UN Declares War on Gaddafi

The UN Security Council has approved a “no fly zone” over Libya and more importantly authorizing “all necessary measure” (ie. direct attacks against Gaddafi’s forces) to protect civilians, by a vote of 10 in favour with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation). The resolution excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”

NB. This morning France stated that the resolution did not rule out an invasion by foreign troops. An invasion is not the same as an occupation. (20/3/2011 10:57 pm clarification by BK: This was heard on the radio in the early hours but I have been unable to confirm it through googling. It is true however that the resolution does allow for attacks on Gaddafi’s ground troops and that operations by foot soldiers are also not specifically ruled out)

The UN delegates referred repeatedly to the Arab League’s call for a no fly zone.

Speaking before the vote, Alain Juppe, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said the world was experiencing “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history”, as people throughout North Africa and the Middle East were calling for “a breath of fresh air”, for freedom of expression and democracy.  Such calls for democratic transition had echoed thro­ugh Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco.  Everyone had witnessed the events with great hope and he believed “this new Arab springtime is good news for all”.  The changes required the international community not to “give lessons”, but to help the people of those countries build a new future.


Libya is a largely urban country with 85% of pe­ople living in its two large and about twenty smaller cities and towns. The democratic rebels have control of the eastern towns and the second largest city Benghazi as well as substantially unarmed but very widespread support in the west. They currently have, compared to the undemocratic Gaddafi forces, a reasonably small, badly organized and poorly trained army with virtually no ‘airforce’ and only tiny naval forces that exist under the protection of western navies.

Without foreign intervention Gaddafi can’t be dealt with in anything like a timely manner. He would win in the short term. His army will however be routed once his air power, tanks and armoured vehicles are denied to him.

Gaddafi has already lost Libya. He can only hold Tripoli and the highway east only so far (he can’t for example ever again send his forces to the Egyptian border) and he can not hold that territory that he does indefinitely. Eventually, he won’t be able to hold the outlying eastern end and a more or less rapid withdrawal west will unfold. Everyone interested in this would already have read up on the WW2 forward and backward fighting. Gaddafi understands this perfectly well.

How the war unfolds remains to be seen. But clearly the Gaddafi announced “ceasefire” is not genuine and designed to divide world public opinion and buy time for his forces now stranded in the desert.

The French have played a leading role in this so far by recognizing the rebels representatives, the transitional national council, as the legitimate interim authority

In the end the military action will be taken by the French, British and US backed by Italy, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Belgium and hopefully Egypt will get involved at some stage. The military actions would not be taken if they were proposed or intended to remain open ended. The Obama administration and allies want this war won and won as rapidly as possible.


The actual demands that will establish the new political entity that emerges from the fighting at this point go no further than demands for bourgeois democracy. The political demands that have led to the fighting are for the right to form political parties and stand for elections that are free and fair in a proportionally representative parliamentary system and under a constitution approved by a referendum of the people . These rights in truth don’t go very far past a demand for basic dignity and a parity with what is perceived as universal western freedoms.

The regions tyrants are now, after Egypt’s tyranny fell, ALL on the chopping block and like everyone that is paying close attention, particularly those that run the regimes approaching their use by date


This region wide phenomena shows every indication of infecting many other countries around the planet. The Iranians are watching and yearning as are the Chinese masses. The people in Sudan are stirring as are the people in Djibouti. This is a very impressive revolution that is underway and who can say where it will break out next. Globalisation is fully apparent in the unity of interest of the oppressed masses as they organise on their fully imported mobile phones and universal rights are being once more proclaimed and sought.

Newsflash: The Friday of Dignity in Syria : The start of revolution


People who think of themselves as in anyway progressive or of the left should listen intently to what the Obama administration is saying over Libya precisely because US ruling class interests are currently in the Middle East aligned with progressive interests.

Ten years ago the U.S. ruling elite were forced to face the truth about the policies their predecessors had almost always followed in the Middle East since WW2. These rotten to the core policies had rather obviously caused the blow-back from the swamp that they had help to create or maintain. The more than just annoying ‘insects’ of Al Qaeda had a mass base across the region solidly based in the ‘moderate allies’ of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and that base had to be destroyed. The swamp had to be drained!

