Libya: NATO sets dangerous precedent

ex dictator

It is very likely that the days of Moammar Gadaffi's regime are numbered. Rebel troops, backed by massive NATO bombing raids, have broken through to Tripoli, the Libyan capital. The NATO intervention has been decisive, and that should trouble us.

Had the people of Libya risen up entirely on their own, without outside intervention, and overthrown Gadaffi, he would have had nobody to blame but himself. After a promising start when he overthrew the monarchy of King Idris in 1969, Gadaffi and his colleagues wasted the opportunity to build truly democratic and progressive institutions for their oil and gas rich country. Instead, they chose an individualistic and repressive style of rule, which ended up antagonizing many Libyans and their neighbors. This is why, when Resolution 1973, which authorized armed action to create a no-fly zone in Libya, was introduced in the United Nations Security Council, neither Russia nor China saw fit to use their vetoes. Even though there were warnings that the no-fly zone could easily morph into massive military intervention, they opted to abstain.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was set up after the Second World War, with three goals, according to its first Secretary General, British Field Marshall Lord Ismay: "To keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down." The last goal was soon abandoned, as the newly rebuilt West German armed forces were deemed essential for NATO's operations.

"Keeping the Russians out" turned out to involve, also, sinister interference in their internal affairs of NATO countries. In France, Italy, Greece and elsewhere, NATO set up secret "stay behind" organizations whose purpose was supposedly to resist a Soviet conquest, but who engaged in illegal activities aimed against the left. In Italy, these entities carried out bloody acts of provocation. In Greece, they were implicated in the coup d'état of 1967 and the resulting dictatorship.

In 1955, the Soviet Union and its allies formed the Warsaw Pact as a counter to NATO. But from 1987 to 1991, the socialist governments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed, taking the Warsaw Pact with them. Logically, NATO should have been disbanded too. Rather, it started looking for a "new mission," which turned out to be projecting force, in the interests of the Western powers and international monopoly capital, to areas of the world far from the "North Atlantic." The disintegration of Yugoslavia brought it into the Balkans. The Afghanistan War brought it into Central Asia. And now it is in Africa.

The double standard of NATO intervention is striking. There have been uprisings in the Kingdom of Bahrain, also violently repressed: Why just pious words and no intervention there? And in many ways Saudi Arabia is a more repressive and despotic regime than is Gadaffi's Libya; why no NATO destabilization efforts? The leaders of the main NATO countries seek to portray it as an "international organization" working for "world peace" and "democracy." Yet when a wide range of institutions, nations and individuals, ranging from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to the African Union, and including China, Russia, India and other large and important states, called for a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement in Libya, they were contemptuously brushed aside. And it remains to be seen what kind of "democracy" will now be created in Libya.

Libya has massive oil, natural gas and water reserves, and has used its wealth to become a financial powerhouse in African affairs. It has provided development aid to a number of the smaller, poorer African states, thereby, along with China, giving them an alternative to dependency on the former colonial powers, France and Britain. Libya's presence in African affairs included, also, illegitimate interference, and was not liked by the African left. Will the poor African countries, formerly recipients of Gadaffi's sometimes dubious largesse, now find themselves completely at the mercy of their former colonial oppressors, who, in exchange for any aid or even trade, impose the notorious neoliberal program of "free" trade, privatization and austerity?

The precedent set by the Libya intervention is also very dangerous. Governments who have friction with the United States have taken note: Venezuela, for example, has announced that it is going to repatriate its gold reserves, in part probably so that these reserves can not be seized by the United States, the United Kingdom or others, as Libya's assets were seized and then handed over to the rebels.

Building up NATO as a bogus "international organization" to project force all over the world must be opposed. Rather, we should demand that our leaders work to strengthen, rather than undermine, genuine international organizations, such as the United Nations, which work for peaceful solutions to humanity's problems.

Photo: BRQ Network // CC 2.0

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  • I'm still wondering -Who has been the backers of the Libyian revolution?

    The rebelion has been going on now for about 6 months.
    How can these people leave their jobs and spend all that much time running around shooting guns and throwing bombs and not have some kind of income to feed their families?

    Who has been furnishing the machine guns, bombs, trucks, ammunition, etc. to launch a revolt that has lasted for this long?

    If they were spending their own money saved up from their employment under Kadafi's Libya, then they were pretty well off with his leadership!!

    How many of us US people could spend 6 months running around causing trouble with the US government without having a job with income to meet bils, feed families, etc.?

    Posted by Jane Abbott, 08/25/2011 5:26pm (3 years ago)

  • From its inception in 1948 NATO was intended to spread the costs and a little of the bounty of U.S. imperialism to the weakened imperialist nations of Europe. The U.S. now passes through a stage where it can no longer afford to carry its burden of over a $Trillion annual military expenditures and carry on multiple wars. It thus demands more of its NATO co-criminals. While the future of Libya is not predictable, it is clear that the empires of Europe and America will do everything possible to ensure their ultimate control of its people and policies, to obtain oil and gas at even better rates, to emplace AFRICOM, and pin up neo-liberalism - that is, to recolonize Africa.

    Posted by HenryCT , 08/25/2011 2:48pm (3 years ago)

  • Of course the capitalist-imperialist countries who backed the rebels in Libya had mixed motives at best. It would be sophomoric to assert that the French, U.S. and etc. did not wish to protect and enhance their own bottom lines.

    However, the rebellions of the Middle East appear, at least to this observer, to have been launched by the people of those countries because they were sick of the corrupt,criminal authoritarianism of their governments, and sought and are seeking a progressive and democratic alternative.

    I'm glad the French monarchy decided (for their own selfish interests) to support American rebels fighting against the British Empire in the 18th C. I hope the Libyan rebels are wary of their benefactors, but I also hope the Western military aid enables the people of Libya to establish a genuinely progressive government
    that will fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the masses.

    Once free of the Gadaffi regime,they will indeed have to be wary of the maneuverings and manipulations of their western "allies."

    Posted by Rob Moir, 08/25/2011 12:23pm (3 years ago)

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