The West is doing the right thing in Libya

By Nureddin Sabir

Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

A few moments ago France, the United States, Britain and other NATO countries launched air and cruise missile strikes against Libyan dictator Mu’ammar Gaddafi’s military installations, in implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

The resolution, passed on 17 March, called for a ceasefire and all necessary measures to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi’s murderous thugs, including the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya.

As a Libyan who has witnessed at first hand how the Gaddafi regime evolved into its present murderous self, I can only welcome the start of this military action. My only regret is that it did not take place earlier and thereby spare the lives of thousands of innocent civilians murdered by Gaddafi’s hired hands.

I say this as an anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, progressive pan-Arab nationalist. And it is from this vantage point that I witness with dismay our friends and natural allies, from the anti-war movement and George Galloway in the UK to  Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega in Latin America, condemn the military action against Gaddafi as an imperialist plot whose aim is to seize Libyan oil.

Regrettably, it would seem that our friends have lost the plot on this occasion.

This is not about oil or money

First, oil has nothing to do with what is currently happening in Libya. Under the Gaddafi regime Western oil companies already controlled the country’s oil, and most of this oil was exported to Western countries anyway. So why would the US and its allies want to seize something they already controlled?

Nor is this about the US paving the way for its financial interests to control or buy up Libya. Gaddafi’s son and heir apparent, Saif al-Islam – a close friend of Israel’s far-right settler foreign minister, the fascist Avigdor Lieberman – enjoyed excellent relations with international billionaires such as Nathaniel Rothschild, crooks such as Bernie Madoff and dodgy Russians such as Oleg Deripaska, and would in time have opened up Libya to them and others like them. Therefore, if the motive behind the present NATO-led attack were financial, then surely NATO would have intervened to prop up the Gaddafi regime, not the reverse?

The wrong record

Friends on the left and in the anti-war movement, the particular record you are currently playing is inappropriate for the occasion. Please change it.

The plain fact is that France, the US, Britain and others are attacking Gaddafi’s thugs because they have no choice but to do so.

Although since his rehabilitation by the West Gaddafi has been a good friend to Washington, London and Paris, to the extent of participating in George W. Bush’s extraordinary rendition programme and turning Libya into one of the US’s torture sub-contractors in Africa, his unrestrained brutality against the protests that began peacefully in mid-February – brutality that has included the use of battlefield weapons against unarmed civilians – has embarrassed Paris, London and Washington beyond the point of tolerance. They had no choice but to act or else face another Rwanda or Cambodia.

Right suspicion, wrong opposition

Some of our friends accuse the United States, France and Britain of hypocrisy and double standards, arguing that these same countries shrugged their shoulders or tacitly supported similar or worse crimes committed by Israel, notably in Gaza, and are only willing to offer weasel word in the case of gross human rights violations committed by the regimes in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, among others.

That is very true. The United States and its allies in Britain, France and elsewhere are hypocrites who decry crimes against humanity in one place while simultaneously ignoring or supporting them in another. But that does not mean that we should denounce them when they actually do the right thing just because they are not doing the right thing across the board.

We have every right to be suspicious of the ulterior motives that may lie behind Barack Obama’s, Nicolas Sarkozy’s and David Cameron’s sudden dash for the moral high ground in Libya.

But it does not follow that our suspicion should automatically translate into opposition even when these leaders do the right thing to fulfill an urgent need, in this case protecting the Libyan people from a brutal, amoral, traitor who only a few days ago, on Thursday 17 March, promised to occupy Benghazi – a city of one million people – within hours and drown its inhabitants in blood.

Look to the future

The concern of our friends on the left and in the anti-war movement should be redirected away from opposition to the current NATO military action against Gaddafi’s thugs and towards what comes after Gaddafi.

If we really do care about justice and progress in Libya, then we should make sure that after Gaddafi the Libyan people are left alone to rebuild their state and create their own government, without Washington, Paris or London abusing whatever credit they accrue in the meantime to plant their own stooge.

Libya’s wealth and wellbeing can be safeguarded only by having a democratic, accountable government that is answerable to its own people, and its own people alone. That is something which only the Libyan people can do.

After their dreadful experience with the Gaddafi family, I have no doubt that they are up to the challenge.

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