The policy settled on after 9/11, past the obvious first response of a holding pattern in Afghanistan was to smash the worst tyranny, in Iraq, and assume that the rest will start to get the message as the example of the peoples’ in that country actually having rights and opportunities to organize politically, culturally, and economically become crystal clear across the region and the speech of Condi Rice in Cairo in 2005 made the whole strategy perfectly clear.


Not surprisingly, just as the government of Israel is a problem to the attainment of the new US goals of the speedy establishment of a Palestinian state so are the old governments of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and so on.

All these autocrats are fighting rear guard actions to delay the glaringly inevitable transition of the whole region. The people on the streets in 2011 have ‘broken the spell’ and a region of one person one vote proportional representative electoral democracies as currently enjoyed by the people of Iraq is on the agenda. The goals of the people – region wide – is to live in countries with constitutions approved by the peoples, systems as free and representative as the system in Iraq


The Bahrain rulers had to choose between surrender or fight. They chose to fight so the Obama administration is collateral damage The foolishness of the old US policies in maintaining this swamp with ruling classes so deluded as to make the choice to fight against elections could not be more transparent. It is the old policies that led to this madness. The 21C youth of the region will never put up with the old swamp and the heroes across the region in country after country over the last two months has given a fair indication of the future once arms are seriously taken up in their, now openly required, self defense. Cast aside illusions prepare for armed struggle is what communists advise.

The US ruling elite cannot avoid the consequences of this progressive Libyan policy elsewhere in the region. US national interests are ultimately just as tied to the holding of free and fair elections in Bahrain as they are in Libya. To go to war in Libya just to die of shame in Bahrain would be pointless ‘Obama hope’ and ‘Obama change’ that no one could be bothered to even try to believe in.

The Saudi and UAE autocratic governments have just sent a lawful column of troops (1,000 and 500) across the causeway at the request of the lawful Bahrain autocrats. The US fifth fleet is tied up at the docks and the sailors and marines are singing their hymns in wonder and awe as they watch the parade pass before them. As westerners all are laughing at the local autocrats sending for help to put down the peoples demands for free and fair elections. What sort of laws are these we all ask? Are these undead lawful tyrannies going to just put down the push for democracy in Bahrain? Are the people engaged in lawlessness? Will they be kept in bondage to their betters? Obama is not going to cop this is he? No it’s just not possible! The American people would laugh him out of a second term if he allowed the people of Bahrain to be murdered and tyrannized while trapped in front of what he would have made a powerless but once thought mighty US navy. The whole world is watching goes the old chant and it’s not far wrong either. What the devil is to be done?


The people of Saudi Arabia who have, with all other Arab masses throughout the region, watched with pride as country after country in the region has taken to the streets have now been intellectually dragged onto the stage as their own young soldiers have been sent to keep the Shia of Bahrain in their place. The whole eastern part of Saudi Arabia is full of Shia so not only are the US pissed off so are they! The Iraqi peoples and government are pissed off as are the people in Iran where an oppressed population wait their chance. The ruling class Sunni in Saudi Arabia have simply overplayed their hand. They have no credible long term destination. So I conclude that diplomacy will probably sort out the departure of their troops earlier rather than later.

Editorial note: Longer notes received from Patrick, who is temporarily offline, have been both edited and added to by Bill Kerr

8 Responses to “UN Declares War on Gaddafi”

  1. 1 jim sharp

    b.k. ?
    have you or p.m. really read/studied the U.N. resolution.
    coz g.achcar who as more nuanced materialist concept of history differs from yours
    on Libyan Developments By

  2. 2 Bill Kerr

    I read the Gilbert Achcar interview. Like a lot of people he is being drawn along by events and supports the overthrow of Gaddafi and democratic revolution in the Middle East. Where he doesn’t get it is that this started with regime change in Iraq which now provides a good model for an electoral system for the others to follow.

    What you see as a “more nuanced materialist concept of history” I see as being stuck in an old paradigm, the old days when US imperialism was the number one enemy of the world’s people. Today, the principal contradiction in the world is b/w those who support the world wide completion of the democratic revolution and those who oppose it. I can’t help but notice that France, Britain and the US (lagging behind a little under Obama but still onside) are supporting the democratic revolution in Libya. Haven’t you noticed yet?

