Libya: demonization and self-determination
Published Jul 21, 2011 11:13 PM
If you went to a shopping center, a street corner or a graduate school of a top
university in the U.S. and conducted a pop quiz asking who are the kings or
crown princes of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain; the emir of Kuwait,
Qatar or Dubai; and the sultan of Oman, most people would not be able to name
any of them.
These dictators and feudal monarchs hold absolute control in corrupt and brutal
regimes. Their rule is kept in place by U.S. arms, troops and mercenaries, but
they are anonymous to the U.S. population and to most of the world’s
But if you went anywhere in the U.S. today and asked who lives in Libya, there
is only one name that a large part of the population could tell you: Gadhafi.
Many people, even if they do not know that Libya is in Africa, might tell you
that Gadhafi is an evil man who “must go.”
The corporate media can demonize the leader of a country targeted by the
Pentagon to the point that the consequences of using the most deadly weapons
against a totally defenseless population are hidden and dismissed.
No other country in history has the capacity to wreak such havoc, using cruise
missiles, bunker busters, drones, depleted uranium and dense inert metal
explosive bombs, anti-personnel razor shredding bomblets, and anti-personal
What should be the response to this terror?
Unfortunately, a minority of groups or individuals who present themselves as
opponents of war spend more time cataloguing Gadhafi’s past real or
alleged shortcomings than rallying people to respond to this criminal, all-out
U.S. attack. Their influence would be small, except that it coincides with the
opinions of the U.S. ruling class. Thus it is important to thoroughly answer
Whatever mistakes made by the leaders of a small, underdeveloped country facing
U.S. sanctions, sabotage and assassination attempts, they are not the reason
the U.S. is hell-bent on destroying Libya today.
What is at stake?
U.S., French, British and Italian imperialists are determined to lay hold of
Libya’s now well-developed infrastructure of oil refineries, pumping
stations, gas lines, ports and pipelines directly into Europe, as well as
billions of dollars in gold reserves, oil reserves — the largest in
Africa — and Libya’s other rich assets. All of this has been built
up over the four decades since U.S. and British imperialism were kicked out of
The imperialists are especially determined to stop Libya’s assistance in
the development of other African countries. The plans for a United Federation
of Africa, which were put forth by Libya and backed with $90 billion in
investment funds, deeply threaten the continued multinational corporate looting
of the continent.
The people of Libya have resisted more than four months of nonstop aerial
assault. The bombing has united the population. Their cohesion has grown. More
than 1 million people hold giant rallies in Tripoli.
A government in fear of its population would never hand guns to the public, but
Libya’s government has distributed more than 3 million weapons in a
country of 6.5 million people to enable them to resist occupation.
Incredibly, it looks like the imperialists are facing still another failed war.
A falling out among thieves seems to be taking place as NATO’s
The response to this colonial war of aggression should be the same as the
response to a racist mobilization, a racist lynch mob or a police attack on an
oppressed community: Mobilize all possible forces to stand up to the crime and
say “no!” Refuse to take part in the orchestrated campaign of
This may not be an easy position to take. But it is essential to reject the
racist political onslaught that accompanies the military onslaught.
Demonization is meant to disorient and put the massive, criminal destruction
planned by U.S. imperialism beyond debate. Enormous pressure is placed on every
level of the U.S. population to accept the premise that the targeted country
and its leadership are to blame. The attacks are presented as if only one
person lives in Libya, and not 6.5 million people.
In preparation for a war of conquest, the role of the corporate media is to
endlessly repeat every charge and statement made by the institutions of U.S.
power. An almost frenzied level of lies, wild fabrications, racist stereotyping
and ugly caricatures saturates all political discussion.
The corporate media spread the demands that the Pentagon death machine must act
in the name of “humanity” in order to “save lives.” The
war itself is cloaked in neutral terms. In the case of Libya, more than 16,000
bombing sorties against people are described as implementing a “no-fly
zone.” The White House has assured the population that this bombing is
not an act of war. The administration won’t even discuss it with
The response to media demonization in the midst of a war mobilization must be
to focus on the outrageous crime being committed and refuse to accept or give
weight to any justification for it.
Despite an ocean of propaganda, poll after poll has confirmed that from 60
percent to 65 percent of the U.S. population is against the U.S. war on Libya.
This should give all opponents of this imperialist war great hope and
But the demonization and racist war propaganda have seeped down into a layer of
the progressive and anti-war movement.
In every imperialist war for decades, a whole series of writers, commentators
and political organizations considered to be progressive have buckled under
enormous social pressure. While claiming to be against U.S wars, they allocate
their greatest energies to focusing on and discussing every shortcoming,
mistake and inconsistency of the targeted country — in the very same
condemnatory tone as the corporate media.
