[Marxism] Letter to Socialist Worker newspaper on Libya
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 31 07:49:15 MDT 2011
Readers' Views 
Toufic Haddad, from the Internet
The winner in Libya is undetermined
August 30, 2011
"WHO REALLY won in Libya"  is unnecessarily deterministic about
the future orientation of the Libyan regime, supposing the
revolution is finally successful in dislodging Qaddafi and his clique.
The article claims "[t]he new government that will form in place
of the Qaddafi regime will be led by these elements [the most
conservative elements of the Qaddafi opposition, embodied in the
Transitional National Council]" and, hence:
will be beholden to the U.S. and Europe for its
existence--and pliable to their interests...The new government
that will come to power in Libya won't answer to the people of
Libya and their desire for democracy and justice. It will answer
to imperialism--and that is a blow to the Arab Spring, which this
year showed the world the hope of an alternative to oppression,
violence and tyranny.
Not so fast.
It's true that there are contradictions to the rebel struggle and
likely impending victory. But it is important to not
mischaracterize the main impetus and current of the revolt, nor to
swallow the exaggerated Western government claims of influence in
the rebellion and post-Qaddafi Libya.
The West was dying for a card in the Arab Spring, and indeed
believed that the air power and logistics it supplied in Libya
would provide them this. It certainly bought them some collateral,
though it is far from clear that it will be able to "cash in" this
card in the post-Qaddafi era.
Part of the problem is that the Libyan state was such a bizarre
nepotistic cult around the figure of Qaddafi himself that the
opposition to him incorporated large sections of ex-regime
figures, plus those who, at different stages in history, were
either marginalized from the get go, or alienated from the regime
throughout its mercurial turns. This indeed means that there are
sections of the opposition that are amenable to making deals with
the West, and it would be wrong to deny this.
But that the rebellion benefited from NATO support in its
insurgency still doesn't mean that the rebellion has lost its way
or is a stooge of imperialism. The overwhelming thrust of the
rebellion has been paid for by a determined struggle of the Libyan
people, who sacrificed perhaps as much as tens of thousands of
lives for their freedom. The thought that they would allow the
fruits of their rebellion to be so easily snapped up by an
ex-regime, pro-West alliance, is unlikely, premature and
Here lies the main fault of the article: The Arab Spring is about
human agency and popular will, which cannot so easily be put back
in the bottle--and certainly not by an opportunistic section of
the opposition in cahoots with the Western governments and Big Oil.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THOSE WHO will determine the fate of Libya are the people
themselves, and particularly the fighting forces on the ground,
most of whom have correctly focused on fighting the regime, rather
than flirting with Western diplomats. The balance of power between
these different elements of the opposition remains to be
disclosed, though it is premature to select the winner now.
While knowing the orientation of Libya will be difficult to
determine at this stage, there is no reason to suspect that this
is going to be a "shoo-in" for the West. The Libyan people are, in
principle, no different from other Arab and Amazigh peoples of the
region, where a cocktail of pan-Arabist and pan-Islamist
sentiments dominate the historical, cultural and intellectual
The Libyan people's historical connections to the Palestinian
struggle and other revolutionary struggles are deep--it's wrong to
assume this was all top-down shenanigans from Qaddafi
himself--while the country had the highest number of foreign
fighters to volunteer and fight the U.S. coalition in Iraq and
Afghanistan, something they did against the will of the regime.
Furthermore, the killing of the Libyan rebel leader Abdel Fattah
Younis--likely by an Islamist section of rebels that differed with
this ex-regime internal security chief--gives an indication of the
mixed soup of players within the opposition, and that there could
be retribution for those who so quickly changed hats when Tunisia
and Egypt fell. It is believed that at least 30 autonomous rebel
groups are operating in the eastern part of the country alone.
Israel has already accused Hamas of purchasing Libyan weapons from
rebel groups and bringing them into Gaza.
In a nutshell, the West took a gamble in its actions with Libya
and may one day come to regret its support for the Libyan
revolution. Where is Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi huckster who was
America's horse for the post-invasion period of Iraq? The man once
dubbed "George Washington of Iraq" is not only not running Iraq,
but is under investigation by the U.S. for all the money he stole,
and the lies he told.
The point is, the dislodging of Qaddafi, if finally successful,
will be an important first stage in the success of the Libyan
revolution. But it is not the end of the struggle, as Tunisia and
Egypt are proving as well. The battle for the orientation of Libya
and its political and social makeup, will fall to its people.
The left in the West needs to support the revolution's basic
demand for a democratic and free Libya, while also particularly
supporting the most progressive wings of the movement, if and when
it gets to the second stage of determining what to do with the
country and its resources. It does not need to engage in writing
off a revolution before it has even achieved its first major gain
(the fall of Qaddafi).
This smacks of too much armchair quarterbacking, at a time when we
need to see the field at large, learn who the players are, and how
we can constructively engage and help in the struggle for the
emergence of a progressive post-Qaddafi Libya.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Published by the International Socialist Organization.
Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org,
under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0)  license, except for
articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome
to share and use material belonging to this site for
non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the
author and SocialistWorker.org.
More information about the Marxism