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Why Libya Matters

July 25, 2011


The current revolts in Libya and across the Middle East open up possibilities for a world freer from U.S. imperialism. Libya in particular may prove to be a crucial fulcrum in this struggle. Keeping the U.S. military and NATO entirely out of the civil war in Libya is the one thing people in the U.S. can do to help facilitate self-determination for Libyans and a reduction of U.S. power in the region.

The first thing that makes Libya an important cause for people in the U.S. to engage is historical. The U.S. has an unwavering track record of hoisting leaders, friendly to U.S. business interests, to power. Never has a U.S.-backed ruler put the needs of the people first. This happened with the Shah of Iran in the 1950s. Saddam Hussein was the chosen strong man to control Iraq in the 1980s and more recently Hosni Mubarak had U.S. backing to control the population of Egypt.

These are examples only from the Middle East. There are many more examples from the Western Hemisphere that can be provided to prove the point as well. If the U.S. gets involved in Libya militarily, and maybe even if it doesn’t, it is all but guaranteed that the U.S. will set up a government friendly to the U.S. and unfriendly to its own people.

Another possible outcome of U.S. involvement could be to draw religious fundamentalists seeking to fight the U.S. from all over the Muslim world. There is some evidence that such a campaign is already under way. As was witnessed in Iraq, such a situation could cause the conflict to grow, causing even more destruction to Libya. If a conflict between Muslim fundamentalists and Western imperial powers sidelines secular, reform minded Libyans there may be no positive outcome. It would be an incredible shame if the deaths and the courageous efforts of the resistance army did not result in a more just society.

Besides justice and self-determination for the people a second consideration in the case of Libya is its proximity to Egypt. As the second largest recipient of military aid in the Middle East, Israel being number one, Egypt has been a key U.S. ally for many years. Having Mubarak ousted must have the U.S. intelligence apparatus, military and State Department in a tailspin.

The U.S. government is assuredly trying to influence the power struggle going on in Egypt right now and one way to exert control over Egypt is to control Libya. Flipping the scenario around, if first Libya, and then Egypt with its large military were to expel Western powers and take a stance firmly opposed to U.S. involvement in the region the whole landscape of U.S./Western imperialism in the Middle East would change overnight.

Suddenly Israel would be very much alone and the Intifada would have new negotiating terms. The rebellion in Syria could receive support from these new regimes. U.S. client states everywhere would have questions to answer.

We are currently at a crossroads. The U.S. successfully influencing the outcome of the revolt in Libya could have terrible consequences. The Libyan people being able to determine their own destiny could result in huge blow to American power.

For a better future to be possible, we in the U.S. must play our role and do whatever we can to keep the U.S. and NATO out of Libya.

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