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U.S. steps up drive to conquer Libya

Oil profiteers call the shots

Published Mar 30, 2011 6:21 PM

President Barack Obama’s speech of March 28 was largely devoted to justifying U.S. military intervention in Libya on humanitarian grounds, as being necessary to prevent a “massacre.” It was meant to obscure the fundamental fact that Washington is leading an effort, joined by the British and French imperialists, to destroy a sovereign government and recolonize Libya.

This war is about oil, money and a drive to unleash the Pentagon’s arsenal on Libya in order to bring it back under the total domination of imperialism. The rest is all lies and staged propaganda.

The speech concealed the real role that the U.S. military is playing and will continue to play in this naval and air campaign, which is costing $100 million a day to U.S. taxpayers alone. The weekend before Obama spoke about pulling back and leaving the job to NATO, six tank-killing A-10 Warthogs that fire laser-guided missiles and 30-millimeter cannons arrived on the scene. The U.S. also deployed two B-1B bombers as well as AC-130 gunships, which orbit over targets at 15,000 feet and use 40-millimeter and 105-millimeter cannons. These gunships are precise and are meant for cities. (New York Times, March 29)

The military role of the U.S. is utterly predominant. Of 200 devastatingly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles fired so far, 193 have been fired by U.S. forces. The Pentagon has dropped 455 precision-guided munitions, compared to 147 by the other imperialist powers.

Most importantly, the U.S. orchestrates the entire air war. Its eavesdropping aircraft locate positions. These locations are passed on to Global Hawk drones, then relayed to AWACS planes that send target information to F-16 and Harrier jets. This is a Pentagon-run war.

A war for spoils

Obama’s speech also concealed the struggle over spoils that is at the bottom of this war. The “rebels” rose up in the oil-rich east of the country. They already have their own oil company, set up in Benghazi early in the struggle. Claiming to represent 40 percent of the country’s 1.6 million barrels of oil a day output, it operates a refinery and terminal out of Tobruk. The company is being sold to the Qataris. The plan is to place the money in escrow for Italian, French, Spanish and U.S. oil companies like ENI, Repsol, Total and Occidental Petroleum. (New York Times, March 29)

Libya has a $70 billion state sovereign fund that U.S. private equity firms and hedge funds like the Blackstone Group, Colony Capital, Lightyear Capital and other Wall Street sharks have been trying to get into. With Washington’s freezing of Libya’s assets, these deals have been frozen. But, according to Don Steinbrugge, managing partner of Agecroft Partners, a Virginia consultant to hedge funds and investors, “Once there is a transition to a more stable government, their asset base should be a positive in helping them build business.” (Business Week, March 24)

Wall Street’s ‘rebel’ minister

A key person who can help these corporate predators is the newly appointed finance minister of the National Transition Council, Ali Tarhouni. Tarhouni left Libya in 1973 for the U.S. He taught economics at the University of Washington Graduate School of Business, specializing in stock analysis. He consults widely and sits on a number of corporate advisory boards. (tibra.org/awards/2002/judges/tarhouni.htm)

Tarhouni was a key participant in a 1994 conference on “post-Gadhafi Libya” hosted by the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies. He promoted privatization and regional economic integration at the conference, which was also attended by various groups with ties to the National Endowment for Democracy — a conduit for the CIA.

Tarhouni was the political coordinator for a National Conference of the Libyan Opposition in Seattle. The NCLO was founded in London in 2005 and is centered on the National Salvation Front, with a history of CIA connections. (“Post-Qaddafi Libya on the Globalist Road,” Foreign Policy Journal, Feb. 26) Tarhouni is Wall Street’s point man in the pro-imperialist would-be government.

Washington’s ‘boots on the ground’

The White House and the Pentagon say there will be no “boots on the ground” and that they are just supporting the “rebels.” In fact, the rebels have become the Pentagon’s de facto “boots on the ground” for the moment, inadequate though they may be, while U.S. Tomahawk missiles attempt to blast a path for them to Tripoli.

However the rebellion in the oil-rich Benghazi region may have begun, the U.S. government would never decide to spend $100 million a day and move its naval power into the region to support a genuine national liberation movement. The U.S. ruling class, which has a long and bloody history of intervention, is unlikely to make such a colossal miscalculation.

It is also doubtful that any genuine national liberation movement would call on the biggest imperialist aggressors in history to be its protectors. This rebellion may have fed on genuine popular discontent. But the power of imperialism in the post-Soviet era and its ability to manipulate and capture movements must be the paramount calculation in the minds of any leaders who genuinely want to liberate their countries from oppression.

During the era when the USSR and Eastern Europe existed as a material stronghold of the socialist camp, and at a time when China was pursuing an anti-imperialist policy, liberation movements around the world could acquire military, technical, political, medical and other types of support for their struggles for national liberation.

At present, only a movement with a firmly grounded, anti-imperialist orientation, which is highly organized and has prepared the groundwork to arm itself without falling prey to Washington or London, can hope to carry out a successful liberation struggle.

Whatever grievances a people may have, nothing is stronger, harsher or more reactionary than the oppression and superexploitation the imperialist powers will impose. Any groupings that open the door to an imperialist takeover of their country only serve these predatory interests.

Stop military adventure

The Libyan operation is a military adventure. The Pentagon generals and admirals, especially the Navy high command, want to use their killer arsenals on Libya. However, the high command is ambivalent about this operation. The most aggressive forces want to go in and kill Col. Gadhafi. In the first days of the attacks, the military launched a bunker-buster missile on the presidential compound. Its aim was to kill or terrorize.

Obama in his speech referred to a limited engagement and declared that the goal was not to kill Gadhafi by military force. After this speech, Sen. John McCain, who speaks for a section of the military, opposed this concept of limited war and said that Gadhafi should be killed by military force. He implied that were it not for the British, the French and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the attacks might not have taken place.

In fact, the attack was launched by the U.S. on an emergency basis when the Gadhafi government was on the verge of recapturing Benghazi. Obama had been vacillating between the cautious camp, led by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and the hawks, led by Clinton. Like McCain, Clinton represents the more adventurous forces in the military.

Just as in Afghanistan, the military forces that were for wider war prevailed in the political struggle in Washington, after periods of vacillation.

Military adventurism is and always has been a fundamental feature of U.S. imperialism. The anti-war movement must resist this aggression and the attempt to recolonize Libya with all its might. But, in the long run, the only way to end these military adventures is the destruction of U.S. imperialism.