Nader Hashemi, commenting on my response to Swanson, "who like many on the Left are living in a parallel universe" said:
There is much more to say on the topic of Libya. The current chaos in that country is now a frequent talking point invoked by those who want to abandon the Syrian people.
As Nader is right, I think it worth repeating in my blog, what I replied to him as to why my view on Libya is "so far, so good" and that in spite of the chaos I consider it to be a big success story:
Consider that the revolutionaries were able to unite the country and form mostly grass roots self-defense forces into something like a people's army and defeat, on the battlefield, without the support of foreign troops, a well armed regime that had 40 years of uninterrupted dictatorship to entrench its rule and financial and military support from Russia and China.
They were able to enlist the air support of the main imperialist coalition, and yet largely remain in control of that relationship. They managed to use NATO in such a way as to avoid both NATO boots on the ground and massive lost of life and damage to infrastructure from NATO bombs, a remarkable feat that should be careful studied rather than derided.
They managed to restore oil production to 80% within 4 months after the fall of the regime and hold elections within 9 months. While there has been violence, overall the murder rate has been about half what it is in Chicago, there is no serious threat that Libya will be torn apart by sectarian violence or that the old regime will be restore.
With regards to our "friends" on the non-interventionist Left, those that have already abandoned the Syria people, we first must remember what they predicted about Libya in the beginning.
- Massive loss of life from NATO "carpet bombing" <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
- Huge bomb damage from NATO "carpet bombing" <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
- A very long conflict <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
- A long guerilla war by Qaddafi supporters. <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
- NATO boots on the ground. <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
- AFRICOM HQ in Libya. <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
- Take over of all the oil by US companies. <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
- US puppet government, stacked with pro-western players. <- NEVER HAPPENED!!!
But what they show to me, with all their carping about Libya today, is that at heart they are just liberals and oppose revolutions in the real world, because almost all their complaints about the Libyan revolution are really complaints about the revolutionary process in general. Take for example:
1) Libya is a failed state.
No, Libya is a country between states. This is what every successful revolution, without exception, must do. It must "smash the existing state machinery" and they must rebuild it. Usually rebuilding it from scratch is better, in the case of Libya, it is a necessity. This implies that where will be a period of no state followed by a weak state in every revolution. A period in which the old state no longer has a "monopoly of violence" and the new state has yet to obtain it.
2) The country is being torn apart by chaos and violence.
Part of what happens in periods like this is that while elements of the defeated state have been beaten, they are still around to make counter-revolutionary mischief. They did have a popular base, no matter how tiny, and they still have resources, so they can be expect to cause trouble for some time. There are other elements, like the jihadists who are now free to come out of the woodwork. Also criminals can be guaranteed to take advantage of any revolution to do their thing.
3) The country is awash with weapons and that has created regional instability.
Well, yes, the Tuareg fought for Qaddafi and he armed them well, after he was defeated, they broke into his arsenals, took even more weapons and took them all back home to Mali. One would hope this Left crowd would look at those developments and have the grace to admit that Qaddafi had African mercenaries fighting for him after all. One might blame Qaddafi or the international arms merchants that supplied him but no, this crowd blames the revolution for setting them loose. One might as well blame the needle for the puss oozing from the bole.
4) There are all of these armed militia that nobody controls.
While are are some criminal gangs and jihadists, most are revolutionary brigades that have a strong working class composition and developed in the revolutionary process. They have played a bigger role in keeping the peace than they have in creating the chaos. They see themselves as guarantors that the revolution will not be stolen and I think they are right. They are a true people's army and they control themselves. As they see the type of state they were fighting for being constructed, they are dissolving into it. They are feared by those that fear an armed working class.
These are problems that will be faced by all revolutions. No doubt the Libyans could have handled things better, but you always have to move forward with what you have on hand. In any case, the co-called Left should be hanging its head in shame rather than complaining about the lack of socialist organization or "Marxist" clarity leading any of these struggle given how that Left has presented itself in recent decades and particular after it has so heartlessly turned its back on the revolutions in Libya and Syria.