Latest post on Left Futures

NATO’s disastrous legacy in Libya

Map_Libya_BBC_1There is almost an air of desperation in the recent unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2259 that seeks to bring together a critical mass of Libyan factions and actors  to support a new unity government of national accord that will oversee a peace process.

Libya’s new Presidency Council will form a government within 30 days of the UN resolution, and the resolution stipulates that this government will be the only authority recognized as sovereign by other states, but with no consequences for states that ignore that stipulation. Currently, in addition to the myriad militias and warlord factions in Libya, there are two rival “governments” in Libya, the House of Representatives based in Tobruk, and the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

The prospects of the new government of National Accord can be judged by the fact that on 15 December, Agila Saleh Essa Gwaider and Nouri Abusahmain, presidents of the House and the GNC respectively, met in Malta in an attempt to broker an alternative deal that excludes international actors, and they have both refused to endorse the UN deal; indeed many other politicians and militias still remain outside and opposed to the process. The alternative proposal intends to form a new temporary legislative body composed of GNC members and 100 tribal leaders from the eastern region. [Abdel Qader Huweili, a member of the GNC] told Middle East Eye that the latter would be selected through the sponsorship of the tribes “to maintain the Libya unity”.

The UN itself has been widely discredited following the revelation of emails proving that the UN’s special envoy to Libya until November, Bernadino Leon, had been effectively working as an agent of the UAE, and far from being an honest broker, was following the UAE’s agenda seeking to promote the House of Representatives and delegitimize the GNC. Since he left his UN post he has been appointed to a highly remunerated position in UAE.

The situation in Libya is beyond catastrophic. For example, Abdul Hakeam Al-Yamany reports how in the Eastern city of Benghazi the health service faces complete collapse, with 60% of the hospitals completely closed, and the remaining health centres unable to meet even the basic needs of the population. Benghazi Medical Center, with only 260 beds, is now the only hospital serving a metropolitan district of 1.1 million people.

“The security situation is now even worse than what we saw during the Libyan Revolution four years ago,” said Leon Tombo, a Philippine national and a nurse in the emergency room of the Benghazi Medical Center, in May 2015. He added, “I will resign at the end of this month, and many of my colleagues have already left. We are no longer safe inside the hospital; bombs and bullets are hitting the building, and a number of my colleagues have been injured in these attacks.”

In another report Al-Yamany, describes how the education sector has collapsed.

Over a year ago, on May 16, 2014, General Khalifa Haftar launched the so-called Operation Dignity against extremist militias in Benghazi. Since that time, the city has been engulfed in an armed battle that has ravaged its infrastructure, destroyed most of its institutions, and led to the displacement of entire neighborhoods of the city. The crisis has particularly affected the education sector in Benghazi. Only 60 of the 400 schools in the city escaped damage and are able to accept students. … …

Mohammed al-Barghathi, a 12-year-old from the [Banina neighborhood, which has largely been destroyed], added, “My friends and I tried to clean our school multiple times so that it could be used for education, but the random shelling continues to fall on our region. Three of my friends died when they stepped on an unexploded shell hidden in the school yard.”

Meanwhile, the schools in safer neighborhoods have mostly been transformed into shelters for internally displaced persons who have left their homes in nearby areas of conflict. The Benghazi Crisis Committee is trying hard to develop solutions to displaced persons using the schools as temporary housing until the war ends in the city. Essam al-Hamali, the official in charge of social affairs in the Benghazi Crisis Committee, said, “We have 13,000 displaced families in Benghazi. We have temporarily placed them in schools located in relatively safe areas, because we have no other place to house them.”

General Khalifa Hifter is a onetime confidante of Muammar el-Qaddafi, now turned warlord leader, who is waging war on the Jihadis in Benghazi. The conflict has taken on the aspect of a war economy typical of failed states, where armed conflict has “destroyed the local legitimate economy so that many people have no other source of income except through joining an armed group, and in which access to resources depends on violence”

As Frederic Wehrey recounts:

Many of the pro-Hifter forces — their leaders say anywhere from 40 to 80 percent — are in fact neighborhood militias. The struggle in some areas has taken on a vicious familial and even ethnic quality, marked by the settling of ancient scores, between the east’s Bedouin Arab tribes and families from western Libya, some of whom have distant ties to Turkey. “This is about fighting the Turks and Freemasons,” the leader of one tribal militia told me. Another described children as young as 14 or 15 fighting in his ranks. I heard stories of summary executions of prisoners, forcible eviction of families and destruction of property.

Ultraconservative Salafists are said to be among the most competent fighters in General Hifter’s ranks; they too fight out of local and sometimes tribal solidarity, confounding the notion that this is a purely ideological war between secularists and Islamists.

On the other side, the composition is equally murky. To be sure, the Islamic State is present and growing. But one military critic of General Hifter, who wishes to remain anonymous, estimates that many of the opposing fighters are not hardened jihadists, but youths from Benghazi’s marginalized families who got caught up with Islamist militias and are now looking for a way to stop fighting.

The UK government published a summary in July:

Armed groups on all sides of the conflict have disregarded civilians and committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and violations and abuses of human rights, including abductions, extrajudicial executions, unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment. Armed groups have targeted Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) seeking to document and denounce such violations and abuses. Moderates who have supported the UN-facilitated efforts for a ceasefire and political dialogue have also been targeted by armed groups. … …

A series of savage attacks by extremists took place during the reporting period. In January at least 9 people, including 5 foreign nationals, were killed in a terrorist attack on an international hotel in Tripoli. In February, ISIL-affiliated terrorists claimed responsibility for the abduction and beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians, prompting retaliatory air strikes on Dernah by Egypt. In February, nine were killed in an attack at Mabruk oilfield southeast of Sirte, and three oil workers were kidnapped. On 6 March, terrorists killed eight oil workers and kidnapped nine workers at Al Ghani oilfield, south east of Tripoli. Car bomb attacks in public areas in Tripoli, Tobruk and Benghazi caused many casualties. In April 2015, two groups of Ethiopian Christians were executed by ISIL in Libya in two locations. … …

The UN, NGOs, and the media reported summary executions by a Sharia “court” in Dernah, and killings of security officials and current and former civil servants including judges, HRDs, media workers, and a female member of the General National Congress. …

Armed militias, mostly from Misrata, continued to prevent about 40,000 residents of Tawergha, Tomina, and Karareem from returning to their homes as a form of collective punishment for crimes allegedly committed by some Tawergha residents during the 2011 revolution. Those displaced continued to seek safety and shelter in makeshift camps and private housing in many areas, but they remained subject to attack, harassment, and arbitrary detention by the militias … …

The condition of prisons and treatment of prisoners under the jurisdiction of the different sides in the conflict remained a serious concern throughout this period. HRDs continued to report arbitrary detentions, mistreatment, torture and extrajudicial killings in detention centres on all sides.

