[Marxism] Despite differences, Fisk sees repeat of Iraq invasion errors

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Sun Aug 28 15:03:15 MDT 2011

Just to state my point of view clearly without polemics, I believe that 
what has taken place in Libya is a civil war, and that it is not over, 
although I hope the character of the conflict may change as the 
divisions come more to the fore among the rebels over subordination to 
imperialism (and inevitably deeper social questions associated with this

But I do not counterpose civil war to revolution. In fact, I think this 
counterposition -- civil war BAD. revolution GOOD. I think Cuba and 
Vietnam were civil wars as well as revolutions and resistance to 
imperialist domination, and the 1917 revolution involved a quite savage 
civil war.

Most revolutions have involved civil wars. Please don't ask me to cite 
all the instances -- they are really too many to number. Whether it is a 
revolution as well as a civil war is a question to be determined in 

There are two points I was fundamentally and seriously wrong about in my 
past posts. I repeatedly insisted that the upsurge against Gadhafi in 
February had been decisively defeated by both the repression and the 
turn of the opposition leadership. But this was clearly not the case. 
But whether what is taking place has the potential to be a national 
democratic revolution (which can open the road to other things) depends 
on what happens in the struggle now.

This movement cannot lead a genuine democratic revolution without coming 
into conflict with the imperialist powers who have sponsored it up till 
now, and are still supporting them with bombardments of the traditional 
Gadhafi political base in Sirte. Sirte is likely to cave in, since all 
they can accomplish by resisting is to encourage expanded bombing to 
change their minds. But the idea that Gadhafi is simply a demon sent 
from Hell to rule this nation, and has no base at all in the country, is 
just left and liberal fantasy, pure and simple.

I hope what comes out of this is a popular revolution of some kind, 
despite the permeation of the whole process with imperialist power, 
right up to the conquest of Tripoli and including the current march and 
air raid concentration on Sirte. But I believe that the portrayal of 
imperialism as absolutely helpless and powerless in the face of the Arab 
Spring is dreamland. That ground has to be won and it has not been won yet.
Fred Feldman

By the way, I think that spreading rumors that Gadhafi might be dead -- 
I remember this in Iraq very well and also about Mullah Omar in 
Afghanistan, who is still alive and kicking imperialist ass in his 
thoroughly reactionary way -- represents wishful thinking. I think those 
who believe Gadhafi is alive (including myself, despite my lack of 
details) are closer to the truth.

Robert Fisk: History repeats itself, with mistakes of Iraq rehearsed afresh

With Gaddafi at large, a guerrilla war eroding the new powers is inevitable

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Doomed always to fight the last war, we are recommitting the same old 
sin in Libya.

Muammar Gaddafi vanishes after promising to fight to the death. Isn't 
that just what Saddam Hussein did? And of course, when Saddam 
disappeared and US troops suffered the very first losses from the Iraqi 
insurgency in 2003, we were told – by the US proconsul Paul Bremer, the 
generals, diplomats and the decaying television "experts" – that the 
gunmen of the resistance were "die-hards", "dead-enders" who didn't 
realise that the war was over. And if Gaddafi and his egg-headed son 
remain at large – and if the violence does not end – how soon will we be 
introduced once more to the "dead-enders" who simply will not understand 
that the lads from Benghazi are in charge and that the war is over? 
Indeed, within 15 minutes – literally – of my writing the above words 
(2pm yesterday), a Sky News reporter had re-invented "die-hards" as a 
definition for Gaddafi's men. See what I mean?

Needless to say, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds 
as far as the West is concerned. No one is disbanding the Libyan army 
and no one is officially debarring the Gaddafi-ites from a future role 
in their country. No one is going to make the same mistakes we made in 
Iraq. And no boots are on the ground. No walled-off, sealed-in Green 
Zone Western zombies are trying to run the future Libya. "It's up to the 
Libyans," has become the joyful refrain of every State Department/ 
Foreign Office/Quai d'Orsay factotum. Nothing to do with us!

But, of course, the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul 
representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and 
French servicemen – all pretending to be "advisers" rather than 
participants – is the Benghazi Green Zone. There may (yet) be no walls 
around them but they are, in effect, governing Libya through the various 
Libyan heroes and scallywags who have set themselves up as local 
political masters. We can overlook the latters' murder of their own 
commanding officer – for some reason, no one mentions the name of Abdul 
Fatah Younes any more, though he was liquidated in Benghazi only a month 
ago – but they can only survive by clinging to our Western umbilicals.

Of course, this war is not the same as our perverted invasion of Iraq. 
Saddam's capture only provoked the resistance to infinitely more attacks 
on Western troops – because those who had declined to take part in the 
insurgency for fear that the Americans would put Saddam back in charge 
of Iraq now had no such inhibitions. But Gaddafi's arrest along with 
Saif's would undoubtedly hasten the end of pro-Gaddafi resistance to the 
rebels. The West's real fear – right now, and this could change 
overnight – should be the possibility that the author of the Green Book 
has made it safely through to his old stomping ground in Sirte, where 
tribal loyalty might prove stronger than fear of a Nato-backed Libyan force.

Sirte, where Gaddafi, at the very start of his dictatorship, turned the 
region's oil fields into the first big up-for-grabs international 
dividend for foreign investors after his 1969 revolution, is no Tikrit. 
It is the site of his first big African Union conference, scarcely 16 
miles from the place of his own birth, a city and region that benefited 
hugely from his 41-year rule. Strabo, the Greek geographer, described 
how the dots of desert settlements due south of Sirte made Libya into a 
leopard skin. Gaddafi must have liked the metaphor. Almost 2,000 years 
later, Sirte was pretty much the hinge between the two Italian colonies 
of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.

And in Sirte the "rebels" were defeated by the "loyalists" in this 
year's six-month war; we shall soon, no doubt, have to swap these 
preposterous labels – when those who support the pro-Western 
Transitional National Council will have to be called loyalists, and 
pro-Gaddafi rebels turn into the "terrorists" who may attack our new 
Western-friendly Libyan administration. Either way, Sirte, whose 
inhabitants are now supposedly negotiating with Gaddafi's enemies, may 
soon be among the most interesting cities in Libya.

So what is Gaddafi thinking now? Desperate, we believe him to be. But 
really? We have chosen many adjectives for him in the past: irascible, 
demented, deranged, magnetic, tireless, obdurate, bizarre, statesmanlike 
(Jack Straw's description), cryptic, exotic, bizarre, mad, idiosyncratic 
and – most recently – tyrannical, murderous and savage. But in his 
skewed, shrewd view of the Libyan world, Gaddafi would do better to 
survive and live – to continue a civil-tribal conflict and thus consume 
the West's new Libyan friends in the swamp of guerrilla warfare – and 
slowly sap the credibility of the new "transitional" power.

But the unpredictable nature of the Libyan war means that words rarely 
outlive their writing. Maybe Gaddafi hides in a basement tunnel beneath 
the Rixos Hotel – or lounges in one of Robert Mugabe's villas. I doubt 
it. Just so long as no one tries to fight the war before this one.

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