Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Stand Against Imperialism
2016 Thursday 15TH
by Morning Star in Editorial

COMMONS foreign affairs committee members are justifiably scathing in condemning David Cameron’s role in the 2011 bombing of Libya into chronic chaos.

But they are guilty too of washing their hands, Pontius Pilate-style, of a crisis they played a part in creating.

When Cameron asked MPs to support military action in Libya, in accordance with UN resolution 1973, designating the Muammar Gadaffi regime “a threat to international peace and security,” they voted 557-13 in support.

The 15 anti-bombing MPs, including two tellers, were Tory John Baron, Green Caroline Lucas, SDLP members Mark Durkan and Margaret Ritchie and just 11 Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell voted against, with Dennis Skinner, Graham Allen, Ronnie Campbell, Barry Gardiner, Roger Godsiff, Linda Riordan, Mike Wood, Katy Clark and Yasmin Qureshi.

The criticism hurled at Cameron now is that he ventured beyond the original goal of humanitarian intervention to protect anti-Gadaffi rebels in Benghazi from slaughter, stumbling into regime change.

Some MPs who backed the motion will, doubtless, explain that, with hindsight, they might have voted differently.

Hindsight is not the issue. It was inability to analyse what was taking place before their very eyes and, for Labour MPs in particular, failure to take a stand against imperialist domination.

Popular uprisings for democracy had already broken out in Tunisia and Egypt against pro-Western despots Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, encouraging activity by other elements dubbed the Arab Spring.

Western powers were initially taken unawares but reacted quickly to minimise real change, embracing new allies and encouraging protests against leaders it saw as untrustworthy.

Gadaffi was one such. His nationalism saw him play off the West against China and Russia, despite fostering mutually beneficial ties with Britain under Tony Blair to end sanctions against Libya in return for gas contracts.

The Libyan leader had supported South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and backed, however erratically, African and Arab unity.

The uprising against him had its sponsors in Western capitals but, more particularly, in the feudal dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and elsewhere, which exerted pressure for the Arab League to petition the UN security council for “humanitarian” intervention.

Only the willingly gullible — 557 in the House of Commons for a start — could accept unquestioningly that Gadaffi, who, for all his faults, had never massacred Libyans, was planning to do so in Benghazi or that West-aligned sheikhdoms and monarchies were concerned with Libyan democratic rights.

There was no humanitarian consideration. The real issues were regime change and military-economic power.

The Stop the War Coalition argued that imposing a no-fly zone, bombing military defences and Libyan troops would “not bring peace to Libya nor a resolution to the conflict there.”

It highlighted the “dangerous futility of trying to impose regime change from without,” warning that Nato powers, including Britain, were intent on snuffing out Arab revolutions and “leaving the essentials of imperial power in the Middle East in place.” Yet some Labour notables claim to detect in bombing campaigns against Arab countries a reflection of the international solidarity exuded by International Brigaders who left Britain in the 1930s to fight against fascism in Spain.

The greatest gaping hole in British Labour politics is its inability to analyse and counter imperialism.

No-one should be amazed when ruling class parties back overseas wars to control resources and impose regional hegemony and, when these adventures go wrong, to pick a scapegoat.

The working class has a right after Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria to expect a more principled and analytical approach and to demand that those elected to represent the class act accordingly.

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