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Debate: NATO in Libya: A tactical, necessary evil

[For more left views on Libya, click HERE.]

By Iggy Kim and Marce Cameron

April 3, 2011 -- The NATO intervention in Libya is a necessary evil. Evil, yes, but necessary just the same. At least for the present.

The brutal reality of the early weeks of March was the choice between the crushing of the centre of liberated Libya in Benghazi or the securing of much-needed time (and protection) for the regrouping of the revolutionary forces – however this needed to be obtained, given the urgent imperatives of the actual struggle. The ends do command the means. That is the unavoidable reality confronted by all masses in political motion, engaged in open, class warfare, and no less one that has gone over into armed struggle.

Democratic revolution based on popular power

To be absolutely clear: what began in Libya on February 17, 2011, is a revolution. The mass of predominantly young Libyans who made their “forcible entry into history” are making a revolution. They are the sans-culottes of a national democratic revolution against the autocratic, pro-imperialist regime of Gaddafi. These impoverished youth, like the original sans-culottes, are the engine of the revolution. With nothing to lose, they hold the potential to further Jacobinise the Libyan revolution.

Since its inception, the revolution has already – spontaneously – given rise to organs of popular rule. Self-organising committees have been running each liberated city and town since mid-February. Early reports from Benghazi were full of the spontaneous self-organising activities of the youthful revolutionaries, including seizing the bulldozers of Western contractors to break into Gaddafi’s arsenals. These youths armed themselves and continued to self-organise into a rough-hewn popular militia – the backbone of the current armed struggle to liberate the west of the country.

The revolution’s liberal bourgeois leadership rests upon this armed proletarian and semi-proletarian social base. Yes, some of the leaders are defectors from the Gaddafi regime. But their room for manoeuvre is subject to the dynamic class antagonisms of any such multi-class, democratic revolution that is driven by the mobilisation of a youthful, proletarian mass. The bourgeois-dominated Transitional National Council (TNC) rests on the power of the popular committees. The founding statement of the TNC, issued on March 5, opens with the following preamble: “The Council derives its legitimacy from the city councils who run the liberated cities, and who had been formed by the revolution of the 17th February…”.

Further, their four-point declaration leads with the following first point:

  1. The Council emphasised that the most important role is the one played by the youth. They were the base of foundation of the revolution and the focal power for the Libyans to reach where they stand today to be able to demand the termination of the dictatorial regime

The TNC’s eight-point (bourgeois) democratic program reflects its multi-class character. It is a succinct document that seeks to accommodate all the shades and trends of democratic forces involved in the revolution. Its economic clauses are quite general, declaring that “the nation’s economy [is] to be used for the benefit of the Libyan people by creating effective economic institutions in order to eradicate poverty and unemployment”.

Imperialism’s nemesis: Libyan youth or Western ‘public opinion’?

The Libyan revolution, thus far, represents the most far-reaching of the Arab-wide revolutionary process. The dialectic of this is that, on the one hand, it represents the greatest threat to imperialist interests throughout the Arab world – a beacon to snuff out; on the other hand, the Libyan Revolution also represents the singularly greatest counter-force against NATO’s inevitable push to foray beyond its current tactical convergence with the revolution.

A recognition of this dialectic is missing in the debate on the left. Opponents of the NATO intervention seem to dismiss the pivotal, subjective factor of the self-organised and self-armed Libyan revolutionary youth. They warn ad nauseam of imperialism’s ultimate designs, whether that be for oil or to co-opt the Arab revolution. However, dwelling on the intentions, motives and interests of the imperialist powers is no answer to the concrete exigencies, in the here and now, of the Libyan revolution. Warning of future dangers cannot replace, or justify neglecting, due attention to a clear and present urgency.

We understand what NATO wants out of this. And we have no illusion that “Western public opinion” (certainly in its atomised, passive form) will stay the hand of NATO. What we are confident of, though, is the further radicalising potential and anti-imperialist consciousness of the Libyan revolutionary youth. They are on the march. A major grievance that fuelled their uprising in the east was the egregious and conspicuous profiteering of Western corporations and contractors, who were given carte blanche over the region’s hydrocarbons by Gaddafi.

