Exactly the same is taking place in Yemen, whose president has killed hundreds of his own people to stay in power. Again, since he is an obedient servant of imperialism, there have been no calls either from the imperialist democracies or the Gulf autocracies for a no-fly zone over Yemen in the name of R2P.
The Secretary-General of the so-called Islamic Conference Organisation (ICO), comprising 57 Muslim countries, shamefully following in the footsteps of the Arab League, also called for a no-fly zone.
Ineffectual and utterly useless though the Arab League and the ICO are, their calls served imperialism well, for coming from Arab and Muslim quarters they provided a veneer of legitimacy to what after all is an imperialist project. Such calls also eased the consciences of some UNSC members who failed to vote against Resolution 1973, allegedly in compliance with the wishes of the Arab and Muslim world.
Not a war for democracy
The war being waged by imperialism against Libya is no more a war in furtherance of liberty, the rule of law, economic prosperity, political freedom and human dignity, than are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the hypocritical bourgeoisie and its sly and mercenary ideologues would have us believe.
The war criminals passing for heads of state and government, who are waging these wars in the name of “humanitarianism”, these assassins arrogating to themselves the role of guardians of humanity’s ethical standards, are best remembered for the two million innocent Iraqis they have devoured, for the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and many other concentration camps for the torture of tens of thousands of their victims, for the tens of thousands of Afghans dispatched to their deaths prematurely, for the hundreds of Pakistani villagers and townsfolk killed through drone attacks, for their support for the Zionist murderers and torturers of Palestinian people, for the four million Korean and three million Vietnamese they massacred during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and for their support for every autocratic regime – hereditary or otherwise – from the Middle East to Indonesia, Africa and Latin America.
Undeterred by its defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spurred on by the worst economic crisis ever faced by the capitalist world, US imperialism is bent upon, and is busy, implementing its Report of 2000, which dreamt of the New American Century. The predatory war against Libya is the latest episode in the continuing war in furtherance of that Hitlerite dream.
Why Libya targeted?
Libya has long been the target of imperialism for the double reason that, while possessing enormous gas and oil reserves, its regime, ever since Colonel Gaddafi came to power overthrowing the puppet Libyan King Idris, has played an anti-imperialist role and used the country’s oil wealth for the benefit of its own people, in addition to helping other African and non-African countries.
As to its mineral wealth, with 46.5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, Libya accounts for 3.5 per cent of the global reserves. Its oil reserves are the largest in Africa. Before the latest conflict, it produced 1.6 million barrels of oil per day, worth an average of $5.5 billion a month, accounting for 2 per cent of daily global oil production.
In addition, it possesses 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and produces 1,000 billion cubic feet of gas annually.
It is the 12th largest exporter of oil. The cost of production of Libyan oil is just $1 per barrel. With oil prices hovering around $110 a barrel, one does not have to be a mathematical genius to figure out how profitable Libyan oil fields are. Imperialism can hardly wait to get its sticky paws once again on Libyan oil by sidelining the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC), privatising Libya’s oil wells and transferring it into the hands of imperialist oil giants, especially the Anglo-Americans, such as Exxon, BP and Shell.
On coming to power, the Gaddafi regime closed down British and US bases in the country and nationalised the oil industry. In 1951, Libya, with $50 a year per capita income, was the poorest country in the world; 95 per cent of its people were illiterate. When Gaddafi came to power, life expectancy was 42.8 years. Presently it stands at 73. Infant mortality was 125 per 1,000 live births; presently it is 18. According to the 2008 figures, per capita annual income in Libya stands at $16,600, with illiteracy reduced to just 5 per cent. The disparity in income and wealth in Libya is smaller than in most countries and wealth is fairly spread through society. Every Libyan has rent-free accommodation, a car, as well as household goods such as televisions, video recorders and telephones. The standard of living of the Libyan people is not only the highest in Africa, but compares favourably with that prevailing even in the imperialist countries. Consequent upon these policies, life expectancy at birth stands at 73 years. The 2009 UN Human Development Report, which takes into account such factors as longevity, education and per capita income, puts Libya amongst the “high human development countries” – occupying 52nd place out of 179 countries studied by the UNHDR.
