[Marxism] Refuting Juan Cole: The Myth of Libyan Liberation

Intense Red intnsred at golgotha.net
Fri Aug 26 19:07:19 MDT 2011


Refuting Juan Cole: The Myth of Libyan Liberation

In his essay, “Top Ten Myths about the Libyan War,” Juan Cole argues that 
U.S. interests in the conflict consisted of stopping “massacres of people,” 
a “lawful world order,” “the NATO alliance,” and oddly, “the fate of Egypt.” 
It is worth taking a moment to look at each of these arguments, as well as 
his dismissal of the idea that the U.S./NATO intervention had anything to do 
with oil as “daft.”
Massacres are bad things, but the U.S. has never demonstrated a concern for 
them unless its interests were at stake. It made up the “massacre” of Kosovo 
Albanians in order to launch the Yugoslav War, and ended up acquiring one of 
the largest U.S. bases in the world, Camp Bond Steel. It has resolutely 
ignored the massacre of Palestinians and Shiites in Bahrain because it is 
not in Washington’s interests to concern itself with those things. Israel is 
an ally, and Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Cole accepts the fact that 
Qaddafi would have “massacred” his people, but his evidence for that is 
thin, and he chooses to completely ignore the deaths and casualties 
resulting from the NATO bombing.
The U.S. is interested in a “lawful world order.” That would certainly come 
as a surprise to the Palestinians, the Shiites in the Gulf, and peasants in 
Colombia who suffer the deprivations of death squads aided by the U.S.  (see 
the Washington Post story of 8/20/11) etc. The U.S, supports international 
law when it is in its interests to do so, undermines it when it is not, and 
ignores it when it is inconvenient. I wish Cole were correct but he is not. 
The record speaks for itself.
Okay, spot on for the NATO alliance, which is exactly the problem.  Africa 
has increasingly become a chess piece in a global competition for resources 
and cheap labor. It is no accident that the U.S. recently formed an African 
Command (Africom)—the Libyan War was the organization’s coming out party—and 
is training troops in countries that border the Sahara. It is already 
intervening in Somalia, and a recent story in the New York Times about an 
“al-Qaeda threat” in Northern Nigeria should send a collective chill down 
all our spines. NATO has already “war gamed” the possibility of intervention 
in the Gulf of Guinea to insure oil supplies in the advent of “civil 
disturbances” that might affect the flow of energy resources.
NATO represents western economic and political interests, which rarely 
coincide with the interests of either the alliance’s own people, or those of 
the countries it occupies. The Libyan intervention sets a very dangerous 
precedent for the entire continent, which is why the African Union opposed 
it. Who will be next?
Ummm, Egypt? Certainly the U.S. has “a deep interest in the fate of Egypt,” 
which ought to scare hell out of the Egyptians. But overthrowing Qaddafi was 
important because he had “high Egyptian officials on his payroll”? Is Cole 
seriously suggesting that Libya’s 6.4 million people have anything to do 
with determining the fate of 83 million Egyptians?
Opposition to the Libyan War is not based on supporting Qaddafi, although 
Cole’s portrait of the man is one-sided. For instance, Libya played an 
important role in financing the African Bank, thus allowing African nations 
to avoid the tender mercies of the World Bank and the International Monetary 
Fund. Libya also financed a continent-wide telecommunications system that 
saved African countries hundreds of millions of dollars by allowing them to 
bypass western-controlled networks.  He also raised living standards. This 
does not make him a good guy, but it does say that Libya’s role in Africa 
cannot be reduced to simply “sinister.”
Lastly, the charge that this was about Libya’s oil is “daft”? Libya is the 
largest producer of oil in Africa, and the 12th largest in the world. Its 
resources are very important for NATO’s European allies, and over the past 
several years there has been competition over these supplies. The Chinese 
have made major investments. During the war China, Russia, and Brazil 
supported the African Union’s call for a ceasefire and talks, and pointed 
out that UN Resolution 1973 did not call for regime change. One of the first 
statements out of the Transitional National Council following Qaddafi’s 
collapse was that China, Russia and Brazil were going to be sidelined in 
favor of French, Spanish, and Italian companies. Quid pro quo?
The war was not just over oil, but how can anyone dismiss the importance of 
energy supplies at a time of worldwide competition over their control?  The 
U.S. is currently fighting several wars in a region that contains more than 
65 percent of the world’s oil supplies. Does he think this is a coincidence? 
Sure, the companies that invested in Libya will take some initial losses, 
but does Cole think those Libyans beholden to NATO for their new positions 
will drive a hard bargain with the likes of Total SA and Repso when it comes 
to making deals? If I were those companies I would see the war as a very 
lucrative investment in futures. In any case, when the U.S., China, and 
Russia are locked in a bitter worldwide battle over energy resources, to 
dismiss the role of oil in the Libyan War is, well, daft.
Special Forces are taking over the U.S. military. Africom is increasingly 
active on the continent. NATO has just finished its first intervention in 
Africa. With Qaddafi gone, every country that borders the Mediterranean is 
now associated with NATO, essentially turning this sea into an alliance 
This is not a good thing. 

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless 
world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." 
-- Karl Marx

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