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78 responses to “Libya: The politics of the ‘endgame’”

  1. jane

    I was in two minds about NATO intervention, mostly because the west interfering yet again in Middle East politics and revolutions is so fraught and I was very afraid it would be repeating mistakes of the past.

    I hope the revolution in Libya, if successful, doesn’t turn into yet another dictatorship. I wish the Libyan people the outcome they desire.

  2. Occam's Blunt Razor

    More than happy to see Ghaddafi and his minions copping a few JDAMs up the Kyber Pass.

    Glad the West didn’t put boots on the ground.

    Hope that a moderate regime enventuates out of all this Arab Spring stuff.

  3. Adrien

    The idea that ‘we’ need to do something is straight-up imperium. If it’s the Democrats’ make the world a rosy garden type ‘we’ must do something then its just the American version of the benevolent empire notions held by Europeans for centuries.

    Can ‘we’ do something? We yeah we prevented Gaddafi from using his airforce and that the only thing wrong with that is the time it took to make the decision. Without it the resistance would be fucked and that just demonstrates how little the far left know. They have no idea what’s going on there or anywhere else. They just look for America’s stance and take the opposite view.

    Can ‘we’ do something? About what form the new Libyan state will take? Only if the CIA gets involved. Otherwise it’s not our business. Trouble is the West is the one place from where these guys can get good advice of the separation of powers and they don’t trust us. There’s a Western educated elite I assume. But they’re marginalized. And the region has a tradition of very bad government.

    But decades of lying, cheating, stealing and hypocrisy means the White People’s views on that matter aren’t welcome. So ‘we’ get to do nothing. They’ll probably write a stupid constitution that makes perpetual war with Israel mandatory or something and we can look forward to The Middle East parts XXIX to XXVII this century.

    Joy!

  4. Sam

    Is there any objective reason to believe that the new regime will be better, in any sense, that the one it replaces? Hey, I am as happy as anyone with no stake in the outcome to see Gaddafi gone, but African history, over a lot of years and with a big sample of countries, suggests that it will be business as usual under new management.

  5. Stringybark

    Best of luck, Libyans.

  6. kellsy

    I’m one of the 2 and a half people outside Libya who does not view Gaddafi as a monster. After all, every account that renders him a monster comes from a Western MSM propaganda machine that has been discredited more times than I’ve had hot dinners.

    A country that distributes its oil revenue reasonably equally among its own people, provides free education and hospitals for all, and whose female population enjoys the highest status in virtually all of Africa and the Middle East (excluding Jewish Israel) can’t possibly be run by the kind of mass-murdering ratbag we’ve been drip-fed to believe Gaddafi is.

    This is a NATO-backed civil war masquerading as an Arab spring. Even more murky are the real motives of the so-called rebels, who have behaved right from the beginning like a gang of gun-toting thugs rather than democracy protestors. I do so wish they’d stop screaming and shooting at the air whenever a camera comes in sight.

    And tell me … just where are the women among these democracy-loving rebels? In 6 months of anti-Gaddafi propaganda, I don’t recall seeing a single woman doing any protesting. This is not good.

  7. Adrien

    Is there any objective reason to believe that the new regime will be better, in any sense, that the one it replaces?

    Yes.

    The population is mostly urban and there is a high degree of literacy. The NTC’s mission is simply to wipe Gaddafi and conduct an election that will design a new constitution. Libya is authoritarian and tribal so I’m not sure what part democracy will play but there’s a strong motivation for the rule of law. Also it isn’t a geographical region designed as a polity to generate endless civil war as in much of Africa.

    So there’s reasons to s’pose it might not go down the toilet.

  8. Mathew Sil

    Let Gaddafi be justified by his moral inner being. He has the history record of Cuba for the good or bad that the future generations will rationalise. Perhaps no legacies in his regime, only memories to be forgotten and souveniors to be sold.

  9. Fran Barlow

    Adrien said:

    we can look forward to The Middle East parts XXIX [29] to XXVII [27] this century

    It’s at least interesting that they’ve varied the sequence.

    I’m leery about western military interventions, but in this case, it did seem that it passed a kind of “reasonable man” test.

    a) There was a pressing situation developing in which a well resourced regime could kill on a very large scale very quickly, committing acts on a very large scale that would be a flagrant violation of accepted behaviour even in war.

    b) there was no reasonable prospect of preventing these atrocities by diplomatic or other means.

    c) the civil war was not, on the rebels’ side, the product of exogenous forces but a result of a bona fide indigenous revolt against a regime that was not only not the expression of any legitimate act of sovereignty by the indigenes, but which had persistently violated accepted standards of human rights, and protected itself in part by resort to non-Libyan mercenaries. There being no other way for those so assailed to abate these harms, they were entitled to take up arms to protect their rights. Acting to prevent the regime from deploying its military equipment against them was defencible.

    d) There were reasonable grounds for thinking that the populace as a whole would prefer that the regime not simply engage in wholesale slaughter or their compatriots, and would thus regard NATO attacks on the regime’s command and control functions and prospective risk to them as a consequence as an acceptable risk in the circumstances.

    e) It is plain that if the regime had indeed had the solid indigenous support that it purported to have, that such attacks by them would inevitably jeopardised the lives of more of their own supporters than opponents. Their decision not to use this support to quell the revolt, but to treat sites of revolt as free fire zones estopps them from claiming legitimacy to speak for these people. They had, at a minimum, abandoned the duty that falls to every sovereign state — to protect its citizens from arbitrary violence. A rival power composed of Libyans — the rebels — had stepped into the breach and sworn to do this and seemed to have some support. Given the abandonment of this duty by the official regime they were entitled to call upon any other power to assist them in carrying out these sovereign functions.

    f) The circumstances easily fit the Chapter 7 provisions, given that the conflict was producing a palpable threat to peace and security in the region and very significiant numbers of displaced persons.

    None of the above entails making an assumption that the new regime that will coalesce in Libya will be measurably better than that which it replaced. Guarantees of that kind after 40 years of brutal dictatorship are simply implausible. There is room to imagine that they will grope their way to stability and a measure of equity over time, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the ancien regime will bear much of the responsibility for any shortcomings amongst their successors. Brutality and corruption are not a good basis for enlightened governance. It will take some time before something like a functioning distinction between the state and civil society emerges in Libya, if ever it does. It may take a generation or two for Libyans to free themselves from the accumulated muck of the last 40 years, even allowing that they start today. Freedom and inclusion are not built solely or even principally by decree. They can be established only by persistent usage and assertion.

    While I’m certainly amongst those who will be greatly surprised if there’s a rapid transition to equitable, orderly and democratic governance in Libya, it’s hard to imagine how such a thing could even have been possible while the ancien regime stood. Now, in the space of six months, democide has been averted and there’s a realistic chance that within my lifetime, something like democracy might arise, and that is sufficient warrant for what has taken place, IMO.

  10. Katz

    Well said FB.

    I admit to changing my mind about this intervention.

