Mar 21, 2011
On Saturday, March 19, the U.S. sent 124 Tomahawk missiles against cities in Libya. Pretending that the U.S. was not leading the attack on Libya – that it was only the “leading edge” of the “coalition” – Admiral Mike Mullen declared that the U.S. was coming to the aid of the people of Libya. According to another U.S. spokesperson, France and England were heading the coalition – even though each of them had only one warship stationed near Tripoli, Libya’s capital, while the U.S. had 11.
Of course, all this talk about “coalition” is nonsense – the same kind spouted by George W. Bush when he talked about the “coalition of the willing” going to war against Iraq. The fact is, the U.S., the predominant imperialist power, has made the decision to carry out military action against another oil-rich country in the Middle East, and it has enlisted second-rate imperialist countries that don’t want to be left out if Libya’s oil goes on the block.
We can understand why the rebels who had lately been pushed into a corner in Benghazi and a few cities to the east were out in the streets celebrating when they heard the news. Since the middle of February, they had been carrying out a determined fight against Qaddafi’s regime. In the first three weeks, up to March 6, they seemed to be taking one position after another away from the forces controlled by Libya’s longtime dictator. But, then bringing out his air power, tanks and other heavy weaponry, Qaddafi began to turn the battle around, pushing the rebels back. As his forces took cities away from the rebels, they went house to house, terrorizing the population, making it pay for letting the rebels hold their city for a while.
So, yes, we can understand the joy the population of Benghazi must have felt when they heard the announcement that the big powers were going to impose a “no-fly” zone over Libya, hoping this meant someone was coming to their aid.
But no one should believe that this new version of “shock and awe” will be carried out in the interests of the Libyan people. Whenever imperialism generally, and the U.S. specifically, has intervened militarily against another country, it has never been to serve the people there.
The hundreds of thousands of people killed in the U.S. attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan stand as a bitter reminder of who pays when imperialism goes to war. No matter what excuse the U.S. and other imperialisms gave – looking for Osama bin-Laden in Afghanistan, looking for “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq – it was and still is the people who pay the mortal price.
We shouldn’t forget what happened when the U.S. got its coalition partners to impose another famous “no-fly-zone.” In 1991, after the first Gulf War, the U.S. imposed a no-fly-zone, supposedly to protect the Shiites in the South of Iraq and the Kurds in the North from Saddam Hussein. In fact, when those peoples acted on what the U.S. said and rebelled, the U.S. handed Saddam’s tanks, his heavy artillery and his army back to him, and de facto they lifted the no-fly zone until he had completed the dirty job of putting down both of those rebellions.
And we shouldn’t forget that the big imperialisms, which today pretend that Qaddafi is a brute, have used this brute for years to keep order for them in this important oil rich corner of the world.
In 2004, George W. Bush’s administration resumed diplomatic relations with Qaddafi’s regime in Libya – because of the “moral support” he had provided for their war on Iraq. In 2008, Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Qaddafi in Libya. And in 2009, Qaddafi was warmly greeted by President Obama at a meeting to which he had been invited by the imperialist powers.
The U.S. and its partners may well leave Qaddafi in place, just as they left Saddam Hussein in place after the first Gulf War – in place to keep the population in line.
Or they may remove him, as they removed Saddam Hussein after the second Gulf War, only to replace him with another strong man, used also to keep the population in line.
If the Libyan people are really to liberate themselves, to decide for themselves what they want, they will have to make their own fight.
The U.S. and the other imperialisms, just like Qaddafi, are all the enemies of the Libyan people.
Here, in the middle of U.S. imperialism, we have every reason to oppose its every move against other peoples around the world.