Workers Vanguard No. 989

28 October 2011


Imperialist Butchers Gloat over Qaddafi Lynching

In a surprise visit to Tripoli on October 18, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her hope that former Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi “can be captured or killed soon.” Two days later, gruesome video images of the lynching of Qaddafi by NATO’s hirelings were played around the world. The imperialist rulers, whose forces had been pummeling Libya in unrelenting bombing raids for months, reveled in the murder of Qaddafi and one of his sons as a victory for “democracy.”

Against a backdrop of pictures of Qaddafi—captured but still alive—after he was bloodied and beaten by the Libyan rebel forces, the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. imperialism, Barack Obama, intoned: “The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted.” He was echoed by British prime minister David Cameron, who declared that Qaddafi’s murder heralded the beginning of “a strong and democratic future” for Libya. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon saluted the moment as a “historic transition.”

The NATO war against Libya was a blatant demonstration of the imperialist system, in which a handful of advanced capitalist countries terrorize and subjugate the world’s weaker and more backward societies. The “democracy” trumpeted by the imperialist rulers can be measured in the number of corpses of black African immigrants, many of whom have been rounded up during and in the wake of the rebel victory. Brought into Libya under the Qaddafi regime as a source of cheap labor, they have been targeted as “pro-Qaddafi mercenaries.” Among the rebels’ first acts as they seized areas formerly held by Qaddafi’s forces was to carry out pogroms against these black Africans.

In perpetrating this racist vendetta, the ragtag forces brought to power by the NATO imperialists are true to their own reactionary values, and to those of their “democratic” paymasters. Obama’s America remains a hellhole for the vast majority of black people, while the White House prides itself on having deported nearly 400,000 immigrants in the last year alone. For his part, Cameron launched a police dragnet in August in which more than 2,000 people were rounded up as punishment for the upheaval that swept cities throughout England against racist police terror and grinding austerity.

The UN, having sanctioned the NATO terror bombing of Libya, called for a “thorough investigation” into precisely how Qaddafi wound up dead after being captured alive, displaying the sanctimonious hypocrisy that courses through this den of imperialist thieves, their lackeys and victims. A U.S. State Department spokesman pledged that the new Libyan leaders—a collection of defectors from the Qaddafi regime, monarchists, Islamic fundamentalists, former CIA assets, tribal chiefs and others—would “provide a full accounting of what happened.” This is like directing a psychopathic killer to investigate his victims’ murders!

Even by their own cynical rules of war, which are only applied to the losers, the imperialists are guilty as hell of the assassination of the former Libyan ruler. According to press accounts, a U.S. Predator drone provided the surveillance on a convoy that included Qaddafi leaving Surt in the early morning hours of October 20. The convoy was then reportedly bombed by a French Mirage jet fighter. The Libyan rebels—with who knows what support from the imperialists’ own special forces, which had been carrying out operations on the ground—moved in to finish off those who were still alive, decapitating one of them and then murdering Qaddafi.

The U.S. tried to assassinate Qaddafi, then considered a Soviet ally, as far back as 1986 when a bombing attack killed his infant daughter instead. For the past decade, the Libyan strongman had been an ally of the imperialists’ “war on terror,” providing torture chambers for the interrogation of supposed terror suspects who had undergone “rendition”—i.e., kidnapping—by U.S. forces around the globe. With the onset of the NATO air war in March, Qaddafi again became a target of choice, with NATO carrying out repeated attempts on his life.

Imperialist Killers on the Loose

When France, Britain and the U.S. launched their air strikes, the International Communist League issued a 20 March statement calling for defense of Libya against imperialist attack. We called on “workers around the world to take a stand for military defense of semicolonial Libya.… Every step taken by the workers of the imperialist countries to halt the depredations and military adventures of their rulers is a step toward their own liberation from capitalist exploitation, impoverishment and oppression” (see “Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack!” WV No. 977, 1 April).

Now that Qaddafi has been assassinated, the imperialists are swooping in like vultures to claim the spoils of their dirty war. The NATO allies, particularly France and Italy, are at each other’s throats over who is going to get the biggest share of Libya’s oil wealth. When it was still the colonial overlord of the country in the decades before the end of World War II, Italy dropped poison gas on Libyan civilians and imprisoned more than 100,000 in concentration camps. As for France, the murder of Qaddafi came on the 50th anniversary of the massacre of Algerians in Paris protesting French imperialism’s subjugation of their country. Hundreds were killed by police, who dumped their bodies into the Seine.

For the U.S., the most heavily armed and dangerous of all the imperialist powers, Qaddafi represents yet another notch in its belt of political assassinations, from the murder of Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba in 1961 to the killing of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara in Bolivia by soldiers trained, equipped and guided by the U.S. and many more before and since, including under the Obama administration. On May 1, a commando squad of Navy SEALs in Pakistan gunned down Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who himself was a monster nurtured by U.S. imperialism in the 1980s war in Afghanistan between CIA-funded reactionary Islamic cutthroats and the former Soviet workers state. The day before bin Laden’s murder, NATO bombed Qaddafi’s house, killing his son and three grandchildren.

On September 30, a missile fired by a U.S. drone in Yemen killed four men, two of whom were U.S. citizens. This attack, aimed at U.S. Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was carefully planned and executed on orders from the Democratic Party White House (see “Al-Awlaki Assassination: U.S. State Terror,” WV No. 988, 14 October). It was an open declaration that a U.S. citizen designated a “terrorist” can be summarily executed with no legal charges and no trial.

Hands Off Iran!

Even the cowboys of the Bush administration, who were no less practiced in killing their perceived enemies abroad, at least thought they had to go through the charade of giving Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a onetime U.S. ally, the pretense of a trial before his execution. Not so the Obama administration, which, as the Huffington Post (19 October) noted, “has made it clear that that pretense is no longer of interest.”

