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|Proletarian issue 44 (October 2011)
|Support the Libyan resistance
|The revolutionary movement in the advanced countries is a sheer fraud if, in their struggle against capital, the workers of Europe and America are not united with millions of colonial slaves oppressed by capital.
|The imperialist predatory war against Libya began on 19 March 2011, when French aircraft attacked Libyan targets. A few hours later, the British joined in, with HMS Triumph, a Trafalgar-class submarine, along with elements of the US Navy, firing 110 Tomahawk missiles into the country. Simultaneously, RAF surveillance aircraft took to the Libyan sky and began locating potential targets for imperialism’s ‘humanitarian’ bombings.
The attacks have intensified over the six months of this unjust war, which has been waged by the most powerful imperialist countries (whose combined defence budgets are more than 20 times the entire GDP of their victim) against a country of just 6.5 million people, and which has, by comparison, little conventional defence capacity with which to confront the invading aggressor hordes.
From the very beginning, this war has been not only unjust and predatory, but also illegal, even in terms of bourgeois international law. The United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1973, which provided the ‘legal’ fig-leaf, was itself illegal, since it breaches the UN Charter, which does not allow such intervention in the circumstances then prevailing in Libya, being passed under Chapter 7, which relates to threats to international peace and security, which were not even alleged in the case of Libya.
Moreover, once passed, the resolution itself was immediately breached by the imperialist bandits. Whereas their remit was to establish a no-fly zone over Libya, allegedly to protect civilian lives, the Nato countries used their mandate, as had been intended all along, to effect regime change in Libya. With this aim in mind, instead of protecting civilians, Nato has indulged in an orgy of indiscriminate bombing of both military and civilian targets.
Between 31 March (when it took command of the war) and 1 September, Nato conducted 21,090 sorties, of which 7,920 were strike sorties, excluding the intensive bombing raids in the two weeks prior to 31 March. If one multiplies the number of strike sorties by the average number of missiles or bombs unleashed by each plane, one gets an accurate picture of the scale of the military assault let loose against the innocent Libyans. Nearly 8,000 sorties represent more than 50,000 missiles and bombs dropped on the Libyan people – each one of which would count as a serious disaster in ordinary times.
Nothing has been sacrosanct. In true Nazi fashion, Nato has bombed television transmitters, power stations, water supply systems, schools, hospitals, mosques and residential areas. It has targeted the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and his family for assassination, and killed one of his sons and three of his baby grandchildren.
By 31 August, according to a spokesman for the imperialist stooge NTC (National Transitional Council), the war against Libya had claimed the lives of 50,000 people – both civilians and combatants, mostly the former. It thus turns out, as it was bound to, that the war ‘to protect civilians’ has produced a carnage which belies the feigned humanitarian concerns of the principal bloodthirsty imperialist powers, as well as their Arab stooges from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
In addition, France, Britain, the US and Qatar sent special forces to train, advise and, in some cases, lead rebel military operations – all in breach of the UN mandate. Through Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and in flagrant violation of the UN embargo on the shipment of arms to Libya, Nato supplied the rebels with heavy weaponry and other equipment.
Frustrated by the inability of Nato’s rebels to make significant military gains, even with all this backing, and in an effort to break the stalemate, France shipped tons of weapons and ammunition to Berbers based in the Nafusa mountains in early June – “a move which technically [only technically!] broke the UN arms embargo”, as the Telegraph put it, taking a typically kindly view of the blatant breach of the Security Council resolution by France, one of the most vicious oppressors of the African and Arab peoples. (‘How the special forces helped bring Gaddafi to his knees’ by Sean Rayment, 29 August 2011)
Qatar (the chief supplier on behalf of imperialism of military hardware to the rebels), Turkey and France also made available several hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of bilateral loans to the rebels. This happened at the same time as Libyan government funds to the tune of £100bn were ‘frozen’ (in fact, they were stolen) by the US and the EU – in the biggest-ever bank heist.
While under bombardment, the Libyan government was prevented from exporting crude oil and importing diesel and other forms of fuel by the Swiss oil-trading giant Vitol, which has close connections to Alan Duncan, Britain’s (don’t laugh) Minister of State for International Development. The rebels, on the other hand, were facilitated in illegally selling two tankers of Libyan crude – nearly 1.8m barrels – and received 30 tankers of gasoline, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas, which kept their rag-tag forces moving, petrol stations filled, and power stations running.
On top of all this, the Libyan government was the target of the most draconian and cruel economic sanctions.
Invasion of Tripoli
In spite of the total war waged by Nato against the Libyan people, the rebel stooges, backed though they were by the combined air power of, among others, the US, Britain, France, Italy and their various local satellites and stooges, were making no progress.
To break this stalemate before the deadline of 19 September (when the mandate granted by Resolution 1973 expired), Nato brought in tens of thousands of mercenaries from neighbouring countries. Led by Qatari and other special forces, arrangements were made for these guns for hire to invade the Libyan capital at the same time as sleeper cells (created over several months and trained in urban insurgency and sabotage and infiltrated into Tripoli) were ordered to spark a supposed rebellion.
This attack from within and without started on the evening of Saturday 20 August. To ease its path, Nato started heavy bombardment of the capital on Saturday morning, when five Paveway IV bombs were dropped on Tripoli by the RAF. Col Gaddafi’s headquarters at Bab al-Aziziya were bombed all day and night as mercenaries attacked the city from the outside and saboteurs from within.
The Telegraph of Tuesday 23 August makes clear the part played by Britain’s special forces in the battle for Tripoli in the following boastful tones:
“For weeks, military and intelligence officers have been helping the rebels plan their coordinated attack on the capital, and Whitehall sources have disclosed that the RAF stepped up raids on Tripoli on Saturday morning in a prearranged plan to pave the way for the rebel advance.
