CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique

From CCDS website 01/08/11 - (CCDS omitted the first 3 paragraphs of my critique in their publication of it.)

This Sunday I am told that 142 Syrians in Hama were slaughtered by Assad's tanks. It is estimated that as many as 1700 peaceful protesters have been massacred by Assad since the Syrian people welcomed the Arab Spring. I find it absolutely shameful that much of the left, including CCDS remain silent in the face of the Syrian people's cries for international support. I think we can do a lot better than that.

When the internationalist history of the Arab Spring is finally written it will be embarrassing to some that these revolutionary people's uprisings have received more practical support and solidarity from US computer hackers than from the US left.

CCDS was similarly silent as Qaddafi's "yellow hat" thugs shot unarmed protesters in Benghazi (18/02/11), waiting to make its official statement on Libya 72 days after Libyan protests started with the housing sit-ins on January 14, 2011 and more than a month after it had become a revolutionary armed struggle. As I will show below, this statement, which has as it's focus opposition to our own imperialists is self-centered and in the context of concrete conditions of the Libyan revolution, counter-revolutionary. In summation, the I agree with rima_misrata who tweeted July 30:

Hey anti-interventioners - Were you enraged when Gaddafi was massacring Libyans? No? So you don't really have a moral leg to stand on?

CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique

By The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism
March 27, 2011

In war, the first casualty is truth. Nowhere is this maxim more relevant than the current air and naval bombing campaign against Libya initiated by the U.S., France and Great Britain, and involving other NATO countries.

IMHO this is already taking a position that equates the Qaddafi regime with "Libya." NATO would argue that their military activities are against the forces of the Qaddafi regime not Libya, and frankly the revolutionaries would agree. As a matter of fact there is very little evidence that NATO has attacked Libyan population centers or infrastructure in the way they did in Iraq. [see my How Many Libyans has NATO Killed? for details and background]

Furthermore, the statement "the current air and naval bombing campaign against Libya initiated by the U.S...." reinforces the view that Qaddafi=Libya. The Libyan opposition would say that the "current air and naval bombing campaign against Libya" was initialed by Qaddafi with his naval bombardment of the people of Misrata and his aerial bombing of the people of Benghazi and Tripoli, which preceded the NATO intervention and which was stopped by that intervention.

What is more important, behind all the anti-imperialist rhetoric, the practical application of CCDS's basic demand under the concrete conditions currently existing is that Qaddafi would be allowed to continue his naval and aerial bombardment of any population centers in Libya where the people have forced him out on the ground.

So far I don't see anything in the CCDS statement that Qaddafi would object to.

The air and missile strikes on Libya are acts of war.

No argument there. Of course I would also argue that Qaddafi's air and missile strikes on Libya are also acts of war, and contrary to the wishful thinking of pacifists, sometimes violence must be put down with violence. Sometimes you can only put an end to "acts of war" is by countering them with "acts of war" to stop the initial perpetrator of the violence.

Is it the position of the CCDS that it would oppose intervention by any outside force to prevent say, another Rwanda, if the interventionists were allowed to use "acts of war?"

All the talk of ‘no fly zones,’ ‘protecting civilians from massacre,’ ‘humanitarian intervention’ and so on are diversions if not falsehoods.

This sounds like the CCDS doesn't believe the threat to Benghazi was real. This statement would also lead me to believe it is discounting all the stories about cluster munitions, Grad rockets, and land mines being used by Qaddafi forces on population centers. Well they can stick their collective heads in the sand and Qaddafi will applaud them for it, but I don't know of any serious close observers outside of the Qaddafi camp that doubt, with 200+ tanks just outside of Benghazi on March 17th, and Qaddafi saying they there going to "go house to house" and "clean out the rats", a million people were in grave danger when the UN passed resolution 1973. If CCDS could have its way, Qaddafi would have been allowed to move forward with his plans for Benghazi. As far as the Benghazi threat goes, and the other stuff about Grad rockets, cluster munitions and land mines. I'm here to tell you there is overwhelming evidence. I mean overwhelming.