In any case, our support for the Libyan revolution should not be conditional on its internal dynamics and forces, or the character of the leadership. Revolutions are messy affairs. They are led and driven by all sorts of people. Opportunists flock back and forth. The seeming absence of consciously Marxist forces will curtail the strategic vision and trajectory of the plebeian ranks, despite their advanced level of spontaneous self-organisation. Still, the deeply self-organised and self-armed character of the revolution is itself very significant. It has produced splits in the repressive institutions of the Gaddafi state. It has already exerted pressure on the revolution’s bourgeois leaders, who are all too aware of what their power and legitimacy rests upon. And it puts the sans-culottes in a position of advantage vis-a-vis imperialism, when the current latent antagonism ruptures into open confrontation. The absence of a Marxist party need not obstruct this development in a semi-colonial nation (national liberation, after all, is essentially bourgeois in character).

Anyway, are revolutionaries not entitled to seek assistance from wherever it may come, given the concrete conditions and imperatives they face? The NATO intervention was demanded both by the TNC and its working class base. Surely this can not be dismissed by Western leftists as some sort of false consciousness or misguided demand. The particular difficulties of the revolution and its armed struggle have been conditioned by Libya’s unique geopolitical division between east and west (disparity of the spoils of oil), and their separation by fully exposed desert terrain. Surely the Libyan fighters themselves are in the best tactical position to judge the needs and limits that flow from these conditions.

The danger of lip service

Imperialism dithered over whether and how to intervene. Paris and London led the charge, the former initiating the diplomatic recognition of the TNC, and both obviously driven by the need to expand their more minor domination of Libya’s hydrocarbons. Despite repeated calls from the TNC, other powers dragged their feet. Eventually, UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was passed on 19 March. In addition to possible deal making between the imperialists and individual leaders of the TNC, there also remains the possibility that the UN decision was partly influenced by the spontaneous, direct action of the Libyan oil workers who disrupted oil supplies to western Europe as far back as February, in an effort to raise pressure for the intervention. The Economist reported one such action on February 21 in the oil port of Brega. This combination of elite lobbying and mass direct action is a part and parcel of the mixed class composition and character of the revolution.

The outcome, so far, speaks for itself. The wiping out of the revolutionary capital in Benghazi has been staved off. The centre of the liberation remains standing. The Libyan vanguard has survived. A compromise with imperialism – calling for NATO intervention – has delivered this defensive success. Compromise with imperialism is occasionally necessary. Such as when a revolution is at stake. The Bolsheviks at Brest-Litovsk is a famous example. East Timor in 1999 was a more controversial case. But no amount of historical analogy can do justice to the unique realities and necessities of each new conjuncture.

The inevitable intrusion of imperialism in a post-Gaddafi Libya is not sufficient grounds to advocate inaction now. Imperialism has already been ravaging the country. At the very least, the question comes down to: either an autocratic, pro-imperialist regime or a pro-imperialist regime with basic (bourgeois) democratic protections founded on a mobilised working class. The former was guaranteed had Gaddafi been given a free hand in his eastern offensive. The intervention has, at least, ensured the survival of Benghazi and the revolution.

Yes, Libya’s revolutionary forces have not been strong enough to deal a swift blow to Gaddafi. For the opponents of the intervention, the corollary is that the revolutionaries will, thereby, not be strong enough to deal with imperialism when the time comes. Therefore, the argument then flows that we must oppose imperialist intervention – the unstated premise being that the revolutionaries’ call for help is itself illegitimate. A rape victim may not be strong enough to repel a stronger attacker, but the need to call the bourgeois police is nonetheless concrete and obvious. That need is independent of whether her inability to repel her attacker means she will be too “weak” to deal with the sexist cops and courts in a way satisfactory to our program of women’s liberation. How she deals with the cops and courts remains to be seen, but she first has to survive to even get to the courts at all. Nor does our decision to call the cops rest on whether it further legitimises, and sows illusions in, the bourgeois state. Supporting the NATO intervention cannot hinge on such secondary considerations. Just as it could not in the demand for Australian/UN forces to intervene in East Timor in 1999. Concrete issues are at stake in a real-life mass struggle. Revolutions are awfully practical things. We can not dole out our solidarity according to whether and how they meet our programmatic conditions.