    My approval of external support is guarded and provisional. What is not new is my wholehearted approval of the people rising against tyranny.

    There is still a danger that Libya will become a failed state. Not Iraq but Somalia. Thus I reserve final approval until I see how NATO deals with that threat. Clearly it is in the interests of the West to establish a stable government of some kind. The question is what the West is prepared to do to achieve that purpose. Clearly, the prestige of the West and the need to observe Arab and Muslim sensibilities at some stage become contradictory aims.

  11. sg

    The key point of all this is the nature of Gadaffi’s palaces.

  12. zorronsky

    What will denote the enemy of the rebels?
    Who dies as an enemy as euphoric excesses pull triggers?
    Is there no voice for reason within Libya and it’s governance?
    Has the West, in it’s need to force it’s will on whomever it wishes, a price to pay for the destruction of infrastructure and income/output of these ‘enemy’ regimes?

  13. Joe

    I am following on Katz’s coat tails.

    I also hope this isn’t the same kind of warm blush proceeding the initial successes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  14. p.a.travers

    I will admit I am no expert on previous Libya or present.And raise your betting stakes by saying British corruption has fanned all this.Sounding reasonable like the Poms do from the London School of Economics and others is the poison pallete that allowed France to pound cityscapes with endless bombs,indiscriminate bombs,whilst rebels faced up to Reuters cameras and endless backdrop falsehoods.American was non stop in its bombings,whilst saying it wasn’t up to the task.Rundle thus would have to be a complete moron,a typical moron that safely expouses from a distance the unequality that says his own fantasies.Libya came to be with a Bloodless coup, as a result of a very young Ghadaffi.This all smacks of Gold collections for numbat Banks of dear old England.Yet Crikey and these strange people go on like everything Ghadaffi done had to meet British France and American interests from day one.All this corruption crap is the excreta on a pole blowing in a wind of raising ones’ own self importance.If you go along with it,you prefer death.It is only been recently that Putin visited this land.Ghadaffi and his governance was never invited to even land a jet in Canberra.Mauseleum Truths still shake their bones everywhere.There were reporters within Libya that did not find much to criticise the Libyan Government.The Australian ABC has been up to its terrible best again,to keep us senile and accepting of them.Retire one day under the flag of ones’ own excreta,and claim you worked.But never with pencil in hand.

  15. zorronsky
  16. kellsy

    [email protected]

    It’s more like the warm blush that accompanied NATO’s destruction of the former Yugoslavia – which, like Libya, was an example of a successful, socialist oriented, non-Western aligned nation based on a cohesion of cultural ‘tribes’ united by their common history.

    While the Left had no trouble seeing through the farcical justifictions for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, they never saw through the lies NATO told, and continues to tell, about ‘evil’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ Serbia. Even though it’s not all that hard to see beyond the ridiculously one-sided fictions being peddled about Gaddafi’s Libya, the laptop Left still prefers to go along with everything the Western MSM tells them. (There are notable exceptions – RT Russia Today, Mathaba Independent News, Global Research etc.)

    For reasons I’ve never quite been able to fathom, NATO can snow the West’s Left far more effectively than the US can. I suppose this is because, when they bomb the shit out of countries, NATO can really turn on the humanitarian humbug, while all the US ever does is bluster.

  17. FDB

    “It’s more like the warm blush that accompanied NATO’s destruction of the former Yugoslavia – which, like Libya, was an example of a successful, socialist oriented, non-Western aligned nation based on a cohesion of cultural ‘tribes’ united by their common history. ”

    Wow, that’s chutzpah. Yugoslavia was doing just fine before NATO showed up eh? I’ve never heard anyone even claim that before – are you going to make an argument to back it up?

  18. Con

    Well said, Kellsy

    The humanitarian justifications really push the buttons of liberal leftists, who then lose sight of the fact the justification is a propaganda product of a coalition of colonialist powers with a history of using bullshit as a cover for their foreign intervention.

    Actually, of course, Western powers have had Special Forces on the ground,

    The bullshit doesn’t play so well in Africa, though, where some historical consciousness is still to be had.

    http://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/news/concerned-africans-criticise-nato-1.1124365

  19. sg

    Every time I read a comment like number 14, I think maybe somewhere a puppy dies.

  20. alfred venison

    dear Mark Bahnisch
    watch for the reptiles to come out from under the rocks, now that the clouds of civil war have parted & the sun has sort of come out.

    eni – italian multinational oil corp – 30% owned by italian gov’t. has been in libya since 1953: exploring, drilling & managing the exports for the gov’t. eni was booted out by col g early this year. ukraininans have been managing the shop ad hoc for col g since then.

    pirelli – back in 1958 CEAT (cavi electrici affini torino) founded by virginio bruni tedeschi was sold to pirelli by alberto tedeschi for millions. alberto tedeschi is carla bruni’s grandfather & carla bruni is heir to the proceeds of this sale. they are the foundation of her family fortune. pirelli looking to diversify into oil export management via starting up business in libya. and carla bruini is, of course, french president sarkozy’s wife.

    bp – big liabilities due to gulf of mexico leak – sold its share of alberta oil-sands/tar-sands project to free up cash to pay off gulf liabilities & has since been looking to recoup these losses by starting up new business in libya.

    in recap:- eni (italy) wants back in to resume its 60 years business – pirelli (france/italy) wants in to diversify its business by replacing eni in libya – bp (england) wants in to recoup losses in gulf & alberta – ukrainians want to stay – even russia is interested (who’d have thought). china anyone?

    so, ever wondered the “why-for” for tony blair’s mission to libya before the uprising – the one where he was photographed exchanging kisses on the cheek with col g at the airport? welcoming libya back to the fold? ha! it was a commercial mission (following on from eni being booted out) & he was putting the case for bp to be chosen by col g to manage libyan oil assests.

    so, ever wondered why france (under president sarkozy-bruni) was so gung-ho at the start? ready to move before europe, before the un, before nato? remember france unilaterally bombing loyalist positions in support of the rebels? arming the rebels? france extending diplomatic recognition before any other country? was that altruism? enlightened diplomacy? my royal canadian arse its altruism or enlightened diplomacy! they’re betting on the rebels winning and, when it comes to awarding oil contracts, remembering favourably those who helped them out first & most.

    so, ever wondered why italy early on was not involved in aggressive nato ops against libya? why nato had to launch its missions out of spain & uk – out of italy only much later? why italy pushed for alternative ways to resolve the crisis?

    there’s no mystery either, in my opinion, why it took “the west” so long to work out a concerted response to the crisis – they were not concerted among themselves, their commitment to human rights is instrumental, and, finally, it was not clear if intervention in libya would be “good for business”, oil business. i now await the onset of jostling in the camp of the “liberators” as they strive amongst each other to be one selected by the libyans as “exploiter of choice”. libya is the current “wild west” for the oil corporations – this “corporation interregnum” won’t last long, of course, but in the end you can bet your boots, the libyan’s will have their oil assets stolen from them. its a frigging greek tragedy! and this is what peak oil looks like in action – the future is here now.
    thank you for your site & your time.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  21. Brendon

    Who here approves the rebel’s march on the city of Sirte?