Libya has, since 2011, suffered a collapse of civic infrastructure, with the health and education sectors decimated, with the productive, peacetime economy replaced by brigandage, and with a catastrophic collapse of womens’ rights. The rule of law has completely collapsed, with all parties in Libya refusing to cooperate with jurisdiction of tthe International Criminal Court: for example, the trial that resulted in the death sentence for Saif Islam Gaddafi was held in absentia as he himself is rotting in a extra-judicial militia run prison, and no prosecution evidence was presented, the court moved straight to judgement. Even by 2012 the UN was reporting

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay … raised concerns about detainees being held by revolutionary forces, saying there were some 8,500 prisoners in about 60 centres.

“The majority of detainees are accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and include a large number of sub-saharan, African nationals,” she said. “The lack of oversight by the central authority creates an environment conducive to torture and ill treatment”

What is therefore odd, is that supporters of the NATO intervention which destroyed the Libyan state don’t accept that the adventure was misjudged.

In October 2011, Seumus Milne described in the Guardian how the NATO intervention had been a disaster. I refer to Milne as he has become a bête noir of the pro-war lobby.

In response, Daniel Knowles wrote in the Telegraph:

In Milne’s view, without Nato’s support, Gaddafi would have entered Benghazi, murdered a few thousand people and order would have been restored. In actuality, without Western support, Libya either would have endured a much longer and more brutal civil war (with a much stronger chance that the most violent rebels would win out), or else it would have finished with Gaddafi still in power, only now forced to use far more repressive measures to maintain his grip. …

It is absolutely in the West’s interests to overthrow despotic, disgusting regimes like those of Gaddafi, and to encourage more pluralistic, liberal ones in their place. It is also good for those people, who now have a chance to build a better society.

Already when Knowles wrote this, the promise of a “better society”, was a macabre insult to the tens of thousands of lives broken by a society teetering on the abyss, as the state was destroyed and rival militias fought over the spoils. It has become a lazy caricature of those seeking to hold to account the folly of British military misadventures that this is due to knee jerk “anti-imperialism”, but perhaps as a Conservative Knowles might reflect on the wisdom of Edmund Burke in his reflections on the French Revolution.

The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please. We ought to see what it will please them to do before we risk congratulations, which may soon be turned into complaints. Prudence would dictate this in the case of separate insulated private men; but liberty when men act in bodies is power. Considerate people before they declare themselves will observe the use which is made of power; and particularly of so trying a thing as new  power in new persons, of whose principles, tempers and dispositions, they have little or no experience.

More extraordinary is that as recently as October 2015, the Labour Party’s own cheerleader for war, Kate Godfrey, wrote in the Telegraph that

I was in Libya as Colonel Gaddafi very deliberately fostered a refugee crisis in which thousands of people died on ghost transports, on buses and on trucks that couldn’t take the strain of their carriage. Gaddafi was opening up passes to Africa’s south in a great scheme to blackmail the EU. I was there as the migrants died of thirst. But really they died of a vindictive, bloody blackmailing policy. They died because of Gaddafi.

Seumas Milne says the Nato intervention in Libya is “a catastrophic failure”. He thinks that Gaddafi would never have enacted a brutal repression against the protesters of the Arab Spring. He thinks that “if there were global justice, Nato would be in the dock over Libya.” I was there, and Milne was not, and Milne is wrong.

He is wrong on Libya, and he will be wrong on Syria

Elsewhere, Godfrey wrote

The Gaddafi regime fell in weeks – as it were always going to fall. Within three days of the start of anti-government protests, the opposition were in charge of the country’s second capital, Benghazi. Six weeks and UN Security Council Resolution 1973 had been adopted, a no-fly zone was in place, and a coalition of 27 states from Europe and the Middle East sent in strikes against pro-government forces.

Six months after the start of protests and Tripoli fell. Gaddafi died, and Libya disintegrated into areas under control by separate more-or-less Islamist militias. And this is more-or-less where Libya remains.

Why?

Because Libya was never a cohesive country. It was, and is, barely a country at all but a scattering of six million people in a vast desert, with almost all of them concentrated in a thin coastal strip. The capital, Tripoli sits at the top left, the second city – and virtually the second capital – Benghazi, at the top right. With the exception of that coastal strip, the rest is sand, and one-Toyota towns.

During Gaddafi’s day the powerful kept an occasional politic presence in Tripoli and dwelt in their tribal areas and in loathing. The moment they had the opportunity to go after Gaddafi, they went after him. Given the intensity of feeling, the three days to take Benghazi looks restrained.

There was no depth to the Libyan state. The only question was, would the regime have the chance to use their control of the air? … …

People say Libya under Gaddafi worked. It was a police state. It was a wretched grey murder-state with basic dental. I spent a lot of time there, and I saw hunger, and fear, and Mukhabarat, and those on the good days.

At the best of times, Gaddafi’s regime was a stretched and grubby sticking plaster over a country that didn’t work.

There was no Save the Dictator option, and neither should there have been.

I lack Ms Godfrey’s talent for divining the opinions of the population of an entire country.

Nor can I speak for her experience of meeting people in Libya who were hungry, but according to theUnited Nations Human Development Index (HDI), in 2010 Libya had the highest HDI in the African continent, and in 2012 had a GDP of $US 14000 per capita, equating to a spending power per head of $11900; the highest standard of living in Africa. Libya under Gaddafi also had free health care and education, around a quarter of the population were university educated, and more than half of graduates were women.

As Hugh Roberts explained in the London Review of Books in 2012

The socio-economic achievements of the regime can be attributed essentially to the distributive state: that is, the success of the hydrocarbons sector and of the mechanisms put in place early on to distribute petrodollars.

The comic opera absurdity of the so-called Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya, the puppet uniforms, and Gaddafi’s Bedouin chic did indeed provide a grotesque façade for a state that endorsed and encouraged terrorism, and brutal internal repression. It was a particularly absent state, lacking any political party or parties, and while it had a functioning bureaucracy with some degree of popular participation, it had neither the culture nor institutions for allowing political differences to be aired or resolved. We need to understand that the murder, torture and repression of political opponents is the attribute not of a strong state, but of a weak state.

The stronger state is one where there is sufficient culture of respect for the rule of law in civil society; political institutions that allow the resolution of disputes; and the willingness of governments to renounce power to their political opponents via constitutional means. Constitutionality is the hallmark of a state whose sovereignty rests upon popular consent.