A ‘no fly zone’ means more than preventing military aircraft from taking off as we have already seen. It means destroying aircraft and their hangars. It means destroying any airports and airfields. It means destroying refineries and fuel supplies. And most important, it means destroying ‘command and control centers,’ which means bombing any structure or location where the military planners think Gaddafi or his loyalists might be.

I'm not sure what a "no fly zone" means but I am sure that UN resolution 1973 authorized much more than a "no fly zone." Like it or not, it authorized just about anything short of ground troops. The falsehood that the UN only authorized a "no fly zone" and that therefore NATO is in violation of the UN resolution is another Qaddafi talking point that just isn't true.

We’ve seen this movie before in Iraq.

To me, this is the most embarrassing statement in the whole document for anyone trying to practice dialectical materialism. It's saying that there is nothing new to see here, that it's basically like Iraq. So what do I think is different? The "Arab Spring" wasn't in the movie last time I saw it. The "Arab Spring" as it is being called, is so far the greatest people's revolt of the 21st century and the Libyan uprising is part and partial of the Arab uprising in MENA. The Libyan revolt is the first place the Arab uprising was forced to go over to armed struggle and this is what precipitated the international intervention.

The sad thing is that it wasn't the people's revolt that really got CCDS's and many others on the lefts attention, it was the NATO intervention. Not only have they not seen this movie before, they came into this movie in the middle and they think they know what's going on without first finding out about the parts they missed. That is why you hear so many US left commentators parrot the Qaddafi line that the rebels were armed from the start. Nobody that was observing this struggle from the start will even give such an person a penny for his thoughts.

France has taken the lead in NATO intervention, this is new. They didn't want to have anything to do with the war in Iraq - remember "freedom fries?"

What else is new? Well, the role of the Internet is absolutely new and deserving of deep study and developing practice by revolutionaries. The hacker group Anonymous started #OpTunisia on Jan 2, #OpLibya and #OpEgypt soon followed. Internet activists were able to work together to insure that the revolutionaries always had Internet access in spite of regime attempts to shut it down, while at the same time impeding the regime's use of the Internet. You know, I once played courier for a vital message from Alexandria to the Egyptian opposition in Tahrir Sq and I never left Venice Beach to do it. As a revolutionary this role was very new to me.

IMHO revolutionaries today should be studying the Arab uprising, and especially where it has developed to the point of armed struggle in Libya, in the spirit with which Marx studied the Paris Commune. The masses are teaching us many important lessons about making revolution in the 21st Century. It is our job to refine them and return them to the masses but if we think we've been through this movie before then we think we already know it all.

It means the usual ‘collateral damage’ of widespread civilian death and destruction

I absolutely challenge this. That the NATO campaign has caused "widespread civilian death and destruction" is another Qaddafi talking point that has been backed up with fraudulent claims by the Qaddafi regime. In the war on Iraq the US dropped 29,199 munitions in the first 30 days, in Libya the US claims to have dropped munitions on 132 targets in the first 100 days. Qaddafi would like the world to think that he is being bombed the way that Iraq was during shock and awe so I'm sure he would be happy with the way CCDS portrays things. Again see How Many Libyans has NATO Killed? for details.

—all done in the name of preventing civilian deaths.

Which doesn't exactly address the question of whether on not they have actually prevented civilians deaths, but would seem to imply that they haven't. Well IMHO, more Libyans were killed in the 4 weeks before NATO intervened than in the 4 months since and I challenge anyone in CCDS to make a creditable argument to the contrary.

And as in Iraq,

Same movie, different country, nothing new here.

the US is dropping bombs containing depleted uranium, which will destroy Libyan lives for generations.

