Infantile Leftism

March 20, 2011 § 39 Comments

picture by Ali Farzat

It certainly feels uncomfortable to watch American, British and French planes enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, bombing Libya’s anti-aircraft defences and destroying Libyan tanks. Certainly the hypocrisy of the West and the Arab dictators is as galling as ever. There’s no chance of a no-fly zone over Palestine and Lebanon, nor over Saudi-occupied Bahrain. I can understand very well the fears of some that the West will overstay its welcome – although I think this is very unlikely indeed.

I am pleased, however, that the joint British-French-Lebanese (with Hizbullah in government in Lebanon) resolution for the no-fly zone has been adopted by the United Nations, that the massacres of the Libyan people may be minimised or stopped, that liberated Benghazi will probably not now fall to the tyrant.

If Britain, France and others are seeking influence in post-Qaddafi Libya by pleasing the Libyan people, that’s fine by me. Perhaps they fear their companies being banned from Libya as a punishment for supporting the dictator, and they are taking this opportunity to make amends. Again, fine. This is how things are done between strong, free countries which respect each other. It’s not the same as, for instance, Western powers arming and politically supporting the Saud family in return for military bases which are hated by the Saudi Arabian population.

Europe also has legitimate reasons, beyond oil, to be worried about ongoing massacres in Libya. A quarter of a million (mainly non-Libyans) have fled the country so far. I’m not somebody who thinks there are too many immigrants in Europe, but if Qaddafi were to wrest back control, there could be hundreds of thousands pouring out all at once, many across the Mediterranean.

I’m sure the West, and the dictators of the Gulf, are trying to force promises from the transitional authorities. And it’s true that the transitional leadership is not particularly impressive, containing plenty of ex-regime people. The fact is that the Libyans have not had the leisure to discuss politics and choose good leaders – their priority now is to get rid of the tyrant and to simply stay alive. It goes without saying that the revolution must continue once Qaddafi has gone, that elected representatives of the people must decide on the nature of future relations with foreign powers. If Libyans end up handing over economic control to the West, it will be the fault of the Libyans, not of the no-fly zone resolution.

It’s interesting to observe, as the world abruptly changes, how many people are crippled in judgement by their ideology: leftists who think Qaddafi is an anti-imperialist hero, non-Arab soft Islamists who have a problem admitting the Arabs are connected to each other beyond the borders drawn by imperialists, Zionists who tell themselves the revolutions have nothing to do with Palestine, Americans who tell temselves that the invasion and destruction of Iraq started the democratic ball rolling…

It’s the stupid fringes of the left who have the most to answer for at the moment, as they not only express logical concerns about the extent of Western intervention but actively support Qaddafi. They say the UN ‘aggression’ is designed to ease Western access to Libyan oil, as if Western companies did not already exploit Libyan oil under Qaddafi’s regime. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanism’ as if his funneling of the Libyan people’s money to African dictators and militias were somehow beneficial to the African masses. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘socialist’ credentials and completely ignore the expensive decadence of his sons and his own penchant for calling himself ‘King of Kings.’ They talk about Qaddafi’s great ‘victories’ against imperialism – here I can only guess they mean his squalid sponsorship of terrorist attacks against civilians, which serve to distract attention from the sufferings of occupied and oppressed peoples. Or perhaps they mean his murder of Lebanese revolutionary Musa Sadr. Or maybe his willingness to torture rendered suspects on behalf of the United States.

Talking to the Western media recently, Qaddafi excused his cold-blooded murder of thousands thus – “Even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists.” So he compares himself to Israel and the Libyan people to Palestinians, who are ‘extremists.’ Please explain that, O leftist followers of the Brother Leader.

These leftists are ignorant of the stagnation of Arab societies under dictatorial regimes and of the enormous suffering of those – often the very best and brightest – who have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered. If they are not ignorant, they simply do not care. They are the kind of people who supported Soviet interventions in eastern Europe in 1956 and 1968, who think the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was a liberation, that Mao’s cultural revolution was progressive, that Louis Farrakhan is a great historian. These people are posers, for whom ideas and facts are useless except as adornments for the sexy self. They are an insult to leftism and anti-imperialism. Fortunately, their residence in fantasy land makes them entirely irrelevant to the real world.

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§ 39 Responses to Infantile Leftism

  • David says:

    Good grief. Lumping all leftists together in the same baby play pen. Time for me to unsubscribe and you to send your resume to FOX News.

    It could also be that those of us on the Left who disagree with US (and international) involvement are more mindful of the Laws of Unintended Consequences — those events, unforeseen, which bite you in the ass. Things like supporting the forerunners of Al Qaeda in Soviet times, or supporting Saddam when we were mad at the Iranians. These all demonstrate how shallow our reasons for intervention (or “reaction,” as our interventions are now described in the MSM) really are.