By opposing the NATO intervention right now, we risk paying lip-service to the Libyan revolution while undermining it in deed. Those who do so fail the all-important question of what to do next.

[Marce Cameron edits Cuba's Socialist Renewal. He is an activist with the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS) and president of the Sydney University Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Club.]

Comments

Kim/Cameron:"To be

Kim/Cameron:"To be absolutely clear: what began in Libya on February 17, 2011, is a revolution. The mass of predominantly young Libyans who made their “forcible entry into history” are making a revolution. They are the sans-culottes of a national democratic revolution against the autocratic, pro-imperialist regime of Gaddafi. These impoverished youth, like the original sans-culottes, are the engine of the revolution. With nothing to lose, they hold the potential to further Jacobinise the Libyan revolution."
James Petras:"The decisive issues in a the civil war are not weapons, training or leadership, although certainly these factors are important: The basic difference between the military capability of the pro-government Libyan forces and the Libyan ‘rebels’, backed by both Western imperialists and ‘progressives,’ lies in their motivation, values and material advances. Western imperialist intervention has heightened national consciousness among the Libyan people, who now view their confrontation with the anti-Gaddafi ‘rebels’ as a fight to defend their homeland from foreign air and sea power and puppet land troops - a powerful incentive for any people or army. The opposite is true for the ‘rebels’, whose leaders have surrendered their national identity and depend entirely on imperialist military intervention to put them in power. What rank and file ‘rebel’ fighters are going to risk their lives, fighting their own compatriots, just to place their country under an imperialist or neo-colonial rule?"

What can we do,here in

What can we do,here in Australia, to concretely support the Libyan revolution?I have been following this debate about the NFZ and am not really convinced by references to Brest Litovsk or impending massacres or the whole 'rape' analogy......how do we,working people, assist the Libyan revolutionaries?How do we organize ourselves and build our strength to be able to intervene as an independent force?Imperialism is up to its eyeballs in North Africa and the Middle East and I would like to be doing more here in Australia rather than saying 'Support UN Resolution 1973'......

Petras writes: "What rank

Petras writes: "What rank and file ‘rebel’ fighters are going to risk their lives, fighting their own compatriots, just to place their country under an imperialist or neo-colonial rule?"

But that's not what they're fighting for. They're fighting to liberate their country from the pro-imperialist Gaddafi dictatorship. That's what motivates them.

Feeble

"The revolution’s liberal bourgeois leadership rests upon this armed proletarian and semi-proletarian social base."

Completely untrue and confused even by the standards of cruise missile leftism. The fact that the TNC claims a representative capacity in regard to the popular organisations doesn't mean that it fulfils such a capacity. In fact, by all accounts the TNC has had great difficulty stamping its authority on the revolution, has been awaiting delegations from the south, the west and Tripoli in vain, and has lacked authority everywhere outside of the eastern coastal towns and cities where its social base is strongest. The revolution, coming as it did almost ex nihilo, with little prior basis in struggle or civil society organisation, did not have time to develop a broad representative popular organisation, which is why the regime defectors have been able to impose themselves in the leadership. The TNC's alliance with imperialism has strengthened its hand within the movement by rendering its success dependent on that axis. That may indeed be one of the reasons why the ex-regime elements were pushing for this alliance long before Qadhafi's string of successful counter-attacks - to compensate for the manifest lack of a popular warrant. Now, if Qadhafi is overthrown, it will not be by virtue of a popular revolution, but as a result of the combined efforts of special forces, the CIA, and NATO bombs in alliance with the dissident bourgeoisie. The "proletarian and semi-proletarian base" has been completely cut out of this.

"The NATO intervention was demanded both by the TNC and its working class base."