In an effort to “make the desert bloom” and reduce the country’s dependence on imported food, large agricultural projects have been undertaken through engineering schemes, such as the Great Man-Made River Project, aimed at pumping water from the depths of the Sahara to areas earmarked for agricultural development.
Listening to the representative spokesmen of imperialism, you would think Libya was a horrible hell hole. Let us listen to President Obama, who on 29 March “updated the American people on the international effort we have led in Libya”. Hypocritically asserting that “we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges”, he went on to refer to “our interests” being “at stake”, before launching the following untruthful anti-Gaddafi tirade as a prelude to justifying the unjust and unjustifiable predatory war against Libya. Colonel Gaddafi had “denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorised people around the world”, said the chief executive of US imperialism, that has for a whole century acted as a world gendarme and strangulated the liberties of hundreds of millions of people around the world and continues to do so.
Interestingly, at the end of March, a report was due for presentation by the UN Human Rights Council resulting in a resolution commending Libya’s progress in wide-ranging areas of human rights. Diplomatic delegations from numerous countries variously commended Libya for “achieving a high school enrolment rate and improvements in education of women”, its “enhanced development of human rights”, the progress made by it in the “achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, namely, universal primary education (and) firm commitment to (health) care”. Libya received praise for “cooperation with international organisations in combating human trafficking and corruption”, “progress in enjoyment of economic and social rights, including in the areas of education, health care, poverty reduction and social welfare”, and much more.
In May 2010, Libya was voted on to the UN Human Rights Council by 155 of 192 UN General Assembly votes – a veritable landslide.
It is incongruous in the extreme that while Libya was being praised in March by the majority of the UN for human rights progress across a wide spectrum, it is at the same time being subjected to savage bombardment by the chief imperialist powers and their satellites and puppets for alleged violation of human rights.
Libya has become the target of this aggression precisely because it has done so much for its people. The US, UK, France and many other NATO countries are precisely those who, in the apt language of one writer, “pontificate from the high moral molehills of the mass graves of the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq”, who are responsible for “Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, rendition flights and secret torture programmes and prisons across the globe …” (Felicity Arbuthnot, Global Research, 5 April 2011).
Besides using its resources for the benefit of the Libyan people, the Gaddafi government has had a proud record of supporting the liberation movements in several parts of the world – from the ANC in South Africa, SWAPO in Namibia, MPLA in Angola, and Polisario in the Sahara to the PLO in Palestine and the Sandanistas in Nicaragua, the Native American movements throughout the Americas and, let us not forget, Sinn Fein in Ireland. Nelson Mandela openly acknowledged that the Libyan regime’s support played an important role in the downfall of apartheid. It was, therefore, nothing short of historical ingratitude, and a cruel betrayal of a long-standing friend, when South Africa voted for Resolution 1973, which provided the legal fig leaf for the imperialist assault on Libya.
Libya also provided vast amounts of aid to a number of African countries and identified itself with Africa and the cause of African unity.
Precisely the things which Libya did for its own people and in support of other people’s progressive struggles, and which caused progressive humanity to support Libya, made it the target of imperialist hatred and venom. Libya has been in imperialism’s cross-hairs for a long time. In 1986, the Reagan administration launched air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 60 people, including Gaddafi’s daughter. The US intention had been to kill Gaddafi. Libya was subjected to long periods of sanctions on the pretext of trumped up allegations against it. The British and the US intelligence have been working with, and financing , opponents of the Libyan regime for literally decades.
In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Libya made fairly significant compromises with imperialism, even accepting responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paying compensation to its victims, even though it had nothing to do with it. In return, imperialism lifted sanctions which had an extremely deleterious effect on Libyan economy. All the same, Libya did not become a servile tool of imperialism. It continued its progressive stance, cultivating friendships with progressive regimes elsewhere. As such, imperialism’s hostility towards Libya, and its plans to overthrow the Libyan regime continued, waiting only for a suitable opportunity which arose in February this year. As soon as that happened, imperialist powers took off their gloves, took Libya to the UN Security Council, secured Resolution 1973 and, having in the meantime assembled a vast armada of fighter jets, submarines, aircraft carriers, drones, stealth bombers, frigates and destroyers, launched their predatory war against Libya on 19 March.
