By Saswat Pattanayak
The war against Libya is a continued assault on part of the imperialist and rogue nations of the First World against the champions of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and progressive socialism of the Third World. Contrary to corporate media spins, the war is neither about oil money, nor about installing democracy. It is neither about the rebel uprising in the Arab world, nor about merely ending a dictatorial regime. The war against Libya is an attack on every remnant of collective human aspiration for freedom, peace, justice and equality. The war against Libya is a war against every future possibility that can enable international solidarities among peoples who envision a better world that belongs not to oligarchs and media monopolists, but is shaped up by the ideas of the internationalists, the pan-Africanists.
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s demand for the United States of Africa does not manifest in a Utopia. Quite the opposite: it is a scathing indictment of an unequal world whose mammoth immoralities are deep-rooted in an oppressed Africa. The only way the world’s richest continent has been kept impoverished thus far is through systematic subjugation of its human and natural resources, via colonial power sharing. Just as Che Guevara’s dream for a unified Latin America resulted in his assassination, Gaddafi’s dream for a unified Africa has the murderers on the loose on a hunt for him. Just as Che and the Cuban revolution have been consistently portrayed in the most inhuman manners through western media propaganda and official foreign sanctions, Gaddafi’s life of revolutionary commitments has been spun by the western media with, as Hugo Chavez says, “a colossal campaign of lies”.
The campaign of lies has been since a long time, well accepted among the Pulitzer-honored American media and the European free press alike. The western media propaganda mill never paused for a while before publicizing Ronald Reagan’s absurdities regarding Libya during his cold war witch-hunts. Its also critical to deviate slightly and observe that when the western press endorses official statements from its own politicians as truths requiring no further investigations (the weapons of mass destructions with Saddam being the most infamous of the claims), it is presumed to be the acts of the Free Press. But, if the official statements of the “evil” countries (North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, China, among this endless list) are found published in their press coverages, they are outrightly denounced as unfree press. Such hypocrisies intact, the American media convinced the citizens of Reagan’s free land that Libya needed to be bombed out of proportion for it was responsible for the death of one civilian in a West Berlin nightclub bombing in 1986.
“Our evidence is direct, it is precise, it is irrefutable,” announced American President Ronald Reagan to justify his war on Libya – without providing any evidence to the press or to the public. The war on Libya during President Obama’s tenure is as deceptively being carried out today as it was during Reagan’s time. Both the regimes have demanded for Gaddafi’s ouster, if not outright murder. The only difference is Reagan managed to kill 99 civilians, while Obama sits comfortably numb over thousands of deaths and more. Looks like Reagan’s unfinished task shall find a logical culmination in Obama’s.
The pattern too is shockingly similar. Reagan’s America was rejoicing over the death of Qaddafi’s daughter, and hospitalization of his wife and other children, caused by American bombing. And today, fed with sensationalistic media spins, Obama’s America awaits with anticipation and glee for the news of deaths from Libya’s First Family.
After all, Reagan had declared Qaddafi the “mad dog of the Middle East” and the mad dog must be killed. Libya had nothing to do with the single death from nightclub bombing in Berlin then, and it was unclear how precise was American intelligence information when it came to killing of 99 civilians in Libya. Were any of them responsible for the death in Berlin? Or were they looking for just one person, Qaddafi instead? The Guardian newspaper confirmed from an Air Force intelligence officer that it was only Qaddafi who the US was actually after. No surprises, considering how the US administrations have a history of murdering heads of states that resisted American capitalistic hegemony. The more critical question then is, what excuse does the US have now to continue such monstrous principles even after the so-called Cold War is apparently over? Is it the need to monopolize over oil resources, destabilize Islamic regimes, establish political democracy world over, or just control and dominate the world in the imperialistic manner?
