It’s very suspect when imperialists propose military aid to revolutionaries. However, that’s just what the governments of the U.S. and Western Europe are debating, along with their punditry — for humanitarian reasons, of course.
But what the imperialists really care about in regard to Libya is oil, plus “stability” for the major U.S. and European oil companies operating there. They also want a regime, regardless of who is at the top, that will dependably stymie anti-capitalist revolution in this strategic region.
Moammar Gadhafi himself is slickly accomplished at confusing everyone with his stew of political ideologies. Upon taking power in a military coup in 1969, Gadhafi postured as a militant friend to the oppressed and anti-imperialist extraordinaire. He blended Arab nationalism with pan-Arabism, got friendly with Stalinist regimes, and at some point added “Islamic socialism” to the mix. During the 1980s, he welcomed many a freedom fighter from the U.S. and elsewhere to his shores.
Nevertheless, despite his radical rhetoric, donations to Arab and other liberation groups, and generous, oil-fueled social services in days past, Gadhafi’s Libya has always firmly remained a capitalist state.
When the Soviet Union dissolved and world capitalism reasserted itself almost unchallenged, the Colonel shifted with the dominant wind toward the West. United Nations sanctions against his country were magically lifted and European corporations dashed to Libya to reap huge profits. British, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch energy giants all have large investments there, as do several U.S. oil companies.
In contrast, what Libya’s people experienced was austerity, as Gadhafi opened the country to the untender mercies of the IMF and World Bank. Libya’s jobless rate today is 40-50 percent, the highest in North Africa.
No wonder, then, that the rebels fighting his soldiers and mercenaries are so determined. Imperialist intervention, supposedly on their behalf, can only make things worse, just as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Instead, the rebels need aid and arms from anti-imperialist forces and the international labor movement. Above all, they need political support from radical workers for what the Libyan people have never yet had but need: a workers’ state, the only road to democracy for the majority.