They have said “neither NATO nor Milosevic,” “neither Bush
nor Saddam,” “neither Israel nor Hizbollah,” thus helping to
weaken the anti-war forces.
The responsibility of progressive intellectuals and groups in the United States
is to utilize their considerable research skills to extract every piece of
information that could explain the corporate stakes — the anticipated
profits behind the imperialist war. And never to echo in left terminology the
charges made in the imperialist media.
Working people need to know the real reason behind the attack. Thus every
effort must be made to avoid reinforcing government propaganda. Progressives
should look to build the broadest possible unity in order to speak with one
voice against the war.
Of course, such misguided groups are a small minority in the progressive
movement. But there are those political organizations, which six months ago had
not bothered to mention Libya, that now suddenly seek out respectable venues to
add their own reasons that the dictator Gadhafi “must go” —
an echo of the imperialist demand. Some even insist that in order to be part of
the political discourse, every anti-war voice must first join in condemnation
In a few places this chorus on the sidelines has even disrupted anti-war
meetings, calling on the anti-war movement to fall in line and echo the racist
The Cynthia McKinney tour
In their determination to join with all the “respectable voices”
condemning Libya, some groups have even sounded just like the imperialist media
by seeking to silence the courageous voice of former U.S. Rep. Cynthia
McKinney. This is how arrogant and offensive those who demand collusion in U.S.
wars have become.
McKinney risked her life to visit Libya with a U.S. delegation in the midst of
the U.S./NATO bombing. She deserves respect.
McKinney was first a target of national media condemnation as a young,
first-term state representative in the Georgia Assembly, when she dared to
speak out against the U.S. war on Iraq. The entire chamber of representatives
stood up, turned their backs on her and walked out.
When elected to the U.S. Congress, her outspoken opposition to and questioning
of the orchestrated national frenzy surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, attack; her
clear opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and passage of the North
American Free Trade Agreement; her defense of political prisoners; and her
support of the Palestinian people generated national campaigns to pour funds
into opposing candidates in her small Georgia congressional district. Again and
again the district lines were redrawn in an attempt to disqualify McKinney from
the U.S. Congress. She has earned international acclaim for her candidacy for
president on the Green Party ticket, for her participation in humanitarian
convoys to Gaza and for being jailed by Israel.
McKinney’s tour to six cities organized by the Answer Coalition, and now
to 11 cities organized by the International Action Center — all of which
have successfully mobilized forces against the U.S./NATO invasion of Africa
— have also come under criticism and cowardly attack. Some of these
elements are even writing and speaking against McKinney’s right to speak
against the war in Libya.
Even more arrogant and insensitive are their attacks on the Nation of Islam and
Pan-African voices opposing the war.
For more than three decades many Pan-African activists, African people and
Muslims have followed developments in Libya with great interest and enthusiasm.
Many people traveled to Libya and favorably compared the social accomplishments
in Libya — which, according to the U.N., scored highest in Africa on the
Human Development Index in education, housing, length of life, nutrition and
infant mortality — to the enormous poverty and glaring underdevelopment
of most of the continent. They have spoken out forcefully against the looting
of Africa and defended Libya as a country that, although sanctioned, sabotaged
and under continuing attack, managed to maintain a level of independence from
It is criminal to dismiss those actually mobilizing, writing and speaking
against war as just pro-Gadhafi.
Pentagon lynch mob
What should be the attitude toward a family or a town seized by a lynch
How does one respond if a racist gang of thugs, with torches and gasoline, is
ready to set fire to a home with children inside, or is determined to capture
someone who they felt had not shown proper “respect?” Is that a
time to wander off into analysis of the targeted victims’ credit card
payments, driving record or other possible past mistakes or personal
Bombs are falling on Tripoli. Isn’t that a Pentagon lynching?
In the face of a criminal terror campaign against a whole country, it’s
imperative not to do anything to support the attack. It’s essential to do
everything in your power to mobilize people to resist.
To use every possible argument of defense, and not give a shred of legitimacy
to the racists who are attempting to burn the whole country down, along with
all of its proud accomplishments.
Don’t allow yourself to be on the same side as the imperialist war
Leave it to the Libyan people to decide their own future without U.S./NATO
bombs. Leave it to African, Arab and especially Libyan people to discuss and
debate, without outside interference.
But here in the center of the U.S. empire, it is important to refuse to join in
the demonization and attacks used to justify atrocities committed by corporate
power. Most important: Don’t echo imperialist propaganda in the midst of
a war of aggression. Don’t join in a lynch mob being organized by the
Unite behind one clear slogan: Stop the U.S./NATO war on Libya.
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