NATO DU use in Libya is another Qaddafi talking point that is a little short on proof. Without going into details, there are good reasons to believe they are not using DU in Libya for the same reason they eventually stopped using Agent Orange in Vietnam. The bad PR eventually trumped the military advantages of the stuff. Besides they have developed other substitutes for DU, even more toxic substitutes, and there is reason to believe that is what they are using in Libya. I asked a leading CCDS member about the basics for the claim that NATO is using DU and I was referred to a pro-Qaddafi "expert" that said his tests indicated NATO may be using DU. But "may" is not "is" and why is this "expert" qualifying his opinion with "may", isn't DU radioactive? Didn't this expert have a Geiger counter? How come none of the reports I've seen reporting DU in Libya include tests for radioactivity?

It’s one reason why the African Union refused to support the UN measure and why the Arab League began criticizing it as soon as they saw the reality of what they had put their name too.

Opinions vary.

We in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism join with many others around the world to oppose this aggression and call for its immediate and unconditional cessation. Cease Fire!

Since nothing in this statement so far indicated that the Qaddafi regime is attacking the Libyan people, it sounds like this cease fire demand does not include Qaddafi's forces. I don't see any opposition to Qaddafi's aggression anywhere in the CCDS statement.

We urge that Libyans resolve their differences without resort to arms.

It would have been good of CCDS to have urged this before Qaddafi attacked protesters with military aircraft and tanks. [Note: It's interesting how more proof on this continues to come out. Just this evening on BBC World News I saw an interview with an immigrant from Libyan that had made it safely home to Bangladesh. He said the greatest threat they faced in Misrata was from bombs dropped from helicopters - this was before NATO, only Qaddafi had helicopters.] To demand this now but not before is also a position that Qaddafi would support. To demand peace, once the the revolution has been forced over to armed struggle and while the people are winning that armed struggle is counter-revolutionary. And make no mistake about it, all defeatist talk of "stalemate" aside, the rebel army has been making slow but sure progress on three military fronts with important victories near Brega and Ziltan as I write this.

We support international diplomatic efforts aimed at assisting Libya to resolve their conflict politically – a path that was ignored in the lead up to the intervention by the U.S. and others.

This is turning the recent history of the Libyan uprising on it's head! It blames "the U.S. and others" and not Qaddafi for turning this conflict into an armed struggle and not choosing to resolve the people's protests politically. And to suggest that at the time the French started air strikes near Benghazi on Qaddafi forces that were already starting to enter the city, that instead they should have limited themselves to "diplomatic efforts" is to wish the people of Benghazi a very bad day. Qaddafi has got to love these guys.

At bottom – ‘kinetic military activity’ – the new Pentagon euphemism for imperialist war is simply a grab for power and oil in a third world country temporarily weakened by an internal crisis.

Which we definitely won't take sides on. The struggle between a dictator and the people is an internal struggle. After the US, EU, and UK have armed the dictator they should stay out of it and let the people and dictator fight it out.

Libya has huge oil reserves that are state owned—

Which in Libya pretty much means Qaddafi owned.

including much oil that is easily accessible. Libya has a huge territory where oil exploration has yet to be completed, due to former disputes between the government and foreign oil explorers. Due to past Western boycotts of Libya, China and India have joined its prime customers, and there is now competition and rivalry for future oil deals with the Libyan government.

With the escalating confrontation between Israel and the Arab states, and the mass movements arising in the Arab states for economic and political democracy, the US and its allies are focused on controlling events on the ground. A key means to this end is the establishment of a U.S. military command center in Africa – AFRICOM. AFRICOM is spearheading the military intervention in Libya for the U.S. But it is located in Germany because African countries have refused to host the command center.

According to Wikipedia "of all the African nations, only Liberia has publicly expressed a willingness to host AFRICOM's headquarters."

The war on Libya offers the justification for placing this new imperial command center in an African nation.

Again "The war on Libya" by which CCDS means the combined attack by the Libyan opposition and NATO air support on the Qaddafi regime is the same as a war on Libya.. Justifications are a dime a dozen. If they find the place that will accept a base and they want it there, the justification will take care of itself.

