Libya and the era of imperialist reconquest
Published Mar 24, 2011 10:05 PM
However the rebellion in Libya began, it was both inevitable and entirely
predictable that it would quickly become an opening for imperialist
intervention and counterrevolution in the oil-rich North African country.
The fact that the “rebellion” received sympathetic, screaming
headlines, ferociously hostile to the government of Moammar Gadhafi from the
very beginning, should have been sufficient to put the entire anti-imperialist
movement on guard. The boiler-plate propaganda about “massacres,”
without the slightest evidence, was repeated as if it were the gospel truth.
That should have been further evidence of the plans for “great
power” intervention (“great” in their oppression, as Vladimir
Lenin pointed out long ago).
The condemnations were particularly hypocritical coming from the mouths of the
same imperialist powers that have been massacring oppressed people on every
continent since the dawn of colonialism — from the slave trade in Africa
to the cruelty of conquistadors in South America, the genocide of Indigenous
peoples in the U.S., the colonization of India, up to the present-day campaigns
against the Palestinians in Gaza, Predator drone massacres of civilians in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, to say nothing of the wholesale destruction of Iraqi
society and the attendant mass killing of civilians.
There have been numerous rebellions and many documented massacres of unarmed
civilians in recent months that have not spurred military action by the
imperialist powers. Is it even conceivable that Washington would lobby or
arm-twist the Arab League to provide a figleaf for U.S. intervention in support
of protesters in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or Jordan? No, because these have
been genuine rebellions against autocratic regimes backed by the White House
and the Pentagon.
There have been no campaigns to get U.N. Security Council resolutions
authorizing military action in any of these countries. No aircraft carriers,
nuclear submarines, missile ships, AWACS planes, spy satellites, etc., moved
into position to support these genuine popular uprisings against moth-eaten
reactionary monarchies that guard the interests of the U.S. and Western oil
companies, as well as the strategic position of the Pentagon in the Persian
Bush, Obama & ‘regime change’
The fact is that the Obama administration, the British and the French have de
facto put Libya on the “axis of evil” list started by George W.
Bush in his infamous 2002 State of the Union speech, where he singled out Iraq,
Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as targets for
“regime change.” That is what “Gadhafi must go”
What these three countries have in common is that they all threw imperialism
out of their countries during the rise of the socialist camp and the national
liberation movements after World War II. They were part of a global movement
that fought to establish economic and political independence from transnational
banks, corporations and the Pentagon.
Libya falls directly into that category, having overthrown puppet King Idris
and ousted imperialism in 1969 under the leadership of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
The Libyan revolution, like the revolutions in Iraq in 1958 and Iran in 1979,
also nationalized Western-owned oil companies and shut down imperialist
military bases. The fact that Gadhafi shifted toward the West later, opening up
to oil companies and imposing International Monetary Fund-dictated austerity
programs, is not enough to satisfy the voracious appetite of the corporations
for profit. They want to take the whole country — lock, stock and
Libya & the era of reconquest
The invasion of Libya is part of a long-term trend on the part of the
imperialist countries that began with the collapse of the USSR and Eastern
Europe from 1989 to 1991. That trend is to reconquer territories and riches
lost during the 20th-century rise of the socialist camp and the national
That is what the intervention in Libya is about. That is what the two wars in
Iraq were about. And that is what the permanent threats to Iran and North Korea
are about, not to mention the permanent blockade of Cuba, the military
encirclement of China and the attempt to destroy the government of Robert
Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
In other words, the right to national sovereignty, self-determination and
self-defense of formerly oppressed countries is obsolete, according to the
doctrine of the New World Order.
The mad adventure in Libya, led by Washington and supported by Britain and
France, shows once again that war and militarism are an integral feature of
imperialism and of the monopoly-capitalist system upon which it rests.
During the first half of the 20th century, imperialist war was driven by
inter-imperialist rivalry and struggles over which country would be able to
loot the colonial peoples. During the latter part of the 20th century, war and
the threat of war were driven by the struggle of imperialism against the
socialist camp and the national liberation movements — the Cold War.
Now the permanent tendency of imperialism toward war and militarism is driven
by the drive for reconquest of the territories lost in that period.
Imperialism & permanent war
U.S. imperialism now has two wars and a major post-war occupation going on
simultaneously — in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. It has made northeastern
Pakistan a free-fire zone for predator drones. Since the collapse of the USSR
and Eastern Europe in 1989-1991, it has launched five wars of conquest —
in Iraq twice, in Yugoslavia in 1999. in Afghanistan in 2001, and now in
It has threatened two other wars — one against Iran and the other against
People’s Korea. U.S. troops have been at war continuously for the last
Washington has five aircraft carriers, each accompanied by a flotilla of 10
destroyers, frigates and other warships in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea
surrounding Libya. The French and the Italian imperialists each have a carrier
in the area as well.
The entire imperialist world, with a combined gross domestic product of more
than $20 trillion, a combined population of close to a billion people, and a
combined military machine worth at least $2 trillion is bearing down on Libya
— an underdeveloped, formerly colonized country of 6 million people with
an economy of some $40 billion that is without the capability to defend itself
militarily against the juggernaut facing it.
The French and the British capitalist governments were clamoring for a no-fly
zone as a pretext for intervention and to guard their oil interests. But it was
not until Washington got behind the effort, forcing the Arab League and the
U.N. Security Council to go along and moving its military flotilla and air
force into position, that the attack could begin.
Working class enters anti-war movement
These wars have cost trillions of dollars. They are eroding the economic
foundation of U.S. capitalist society and imposing a huge cost upon the
workers, the poor and the oppressed who pay for the wars, both with their tax
money and with the loss of vital social services.
This plunge into a new war comes in the midst of a profound economic crisis, a
jobless recovery, growing mass unemployment and a budding rebellion of the
working class, which has shown itself in the Wisconsin struggle against union
busting and austerity budgets.
On March 19 a mass anti-war march took place in Madison, Wis., that was
attended by thousands of unionists and their supporters in a joint effort with
the anti-war movement. This is a step forward in the U.S. in the direction of
giving the anti-war movement a working-class character.
As the wars multiply and the attacks on the workers grow more severe, a genuine
working-class rebellion against imperialist war will come onto the agenda. The
working class is the only class that can put an end to imperialist war.
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