These sorts of boring ex cathedra statements imputing positions and attitudes to a univocal working class, which is always spoken for by someone else, won't rescue an incoherent position. No one has asked the Libyan working classes what they want, least of all the TNC, and were they asked you would probably find the same sorts of arguments going on among Libyan workers as have been taking place across the region - and indeed, throughout the world.

"At the very least, the question comes down to: either an autocratic, pro-imperialist regime or a pro-imperialist regime with basic (bourgeois) democratic protections founded on a mobilised working class."

Again and again, the working class is introduced as a deus ex machina in this discussion. The article shows no sign, whatever, that its authors know the first thing about the Libyan working class. There is no analysis of Libya's internal social dynamics. The respective players are just assumed to be in place, playing just those roles that a prior cognitive script has mapped out for them. But no one is asked to explain and justify an imaginary scenario. The actual scenario, this imperialist intervention, is not creating a democratic regime based on the working class. It is creating a stalemate with de facto partition along regional and 'tribal' lines, prolonging a war of attrition between slightly better matched forces, and giving the fairly numerous residents of those areas controlled by Qadhafi - who, you may wish to know, include working class people - every motive to resent and wish revenge on those who invited the bombers in. Even now,

"A rape victim may not be strong enough to repel a stronger attacker, but the need to call the bourgeois police is nonetheless concrete and obvious. That need is independent of whether her inability to repel her attacker means she will be too “weak” to deal with the sexist cops and courts in a way satisfactory to our program of women’s liberation."

And this has to be the most pathetic argument, the nadir of bad faith, so far marshalled by the bombardier socialists - one that even the great Gilbert Achcar was not ashamed to let slip from his pen. Say what you like about the bourgeois cops, but it is unusual to find that they have bombed neighbourhoods. I put it no more strongly than that. US imperialism is not even a cop; it is not susceptible to complaints procedures or prosecution; it does not present evidence in a court of law, nor answer to cross-examination, nor is it susceptible to any verdict reached therein; it does not act within even the exiguous constraints that the bourgeois state imposes on the police. To even be tempted to cite this as an analogy is desperate; to actually commit to the analogy is insulting.

The rebel army in Libya is at this point a tiny, ramshackle, poorly armed, untrained militia. It can only become a military capable of fighting and winning a civil war with Qadhafi and his social base through its alliance with the CIA, special forces and NATO bombers. To imagine that having taken power (if indeed that is even on the cards, which looks less than probable at this point at least) in a way that is almost entirely dependent on imperialism, these forces will do anything but give imperialism everything they want is to exhibit a Busby-Berkeley level of naivete. A popular struggle that is hijacked by imperialism is no longer a popular struggle; it no longer belongs to the masses, whose initiative is no longer decisive in the process.

This intervention is an intervention against a region-wide anti-imperialist, popular democratic revolution. It has been mounted by the forces of reaction, and supported by the region's dictators as the best means of containing and coopting it, and preventing its further spread. The fact that the revolution so quickly fell prey to the combined depredations of Qadhafi and NATO is to be rued and lamented, not cheered on - and particularly not cheered on with lachrymose, ignorant banalities as are presented here.

outraged

This above article is bollocks - and the moralism about the rape victim - typical of an article that lacks real political analysis.

Maybe, but ...

Marce and Iggy have made an important contribution in putting forward somewhat more clearly (than people like Gilbert Achcar for example) a left argument in favour of supporting a limited tactical imperialist intervention at the point when the revolution's stronghold in Benghazi was threatened, while making clear that this compromise is one with an evil.

While I remain unconvinced that there was no alternative at that moment, certainly where I agree is that noone in the western left ought to be issuing moral condemnations of the Benghazi masses for their choice, and that revolutionaries facing mortal danger certainly do have the right to seek assistance from wherever they feel is most adequate given the real world conditions.