Considering the absolutely amicable – and profitable – relationship America shares with the Saudi Arabia and other undemocratic regimes, it would be naive to conclude that America is serious about destabilizing Islamism or establishing democratic governances. So, are Euro-American war ventures merely the battles over oil? Or are they actually about reinforcing imperialism, and bringing back colonialism? Or perhaps, both? In fact, isn’t oil a given, once colonialism is realized?
Fulfillment of imperialistic fetishes takes place through iconization of the enemy that must be annihilated. For the United States and European Union alike, Gaddafi has been the epitome of the archenemy. He has been the most defiant voice against western hegemony, and the most successful of revolutionaries in all of Africa. In bringing him down, the imperialistic ambitions would have realized a unparalleled potential. Not just the bombing of the nightclub, the American press continued to publish unfounded accusations against Gaddafi to generate and sustain a sense of paranoia among the citizens home to such an extent that they shall not resist becoming accomplices of murders in the foreign land. From Chicago gangmen who were allegedly offered millions of dollars by Gaddafi to murder innocent American citizens, to blowing up of a synagogue in Istanbul, Gaddafi was cited as the villain of it all by American press – without a trace of an evidence to substantiate such serious claims.
Not just the media propaganda, the western intellectual horizon is equally shrouded with biased agendas. Lyn Boyd-Judson from University of Southern California attempted at an academic explanation for Gaddafi’s rise in a much publicized essay. She selectively quoted another biased study on Libya by John Wright (“Libya: A Modern History”). Wright, in the classically colonialist fashion declared Libyan people as “politically retarded” (“politically ignorant” in another context) around the time Gaddafi overthrew colonial rule. Judson’s intellectual roots and Wright’s colonial mindsets are typical of subservient administrative scholarships which one way or the other thrive via endorsements of the “good old days”.
In actuality, Libya’s modern history does not comprise a “politically retarded” people who submitted themselves to Gaddafi. It is quite the contrary. When the so-called “free” nations of the First World woke up to the revolutions by North African people against European colonialism (Italian misrules in Libya, in this instance), they stepped in promptly to seize the opportunity to establish a puppet monarchy in their favor.
Contrary to claims by John Wright and endorsements by Lyn Boyd Judson, Omar Mukhtar who led the resistance against Italian colonialism in Libya was neither “politically retarded” himself, nor was leading a bunch of “politically retarded” people of North Africa. Mukhtar, a hero to Gaddafi, was a teacher of Holy Qur’an and a master of Guerrilla warfare. For over twenty years, he was ably supported by indigenous African peoples in their collective uprisings against the Italians. He was the most ferocious opponents of Fascism in the whole of Africa. When the American and British forces were not even recognizing
Africa as a site of revolution, Mukhtar was waging the fiercest of battles against Benito Mussolini. While Eurocentric scholars were dismissing African people as “politically retarded”, Omar Mukhtar’s revolutionary army posed the gravest challenge in the history of Italian colonialism.
Instead of recognizing Mukhtar’s contributions and young Gaddafi’s revolutionary participations, the First World nations went ahead to install a puppet monarchy. Had they supported Mukhtar’s legacies or Gaddafi’s rise, it would have become impossible to continue the menace of neocolonialism in Libya because both Mukhtar and Gaddafi were sick and tired of Western interventions in Africa. Contrary to anthropological misgivings, peoples of Africa – both the North and the South – were enlightened, and the African peoples – both the Arabs and the indigenous – were empowered in their collective stance against colonialism. African peoples were not the “politically retarded” who needed the help of the “civilized” first world. It was the first world – the genesis of Colonialism, Fascism, Nazism, White Supremacism and Democratic Farcism – which has been the most barbaric of societies, while the African land – the origin of humanism, tolerance, peace, freedom, and justice – has been the land of greatest civilization.
