A Reply to Owen Jones….
Owen Jones has managed to produce a case against bombing Libya which hardly mentions Libya hardly at all. Most of what he says about Western double-standards is, of course, true but none of that adds up to a concrete case against the action being undertaken in Libya. Indeed, if we want to debate past tense and hypocrisy the same charges he levels at the West can easily be levelled at those leftist forces now opposing intervention. In the case of the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition, leading the charge we have an ex-Stalinist in the shape of Andrew Murray. As Dave Osler points out Murray and those gathered around the Morning Star are quite happy to send tanks to disfigure any lawn – as long as they are ‘workers tanks’. And then we have ‘Gorgeous’ George Galloway – who seems to be dug out every time one of these incidents occurs – whose flirtations with Saddam Hussein and other Arab despots parallel those of a certain Mr Blair. The point of this exercise is simple. It’s to show that charges of hypocrisy are not enough to win a debate because they can easily be taken full-circle. I, for one, am not convinced ‘workers hypocrisy’ outranks ‘bourgeoisie hypocrisy’. Are you?
We then move onto the oil argument. The whole premise of this argument is basically ignorant of the fact that many good candidates exist to cover the supply short-fall. Saudi Arabia springs to mind. Italy, incidentally, is far more concerned about the wave of Libyan immigration it could be facing from a country ravaged by civil war than the reduction in oil supply.
When we do get onto Libya itself, Owen changes tack to badmouth the rebels and imply there is something wrong with them (therefore the premise of intervention to aid their struggle). Here, I am not accusing him of offering an apologia for Gaddafi; simply writing his speeches and propaganda for him; though to be fair his prose is easier on the eye than the demented ravings of somebody described earlier on Twitter as being like ‘Ian Paisley on crack cocaine’ are on the ear. We saw exactly same pattern of attack on the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo by leftist non-interventionists in that case too.
Owen’s complaints boil down to two things; 1) people ex of the Gaddafi regime are involved in the Transitional National Council and 2) some completely unsubstantiated waffle about possible tribal problems and the frankly vaguely disgraceful suggestion that were the rebels to reach Tripoli they would in fact, massacre the population there on the basis of the flag that the rebels fly.
On number 1, welcome to the real world where things are imperfect and we often have to make the best of what we have on offer. Is Owen going to advise the TNC to reject all the soldiers defecting from Gaddafi’s side to the rebel cause or is he just going to use them to smear a democratic movement as well? No doubt some of them will have been complicit in unpleasant things. On number 2,words simply fail – the flag could simply be the result of people laying hold the most immediately identifiable symbol that is distinguishable from Gaddafi’s. Owen simply can’t prove what he says; instead, he raises a fake and faux alarm in an attempt to smear this movement in a manoeuver that Gaddafi himself has already tried – accusing the rebels of ‘crimes against humanity’ with no apparent sense of irony.
Thaw of the Arab Spring.
He says he is worried about the Arab Revolution. So am I. But the ‘thaw’ he describes begun well before yesterday. In fact, it started with Gaddafi’s advance against the rebels. Maybe things will pan out as he suggests but then again maybe not. Maybe the attitude of the West will worry the despots currently stomping their way across the region, especially if they saw the rise of a democratic solidarity movement in the West pushing and cajoling our leaders to do more and supporting them only where they act in accordance with their professed values. Maybe they will see the rise of the UN and its empowerment through a programme of democratic reform as a threat and think twice. In fact, the nervous backtracking of the Arab League suggests they are far from happy at the thought of Libya’s revolution triumphing as a result of this intervention. We certainly can workshop some alternative scenarios to the ones that Owen sketches but that will only happen with a clear sense of where we going and a willingness to engage with the world as it is, not the one that exists in our heads as a dream.
Non-interventionist leftists have abandoned the Libyan people and their struggle. If this is not the case then answer me this. Where in Owen’s piece is there one single suggestion to even attempt to save a single life, let alone this revolution? The non-interventionist left in the main is the reactionary left, complete with its mind-numbing inability to engage with, let alone change, the real world. In over 100 years their record is one of consistent failure to come within 5 million miles of socialism. They have lost the ability to think for themselves; without the necessary passage from the sacred-texts. They shout loudly about being anti-imperialist in a world without the imperialism they inveigh against. In doing so, they destroy the spirit of those texts and turn it into something horrific; into a weapon wielded with impunity against revolutionary people who want nothing more than their freedom.