“MI6 officers based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi had honed battle plans drawn up by Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) which were agreed 10 weeks ago.
“The constantly-updated tactical advice provided by British experts to the rebel leaders centred on the need to spark a fresh uprising within Tripoli that could be used as the cue for fighters to advance on the city. ”
The Telegraph added that: “although the uprising in Tripoli began on Saturday night, the first phase of the battle for the capital had begun hours earlier, when RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft attacked a key communications facility in southwest Tripoli as part of the agreed battle plan”. (‘Secret role played by Britain creating path to the fall of Tripoli’ by Gordon Rayner)
SAS and other special forces supplied the rebels with crucial intelligence from surveillance aircraft and drones, enabling them to make the most of the limited firepower.
In an effort to claim glory from the safety of some leafy lane in the home counties, Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, confirmed on 22 August that Britain had supplied the rebels with a variety of equipment, including night-vision goggles, means of advanced telecommunications and 1,000 sets of body armour.
On the same day, British prime minister David Cameron, speaking outside 10 Downing Street, paid tribute to the “incredible bravery, professionalism and dedication” of the RAF pilots who subjected Tripoli to days of non-stop bombing. But Mr Cameron insults us all, for what bravery can there be in blitzing from the skies people who have no means of retaliating?
The truth is that the imperialist air crews, including those from Britain, in their bombing of Tripoli, as in their bombing of Iraqi, Afghan and Yugoslav centres of population, have acted as cowardly mercenaries and paid professional killers. They faced no danger and there was no soldiering honour in what they have done. Compared with them, even the bestial Nazi pilots of yore come out shining with glory, for they faced formidable opponents and actually put their lives at risk.
Cameron went on to say: “This has not been our revolution but we can be proud that we have played our part.”
Again, there is nothing to be proud of as regards this attempted counter-revolution; this attempt at acting as the hangman of other people’s liberties on behalf of the robber barons of finance capital.
Cameron went on to add: “There will undoubtedly be difficult days ahead. No transition is ever smooth or easy. But today the Arab spring is a step further away from oppression and dictatorship and a step closer to freedom and democracy.”
The truth, however, is that if Britain and her fellow imperialist criminals were to succeed, the Libyans would find the clock turning back 42 years to the days when the ineffectual, degenerate and corrupt Libyan monarchy allowed Standard Oil to write Libya’s petroleum law and furnish military bases for the US and Britain. They would be once again enslaved and subjected to the most cruel dictatorship of, and superexploitation by, international monopoly capitalism – imperialism, which strives for domination, not for freedom.
Along with them, many countries of Africa and further afield, who have been the recipients of Libyan largesse over the past four decades, would suffer likewise.
On entering Tripoli, the rebels claimed that they were in control of Green Square and had captured Saif al-Islam and two other sons of Col Gaddafi, but as a matter of fact, the battle was not going well for them. The film of cheering crowds in Green Square splashed across the world by the obliging imperialist media turned out to be a fabrication by Al Jazeera, the Qatari network owned by the Emir of that natural gas field, in a studio in Doha – an attempt to fool the Libyans and their supporters into giving up their resistance.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s News 24 channel showed what it claimed was a “live link-up” with Green Square, supposedly full of relieved Libyans come out to celebrate the fall of Gaddafi. More astute viewers, however, spotted that whether or not the footage was ‘live’, it certainly was not coming from Libya. Not only were many of the men wearing Nehru caps, but the crowd was full of Indian flags. A more bare-faced piece of war propaganda lies would be hard to imagine!
Within 24 hours of the announcement of his capture, Saif al-Islam turned up at a hotel where foreign journalists were billeted, before touring the city to meet hundreds of cheering government supporters. He exhorted the citizens of Tripoli to resist Nato and its stooges, and, indeed, a huge number of rebel infiltrators were eliminated by the armed citizens.
Meanwhile, Col Gaddafi took to the airwaves and exhorted Libyans to defend Tripoli “as a matter of life and death”. By Monday 22 August, imperialist attacks had forced Libya’s state broadcaster off the air, and independent reporters who contradicted the stories put out by bourgeois journalists received veiled death threats from western ‘journalists’ staying in the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli.
Independent journalist Franklin Lamb was shot in the leg as he attempted to gather information regarding the status of the streets; Mahdi Nazemroaya was shot at by a sniper as he went to the roof of his hotel to find out what was happening outside.
When the mercenary pack abandoned the hotel, the Libyan authorities were able to confirm that many of them were CIA and MI6 agents working under journalistic cover; they had ordered independent journalists not to speak of al-Qaeda involvement in the Nato assault on Tripoli – denial of which is a psyops against the residents of Tripoli, the working class of the countries waging this barbaric war, and an attempt to conceal Nato’s criminality.
Nato, faced with a humiliating defeat, decided to unleash carpet bombing on Tripoli. The cowardly Nato pilots bombed all areas whose residents were believed to be supporters of Col Gaddafi’s government; and since these were the overwhelming majority, Nato bombed vast areas of the city, killing thousands of people.
It is reliably estimated that in the 10 days following the rebel entry into Tripoli, 30,000 people were killed, mostly by Nato bombing. Nato struck Bab al-Aziziya 64 times, and in the end succeeded in destroying it totally. Nato’s ‘brave’ pilots showed their dedication and mercenary professionalism by targeting and horribly massacring the civilian activists who had set up an impromptu tent city outside Col Gaddafi’s compound in solidarity with him and in defiance of Nato’s attack.