Godfrey’s argument fails on a number of particulars. Firstly, she fails to distinguish between the stability of the Libyan state, and the particular expression of the government of that state. Governments and states are not the same thing, and governments can be changed by political process while still maintaining states. The military action by NATO in assistance of the rebels destroyed the state itself, and thereby destroyed the monopoly of armed force from the state and also the bureaucratic institutions which allowed the administrative and distributive economic functions of the Libyan state to function for its population. Even a repressive state plays a public safety role through excluding other actors from exercising war and brigandage on its territory.

Speaking in June 2015, the Tunisian Human Rights activist Amira Yahyaoui, emphasized the importance of public safety:

Security is a top priority. [Tunisia is] a very small country threatened by al Qaeda from Algeria and [the Islamic State] from Libya — that’s a huge mess, right? And more than that, one of the keys of success of Tunisia is that we don’t have Egypt’s military. Ben Ali was a dictator, and he made the choice to weaken the military, to avoid a military coup. But it’s now becoming a huge problem. Today the Tunisian military is really unequipped. The terrorists are very tech-y today, they use social media to organize, so this is one of the reasons I’m doing this.

But the second reason is that, for human rights activists, security is a taboo. Security means you are anti-human rights. But that gives space to those who are not very keen on human rights to take care of this topic. I think that people from a human rights background should be more involved in security issues, and stop thinking that security is a taboo. If we want to defend people’s rights, the first thing we need to defend is their right to live and not to die. That’s the first step.

Godfrey is blasé about the collapse of the Libyan state, saying that it was inevitable. It was only inevitable once NATO destroyed the armed forces defending that state. This created the security vacuum that was itself a human rights catastrophe greater than any furious dogs of war that Gaddafi could let slip.

She is also simply wrong that there was not a political alternative. Arguably the NATO intervention curtailed any prospect of a process in Libya leading to a stable resolution. It is worth quoting Roberts at length:

The claim that the ‘international community’ had no choice but to intervene militarily and that the alternative was to do nothing is false. An active, practical, non-violent alternative was proposed, and deliberately rejected. The argument for a no-fly zone and then for a military intervention employing ‘all necessary measures’ was that only this could stop the regime’s repression and protect civilians. Yet many argued that the way to protect civilians was not to intensify the conflict by intervening on one side or the other, but to end it by securing a ceasefire followed by political negotiations.

A number of proposals were put forward. The International Crisis Group, for instance, where I worked at the time, published a statement on 10 March arguing for a two-point initiative: (i) the formation of a contact group or committee drawn from Libya’s North African neighbours and other African states with a mandate to broker an immediate ceasefire; (ii) negotiations between the protagonists to be initiated by the contact group and aimed at replacing the current regime with a more accountable, representative and law-abiding government. This proposal was echoed by the African Union and was consistent with the views of many major non-African states – Russia, China, Brazil and India, not to mention Germany and Turkey. It was restated by the ICG in more detail (adding provision for the deployment under a UN mandate of an international peacekeeping force to secure the ceasefire) in an open letter to the UN Security Council on 16 March, the eve of the debate which concluded with the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1973.

In short, before the Security Council voted to approve the military intervention, a worked-out proposal had been put forward which addressed the need to protect civilians by seeking a rapid end to the fighting, and set out the main elements of an orderly transition to a more legitimate form of government, one that would avoid the danger of an abrupt collapse into anarchy, with all it might mean for Tunisia’s revolution, the security of Libya’s other neighbours and the wider region. The imposition of a no-fly zone would be an act of war: as the US defense secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress on 2 March, it required the disabling of Libya’s air defences as an indispensable preliminary. In authorising this and ‘all necessary measures’, the Security Council was choosing war when no other policy had even been tried.

The proposal for a cease fire and negotiations could not allow the absent state model of the jamahiriyya, to survive. The jamahiriyya lacked the civic institutions and political traditions to engage in negotiations, and so would have needed to generate them. There is evidence that the jamahiriyya was reformable, and the compelling impetus of a peace process would have accelerated support for the reforming current led by Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, who had been previously praised by among others Tony Blair, and was well placed to use the crisis to its advantage to create civic institutions. This option needed to be explored, and powerful voices within the African Union were urging Gaddafi to participate.

As Hugh Roberts explains:

It was the fashion some years ago in circles close to the Blair government – in the media, principally, and among academics – to talk up Saif al-Islam’s commitment to reform and it is the fashion now to heap opprobrium on him as his awful father’s son. Neither judgment is accurate, both are self-serving. Saif al-Islam had begun to play a significant and constructive role in Libyan affairs of state, persuading the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to end its terrorist campaign in return for the release of LIFG prisoners in 2008, promoting a range of practical reforms and broaching the idea that the regime should formally recognise the country’s Berbers. While it was always unrealistic to suppose that he could have remade Libya into a liberal democracy had he succeeded his father, he certainly recognised the problems of the Jamahiriyya and the need for substantial reform. The prospect of a reformist path under Saif was ruled out by [NATO’s intervention].

Paradoxically, because the rebellion arose in the Libyan context without pre-existing civic and political institutions, the opposition also needed time to coalesce and develop. The military victory of NATO not only ruled out reform of the jamahiriyya, but it also ruled out the opposition going through the process of political evolution and clarification, the development of institutions, mechanisms of accountablity and self-discipline. The state was destroyed without anything else to fill the void.

Back in 2014, Thomas Friedman argued in the New York Times that the wave of global protests – what he calls the “square people” has broadly been contained at the level of protest.

Behind massive street demonstrations there is rarely a well-oiled and more-permanent organization capable of following up on protesters’ demands and undertaking the complex, face-to-face, and dull political work that produces real change in government. This is the important point made by Zeynep Tufekci, a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, who writes that ‘Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.’

It is worth considering how Tunisia became an exception, again to quote Friedman:

Daniel Brumberg, a democracy expert at Georgetown University and the United States Institute of Peace, points out that the most successful Square People in the Arab world, who forged a whole new constitution, are in Tunisia, which is the Arab country that had “the most robust civil society institutions — especially a powerful labor union federation, as well as business, human rights and lawyers associations — that could arbitrate between the secular and religious factions,” who had come together in the square to oust Tunisia’s dictator. Tunisia also benefited from an army that stayed out of politics and the fact that the secular and Islamist forces had a balance of power, requiring them to be inclusive of one another.

The crucial feature in the development of stable political institutions is that they have legitimacy based upon popular engagement. Respect for the rule of law, especially constitutionality, cannot be imposed from outside; and even the successful German experience was domestically driven, in conjunction with protracted nation building support by the occupying powers. Conspicuous successes in conflict resolution, for example the end of South African Apartheid, or the process started by the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland, have involved long term commitment from the protagonists themselves to resolve their differences.