    Aside from stabilizing oil prices, the West really doesn’t care about freedom in the Middle East. To paint it otherwise is an affront to common sense.

    Which is why you belong at FOX News.

    • Idrees says:

      Your concern for unintended consequences is admirable. But it seems the intended slaughter somehow escaped your notice.

      There is nothing easier, and more cowardly than to sit on one’s behind and denounce others without providing anything in the way of a viable alternative. Tell me: have you a saner proposal for preventing Gaddafi’s tanks from entering Ben Ghazi and carrying out that slaughter ‘without mercy’ which the Brother Leader had promised?

      As regards Fox, why be so modest. They have a preference for reductive thinking. Why not apply yourself? I’m sure you’ll outshine the competition.

  • Amal says:

    I totally agree. Good article.

  • Bill Riordan says:

    “If Britain, France, and others [US?] are seeking influence in post-Qaddafi Libya by pleasing the Libyan people, that is find by me. ” You all are fools.

    • Idrees says:

      The western left always seems to project its own impotence on others. Remember when ahead of the Iraq war so many were spewing silly slogans like ‘no war for oil’ etc, and gave the neoconservatives a complete free pass? Guess what: Westerners did get lucrative contracts in Iraq, mainly the ones that opposed the war. Norway, China, France, and Russia. So much for blood for oil.

      It seems to have never occured to the Western leftist that the Arab/Iranian is no less keen to trade than the American, or that he’s posessed of enough sense to sell it to the buyer who pays the best price.

      • Aaron Aarons says:

        The war against Iraq was far more a war for Israel than for oil or any other resources. So far, I haven’t seen much indication either way about Zionist influence in the making of the latest imperialist crime.

        It may be significant though that Denmark, one of the European countries most penetrated by Mossad, has sent its five warplanes to take part in the imperialist gang-up, and that Israel’s friend, Sarkozy, has been in the vanguard of this aggression.

  • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

    David – the expression I used was “stupid fringes of the left”. If you think the word ‘fringes’ means ‘all leftists’ you must be … pretty stupid.

  • Stephen 'No Cuts' Brackenridge says:

    Omar Mukhtar gave the Italian fascism a run for it’s money decades ago. The Libyan resistance can defeat Qaddafi. Let’s not pretend that the ‘intervention’ isn’t about control and about getting the west’s foot in the door of the revolutions in the Arab world.

    This western leftist concludes that western corporations have their hands on the oil in the middle east because of their part in the oppression of the ordinary people of the middle east. This is a huge part of what these revolutions are about. The average ‘Arab/Iranian’ would like a say in these matters. This attack is an attempt to stop efforts at achieving this.

    What’s infantile about that?

    • Rob says:

      “Let’s not pretend that the ‘intervention’ isn’t about control and about getting the west’s foot in the door of the revolutions in the Arab world.”
      As is evidenced by Obama’s statements about this, he clearly wants to bolster the US image in the Arab countries by supporting the “good guys” this time around instead of the usual clients and tyrants. It very well could be an electoral calculation, as is probably the case with Sarkozy, who has been slipping in the polls. If the rebels come out successful and the tyrant is run out like the dog he is, they will receive partial credit.

      Remember Bush I and his betrayal of the revolution in Iraq, when he failed to support the forces who could have toppled Saddam Hussein, by denying them the use of US weaponry. This is one occasion to right that wrong and get some good PR.

      Another negative effect this could have is to actually stifle the revolutionary momentum civil society has gathered during these intifadas by weakening the notion that they can accomplish what they want without anyone’s help.

      You seem to forget, though, that the West has already had its “foot in the door” for a long time (since colonial times, Balfour, Mossadegh, Saddam, Suleiman and Mubarak, support for dictators generally, etc.), and therefore has been intervening already. Intervention is nothing new in the region, unfortunately, it is par for the course.

  • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

    and David, I said “they not only express logical concerns about the extent of Western intervention but actively support Qaddafi.” Concerns about Western involvement, I said, are logical. I go on to fiercely attack the idiots who actively support the dictator. I say these people are an insult to leftism. You know what I mean? like bin Laden is an insult to Islam. Get it? The Left would be stronger if more of its adherents could read.

