[Marxism] Comments on a Samir Amin interview

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 12 09:25:53 MDT 2011

Comrades should check out the interview with Samir Amin on MRZine 
(http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/amin110811.html). He has 
some things to say that I agree with, and some not. No big 
surprise there.

The interview conducted by Hassane Zerrouky originally appeared in 
L'Humanité, the one-time CP newspaper.

I was of course pleased to hear Amin say "there is deep, 
spontaneous sympathy between young people and the parties of the 
radical Marxist Left, that is to say the parties that come from 
the socialist and communist tradition." Now if there was only some 
way to unite these parties…

Amin describes Syria this way:

"The Ba'ath regime, which enjoyed legitimacy for a long time, is 
no longer what it was at all: it has become more and more 
autocratic, increasingly a police state, and, at the same time, in 
substance, it has made a gigantic concession to economic 
liberalism. I don't believe that this regime can transform itself 
into a democratic regime."

I have no way of knowing whether he reads MRZine (but am 
relatively confident that he reads Monthly Review), but I wonder 
what he would make of the fact that it circulates pro-Baathist 
propaganda on practically a daily basis.

I of course was very interested to hear what he has to say about 
Libya, another country that is seen alongside Syria as part of the 
"axis of good" by certain elements of the left. For those who 
would embrace Amin as agreeing with Qaddafi's participation in 
this axis, the news is not good:

"Neither side in Libya is better than the other. The president of 
the Transitional National Council (TNC) -- Mustafa Abdel-Jalil -- 
is a very curious democrat: he was the judge who sentenced 
Bulgarian nurses to death before being promoted to the Minister of 
Justice by Gaddafi. The TNC is a bloc of ultra-reactionary forces."

One wonders why someone as benign as Qaddafi would have promoted 
such an individual to run the Ministry of Justice. Maybe he was 
having an off day.

Amin also shoots down the idea that this was a war over oil: "As 
for the United States, it's not oil that they are after -- they 
already have that." Exactly.

But in presenting an alternative analysis, Amin disappoints:

"Their goal is to put Libya under their tutelage in order to 
establish Africom (US military command for Africa) -- which is now 
based in Stuttgart in Germany, since the African countries, no 
matter what you think about them, have rejected their 
establishment in Africa -- in the country."

Now I would be the first person to admit that I was wrong, 
especially if the person contradicting me was as esteemed as Samir 
Amin, but I can't abide by this AFRICOM business. Among the 57 
varieties of ex post facto attempts to explain imperialist 
intervention in Libya, this one struck me as the most improbable. 
To be more exact, fictitious.

In a June 18th post titled "Was Libya attacked because of its 
attitude toward AFRICOM?" 
I found no evidence for this. I alluded to an article from the 
Africom website that stated:


Sep 28, 2009 — A delegation of three senior Libyan military 
officers visited U.S. Africa Command headquarters as part of an 
orientation program to explain the command’s mission, Sept. 21-24, 
2009, as the two countries continue to build their military 

The officers held meetings with senior staff members to discuss 
the command’s programs and activities, met General William E. ward 
and his two deputies, and traveled to Ramstein Air Base to meet 
Major General Ron Ladnier, the U.S. Air Force Africa commander, 
and his staff.

The command hosts African military delegations frequently, but 
“certainly with regard to Libya, it is quite historic,” said 
Kenneth Fidler, Africa Command Public Affairs Office, which hosted 
the Libyan team.

Two of the officers in the delegation write for the official 
magazine of the Libyan armed forces, called Al-Musallh. Colonel 
Mohamed Algale is the chief editor, and Colonel Abdelgane Mohamed 
is the space and aviation editor. The third member of the party, 
Colonel Mustafa Washahi, represented the Libyan Ministry of Defense.

The officers also toured AFN-Europe studios in Mannheim, Germany, 
and met with editors of the European Stars and Stripes in 
Kaiserslautern, Germany.

“They (Africa Command officials) clarified everything,” Abdelgane 
said in an interview with AFN-Europe. “And they are making our 
mission easier … to rise up the level of understanding between the 
militaries … and to move for further cooperation to the benefit of 
both countries.”

In January 2009, Libya and the United States signed a defense 
cooperation memorandum of understanding, which provides the 
framework for a military-to-military relationship and cooperation 
on programs of mutual interest.

After the signing of the MOU, a forum called the Council of 
Colonels met for the fourth time since 2007. These meetings set 
the tone for Libya-U.S. military relations and is the primary 
venue for discussing potential security cooperation opportunities, 
such as ship visits and information exchange programs.

Now, somebody—anybody—help me out here. I would be happy to admit 
that I am wrong. I could find no evidence that Libya was drawing 
some kind of line in the sand over AFRICOM. Maybe there's an 
article that appeared in a newspaper not in the Lexis-Nexis 
database that documents this clash between Libya and the U.S. I 
will award $100 to the leftist cause of choice for the person who 
turns something up. Any takers?

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