Unjust wars abroad always extract a price at home. This one has a high price in White House hypocrisy. While claiming to advance democracy abroad, these acts of war have been carried out with complete disregard of the US Constitution and the War Powers Act. These laws place war making powers in the hands of the American people through Congress.

On the first night of the attack on Libya, the US rained $240 million of cruise missiles on Libya. The total costs for the US deployment will exceed $1 billion per month. Yet, the American people are told to tighten their belts because there is no money for healthcare, education, transportation, law enforcement, job safety, pensions, social security. The empire can no longer provide guns and butter. The attack on Libya and the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are inextricably bound to the attacks on the rights of American workers to organize and bargain collectively for a decent living.

This argument seems to work only because they fail to acknowledge the threat to Libyan's from Qaddafi. If they do, it becomes more like "We'd really like to do something about Rwanda or the Jews being persecuted by the Nazis but we have our own problems and just can't afford to get involved."

This is why Kucinich was able to forge such a broad coalition, including many normally pro-war and isolationist Republicans in his effort to strip whatever protection he could from the people of Benghazi and Misrata.

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and a few other Members of Congress are standing up and speaking against this threat to our Constitution, the inevitable loss of our livelihood, the lives of our soldiers and the people of Libya. We strongly urge others in Congress to open debate on this matter, and cut off the funds supplying it.

Many mass actions are scheduled in the coming days and weeks against the efforts to impose austerity measures and against the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We urge the formation of ‘Jobs Not Wars’ contingents to join them, raising the banner of ‘Hands off Libya, Stop the Bombing Now!’, ‘Let Libyans Shape Their Own Future!’ and ‘Bring ALL Our Troops Home Now!’

So they wish to refocus the anti-war movement to put opposition to the "War in Libya" in 1st place, while depreciating the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan [no banners called for] even though NATO has boots on the ground in both those countries and are carrying out much more vigorous war policies in them as compared to Libya.

And on the question of this revolutionary struggle CCDS is "neutral", meaning not one word of criticism of Qaddafi and not one word of support for the rebellion. The CCDS will raise high the banner ‘Let Libyans Shape Their Own Future!’ which I assume means, remove UN backed military involvement, continue to recognize the Qaddafi government as the legit gov't of Libya, continue to pay Qaddafi for Libya oil and probably even, continue to sell Qaddafi EU, UK & US military hardware, and then let Qaddafi and his thugs on the one hand and the unarmed popular opposition on the other "Shape Their Own Future!" Splendid!

For my opinion on what NATO should and shouldn't be doing in Libya, please see:
2011-07-04 NATO's Game Plan in Libya
For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

In Solidarity,

Clay Claiborne

Note on the recent ANSWER and IAC Pro-Qaddafi Rallies
[this was not in the CCDS submission]

ANSWER has wrapped up their pro-Qaddafi Cynthia McKinney 'Eyewitness Libya' tour. I reported on the Los Angeles event here. After they excluded the Libyans, they had less than 200 people in attendance. Now the International Action Center [IAC] is having their pro-Qaddafi Cynthia McKinney 'Eyewitness Report on U.S./NATO Bombing & Terror' tour. Mercifully, I was unable to attend that L.A. event last Sunday but i have been told that about 100 people showed up and the Libyans didn't even bother this time.

Clearly both of these groups have similar positions on events in Libya and those familiar with their history know that they share a common root. But they both are the result of a sectarian divide that runs so deep that IAC didn't lift a finger to support or promote the ANSWER tour and now ANSWER is doing nothing to tell it's supporters about the IAC events.

You would think that if these two groups were serious about helping the Libyan people and they really believed that NATO was causing "widespread civilian death and destruction" in Libya, that they would bury the hatchet, and not in each others heads, for the greater cause of helping the Libyan people.

Just an observation.