  • Marcus says:

    Robin,
    I recognise that there has been a number of comments on the last couple of articles that ably represent this ‘idiot fringe’ that has heralded Gadaffi as ‘my enemies enemy, therefore my friend’. However, this site would really benefit from a longer article that did take those difficult and thorny questions of Western military intervention in Libya seriously. It was only a week or so ago that this very site was showing photos and articles that were of Libyans demanding precisely no intervention by the West. I think that it is already clear that Western military intervention has gone beyond what the Arab league were prepared to certify. Some of the questions that need to answered are to what extent are those in Benghazi actually representative of ‘the Libyan people’ as some other authors on this site seem to apply. It strikes me (as no expert whatsoever) that things are a lot more complicated than that. Of course, I’m not advocating that they should be slaughtered, on the contrary, just that it would be useful to have some clear analysis of the possible futures of Libya in the present conjuncture. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated, much more so than fairly redundant critiques of a bunch of fringe lunatics.
    Marcus.

    • Aaron Aarons says:

      Were leftists who, in the 1930′s, supported the forces of the Ethiopian dictator Haile Selassie against Italian imperialism also part of the same ‘idiot fringe’ that people like me are supposedly part of?

    • Aaron Aarons says:

      It’s not, “my enemies enemy, therefore my friend”, but “my enemies enemy, therefore, unless there are good reasons to the contrary, my tactical ally”. If I had the ability to do it, I would provide weapons to anybody, no matter how repulsive, who could be counted on to use those weapons against imperialist military, economic and diplomatic targets. If I could magically provide Qaddafi with missiles to shoot down the imperialists’ planes and sink their ships, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

  • Robin Yassin-Kassab says:

    Marcus – I agree this needs longer treatment, indeed a good deal of research. Unfortunately I can’t do it as I’m off to Egypt tomorrow.

    As for Libyans demanding no intervention – they said specifically that they wanted a no-fly zone but not ‘boots on the ground.’ This is what they’ve continued to say. Reports from all over Libya, not only Benghazi, say that the revolutionaries are very pleased indeed with the action so far. Misurata in particular, where a terrible massacre was ongoing today, expressed joy. Qaddafi armaments outside the city were hit, at which point most of the Qaddafi forces withdrew from the field of slaughter.

    Nato and US officials had made very clear that a no-fly zone would require bombing of air defence systems on the ground – days before the arab league call for a no-fly zone. and now the arab league say they arent happy. Here’s the situation – a bunch of dictators want to respond to the section of public opinion (I’d say the majority) that wants Qaddafi’s rampage stopped immediately. At the same time they are terrified of the precedent, that foreign intervention would come to the aid of revolutionaries, perhaps in their countries tomorrow. So they are in a terrible dither.

    It is true that the action has already gone beyond a no-fly zone. Qaddafi’s tanks have also been hit. So far, I am happy with this. Yesterday, before the tanks were hit, at least 94 people were killed by tank fire in south Benghazi.

  • Aaron Aarons says:

    There IS a REAL slaughter now in Libya — a slaughter BY the imperialists! The real INFANTILE “leftists” are those who expect the abusive (imperialist) daddies and mommies to act like good, loving parents if given another chance.

    Every REAL leftist should be doing everything possible to see that the imperialists who are attacking Libya, and the Libyans who are cooperating with them, are CRUSHED. And that includes giving AT LEAST moral support to anybody who takes armed action against imperialist military and economic targets anywhere in the world, especially including inside the imperialist countries.

    Where are the modern versions of the Red Army Faction when we really need them?

  • Sean says:

    If there’s one thing more questionable than supporting a dictator, it has to be supporting a Western military intervention in Libya. That worked out real good for the people of Iraq, didn’t it? See Ken O’Keefes’s remarks here:

    http://kenokeefe.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/response-to-an-open-letter-to-ken-okeefe-by-joe-fallisi-regarding-libya/

    The fact is most of us here in the West have no clue what the truth is in Libya. We have been bombarded by anti-Qaddafi propaganda for four decades and where the lies drop off and the truth begins is impossible for us to determine. Everyone designated an enemy by America is portrayed in the media as a ruthless tyrant imprisoning and slaughtering his people. Sometimes that is true, a lot of times it isn’t. But the claim is always made, or the truth exaggerated.

    We also have no idea who these rebels are, or what they stand for. If this was Spain prior to the Spanish Civil War, would it have been a good idea to create a “no-fly zone” to protect the fascist rebels in their struggle against the “evil dictatorship?” Both sides committed atrocities in that war, as in all wars. Who were the good guys there? I ask that because for all we know, the rebels in Libya represent the most regressive and reactionary forces in Libya, and their reasons for revolting and aligning themselves with the West may be less than pure. Their self-proclaimed leaders being a pack of ex-Qaddafi apparatchiks doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Qaddafi may well be the lesser of two evils here. Saddam certainly was, and he was more the thug than even the worst caricature of Qaddafi will allow.