In its campaign to install the NTC, Nato committed every type of war crime. It combined extensive state terrorism with mass murder, wanton destruction and criminal damage. It conducted a relentless assault not only on government tanks, artillery and command centres, but also on civilian areas and the essentials of ordinary life: roads, schools, hospitals, water supplies and power stations. It deployed secret intelligence operatives and internal saboteurs, launched one of the most blatant and all-encompassing disinformation campaigns ever seen, and exacerbated the effect of the bombings on ordinary people by imposing strangulating economic sanctions that effectively prevented food and medical supplies from being restocked or damaged buildings and infrastructure being repaired.
Having pulled out all the stops and thrown every available resource at the battle, the imperialist forces were able by 23 August to overrun many areas of Tripoli – but not all of it. Revealingly, the NTC, while claiming to be fully in control of the city, has so far not felt confident enough to move its headquarters from Benghazi to the Libyan capital.
Lynching and looting
In the wake of Nato’s bombing campaign and the entry of imperialist special forces, dubbed ‘Operation Mermaid Dawn’, the stage was set for looting, torture and genocide.
After overrunning several parts of Tripoli, the Nato rebels lynched anyone who looked black, whereas the residents of areas known to be loyal to the government were either bombed or had their homes burned down. Nato rebels went from house to house in an orgy of looting, destroying what they could not carry with them. Many government officials were mercilessly done to death.
Thus it can be seen that it is not the popular masses of Libya who have risen against the Libyan regime. On the contrary, the latter enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of the Libyan people, who hate Nato and its stooges.
Moreover, it is clear that the decisive part in the battle for Tripoli was played by outside agents. Without the help of British SAS and MI6 agents, French legionnaires, US Navy Seals and CIA agents, troops from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and thousands of non-Libyan mercenaries over several days of heavy fighting, Nato’s rebels would not have been able to take control of the large areas of Tripoli that they eventually overran, despite all the airborne firepower backing them up.
In a hurry to declare victory and carve up the spoils, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron jointly hosted a meeting of the so-called ‘Friends of Libya’ at the Elysée palace in Paris. In attendance were representatives of all the countries and organisations that had backed Nato’s predatory war, as well as the stooges of the NTC, headed by Mustafa Abdul Jalil.
This jamboree to celebrate Nato’s ‘victory’ was held on the evening of 1 September, which marked both the 42nd anniversary of the Libyan revolution and the 72nd anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, which triggered the second world war. One can only speculate as to whether this date was chosen by the leaders of Anglo-French imperialism by way of contempt for the Libyan revolution which brought Col Gaddafi to power, or in emulation of the Hitlerite modus operandi in the sphere of international relations.
War not over
“Things never turn out how you expect, dear boy,” once remarked former British prime minister Harold Macmillan. The imperialists and their stooges are surely celebrating prematurely, for they might yet be unpleasantly surprised by unfolding events in Libya over the coming weeks and months.
Large parts of the country, including Sabha, Bani Walid and Sirte, the birthplace of Col Gaddafi and a bastion of his Gaddafifah tribe, remain under government control, while the Libyan leader and his son, Saif al-Islam, remain at large and in country, taunting and tormenting Nato with their calls for Libyans to resist. The war is hardly over yet. The control of Sirte by government forces practically cuts the country into two halves between east and west, leaving Tripoli and Benghazi mutually accessible only by sea.
Even as Cameron and Sarkozy were uncorking their champagne bottles, Col Gaddafi broadcast a defiant message in which he denounced the rebels as rats and agents of colonialism, too insignificant to have the destiny of Libya thrust into their hands. Libyans, he said, will not surrender. He concluded by exhorting the Libyan people to continue fighting and resisting the colonisers and their traitorous puppets, reminding them that Nato was out to grab the country’s oil and water resources.
All attempts thus far by the Nato rebels to take control of the areas still run by the government have failed. Particularly humiliating has been the repeated failure of the rebels at Bani Walid, a city mainly dominated by Libya’s largest, 1-million-strong Warfalla tribe, which is clearly not interested in Nato-sponsored ‘Benghazi liberation’.
After each such failure, Nato planes have returned to subject the defenders to saturation bombing, using mustard gas and other deadly agents in an effort to terrorise and frighten them into surrender. Filled with impotent rage at its failure, Nato has been laying siege to and bombing Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabah non-stop – all to no effect.
Moussa Ibrahim, the government spokesman, has vowed that all of Libya will be liberated, to which purpose forces are being gathered all over the country.
Resistance has intensified everywhere. According to some reports, Ras Lanuf and Brega have been liberated, while fighting has erupted in Ajdabiya. Intense clashes between Nato militia and the Libyan Jamahiriya have been reported in the north of Gharayan.
On 11 September, a Libyan army brigade under the command of Col Khamis Gaddafi launched an attack on Zauli, where 10 members of the British intelligence services are reported to have been killed.
The Independent has reported that the Libyan army fired at the front line, to the south of Tripoli. Residents of Tripoli recently greeted the destruction of a number of Nato rebels with shouts of “Allah hu Akbar”.
The supporters of the Libyan Jamahiriya have held sizeable demonstrations, waving green flags, in several parts of Benghazi. Unable to stop these demonstrations, the rebels fired at the demonstrators, killing several people.
Meanwhile, various Nato rebel factions are on the brink of war with each other. In one reported shooting incident, one group of mercenaries shot at another for refusing to take orders. Many of the rebel groups are refusing to obey Jibril, asserting that he does not represent them.
In the city of Misrata, Nato rebels have detached themselves from the NTC, while Abdul Hakim Belhadj, voted the commander of the Tripoli Military Council with Nato approval, has said that Jibril represents no one. Another Nato rebel leader, Ismail al-Salibi, has threatened to kill all executive council members one by one, having previously called on the entire interim cabinet to resign.