Kate Godfey is quite explicit that she believes that those like myself and Seumus Milne who argue that NATO’s intervention in Libya was a failure are wrong. She therefore presumably believes it was a success.

It is therefore worth comparing her views with those of Sir John Sawers, who was Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, for five years until November 2014.

“When crisis erupted in Libya, we didn’t feel it right to sit by as Gaddafi crushed decent Libyans demanding an end to dictatorship.

“But we didn’t want to get embroiled in Libya’s problems by sending in ground forces. After Gaddafi was ousted, no-one held the ring to help manage a transition to something better … …

“Libya had no institutions. Who or what would take over? The answer? Those with the weapons. Result? Growing chaos, exploited by fanatics.”

James Robbins, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent comments on Sir John’s views as follows:

Most foreign policy analysts seem to agree that the major Western powers, Britain included, are now caught in a sort of policy no-man’s land between intervention and non-intervention.

Politicians are trying to satisfy citizens who continue to expect security and protection, but who also seem increasingly unwilling to tolerate the sort of defence spending that protection might require, and, more importantly, the scale of sacrifice in soldiers’ lives which ground combat inevitably brings.

What Libya got was neither full intervention nor complete non-intervention, but a sort of limited intervention.

That limited intervention, sanctioned by the UN, led by David Cameron for Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy for France, was based on the new-ish doctrine of the “Responsibility to Protect”. … …

The huge difficulty with limited intervention, of course, is the unpredictability of outcomes.

That fickle and unfathomable “law of unintended consequences” delivered catastrophic results in Libya.

Western policy relied on maintaining the unity of anti-Gaddafi forces once they had dealt with their shared enemy.

Light-touch Western efforts to help Libyans put aside their tribal and factional differences forever and embrace power-sharing through representative government based on national unity, have comprehensively collapsed.

The doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (RtP) is certainly not an unchallenged one, and it is viewed by – for example – India, China and Russia with some skepticism. At the heart of RtP is the concept that state sovereignty is constrained, and that it can be lawful for another state to intervene to avoid humanitarian disaster. Certainly, using examples of the Rwandan genocide, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia, it is clear that outside military intervention can be a necessity, though there should be a high threshold of violence to overcome, an emphasis on caution, the exploration and preference of non-military options, consensus and shared responsibility through the UNSC, the involvement and indeed primacy of regional actors, and follow through and civic and economic capacity building to ensure that the outcome is not a failed state.

The prime difficulty is that the type of military action advocated as a success in Libya by Kate Godfrey was one that would almost inevitably lead to disaster. Whatever the merits of the exercise of RtP in any particular instance, any resulting military action needs to be integrated in a workable political system that works towards stable outcomes.

Warfare is a brutal business. Von Clauswitz famously observed that war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means. Just contemplating the incongruity of this statement with the modern reality of wars involving warlord polities like ISIL, and the descent into anarchy, reveals an entire sea change from war as traditionally understood in Europe as the organized exercise of violence by states in pursuit of political aims.

The exclusion of non-state actors as legitimate participants in war derived in Europe from the widespread introduction of firearms, but in particular through the social codification of laws of war, derived from Huigh de Groot’s (Grotius) work “The Laws of War and Peace”, that became adopted across Europe by professional practitioners of war, seeing the mutual benefit of self restraint. Even from the outset, Grotius’s work was ignored during the expansion of European powers into the colonies, and was later challenged by the citizen armies of the Napoleonic era and increasing destructive power of armaments; but for some extensive period, the exercise of military power was regarded as deliberately conservative of social stability.

Whereas seventeenth Europe, particularly Germany, had endured war of the same brutal totality as consumes, for example, modern Syria, the military historian, Robert O’Connell, observed that the codification of rules of war meant that “for two centuries these men succeeded in capturing and integrating the gun into a workable political system”.

What NATO’s intervention into Libya reveals is an exercise of military might where the means do not match the will; and that was socially regressive in destroying the institutions of social stability thus destroying the civic foundations of a peacetime economy. In so doing, it has allowed the creation of a war economy, where access to economic resources is directly dependent upon the exercise of violence. Such a breakdown of civil society and public safety are exactly the conditions into which a warlord polity like ISIL can advance. Indeed, while other Jihadi actors like Boko Haram are merely franchise holders of so-called Islamic State (ISIL), according to the UN, ISIL in Libya is integrated with their confederates in Iraq and Syria.

NATO’s action did not locate itself within a framework of seeking political stability, and indeed it undermined and forestalled a political peace process from the African Union. Indeed, contemporary with the Libyan war, the state of Bahrain unleashed a wave of repression not dissimilar to that which prompted NATO intervention in Libya. The British government took precisely the opposite view to that which they took in Libya, believing that political stability in Bahrain outweighed other considerations, and that reform could be encouraged through dialogue and engagement.

Military action should never be engaged in unless there are clear, realizable political objectives, that the risks are considered, where there are clear exit conditions, and where the consequences of failure as well as the consequences of success are factored into the decisions. What is more, embarking on war where the military means and will are insufficient, and are known to be insufficient at the outset, to ensure that the political objectives can be met guarantees failure. What is more, any exercise of RtP must ensure commitment to a political process that emphasizes social stability as an outcome – destroying states and letting anarchy reign may satisfy the liberal interventionists, but the left is right to oppose and hold such vanities to account.

56 Comments

  1. James Martin says:

    Libya was country number 3 from the 7 countries the USA/NATO were going to “take down” in 5 years according to Gen Wesley Clarke, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (so he should know): http://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166

    And it is always worth looking again at Cameron’s 2011 hand-over to ISIS (Libyan Branch) speech in Benghazi to see how this idiocy is playing out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_OFaE19myg – although you expect this from Tories like Cameron, far harder to accept are those Labour MPs and others on the left who also went along with the total destruction and partition of yet another country following a visit from the unaccountable supra-state of NATO.

  2. John Penney says:

    Such a ponderously long article from Andy Newman, which has really only one purpose – to support the continued existence of gross , murderously repressive family and clan dictatorships of the “socialistic” Assad regime type, via a selective review of the destruction of the similar Gaddafi kleptocratic dictatorship ?

    Andy claims that it was NATO intervention which destroyed the “Libyan state”. But in fact there never was a “Libyan state” under the mercurial Gaddafi dictatorship, in the sense of a separate state machine and a much wider Civil Society, into which the majority of the citizens of that polity bought in. The Gaddafi dictatorship was always determined to preside over a comprehensively atomised society, with regional and clan factions constantly played off against each other.