    I do not support Qaddafi. If millions of people are taking to the streets there is a reason for it, even if that reason might not be one I would ordinarily support. I have no sympathy for leaders who cling to power like this. If Qaddafi were a patriot, he would recognize the need to step down and negotiate a transition of power that would keep Western-backed elements out of the picture. I do support questioning everything that’s said about his regime and the people opposing it. But opposing Western involvement in Libya should be a no-brainer at this point, as the purpose of that and the likely results is beyond questioning, or should be at this point. We should think a little less of who we lend our meaningless “support” to, and more about overthrowing the imperialist establishment here on the homefront.

    • Idrees says:

      Sean, you should get Al Jazeera, it’ll give you more than a clue. You also won’t have to worry about being fed Western propaganda.

      Yes, one must always be wary of military intervention, especially one led by the West, and I can assure you we all are. It looks like Western powers are already abusing the mandate. But do you have any proposal as to how the immediate threat faced by the citizens of Ben Ghazi?

      Re the Iraq 2003 analogy, it is a weak one. As our friend Paul Woodward recently pointed out for the two situations to be comparable ‘imagine a US- and Arab League-backed European intervention in Iraq in 2003, following the near collapse of an Iraqi uprising that had briefly pushed Saddam back to isolation in Baghdad — the uprising having been inspired by the recent ousting of the Saudi royal family and the success of a reform movement that brought full democracy to Iran. Had that been the context in which George Bush wanted to have the US play a supporting role in helping an Iraqi rebellion succeed, I doubt that it would have provoked widespread opposition.’

      • oblomov007 says:

        A better parallel is Kosovo – same shameless lying about massacres and humanitarian intent. Criminal attacks on Serbia for 72 days and end result = Camp Bondsteel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Bondsteel

      • Aaron Aarons says:

        @Idrees: “But do you have any proposal as to how the immediate threat faced by the citizens of Ben Ghazi?”

        Why focus on the supposed threat to a few people in Benghazi who are engaged in an armed insurrection? Not far from Benghazi, in the Congo, the U.S.-armed, trained and financed Rwandan and Ugandan militaries have killed a few MILLION people in the last 15 years. Moreover, while the Congo is plundered by direct military invasion, the rest of Africa and much of the rest of the world is plundered financially by the imperialists — a plunder that they enforce both with bribery of elites and the threat of military force, including Kosovo-and-Libya-style operations. That plunder causes the deaths of millions of people around the world EVERY MONTH.

        The most humanitarian thing that the imperialist militaries could do would be to mutiny and shoot their officers, along with the civilians who give them their orders. Failing that, the most humanitarian thing they could do would be to leave the world alone.

      • Sean says:

        Al Jazeera is the source of many of the obviously faked and exaggerated news reports I’ve seen. Where is the evidence of entire neighborhoods leveled in Tripoli, or all the hospitals, mosques and schools Qaddafi has supposedly destroyed?

        Al Jazeera is owned by the Emir of Qatar, a pro-Western potentate in his own right who pays for the US military bases in his country. It’s agenda is fairly transparent for people with both eyes open, and if you have any doubt of its agenda, you have only to see the about face these alleged friends of the people have taken towards the revolt in Bahrain, where they are little better than a government mouthpiece like CNN.

        The analogy with Iraq need not be a precise fit for it to be valid any more than analogies between israel and Apartheid Africa. Historical events are never mirror images of each other though they may bear many similarities, and carry lessens for the future.

        Here again we have exaggerated accounts of a bloodthirsty dictator murdering his people who can only be protected by the West but never fear, his regime is on the verge of collapse and any intervention, including a full blown invasion, will be a cakewalk. Oh, and “the Arabs” support this, so it must be okay. Wars are fine so long as there is a consensus among the belligerents and their toadies.

        This is typical cruise missile liberal bullshit.

        Not knowing anything about the rebels, I have to allow the possibility that the best hope for Libyan independence at this point might be for Qaddafi to defeat them. The alternative of a victory by a pro-Western regime or a prolonged and brutal civil war may very well be far worse. Certainly, thousands will be killed in airstrikes and any ensuing invasion. Western intervention largely precludes the possibility of any peaceful resolution to this situation.

  • you are an infantile apologist for Obama and the mass murder of all imperialism’s victims

  • Rob says:

    Let me just say that while I do not support this intervention, I understand that many Libyans are happy about seeing Gaddafi’s tank columns being destroyed, and ultimately what they think is far more important than what I or anyone else who is not actually there want to pontificate or preach to them. There are reports in “rebel” camps that they are more than happy to receive training and logistical help from Westerners, but do not want them to stay there and fight their battles for them.