    A people who do not want them or their guns.

    Are you willing to approve the slaughter coming up in Sirte?

    Whatever happened to R2P?

    I see the rebels are going house to house routing out resistance. Anyone remember that term? I see there was a massacre of Libyan government soldiers the other day. And 200 dead in a Tripoli hospital. R2P

    One of the rebel leaders the other day said he saw problems dealing with Russia and China on oil contracts, but not the NATO countries. It gets that obvious. Hopefully someone hushed him up and told him to retract that.

    I seriously think a lot of people go along with this war because Obama said so. And he’s a good guy, right?

  22. Adrien

    It’s more like the warm blush that accompanied NATO’s destruction of the former Yugoslavia – which, like Libya, was an example of a successful, socialist oriented, non-Western aligned nation based on a cohesion of cultural ‘tribes’ united by their common history.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  23. Adrien

    I seriously think a lot of people go along with this war because Obama said so.

    Not me.

    And he’s a good guy, right?

    No he’s the president of the United States. The categories are almost always mutually exclusive.

  24. Debbieanne

    I do not understand why we should believe that this was really about R2P.
    This makes for interesting reading http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2011/08/sirte-the-apotheosis-of-liberal-intervention/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  25. Brendon

    Adrien @ 23

    To quote you:

    There was a pressing situation developing in which a well resourced regime could kill on a very large scale very quickly, committing acts on a very large scale that would be a flagrant violation of accepted behaviour even in war.

    As the rebels march on Sirte – Gaddafi’s birthplace – there is no difference. The rebels are currently going house to house. And wasn’t that threat from Gaddafi the reason for your concern. Already the rebels have been accused of slaughter in Tripoli with a recent slaughter of unarmed Libyan soldiers. Now they march on Sirte.

    I find a lot of liberal leftists supported the bombing of Yugoslavia (Clinton), opposed the bombing on Iraq (Bush), and support the bombing of Libya (Obama). Sorry, but I’m seeing a pattern. If you check American political debate this is much more obvious. They don’t even pretend it isn’t about party lines.

  26. tigtog

    Brendon, unlike both Yugoslavia and Libya, people in Iraq were not already engaged in heavily armed conflict with each other before the USA got involved. That’s one huge difference right there that has nothing at all to do with party lines.

    FWIW: I always thought that NATO was too gung-ho in Yugoslavia, and also think that they are being most suspiciously inconsistent in enforcing the ground rules in Libya right now.

  27. Paul Norton

    In th light of some comments exonerating the Gaddafi regime, this article by Fred Halliday should be required reading.
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/libya-s-regime-at-40-a-state-of-kleptocracy

  28. Brendon

    tigtog,

    I can’t see how a rebellion justifies foreign intervention. The reasons given are now being turned upside down, where the people of Sirte are getting bombed by NATO for daring to defend themselves against the attacking rebels from Benghazi who they do not want.

    Despite the pro rebel MSM, it is clear by the empty streets of Tripoli they aren’t too keen on them there, either.

    This has not gone as predicted: Gaddafi to fall in days or weeks because he has no support in the country. No boots on the ground. No supply of heavy weapons to the rebels. Protection of civilians. All thrown out the window to get power. And the rebels will be beholden to the former colonial masters of that country.

  29. Adrien

    As the rebels march on Sirte – Gaddafi’s birthplace – there is no difference. The rebels are currently going house to house. And wasn’t that threat from Gaddafi the reason for your concern.

    My support of this revolution is, cautiously, the support forthis wave throughout the Middle East. I am cautious as anyone familiar with history should be. After the Jacobins everyone should be cautious. Unfortunately many weren’t.

    Already the rebels have been accused of slaughter in Tripoli with a recent slaughter of unarmed Libyan soldiers. Now they march on Sirte.

    I saw the news last night, bodies everywhere. This was the BBC’s reporter. The way he spun it, it was Gaddafi’s people. There’s a tribal pyramid here however and it’s likely that there will be prison riot type vengeance. I sincerely hope it doesn’t turn into a holocaust.

    That depends on how strong the command structure of the transitional authority is viz the rebel soldiers. The latter are pretty motley. Not to mention dumb. I saw one of ’em carrying an RPG launcher into close urban combat.

    But when a revolution occurs in a country that is oppressive and ruled by a despot are we to stand by and let him slaughter them? I’m afraid that change such as we are seeing in the Middle East is, when you look at the European experience, violent. The entrenched ruling class makes it that way.

    I find a lot of liberal leftists supported the bombing of Yugoslavia (Clinton), opposed the bombing on Iraq (Bush), and support the bombing of Libya (Obama).

    I’m not a left liberal.

    Clinton also carpet bombed Iraq and nuked two foreign sites including a Sudanese medicine factory to distract the nation from his suit-staining shenanigans and the ‘left liberals’ of the USA, with few honorable exceptions, defended him. I thought Clinton’s foreign policy a mixture of lite Messiah adventurism and utterly dishonorable gutlessness. This includes Yugoslavia not to mention the Battle of Mogdishu.

    I opposed the Iraq war but recognize that it’s changed the game. In my opinion Obama blew this. He should’ve been in with the revolution from the start. It gave him a slender chance of improving America’s standing in the region and heading off the democratically inevitable foreign policy hostility of whatever new states emerge now. And it was inevitable.

    The protocols of what organizations like NATO should or shouldn’t do viz these situations is a half-baked melange. And I’d agree with you that the partisan foreign policy problems of the US make it worse. But in war you must accept that people will die. It’s not enough simply to object to this or that atrocity. At the same time one should not become heartless i the process. You are quite right to remind revolutionary enthusiasts here that it ain’t all gravy.

    Sorry, verbose.

  30. Adrien

    From Paul link:

    An Algerian diplomats assessment of Gaddafi’s ‘cabinet’:

    Ils ont un niveau intellectuel plutôt modeste.

    They have rather modest, standard minds. 🙂

  31. Brendon

    Adrien,

    I believe there are a few types of events sold as revolution today: the first is the racket where backdoor powers carve up the loot in advance, then go on a propaganda mission, then attack. Iraq, Libya. One was long planned, the other opportunity.

    Then there are the other revolutions like Egypt. The real ones. Thats because its real people power and little else. And unfortunately it really goes nowhere. The military are still in power in Egypt. Perhaps even more entrenched. Obama held back until he could clearly see that the Pentagon and the Egyptian military were as one. Then he dumped on Mubarak. And most of us swallowed that.

    It has been a long time since the tyranny of distance helped the people kick out a monarch and really take the place over. I doubt we will see it again.

    Evolution, not revolution.

