The Libyan exiles and defectors begging for no-fly zones failed to get them at the United Nations Security Council on Saturday, but they are inching closer to lining up Western military support nonetheless. This just in from the Wall Street Journal today:
The Pentagon is repositioning warships and planes in the waters off Libya to be ready to enforce a no-fly zone or deliver humanitarian aid, military officials said Monday. . . . Pentagon officials have been loathe to spell out specific contingency plans they are considering for Libya, but officials have acknowledged that they are preparing for humanitarian missions as well as a campaign to forcibly ground Libyan military aircraft. . . .
Meanwhile, Italy has repudiated its friendship treaty with Libya including its non-aggression clause, thus making Italian military facilities available to a future operation in Libya. France, for its part, has already begun sending aid to the rebels in eastern Libya. Ostensibly the content of the French aid is humanitarian, “doctors, nurses, medicines and medical equipment,” but how long will it take before the need to send humanitarian aid becomes a pretext for sending soldiers to guarantee its safe delivery?
The preparation for a military intervention in Libya will test the revolutionaries in bordering Egypt and Tunisia. The armed forces of their countries, the backbones of the regimes in power there, will be requested to provide support for any such intervention . . . that is, if they have not already privately pledged their cooperation. For instance, according to the aforementioned Wall Street Journal article:
The U.S. does not currently have any aircraft carriers or big-deck amphibious ships in the Mediterranean. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise went through the Suez Canal and entered the Red Sea on Feb 15. . . . [T]he fighter jets based on the carrier could be used to assist in a Libyan no-fly zone, as long as Egypt granted permission for the planes to pass through its air space, a military official said. (emphasis added)
How will the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutionaries respond? On one hand, liberals in the Arab world, including in Egypt and Tunisia, are already petitioning for no-fly zones, so there will be pressure on Arab leftists to go along with them on humanitarian grounds. On the other hand, failing to resist the imperialist intervention in Libya is not a viable option for the Left in Egypt and Tunisia, for the empire would use its Libyan venture to bolster the Egyptian and Tunisian armed forces and to push the two countries firmly back into the status of client states.
What about the Left in the West? It may be safe to expect an even greater political confusion here in the belly of the beast than in the Arab world. There is already a sign of a tempest in a Marxist teapot, of just the kind seen, for instance, in the process of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, which may divert energy from the work of building opposition to the empire’s maneuver to bury the spirit of the Arab Revolt in the sands of Libya. At the same time, though, the memory of exactly what steps eventually led to the ongoing occupation of Iraq is still fresh in the minds of all on the left side of the political spectrum in the West. That may make it possible for us to set aside minor differences in analysis and focus on what matters most in practice: educating the public in the West about the costs of humanitarian imperialism, in Libya or anywhere else.
Yoshie Furuhashi is Editor of MRZine.