But even if, for argument's sake, I could be convinced tha there was an immediate, tactical necessity for NATO airpower at that point, there is much in the rest of Marce and Iggy's argumentation that is questionable to say the least. They talk about the far-reaching nature of the popular revolutionary process underway in centres such as Benghazi, the revolt of the sans-culottes. They also talk about the real dangers that are now posed by the active military presence of imperialism in Libya, however necessary the original compromise may have been. And they talk of the divison in Libya between east and west. Put all this together with the form the continuing struggle has tended to take - all the more so with imperialist intervention - that is, a traditional mlitary conflict with two armies confroting each other geographically, taking, losing and re-taking towns - and what we get is a big question mark over the evolution of the nature of the rebel side.

That is, a democratic revolution, powered by the sans-culottes, can only continue to be such a thing if it inspires the working masses in the west of Libya, in cities such as Tripoli and Sirtre, to join their revolt against the regime. It is one thing to take cover from imperialist intervention to defend one's city from Gadhafi's onslaught with vastly superior weaponry. It is quite another to use imperialist air cover - bombing of Libyan government troops - to militarily seize cities from the regime, especially when there is little evidence of a mass rising in such a city. And it is still more another thing to use imperialist air cover to try to conquer a city where the masses are manifestly opposed to the rebel side - for whatever reason - and to threaten the inhabitants with similar retribution to that which Gadhafi threatened the inhabitants of Benghazi.

Put simply, it is an oxymoron to talk of imposing a democratic revolution. A "democratic revolution" cannot be forced on an unwilling populace, because that is not democratic. There is scant reason to believe - considering the nature of the rebel leadership which Marce and Iggy do not defend in any case - that they would not suppress their opponents in such a way in such circumstances, meaning the nature of the ongoing conflict cannot be defined as an extension of the democratic revolution begun in Benghazi and elsewhere. Saying that, by the way, may not necessarily alter one iota the revolutionary process in Benghazi itself - of which I have limited information - as tat depends on the relationship of forces within that city (and similar urban centres).

Of course it is true that NATO then withdrew air cover and allowed Gadhafi's forces to re-take some of these central towns, but that only underlines imperialism's strategy of making the rebels even more dependant - see, now we support you, now we don't. But my concern here is not just with the imperialists, but how the intervention has helped cahnge the nature of the conflict so that the rebel leadership are in such a position that they find it perfectly OK to try to militarily conquer a non-supporting city with *or even without* imperialist air cover.

(All this of course leaves out the carnage NATO is creating elsewhere in Libya, in bombing Tripoli, killing civilians etc - I am assuming Marce and Iggy are not taking responsbility for the way NATO is waging its war more genderally, so I am focusing on the question of whether the temporary tactical compromise with NATO intervention can inadvertently help defend the democratic revolution).

The authors maintain that "At the very least, the question comes down to: either an autocratic, pro-imperialist regime or a pro-imperialist regime with basic (bourgeois) democratic protections founded on a mobilised working class." I'll leave aside whether it is still correct to call Gadhafi's regime "pro-imperialist" in current circumstances (to clarify - I'm certainly not suggesting it should be called "anti-imperialist" with all the BS associated with that label by a section of the left). I would maintain that the question only "comes down to this" *if* the revolution extends itself to the western cities via actual popular uprising against Gadhafi; such a distinction will not exist at all if the "revolution" is taken to Tripoli via military victory, especially under cover of imperialist air power, *but even if it were to occur without it.* And as there appears to be evidence that the imperialist onslaught has consolidated a degree of traditional and nationalist support behind Gadhafi in the west, it seems clear that such a victory could only be achieved by such force.

Put another way, *if* imperialist intervention has saved the revolutionary process in Benghazi itself, it has probably done so with the price of squashing the revolutionary process throughout the rest of Libya. In such circumstances, some kind of ceasefire, or even power-sharing arrangement, no matter how unsatisfactory, is infinitely preferable to a military victory by either side.

A few other points

1. I think Richard Seymour first point hits the nail on the head: the TNC rests on imperialist firepower not the Libyan insurgant masses.

I think this & Mike Karadjis's contribution point to a key error of the pro-intervention left: the current rebels are not the same as the people who were taking into the streets in February/early March.