    As for the negative points, the history of Western interventions in the pretext of “protecting” the population (Vietnam, Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq…) is not good, so the precedents let one believe that this will not turn out well either.
    There are tactical problems, as a Western intervention gives Ghadaffi “foreign occupiers” to rally his supporters against, and will strengthen his propaganda and enable him to bolster his fantasies of him being a noble warrior resisting imperialist powers, which was always a part of his shtick.
    There are other problems for Americans, as the decision to go to war by Obama (the UN resolution 1973 authorizes all necessary measures…) is actually unconstitutional, as Congress did not authorize it, and many Americans have more than enough history of this sort of thing, and don’t wish to see it anymore.

    As for the effects for the “rebels”, there is a lot of confusion about this, and it helps maybe to differentiate between :
    1) the intentions of those planning military operations
    and
    2) the concrete effects they will have on the ground for the anti-Gaddafi forces.

    Everyone is aware, especially the people at PULSE, of the double-speak Western leaders are capable of, and how often the professed intentions for intervention are very different from the real intentions. However, the problem some on the Left have, and it’s a logical error, is to come to the conclusion that because the intentions of the war mongers are not pure it can have no definite positive effects on the ground. This is wrong.

    It is the same mentality that has some supporters of Palestinian rights reflexively supporting Hamas, no matter what they do (which can include beating up protesters and threatening the families of youth calling for unity against Israeli oppression). It is a simple-minded approach which gives more importance to ideological purity than to the real everyday lives of people, and posits that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

    Ultimately, the Libyans should be the ones to decide – what non-Libyans think is less relevant.

    • Sean says:

      There are tactical problems, as a Western intervention gives Ghadaffi “foreign occupiers” to rally his supporters against…

      Tactical problems? How exactly do you think cruise missile liberalism works, exactly? Thousands of people are likely to be killed in NATO airstrikes, and there will be massive damage to Libya’s infrastructure. The end result here might be a prolonged and brutal civil war that leads to the partition of the country, which was clearly the West’s goal in Iraq. You might end up with Libya ruled by a gang of mafia thugs brutally enforcing neoliberal policies like in Kosovo. These are more than “tactical problems.”

      However, the problem some on the Left have, and it’s a logical error, is to come to the conclusion that because the intentions of the war mongers are not pure it can have no definite positive effects on the ground. This is wrong.

      I’m sure it’s possible to light a candle with a flamethrower, but most such attempts will result in the destruction of the candle. Imagining that you can deal with the devil and maybe this time, he’ll feel bound to give a better deal is not only illogical, it’s insane.

      The war mongers will not rest until they have achieved their own agenda in Libya. They have found a way to “legitimize” their entry into Libya by ostensibly protecting the people from Qaddafi, but that is clearly not their goal, but merely an excuse to implement their own nefarious plans. Opening your door to a rapist in the hope he will kill your daughter’s abusive boyfriend while refraining from raping your daughter is insane.

      As for what the people of Libya want, the people who support Qaddafi deserve to be heard as well, and not just the US-backed rebels.

      • Rob says:

        Let me just repeat that I don’t think this is a positive thing either. I do think, though, that you are simplifying matters a little. Whatever you think about Ghaddafi, the fact is that there is already intervention in the form of diplomatic ties, neoliberal economic reform, as there was with Mubarak, ben Ali, the Saudis (which goes way back) and the other crooks, so this transformation to a US-backed ruler who disregards the will of his population – has already happened.

        “The end result here might be a prolonged and brutal civil war that leads to the partition of the country, which was clearly the West’s goal in Iraq.”
        Or it might not. I don’t think what might happen is a good rational for making decisions of this nature. Ghaddafi seems to have already declared war on his population, by the way.

        “You might end up with Libya ruled by a gang of mafia thugs”
        You mean, like the Ghaddafis? Like cooperating with the US and the UK since 2003 for extraordinary rendition and as a bulwark against “extremism” in the “War on terror”? Who seem to have had so little legitimacy among the population, especially in the eastern part of the country, that most anti-occupation fighters in Iraq came from Derna, partly only out of spite for Ghaddafi and his clan?
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/06/08TRIPOLI430.html
        Who had good connections with armament industries, including General Dynamics?
        http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2010/10/how-ambassador-to-libya-aided-general-dynamics-military-deal/
        Who became obscenely rich thanks to distribution of oil wealth among their cronies, and instigated neoliberal economic policies of their own?
        http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/031025/2003102513.html
        http://www.mathaba.net/news/?x=626089?flattr
        Boy, that would suck. Oh, wait…

