Gilbert Achcar is a professor in London, England. He is also a prominent member of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International, one of various Trotskyist political groups professedly wanting to end capitalism and its corollaries of imperialism and war.
You can’t in the name of anti-imperialist principles oppose an action
in Libya by the armed forces of the USA, France, Britain, and by the armed forces of the Arab absolute monarchies Qatar and the UAE, right now helping the Saudi Arabian regime in the bloody oppression of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain
that will prevent the massacre of civilians. In the same way, even though we know well the nature and double standards of cops in the bourgeois state, you can’t in the name of anti-capitalist principles blame anybody for calling them when someone is on the point of being raped and there is no alternative way of stopping the rapists.
This rhetoric by Achcar is a false analogy.
If someone is on the point of being raped, and people then call the police, what do they expect the police to do then? They expect the police, even though working in the context of a bourgeois state, to arrest the individual suspected of attempted rape.
They certainly, and usually reasonably so, do not expect police to start a frenzy of bloody violence against people who have nothing to do with the attempted rape. They do not expect police to kill a three-month-old girl and others in the neighborhood. They do not expect a firearms attack on people opposed to the attempted rape, causing a young man to lose his leg.
As Dutch war reporter Arnold Karskens reported from Tripoli, three-months-old girl Seham was killed by a (probably US American) missile. Foreign armed forces also killed other Libyan civilians who had nothing to do with crimes of pro-Gadaffi forces against other Libyan civilians again.
When a United States war plane was downed in eastern Libya, and anti-Gadaffi Libyans wanted to help the downed crew, those Libyans were fired upon by invading United States marines. Twenty-years-old Hamdy will very probably lose a leg because of this.
Apologists for wars in foreign countries waged by the USA speak of the United States as “the policeman of the world”. However, this obfuscates the big difference between violence of police and violence of armed forces. Police aim to arrest people, while armed forces aim to kill people. The police “standrecht”, giving police the right to kill people immediately without trial, does not exist in a normal “democratic” capitalist state, not even if it has the death penalty; though it did exist in nazi Germany and countries occupied by it.
This crucial difference between police violence and armed forces violence is based on various factors. If a policeman wants to hurt someone with a truncheon, he has to aim specifically at that individual; and, usually, he won’t kill that individual. While missiles and bombs, even bombs that in pro war propaganda are called “smart” bombs will kill, basically at random.
Police usually know something about the neighborhoods in which they are working, which may act as a restraint on violence. While British SAS, French Special Forces, or United States invaders in Libya do not know the country, the people, or their language; removing restraints on violence.
Today, there are chickenhawks on Libya, like there were and are on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. There are neo-conservative chickenhawks: the warmongers in the Rupert Murdoch media certainly have no intention at all of subjecting themselves to the dangers special forces in Libya face, or even to the lesser risks air force crews face.
There are “liberal hawk” interventionists. Mr Joschka Fischer in Germany, whose career went from “Green” environmentalist to Big Oil millionaire, has certainly no intention to leave his expensive villa in Berlin. He wants to leave the dying in Libya to Libyans, and to US, British, French, Qatari, and German soldiers. See also here on Belgian “Green” Durant.
Now in Professor Achcar, we seem to have a third type of chickenhawk: the “anti-capitalist revolutionary” chickenhawk. At least, in the interview which I quoted, Mr Achcar did not say that he had called British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to offer to join the SAS or the Royal Air Force.
From Business Daily in Nairobi, Kenya:
Eastern Africa’s risk profile is set to rise following continuing bombing of Libya by the US and its allies, with regional security and development group IGAD saying attacks on Col Muammar Gaddafi’s strongholds could spark the formation of new terrorist groups in Africa.
Libya intervention threatens the Arab spring. Despite its official UN-granted legality, the credibility of Western military action in Libya is rapidly dwindling, by Phyllis Bennis: here.
Angola’s Foreign Affairs Minister, George Chikoti, said on Tuesday in Luanda that the Angolan government defends dialogue for the resolution of the Libyan deadlock and not a military intervention: here.
Controversy and contestation abound concerning the manner in which powers such as the United States, United Kingdom and France have chosen to implement and enforce the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) mandated no-fly zone in Libya: here.
No other German party has so vehemently supported the war against Libya as the Greens. If the former pacifists were in power in Berlin today, then German bombers would be dropping their deadly cargo over Tripoli: here.
Interview with Agnieszka Malczak, anti Afghan war Green MP: here.
Marjorie Cohn: Stop Bombing Libya: here.
The initial cost of the Libya operation is between $400M & $800M & the weekly expense was likely $30M 2 $100M: here.
The Arab rebellion and the imperialist war on Libya from a Kurdish perspective: here.
It’s Tony Blair we should feel sorry for: “I had no idea Gaddafi would end up like this when I sold him tanks”: here.
USA: Any intentions of boosting the economy will be obliterated by our spending on military actions. As my friend Chuck Spinney has noted in an exchange of emails, President Obama’s actions in Libya show that he has caved in to the “humanitarian interventionists” in his administration, as well as British/French/American post-colonial and oil interests. The result: yet another war with a Muslim country that has done nothing to us. Additionally, the fact that we are doing nothing to staunch the Saudi/Bahraini/Yemeni crackdowns smacks of hypocrisy and will hurt us even more on the Arab streets: here.
Achcar criticized within his own political tendency: here.
Gilbert Achcar and the decent left: here.
May 2013: In the midst of a growing drumbeat for direct Western intervention in Syria, Gilbert Achcar, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London and the chief Middle East analyst for the Pabloite United Secretariat, has dismissed questions about imperialist interests in the region as a “conspiracy theory”: here.
“General enthusiasm over the prospects of imperialism, furious defence of it and painting it in the brightest colours—such are the signs of the times.” These words were written 95 years ago, but in today’s political environment are more apt than ever. A better description of the reaction of liberal journalists, left-wing intellectuals and former radicals to the war in Libya could not be found: here.
- ‘New’ Libya, run for your lives! (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Libya Struggles To Build A Military (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)
- When Appeasement Becomes Collaboration (possil.wordpress.com)
- Libya transporting weapons and fighters to Syria: Americans, Moroccans, Libyans, Egyptians, Bosnians fighting alongside rebel forces (phantomreport.com)
- Suspected missionaries in Libya accused of spying (dailystar.com.lb)