2. "Concrete issues are at stake in a real-life mass struggle. Revolutions are awfully practical things. We can not dole out our solidarity according to whether and how they meet our programmatic conditions.
By opposing the NATO intervention right now, we risk paying lip-service to the Libyan revolution while undermining it in deed. Those who do so fail the all-important question of what to do next."

This is getting things completely the wrong way round. Imperialist interventions are also concrete. The pro-intervention left have tended to argue as if the Western left can support some but not other aspects of a NATO intervention. Cameron & Kim at least acknowledge that this is not the case but their reference to the Left being too weak & atomised misses the point. UN Resolution 1973 gave the imperialists plenty of flexibility on how they intervene. The most poweful, united left imaginable would still have the choice to support or oppose this concrete imperialist intervention.

Here it's worth mentioning that the Australian imperialist intervention in East Timor (occupied for the previous 25 years by Indonesia acting on Australia's behalf) was a concretely different intervention (not so much an intvasion as a changing of the guard: Australia's Indonesian troops filed out, Australia's own army filed in — no shots were exchanged between the two). Like Cameron & Kim, I supported that imperialist intervention. Others may disagree with that take. But the point is this is not a debate on imperialist interventions in abstract, it is a debate on whether to support the current imperialist intervention in Libya.

While acknowledging that the Western Left cannot determine the nature of NATO's intervention, they still argue that we should support it, on the basis that the revolutionary Libyan masses can somehow thwart its aim. The obvious question raised as to how they can do this if they cannot defend themselves from Gadaffi (somewhat weaker than NATO!) cannot be dismissed by irrelevant references to East Timor and even less relevant references to Brest-Litovsk and a rape victim's right to call the police.

3. "The Libyan revolution, thus far, represents the most far-reaching of the Arab-wide revolutionary process." Utter nonsense! Egypt's revolutionary process has been more far reaching and Tunisia's more far reaching yet. Not because the current régimes in these countries are anything other than the ancien régimes minus the dictator but because the dictators in these countries were removed by the masses themselves, and said masses are not happy with the incomplete nature of these revolutions.

I stress the word incomplete. The current régimes in Egypt & Tunisia are not the liberal democratic or whatever leaderships of the revolution, they are what's left after the revolutions knocked over the dictators, forced some reforms, but did not actually knock over the régimes. However, unlike in Libya the revolutionary forces remain intact & politically independant. In Egypt, these forces are disorganised and somwhat leaderless, in Tunisia they are organised nationwide into workers & peoples committees to defend the revolution and have a leadership in the form of the January 14 Front, which is why Tunisia currently wins the prize as the most far reaching, greatest threat to imperialist interests, etc.

It is no coincidence that the revolutionary forces in both Tunisia & Egypt vehemently oppose the NATO intervention in Libya as a grave threat to the revolutionary movement across the Arab world. This is evidenced in Tunisia by the statement of the Communist Workers Party, the largest group in the January 14 Front (published on this site) & in Egypt by the reception Hilary Clinton got from the Tahrir Square protesters.

Far from intervening in Libya because (as Cameron & Kim assert) "it represents the greatest threat to imperialist interests throughout the Arab world – a beacon to snuff out", the West intervened in Libya because they could. The Communist Workers Party are correct to see the intervention directed at Tunisia and all the Arab world.

Why was the intervention not directed against the Libyan rebels if they represented the vanguard of the Arab revolution? That the intervention in Libya is aimed at coopting rather than snuffing out the opposition says alot.

Of course in Bahrain, where the unarmed, non-violent democracy movement represents a far greater threat to imperialist interests, a real "beacon to stuff out", the Western intervention there is trying to do just that — snuff it out — which is why the intervention there is directed against the democracy movement.