        As for what the people of Libya want, the people who support Qaddafi deserve to be heard as well, and not just the US-backed rebels.
        I agree. However, it’s important to remember that there were rebels before the US decided to oust Ghaddafi, not after. It seems to have really been a continuation of the regional intifada against corrupt autocrats (mostly Western-backed), and it would be unfortunate to withdraw any kind of support for it simply because the US happens to be momentarily aligned with it (we know this will not last long, and as soon as Ghaddafi is out, they will want a return to “peace and quiet” and business as usual with a transitional figure friendly to the US). It’s tempting to want to see behind-the-scenes maneuvering by US-affiliated organizations (NED, CIA) in order to stir up revolutionary activity to bring about regime change, as it is a tactic which has been used, but this seems to be the real thing.
        See Nasrallah’s recent speech about this.

        Obviously it’s hypocritical and selective (par for the course), as the US (Clinton) seems to have made a deal with the Arab League and the GCC to have their support for the US-backed NATO Libya bombing as long as they could repress their own uprisings in Bahrain without the US batting an eyelash.

        I agree that non-intervention is the way to go, as this does not seem to be a genocide in the making, and the US “bull in a china shop” tactics could make things worse. I really think this is about domestic politics for people like Obama, as well as improving their image in the Arab and Muslim majority countries, since they have been so shameful in their dealings with Israel and the Palestinians, and this is a way of trying to fix that.

        Let’s just hope that this is over quickly, and that it doesn’t affect the other uprisings in an negative way.

        • Sean says:

          Or it might not. I don’t think what might happen is a good rational for making decisions of this nature.

          No? You were just saying it is “illogical” for the Left to not be open to the possibility this might have a positive effect, even if the intentions of the warmongers aren’t pure. But to suggest that dropping bombs and killing people might have a bad effect, this is somehow irrational? I can’t think of anything more important than determining the possible consequences of a war, particularly when there is so much mindless enthusiasm for slaughter and destruction as a primary instrument of “humanitarian” policy, and the high failure rate of smart bomb diplomacy.

          Ghaddafi seems to have already declared war on his population, by the way.

          That’s one way of looking at it. The other is that a segment of the population began an armed insurrection backed by the West against their country, and we have no business interfering in an internal Libyan struggle. Should we take sides in every war?

          http://counterpunch.org/bricmont03082011.html

          It’s tempting to want to see behind-the-scenes maneuvering by US-affiliated organizations (NED, CIA) in order to stir up revolutionary activity to bring about regime change, as it is a tactic which has been used, but this seems to be the real thing.

          It is simplistic to assume without evidence that what is happening in Libya is identical to what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt. The Western media has been strangely silent as to what the rebels are all about. Perhaps they are not the “freedom fighters” they are being portrayed as? There are certainly some CIA-backed elements among the rebels, such as National front for the Salvation of Libya, which maintains its own military force across the border in Egypt and which has already been involved in armed revolts against Libya. There are also royalists, such as the Libyan Constitutional Union, led by Muhammad as-Senussi, a contender for the Libyan throne. There are tribalists, who may be motivated to partition the country and seize the nation’s oil wealth for themselves.

          We don’t know to what extent populist protests have been hijacked and sidelined by these elements that are scrambling for power and control, and which appear willing to sell the country out to the West. An armed revolt doesn’t just spring out of nowhere, It takes months of planning and a lot of time and money to assemble the weapons. That fact alone should make you question whether this revolt is merely an extension of the previous peaceful protests, or qualifies as an expression of the people’s will.

          http://blackagendareport.com/content/update-american-dilemma-libya-bomb-invade-partition-or-all-above-0

          http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23472

          • Rob says:

            No? You were just saying it is “illogical” for the Left to not be open to the possibility this might have a positive effect, even if the intentions of the warmongers aren’t pure. But to suggest that dropping bombs and killing people might have a bad effect, this is somehow irrational?
            No, I suggested that it is irrational to base decisions on possible, hypothetical outcomes rather than on certainties : for example, it was practically certain that there would have been massive casualties in Ben Ghazi and elsewhere had there been no sort of intervention whatsoever. It is very probable that there would also be civilian casualties during bombing raids against Gaddafi’s forces (mercenaries), which is inevitable, however, far less.

            Regarding the “high failure rate” of “smart bomb diplomacy”, yes, obviously dropping bombs is never a wonderful thing, it goes without saying – neither is ignoring the calls from a civilian population who is at the mercy of a tyrant whom we helped arm (along with Russia, Italy, France, China, etc.) and supported. Either way it was certain that there would be loss of life, and to ignore this is childish.

            I often agree with Bricmont, but I find this particular essay rather weak and predictably argued.

