The mere fact that Gaddafi has been served notice that continued military operations will bring reprisals has not been sufficient to persuade him to implement a unilateral ceasefire which he already promised. Benghazi is currently under attack.
Meanwhile, as missiles are coming down on the last refuge of the Libyan revolution, a strange message is going out to the people whose lives are still threatened by Gaddafi’s forces. Social activists and members of the anti-war movement want the revolutionaries to know that they feel betrayed and let down!
There are people in places like Montreal and Chicago who have dedicated their lives — or at least careers, or blogs, or speaking tours — to challenging the mighty forces of Western imperialism, and then the folks in Benghazi hand out an open invitation for NATO to come along and rescue them. Unforgivable!
Max Forte writes:
Elements of the rebel leadership have stained their own name, and stained their revolution. That is inescapable now. But what is damaging to all of us is the narrow, self-centered, provincialism of what is clearly a neo-colonial elite of former regime insiders serving as self-appointed “representatives of the Libyan people,” elites who like the neo-colonized, depend on aid from abroad as part of their self-fulfillment. Cheering for what will be a NATO-led operation, is a validation and legitimation of that organization, and in a time when budgets for education, health, public works, and programs for the poor are all being slashed across the West, they help to validate the need for maintaining heavy military spending. Nobody is out in the streets cheering universities and hospitals, but apparently they are out in the street cheering the bomb. Their provincialism was displayed in their lack of solidarity, or even passing concern, with social justice and anti-war activists in the West, in cases berating those of us who felt we should have a voice — these are, after all, our planes, our bombs, and our political leaders — because all we needed to know was that “Libyans” asked for this intervention. If that is a reflection of the kind of political work and solidarity-building they did at home, then no wonder they had to turn to artificial, prosthetic solutions. Not just the anti-war movement, and the anti-secrecy movement, will be damaged here, as the clock is turned back to 2003 — it is the very meaning of “revolutionary,” which can now be made to include those who would be clients of imperial patrons.
So, the current predicament of the Libyan revolution is not the result of the brutality of the regime and its oppressive rule, but because of its second-rate revolutionary leaders, their lack of political skill and their deficiencies in solidarity-building?
I guess the “fall” of the Libyans actually took place the first day they started shooting back and revealed that they lacked Gandhi’s commitment to non-violence. If only they had possessed the moral strength of their Western supporters-now-turned-critics and realized that Gaddafi could be toppled with pure love.
OK, I’ll dispense with the sarcasm. The fact is, 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.