    The early stages of Libya’s “Arab Spring” were put down with the same blood-soaked brutality as was the case in Assad’s Syria. The “state” and the Gaddafi personality cult were inseparable. A people deliberately atomised and repressed for decades were not , as it turned out, capable of building from scratch a viable unitary state form on a democratic basis.

    So what should NATO have done as the Gaddafi army entered Benghazi as the rebellion started to collapse ? If NATO wasin reality the undifferentiated single unitary “armed boot boys of the West” bloc of Far Left fantasy – always pursuing the rational (from Western imperialism’s perspective) policy route , then NATO should have done NOTHING. After all, by then the Gaddafi family were well on board with all the economic and political objectives of Western imperialism – and Saif Gaddafi was lined up to succeed his nutty father as the “rational” Western-oriented inheritor of a continuingly dictatorial Libyan state about to undergo the full neoliberal privatisation process that Syria was also .

    But NATO, led by France , by President Sarkozy, engaged in an “irrational” defence of the near defeated rebels. Why ? Because Western imperialism, and it’s NATO fighting arm ISN’T always the unitary bloc of Far Left fantasy. It is a shambolic grouping of powers, with diverging interests and diverse national interpretations of those interests – and they are , vitally, Bourgeois democratic states. this means that “public opinion” and the capitalist mass media as it interacts with this , can swing parts of this imperialist bloc into actions that are impulsive, even humanitarian, in motive.

    In fact, led by Sarkozy’s France, NATO carried out a , essentially capitalistically irrational, campaign which did indeed destroy the Libyan Gaddafi dictatorship , and its totally interwoven state repressive organs (there were no genuine institutions of Civil Society). The reasons for this “irrational” NATO action are many – partly Public opinion wanting to support rebels against a crazed , murderous dictator, partly Western Imperialism misreading the power of the masses involved in the “Arab Spring” to overthrow their dictators for good – and wanting to be on the winning side. Whatever the complex motivations – NATO’s support of the rebellion destroyed the dictatorship, but the West was then unable politically to provide the support necessary to assist the emerging democratic forces in Libya to build a coherent new political structure.

    Libya at present is a warlord-dominated mess. But , the dominant Left mantra of “let’s always leave vicious dictatorships (if they are on the old soviet era foreign ministry list of soviet ally “anti Western imperialist” states) alone to repress their people as they see fit – because NATO intervention is ALWAYS a disaster” is historical bunk. In fact NATO intervention to institute a No Fly Zone in Iraq 25 years ago saved hundreds of thousands of Kurds from Saddam Hussein’s genocidal attacks. And the NATO very late ion the day interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo stopped the Milosevic Regime’s genocide and ethnic cleansing of its Muslim populations. And today US intervention with close air support has freed Kurdish Kobane and many other Kurdish territories from murderous Daesh occupation. These “wins” for NATO intervention of course have to be weighed against the utter regional disaster arising from the US-led invasion of Iraq, and a host of other mega disastrous consequences of Western imperialist intervention over many generations. But the point is that the simplistic mantra of “no intervention by the West” is both far too crude a motto to apply in a complex real world, and is all to convenient a cover for the profound Stalinist undercurrent within the Left which is happy , for instance, to turn a blind eye to the ongoing atrocities of the Syrian Assad regime and its Putinist Russian imperialist allies.

    The Left needs to set aside its rigid, naïve, blanket, posturing mantras on Western intervention – which simply alienate us from the mass of UK public opinion – and look at each conflict situation from the perspective of which action will save the most real live people, and is likely to have the most progressive outcome. That most of the Left in the UK cannot today even bear to discuss the plight of the Kurdish People as they continue their generations long struggle for national self determination – in the face of the murderous clerico-fascists of Daesh . Because to recognise their need for close air support , would destroy the rigidity of the simplistic mantra of “no ,under any circumstances, to intervention from Western forces” , shows just what an ideological blind alley the USSR soviet era-sourced “stalino-marxist” crap politics of much of the current Left in the international politics arena has led us into.

    Andy Newman’s entire extraordinarily long , rambling article’s overarching purpose is actually just to reinforce the grossly simplistic ,blanket, “no intervention”, mantra – and provide cover for the continued atrocities of the Assad regime and their Russian allies.

    1. James Martin says:

      Nearly a thousand words to say ‘I’m John Penney, and I’m a supporter of NATO’ 🙂

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        ….and he even moans about the length of Andy’s piece!

        These right-wingers are bonkers!

  3. Karl Stewart says:

    Excellent article Andy, NATO intervention destroyed Libya, as it destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan, in each instance putting jihadists into power. And this would be NATO’s intention in Syria too.

    And all the while telling us they’re “at war” with the jihadists!

    Good to know we’ve got excellent writers like Andy exposing their hypocrisy and hard-working broad-based campaigns such as the superb Stop the War Coalition organising and mobilising against NATO interventions.

  4. David Ellis says:

    The STWC actually demonstrated in London for the right of Mad Dog Gadaffi to obliterate Benghazi with impunity. There was no way on this planet that anybody describing themselves as remotely socialist or left could take that position. Our task was to support the revolution against the Gadaffi semi-colony which in this case meant not opposing the Western no-fly zone but encouraging the revolutionaries to take advantage (which they did) whilst being aware of false friends which the Western imperialists clearly were are and will be. The fact that the revolution was unable to sustain itself and Islamists were able to subvert and destroy it despite the fall of Gadaffi is a product of the failure of the left which supporting Gadaffi and other tyrannies in the Middle East in the name of some bogus anti-imperialism will never rectify.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      David Ellis, you’re a liar as well as an idiot.

      In 2011, StWC called for no UK military intervention in Libya and quite explicitly did NOT express any support for Gadaffi.

      StWC statements at that time consistently and repeatedly expressed opposition to and criticism and condemnation of Gadaffi.

      Personally, I admired Gadaffi. He was a brave man who fought to the bitter end and died heroically, with gun in hand.

      But that most certainly was NOT the position of StWC.

      Stop lying.

      1. John Penney says:

        Good heavens, Karl Stewart ! : “personally, I admired Gadaffi. He was a brave man who fought to the bitter end and died heroically, with a gun in his hand” !

        You are some sick puppy, Karl. Is there no murderous tyrant you don’t admire – as long as they have (or had) a large state owned sector and were on the old USSR foreign ministry list of “ally regimes” ? Gaddafi was a mercurial, egomaniac , murderous, tyrant – and it is now widely known that he was a serial rapist of young children too. His utterly dictatorial, personality cult regime, dressed up with “anti imperialist rhetoric”, and sporadic support for a few national liberation struggles that took the nutty dictator’s fancy (before he finally reached a complete rapprochement with Western Imperialism – and started to implement a radical neoliberal transformation of the previously state-owned Libyan economy), was an abomination to any socialist with an ounce of political understanding.