I'll finish by noting that Cameron & Kim, like all supporters of the military intervention in Libya, studiously avoid discussing the fact that the West's simultaneous interventions in Libya & Bahrain are part of the same overall strategy. Some commentators talk as if the two interventions are totally disconnected. Others, such as Cameron & Kim, avoid mentioning Bahrain at all.

deja vu: German Social Democracy in World War I

I remember reading how Lenin was shocked and at first didn't believe that Social Democracy was supporting their own imperialism when World War 1 broke out. But here we see it again, socialists supporting imperialism on a war against a Third World country.

That's our point...

Richard Seymour writes: "In fact, by all accounts the TNC has had great difficulty stamping its authority on the revolution". Exactly, which is why leftists who point to the shady past of some TNC members and their apparent willingness to serve imperialism are wrong to dismiss the revolution as a reactionary conspiracy on this basis. Whatever the motives and intentions of some TNC members, the revolution in the east of the country retains its essential character as a mass popular insurrection directed against the pro-imperialist Gaddafi dictatorship. NATO intervention in the form of air strikes does not negate this. Leftists who prefer their revolutions (or other people's revolutions) to be pure affairs, uncontaminated by dealings with imperialism, are now falling over themselves in their rush to proclaim the Libyan revolution dead. In our opinion that's premature, to say the least.

Seymour is studiously silent about what would have happened had the NATO air strikes NOT taken place: a prolonged and bloody siege of Bengazi that would have dampened, if not extinguished, the regional "Arab Revolution" more, probably far more, than the actual course of events in Libya to date.

The rape victim analogy is just that, an analogy. It's an appropriate analogy in so far as the revolutionaries are entitled, obliged even, to call on the imperialists to intervene to smash Gaddafi's air force and hold back his ground forces by air in such circumstances. We use the analogy because some of the political argumentation in opposition to NATO air strikes seems to be based on a failure to grasp the fact that the oppressed are sometimes obliged to call on their oppressors to protect them, and that the outcome is contradictory, not black and white: in the case of the Libyan revolutionaries, they have consolidated their hold on the east of the country and staved off the massacre in Bengazi at the cost of having to deal with imperialism up close and allowing Gaddafi to pose as a defender of abstract national sovereignty ("we're all Libyans, rally behind me!"). We did not extend the analogy to the rather obvious differences between imperialism and the bourgeois legal system, as Seymour does in a childish effort to discredit our argument.

I appreciate Mike Kadadjis's thoughtful critique. It may be the case, as he suggests, that the NATO intervention has succeeded in deepening the east-west polarisation of the country, and that some kind of negotiated settlement is the best way forward. If so, this is a far better outcome for the Libyan masses than a Gaddafi war of attrition to punish the revolutionaries in Bengazi and restore what was, until a couple of months ago, imperialism's preferred method of keeping the peace in Libya for the Western oil corporations. Any such negotiated settlement would presumably involve significant concessions from Gaddafi in the direction of more democratic space for the working class to organise and press its demands.

Post script

Mike Karadjis sums up his reading of the situation now, as it has evolved since the start of the NATO air strikes, as: "a big question mark over the evolution of the nature of the rebel side."

That's true: nobody can predict how this struggle, in all its complexities, will evolve. But Iggy and I argue that this is beside the point. That is, we shouldn't decide whether or not to actively oppose the revolution's call for NATO are strikes (not the missiles that kill civilians, but the ones that hit military targets) on the basis of trying to weigh up, from here, the most probable course of events in the struggle. We should base our judgement on whether, on balance, the air strikes aid the revolutionary struggle IN THE HERE AND NOW. That's all we can do, unless we want to start playing fortune teller.

The air strikes clearly staved off an imminent all-out assault on Bengazi and are welcomed, it seems, not just by the TNC but by the ranks of the rebel fighters (there have been no sizeable protests in Bengazi against NATO air strikes and there's no repressive power in the city preventing people from organising such protests). It's on this basis that we believe the left should not oppose the NATO intervention.

As for Mike's concern that the "rebel leadership are in such a position that they find it perfectly OK to try to militarily conquer a non-supporting city", I don't think we need to worry about this: without overwhelming support from the local population, the revolutionaries have no hope of winning and holding onto urban areas in the face of Gaddafi's far better equipped and trained army. NATO air strikes don't fundamentally alter this equation, as we've seen. And since the revolutionaries are, sensibly, opposed to NATO troops in Libya (and NATO seems in no mood to impose them) a stalemate appears to be the immediate outcome of the struggle.