  32. alfred venison

    dear Brendon
    left liberal, right conservative be damned! the ops in yugoslavia & libya were nato interventions – iraq was a usa invasion. they’re not comparable in terms of supposed “left liberal” reactions to ’em.

    obama had to be dragged kicking & screaming into the present libyan intervention – “lead[ing] from behind” his spokes-suit candidly called it.

    clinton too was dragged reluctantly into yugoslavia – remember colin powell “we [usa] do deserts, we don’t do mountains”. remember the much vaunted apache ah-64s – the tank busters? two battalions shipped over – could have made a difference but not much deployed.

    as in yugoslavia, so in libya, usa contributes select satellite intelligence, its tomahawks & other long range ordinance, some air strikes, and, lately, its drones. and its (imo over-rated) “approval” – releasing others to take actions they want to & usa won’t.

    iraq was an invasion & nato support for usa was divided: france, germany, canada – no. uk, spain (at first), italy (at first) – yes. remember the standing joke about usa getting support even from poland? i do. they even roped in poor old nicaragua, they were so desperate to have the appearance of a broad coalition.

    the usa are reluctant participants in humanitarian interventions. its beats me why the europeans wait on usa “approval” at all, whether in yugoslavia or libya. in my opinion, nato should have been dissolved at the end of the cold war. it was a defensive alliance that had worked – they “won” the stand-off. finis/the end. canada & usa should have withdrawn their armies from europe (remember the “peace dividend”? i do – i still miss it) & european armies returned to the europeans. then they’d have something to use for humanitarian interventions (or otherwise) as they see fit & without reference to or pressure from usa.
    yours sincerely
    alfred vension

  33. Adrien

    Brendon – So you believe that the Libyan civil war is simply an oligarchical struggle for power. This is at least partially true considering the transitional council’s leadership. But considering the apparent numbers (does anyone have accurate ones?) I can’t believe this doesn’t have widespread support.

    It is not a spontaneous uprising as in Egypt but the surrounding regimes will, like European ones two hundred years ago, barricade their territory making armed conflict inevitable. Will Syria for example relinquish control without a fight. Is a mass uprising there possible now? If not, are Syrians not then entitled to take arm against the State. If so, what should greater powers do?

    Writing this I’m wondering if there’s a frustrated junior officer somewhere in the region. One who possesses large talents and a framed print of David’s “Napoleon” on his wall. Nah. History only rhymes. There’s probably a hundred thousand such junior officers with Saddam in Lederhosen postcards instead.

  34. Adrien

    we do deserts, we don’t do mountains

    Shame that didn’t fit into Dubya’s thick skull ten years ago.

    I think Powell shoulda taken Rumsfeld out and beat the shit outta him on the White House lawn. Rumsfeld’s never been in a fight in his life. It’d maybe’ve done someone some good if he’d been taught the stark truth of violence.

    Look Don, war is like this only much much much worse.

  35. kellsy

    [email protected]
    ‘Yugoslavia was doing just fine before NATO showed up eh? I’ve never heard anyone even claim that before – are you going to make an argument to back it up?’

    OK … While far from perfect, Yugoslavia ran a successful non-aligned market socialist system in the post-war period up to the early 1980s. It went through several booms, employment continually rose, wages increased, industrial productivity and GDP increased, literacy was well over 90%, medical care was free and life expectancy was high.

    However, by the late 1970s, the European recession began to bite and the government took on IMF loans that gradually weakened the economy. The richer Yugoslav nations – Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia – became resentful at having to ‘carry’ the poorer nations, and it was this, much more than racial or ethnic tensions that led to breakaway movements like the KLA.

    From the end of WWII to 1991, Yugoslavia was of great geopolitical importance to the West as a non-aligned counterbalance to the Soviet Union. However, after 1991, its existence as the major socialist system outside of the USSR now made it a threat. That was its undoing.

    There is a some very good writing on this – by Diana Johnstone, Edward S Herman and others – but their voices are drowned out by the NATO propaganda cacophony of ‘evil Serbia’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ rhetoric.

    Sorry for the lecture. But you did ask …

  36. Chris

    That depends on how strong the command structure of the transitional authority is viz the rebel soldiers. The latter are pretty motley. Not to mention dumb. I saw one of ‘em carrying an RPG launcher into close urban combat.

    They’re right, playing computer games too much is bad for your health 🙂

  37. alfred venison

    dear kellsy
    “where are the women among these democracy-loving rebels? In 6 months of anti-Gaddafi propaganda, I don’t recall seeing a single woman doing any protesting.”
    try here, for one:-
    http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7026:gaddafi-regime-falls&Itemid=386
    and she brought her pearl-handled ak with her, too.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  38. FDB

    Are you being deliberately obtuse Kellsy, or did you not understand that I was responding to your comment about conditions in the region at around the time of the NATO action?

  39. Brendon

    Adrien @ 33

    Brendon – So you believe that the Libyan civil war is simply an oligarchical struggle for power. This is at least partially true considering the transitional council’s leadership. But considering the apparent numbers (does anyone have accurate ones?) I can’t believe this doesn’t have widespread support.

    I couldn’t call this a Civil War. It was mass civil disobedience and protests that turned into a rebellion as it was hijacked by militants, then hijacked by NATO powers. As a rebellion without NATO, it was disorganized and would have caved in quicktime.

    I think the civil war is yet to start.

    I do not believe the current National Transitional Council, which claims to be the “sole representative of all Libya” will be able to hold on to Libya. It won it only with the help of aerial bombing from NATO. There’s a clue.

    As with Iraq, there will be awful consequences, and people that formerly supported the NATO bombing will walk away from it like Wolfowitz did Iraq.

  40. GregM

    I think the civil war is yet to start.

    I think you may be right Brendon.

    But I think that even that is preferable to the dictatorship of Gaddafi.

    And civil war is inevitably the risk that people must take in re-ordering their society when they overthrow a dictatorship.

  41. Joe

    One critical perspective on western democratic powers getting involved in this kind of conflict is that they are no longer even able to organise efficient and working education, energy and transportation systems — for example — in their own countries.

    How are they supposed to organise something like a new state?

    And that’s quite apart from questions related to their motives for becoming involved, the possible diplomatic side-effects or the cost of life that such actions incur.

  42. kellsy

    [email protected]

    And MY original comment was anchoring the Yugoslavian conflict within its geopolitical importance to the West. Before 1991, NATO and Yugoslavia were best of mates; after 1991, NATO went into propaganda overdrive to fracture Yugoslavia through the cynical manipulation of long-term Yugoslav tensions – which had been mainly over finances, not ethnicity.

    So who exactly got to be obtuse first?

    I could respond to your original ‘question’ by writing more about the grotesque post-1991 atrocities of NATO’s darling, the ‘good’ KLA, Bosnians and Kosovar Albanians – the stuff that the Western MSM never told us – to justify its intended armed intervention. I could also point out the eerie similarities between the deliberate ‘evilising’ of both Milosevic and Gaddafi.

    But I don’t think you’re interested. You just wanted to score sarcastic points. At least Adrien’s pubescent, closed-minded response of a couple of dozen Hahahas would have been more honest.

