COSATU supports democracy, but condemns foreign military attack on Libya

"Humanitarian" US bombs being prepared for delivery in Libya.

By Bongani Masuku, COSATU international relations secretary

March 22, 2011 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) reiterates its position in support of the legitimate and genuine struggles of the people and workers of the Middle East and North Africa for democracy, human dignity and social justice. In doing so, however, we seek to exercise caution in the manner Western powers claim to be advancing the struggle for democracy in that region.

In their own imaginations, military occupation can deliver democracy to the masses. Is it not the same doctrine that failed in Iraq before, Afghanistan recently and is it not inevitably bound to fail in Libya? This can be best described as helicopter democracy, which disempowers the masses in whose name the struggle for democracy is waged and renders them spectators as foreign powers arrogate themselves the role of liberators, in the process, relegating the masses and their role in their own struggle.

It is very clear that the UN resolution fitted into a well-designed scheme by the big powers that was deliberately set to ensure military occupation and regional reconfiguration to further assert imperialist domination and neoliberal economic orthodoxy in the interest of profiteering at all costs for their giant oil companies. It was further meant to ensure stage-managed "regime change" which sought to impose regimes that would best service their interests as was the case with Hosni Mubarak for a long time. International solidarity does not mean foreign occupation or undermining the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of any country and peoples, but supporting the struggling masses to defeat an oppressor through their own struggle.

The abuse of the UN system to advance narrow corporatist interests of Western countries and their big multinationals who, for too long, have been eager to secure for themselves the huge oil and natural gas reserves in this part of the world, discredits the standing of the UN in the eyes of the world. In particular, the double standards of the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC) are shocking. The world is still waiting for action in relation to the war crimes charges against Israel following the findings of the Goldstone Report and we have not seen anything close to that, except for continuous US blocking of any resolution holding Israel to account with the full support of the EU.

In this regard, we believe that the honesty of the UN in dealing with global problems is in doubt. We also have not seen similar determination to deal with despots in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where people are being killed and imprisoned for marching peacefully, state of emergencies have been declared and foreign forces have been called to reinforce against peaceful activities for democracy. Could this be explained by the fact that US oil supplies are guaranteed by the existence of the despots running these countries, as with the US military bases in this part of the world?

From Western Sahara to Palestine and Libya foreign military and political occupation is wrong and must be fought with all the determination necessary. Wherever it happens, it threatens and substitute the genuine struggles and role of the people in determining the future of their countries.