Friday, March 18, 2011

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 the 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

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