Apart from grabbing Libya’s oil, the aim of the imperialist powers is to rip apart Libya’s financial institutions and steal billions of dollars’ worth of Libyan assets lying in imperialist banks – all in the name of ‘humanitarian’ intervention to ‘save Libyan lives’. The EU and the US have already barred access to more than $60bn in Libyan bank accounts.
In the eastern part of the country, imperialism and its puppets have coerced the Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO), wholly owned by the National Oil Company (NOC) to declare for the opposition and, through a newly-established trading department, contacted buyers. At the beginning of March, the rebels set up a Transitional National Council (TNC), which France hurried to recognise on 10 March, that is, before Resolution 1973 and before the air strikes began.
Britain dropped a joint MI6/SAS team in the eastern part of Libya in the middle of the night by a special forces helicopter. Within minutes the group was captured and disarmed by a group of Libyan farmers. The intelligence officers and their minders were eventually released, causing great embarrassment to the British authorities. The clumsy incident clearly demonstrated that British imperialism was not just passively waiting for the UNSC before intervening in Libya on the side of their opposition stooges.
Edging China out of Africa
Yet another aim of this war is to edge China out of Libya and Africa. China, which has become Africa’s chief trading partner and a sizable investor in that continent, is considered an intruder by imperialism. The latter would love to re-establish its unchallenged hegemony over the continent through the expulsion of China.
At the same time there is a war within this war going on, with various imperialist powers attempting to gain an advantageous position at the cost of their fellow criminals. The US is attempting to establish its hegemony at the expense of France and, to a lesser extent, Italy, and thus redraw the contours of the African continent agreed at the 1884 Berlin conference, which carved up the African continent and at which the US played a largely peripheral and passive role. A redivision of the continent is underway, based on grabbing oil, gas and such other minerals as uranium, platinum, cobalt, chromium and manganese.
No wonder, then, that the Wall Street Journal of 23 February advocated that the “US and Europe should help Libyans overthrow the Gaddafi regime” (‘Liberating Libya’!)
Antics of Stop The War
Ever since the present Libyan crisis emerged, the conduct of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has been nothing short of shameful and scandalous. While the counter-revolutionary opposition rose up in rebellion against the Libyan regime, and imperialist butchers sharpened their knives in readiness for a massive assault on Libya, the response of the disgraceful coterie of counter-revolutionary Trots and revisionist renegades who run StWC, was to organise a demonstration – not against imperialism and its paid agents and mercenaries in Benghazi, but against the Gaddafi government!
Following the start of imperialist air attacks on Libya, the anti-Gaddafi stance of StWC could be seen by even the most dull-witted persons to be merely a cover for supporting imperialism in the latter’s attempt to overthrow the legitimate and by and large popular – yes, popular – anti-imperialist regime of a country with a population of just over 6.5 million. In the light of this, the mummified gentry of this allegedly anti-war organisation, instead of jettisoning its earlier pro-imperialist stance, hurried to change its tactics, but for the sole purpose of remaining on the imperialist side of the class barricade. It declared its opposition, in words at least, to the imperialist bombing campaign, not because it was unjust and predatory, against which the Libyan people and their government had a right and a duty to defend themselves, but because that bombing campaign would merely serve to bolster Gaddafi’s position, and thus serve to undermine the cause of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime – a cause so dear not only to the imperialist bandits presently engaged in the rape of Libya, but also to the ‘socialist’, ‘anti-imperialist’, ‘anti-war’ leadership of StWC.
“The air attacks on Libya … Will not help bring the downfall of Gaddafi. He is already portraying [only portraying?] the UN’s decision as an act of western colonisation and himself as the defender of Libyan sovereignty. Air strikes by the US and Britain will strengthen, not weaken, his position.”
The above counter-revolutionary sentiments, saturated through and through with pro-imperialist prejudices and a burning hatred for regimes that display the slightest degree of independence from imperialism, belong to a spokesman of StWC and appeared in the Guardian of 19 March.
