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Leftist arguments for the int’l intervention, from Yassin-Kassab and Woodward

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I’m not alone on the left in being in favor of the Libyan intervention (though I’m starting to hold my finger to the wind). Here are two others with more thought-through positions. First Robin Yassin-Kassab at Pulse, excerpt, on “Infantile leftism”:

Europe also has legitimate reasons, beyond oil, to be worried about ongoing massacres in Libya. A quarter of a million (mainly non-Libyans) have fled the country so far. I’m not somebody who thinks there are too many immigrants in Europe, but if Qaddafi were to wrest back control, there could be hundreds of thousands pouring out all at once, many across the Mediterranean.

I’m sure the West, and the dictators of the Gulf, are trying to force promises from the transitional authorities. And it’s true that the transitional leadership is not particularly impressive, containing plenty of ex-regime people. The fact is that the Libyans have not had the leisure to discuss politics and choose good leaders – their priority now is to get rid of the tyrant and to simply stay alive. It goes without saying that the revolution must continue once Qaddafi has gone, that elected representatives of the people must decide on the nature of future relations with foreign powers. If Libyans end up handing over economic control to the West, it will be the fault of the Libyans, not of the no-fly zone resolution.

It’s interesting to observe, as the world abruptly changes, how many people are crippled in judgement by their ideology: leftists who think Qaddafi is an anti-imperialist hero, non-Arab soft Islamists who have a problem admitting the Arabs are connected to each other beyond the borders drawn by imperialists, Zionists who tell themselves the revolutions have nothing to do with Palestine, Americans who tell themselves that the invasion and destruction of Iraq started the democratic ball rolling…

It’s the stupid fringes of the left who have the most to answer for at the moment, as they not only express logical concerns about the extent of Western intervention but actively support Qaddafi. They say the UN ‘aggression’ is designed to ease Western access to Libyan oil, as if Western companies did not already exploit Libyan oil under Qaddafi’s regime. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanism’ as if his funneling of the Libyan people’s money to African dictators and militias were somehow beneficial to the African masses. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘socialist’ credentials and completely ignore the expensive decadence of his sons and his own penchant for calling himself ‘King of Kings.’ They talk about Qaddafi’s great ‘victories’ against imperialism – here I can only guess they mean his squalid sponsorship of terrorist attacks against civilians, which serve to distract attention from the sufferings of occupied and oppressed peoples. Or perhaps they mean his murder of Lebanese revolutionary Musa Sadr. Or maybe his willingness to torture rendered suspects on behalf of the United States.

Talking to the Western media recently, Qaddafi excused his cold-blooded murder of thousands thus – “Even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists.” So he compares himself to Israel and the Libyan people to Palestinians, who are ‘extremists.’ Please explain that, O leftist followers of the Brother Leader.

These leftists are ignorant of the stagnation of Arab societies under dictatorial regimes and of the enormous suffering of those – often the very best and brightest – who have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered. If they are not ignorant, they simply do not care. They are the kind of people who supported Soviet interventions in eastern Europe in 1956 and 1968, who think the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was a liberation, that Mao’s cultural revolution was progressive, that Louis Farrakhan is a great historian. These people are posers, for whom ideas and facts are useless except as adornments for the sexy self. They are an insult to leftism and anti-imperialism. Fortunately, their residence in fantasy land makes them entirely irrelevant to the real world.

And here is Paul Woodward at warincontext, taking a strong position in favor of the U.N. military action against Qaddafy. Excerpt::

I find it extraordinary, that anyone aligned with any kind of movement whose basis is human solidarity would not have enough empathy to recognize that people whose lives are under immediate threat, do not have the luxury of picking and choosing between possible sources of protection just for the sake of maintaining the ideological purity of their cause.

If revolutionaries in Tunisia and Egypt had been able to join forces with their counterparts in Libya and collectively bring down Gaddafi, that would have been the dream combination. But it couldn’t happen — or at least, it couldn’t happen soon enough.

And the idea that the Arab democratic revolution is now over because of Western intervention in Libya, conveniently skirts over the implications that Gaddafi’s victory might have for the wider revolution.

The Western intervention of the most dangerous and insidious form would be Western non-intervention as autocratic regimes, emboldened by Gaddafi’s success in crushing the Libyan revolution, followed in his footsteps and crushed revolts across the region while the US quietly took comfort in the restoration of “stability.”

Now that the Obama administration has veered off its previously steady and passive response to the region’s uprisings, the remaining regimes have become more — not less — vulnerable. Hence the Arab League’s support for Res. 1973. The Gulf states are desperate to demonstrate how supposedly different they are from Gaddafi because their inequities and centralization of power are so similar. Gaddafi might not indulge in the same level of gross opulence as his royal Arab counterparts, but he shares their fear of political freedom.

Maybe Benghazi is not populated by failed revolutionaries but the failure comes from the outside through a projection of revolutionary aspirations by those who are disappointed by the lack of revolutionary tendencies in their own societies.

The driving force behind the Arab democratic revolution in Libya and elsewhere is not a lofty desire to change the world — it’s simply a hunger among ordinary people to be able to control their own lives.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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