            It is simplistic to assume without evidence that what is happening in Libya is identical to what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt. The Western media has been strangely silent as to what the rebels are all about.
            This did begin as a popular uprising. In that respect, there is no difference. There are differences as to the tribal identities, lack of large labor unions and organized civil society on the whole, but the fundamental reasons seem to be the same – the dictator (who is repressing a population with his cronies, with ample aid from the West in the form of military training and sales) has to go, and the need was rendered all the more pressing after the slaughtering of peaceful protesters, which probably urged people on in the same way that the aggressions against the people in Tunisia and Egypt did – at one point, it was clear that the state (here Gaddafi, basically) was their enemy and would not hesitate to destroy them. The clear picture that I get is that the Libyans are more motivated by true nationalist tendencies, and this is less an internal, tribal conflict. The vary fact of having Gaddafi to fight against provided a common enemy to coalesce around.

            The fact that the media in the US or Europe has not been very informative as to the identities of the various factions protesting doesn’t mean that they aren’t there – it means that the media was deficient in this regard.

            The people at globalresearch.com and the “I see the CIA everywhere” “deep” thinkers like Chussodovsky, Engdahl and the whole lot should be read with caution. Theirs is essentially an orientalist point of view, in that they seem to think that the people of the region are incapable and deserve little credit for the change taking place, and are rather pawns in a vast CIA / State Dept conspiracy. They essentially believe that anything that happens in the world is because Washington and Foggy Bottom want it to happen, and for no other reason. It’s insulting and arrogant, and in the end, not always very convincing in my opinion. Sometimes they’re right, and provide valuable information and analysis, sometimes not.
            For example :

            People here, in the center of an empire built on global exploitation, should not join in the racist characterizations, ridicule and demonization of Gadhafi that saturate the corporate media.
            Even if Gadhafi were as quiet and austere as a monk and as careful as a diplomat, as president of an oil-rich, previously underdeveloped African country he still would have been hated, ridiculed and demonized by U.S. imperialism if he resisted U.S. corporate domination. That was his real crime and for that he has never been forgiven.

            This is similar to those who paint Fidel Castro as an angel simply because he resists US aggression (which is laudable), and so therefore, if there are opponents who criticize his policies, it must be because they are “working for Uncle Sam”. I can’t tell you how much I’ve seen this type of cookie-cutter logic on the internet.

            Regarding the oil wealth, Libya has the largest proven reserves in Africa (approx. 3.5%), and especially a particularly high quality crude which requires less refinement (less sulfur and is therefore prized). The Italians and the rest of Europe already have access to this oil, however, and Western companies have been coming to Libya since at least 2003 to drill and exploit some of it (even though part of the profits go to the Gaddafi clan, which they split up themselves).

            As for the weapons, the rebels seem to be getting them mostly from the caches they’ve raided, or found. They are not heavily armed (Gaddafi disbanded the air force and the military some time ago, in order to prevent the army from being able to oust him, which is partly what happened in Egypt with Mubarak).

            This is good, in my opinion :
            http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/977/missing_agency-and-alternative-in-the-anti-intervention-critique

            What Gaddafi needs is a way out, so that he doesn’t feel that he needs to fight to the last breath and crush the intifada.

  • [...] Also, I think you are missing the degree to which the pro-Arab left is in favor of this. Here's Paul Woodward. And Robin Yassin-Kassab at Pulse. [...]

  • Professor Rollmops says:

    Nice post, and surprising how retarded most of the responses have been. It’s clear from the beginning that you are not condemning the entire left, but rather those more hard-wired elements who have made some seriously flawed calls in the past. I have not supported any military interventions in the past, with the exception of Kosovo, which I believe was entirely justified. I think this is entirely justified as well. I’m not especially interested in the motivations behind the intervention, it’s what it has already achieved that is important. Left unchecked, within a couple of weeks Gaddafi would have encircled Benghazi with heavy artillery and, when he ultimately captured it, as he no doubt would have done, who on the left or anywhere in politics for that matter, would feel comfortable saying that not intervening was the right choice, especially once the reprisals began? Yes, military action is always the least favourable option and must be a last resort, but in this case it came not a moment too soon – just in time to stop what could not only have been a significant number of civilian deaths, but also a massive exodus of refugees from western Libya. Some of the commentators criticise Al Jazeera’s biased coverage. Excuse, are you taking at face value Gaddafi’s regime’s announcements of civilian deaths? Why is it they have reported no military deaths? Because they are utterly full of shite, is the simple answer. And Al Jazeera soft on Bahrain? Um, just when exactly did you last visit their website?

