The rush to intervene in Libya by the UN powers is because they fear the revolution not because they want to save it.
The revolutionaries have actually been fighting back effectively in the last two days. The events have been virtually unreported in the mainstream media which has largely reflected the government line that Gaddafi is on the verge of crushing Benghazi. They have reported this for two successive nights yet it has not happened.
In fact the revolutionaries have created an airforce which they did not have three days ago. Pilots have defected. They have brought down three or four Gaddafi jets. They have captured tanks and taken the surrender of hundreds of Gaddafi troops. Saif Gaddafi’s 48 hour deadline came to an end, and Benghazi Ajdabia and Misrata were all in the hands of the Libyan people. Reports today say there are no Gaddafi troops for 50 miles west of Benghazi.
So the UN rush to intervene is to get control of the situation before the example of popular power that is Benghazi turns the tables on Gaddafi. If the Libyan revolution were to win without the West’s aid then no dictator, even one willing to use murderous force, even in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, would be safe. And that is the last thing that the West’s leaders want.
What are the West up to? After failure in Iraq and Afghanistan the West want to rehabilitate the ‘humanitarian intervention’ argument. They want to get a foothold in fast developing Arab revolutions which have so shaken the imperial architecture of the Middle East.
And on the domestic front they want to whip up the chauvinism that always attends war. How marvelous for Obama if all eyes shift from Wisconsin to the USAF in Libya. How terrific for David Cameron if all eyes shift away from the great TUC anti-cuts demo on the 26th March to the RAF flying over Tripoli.
But as the jets bomb the Libyan people, with the inevitable ‘collateral damge’ that will cause, as liberation passes from the hands of the Libyans to the hands of the Western powers, it will be working people here and in Libya who are the losers. On the one hand, Libyan nationalism may bolster Gaddafi, and on the other the Gulf autocracies, who back the action, will be strengthened.
That is why we must do all we can to stop this military intervention in Libya. Our cry must be ‘Stop the bombing, victory to the Libyan revolution’.
John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher), ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German) and The Leveller Revolution. He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.