If it is understood by 'now' I mean 'soon', which is to say when Qaddafi is finally defeated, because as I write this he is down but not yet out. And by 'out' I mean 'in', in prison or dead, that is. There is now no doubt that he soon will be. Even this morning Mummar Qaddafi's Foreign Minister said that his government has fallen.
So looking forward to that happy hour:
What should those that have been opposing the no-fly zone and other aspects of NATO intervention in the Libyan crisis be demanding now?
IMHO they should be demanding that NATO get out! They should demand that NATO take it's planes and go home, and if there are any spooks on the ground, like we all know there are, then bring them back too. This time I will be 100% with you.
The US/NATO/UN bull-shit story is that they stand for the fight against tyranny, as if they don't have their eye on the money twenty-four seven.
Their Libyan Story was that the tyrant Qaddafi was about to massacre thousands of people unless military power was used against him, and much more than the opposition could muster and 'not today but yesterday', meaning his tanks were already entering Benghazi.
And it must be admitted that there was some truth to that. He's done that sort of thing before. What was it? 1200 murdered in 2 hours with artillery in '96, and he had already killed many times that in trying to put down the current uprising.
So the French swooped in and saved Benghazi. Obama pounded Qaddafi's air defenses with the usual US heavy hand, then NATO took up the slack for 4 months with a coalition of European countries doing the heavy lifting in the air war and the US bringing up the rear with less than 17% of the strike missions. This really was a 'coalition of the willing.'
When all the deaths tolls are added up the number killed by NATO will probably be in the low hundreds whereas the number killed by Qaddafi was already in the high thousands and would have been much, much higher had his air power and armor not been put down.
So, for once, NATO did a good thing. Fine. Don't blow it now by sticking around and making mischief. Thank You. Good Bye.
Once Qaddafi isn't killing anymore, they can actually hang up the banner "Mission Accomplished" with some sense of pride. Good. Now go home.
Unless, of course. that wasn't really their mission.
So now comes the maneuvering to stick around after having seen the date safely to the door. This is a dangerous time for the Libyan people and their revolution. However, they have many factors working in their favor not the least of which is how they have organized themselves over the last six months. Plus they got a lot of important things right in their revolution. One of those was not allowing NATO ground troops. Nada, None. Zip.
The good thing about that is now that there are no more dragons to slay, there is really nothing for NATO to do but fly off into the sunset.
Anything else would be a whole new mission under a new mandate and that must be forcefully opposed by anti-imperialists and revolutionaries alike.
Without "boots on the ground", NATO is seriously limited in its ability to shape Libya's future, which is to say, screw with the Libyan revolution.
NATO wanted ground troops in. They wanted it bad. You can only control so much from the air, and frankly, that's not a lot. So they did a lot to persuade the NTC to let ground troops "help out." But they said No and UN resolution 1973 also said no to ground troops.
I remain suspicious of three NATO "friendly fire" incidents largely because they were surrounded by NATO claims that such accidents were much less likely to happen if only they could have their own forward air controllers on the ground. Somehow they must have worked it out because the "friendly fire" incidents dropped off.
And there were other things. But the revolution maintained its strong stand. Thanks, but no thanks. Smart move.
And make no mistake about it, while NATO help was important, this was a victory of the Libyan people's army. They did the heavy lifting and the dying. They showed incredible courage from the very beginning and developed very creditable military skills in the end.
As the US found out in Vietnam, you can't win a war from the air, no matter how brutally you apply it, if the soldiers on the ground don't win it for you. So while NATO intervention was important and did save many lives. I don't think it was decisive.
If Qaddafi was ever going to beat the revolution militarily, he would have already done so in the first month of armed conflict, before the UN passed the resolution. If the truth be told, the UN/NATO crowd gave him a clear month, between February 17th and March 17th, to use his military power however he wanted against first unarmed, and then lightly armed, civilians. Tanks, artillery, helicopters, jet air craft, naval bombardment, whatever. He probably killed about 700-800 in one night in Tripoli. NATO only cried "oh the humanity" when they saw it wasn't working. Then they switched sides.
During that first month, what was to become a very effective fighting force, was just getting started. Clerks and mechanics were picking up weapons for the first time. Small groups were banding together and learning how to fight an armed struggle for the first time. They had no experience. They had no leadership. They had no heavy weapons. And yet they persevered! This was when Qaddafi's forces were at their peak.
No, if he was going to be able to put down the uprising militarily, he would have done so in that first month. After that the military tide was already turning against him. The resistance army was already taking shape and showing stick'em. I'm sure the NATO military analysts saw that.
That is not to say Qaddafi couldn't have slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians in Benghazi, Misrata, Tripoli and other places. Killing unarmed civilians in cities with tanks, rockets and aircraft and beating a dug-in army in the field are two different things entirely. Had NATO not intervened, he would have killed a lot more Libyans, but that wasn't going to make people give up, that was just going to make them mad.
Then it would just drag on and get very bloody and turn into a really protracted war. Six months is nothing. The Vietnamese liberation war took 30 years with various NATO allies taking turns at bat. I think that is what NATO was really afraid of, a protracted war in Libya.