  • Luke Ryan says:

    When you refer to leftists who support Gaddafi, are you talking about Red German revolutionaries from the 1970′s, or what? I’m against the Libyan intervention, but certainly not pro-Gaddafi. To say, “if you’re against military intervention in Libya, you’re a leftist loony Gaddafi-lover,” is a defensive straw man play. Why not proclaim proudly why you’re in favor of American military intervention instead?

    You’ve got to fight for your right to party. The Libyan people have to organically and indigenously arrive at their own solution to Gaddafi. We can’t impose a sustainable system upon them from the outside. We can’t even arrange a sustainable, balanced system for ourselves.

    Libya does have oil and exports most of it. 1.8 million barrels a day is 2%-ish of total global consumption. It’s important to the increasingly brittle energy market and global economic system. It would be extremely naive to ignore oil as a motivating factor, at least for the US. We’re not after their date fruits and the last time the US militarily intervened for purely humanitarian reasons was never.

    France and others might have domestic political issues and immigration fears, but nobody at the Pentagon is worried about any of that. I mean, “what does France think?” is a question so far down the line at AFRICOM HQ that it comes after, “what does General Ham’s girlfriend’s hairdresser think about it?”

    The humanitarian situation in Libya is very bad. It’s also pretty bad in Nigeria, Burma, Zimbabwe, Bahrain, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China, North Korea, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, et-freakin’-cetera, but nobody’s going to war over any of that.

    Gaddafi made a lot of enemies over the years and has nowhere to, “retire,” abroad. It’s a fight to the end for him and his regime. Iraq could have and might yet fragment into three or four tribal zones. Libya would fragment into, like, 64 tribal regions.

    Liberating Libya, navigating the local alliances and tribal rivalries, restoring order, and exiting gracefully are goals so beyond the capabilities of the US that it enters the realm of fantasy. Please see Iraq and Afghanistan for further argument as to the capabilities and limitations of the American military.

  • Nichol says:

    Funny. While reading the blogpost, I thought these loony lefties supporting Ghadafi must certainly be non-existent, a strawman. But then some of them came to prove their existence in the comments. One comment even extolls the blessings of the Rote Armee Fraction .. who came to Libyan training camps?? They are a main reason that helping Libyans getting rid of Ghadafi is a clear ‘European’ interest.

    I’ve noticed more ‘lefty’ people in the past month that expressed angrer about the US not having ‘acted’ yet. Other ‘lefties’ prefer to err on the side of caution, as military action is a risky thing. Not all that different from ‘righties’ in this respect.

  • hayate says:

    You know, it was really wonderful how mussolini and hitler came to the aide of the Spanish falange faction in the Spanish Civil War and defended them against those nasty leftists. I even hear that the Germans and Italians were the major organisers of that those falange fascists and were the ones behind the falange uprising. Good thing they did. Imagine the horror of having an independent Spain between capitalist France and fascist Italy!!!? No telling what those ‘orrible, baby eating commies would to their properly ordered social and political structures. Those Spanish commies might have triggered socialist revolutions throughout Europe.

    For those who don’t get it. The Spanish Civil War was triggered by mutinying, coup plotting, military personnel who were aided by outside fascist forces, who bankrolled the rebellion, armed it and sent air and ground forces to support it. The Libyan Civil War was triggered by mutinying, coup plotting, military personnel who were aided by outside fascist forces, who bankrolled the rebellion, armed it and sent air and ground forces to support it.

    Now do you get it?

    • Idrees says:

      So the Gaddafi reigme is modern day Republican Spain. Yes I get it. Down with them ‘mutinying, coup plotting’ revolutionaries!

      • hayate says:

        The main point of my comment was this:

        For those who don’t get it. The Spanish Civil War was triggered by mutinying, coup plotting, military personnel who were aided by outside fascist forces, who bankrolled the rebellion, armed it and sent air and ground forces to support it. The Libyan Civil War was triggered by mutinying, coup plotting, military personnel who were aided by outside fascist forces, who bankrolled the rebellion, armed it and sent air and ground forces to support it.

        Now do you get it?

  • teafoe2 says:

    Idrees, can you provide some sources supporting your statement categorically rejecting Hayate’s argument? Thanks

  • [...] may be going unnoticed that there is no shortage of Arab and Muslim allies of the anti-interventionist movement who are fully behind the operations in Libya, along with such [...]

  • teafoe2 says:

    Belated thanks to Aaron Aarons and Sean for perspicacious comments. Also for the links to BAR and Global Research pieces.

    BTW, in today’s GR there is an even better article, by Webster Tarpley with whom I haven’t always agreed but has IMO nailed it this time:
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23847

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