Statement by the Revolutionary Socialist Party adopted April 9.
- The Revolutionary Socialist Party is vehemently opposed to the NATO US/France/Britain military attack on Libya. Eight years to the day since the beginning of the war on Iraq on March 20, 2003, they have carried out this attack on Libya’s air force, air defence systems, airports, roads, ports and ground forces with hundreds of cruise missiles (at US$1 million each) and waves of jet fighters and bombers, under cover of UN resolution 1973 pushed through the UN Security Council on March 17. The UN Security Council resolution approved “all measures necessary” to protect Libyan civilians against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. This has given the imperialist forces a free hand to do whatever they want, bombing at will, and sending in CIA and SAS special forces on the ground already.
- This is NOT a “humanitarian intervention”. It was NOT carried out to protect civilians. It is carried out in the interests of imperialism, a war for political control in the Arab world. When have the US and the rich European powers ever done anything that’s not in their own selfish interests? Look at the record of the US for decades and decades – propping up and installing the most brutal dictators; attempting to undermine and overthrow any regime that threatens their interests. The intensive US, British and French ground and air attacks have pulverised Gaddafi’s military, but have also targeted cities, with many civilian deaths, including rebel supporters. Western politicians openly admit the intention of the assault is for “regime change”, the removal or assassination of Gaddafi. In no way is the imperialist military being used to help a people’s rebellion – it’s the kiss of death!
- While the Gaddafi regime provided a pretext for the imperialist intervention with its brutal repression of the civilian pro-democracy protests, calls by the leadership of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion, which has become increasingly dominated by defectors from the regime, for an imperialist-enforced “no-fly-zone” have enabled the regime to portray itself as the defender of Libyan national sovereignty against foreign military aggression. This has enabled it to rally support from a section of the masses, particularly in and around Tripoli, and neutralise support for the pro-democracy rebellion among others in the area between Tripoli and the rebellion’s base in Benghazi. As a result, the military conflict between the regime and the pro-democracy rebellion has become a stalemate, which only an escalation of the imperialist intervention through the introduction of increasing numbers of foreign military advisers and ground troops is likely to overcome.
- We oppose the idea of a “no-fly-zone”, even though the actual Western intervention has already gone far beyond this. The “no-fly-zone” was never going to be restricted to just that, it would always extend to attacks on ground forces, and civilians. Washington has a terrible record with this excuse for military action in Iraq and former Yugoslavia. Even if some of the rebels in Benghazi have called for a “no-fly-zone” or complete military support, any imperialist intervention like this will not help the rebellion, but will kill it, or contain it within the bounds of Western interests. Certainly the pro-Western elements in the Benghazi leadership see no contradictions in their call, and perhaps we can understand the desperate call of other rebels there, but any left supporters abroad of the Libyan uprising should definitely not be calling for it or supporting military intervention.
- Should we call for other imperialist measures to help the rebellion? No. Like the “no-fly-zone” or direct military intervention, none of this “assistance” would be to help the people of Libya, but only in the interests of imperialism. There’s no Chinese wall between imperialist invasion (“boots on the ground”), a “no-fly-zone”, and other imperialist measures against the Libyan state, such as blockade, embargo, and confiscation of assets. We should not be calling for imperialism to carry out “non-military” attacks on Libya. This cedes to imperialism the right to deny an independent state the right to sovereignty, the right to its own finances, the right to trade.
- The Libyan uprising is in the context of the great Arab awakening of 2011. Tunisia and Egypt have had initial success in removing their dictators. Now Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Palestine are in the midst of struggle. The RSP unconditionally supports this mass Arab protest demanding an end to dictators, irrespective of their leaderships, but will be critical of any efforts by rebels to align themselves with imperialism – it’s the road away from rebellion. Millions mobilised for democracy, and an end to dictatorships. It’s a revolutionary democratic uprising for freedom, democracy, popular sovereignty, national independence, and an end to the plunder of national wealth by the ruling elites and their imperialist masters. Massive poverty is also a motivating force of the rebellions in most of the Arab world, (although ordinary Libyans as well as Gaddafi have benefited from the oil wealth, ranking highest in Africa on the UNDP’s Human Development Index, and ahead of Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela). The uprisings are linked to demands for economic and social justice, and flow on from the capitalist economic crisis and austerity drives in imperialist countries which also affect neo-colonial countries.