The NATO intervention was about oil, but not in the way many people think. They already had the oil. They had settled that question with Qaddafi many years ago. And it wasn't because they were afraid of losing it to China or Russia as some think. Companies compete for oil all the time on the international market. British, US, EU and now Chinese, Indian, Russia and Brazilian companies all compete for oil all over the world without getting their governments to go to war for them. We're talking international capitalism here. I'm sure Walmart wants to see Chinese companies get all the oil they need to keep cranking out the cheap plastic stuff they import.
But given the current world capitalist crisis, and the part energy prices play in that, they simply can't afford to have Libyan oil off the market any longer than necessary. If Qaddafi could have settled things quickly, even with thousands of anonymous deaths, they would have been happy and kept buying "his" oil. But they couldn't afford a protracted war that would take Libyan oil off the market for years, and even if a bloodbath in Benghazi was successful in putting down the uprising, it would have been witnessed by the world. Then they would have been forced to impose sanctions and that would have taken Libyan oil off the market for years anyway.
So as it turns out, the best option for NATO was to stop the bloodbath and go ahead and help Qaddafi's opposition win this thing. That's why they came in on the side of the revolution.
I heard a statement from an ENI executive yesterday. He said they hoped the NTC would still honor the 5 year agreement they signed with Qaddafi in 2008. That is the main reason NATO got into this fight, to get back what they already had ASAP. Of course they would like more. They wouldn't be imperialists if they didn't.
So while NATO probably has what they call "hush puppies on the ground", they don't have any boots on the ground. This is a real problem for them because they can't control the post war situation like they know how. Not that Iraq or Afghanistan are outstanding examples of imperial sophistication. Without an occupation, they'll have to find something else to do. They still have 'soft power' but it has limits.
So now we see a move to introduce boots on the ground. Already as the war is ending, we hear talk in certain circles of the possible or probable need to send in some kind of "peace keeping force" to help with "stabilization." As if!
As if a nation that rose up against a dictator, forged an army and a government from scratch and eventually beat the tyrant and his mercenary, but well trained and well equipped, army in the field couldn't deal with the peace. Who says? European experts and talking head speculating:.
"Chaos on the ground." "Shari law" "The need, possibly, for an international stabilization force." "A faction riddled movement" "The sort of Chaos we saw in Iraq" "Many different factions, many different tribes." "all the factions, all the groups" "They'll split along tribal lines." "They all have so many guns." "The Islamics will take over."
"They don't know how to govern themselves."That one's my personal favorite. As if we do. My mom had this saying about the pot calling the kettle black.
"It might turn into a 'fail state!'"Now that one should really shame them. It's an admission that in the eyes of these so called champions of democracy, a dictator that rapes his country for 42 years is not a failed state.
They seem to almost have this hope that things won't work out smoothly. If only there is enough disruption and enough conflict that they can come to the rescue with some sort of ground force.
Their problem now is that with a relatively small footprint on the ground, it will prove deuce difficult to even "encourage" infighting and disruptions that they can use to justify an occupation.
We should all unite to strictly oppose any such schemes and the chauvinist presumptions that give it a platform even when there are no supporting facts.
No boots on the ground! Not Now! No Way!
Talk preparatory to this came up around the discussion of transferring Siaf al-Islam Qaddafi to the ICC during those hours when the NTC, the ICC and the media all thought he had been captured.
I remember that all Jacky Rowland on Al Jazeera/English could talk about was how important it was that he be transferred to the ICC immediately for a fair trial rather than receive some "rough justice" in Libya based on "vengeance." As if!
As if it has already been determined that he can't receive a fair trial in Libya. Based on what? Have any of the Qaddafis captured so far been summarily executed? Isn't he a Libyan? Weren't his crimes committed principally in Libya? So what happened to national sovereignty?
Did Osama bin Laden receive "rough justice?" He wasn't a US citizen or found in the US, but if he had been captured, I doubt that Obama would have sent him off to the Hague.
Personally I don't see how it is even possible for Saif al-Islam to receive "rough justice" if by that you mean a punishment that is greatly disproportional to the crime. How can you deliver "rough justice" to someone who has killed thousands and robbed billions? He can only serve one life sentence and even with the death penalty, you can only kill him once.
All such talk just plants in the publics mind the idea that the Libyans can't be trusted to govern themselves. We should vigorously expose such talk for what it is, chauvinism in the service of imperialism.
There is also the question of giving back the Libyans their stolen loot. The frozen assets should be unfrozen immediately and turned over to the revolutionary Libyan government and where that requires a UN resolution, no country should be allowed to use its veto to coerce the Libyans into making oil deals or other deals under threat of losing billions that rightly belong with them, not in US and European banks.
And there are, no doubt, other things that the anti-imperialist movement in the US and around the world can do to support the Libyan revolution and block the NATO countries from completing their imperialist mission in Libya. Those are our tasks now in relation to the Libyan revolution.
Good reads today on the 'net:
Guardian: Libya is no Iraq this revolution is the real deal
Yansoon: Gaddafi the Closet Imperialist