The crucial command posts in the rebel ranks are occupied by leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed until the end of June as a terrorist organisation by the UN and to this day by the British government. Abdul Hakim Belhadj (also known as Abu Abdullah al-Sadeq, as well as Hakim al-Hasidi) is the ‘former’ emir of LIFG, who was helped by the CIA to found the organisation following his experience in fighting the Soviet-backed progressive government in Afghanistan.
After ‘disavowing violence’, he was released from a Libyan jail in 2010, and went on to ‘disband’ the LIFG and replace it with the Libya Islamic Movement for Change (LIMC), which is no more than the LIFG under a new label. This jihadist is now promoted by Nato and the imperialist media as a ‘reformed’ character and has been recruited into Nato’s service for bringing ‘democracy’ to Libya.
Divisions in the rebel camp
Although convenient for Nato to accord him such prominence, Belhadj’s presence spells further trouble in the ranks of the Libyan stooge camp, which has already been plunged into disarray following the murder on 28 July of rebel military commander General Abdul Fatah Younes.
Since then, rebel forces have been characterised by a level of indiscipline and infighting that have undermined their capacity as a fighting force. Such chaos pervaded the ranks of the rag-tag units constituting the rebel brigades that even bourgeois commentators were compelled until recently to state: read “rabble” for “rebel forces”. In all probability, the Islamists were behind the murder of Younes.
Following the murder of Younes, the Daily Telegraph made this penetrating observation: “As the heat of Ramadan takes hold across the Middle East, one prospect to view with a fair degree of certainty is that al-Qaeda and its allies will not take off to the beaches of Alexandria, or the green hills of Tuscany. The killing of General Younes proves that they’re right in there, and it would not be beyond expectation to discover that, in the long run, we may have helped Islamist regimes take root in both Libya and Egypt. Even in Ramadan, nature abhors a vacuum.” (‘What did we expect from the Arab spring’ by Alistair Horne, former MI5 employee, 17 August 2011)
General Younes hailed from one of the most powerful tribes, the Obeida, whose members will not fail to avenge his assassination. At his funeral, one of his sons shouted: “We want Gaddafi back. We want the Green flag.”
The New York Times reported that, 11 days after the entry of the rebels, Tripoli “remains divided into fiefs, each controlled by quasi-independent brigades representing different geographic areas of the country. And the spray paint to mark their territory tells the story of a looming leadership crisis in the capital Tripoli. ” (‘Tripoli divided as rebels jostle to fill power vacuum’ by David D Kirkpatrick and Rod Nordland, 30 August 2011)
The biggest trouble is likely to erupt between the followers of Jibril and al-Qaeda-linked jihadis. According to one report, even the CIA view is that “Al Qaeda will eat Mahmoud Jibril and the entire rebel leadership for iftar during one of their Ramadan feasts ... They are just waiting for the right opportunity to make a dramatic move and take control.” (‘End game for Benghazi rebels as Libyan tribes prepare to weigh in’ by Franklin Lamb, globalresearch.ca, 3 August 2011)
The regional, ethnic and ideological divisions in the rebel camp, in addition to the absence of a central command, are only too evident. The rebels from different areas fight independently and roll their eyes in condescension at each other. When this is combined with their unpopularity with the Libyan masses, who dismiss them as traitors and stooges, and the heroic resistance put up by the government forces, the rebels’ future looks bleak.
Role of the bourgeois media
Nato could neither have started, nor conducted, its predatory war on the Libyan people had the bourgeois media not participated, by omission as well as by commission, in propagating the lies that have supported it.
With the odd honourable exception, this shameless pack of mercenaries has acted as an enthusiastic cheerleader for the principal imperialist powers. Instead of reporting facts, journalists have simply read and relayed the communiqués issued by the defence and foreign ministries of the countries waging the war – just as they have been doing for years in connection with the wars waged by imperialism against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are a few examples.
As soon as the counter-revolutionary rebellion, aided and abetted by imperialism, broke out on 17 February 2011, the corporate media, on cue from the ruling classes of the leading imperialist countries and their political representatives, went into a frenzy of anti-Gaddafi propaganda.
It was claimed that the Libyan government was guilty of the use of ‘brutal force’ to suppress ‘peaceful protests’ in Benghazi; that it had deployed its air force to bomb its opponents in Tripoli; and that, therefore, the ‘international community’ (ie, a tiny clique of imperialist bloodsuckers) had a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) innocent and peace-loving citizens against such a bloodthirsty and brutal regime. In time, all these assertions were proven to be fabrications and lies, but by that point they had served their purpose and done the intended damage to Libya’s reputation. Eventually, the media quietly dropped these lies without making the slightest retraction or apology.
In the meantime, in the febrile hysteria created by this propaganda blitzkrieg, the Security Council, which we by no means wish to absolve, passed the resolution that provided imperialism with the appearance at least of a legal cover for its brutal war for domination, for the enslavement of the Libyan people, for robbing them of their oil, gas and water resources.
The bourgeois media never even mentioned the fact that, on the very eve of the bombing, the Libyan army had entered the western suburbs of Benghazi and the rebels were preparing to surrender in exchange for a pardon, whilst a few die-hards were busy packing their vehicles to flee to Egypt. Whereas this pacification had occurred almost without casualties, the very day imperialist strikes began, the number of wounded and killed went up several dozen times.