        Someone with your dreadful views should have no place in the Labour party. You bring it into disrepute every time you post a comment.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          I’ve never before heard the allegation that Gaddaffi was a ‘serial rapist of young children’.

          If this is true, it would completely change my opinion of him.

          1. John Penney says:

            “Never heard of the evidence (not just allegations ) of Gaddafi’s serial child abuse” , Karl ? FFS sakes man, why don’t you just Google in “Gaddafi child abuse
            ” to get a zillion well documented accounts all over the international press of his long term predilection for raping young children, of both genders” .

            There is no excuse for your selective ignorance. It’s a case of “fingers in the ears and hands over the eyes ” for any evidence getting in the way of your pernicious Stalinist political world view.

        2. gerry says:

          Karl has some very sick and twisted politics, clear for all to see in his adoration of Gadaffi. Panorama last year decisively revealed how the Libyan dictator sexually abused young girls and boys, modelling himself on Roman emperors like Caligula and Nero….

          Karl – you are presenting the most damning evidence for the prosecution: against Stop the War. Time for you to return to Counterfire or similar: Left Futures is for socialists/Labour supporters….

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            As I said above, I’ve never before heard that particular allegation against Gaddaffi. It it’s true, it would completely change my opinion of him.

            As to the Stop the War Coalition, they never made any statement in support of Gaddaffi, they made repeated statements against him.

            And yet both you and the other idiot Ellis continue to repeat the lie that StWC supported him, which is simply untrue.

      2. David Ellis says:

        Karl Stewart: you say that if the allegations against Gadaffi that he molested children or serially raped women were true you would change your mind about him. Which means you have a supportive opinion of him. Then you say it is scurrilous to accuse the StWC of something you yourself do which is support Gadaffi. You don’t even realise you are doing it. Like all Putin-loving and semi-colonial tyrant supporting neo-Stalinists you are in denial about your own politics.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          You lied about StWC’s position towards Gaddaffi. You said they supported him and they didn’t. A lie.

          My personal opinion at that time makes no difference one way or the other.

  5. Karl Stewart says:

    When I read deranged, foaming-at-the-mouth rantings like that, my heart goes out to the long-suffering Mrs Ellis and the other members of the Ellis family.

  6. swatantra says:

    NATO simply haven’t a clue about running anything. Neither have the Arabs. So it presents a bit of a dilemma for the post Cold War World. Who can you entrust the affairs of basket case States to? We may have to go back in time to the Cold War era, when some of the more feeble States were held under a close tight grip by a strong Regional Power, and everyone knew where they were, and didn’t step out of line.
    There was probably less conflict then than there is now in the World.

  7. Jim Denham says:

    Carl, if you seriously believe that the leadership of the StWC *didn’t* support Gaddafi, read this:

    http://www.stopwar.org.uk/news/libya-and-isis-has-muammar-gadaffi-had-the-last-laugh-on-all-of-us

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      JimD, But that article is not an StWC statement Jim. It’s an article by a Jordanian freelance journalist expressing clearly a personal view.

      For what it’s worth, I personally think it’s a reasonably accurate analysis, but it isn’t an StWC statement.

      At the time of the Libyan situation back in 2011, StWC leaders repeatedly expressed opposition to Gaddaffi, and support for his domestic opposition, alongside opposition to NATO intervention.

      Personally, my opinion at that time was one of support for Gaddaffi, but that was not the position of StWC.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        Karl: I’m losing patience with this speak-your-weight response to articles that appear on the StWC website: “it’s not Stop The War’s official position, just a personal statement from an individual”, etc, etc.

        Once or twice might be excusable, but it’s happened too often – far too often – for that to be a credible response.

        Interesting that you yourself admit to being a supporter of the mass-murderer Gadaffi: at last you find yourself in agreement with Blair, eh?

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          The article you linked to was written in March last year by Ahmed Barqawi. He’s not an StWC spokesperson. I’d never heard of him before.

          His article is not a representation of StWC policy. And it’s also retrospective, having been written some four years after the events it discusses.

          Only an idiot or a liar could present this piece as either StWC policy or of representing anyone’s contemporaneous view of the events of 2011 at that time.

          My personal view of those events at that time may be either right or wrong, but they’re certainly completely and utterly irrelevant to any discussion of StWC policy.

          StWC policy at that time, as repeatedly stated by Rees, German and every StWC spokesperson at that time was opposition to UK and NATO intervention, opposition also to the Gaddaffi government, and broad support for his domestic opposition.

          1. David Ellis says:

            Karl Stewart: StWC opposed an action that would help the revolution and hurt Gadaffi. They even demonstrated in London alongside this thugs as they have demonstrted alongside Assad’s thugs against it i.e. against the action that would stop Gadaffi flattening Benghazi. That is sufficient to put StWC on Mad Dog’s side.

            The correct position was not to oppose the imperialist intervention which was made for its own self-serving reasons as are all imperialist interventions but to urge the revolution to take advantage of it whilst being aware of false friends. The idea that we simply put a minus where the imperialists put a plus and call that politics is entirely bogus and its the modus operandi of the pro-Putin neo-Stalinist degenerate left. It is in short the anti-imperialism of fools and counter-revolutionaries.

          2. David Ellis says:

            Truth is you and your neo-Stalinist cronies were opposed to the Arab Spring from the start and supported the semi-colonial tyrants against it.

        2. Karl Stewart says:

          JimD, this is why you and your sad little bunch of right-wing cronies were so soundly thrashed in the discussion we had about StWC. Every single ‘argument’ you advanced proved to be simply a lie.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            Karl: you may think I’m “right wing” and have been “thrashed” in discussion: I choose to disagree with you, rather strongly. I will repeat to you what I put to a previous opponenet on this site: I’ll meet you anywhere, any time for a public debate on these issues: just contact me. I suspect that, like my previous would-be opponent you’ll crap out of such a debate, but I sincerely hope not. Let me know.

            As for my arguments against the StWC being “simplhy a lie”: grow up, man! I am not a mug-punter or a useful idiot: I know perfectly well what the politics of Rees, German and Murray are; I am also perfectly well aware of the Stalinist politics of the Morning Star, which as he Daily Worker supported the Nazis between 1939 – 1941.

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            Will your social worker be there too JimD?

          3. Karl Stewart says:

            Lying again Ellis. The StWC did NOT demonstrate in support of Gaddaffi in 2011. You’ve just invented that. The StWC demonstrated against UK military intervention, but NOT in favour of Gaddaffi.

