[Marxism] Libya's next fight: the West

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 31 13:40:51 MDT 2011


Libya's next fight: the West

SEATTLE — At a press conference in Tripoli on Aug. 26, a statement 
read aloud by top Libyan rebel commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj was 
reassuring. Just a few months ago, disorganized and leaderless 
rebel fighters seemed to have little chance at ousting Libyan 
dictator Moammar Ghadhafi and his unruly sons.

But despite vague references to "pockets of resistance" throughout 
Tripoli, and stiffer battles elsewhere, Libya's National 
Transitional Council (NTC) is moving forward to extend its rule as 
the caretaker of Libyan affairs. In his conference, Belhadj 
declared full control over Tripoli, and the unification of all 
rebel fighter groups under the command of the military council.

Listening to upbeat statements by rebel military commanders, and 
optimistic assessments of NTC members, one gets the impression 
that the future of Libya is being entirely formulated by the new 
Libyan leadership. Arab media, lead by Al Jazeera, seemed at times 
to entirely neglect that there was a third and most powerful party 
involved in the battle between freedom-seeking Libyans and the 
obstinate dictator. It is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 
whose decisive and financially costly military intervention was 
not charitable, nor was it a moral act. It was a politically and 
strategically calculated endeavor, with multifaceted objectives 
that simply cannot be scrutinized in one article.

However, one needs to follow the intense discussion under way in 
Western media to realize the nature of NATO's true intentions, 
their expectations and the bleak possibilities awaiting Libya if 
the new leadership doesn't quickly remove itself from this 
dangerous NATO alliance.

While Libyans fought against brutality, guided by a once distant 
hope of freedom, democracy and liberation from the grip of a 
clownish and delusional dictator, NATO calculations had nothing 
but a self-serving agenda in mind.

In his brilliant and newly released book, "Postmodern Imperialism: 
Geopolitics and the Great Game," Eric Walberg astutely charts 
NATO's role following the end of the Cold War. NATO "has become 
the centerpiece of the (U.S.) empire's military presence around 
the world, moving quickly to respond to U.S. needs to intervene 
where the U.N. won't as in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and now 

The massive NATO expansion in the last two decades, to include new 
members, to enter into new "Partnerships for Peace," and to carry 
out various "Dialogue" with entities outside its immediate 
geographic sphere required the constant reinvention of NATO and 
the redefinition of its role around the globe. "NATO's victory" in 
Libya — a "regime change from the air" as described by some — is 
certain to ignite the imagination of the relatively dormant 
neoconservative ideas of regime change at any cost.

Indeed, it might not be long before NATO's intervention in Libya 
becomes a political-military doctrine in its own right. U.S. 
President Barack Obama, and other Western leaders are already 
offering clues regarding the nature of that doctrine. In a 
statement issued Aug. 22 from Martha's Vineyard, where Obama was 
vacationing, the U.S. president said: "NATO has once more proven 
that it is the most capable alliance in the world and that its 
strength comes from both its firepower and the power of our 
democratic ideals." It's difficult to underline with any certainty 
how this gung-ho mentality coupled with democracy rhetoric is any 
different from President George W. Bush's justification of the 
U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many commentators in the U.S. and other NATO countries are already 
treating Libya as another military conquest, similar to that of 
Afghanistan and Iraq, a claim that Libyans would find most 
objectionable. Such ideas are not forged haphazardly, however, 
since the language used by NATO leaders and their treatment of 
post-Gadhafi Libya seem largely consistent with their attitude 
toward other invaded Muslim countries.

In a written statement cited widely in the media, U.S. Secretary 
of State Hillary Clinton began laying down the rules, by which the 
"new Libya" will be judged before the international community 
(meaning the U.S., NATO and their allies.)

"We will look to them to ensure that Libya fulfills its treaty 
responsibilities, that it ensures that its weapons stockpiles do 
not threaten its neighbors or fall into the wrong hands, and that 
it takes a firm stand against violent extremism."

Worse, the al-Qaida card had already been placed into NATO's new 
game. The centrality of that card will be determined based on the 
political attitude of the new Libyan leadership.

The insinuation of al-Qaida's involvement in the Libyan uprising 
is not new, of course; it dates back to March when "top NATO 
commander and U.S. Adm. James Stavridis said he had seen 
'flickers' of an al-Qaida presence among the rebels," reported the 
British Telegraph (Aug. 26).

Now, Algeria, a U.S.-ally in the so-called war on terror is waving 
that very card to justify its refusal to recognize the NTC.

Injection of "fighting extremism" as a condition for further U.S. 
and NATO support, and the refusal of access to tens of billions of 
dollars in Western bank accounts, could prove the biggest 
challenge to the new Libyan leadership, one that is greater than 
Gadhafi's audio rants or any other.

NATO understands well that a "failure" in its new Libya project 
could spoil a whole array of interests in the Arab region, and 
could hinder future use of Obama's blend of firepower and 
democracy ideals. Mainstream intellectuals are busy drawing 
parallels between Libya and other NATO adventures.

John F. Burns, writing in the New York Times (Aug. 22), discussed 
some of the seemingly eerie similarities between post-Gadhafi 
Libya and post-Saddam Iraq. In an article titled: "Parallels 
Between Qaddafi and Hussein Raise Anxiety for Western Leaders," 
Burns wrote: "The list (of parallels between both experiences) 
sounded like a rule book built on the mistakes critics have 
identified as central to the American experience in Iraq." Burn's 
line of logic is consistent with a whole new media discourse that 
is building momentum by the day.

Tuning back to Arabic media however, one is confronted with almost 
an entirely different discourse, one that refers to NATO as 
"friends," to whom the Libyan people are "grateful" and 
"indebted." Some pan-Arab TV channels have been more instrumental 
than others in introducing that faulty line of logic, which could 
ultimately bode terrible consequences for Syria, and eventually 
turn the Arab Spring into an infinite winter.

The Libya that inspired the world is capable of overcoming NATO's 
stratagems, if it becomes aware of NATO's true intentions in Libya 
and the desperate attempt to thwart or hijack Arab revolts.

Ramzy Baroud is a syndicated columnist and the editor of 

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