At each stage of the war since then it has been the endeavour of the imperialist electronic, broadcast and print media to glorify Nato and its stooges as liberators, while demonising the Gaddafi government for defending Libya’s sovereignty, honour and territorial integrity, the proud achievements of four decades of construction, and the well-being of its people. This media, devoid of all professionalism, ethics or human feeling, has kept a deafening silence about the following outrages committed by Nato in the name of ‘protecting civilians’:
Television station bombed in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the Libyan leader in a heavily-populated area of Tripoli, close to schools and hospitals.
A school for Downs Syndrome children in Tripoli bombed.
Bombs destroyed the home of one of Colonel Gaddafi’s sons in a residential area of Tripoli killing three of his grandchildren – 6-month-old Mastura, Aisha’s daughter; two-year-old Carthage, son of Hannibal; and 2-year-old Seif Mohammed, son of Gaddafi’s elder son, Mohammed – and Seif al-Arab, Gaddafi’s son. Again, the Libyan leader was the target, but he escaped.
Eleven imams murdered in Brega.
University of Tripoli bombed with a considerable number of casualties.
State television bombed again: three technicians killed and scores wounded.
The Great Man-made River irrigation system bombed, thus denying water to a vast number of Libyans.
For good measure, the factory which makes pipes for the water system bombed, which left six of its workers dead.
The hospital at Zliten bombed, leaving at least 50 people dead, several of them children.
The village of Majer bombed, resulting in the massacre of 85 civilians, of whom 33 were children, 32 women and 20 men.
Towards the end of July in Benghazi, Qatari troops, with tanks and helicopters, killed more than 120 unarmed, or poorly-armed, members of the Warfalla tribe and others perceived to be supporters of the Libyan government. US, British and French forces present on the streets of Benghazi also took part in this massacre of innocent people.
On top of all this, as the rebels were no match for government forces, before any town was captured by the opposition it was relentlessly bombed by Nato forces, leaving behind a trail of devastation, death and destruction. Before the rebel entry, Tripoli was bombed intensively for more than two weeks and the bombing continued during and after the rebel invasion.
As we write, in an effort to capture Bani Walid and Sirte, Nato war planes are busy carpet bombing those cities, while their Libyan stooges attempt to lay a medieval siege on these centres of population that could, as is already clear, result in massive casualties. The stooges are led by British and Qatari special forces, intelligence operatives and mercenaries from diverse sources. At least 2,000 people have been killed in Sirte as a result of Nato bombing and many more have been wounded.
Although it has all been wrought under the banner of ‘protecting civilians’, the responsibility for all this death and destruction – on both sides – lies at the doorstep of those who brought war to the land of Libya, that is, the Nato leaders and their cheerleaders in the media. Alongside the Nato alliance’s military and political leaders, its ideologues and journalists also deserve to face a war-crimes tribunal of the type that tried the Nazi war criminals following the end of the second world war.
Not reporting Nato’s war crimes and breaches of international law, or the fact that Nato is involved in a war for conquest, spoliation and domination, has been integral to the imperialist media’s campaign of disinformation and falsification. Just as Nato’s war crimes go unrecorded, so does the Libyan people’s resistance led by the Gaddafi government.
While denouncing the Libyan government for standing up to imperialist brigandage and aggression, the media refer to the counter-revolutionary rebellion as a struggle for ‘liberation’ and ‘democracy’, with Nato’s role portrayed as being limited to protecting civilians.
While stubbornly refusing to give proper coverage to the thousands upon thousands killed during the relentless bombing of Tripoli by Nato’s hi-tech killing machines, the media regale their audience with any amount of real and imagined trivia regarding the supposed size of Col Gaddafi’s swimming pool, his female bodyguards, his cosmetic plastic surgery and so on. Naturally, it never occurs to the organs of bourgeois propaganda even to hint that Col Gaddafi was, and remains, an overwhelmingly popular leader with the Libyans.
In the light of what we know from sources outside the bourgeois media, some of which is reflected in the foregoing, one can gauge the total lack of honesty, the total disregard for truth, contained in the 24 August editorial of that most representative organ of British finance capital, the Financial Times. In it the leader writer asserted that Nato was close to achieving its goal of overwhelming Col Gaddafi “without incurring many civilian casualties” and “without flagrantly breaching the UN resolution that confined military action to protecting civilians”.
Since Nato’s mandate never included regime change, how overwhelming Col Gaddafi can be reconciled with Resolution 1973, God and the Financial Times alone know. As to “not many civilian casualties”, even the Financial Times leader writer must know that is a cynical lie of Goebbelsian proportions. Let this worthy ask the bereaved families of nearly 100,000 who have so far been butchered by Nato whether they consider their numbers to be few.
The truth that needs to permeate the British working-class movement is that our media are completely subservient to, and inextricably bound up with, the imperialist system. As such, they have no commitment to truth; their only job is to safeguard the interests of imperialism. As part of doing that job, they have, in the context of the war in Libya, been knee-deep in a campaign of falsification and obfuscation, a campaign of psychological warfare on behalf of imperialism.
The role of the ‘left’
“The revolutionary movement in the advanced countries”, said Lenin, “would actually be a sheer fraud if, in their struggle against capital, the workers of Europe and America were not closely and completely united with hundreds upon hundreds of millions of ‘colonial’ slaves who are oppressed by capital.” (Speech to the Second Congress of the Communist International, 1920)
Applying this, the only correct, standard, one is forced to observe that what passes for the left in the imperialist countries does not live up to it. The stance taken by large sections of the British ‘left’ on the war in Libya is a clear indication of the fact that this is not a left seriously interested in the social emancipation of the British proletariat.