  3. 3 Dalec

    Bill, I think it is fair to say that the Iraq “model” is irrelevant and has been abandoned by the US. Ask the people of Egypt and Libya and Bahrain for that matter. You may as well say they have Turkey as a model; frankly, this model business is a waste of time. For a start none of the countries has been invaded by the US army and mercenaries and the bombing has been a lot more selective this time.

  4. 4 Arthur

    The Gilbert Achar article is interesting because his “nuanced” support of imperialist armed intervention in Libya directly contradicts all his earlier posturing and the whole line at Znet (as reflected in the comments).

    While avoiding such “nuanced” confusion and sticking to militant demands for more armed solidarity I think the article should be careful of suggestions that “IMPERIALIST INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST COINCIDE WITH PEOPLES INTERESTS”.

    Such unity is temporary conditional and relative. Struggle is absolute.

    This is especially relevant to the Bahraini monaarchy’s use of Saudi and UAE troops against their people. I see no evidence that the US administration is or soon will be opposed to this.

    That might reflect the importance of GCC support for a “no fly zone” in the Arab League which was in turn of great importance in avoiding a UN veto and thus weakening opposition to the armed intervention. If so it might well be an appropriate tactical compromise.If Australia’s Kevin Rudd had something to do with stitching that up when attending the GCC meeting he might well deserve congratulations.

    But any such compromise is in no way binding on us!

    I see no reason to expect that American popular support for democratic revolution throughout the Arab world could in any way influence US policy in the Gulf. (Given that counter-revolutionary intervention has been “off the table” since Vietnam). As far as I know popular opinion is still much more backward than government policy (eg majority opposed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya).

    It was entirely correct for the Chinese Communist Party to declare war on Japan while the Soviet Union maintained a peace agreement with Japan.

  5. 5 Arthur

    Also I don’t think the Saudi’s “overplayed their hand”.

    It isn’t a matter of them taking advantage of the situation to annex Bahrain.

    A democratic regime across the causeway would have been, and eventually will be a mortal threat to them. They were certain to intervene against it and when that fails they will be in deep shit.

  6. 6 jim sharp

    “It was entirely correct for the Chinese Communist Party to declare war on Japan while the Soviet Union maintained a peace agreement with Japan”.

    arfur: dream as you’d like it.
    now to this ccp stuff is but sophistry at its fallacious worst
    or you’re ignorance of the material conditions prevailing in china
    for mao & his ccp comrades who saw things[but all ways] i.e he & they had
    a politically class conscious well organized & disciplined mass party & army.
    which was to enable them to give some real liberation legs to back-up their declaration of war against the Japanese imperialists.
    unlike the disorganized spontaneous Maghreb popular rebellions

    arfur lad,
    what strange demented feelings
    must perturb your psyche?
    on realising your suasion &
    persuasion abilities are spent
    leaving but idle nonsensical thoughts

  7. 7 Bill Kerr

    Some supporting information from Craig Murray (former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan) for arthur’s view that the Arab League’s support for Libyan intervention was bought at the expense of the Bahrain’s peoples uprising:

    A senior diplomat in a western mission to the UN in New York, who I have known over ten years and trust, has told me for sure that Hillary Clinton agreed to the cross-border use of troops to crush democracy in the Gulf, as a quid pro quo for the Arab League calling for Western intervention in Libya.
    The Invasion of Bahrain

  8. 8 jim sharp

    FYI: first there’s shock & awe-inspiring collusion but!
    when they’re losing the losers contention will gathers pace as one & all look about for any escape clause

    Hague says Britain will let Gaddafi stay
    Roland Watson, Sam Coates
    July 25 2011 9:25PM

    Britain is ready to allow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to live out his days in Libya, William Hague said yesterday as he lowered the bar in an attempt to break the current stalemate. In a significant shift of position, the Foreign Secretary said that as long as Colonel Gaddafi no longer held power he could remain in Libya. David Cameron had previously said that the dictator should leave the country and stand trial for war crimes at The Hague. Britain has become increasingly isolated in recent days, however, with France and the Libyan rebels both arguing that in order to make progress they should drop demands for Colonel Gaddafi’s departure. The military operation has now been running for more than four months and there are typically more than 160 sorties and 40 strikes per day against Libyan targets. But the operation has still failed to dislodge the Libyan leader from his compound in Tripoli. The change in tone raises the question of whether Colonel Gaddafi will ever appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Britain would prefer to see him leave… sourse>> http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/

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