One of the most important things I always hailed them for holding the line on was this: Steadfastly refusing NATO boots on the ground even while accepting NATO air support. This crucial decision meant that they have been able to avoid many of the harsher influences the imperialist are likely to have on any revolution. Without a western military presence on the ground in Libya there was nothing the NATO forces could do once air operations could no longer be justified but fly away. Libya is a mess, but it is their mess and they can best clean it up without imperialist machinations.
The "anti-imperialist" Left doesn't just ignore the thuwars, and give NATO all the credit for overthrowing the fascist state, they also like to blame these imperialists for not sticking around and helping clean up the mess they made. That sounds a lot like asking the imperialists to stick around and "help" the Libyans "rebuild" the state. Maybe a totalitarian state, maybe a puppet state, but in any case a state reconstructed quickly, stability insured and the oil production restore to 100%. I think keeping the imperialists largely out of the business of rebuilding the Libyan state is another thing they got right, messy though it may be.
I also think the imperialists learned important lessons in Libya. I think NATO expected to have a lot more "influence" over a post-Gaddafi Libya than its bombs bought. I think they learn that air power alone doesn't give you much leverage in the post-war situation, you need boots on the ground for that. They knew that going in, and made all the arguments they made to the Kurds - training - forward air controllers, etc. Maybe even using some suspicious "friendly fire" attacks on the thuwars to highlight their case, but with the UN resolution prohibiting it and the National Transitional Council adamantly opposed to it, it always proved to be a bridge too far.
Now, Obama is putting a small number of US special forces on the ground in Syria. He is apparently doing this with the blessings of the Kurdish forces in northern Syria. I hope this does not prove to be a mistake on their part. I think I have a clue as to the pressure they must be under to agree to this arrangement, but I strongly suspect that Obama, and the US imperialists are motivated by lessons learned from the Libyan intervention.
If this is the case, these less than 50 can be expected to be just the first of a small but steadily growing US military presence on the ground that is there to insure the United States has a vote in the future development of Syria. Ayham Kamel, Director, Middle East and North Africa at Euroasia Group, put it this way in Syria Deeply on Thursday:
The primary objective of the deployment is to guarantee that the U.S. is not left outside the solution, in terms of confronting Islamic State and resolving that problem. The previous strategy of zero troops on the ground just did not work. The Russian intervention in Syria accelerated things and pushed the Obama administration to authorize such a deployment in Syria to help the Kurds, in addition to guaranteeing that, for the foreseeable future, Washington does have a say and it is not Moscow only that will define the war against ISIS.But I don't think Obama's purpose is limited to the "war against ISIS." ISIS is just the current cover story. ISIS is a tool of Assad and Putin. ISIS is also a tool of the US. The "War against ISIS" is to Syria Freedom what the "War Against Drugs" is to Black Liberation.This deployment of US forces in Syria should be opposed and the Kurdish freedom fighters should be warned of the folly of allowing the US to become too well grounded in their struggle.