  43. GregM

    Joe the last I saw of them the European countries all had efficient and working education, energy and transportation systems. Not perfect, of course, though who would expect that? But working and getting the job done.

    Perhaps you can share with us where you believe they do not.

  44. kellsy

    alfred [email protected]

    Thanks for the token-woman link. Now that you’ve shown me yours, I’ll show you mine:

    [link]

  45. alfred venison

    dear Brendon
    the civil war is yet to happen? you don’t say.

    imo its been a civil war since col g threatened to massacre populations who dissented from him, leaving them no choice but to take up arms in self defence. it will continue a civil war while col g remains at large, but once he’s rounded up its as good as over for act one, at least.

    to be sure nato is in this for dirty oil politics & for only as much altruism as is compatible with business on terms most profitable to “the west”. but so what if the rebels had to have outside assistance to stay in the game & get this far? would that the paris commune had seen a bit more outside assistance, imo. or barcelona. something effective, like cuba slung angola’s way, when south africa massed its army for counter-revolutionary intervention against that country. and since when does foreign intervention cancel a civll war, anyway? wasn’t the russian civil war full of foreign intervention? and spain? and wasn’t vietnam one long civil war with a “relay race” of foreign interventions?

    the interims won’t control all of the country, all of the time, for some time to come, to be sure. but if they can control (1) the oil fields & pipelines around sirte & (2) the western gas fields & pipeline to italy from tripoli area, they will be recognised as a national gov’t, sold arms, offered “training” missions & portrayed thereafter as struggling with armed insurrection.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  46. Katz

    Now that the old casus belli has been removed — I.e., the Gaddafi regime — does NATO have either a legal or a moral right to influence the outcome of any Libyan civil war?

  47. Brendon

    I’m not impressed with these revolutions.

    Just read the depressing 2010 AI report on Iraq.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/iraq/report-2010

    Human rights violations by Iraqi security forces

    Iraqi security forces committed gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, torture and other ill-treatment, and arbitrary detentions, and did so largely with impunity. Detainees were held in heavily overcrowded prisons and detention centres, where they were abused by interrogators and prison guards. Torture methods reported included beatings with cables and hosepipes, suspension by the limbs for long periods, the application of electric shocks to the genitals and other sensitive areas, breaking of limbs, removal of toenails with pliers, and piercing the body with drills. Some detainees were alleged to have been raped.

    In June, a human rights body affiliated to al-Diwaniya Governorate in southern Iraq accused the security forces of torturing detainees to extract “confessions”. Interior Ministry investigators subsequently reported that 10 out of the 170 prisoners at al-Diwaniya prison had bruising that could have been caused by torture or other ill-treatment. Video film apparently taken by a prison guard showed a prisoner lying with his hands tied behind his back, being whipped by guards and subjected to electric shocks until he lost consciousness. One guard is heard to say, “He is done.”

    They were better off with Saddam without sanctions. Same torture, but no insurgents bombing the marketplaces. Its that bad.

    I hope this isn’t Libya’s future. But with the West involved, it probably is.

  48. Adrien

    The richer Yugoslav nations – Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia – became resentful at having to ‘carry’ the poorer nations, and it was this, much more than racial or ethnic tensions

    Isn’t this scenario the very basis of racial tension?

  49. Adrien

    I think the civil war is yet to start.

    I see.

    I do not believe the current National Transitional Council, which claims to be the “sole representative of all Libya” will be able to hold on to Libya.

    Yep, already the fix is in: authoritarian government. And such authority must obtain by tribal network consensus. If it’s split then bang, yeah.

    There has been civil war talk in the Middle East since….

    Hang on there’s always been civil war talk. Few years back there was scuttlebutt viz a Sunni/ Shi’a shitfight, all out. Libya, I guess it depends on lots of things including the long knives factor.

  50. Brendon

    adrien,

    Libya have extremely rich resources, so obviously its a magnet for foreign interference, sanctions, foreign backed rebellions, etc. From Egypt, Europe, and the USA. And that’s been the case forever. Only an authroritarian government could rule – even if badly.

    With NATO blessing and assistance, the rebels are going to attack Sirte. My bet is they will pretend Gaddafi is there. Or maybe force him there, as an excuse.

    After all, don’t we need an excuse for this? Why are we supporting an undisciplined ragtag army with accusations of war crimes against them (by AI) attacking a civilian city of Sirte with 140,000 people?

  51. Brendon

    Just one thing. Can anybody explain why they would support the military attack on Sirte now that Tripoli has fallen.

    Whatever happened to R2P, and the fear of civilian massacres?

    This is where Gaddafi was born. What do you think an undisciplined lot from Benghazi armed to the teeth will get up to?

  52. Katz

    Interesting question Brendon.

    Has NATO attempted to answer it?

  53. sg

    Brendon, Iraq was not a revolution. It was not an internal civil war.

    You have been wrong about this situation every step of the way. If you’re right about Sirte it’ll just be the stopped watch kind of right. You need to relearn your analytical methods, because they aren’t helping you understand the world.

  54. Brendon

    sg,

    do you call the Shiite uprising that was beaten down by Saddam in the early 90’s a civil war?

    That’s all this was, plus NATO bombing.

    Had Bush Snr bombed sufficiently and the Shiites took over then, would you have called it a civil war instead of an uprising?

    Civil war imply some equality of internal forces. There was none of that in Libya in Feb this year. The power came from the air and from NATO. Would not have lasted a month without NATO.

    Iraq did have a civil war. You must be thinking of the US invasion, the deposing of the Bathist regime, and the US occupation when you say there was no civil war.

    I was referring to the civil war that came after that, once the Baathist infrastructure was removed. It is still going on, although much subdued.

    What do you call it when there are 4.7 million displaced person out of not much more than 22 million?

    I don’t know any more than you do. But if Libya is to have a civil war, then because their is no occupation buffer, it might happen quicker.

    The US bombed the bejesus out of the Iraqi military. NATO only attacked enough to give the rebels the upper hand. And when they were not dropping bombs on the Libyan military, the rebels were driven back quickly each time. I have read where this is NATO tactics because the rebels are keen not to have foreign forces on the ground, so France and Britain might want a civil war to weaken both sides and then move in and occupy the country. Does explain why rebel leaders have from time to time bemoaned the sudden ceasefires by NATO when they were in the middle of battling the Libyan government forces.

    Iraq is a failed state, and so too will Libya be, courtesy of Disaster Capitalism. Eventually, the tribes of Benghazi will have to deal with the NATO countries – NATO will make them. And when they do, forget about it. Enjoy the gloss of democracy.

  55. Brendon

    Katz,

    NATO is currently bombing any of Sirte’s defences.

    Nato sources tell Sky: Gaddafi forces are regrouping in Sirte and present a direct threat to civilians – that is why they are pursuing them. It isn’t about finding Gaddafi.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8726492/Libya-as-it-happened-August-26.html

    Gaddafi isn’t there. So why isn’t NATO negotiating with the commanders and tribal elders there? That would be R2P, wouldn’t it? Instead of clearing a path for the rebels to take the town, and urban warfare with hundreds if not thousands of civilian casualties.