            Here’s a statement by StWC at the time. Read it.

            http://www.stopwar.org.uk/statements/88-un-declaration-of-war-on-libya

          4. David Ellis says:

            Tis a pity you cannot read you ignorant Stalinist twat. I actually said that by demonstrating against an action that could objectively help the revolution and hurt Gadaffi who ever was conducting it put StWC on the side of Gadaffi. Simple as. If you can’t see that it is because you are in denial that you were one of Gadaffi’s stooges before he got his.

          5. Karl Stewart says:

            Ellis, do you have short-term memory loss?

            At 12.27 today, you wrote that the StWC “even demonstrated in London alongside this (Gaddaffi’s) thugs”.

            That’s a lie Ellis, at no time did StWC demonstrate in support of Gaddaffi.

          6. David Ellis says:

            There really is no helping you. Gadaffi’s thugs demonstrated alongside the StWC against Western intervention. Technically StWC were not demonstrating on behalf of Gadaffi but in reality they were upholding his right to blast Benghazi into rubble. Objectively they were doing the bidding of the Mad Dog. The left has a simple job which is to unconditionally support revolution against tyranny. We do not allow imperialism to determine our policy for us. But in any case the idea that Gadaffi or Assad are not part of the system of world imperialism but opponents of it is ludicrous. There can be no imperialism without semi-colonial tyranny and semi-colonial tyrants to run them.

          7. Nick Wright says:

            Mandela Visits Libya, Thanks Kadafi for Helping Train ANC
            May 19, 1990|From United Press International
            Email
            Share

            TRIPOLI, Libya — African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, saying, “We consider ourselves comrades in arms,” thanked Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadafi on Friday for military training he gave ANC fighters and condemned the 1986 U.S. air raids on Libya.

            About 3,000 cheering students greeted Mandela when he arrived in Tripoli from Algiers as part of an African tour he is taking with his wife, Winnie.

            The anti-apartheid leader was whisked to Kadafi’s Bedouin tent residence inside the heavily armed Azizya barracks in Tripoli.

            “You have given military training to South Africans who wanted to obtain their liberation through armed struggle,” Mandela said after embracing Kadafi outside his tent. “In our situation, as in other countries, an armed struggle is one of the most effective ways for fighting for political change in our country.

            “Your readiness to provide us with the facilities of forming an army of liberation indicated your commitment to the fight for peace and human rights in the world,” Mandela said.

            Diplomats say Libyan officials regard Mandela’s visit as a triumphant symbol of Libyan policy that will considerably boost Tripoli’s prestige in the African world.

            On the way to the meeting with Kadafi, Libyan officials stopped and showed Mandela the ruins of Kadafi’s former residence, bombed by the United States on April 15, 1986, in retaliation for terrorist attacks allegedly sponsored by the Libyan strongman.

            Mandela insisted on seeing every room in the building, which was littered with bomb shrapnel and wreckage from a downed U.S. Air Force plane.

          8. David Ellis says:

            Given how the murderous ANC regime in South Africa inevitably turned out I wouldn’t go big on the left’s roll in making sure that the South African revolution was an abortion.

  8. Jim Denham says:

    Try dealing with the politics, Karl: your attempts at humour don’t really work very well and suggest that you’re a bit inadequate.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      But a debate can only serve any meaningful purpose if it’s on the basis of real existing positions JimD, not positions you’ve invented.

      You’ve consistently presented a series of political positions as if they were StWC policy, which is simply untrue, your own invention, and then you’ve put forward arguments against these invented positions.

      It’s called lying.

      Yes we can all do it, I could invent positions attributed to you and then argue against them. It achieves absolutely nothing other than to waste each other’s time.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        I am *not* lying: assuming you’re not either, Karl, that makes you a classic useful idiot. The positions I’ve ascribed to the leadership of StW *are* their real positions, as demonstrated by the choice of material they place on their website (but which they, being the slippery Stalinists they are, can then deny responsibility for). AS I said before, I’m not a mug-punter, and I also know from first hand experience exactly what the politics of these people (Rees, German, Murray and the appaling Tariq Ali) actually is: neo-Stalinism – a crude version of revolutionary defeatism and second-campism: a million miles from Marxism and independent working class politics.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Jim, then surely you’ll also know that the four people you’ve referenced come from three different ideological traditions on the UK left, namely the SWP, CP, and IMG.

          So there isn’t a general ideological unanimity among them, and you’re profoundly mistaken to state that there is.

          And it is also profoundly mistaken of you to suggest that their ideological perspectives dominate StWC, either individually or collectively.

          There are many other ideological/philosophical traditions also represented among the STWC leadership, such as pacifism, environmentalism, and deisms of all types, none of which monopolise or dominate StWC policy-making either.

          It’s a broad, single-issue campaign.

          You might well, for example, hold serious and substantial differences with pacifists, or with some Christians, for example, but that would not be grounds for opposing StWC.

          And similarly, your serious and substantial differences with the SWP’s ideological tradition, or that of the CP or IMG are not grounds for opposing StWC either.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            “So there isn’t a general ideological unanimity among them, and you’re profoundly mistaken to state that there is”:
            Karl, they are all neo-Stalinists and second-campists, even though they’ve arrived at that destination from different starting points (Rees and Geman ex-SWP, Murray an outright Stalinist and Ali a Deutscherite from the IMG. They have all now converged upon a neo-Stalinist second-camp agenda.

        2. John Penney says:

          You make a very important point here, Jim, about the convergence of the political analysis of “imperialism” of sundry supposed Lefties and Stalinists. It is one of the ironies and tragedies of Left politics that by serpentine routes the Trot tradition (which I come from – in its more heterodox IS/SWP form) has ended up hand in hand with Stalinism. Witness the Trot-led Left’s essentially not even “critical” support for murderous tyrants as diverse as Milosevic, Assad (father and son), Gaddafi, Saddam , the Iranian Mullahs just in quite recent decades.

          All a product of generations of social and political isolation for the radical Left from any real working class roots during the long capitalist post war boom, and more recent 30 year neoliberal ascendancy.

          Crudely, much of the radical Left simply went politically bonkers during these years of isolation (and in some cases clinically bonkers – eg, the SLL/WRP).

          Unfortunately for all of us on the radical Left it is all too often these surviving Stalino-Trot political cultists who are the people now in influential positions in the Labour Party and radical Left front organisations (eg, StWC, Peoples Assembly), as the European-wide “Left Surge” represented in the UK by “Corbynism” in the LP , produces hordes on ordinary people moving Leftwards and seeking a real answer to the capitalist crisis. The potential for the Stalino-Trot politics of all too many “leading lights” on the Left today to lead these newly radicalised masses into sectarian , dictatorship supporting, diversionary politics is huge – and massively depressing. That Jeremy Corbyn has for instance appointed the unreconstructed hard line Stalinist, Seamus Milne, as his publicist/Spin Doctor, simply defies belief.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            For anyone who got bored, or dozed off after JohnP’s first 300-odd words, the short version is he’s basically very upset that the different groups on the left are working productively together in the anti-war movement.