- The main goal of the imperialist intervention in Libya is to contain and subvert the Arab rebellion. Our main responsibility is to campaign against such imperialist efforts. As usual the rulers in Washington, London, and Paris are demonstrating their absolute hypocrisy. They talk of rescuing the Libyan people from the bloodthirsty attacks of a dictator. But what about Bahrain and Yemen, where many demonstrators were being slaughtered as the West moved against Libya? But imperialism backs and arms their kings and their dictators. Many around the world have pointed out this hypocrisy, and also asked: What about Israel’s decades-long attacks on the Palestinians? What about Gaza? We can understand the desperation of the Libyan rebels, threatened by Gaddafi with an attack on Benghazi. Any vestiges of anti-imperialism associated with the Gaddafi regime disappeared long ago. But imperialism’s attacks have already weakened the uprising politically and organisationally, lowering the morale of young people who had hoped to take control of their own future. It has strengthened illusions in US and European exploiters, strengthened the pro-Western leaders of the Libyan Transitional National Council in Benghazi, and has thrown a shadow over the Arab awakening.
- However, the success of the military blitzkrieg by the leading imperialist powers is not a foregone conclusion. The political perspective and determination of healthy elements among the rebels have already been compromised by the imperialist alliance. Too many people remember the terrible results of the invasions and ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even many leaders of capitalist states are increasingly worried about the consequences of the Libyan war. The UN resolution provided an initial justification for military action, with the abstentions of Russia, China, Germany, India, and Brazil. But they are now very critical of the intervention, despite having been bribed, cajoled or threatened into not voting against. The “no-fly-zone” had the initial support of the Arab League, all the existing kings and dictators – but chairman Moussa was critical after seeing the actual attack. The invasion is facing opposition from a growing number of African leaders. South Africa voted in favour on the Security Council, but now has second thoughts. The African Union has called for an end to military intervention and negotiations. Imperialism will need even more troops on the ground to finish their job. And the more it goes on the more the population rallies around Gaddafi.
- The Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) countries in Latin America are strongly against the imperialist attacks, but have not had clear positions regarding the Arab uprisings. Cuba’s Fidel Castro issued a strong early warning about the danger of NATO intervention in Libya, reflecting more than 50 years experience of imperialist invasion, blockade and attacks against Cuba. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez issued a call for a negotiated solution between the rebels and Gaddafi. Many of the ALBA countries are still bound by diplomatic and trade arrangements with Libya, dating more from its previous anti-imperialist stance, and have been slow to adjust to the new reality of a neo-liberal Libya, and the Arab rebellion. (It was a wrong call by Daniel Ortega to offer solidarity to Gaddafi.) They have been slow to recognise the importance of the Libyan rebellion as part of the whole Arab uprising, and tend to view the struggle in isolation from the rest of the Arab world. The Arab uprising should have been seen as a welcome shaking off of imperialist chains in that oil-rich region that paralleled the Bolivarian rejection of US imperialism in its own back yard.
- The imperialist military intervention and collaboration with the leadership in Benghazi has already served to coopt and subvert the rebellion against the Gaddafi regime. The main task for socialists in imperialist countries is to oppose the imperialist interventions and intentions of our own ruling class. This provides the most practical help to the ongoing Arab uprising. So we are totally opposed to the Australian government support for the intervention, and opposed to any Australian troops’ involvement as “peacekeepers”. We condemn the support of the ALP for the attack, and likewise condemn the Greens, who should have known better than to support another imperialist war. Similarly, a number of socialist forces internationally and in Australia have unfortunately fallen for the imperialist trap, and have fallen in behind supporting the imperialist military attack on Libya. With so much confusion about the imperialist intervention being soaked up by left and liberal forces around the world, revolutionary socialists have an important role to defend clear political perspectives, opposing the imperialist military attacks, and defending the continuing Arab uprisings.
No to all forms of imperialist intervention!
End the US-French-British bombing!
No Australian support! H