    Is NATO giving the rebels what they want for the time being: a bit of post victory vengeance.

  56. Adrien

    After all, don’t we need an excuse for this?

    Of course. We’re a democracy 🙂

    Why are we supporting an undisciplined ragtag army with accusations of war crimes against them (by AI) attacking a civilian city of Sirte with 140,000 people?

    Is anyone actually ‘supporting’ that? I’m not. Would I that the ragtag army conformed to the heights of those the Duke of Wellington once commanded? Sure. Do I get it. Nah. Over the last hundred years armies have gone backward in terms of the ‘civilized war’ type thang.

    Do I have any control over it? No. My opinion on this matter was formed months ago. It can change, but like most of us I can merely comment on what I have no control over.

    You are quite right to point out that the NATO interest in Libya is economic. Of course it is. I can’t think of many wars without a significant economic interest. The inference of your commentary is that the Left have been duped into supporting a war that serves the same interests as those of the Iraq War, perhaps even courtesy of some of the same agents, yet uses different tactics. That’s fundamentally correct.

    My question is what would be better: Gaddafi annihilates a rebel army and safeguards despotism for his heirs, or a new crew come in with an outside chance of updating the Libyan governent to Version: 19-C at least.

  57. alfred venison

    dear kellsy
    big deal. yes, it was a glib response, but what are you really on about with: “In 6 months of anti-Gaddafi propaganda, I don’t recall seeing a single woman doing any protesting. This is not good.”?

    sounds ominous, but when i re-run your search (thanks for the link), and add just the term “women” to the string, i get a different set of pictures. with women in them. some with ak47s. what does it mean? everyone’s got an ak? it means more than zero pictures of women doing protesting in libya over the last six months of anti-gaddafi so-called “propaganda”.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  58. sg

    Brendon, you’re bordering on incomprehensible. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 – the one which turned it into a failed state- had nothing to do with the Shiite uprising and you know it. There is no similarity between Iraq and Libya.

    Until you work that out, all your arguments by analogy and all your parables of disaster capitalism and imperialism are meaningless.

    Frankly, it doesn’t really matter that NATO might have an interest in Libya’s oil. That just makes the Libyans lucky – if they didn’t have oil, their little uprising would have been put down in the time-honoured fashion. As it is a bunch of “great” powers with great guns decided to give a toss. Now Libya has a chance at a democracy. It’s a shame that the “great” powers can’t be consistent about this sort of thing, but better the occasional correct decision than a continuing pattern of supporting dictators (which, incidentally, is also disaster capitalism).

    And why oh why do you think that a corrupt, nepotistic looter like Gaddafi would protect his country’s oil from international companies better than the rebels would if they took over the country? He clearly has been soaking his country for all he can get, why would you think he gives a flying fuck about protecting his country’s oil rights?

  59. Fran Barlow

    Brendon said:

    Gaddafi isn’t {in Sirte}. So why isn’t NATO negotiating with the commanders and tribal elders there?

    1. You should share your inside knowledge with NATO. They could use such timely intelligence. Perhaps you could specify where else he isn’t in an inversion of the Where’s Wally game.

    2. Nobody in Sirte is coming forward to negotiate independently of Gaddhafi. His name is also the name of the tribe, which might give you a clue as to why that’s the case.

    3. Gaddhafi himself is reportedly now speaking of “transition”. How he could possibly “transition” to a government composed of “rats” and those who were, according to him just this morning, planning mass rape, pillage and murder is interesting indeed. One might conclude that what he has to say is of doubtful credibility, save that he clearly hopes to evade being accountable to his own people for the last 40 years of misrule and especially the last six months of brutality.

    Had he had just a little less hubris, he’d have negotiated in February, when he might have been able to cut a deal to leave the country, perhaps with some of his loot, but instead, he dug in his heels and started playing a high risk high return gamble, which he seems now to have lost.

  60. alfred venison

    dear Brendon
    “Civil war imply some equality of internal forces”.

    are you sure? civil wars can be fought asymmetrically, too. e.g., sri lanka, spain. the only equality really necessary is an equality or equivalence in respect of claims to represent or to embody the or a “national will” in all or part of the national territory.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  61. patrickm

    Local Libyan progressives and others who had issues with the tyranny ruling Libya took to the streets and demonstrated for change. It is essential to remember that they did no more than make political demands to be free to form their own political parties, and contest free and fair elections for a proportionally representative democracy. The tyranny could have said fine that’s a good thing let’s organize those elections and move on. But instead it killed some of those people and forced those remaining to arm themselves and unite with anyone they could and fight back. The subsequent suffering and deaths is ultimately the direct result of the tyranny attempting to hold those masses in bondage.

    The pseudo-left (as we see in this thread) must hide from this very basic fact.

    The U.S. and other imperialist countries following realist policies were formerly the greatest obstacle to the peoples’ of the ME region achieving these basic rights. They merely talked democracy but sought stability and supported tyranny. That much is agreed by all leftists.

    Yesterday we saw a blatant example on the BOLT report where an Israeli professor sprouted Zionist heart-break over the out-break of bourgeois democracy. Even the impending fall of the Syrian regime was lamented. One need not wonder what affect this democracy will have on ending the war for greater Israel, as U.S. President Obama has already informed the world that a Palestinian state is coming.

    Iraq / Libya / Bahrain / Egypt / Tunisia / Jordan / Syria / Yemen / Iran / Palestine are all part of this basic democratic struggle and after 9/11 U.S. interests were correctly identified by the Bush administration as requiring this revolution. The sub-stage of free and fair elections and the struggle for a constitution is long past in Iraq and still to come in Libya. In a year or so the Libyan people will have caught up with the people of Iraq. The western sea, air and ground forces will have returned home from both countries, and the struggle in both countries will continue with the human materials, like it or not, that both countries have to work with.

  62. Katz

    No, I agree with Brendon that since Bush’s invasion, Iraq has experienced a cultural and political revolution.

    Before the COW blundered in, Iraq was a secular, fascistic state based on Arab chauvinism and patronage distributed through tribal lines.

    Now Iraq is a Shiite theocratic state. Patronage is distributed within certain Shiite congregations.

    Civil war and comprehensive ethnic cleansing of Sunni Iraqis were simply means to that revolutionary end.

    How does this course of history relate to Libya? Only indirectly. Libya does not host many Shiites. Instead, civil tension appears to be between different shades of Sunni theocracy and secularism, overlain with regional and tribal issues. Will this constellation of interests and ideologies result in an Iraq-style era of genocide? Only time will tell.

  63. FDB

    “But I don’t think you’re interested. You just wanted to score sarcastic points.”

    I have used no sarcasm. I just thought that you were wrong when you described pre-NATO-invasion Yugoslavia as “an example of a successful, socialist oriented, non-Western aligned nation based on a cohesion of cultural ‘tribes’ united by their common history”.