So as not to leave anyone in doubt as to the real stance of StWC on the question of imperialism’s war aims in Libya, the StWC website carries an article by someone called Owen Jones, who has to be commended for his candour for, unlike the suave, smarmy, slimy characters – the Germans, the Reeses and Murrays of this world – who peddle their opportunism on the sly, he presents his revolting opportunism openly, honestly and unashamedly. With disarming frankness he writes:
“Let’s be clear. Other than a few nutters, we all want Gaddafi’s overthrow, dead or alive. In both his anti-western and pro-western incarnations, his record is that of a brutal and unquestionably slightly unhinged dictator. I will not caricature supporters of the bombing campaign as frothing-at-the-mouth neocons” (stopwar.org.uk).
The disgusting Mr Jones holds exactly the same counter-revolutionary position as is occupied by the slippery spivs of the StWC leadership, with the difference that he expresses himself clearly, precisely and without resort to subterfuges and euphemisms. He must be a source of great embarrassment to the slippery leading lights of StWC, for he blurts out the unvarnished truth, which the leaders of StWC would rather leave buried under a layer of obfuscation. Mr Jones’ crude and open opportunism is much to be preferred, for it is easy to detect and therefore far less dangerous to the anti-imperialist proletarian movement than the honeyed and sophisticated expression of the same malady by experienced and consummate renegades who are so adept at drowning the spirit of Marxism with Marxian phrases.
Andrew Murray, chairman of StWC, and a prominent member of the revisionist Communist Party of Britain (CPB), seems to have become somewhat alarmed by the stance that he and his fellow leaders of StWC have been taking, for this stance is threatening to undermine their credibility completely in the anti-war movement. He therefore engaged in damage limitation with an article entitled ‘Double or quits’ in the Morning Star of 22 April. In it he claims that “the character of the war has become clearer over the last month” and that “the Nato attack has changed the nature of the uprising [in Libya]. Whatever democratic content the rebellion had at the outset, it has now lost”. This is the thrust of his article and in an effort to substantiate this thesis, he meanders all over the place.
The war, he says, is “entering a new phase” and the anti-war movement needs to respond with greater unity “against the Nato aggression”.
Different people and organisations have “somewhat different appreciations of both the Gaddafi regime and of the uprising against it”, he says. He continues: “…before 2003, his [Gaddafi’s] regime had an authoritarian and eccentric anti-imperialist character”, but more recently “his regime has remained authoritarian and erratic but has moved into the orbit of imperialism”. All the same, he “did not become a puppet of the Hosni Mubarak type”, adding, however, that “it is wrong to assert that the rebellion based in Benghazi was some sort of pro-imperialist plot from the outset”. And why not? Because that “…line of thought assumes that there could be no legitimate reason for Libyan people to rebel against the regime when similar developments were occurring across the Arab world”.
But, he goes on, the NATO attack has changed the nature of the uprising, for a “new leadership has been introduced into the uprising, based on elements imported from the US and pro-imperialist defectors from Gaddafi’s camp”.
As this “leadership is now urging still more NATO bombing”, the “rebellion has become subordinated to the attack on its own country… the aggression, as these things always do, will have led to an accretion of patriotic sentiment on Gaddafi’s side”.
We have deliberately reproduced the above words of Comrade Murray to bring to the reader the self-annihilatory nonsense with which his article is stuffed. It is a perfect example of someone who speaks a lot but says nothing. Full of ifs and buts and incoherent mumbo jumbo as it is, all the same it reveals the utter bankruptcy of its author’s politics.
War, said Lenin, is a continuation of politics by other means. Since he claims to be a Marxist, Comrade Murray should have kept this famous dictum in mind. Anyone claiming to be a Marxist would have looked at the imperialist policy towards Libya over the past 4 decades – not just the past few weeks. He would have also looked at the character of the Libyan regime and its internal and external policy. Had he done so, he would have found that Libya has been a thorn in imperialism’s side precisely because of the independent anti-imperialist line it has pursued over several decades. Had he done so, he would have figured out that imperialism, even when at times it pretended friendship with Libya, has all along been ardent in its desire, and made repeated attempts, to overthrow the Gaddafi regime, whose opponents it has been funding and training for a long time, so as to establish a pliant puppet administration on the ruins of the Gaddafi regime – for the sole purpose of grabbing Libya’s fabulous mineral wealth, which it could not do without the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi’s government.
