13 April 2011

Humanitarian bombing in Libya

Under the pretext of a humanitarian agenda the US, Britain and France are bombing government targets in Libya. Socialists should not support this.

Aerial bombing in Libya in support of the weaker side in a civil war increases the humanitarian agony in the country. The left could urge the US, Britain and France to do one of the following.

One, support a rapid military intervention and the establishment of a pro-Western regime in Libya on the grounds that this action would end the civil war; and – even if non-democratic and non-socialist – such a regime would perhaps be more humanitarian than Gaddafi’s personal dictatorship.

Two, leave Libya to its own devices on the grounds that it is not for the capitalist countries to deny Libya its sovereignty by determining what happens there.

The third idea that the West can partially intervene to promote a left-leaning democracy is nonsense. You only have to look at Western support for the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to see that pro-capitalist orientation is the purpose of Western foreign policy, not the promotion of democracy which may end up questioning imperialist domination of the region.


When we talk about intervention in Libya we are not talking about something akin to socialists going off to fight in the Spanish Civil War. For all practical purposes, the left has a simple binary choice: back Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy in their use of state military might against Gaddafi, or not back it.

The purpose of the Western powers is to topple Gaddafi and establish a pro-Western regime in Libya. They wish to do this without “putting boots on the ground,” so they reply on aerial bombing. The effect is to prolong the conflict. The well-being of Libyans stuck in a prolonged civil war hardly matters beyond the realms of spin and false pretext for their action.

Perhaps when/if the Gaddafi regime is toppled a more human will emerge, but it may not. Libyans should determine Libya’s future not the US, Britain and France.

Therefore, stop the bombing.

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