    Now you go on to fit that same description to pre-2011 Libya, and now I find you’re right about one thing… I’m not interested in discussing your delusions about recent geopolitics any further. Let me guess… Last Superpower regular?

  64. patrickm

    stuck in moderation at 61 above.

    But to continue …

    The list of governments that have fallen to the wave of bourgeois democratic revolution known in the MSM as the Arab Spring, is very impressive and welcomed by every progressive across the planet. The same applies to the list of regimes that are changing to meet their peoples’ unfolding demands (like Jordan, Lebanon, and the soon to be Palestinian state).

    Rather than carry on like Gaddafi who has followed the path of Saddam and Assad (who is also strategically stuffed) the rest of the ratbags may stop their oppression, but to be realistic we all doubt that they will. It is up to them of course.

    All the theocrats and autocrats ought to be shitting bricks as they contemplate their own future because they are facing the ultimately unstoppable rights demanding young people of their various countries.

    The way forward without blood-shed is of course to hold free and fair elections for proportionally representative parliaments and then for those elected politicians to negotiate a government as happens in Iraq. (Something the pseudo-left will never forgive the criminal liberators Bush, Blair and Howard for) The struggle across the region is of course to reach the level of Iraq!

    Similar elections involving very similar political parties are the next stage goal in Egypt and Libya and so forth, and the enemies of Libyan democracy will not differ markedly from the enemies to be found elsewhere in the swamp. When the bombs go bang in the Libyan universities, markets and mosques, those setting them will be just as responsible as are the diminishing number of thugs that set them off against the peoples’ of Iraq.

    Naturally the right, like Bolt, tut tut with his Zionist mates about the prospect of parties like the Muslim Brotherhood coming into positions of power. It’s all such a worry and so dangerous for the ‘peace process’. Meanwhile the rest of the world asks how goes the war for greater Israel? The realist positions of support for stability, now so beloved of the pseudo-left as they bleat on about imperialism are gone for good. (Having been abandoned by Bush after 9/11 showed these policies up for what they were almost ten years ago) Support for the war for greater Israel is also gone for good.

    Once Bush declared the West Bank and East Jerusalem occupied territory the end of that occupation was on the agenda. Bush smashed stability. His envoy Condi Rice warned Mubarak where the U.S. was going with the new policies but like Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad he wouldn’t change. Now he is in jail, Saddam is hanged, Gaddfafi is on the run, and Assad is shitting bricks. Who could imagine that the creeps in Bahrain could buck this trend for much longer?

    Any genuine left demands that stability be thrown out the window. Regimes with forty and fifty years of stability, so beloved of by the right are going, and governments that are not particularly well disposed to the U.S.A. are coming. No democratic government anywhere in the Arab world could be other than exactly what the foreign policy establishment said they would be! Everyone knew that; so it is not a mistake that they are now emerging.

  65. Chav

    Why didn’t NATO intervene on the side of the Egyptian masses against the Mubarak regime?

  66. patrickm

    Chav; in the recent struggle of the Egyptian masses I never saw one airforce bombing run, or one tank round fired by the massive Egyptian army, to try to stop the massive demonstrations of the Egyptian population. There were several hundred protesters killed by the police until the Egyptian army blocked them so I am not really sure what you are on about. The short answer is that NATO did not have to intervene.

    The Egyptians are going to have elections and a new government will be elected so those police will be reformed! Change is here, ready or not. That change would still not be good enough for me or you because we live in an advanced western bourgeois democracy. But we could stand some proportional representation and the overthrow of our anti-democratic two party scam.

    My advice is ‘to cast aside illusions and prepare for struggle’.

    But anyway what about Syria? Turkey has already warned the Syrian regime. Do you think they should? I do.

  67. Brendon

    Patrickm,

    could you please supply a verified account of one Libyan airforce bombing run, or one tank round fired by the massive Egyptian army to try to stop the massive demonstrations of the Libyan population?

    If this is the difference, lets at least nail this accusation. This claim was made early on when there were large civilian demonstrations again Gaddafi.

    Yes, we all know that the Libyan government security forces opened fire on demonstrators, like in Egypt and Syria, and Yemen.

    But Other than false propaganda planted in the MSM, there is no reliable account of what you claim. I searched high and low for one verified account, and couldn’t find one. I found a credible accounts of Libyan Air craft being scrambled during the time of the protests, but they went off towards a munitions depot. Obviously not in search of peaceful protestors. I looked up Amnesty International, HRW (who were reporting casualties from Libyan security forces shooting protesters), the Pentagon, eye witness accounts from western journalists that I could trace willing to put their name to it. I found no verifiable eyewitness accounts of Libyan military planes bombing civilian protesters, or Libyan army tanks firing into crowds.

    Looking for an account of such action, I stumbled upon this from Robert Fisk:

    the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

    Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-as-mubarak-clings-on-what-now-for-egypt-2211287.html

    But unfortunately, that is an account against the Egyptian military who ordered what you claim the ousted Libyan government actually did. That Egyptian military now rules Egypt.

    Propaganda is a powerful thing.

  68. Brendon

    sorry, opening para of post 68 should have read

    “could you please supply a verified account of one Libyan airforce bombing run, or one tank round fired by the massive Libyan army to try to stop the massive demonstrations of the Libyan population?”

  69. Chav

    @67. patrickm I believe the Egyptian security forces killed many hundreds of demonstrators and many thousands more are suffering torture or worse in Egyptian jails under the military junta.

    Perhaps an airstrike or two on a Mubarak owned installation, the freezing of his assets of those of his cronies, and NATO special forces on the ground to aid the demonstrators may have have hastened the demise of the regime, but for some reason was not forthcoming…

  70. patrickm

    Brendon asks a very specific question about what the Gadafi military were doing to try to stop the massive demonstrations of the Libyan population?
    ‘could you please supply a verified account of one Libyan airforce bombing run, or one tank round fired by the massive Libyan army to try to stop the massive demonstrations of the Libyan population?’

    Brendon is asking about bombing runs and tank rounds being fired directly at the mass demonstrations and this is not what I understood to be the case. I do not believe that this is what happened. Obviously my poor writing is leading to some confusion so I will try to clarify my general point.

    Because ‘we all know that the Libyan government security forces opened fire on demonstrators, like in Egypt and Syria, and Yemen’ and because we know that the demands of those demonstrators are for free and fair elections etc., ‘we’, that is anyone on the left were and still are on the side of the demonstrators.

    Gadafi was killing people with small arms fire, thus forcing the remaining people to arm themselves. The side that I supported had to seize any armoury and all the military weapons that they could, and as you point out Gadafi’s forces bombed them, and fired tank shells at them doing that and so forth because there was now a civil war in progress, and what’s more the Gadafi forces were winning this civil war hands down.

    Gadafi WAS winning until NATO stepped in and backed the side demanding free and fair elections who were being shot down with small arms for their troubles.