These are simple facts. By its war, imperialism is pursuing the same policy, only by violent means, which it has pursued over the past 4 decades by ‘peaceful’ means, during which Libya has been under constant pressure and the target of crippling imperialist sanctions, not to speak of air strikes in 1986 and several assassination attempts on the life of Colonel Gaddafi.
It is therefore sheer nonsense, worthy of a country yokel, to assert that that “Nato attack has changed the nature of the uprising” and deprived it of all “democratic content”. Anyone serious about the question would have asked: what democratic content did the rebellion have before the NATO attack, what was the policy of the rebels, their social base, their connections with imperialism, and their aims? Anyone with any knowledge of the history and the political physiognomy of the Libyan opposition would have had little difficulty in concluding that it was a counter-revolutionary tool manipulated by imperialism, that the coming to power of this reactionary clique through the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime would be an unmitigated disaster for, not only the Libyan people, but for the anti-imperialist movement generally.
He says: “it is wrong to assert that the rebellion based in Benghazi was some sort of pro-imperialist plot from the outset”. What proof has Comrade Murray for this assertion? None whatever, other than to say that such a “line of thought assumes that there could be no legitimate reason for Libyan people to rebel against the regime, at a time when similar developments were occurring across the Arab world”.
The last part of the sentence is a perfect example of mindless and mechanical extrapolation of developments from some countries to others, without the least attempt at differentiating the nature of rebellion in each country, the aims of the rebellion and the nature of the regime targeted.
There are rebellions and rebellions. For our part, we warmly and enthusiastically support uprisings of the type which have overthrown the Tunisian and Egyptian dictatorships, directed as they were against imperialism’s trusted servants and the enemies of the peoples of these countries. On the other hands, we do not support the opposition movements in Libya and Syria, for there is no democratic content to them, for their success would bring these countries into the vice-like grip of imperialism. One does not start painting one’s house, regardless of whether it needs painting or not, just because one’s neighbour is painting his. The Egyptian and Tunisian stooges of imperialism deserved to be overthrown and they were. Why should the Libyans follow suit when they have a regime, which safeguards Libyan national interests, uses the country’s wealth for the well-being of its people, and puts up resistance against imperialism.
If there are legitimate reasons justifying the Libyan people overthrowing their regime, Comrade Murray should have revealed those reasons through a concrete and thorough study of the politics, economics and policy of the Libyan regime and the state of affairs prevailing in Libya, instead of vaguely and abstractly asserting that there could be some “legitimate” reasons “for the Libyan people to rise against the regime”.
No one has ever asserted that there never could be any reason for the Libyan people to rise against their regime. The relevant question facing us is: are there presently good reasons for the Libyan people to get rid of the Gaddafi government? More particularly, has the Libyan opposition, from a progressive point of view, justifiable reasons on its side in its rebellion against the Gaddafi regime? Of course, it has ‘good’ counter-revolutionary reasons, which it shares with imperialism, for its stance. But that is not what we have in mind.
Instead of merely asserting that it is wrong to say that “the rebellion based in Benghazi was some sort of pro-imperialist plot from the outset”, Comrade Murray ought, by reference to concrete facts, to have shown that it was not the case. We maintain this rebellion was from the outset a counter-revolutionary plot, inspired, organised and financed by imperialism. Anyone, except the most feeble-minded, have known that for quite some time.
For the benefit of Comrade Murray, let us say a few words about the Libyan opposition.