Colonel Gaddafi, and Nelson Mandela are among the brightest of representatives of the civilized peoples of Africa in their steadfast opposition against the barbaric West. Unfortunately, albeit quite predictably, the western corporate media continued to highlight exactly the opposite. Unable to shatter its barbaric shell, the capitalistic world of the first world remained entrenched in waging wars against innocent peoples of Korea and Vietnam, against all edicts of international peace treaties. The First World continued to support the Apartheid regime of South Africa, the Belgian colonialism in Congo and the French annexation of Algeria, just to name a few. And most illustratively the First World continued its assault on Gaddafi – the leader who overthrew King Idris and his bunch of subservient clowns forming the first and the last monarchy in Libya, the oligarch who was installed by the European and North American ruling classes as their “good dictator”, as their Batista of the North Africa.
Colonel Gaddafi and his revolutionary army, overthrew from Libya the last remnant of colonial rule, of the neocolonial hangover, of the illegal monarchy. 1960’s onwards, it was Gaddafi who played the role of the conscience keeper of the African people. He remained the voice of the oppressed, the champion of the anti-imperialism, the fighter against colonialism and neocolonialism world over. Gaddafi was the worthy successor to Egypt’s Nasser and it was Gaddafi who furthered Nasserism from its ethos of Arab Nationalism to its eventual goal for Pan-Africanism.
Gaddafi remained the hope of the Third World, the most resolute advocate of freedom, liberty, equality and justice. It was Gaddafi who signaled to the world that the Western powers – which practiced Apartheid against the blacks in America, against the Jews in Europe, and against the indigenous peoples of Africa and Asia in the pretext of colonial rules – are the least likely candidates to be using phrases of social justice and democracy to further their imperialistic aims. It was Gaddafi who led the Third World resolutions against the colonial regimes of South Africa and of Congo – exposing the greatest hypocrisies amongst the political elites of the “free” world. It was Gaddafi who vindicated the global need to contain Israeli dominance lest it gets reduced to emerging as the stockpiling backyard for Euro-American expansionist efforts.
Gaddafi stood the tallest among all freedom fighters of the world in his unwavering support to the Black Power movement in the United States, to the Red Brigade in Italy, to the Irish Republican Army in the United Kingdom, to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to the Japanese Red Army, to various peacenik, disarmament groups and to the Pan African Congress in South Africa, among others. He, more than anyone else, raised the global consciousness regarding the need to radically overthrow colonialism from African and Asian lands, while recognizing the ugly faces of racism, militarism, and white supremacism in the American and European territories.
No wonder, the name of Gaddafi distresses and causes enormous amount of uneasy in the power corridors of the western ruling class elites who identify with their colonial past and imperialistic future. No wonder the name of Gaddafi sends shivers in the newsrooms at the CNN and BBC, at AFP and Fox, in the corporate media propaganda mills of the “free” world. Both the liberals and the conservatives – whose imaginations have failed them in acknowledging the ongoing revolutions in Michigan, and in London, in Paris, and in Greece – are the ones too quick to judge Gaddafi as a an evil monster. No wonder, they are the ones who once criticized Nelson Mandela for coming to Tripoli in order to bestow the “Order of Good Hope”, the highest honor of the liberated South Africa, upon Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.
Speaking from Tripoli, Mandela had thundered to the Western powers and their liberal hypocrites, “Those who say I should not be here in Tripoli are without morals. This man (Colonel Qaddafi) helped us at a time when we were all alone, when those who say we should not come here were helping the enemy. Those who are bitter at our friendship can go drown themselves.”
Indeed, those that are bitter at the friendship of Gaddafi and Mandela can go drown themselves. Gaddafi and Mandela represent not only the largest regions comprising the Northern and Southern African continent, they represent ideas and values way higher than is perceivable by a world order growing in hollowness, bereft of knowledge in the historical roots of peoples revolutions. Mandela has reminded the world time and again to take cognizance of the sacrifices Libyan people under Gaddafi have made to ensure a world of dignity for the colonized and oppressed of Africa and Asia. Mandela declared, “The people of Libya shared the trenches with us in our struggle for freedom. You were in the front ranks of those whose selfless and practical support helped assure a victory that was as much yours as it is ours. We are therefore deeply moved to be amongst freedom fighters for whom the freedom of others was as precious as their own.”
