The US, British and French “coalition” attack on Libya occurs behind the fig-leaf of concern for the safety of citizens of the country.
Meanwhile protesters in Yemen and Bahrain continue to be killed by US puppet regimes backed, in the case of Bahrain, by soldiers sent in from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.
The hypocrisy is staggering.
Libya’s Gaddafi came to power in 1969 when he and his supporters overthrew the pro-US regime of King Idris. Oil and other major industries were nationalised and the giant US Wheelus Air Base forced to close.
Gaddafi’s anti-imperialist credentials were established and he began supporting various national liberation struggles around the globe.
However, his Green (Islamic) Revolution did nothing to empower the strongest component of the anti-imperialist forces in his country - the workers. Reactionary political measures were taken to impose restrictions on their independent activity and to ensure that the colour of the revolution remained green (Islamist) and not red (socialist).
Not being a Marxist, Gaddafi began to embrace terrorism as a weapon against imperialism, failing to understand that terrorism is essentially counter-productive and damaging to the causes with which it is linked.
He may or may not have authorised the nightclub bombing in Germany, for example; what it provided was an excuse for the Reagan regime to invade Libyan airspace in 1986 and savagely bomb a number of Libyan cities, causing huge loss of civilian life. Indeed Gaddafi’s own compound was bombed and his daughter killed.
Condemned as a terrorist and a rogue by the imperialists, Gaddafi was forced to re-evaluate his position after the demise of the social-imperialist Soviet superpower, China’s growing accommodation to the needs of imperialism, and the subsequent change in the international balance of power.
From the late 90’s on, Gaddafi began capitulating to imperialist pressure. He scrapped his nuclear weapons program and destroyed stocks of weapons and in return, in 2003 his country was removed from the US’s list of “terrorist states”.
Multinational corporations were given access to the Libyan economy in a wave of neo-liberal “reforms” demanded by the World Bank and the IMF. The living standards of the Libyan people, once the highest in Northern Africa, began to plummet so that at the same time as he was beginning to bask in international approval he also had to confront growing internal dissatisfaction.
When that dissatisfaction boiled over into protests followed by civil war in the wake of the great Tunisian and Egyptian people’s struggles, the imperialists seized the opportunity to complete the undermining of Libyan independence and clamoured for a “regime change”.
Vision of Libyan jets striking rebel strongholds in the east of the country created a favourable public opinion environment for intervention by the imperialists.
Learning from the mistakes surrounding their unilateral aggression against Iraq, the US imperialists adopted a relatively low profile, leaving the front running to the British and French with the support of a shaky Arab League. A motion was rushed through the United Nations Security Council on Thursday March 17 authorising the imposition of a “no-fly zone” on Libya. Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany abstained, while the Organisation of African Unity condemned the move.
Gaddafi declared his compliance with the resolution with an announcement of a ceasefire but no time was provided by the imperialists to let this take effect.
Nor was a “no-fly zone” simply a matter of patrolling the skies over Libya to ensure that Gaddafi’s jets remained on the ground.
Despite a Pentagon spokesperson’s assurance that a “no-fly zone” had been successfully imposed, the US and British imperialists launched 112 Raytheon Corporation Cruise Missile attacks from naval vessels on 20 different Libyan sites on Saturday March 19.
Included in those sites was Gaddafi’s compound – a “symbolic” gesture according to some in the capitalist press, and no doubt intended to remind Gaddafi of his daughter’s death in 1986 and therefore of his own personal vulnerability.
Not to be outdone, the British and the French sent warplanes to attack convoys of Gaddafi forces. This has been one of the more successful of the imperialists’ actions as there have been no reports of tanks and troop carrying vehicles taking to the skies since the attack.
It would be too cynical to suggest that each new act of aggression by imperialism provides opportunities to test the latest weaponry in real life…or death….situations.
But Boeing will be pleased that its EA-18G Growler, is providing electronic warfare support to the “Coalition’s” attacks on Libya. This is the first combat mission for the Growler which not only went after Libya’s surface-to-air missiles, but also helped the aggressors conduct air strikes on loyalist ground forces going after rebel strongholds.
US B-2 Stealth bombers haven't seen a lot of action since the days of "Shock and Awe" over Iraq. But with the mission to destroy Libyan radar and missile sites -- and airfields, and command posts -- in full effect, the B-2 is back in effect. The one pictured at the top of this blog, returning from a bombing run, flew all the way from Missouri's Whiteman Air Force Base.
British Typhoon fighter jets are being used in their first-ever combat missions and nations like Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands are seeing how their warplanes perform in real….well, whatever, conditions.
In May 2009, Raytheon Missile Systems proposed an upgrade to the Tomahawk Block IV land-attack cruise missile that would allow it to kill or disable large, hardened warships at 900 nautical miles (1,700 km) range, just to give you some idea of its destructive capacity. Although guided by GPS systems and able to be re-targeted in mid-air, it is apparently incapable of turning around and going back home if citizens get in its path. It’s great for Raytheon that the new Block IVs are getting a work-out.
In time it will be revealed that the imperialists never really intended to simply impose the conditions for a “fair” fight between Gaddafi and his opponents, that the “no-fly zone” had more to its agenda than just providing a level playing field between the Government and the rebels. After all, where does that argument begin and end? X has aerial superiority and we support Y, so we’ll impose a “no-fly zone”. But X also has more tanks than Y, so we’ll Tomahawk his excess tanks. But he’s also got more troops, so how about we knock a few tens of thousands of them out as well. And if he’s got more popular support, well, we’ll just have to slaughter his civilians so as to protect those supporting Y.
By coincidence, on Monday March 21 the German magazine Der Spiegel released photos of a smiling US “kill team” posing with the bodies of tortured and killed Afghan civilians from whose bodies gruesome “trophies” had been cut. (See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/21/us-army-kill-team-afghanistan-posed-pictures-murdered-civilians ).
Although its early days yet in the imperialists’ war of aggression against Libya, these are the observations that can be made now:
1. Imperialism is by its very nature opposed to the interests of humanity. It cannot and will not provide “humanitarian assistance”.
2. It is the inalienable right of the Libyan people to rebel against reactionary authority, whether that takes the persona of Gaddafi and his regime, or is constituted by the aggressive coalition of the imperialists.
3. Freedom and independence can neither be imported nor exported; rather, it can only be won by each people conducting its own difficult and protracted struggle.
4. That does not mean leaving a people to its own fate. The basis of assistance to those carrying out a just struggle is proletarian internationalism. Only the people can provide assistance to each other without interfering, bullying, subverting and seeking to control – all of which characterise imperialist intervention.
5. The key to the resolution of contradictions in Libya is the emergence of the working class in an organsied, conscious role as leaders of the fight to defend the independence of their nation and the liberation of their people.