The Libyan opposition
The opposition to the Gaddafi regime is mainly composed of the most reactionary elements of Libyan society, many of them with strong ties to the US government and western intelligence agencies – principally the CIA and Britain’s MI6. A veritable mix of Royalists (supporters of the former King Idris, a puppet of US and British imperialism, overthrown by Colonel Gaddafi and other patriotic officers of the Libyan army on 1st September 1969), feudalists (who oppose all modernity, including the equality in work and dress code, which Libyan women have achieved since the revolution), Arab supremacists (who hate Gaddafi’s stance on African unity), Islamists and fundamentalists (whom Gaddafi has upset by questioning their interpretation of Islam), disgruntled defectors from the Libyan regime, and straightforward paid mercenaries and agents of Anglo-American imperialism, constitute the opposition which has been portrayed in such glowing terms by the political and ideological representatives of imperialism and its propaganda arms.
Rarely admitted by the imperialist propaganda machine, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), is an integral part of the opposition and in the frontline of the rebellion. The LIFG, as well as many of its individual members, are characterised as terrorists by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Thus the US and NATO, while claiming to be waging a “War on Terrorism”, are gaily supporting an allegedly “pro-democracy movement” in Libya of which the LIFG is an integral part – in defiance of their own anti-terror laws.
Passed on the questionable, not to say false, pretext of the imperialist doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), the unjust cruelty of the UNSC’s Resolution 1973 assumes grotesque proportions in the light of the fact that it is in crying violation of UNSC resolution 1267, which damned the LIFG as a terrorist organisation.
Origins of LIFG
“Islamic Jihad” has had the covert and not so covert support of the CIA ever since the start of the Soviet-Afghan war. The CIA, through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), played a central role in training and financing the Mujahedeen, combining training in guerrilla warfare with the Wahhabi version of Islam.
The LIFG was founded in Afghanistan by the Libyan Mujahedeen who had fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. From its inception in the early 1990s, the LIFG has served as an important “asset” of the CIA and the British MI6. Beginning with 1995, it conducted Islamic Jihad against the secular regime of Colonel Gaddafi, making an attempt on Gaddafi’s life in 1996, in which several of his bodyguards were killed though he survived. This attempt on Gaddafi’s life is widely believed to have been funded by British intelligence to the tune of $160,000, if David Shayler, former MI5 officer, is to be believed. What is certain, however, is that Britain allowed LIFG to operate on its soil for fund raising purposes and as a logistics base.
After a major eruption of fighting between Libyan security forces and Islamic fighters in September 1995 in Benghazi, leaving scores of dead on each side, the LIFG openly announced its existence in a communiqué characterising the Gaddafi regime as an “apostate that has blasphemed against the faith of God Almighty”, whose overthrow was “the foremost duty after faith in God”.
This communiqué, and several others subsequently, were issued by Libyan Afghans from the safety of political asylum in Britain.
Whether or not the LIFG is part of Al Qaeda is a controversial question, with a 2007 report suggesting that it is in fact a subsidiary of Al Qaeda, subsequently assuming the name of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The Islamic terror groups played the role of CIA tools during NATO’s “humanitarian war” against Yugoslavia. The thugs, criminals, drug runners, masterminds of prostitution rackets and traffickers in human body parts, which passed for the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), had close links with them. These same Islamic groups were used by the Clinton administration to provide support to the Bosnian Muslim army in the early 1990s.
Operation Odyssey Dawn fits into the same pattern – support for an insurgency spearheaded by an organisation considered terrorist by the US as well as the UN, justified as a “humanitarian” operation aimed at “saving civilian lives”.
Notwithstanding contrary assertions, the LIFG was never disbanded. It continued to get covert support from the CIA and MI6 and is now an integral part of the insurgency supported by imperialism. The US and NATO are arming the Jihadists, with anti-tank rockets, ground-to-air missiles and other weapons finding their way to the LIFG through Saudi Arabia.
One of the top military leaders of the opposition happens to be Khalifa Haftar, a former Libyan army colonel, who spent 25 years living just seven miles from the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, with no obvious means of support. He says: “he had often talked to the Central Intelligence Agency while he lived in exile in suburban Virginia”.
It is the above repulsive groupings that constitute the opposition to the regime of Colonel Gaddafi. Using the events in neighbouring countries as a pretext and a cover, they are attempting, with the full backing of imperialism, to stage a counter-revolutionary revolt against the Libyan regime and advance an agenda in their own selfish interests and that of their imperialist masters.