What exactly distinguishes the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela from the likes of David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama? The most trenchant of them all is their respective stances towards the world status quo. Whereas Gaddafi/Castro/Mandela have demanded for greater powers for the General Assembly of the United Nations with an aim to strengthen the majority of the member nations, the Cameron/Sarkozy/Obama varieties have vigorously maintained the elitist position of the Security Council as the final arbitrator of world order. Whereas Gaddafi/Castro/Mandela are indigenous revolutionaries at the forefront of battles against colonialism who must uphold the principles of social justice and organize international solidarity against global capitalism, the Cameron/Sarkozy/Obama are beneficiaries of deceptive political practices funded by private banks and vested interests that must uphold global capitalism and its expansionistic order of imperialism.
With such fundamental differences among the world leaders and ideologies, there should not be any surprises and question marks. Every war in the world has been a class war. Whether it be popular revolts against monarchies, or progressive movements against colonialism, every time the masses have united in their efforts against the imperialists, the traditional ruling classes, in turn, have recruited from among the masses to gain back their lost power. The much publicized death of colonialism and monarchy is merely a sham. Its the accompanying shame for the so-called “civilized” world which has forced their ruling classes to renounce
the tags of colonialism. But in reality, colonialism is thriving in the garb of democracy crusades. In the classical patterns of geographical annexations of the imperial past, the neocolonialists are this time shamelessly encroaching whatever land they can grab with an intent to teach their former subjects a lesson.
The war on Libya certainly did not begin in 2011. However, it probably is going to end this year if the rogue nations of G8 and NATO forces end up assassinating Colonel Gaddafi. But there should not be any illusions harbored as regards the outcome of this war. It is crucial to understand that the goals of this war do not lie in its eventualities. The goal is not to democratize Libya for the benefit of its people. Indeed, as it stands today, Libya is the most developed of all African nations, and Libya is the most secular of all Arab nations. And yet these are the very reasons why Libya must be bombed and its history textbooks must be replaced. Just as the goal of this war is to obliterate any nation and people in the world that aspire to be a Libya. The goal of this war will not have been achieved until all the peoples that aspire for social justice, reparations, and revolutions against the imperialists have been silenced. The goal of the war is to replicate the experiments the American, British and French regimes have conducted upon their own Black Panthers, the London “rioters” and the Muslim youths in Paris slums. The goal of the war is to declare the revolutionaries as the criminals. The goal of the war is to glorify corporate controls as free democracies. The goal of the war against Libya is to warn the world that no more Gaddafis can be allowed to exist in this new free trade world, that no more Gaddafis can be permitted to challenge the patterns of colonialism and monarchies, that no more Gaddafis can be tolerated who dare to challenge the First World Apartheids against the indigenous peoples of the world.
Yet, the single largest mistake routinely committed by war-mongers is that they often overlook important lessons of world history. They conveniently forget that revolutionaries are not born to foster circumstances. Revolutionaries are born from within the circumstances. In assassinating one Patrice Lumumba, the western powers did not end revolutions in Africa. In assassinating one Gaddafi, these hideous NATO powers are not going to succeed in preventing future Gaddafis. Or Mandelas. Or Castros. Or numerous revolutionaries the world over, including within Europe and North America, who have been unyieldingly challenging global capitalism. As Hugo Chavez rightly announced while honoring Gaddafi with Simon Bolivar’s Sword in 2009, “What Simon Bolivar is for Venezuelans, Moammar Gaddafi is for the Libyan people.”
Just as Chavez is the worthy successor to Simon Bolivar, it will be worthy of a historical revisit to trace the legacies of future Gaddafis. For, revolutionaries are not found among officially recorded chronicles of neatly arranged presidential tribute museums. Revolutionaries are traced back within the legacies they leave behind.
(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)