  9. Jim Denham says:

    The incident that turned some of us against Stop The War once and for all:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/node/3281

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Oh dear ‘Workers Liberty’, a revolting organisation of scabs. Deservedly despised by everyone on the left.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        “Scabs”? That’s a serious charge. Perhaps you can back it up with some evidence, Karl? Otherwise I’ll have to say something nasty about you.

        Try dealing with the incident described in the article, while you’re at it: a true report, or not?

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          On reflection, to describe the organisation as “Scabs” is an inaccurate use of the specific industrial definition of the term. I don’t suspect it of organising strikebreaking.

          But the term “revolting” does accurately describe its politics, which are in essence a series of right-wing, neo-con positions, but cloaked in fake, pseudo-leftist terminology.

          If you are affiliated to this organisation, then that explains the objectively right-wing stance you’ve consistently taken up, supporting NATO, attacking on the anti-war movement, accusing it of supporting ‘Her Majesty’s enemies’, and dismissing the whole of the left as ‘stalinist’.

          Fortunately, the damage this organisation can do to the left is limited at this time. Thankfully, ‘workers liberty’ remains a miniscule organisation, and one which is shunned by the left as a whole.

          1. Jim Denham says:

            Karl: you are wise to have admitted your ignorance: you strike me as rather like a sma,ll boy playing with things you don’t understand. Those of us with some experience in industry and the trade union movement think carefully before using the word scab. I, for instance, believe that it *does* apply to the actions and words of the likes of Galloway, Rees and German regarding Abdullah Muhsin and the Iraqi trade union movement.

            I suggest you read the article I’ve lined to, ponder whagt it says and then have a good think before saying anything more. In other words, start educating yourself.

          2. James Martin says:

            Oh I remember that lot, or the Socialist Organiser ‘soggies’ as once was. And actually ‘scabs’ was quite near to the truth when it came to the witch hunt against Militant (I was a member of the Liverpool DLP at the time), and the behaviour of their few supporters locally was disgraceful (they virtually cheer-led the expulsions and seemed to be saying it was all Militant’s fault for their ‘rotten’ politics) which was odd given that the same thing happened to their supporters in Birkenhead around Lol Duffy who was doing a good job needling Frank Field. I always liked Lol, but he always seemed far too good for that daft sect and I never could work out why he was with them.

          3. Jim Denham says:

            Martin: you are, quite simply, a liar.

          4. Karl Stewart says:

            JimD, if we’re going to only use the term ‘scab’ in its specific industrial sense, as you yourself have insisted, do you have evidence of Galloway, Rees or German breaking a strike?

            Or are you working on the ‘Lewis Caroll’ principle that when you use a word, it means just what you choose it to mean?

        2. Jim Denham says:

          The role of German (especially) over then Iraqi trade union movement, and her role in organising the disruption of their meeting in London *was* scabbing.

      2. David Ellis says:

        The task of the neo-Stalinists like Stewart is to de-politicise the concept of anti-imperialism and turn it into a one size fits all template that can be imposed on any and every situation and thereby turned into a weapon of the counter-revolution when it does not fit. Here is how a proper Marxist politician as opposed to a petit bourgeois demagogue approached matters.

        Writing in the 1930s, what, asked Trotsky, should dock workers on strike in a fascist nation do if for some whatever self serving reason the regime wished to send arms to assist a national democratic revolution against a rival imperialist power, a rival democratic power at that? Lift their blockade and let the arms through was his emphatic answer. Anything less would be chauvinism and scabbery. Nowadays our bogus anti-imperialists would be lauding the likes of Hitler as an anti-imperialist. They certainly have no problem thinking of the imperialist Russian gangster Putin as the global champion of anti-imperialism and his fascistic mass murdering allies like Assad similarly.

        We are in the midst of a modern day version of the Stalin-Hitler pact whereby both the European far right and the neo-Stalinist degenerate left view and promote Putin as a bulwark against Western imperialism and Western liberalism. The overwhelming reason for this is that they both despise more than anything else the independent working class and the prospect of revolution.

        1. David Ellis says:

          Trotsky gave this example to show that whilst nine times out of ten we would oppose the actions of an imperialist state there are occasions when we would not and in fact when revolutionary socialists would not just not oppose the actions of an imperialist state but of a fascist imperialist state and going even further would actually help to facilitate those actions. These are rare occasions but when they have the potential despite the imperialists to objectively aid national democratic revolutions in the semi colonies and more generally the world proletarian revolution then we must of course not just not oppose but are duty bound to take advantage. The neo-Stalinists abuse Lenin’s slogan about the main enemy being at home in order to justify the actions of the counter revolution in Syria’s case Assad’s slaughter of half a million people. The main enemy is at home but sometimes our fight is with the most immediate enemy.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            David, you seem quite bonkers.

          2. David Ellis says:

            Bonkers is the belief that Putin is a hero of the anti-imperialist struggle.

  10. Nick Wright says:

    Behind the posturing of the Alliance for Workers Liberty is always to be found a ‘left’ justification for ruling class foreign.
    It makes me wonder why that useful term ‘social imperialist’ fell into disuse. However inappropriate it may have been occasionally used in the past its utility today has never been more justified.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      Nick: I understand that those from the Stalinist tradition (especially admirers of the 1939-41 Soviet foreign policy) hate independent working class politics.

      1. David Ellis says:

        The trouble with that statement is that like the neo-Stalinists the AWL supports the bogus two-state peace lie of Zionism.

  11. James Martin says:

    Oh Denham, there you go with your nasty personal insults again! What is wrong with you, were you always such a nasty human being or have the sects done this to you? You see I was there mate, and I can tell you plenty of stories about what the prat of a soggy reporter ‘Dale Street’ got up to and who he hung around with at the time (and it wasn’t anyone on the left of the Labour Party or in the Anti-Poll Tax Fed, quite the opposite in fact). Yes, unfortunately the Liverpool witch-hunt exposed a fair few fake lefts at the time, but the the soggies were some of the worst in terms of just how right-wing they were under all the rhetoric, and while I don’t really sect watch these days I do remember the soggies/AWL supporting the US/UK military occupation of Iraq a while back which is as jingo socialist as you can get isn’t it!

  12. Jim Denham says:

    I began to doubt the fairness of calling you a”liar”, Martin, until I read this: “I do remember the soggies/AWL supporting the US/UK military occupation of Iraq”: so now I repeat, you’re a liar … or, alternatively, an idiot who can’t read or understand.

© 2017 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma