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A statement by the Party for Socialism and Liberation
FEBRUARY 28, 2011
In the last few hours, the Pentagon has repositioned naval and air forces directly off Libya’s coast in preparation for an escalated military intervention against the government there.
In recent days, the United States, United Nations Security Council, Britain, and the European Union have all imposed sanctions on the Gaddafi government, and there is now open discussion of enforcing a no-fly zone. British Prime Minister David Cameron is discussing the “use of military assets,” while the U.S. and French governments said “nothing is off the table.”
The civil war in Libya is not foreign-inspired, but imperialist countries are now attempting to take advantage of the situation and resolve it in their favor. U.S. and British imperialism are focused, above all, on having a Libyan government that can guarantee them steady control of its oil resources. Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, amounting to 47 billion barrels. If it could, the Pentagon would undoubtedly like to set up military bases on Libyan soil.
“Top military officials in Washington have also been looking at other options, including ‘safe zones’ for people sheltering from the regime, securing ports, airports and oil fields and providing guarantees for an attempt to set up a new government,” states the British-based Financial Times.
The recent escalation by the U.S. government is in the direction of military intervention. These are dangerous provocations, which threaten to rapidly escalate the civil war in Libya. All countries rightly consider the imposition of no-fly zones to be acts of war that directly violate national sovereignty.
It is essential that all anti-war and progressive people in the United States stand together right now to oppose U.S. military intervention. No-fly zones and other acts of foreign intervention aim to bring control over Libya.
Don’t believe humanitarian pretenses for intervention
It was reported today that Saudi Arabia began sending tanks to Bahrain to help suppress the youth calling for the king’s removal. They could not make such a brazen military move without the consent of the United States government, which, as the New York Times admitted this weekend, is carefully “consulting” the Gulf monarchs. How is it possible the same government sending tanks to repress democracy in one country could intervene on behalf of it elsewhere? It is not.
While the U.S. government supports the Saudi suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain, it is offering military support for the “pro-democracy” forces in Libya. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared a willingness to “offer any type of assistance.”
The U.S. government, sometimes working through the United Nations, has used “humanitarian” pretenses time and again to initiate military actions that lead to wider war. The Iraq and Afghanistan occupations have used a variety of false pretenses: saving ethnic minorities, removing dictators, spreading democracy, defending women’s rights, etc. Each one of these has been a bald-faced lie. The U.S. military does not now, nor has it ever, operated in the interests of peace and democracy. It exists as an institution to protect and expand U.S. geostrategic and economic interests, and is only deployed for that reason.
The U.S. and European governments are deathly afraid of the spreading Arab revolt, which threatens the whole arrangement of power that has delivered profits and power to the imperialist countries for decades. They would want nothing more than to have pro-imperialist boots on the ground in the region, and to recast themselves as “friends” of democracy. But they are afraid of real democracy in the Arab world, which would reassert the region’s self-determination and break the client relationships with the West. The U.S. government hopes only for paper democracy, which will placate those in revolt but preserve all the same economic arrangements.
We should recall: The White House justified both the Korean and Vietnam wars as interventions to help “save democracy” amid civil wars. The first Iraq war purported to “save” the people of Kuwait. The U.S./U.N. intervention in Somalia was authorized to provide “security” for a humanitarian mission, but it simply caused death and destruction. The merciless bombing of Yugoslavia was rationalized as the only way to save Bosnians and Albanians. Murderous U.N. forces have occupied Haiti for years now under the false pretense of “restoring stability.”
In fact, the same “democratic” reasons have been given for every U.S. and European military intervention. It is only though mass deception of this type—manipulating people’s desires to see a freer, more democratic world—that imperialism is able to operate at all. If they disclosed why they were really intervening, no one would support their profit-seeking missions.
How U.S. imperialism views the form of government in Libya and elsewhere
The form of government in any Middle East country is of incidental concern to imperialism. Washington has backed and financed the most vicious dictatorships possible and has been an enemy of the democratic aspirations of the people in the region. The U.S. opposes genuine democracy because a free people would put the Middle East at odds with the colonial-type designs of imperialism and its client regime in Tel Aviv.
While neither Gaddafi nor the opposition refer to their conflict as a civil war, that is what has emerged. Much of the country is under the control of the opposition, but Gaddafi has long enjoyed more support in the capital city of Tripoli, which houses one-third of the country’s population. This can be partly explained by the city’s more developed welfare programs, which have been financed from the country’s vast oil revenue. Those oil fields are largely in the eastern part of the country, which has been the center of the revolt. It is not possible to determine from a distance the depth of allegiance to the government among the social base that has traditionally supported the Gaddafi government.
The revolt in Libya against the government of Gaddafi quickly took on aspects of civil war as major sectors of the Libyan state apparatus—including military, police, and security units from the regime—broke away from the Gaddafi government. In fact, these forces are the leadership.
The revolt, however, is not homogeneous. The National Libyan Council, which controls Benghazi and other oil-rich cities in the East, appears divided internally. Two of Gaddafi’s former ministers, of justice and of the interior, claim to lead the Council and have issued statements declaring an interim government and a military march against Tripoli. Other former high officials in the Gaddafi regime, including the Ambassador to the UN, are appealing for U.S. and Western intervention.
Another Council spokesman, Hafiz Ghoga, says no such interim government exists, and has declared, “We are completely against foreign intervention.” The opposition includes not only former elements of the Gaddafi government and state apparatus, but also workers and students who have many valid grievances and have been suffering the effects of unemployment, inequality and neoliberal reforms.
The National Front for the Salvation of Libya, which has been all over the Western media calling for no-fly zones, is a CIA-trained exile group; it is not clear if it has played any significant role in the revolt.
Libya and the entire region are in grave danger with the specter of U.S. military intervention. Only the people of Libya should determine their own destiny. There is undoubtedly considerable consciousness among the people of Libya about the dangers of Western intervention.
Let us not be fooled! Oppose U.S./U.N. intervention in Libya! Self-determination for the people of Libya and all the struggling peoples of the Middle East!