Now the U.S. and its Israeli allies are aiming their sights, again, at Iran, with a crackpot story that defies belief. The story being peddled by Washington is that the Iranian government was behind a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., which they say was orchestrated by an Iranian American used car salesman who had been convinced—by an undercover DEA agent—that he was hiring a Mexican drug cartel for the job.

With mind-boggling hypocrisy, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the very notion of plotting to commit a political assassination in another country as an outrage. Evidently, only the supremely arrogant leaders of the “world’s only superpower” get to play that game, and then go after their semicolonial victims by charging them with the same. In a replay of the “weapons of mass destruction” myth wielded by Bush to invade and occupy Iraq, Obama is demanding that UN inspectors release all intelligence “showing that Iran is designing and experimenting with nuclear weapons technology.” Rattling his nuclear-armed saber, Obama promised the “toughest sanctions” against Iran and declared “we don’t take any options off the table.” All of this underlines, as we have repeatedly stated, that Iran needs nuclear weapons, which in this imperialist-dominated world represent the only potential guarantee of national sovereignty.

There is no doubt that Qaddafi was a brutal dictator who violently suppressed anyone suspected of opposing his rule. Our military defense of Libya against the NATO bombers had nothing to do with political support to his capitalist regime. Nor do we politically defend Iran’s theocratic bourgeois rulers. But the main enemies of the working people and oppressed masses of the world are the imperialist overlords. In any military conflict between the imperialists and the countries they subjugate, workers everywhere have a side with the latter. Conveying this understanding is part of our struggle for the socialist liberation of mankind from the brutal degradation of the capitalist exploiters.

For International Socialist Revolution!

Defense of Libya against the NATO bombers should have been elementary, not only for proletarian revolutionary opponents of imperialism but for anyone opposed to the stronger capitalist powers imposing their will on weaker countries through overwhelming military might. This, however, was not the stance taken by the bulk of the self-proclaimed “socialist” left. Dancing to the imperialists’ tune, reformists peddled unsubstantiated reports of massacres of civilians by Qaddafi’s forces at the outset of the uprising against his regime and promoted the credentials of the Libyan “resistance.” Others, like Workers World Party and its offshoot, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, opposed the U.S./NATO intervention. But they did so from the vantage point of their history of political support for the Qaddafi dictatorship.

As the ICL statement noted, what had essentially been a civil war between Qaddafi’s Tripoli-based bourgeois regime and an imperialist-backed opposition based in the east of the country—a conflict in which the proletariat had no side—became subordinated to imperialist military intervention with the start of the bombing on March 19. Before the bombing began, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) was one of the groups championing the Libyan opposition. An article headlined “The West’s Fear of Qaddafi’s Fall” in Socialist Worker (24 February) opined that the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, part of the opposition forces, was less likely to “be so pliable” to imperialism. When the imperialists’ attack began, so did the ISO’s cover-up. Admitting that the National Front had long been a CIA asset, the ISO indulged in some fancy footwork to explain how the opposition had morphed from “rebels” into running dogs of the imperialists. In reality, the Libyan rebels appealed to the imperialists from the outset!

An article in the ISO’s International Socialist Review (May-June 2011), titled “Libya’s Revolution, U.S. Intervention, and the Left,” attempted to explain, pointing to other cases, “where the representatives of a just struggle do transform their relationship with imperialism into one of dependence.” As an example, the article points to the mujahedin who were bankrolled by Washington to kill Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan. The ISO claims that what began as “a mass popular uprising against the Soviet occupation became, under the tutelage of the CIA, Saudi Arabia, and the Pakistani security services, a proxy army in the U.S.’s Cold War against the USSR.”

Contrary to this self-serving rewrite of history, the CIA was funneling millions to the mujahedin well before the intervention of the Red Army in late 1979. When the modernizing, Soviet-allied People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government attempted to introduce reforms that prohibited forced marriages and allowed girls to learn to read and write, the mullahs launched a “holy war” with U.S. support. The Soviet intervention, which came after repeated requests by the beleaguered PDPA regime, was on the side of these reforms and opened the possibility of liberation for the benighted peoples of Afghanistan, particularly women. The entry of the Soviet Army also served to defend the USSR’s southern borders. We said: Hail Red Army! Extend social gains of October Revolution to Afghan peoples!

The ISO, like many other putative leftists, stood on the other side—with the forces of Islamic reaction backed by the CIA as part of the imperialist drive to destroy the Soviet degenerated workers state. And the Islamic fundamentalists and their imperialist sponsors (and leftist cheerleaders) were successful. The withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1988-89—a treacherous act by the Kremlin Stalinists who vainly sought to appease the imperialists—foreshadowed the final undoing of the Soviet Union itself. The ISO anti-Communists cheered:

“Just as socialists welcomed the defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam, we welcome the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan. It will give heart to all those inside the USSR and in Eastern Europe who want to break the rule of Stalin’s heirs.”

Socialist Worker, May 1988

The counterrevolutionary destruction of the USSR, the world’s first workers state, in 1991-92 removed what had been the main impediment to the depredations of the imperialists, who have since been emboldened in running roughshod over the planet.

The barbarism in Libya should steel the resolve of all fighters for the liberation of humanity from exploitation, racism and war to sweep away the rotting capitalist system worldwide. The imperialist subjugation of neocolonial Libya comes together with the escalating war on the livelihoods and very lives of the working class and poor “at home.” The global economic crisis, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, demonstrates yet again that this is indeed the epoch of capitalism’s death agony. When the workers, led by revolutionary vanguard parties, have taken power in the U.S. and elsewhere through victorious socialist revolutions, workers tribunals will put the imperialists and their lackeys on trial for their countless crimes against the working people and oppressed masses of the world.