Benghazi has become the centre of this counter-revolutionary uprising as it has a long tradition of fostering fundamentalist and Islamic movements such as the Wahhabis and Salafists. It is they who founded the LIFG, which over the years has been involved in the assassination of leading members of the Libyan revolutionary committees. It has also got some people who are monarchists. On 22 February, the BBC showed pictures of crowds in Benghazi hauling down the Libyan flag and substituting for it the flag of the former King Idris – a puppet of British and US imperialism.
It is to this repulsive hotchpotch that the International Contact group, recently set up and composed of the leading imperialist powers and their servile flunkeys, at its 13 April meeting in Doha, decided to extend financial support as well as arms to “defend themselves” and help Libyans (don’t laugh, for it is not a joke) “choose their own future”.
From the above, we can see how wrong Comrade Murray was in his assertion.
Towards the end of his article, and pointing out the unpopularity of the Libyan war, Comrade Murray says:
“Never has the anti-war movement had such a proportion of the public on its side at such an early stage of a conflict”. He ought to have added: never has the anti-war movement squandered such an opportunity to build a truly anti-imperialist movement through the mobilisation of the working class against the predatory war against Libya and of enlightening the masses by showing the inextricable link between war and imperialism. The sad truth is that, thanks to the opportunist social-democratic politics of its leading clique, StWC is literally dying on its feet.
There are many other gems in Comrade Murray’s article. Neither time nor space allow us to deal with them in this article. In all likelihood we shall come back to the subject in a subsequent issue.
We conclude our observations on the StWC by saying that Comrade Murray is trying to please too many masters – from the counter-revolutionary Trots of the Counterfire group to the revisionist cretins of the CPB, both of whom are tied hand and foot to the imperialist Labour Party. If he wants to play an important role in the anti-imperialist and anti-war movement, he should have the courage to break out of their suffocating embrace. He cannot continue to be in the pro-imperialist and anti-imperialist camps at the same time.
In the light of the foregoing, it is clear as daylight that the war in Libya, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are not driven by a concern for human life. They are driven by the imperialist voracity for the mineral resources of the region, for markets and avenues of investment. It is domination that imperialism is after, which is providing the motive force for the imperialist wars as the only way out of the imperialist crisis of overproduction.
Imperialism does not give a damn for human life. Under this filthy and bloodthirsty system, 11 million children die each year (29,000 every day) of preventable diseases, 4 million of whom perish in the first month of their life. If developing countries had infant and mortality rates similar to those of Cuba, a poor socialist country that dearly values the right to life, 8.4 million children and 500,000 mothers would be saved each year.
To keep this historically outmoded system, 111 million people’s lives have been lost in imperialist wars. Notwithstanding the pretended concern of imperialism for civilian lives, it is mainly civilians who are increasingly being slaughtered in the present-day imperialist wars. If during the First World War, civilian deaths accounted for 5% of total casualties, in the wars of conquest since 1990, a horrendous 90% of all those killed have been innocent civilians – collateral damage, in the chilling language of NATO.
Military spending during the last decade has increased 49%, to reach $1.5tr, more than half of which is attributable to the US alone. Such monstrous growth of militarism is hardly indicative of imperialism’s concern for human life.
The Libyan predatory war, undertaken for the alleged purpose of saving civilian lives, has already claimed hundreds of Libyan civilian lives through NATO’s indiscriminate bombing. In their desperation, NATO on 25 April bombed the Bab al-Azizia compound of Colonel Gaddafi, destroying a multi-story library and office, badly damaging a reception hall for visiting dignitaries, in a clear attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader.
Thus it can be seen that, far from being the saviours of civilian lives, the NATO air forces, and their pilots, are nothing but an international assassination squad unleashed by imperialism on countries who do not have the wherewithal to defend themselves against these acts of banditry.
Whatever the tortures inflicted on the Libyan people, they will resist imperialist aggression and inflict on the predatory aggressors a humiliating defeat.
For our part, the Libyan people, led by Colonel Gaddafi’s government, have our full support.
VICTORY TO THE LIBYAN PEOPLE
DEATH TO IMPERIALISM