In the hour of their need, the Libyan people, under barbarous attack from the combined air forces of the most powerful imperialist countries, found Britain’s ‘left’ on the side of the British imperialist bourgeoisie. In acting in this way, the ‘left’ betrayed not only the Libyan people but also the British proletariat, deserting them both for the camp of the imperialist bourgeoisie and its predatory war of plunder and domination.
Stop the War Coalition
The motley crew of Counterfire Trotskyites and CPB revisionists who run Britain’s largest ‘anti-war’ movement do so not in the interests of opposing imperialist war – be it in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya – but for the sole purpose of harnessing the anti-war sentiments of a fairly broad stratum of the population to the interests of social democracy (the imperialist, war-mongering and anti-working-class Labour party). By this circuitous route, they have succeeded in tying the fortunes of the anti-war movement to the interests of imperialism, and have been particularly brazen and shameless in the case of the war against Libya.
As soon as the counter-revolutionary rebellion erupted in Benghazi and the imperialist powers started preparing their massive assault, StW organised a demonstration – not in opposition to imperialism and its Libyan stooges, but against the Libyan regime! Following the start of the war, realising that it had shot itself in the foot, the leadership changed tack – not by jettisoning its previous pro-imperialist stance but for the sole purpose of serving the imperialist camp in the changed circumstances.
It came out in ‘opposition’, at least verbally, to the imperialist bombing of Libya, not because the bombing was in pursuit of an unjust and predatory war, against which the Libyans and their government had a right and a duty to defend themselves, but because, it argued, the bombing campaign would have the effect of strengthening Gaddafi’s position, and thus weakening the cause of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime – a cause so dear not only to the imperialist bandits engaged in the rape of Libya, but also to the ‘socialist’, ‘anti-war’, ‘anti-imperialist’ servitors of the bourgeoisie who constitute the leadership of StW.
On 22 August, at the hour of greatest peril for the Libyan revolution, swayed by the avalanche of imperialist propaganda, that “gigantic apparatus of falsehood and deception to hoodwink the masses [and] to stultify their minds”, the frightened philistines of StW issued a statement, the renegacy of which cannot fail to evoke feelings of revulsion on the part of any thinking anti-imperialist. (‘The Constituent Assembly elections and the dictatorship of the proletariat’, V I Lenin, 1919)
Barely containing their glee at what, along with the political and ideological spokesmen of imperialism, the petty-bourgeois ‘socialists’ of this ‘anti-war’ outfit believed was the “fall of the Gaddafi regime”, not having the patience and decency even to wait for the outcome of the life-and-death struggle being waged between imperialism and the Libyan people led by the popular – yes popular – Gaddafi government, they began to dance, hand in hand with the imperialist bloodsuckers, on the non-existent grave of Gaddafi and his government.
In its statement, StW made two vital concessions demanded by imperialism and its gigantic apparatus of falsehood and deception: first, that the Gaddafi regime had fallen; and second, that this was a cause for popular rejoicing in Libya.
It did not even occur to these dimwits to ask: if the Gaddafi regime has fallen, why are the Nato imperialists continuing with the non-stop saturation bombing of Bani Walid, Sirte and several other cities? If the Gaddafi regime has fallen and the NTC are in control, why has the latter not dared to transfer its seat from Benghazi to Tripoli? If there has been a popular revolution against a ‘brutal dictatorship’, why has it been necessary for the opposition to invite Nato, without whose massive bombing, even according to StW, the opposition could never have hoped to gain victory?
If – and it is a big if – the Gaddafi regime were to finally fall, it would not be the victory of a popular revolution, but of a counter-revolution inspired, planned, abetted, organised, financed and aided by imperialism.
Here are the relevant parts of the statement of 22 August issued by StW:
“The fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya marks yet another turning point in what has been a truly remarkable year in the Middle East.
“While many Libyans may welcome the outcome and will be glad to see the back of Gaddafi, it has a number of negative aspects. ”
The above two paragraphs are written at a time when imperialism is trying to turn back the tide of revolution sweeping across the Middle East; when it is frantically busy in attempting to reverse all the popular gains of “a truly remarkable year”. The fascist attack on Libya is an integral part of imperialism’s desperate attempt to prevent the development and consolidation of revolutionary movements from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya.
The last seven words quoted above are a reference to the danger of “rehabilitation” of the imperialist doctrines of “humanitarian interventionism” and “liberal interventionism”, and the resort by imperialism to these doctrines to intervene in Syria “as part of a programme to control and suppress the ‘Arab spring’ is not inconceivable and must be mobilised against”. These words contradict the essence of the rest of the StW statement, which is saturated with imperialist prejudices and has been inserted simply to hoodwink the gullible and assure them that StW leaders are fully aware of the dangers and are working hard against the repeat of the imperialist intervention in Libya against Syria.
None of this will fool any intelligent worker, particularly when it is immediately followed by a sentence that says; “The old rulers will not be missed if and when [earlier we were told that the Gaddafi regime had already fallen!] they depart.” Why would any thinking worker have any faith in the willingness and ability of StW to oppose the overthrow of the Syrian, or for that matter the Iranian, regime by imperialism when they positively cheered the imperialist-backed counter-revolutionary opposition in Libya?
Just in case something was lost in translation of the StW statement, another leading spokesman of that organisation, John Rees, told Russia Today (RT) that the Libyan people “have got rid of Gaddafi and no one is going to shed any tears for that brutal dictator”.
Despite contrary noises here and there in its statement, when the call comes from imperialism to get rid of ‘brutal dictatorships’ in Syria, Iran and elsewhere, and to bestow ‘democracy’ and ‘liberation’ on the peoples of those countries via Tomahawks, Cruise missiles and carpet bombing, there can be no doubt that the incurably counter-revolutionary StW leadership will be ready to take that call and do their bit in the service of imperialism.