    Robert Fisk can attest that there was no requirement for NATO to save the revolution in Egypt because the demands of that revolution are being met. Fisk is telling a story about how someone who is unknown gave orders that were not in writing to fire tank rounds into the crowds in the square, that didn’t happen because these orders were refused. If true (and it could be) then the Egyptian military leaders who ordered that won’t ever try to do it again will they!? Especially after what has just happened to Gadafi and what is about to happen to Assad!

    The Egyptian military do still play a very significant role in the Egyptian transition to bourgeois democracy. That is to be expected. But politics is now out in the open and elections are coming.

    Chav, a NATO strike that was not required would have harmed the revolution and would not have been possible anyway. This is Egypt you are talking about. The masses were on the streets of Cairo demanding change and they have got it. The military will not run the government after the elections and those elections are coming.

    Chav is right to point out that the Mubarak controlled security forces killed many hundreds during this latest mass uprising that saw him swept from power and now in custody and on trial for this. Also, I am quite sure there are yet people in the still apalling prisons in Egypt that ought to not be there, and so struggle for reforms will go on and indeed speed up; but the demonstrators have secured their basic demands so Egypt is now going through the process that will produce a new government under a new method of human association as previously unknown over the thousands of years of Egyptian history! A bourgeois democracy is emerging.

    Naturally all leftists (Who by definition stand with the oppressed against the oppressor) and all working people subject to owning class exploitation, “must cast aside illusions”, and prepare for further struggle. But at least they can now openly form their own political parties and build their own united actions with their own priorities resulting from the specific problems that arise for them. Just like in Iraq! Roll on the rest!

  71. alfred venison

    Dear Chav
    you ask good questions about syria & egypt & congratulations for persevering with them. i think the unspoken giant in discussions is israel. countries with the power to intervene are cynical & are determined, above all, to use this power to keep their access to oil uncomplicated as possible. to this end these powers do nothing likely to upset israel, as this would complicate immeasurably their access to oil.

    the sole border crossing into palestinian territory that is not controlled by israel is controlled by egypt at gaza. its been ruthlessly policed by the hated egyptian secret service in the past (remember the tunnels?). since the recent events, these people remain free & this crossing continues to be policed by them. and the issue of sovereignty over the strategically important golan heights (syrian territory held by israel since the 1967 war) is another issue involving israel that no one wants to confront & resolve.

    then there’s the oil. neither egypt nor syria has much oil, so humanitarian intervention in their affairs has potential to make israel unhappy & access to oil more complicated. liberation movements in both countries are therefore cynically encouraged at a distance, leaving israel not unhappy & access to oil uncomplicated.

    libya, though, has lots of oil – a special “category” of oil, too, one particularly disliked by “the west”. like iraqi oil, before the invasion, libyan oil has been marketed by a state owned monopoly & is, in fact, the largest known reserve not yet sold through “the market”. this situation will change & the norm in libya, like in iraq now, will become one where the product (oil) is sold through “the market” & not by the state monopoly. this happened in “liberated iraq”, despite all iraqi oil unions (blue collar & white collar) at a meeting held in jordan, voting unanimously to retain control of oil marketing by the state. selling their country’s oil through “the market” will be part of the “price” the interims pay in exchange for recognition by “the west” as the sole legitimate authority in the land of libya.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  72. Dr_Tad

    Mark B writes at the start: “As far as I can tell, although I’m happy to be corrected, those who opposed the NATO intervention from the left have not been commenting directly on whether the end justified the means.”

    The problem is that the end is not the one that the uprising started to create, inspired by Tunisia and Egypt, but one intimately shaped by the way that certain sections of the rebellion (many of them former regime stalwarts) won the argument about Western intervention, and thereby reshaped the dynamic of the uprising. Richard Seymour has been particularly detailed in his examination of the internal dynamics of what happened.

    Trotsky was right to reject the idea that “the ends justify the means” because the means always shape the ends. The ends (to date) we have in Libya are the outcome of Western interests reshaping the aspirations of the Libyan rebellion, in large part by altering the balance of forces within the revolutionary movement through the weight of their politico-military power. This has given added social weight to the most reactionary elements of the rebellion, allowing them prestige they didn’t have at the start. The pre-existing extreme weakness of the Left under Gaddafi made this more possible.

    Mark also writes (with more than a hint of sneer at those who disagree with him):

    Rather than some sort of neo-colonialist denunciation in advance of the course the Libyan people might take (“manipulated by the US”, “all about oil”!), what is appropriate is a maintenance of a democratic commitment to solidarity combined with a will to offer critical and reflexive support.

    This entirely evades the nature of the rebellion as one involving an alliance between different class, social and political interests. Who shall we give solidarity to? Who shall we criticise and reflexively support? This was something I repeatedly raised in my arguments here and with Rundle, but which tended to be brushed aside because of some abstract commitment to the revolution as a whole. Imagine if we did the same in Egypt: If the Muslim Brotherhood’s line, because it was the most influential organised force on the ground, was taken as the one we should have solidarity with? Would pro-intervention voices in Australia be whipping up the need for “us” to support Sharia law?

    When the current (very thin) veneer of unity amongst the rebels breaks down, it will not be good enough to talk about “the Libyan people” as an undifferentiated bloc. And I’m certain that the rebels establishing a pro-Western “order” over the lower classes will be the ones who were most closely tied to the pro-intervention line. Why would it be otherwise?

  73. Brendon

    Patrickm @ 71 says:

    The Egyptian military do still play a very significant role in the Egyptian transition to bourgeois democracy. That is to be expected. But politics is now out in the open and elections are coming.

    Not much of a transition according to this

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/aug2011/egyp-a02.shtml

    or this

    http://www.npr.org/2011/08/22/139843551/egyptians-fear-military-will-stymie-move-to-democracy

    or this

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/23/us-egypt-protests-idUSTRE76M1G320110723

    I can clearly remember the West holding off support for the protests until they were sure the military dictators – who were the power behind Mubarak – could continue ruling over Egypt.

    There is no sign (nor will there be) of control of the country going to the people.

  74. Brendon

    Bani Walid is the latest town (population 45,000) being put to the torch by NATO rebels.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/04/bani-walid

    How is this democracy? Or R2P?

  75. wbb

    Nato rebels? Who would they be?

  76. Brendon

    Who would they be? Good question.

    But anyway, now that the capital Tripoli is taken and the rebel government is recognized by the West, what humanitarian reason is there for supplying weapons and support for these people to attack towns that do not (at this time) want them. Where is the R2P in this. No civilians are being threatened in these towns except by the rebels themselves.

    Or is there another truth? That this is an exercise – not in defeating the former Libyan military – but in pacifying the civilian population in that part of the land that do not want the rebels from Benghazi ruling over them.

  77. Brendon

    CNN headline today:

    Libya fighters issue deadline to civilians in Gadhafi stronghold.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/09/14/libya.war/

    The MSM is even demonizing civilians now. They don’t live in towns and cities anymore, they hunker down in “strongholds”. They got it coming, right?

    R2P?