Thursday, 22 September 2011

It needed to be said (summary of the Libyan situation)

A very good summary of the conflict by Paul Jay of TRN.

The commentary on Libya is rather interesting to watch. In the first days of the uprising many on the "left" where all championing the people's movement and counting down the days to another dictators fall. Then a month and half into the conflict the defections within the military stemmed off the two sides constituencies where drawn up and the Libyan armed forces where free to bring there big guns to bare, (a lot of people who like to point out the superiority of NATO's armaments tend to forget that Gaddafi had most of his militaries equipment from NATO countries like the Mirage jet, or used there companies as a proxy to buy third party arms*) then of course we saw bombardments near and in settlements as the government forces try to regain control. Since most of the rebels where defectors and volunteers there arsenal was made up of what they took with them and what they could loot from the stores of bases and towns in there control, so pick up trucks and Kalashnikov's for the most part.

Those of you whom have read Ernesto "Che" Guevara or Mao Ze Dong, or Ho Chi Minh and Nguyen Vo Giap's writings on insurgency people's war will know that is a very dangerous position to be in at the start of the conflict. For those who haven't read any of there works I'll explain they all say in one way or another that if your army is weaker in terms of conventional fighting then dig in or go to ground, and play the long game of wearing down the opposing force. That is difficult to do in the terrain of a North African nation like Libya and would leave many people who openly supported them defenceless, so instead we had clash after clash and retreat after retreat.

This is were NATO comes in. At the start of the conflict Western governments where quite worried because they had a very good deal going with the "anti imperialist" Gaddafi. In addition to buying arms he was oil and gas to the Western nations and companies, in addition he collaborated with Italy and the EU to clampdown on migration from Africa and locked up refugees in his prisons before shipping them off somewhere. In fact Libya was also a key ally in the "war on terror" you know that thing that is often derided by lefties as the 21st centuries Red scare, or an Imperialist smoke screen.

Who remembers this lovely photo-op?

In fact Gaddafi enjoyed such a close relationship with the West prior to the uprising that many rebels publicly criticised Western governments of collaborating in there misery; and vociferously derided any possibility of foreign intervention, worrying businessmen everywhere that Libya would be closed to them if Gaddafi toppled. The setbacks however allowed NATO to a way back into the house, the mauling they were taking forced the Rebels to change there message somewhat, no NATO became yes no fly zone no NATO ground troops and so on, as Paul Jay says when your backs to the wall you grasp for whatever out you can get. Anyone who ever criticises any group in an armed struggle who tries to get some help -and believe there are quite a few check the comments sections of the more popular (any other) left of centre blog or forum when the L word is mentioned-has there head in the clouds and should give up there dream of revolution and stick to raffles and pub debates.

Know that NATO is here though suddenly every thing's changed, the rebels are CIA employees, or Al-Qaeda. The proof? there isn't any, the only "proof" that there AL-Qaeda a claim Gaddafi made to justify bringing in military force, is that the rebels are Muslims and fundamentalists, there's no proof that they are particularly fundamentalist really either but even if it where true that does not make them Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is by choice a group of very small and secretive cells, they do not work in the open on big campaigns nor muster thousands of men to fight pitched battles. Since 9/11 the USA and others have used Al-Qaeda as a scapegoat to justify any act of repression against anyone who happens to be Muslim. just look at Iraq and Afghanistan the insurgents were almost always called or assumed to be Al-Qaeda affiliates, when was the last time Shia paramilitaries (Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim movement) fighting coalition forces in Southern Iraq where correctly identified in the mainstream press? when was the group Liberation army of Iraq name dropped? the only exception in Afghanistan is the Taliban whom we are constantly reminded where and are allies of Osama's crew. For any intelligent thinking person to just make assumption on a people they know nothing about is lazy and absurd, for someone whose political colours are supposedly Red to do so is extremely pathetic, it is the exact same trick they used to justify the murder and suppression of every Peasants Revolt during the Cold War.

Let me ask a question to those who think NATO's involvement de-legitimises the rebels, where do you draw the line? The Germans attempted to give money and guns to Irish Republicans during WWI if they were successful would that have made the cause of Irish liberation fraudulent? Hell Lenin probably would have never even made it back to the Russian Empire without the Kaisers help but it would be a strange and Loonie lefty who'd suggest the October Revolt was a tool of German Imperialism. And the Indian National Congress movement and more radical groups fighting to liberate India (Including Pakistan and Bangladesh) from the yoke of the British Empire enjoyed quite a lot of support from the Axis powers in particular Japan but does that uncomfortable episode make all those who campaigned and fought for there nations freedom Counter Revolutionaries? And what about Castro, during his fight to liberate Cuba from Batista the US actually gave his July 26 movement support "The embassy even harbored an American pilot who was illegally supplying arms to Castro but whose plane had crashed on its 20th mission." When it was clear that Batista was a lame duck, and look how that turned out.

Now look I admit the situation in Libya hasn't developed along the lines that I would like, however I am not Libyan and not in Libya and my life is not at risk from the situation. However I will not hold a grudge against the people of Libya (on both sides of this conflict) who are faced with this situation and do take serious risks for coming to decisions that go against my idealistic and purely theoretical strategy. I have no idea what the new Libya will be like revolutions can go astray that is the whole reason Trotsky gets his own ism. And Iran which went from a populist overthrow of a corrupt monarch to a Theocratic movement which turned on many of its earlier allies is a good example. But I actually do consider myself to be an opponent to Imperialism and so will leave the future of Libya to the Libyans.

Oh and while were on the subject I also noticed another disturbing trend amongst some commentators, that is re-branding the conflict in Libya from a revolution into a civil war. The problem here? revolutions are conflicts between proponents of the established order and radicals who promote new political ideas within the same state some times overlapping into other states like for example in Indo-China where all three new nations (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) had a struggle between Communist Guerilla's and West friendly governments. Meaning all revolutions are de facto civil wars. The 1917 Russian revolution that put Lenin in power took a lengthy civil war to complete. The American Revolutionaries often fought against armies comprised of fellow Colonialists, etc.

* Since the establishment of the EU it has become commonplace for non European states to use EU companies as a front to purchase weapons and other attention drawing goods in Europe because its harder to restrict trade with a member nation, even for non EU member nations.

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