Again, to cover himself against the accusation of being a flunkey of imperialism, which is what he undoubtedly is, John Rees went on to advise the NTC stooges of imperialism to gain credibility by “telling the major powers where to get off”, that is, to follow his own modus operandi of attempting to conceal a counter-revolutionary stance under a layer of anti-imperialist rhetoric. Sadly for John Rees, such tricks will no more sanitise Nato’s stooges than they will his own vile stance.
The disgusting stance of the StW leadership, its subservience to social democracy and its total capitulation to imperialism, has politically destroyed an anti-war movement that began with much promise and potential. A truly anti-war and anti-imperialist movement, which links the struggle against imperialist war to the struggle of the proletariat for socialism, can only be built against, and not with, the despicable coterie currently running StW into the ground.
Other ‘left’ flunkies of imperialism
Socialist Worker, the organ of the incurably anti-communist Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) carried the headline “As Gaddafi’s brutal dictatorship crumbles ... ”, adding cautiously, “In Libya it’s too early to judge if all the people will welcome Nato with open arms,” obviously worrying that some Libyans may not welcome Nato’s attempt to destroy their country.
Workers’ Liberty, organ of the grossly misnamed Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, the most egregiously pro-imperialist organisation in the crowded and competitive field that constitutes the British left, was predictably jubilant at the seeming end of Gaddafi’s regime: “For anyone,” it said, “who believes in basic human freedom [ugh! To speak of ‘basic human freedom’ in a class-ridden society is nothing short of treachery against the proletariat], the fact that Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year-long reign of autocratic terror in Libya is seemingly at an end must be a cause for celebration.”
The authors produced not a shred of evidence that the Libyan people were rejoicing at the seeming end of Gaddafi’s “reign of autocratic terror”, but, according to their twisted reactionary logic, since the Libyans can be presumed to believe in “basic human freedom”, they must have danced in the streets at the sight of drugged-up killers marching through Tripoli while Nato showered them with bombs!
Several bourgeois journalists with a reputation for holding liberal views were also swept along by the crazed imperialist clamour for the removal of the Gaddafi regime. The Patrick Cockburns and Robert Fisks welcomed what they described as the ‘liberation’ of Libya and could hardly wait for the same to be spread to Damascus.
Even Seumas Milne, one of the best of the bourgeois journalist pack, having written a lucid and well-argued article opposing Nato’s intervention, nevertheless penned the following statement, which is as untrue as it is supportive of the Nato mission: “None of that means the euphoria on the streets of the Libyan cities at the fall of a regime long decayed into dynastic despotism isn’t entirely genuine. ”
With this single sentence, Mr Milne made the same vital concessions to imperialism as the StW leaders had in their statement: namely, that the Gaddafi regime is no more, and that its disappearance is a cause for popular celebration in Libya. He has effectively endorsed the gigantic lies put out by the leaders of Nato and repeated across the imperialist media.
Why Libya is targeted
Imperialist powers are waging war against Libya not in order to free its people from an evil dictator, but rather:
- to grab its oil wealth and water resources;
- to prevent the Libyan example of a country using its resources for the betterment of the lives of its people infecting other countries;
- to thwart the project for African unity, aimed at freeing this rich continent from the clutches of imperialism – a project of which Gaddafi’s Libya was the leading protagonist and major financier;
- to punish the Libyan regime for the generous and selfless support it has rendered to anti-imperialist and liberation struggles across Africa, Latin America and the rest of the world, including even Europe and North America, over a period of four decades;
- to grab Libya’s huge sovereign wealth funds;
- and to issue a dire warning to other regimes as to the consequences of pursuing an independent and anti-imperialist economic and foreign policy.
Class character of the war
In discussions on the burning questions of war and peace, the most important thing that is usually forgotten, which receives insufficient attention, and which, therefore, is the cause of so much futile controversy, is that “people forget the fundamental question of the class character of the war; why the war broke out; the classes that are waging it; the historical and historic-economic conditions that gave rise to it ... ” (V I Lenin, ‘War and revolution’, May 1917)
War is a continuation of politics by other (forcible) means. This famous dictum of Clausewitz’s is quite correctly regarded by Marxists as the “theoretical foundation of their understanding of the meaning of every war”. (V I Lenin, Socialism and War, 1915)
In order to determine one’s attitude towards any particular war, one must make a historical analysis to determine whether or not it can be considered progressive. If a war serves the interests of democracy and the proletariat, in that case it is just and legitimate, and deserving of the support of the proletariat and oppressed people.
If, on the other hand, the substance of a war is the plunder of foreign lands and the division of booty, then that war is a reactionary imperialist war. As such, it is unjust and illegitimate and must be opposed.
As war is a continuation of politics by other means, in our evaluation of a particular war, we are obliged to examine the policy pursued by each side leading up to the war; the policy that led to and brought it about.
Applying this standard to the present war in Libya, we find that over the past four decades, imperialism has consistently pursued a policy of overthrowing the Gaddafi regime. Britain and the USA in particular have been training and funding opponents of the Libyan government over a long period of time, with the aim of installing a puppet regime that will facilitate them in grabbing Libya’s mineral wealth, putting an end to the country’s progressive anti-imperialist stance, and establishing domination over Africa and the Middle East.
Thus we can see that the war against Libya is a predatory imperialist war, in which the proletariat in the imperialist countries is duty bound to side with the Libyan people led by Gaddafi’s government.
Notwithstanding its loudly-professed concerns for freedom, democracy and human rights, imperialism does not give a damn about such fripperies.