Re: LINKS/Kim and Cameron: NATO in Libya: A tactical, necessary

When I read this earlier today I couldn't get
over it. People who publicly call themselves
REVOLUTIONARIES and who publicly tell everyone
that they support the Cuban Revolution have
gone over to the other side and are supporting
the US-NATO war against Libya!!! Is this what
a graduate school education in Australia leads
people to believe?

NOTHING of any positive kind can come from US
or NATO intervention in any country on earth.

These people not only ignore what Fidel Castro
and the Cuban media have been saying about this
for a month, they clearly think that Fidel and
Chavez and everyone else who opposes the U.S.
and NATO intervention are ENEMIES of the Libyan
people.

Then there's a wildly demagogic suggestion that
anyone who opposes US-NATO intervention against
Libya are accessories to rape. It's obvious to
the attentive reader that Cameron and Kim have
no arguments as they appeal on such the plane
of such emotionalism. It's one thing for rape
victims to call the cops, to testify against
the perpetrators and to call for them to be
put in jail. It's totally reasonable and 100%
appropriate.

But to PUBLICLY ADVOCATE US-NATO intervention
in a poor, under-developed Third World country,
and to describe this as a REVOLUTIONARY stance?

According to Kim and Cameron, these forces which
are backed by Washington, and which have appealed
to Washington for support to their efforts, are,
"hold the potential to further Jacobinise the
Libyan revolution."!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll have to admit I cannot understand what the
authors, like some others in the so-called West
have all of a sudden leapt on the bandwagon in
support of Washington's war drive in Africa.

These wars and interventions have several aims,
not one of which is to help the poor, working
class revolutionary peoples of Libya or anywhere
else. Since when did Washington, Paris, Rome,
London and Berlin become friends of the working
people of, well, anywhere on the planet?

Cuba has doctors and other health-care workers
in dozens of countries around the world today.

They are there to HELP people, and to provide
and example of what a revolution can make
possible, though they don't intervene in the
internal politics of the countries where they
are stationed.

Washington has troops in dozens of countries
around the world: Iraq, Afghanistan, and even
on Cuban territory in Guantanamo. Are their
goals liberatory in any location where they're
currently engaged? Please, this would be news
to most of us reading these messages, and to
millions of people around the world

Cameron and Kim should get off their high horses
and start asking themselve where they are going
and in whose company they are finding themselves.

Walter Lippmann
La Habana, Cuba
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/

Which Workers are we talking about?

Reading this article leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth: This is because the word "Workers" has been repeated all over, yet, it is the very workers who have been under attack from the "Revolutionary" forces from the start of the uprising.
In Tunisia, it was the working class which tipped the revolutionary uprising against the Ben Ali regime, and it is the working class who are at the forefront of ensuring that their revolution matures fully, and that no interference both from within(RDC remnants) or from outside (US and its allies) manifests itself in this process.
We also saw, and we are still seeing the same happening in Egypt.

But that is not the case in Libya.
We must remember that, Libya had a working class of over 1.5 Million workers from other African Countries, and they were the first targets of the now NATO-backed rebels in Libya. Many were killed, their houses were burnt, and they were subjected to different forms of torture. Eventually, they had to flee. It is these workers who filled, and are still living in the refugee camps. It is these brutal acts, that has made most workers in the west to support Gaddafi and his onslaught on the rebels.
The attacks on the workers are not new, In the past, there have been fatal attacks on workers, especially those from Nigeria, Ghana and Sudan by a small section of the Libyan population.

This is why i ask again: Which workers are we Talking about?

Benedict Wachira
Nairobi, Kenya

Evil Cameron

David Cameron is one sick individual. Apparently he's proud of all those who took part in the butchery of 50,000 Libyans. If there's any justice in this universe, all of those responsible will burn in hell.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14759570

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