Imperialism strives for domination, not freedom. The very same governments that are engaged in waging wars against the people of Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq are also busy attacking the working class at home, through public-spending cuts and police brutality, in an endeavour to pass the entire burden of the deepest-ever economic crisis of imperialism on to the backs of the working class.
An extremely instructive example of bourgeois cynicism and hypocrisy, of the total lack of concern of the bourgeoisie the world over for the lives and wellbeing of the working people, is furnished by the attitude of the British ruling class, and its political and ideological hod-carriers, towards the recent youth uprisings. Bourgeois politicians and the media have attributed these disturbances to the evils of individual immorality, criminality, dysfunctional families and gang culture, while overlooking the crucial fact that capitalism is a system of legalised looting, which produces, as Marx pointed out long ago, an accumulation of wealth at one pole and of misery at the other.
On 11 August, David Cameron gave the Commons an ‘explanation’ for the disturbances that revealed only too clearly his smug arrogance, crass ignorance and cynicism. He blamed “criminality, pure and simple”, “pockets of sickness” and “lack of individual morality and responsibility”.
He ‘forgot’ to add that the looting, thievery and lawlessness he condemns so vociferously are but a reflection at street level of that which is taking place on a far grander scale at the upper end of government and the economy – the looting and daylight robbery of wealth by the robber barons of finance capital with the assistance of Labour and Conservative governments alike. The bail-out of Britain’s banks was nothing but the legalised robbery of hundreds of billions of pounds of the working people’s wealth by the ruling class.
If we add to this the lawlessness and criminality of the predatory wars waged by British imperialism against the people of Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, involving the deaths of well over 1.5 million people, and the attendant destruction and devastation – all in the interests of monopoly capitalism – we see banditry on a scale compared with which a bit of ‘looting’ by Britain’s angry and deprived youth does not even register.
When Cameron and his ilk fulminate and wax hysterical about the sickness and criminality of Britain’s disenfranchised youth, they fail to see that the picture they are painting is of the very society and world that capitalism creates in its own image. They are unable, for reasons of ingrained class prejudice, “to see the inferno for the sparks” (to borrow an expression of Mr Cunningham, cited below); an inferno which all bourgeois British governments, including the present one, have been pouring fuel on by aiding and abetting capitalist kleptocracy at home and abroad.
“Cameron and his gang of plumy-accented thugs are gunning for $150bn in public spending cuts to pay for the criminal enterprise known as British banking. This is racketeering that a street gang in London’s east end can only marvel at … and indeed, in a very real way, only emulate. ” (‘Britain’s riots: thuggery, looting, lawlessness ... by the ruling class’ by Finian Cunningham, Global Research, 14 August 2011)
While characterising the participants in the recent uprisings as ‘criminals’ and ‘thieves’, lacking in individual morality and the products of ‘dysfunctional families’, these servile lackeys of monopoly capitalism are at the same time engaged in stealing the entire wealth of the Libyan people through a predatory war of horrific proportions.
As the British judiciary doles out draconian sentences for such petty offences as receiving a pair of ‘looted’ shorts from a friend or ‘nicking a bin’, the imperialist governments of the US and the EU have already stolen $100bn of Libyan sovereign wealth that was deposited in imperialist banks.
In sentencing these young people, the judiciary has clearly taken its cue from Cameron, who said that his government would not allow “phoney human rights concerns” to stand in the way of harsh punishment of the participants in the uprising: “Whatever tactics police feel they need to employ, they will have legal backing to do so.” This is the cynical moron who advised the Libyan government to deal with an armed rebellion by turning the other check,negotiating with the rebels and stepping down from power!
Suffering under the hammer blows of the worst-ever economic crisis in the history of capitalism, which, far from showing any signs of abatement, is deepening with each passing week, and faced with the rising tide of anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles across the globe, imperialism is bound to resort to desperate measures and to plunge humanity into a series of bloody wars. The list of countries it has in its crosshairs runs into scores.
Imperialism is not a system that can be reformed; it must be overthrown. And it will be overthrown, for that is the only way out for humanity from the inferno of imperialist wars and the misery of an ever more impoverished existence while it lasts.
But for this to happen, the working class needs its own general staff, not only to lead it in defensive struggles but also to organise the struggle to overthrow the historically-outmoded and increasingly criminal rule of the monopoly capitalists, who regard the overwhelming majority of humanity as so much disposable trash.
This general staff can be none other than a communist party guided by the revolutionary science of Marxism Leninism: the accumulated knowledge, wisdom and experience of over 150 years of struggle by the working class and oppressed peoples of the world. The CPGB-ML is straining every sinew to build such a party and invites all class-conscious and politically advanced workers to join its ranks. By building such a party, and through the overthrow of British imperialism, the British proletariat is more than capable of building a bright future along the trail that was first blazed by the October revolution in Russia.
Integral to this effort is a determined and relentless struggle against opportunism in the working-class movement, for “Most dangerous ... are those people who do not understand that the fight against imperialism is a sham and a fraud unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism.” (V I Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1916)
And further: “Unless the revolutionary section of the proletariat is thoroughly prepared in every way for the expulsion and suppression of opportunism it is useless even thinking about the dictatorship of the proletariat ... ” (‘The Constituent Assembly elections and the dictatorship of the proletariat’ by V I Lenin, December 1919)
Let these words of Lenin guide us in the anti-war movement, as well as in our struggle to build a party of the British proletariat.
Victory to the Libyan resistance led by the Libyan government of Colonel Gaddafi!
Death to imperialism and its stooges!
> Nato s war crimes in Libya - August 2011
> Support Libya s resistance; denounce StW treachery -Leaflet September 2011
> Libya Report - You Tube July 2011
> Support the Libyan resistance against imperialism - Lalkar September 2011
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