Gaddafi’s Oppressions

By Stephen Gowans

My local newspaper informed me this morning that with the killing of Muammar Gaddafi the “Libyan people can finally turn the page on 42 years of vicious oppression.”

The oppression began with Gaddafi liberating Libya from the tyranny of the puppet ruler King Idris I, whose flag has become the banner of the rebels.

It continued with Gaddafi’s expulsion of foreign military bases and his nationalization of the country’s oil.

Further oppression was heaped upon Libyans when under Gaddafi’s rule living standards rose to surpass those of every other country in Africa.

Certainly, Gaddafi’s fight to suppress the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—whose members fought the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq and struggled alongside Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan—added to the oppression.

The leader of the LIFG, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, once jailed by the Americans for terrorism, is now the military ruler of Tripoli.

Gaddafi’s insistence over the objections of US oil company executives and State Department officials that the Libyan economy be “Libyanized” (that foreign investment be turned to the advantage of Libyans) cranked up the oppression a notch or two further.

And Gaddafi’s generous aid to national liberation movements and to sub-Saharan African countries expanded his oppressions worldwide.

Which pro-democracy forces fought back against these oppressions?

• Qatar, an absolute monarchy, which sent guns and ammunition to Islamist rebels.

• Monarchists, still incensed at the overthrow of their king.

• Islamists, who for years had struggled to bring an Islamist regime to power in Tripoli.

• CIA-connected dissidents, who hold key positions in the National Transitional Council, and promise Western oil companies first dibs on oil concessions.

• Nato, whose warplanes and special operation forces proved decisive in toppling Gaddafi.

Over the last few weeks, Nato warplanes occupied themselves with reducing the town of Sirte to rubble – in the name of protecting civilians. It turns out that it’s all right for Nato to bomb civilians, but not for the leaders of independent governments to put down insurgencies.

While these forces battled Gaddafi’s oppressions, US-provisioned Saudi tanks rolled into Bahrain to crush a popular uprising, the US-backed ruler of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, turned his guns on his own people, and US-approved Mubarakism continued in Egypt, under Mubarak’s henchmen.

These events—all involving US allies–have been little remarked upon. More importantly, none have been met with military intervention or indictments by the International Criminal Court, these attentions being reserved uniquely for Gaddafi.

It’s true that the Libyan people can finally turn the page on 42 years, but of independence, not of vicious oppression.

Nato military bases, an economy subservient to Western oil companies, and the oppressive yoke of US imperialism, await them.

31 thoughts on “Gaddafi’s Oppressions

  1. Yet another hero of anti-imperialist struggle has fallen. This time a real hard-line Marxist-Leninist. Alfonso Cano, leader of the FARC has been killed in combat. RIP

  2. I say with regret that it seems,with the developments in Libya,that the only way nations wishing to develop along an independent road can avoid the hegemony of imperialism and survive the brutal armed dictatorship of capital is to develop a nuclear deterrent.Iran,Syria,Cuba,Vietnam,laos,DPRK and Zimbabwe take note of the events in Libya,any one of you could be next.You are being forced into developing such a defence system or face anihalation.Your existence is on the line and you are not safe.Imperialism only knows violence.That much should be clear.

  3. greg simpson is short on evidence and long on words…his attack on Mugabe pins him down as an apologist for neocolonialism.
    MQs bad behavour? there is none.Whats ‘bad’ is his support for anticolonian movements.,,his nationaising the oil and mineral recources…free education , free health care, houseing for all etc….he is the threat of a good eg

  4. Gadafi was not ‘toppled’..he was murdered…Will the ICC send out arrest warrants for the murderers? Will Amnesty demand no state harbor them? Will…..

  5. Stalin: Man of Contradictions by Kenneth Neil Cameron and the Stalin Era by Anna Louise Strong are also good books.

  6. Shouldn’t forget crucial books such as, “Khrushchev Lied” by Grover Furr. This book does really well by going into great lengths to point out why literally every claim made by Khrushchev during his “secret speech” is either provably false, lacks evidence, or special circumstances surround said claim.

    Grover Furr also has two other books dealing with Stalin, the time period surrounding Stalin’s era, and the propaganda made out against him. These books are:

    Оболганный Сталин (ENG: “Stalin Slandered”); and
    Правосудие Сталина. Обжалованию не подлежит! (ENG: “Justice for Stalin. Without Appeal!”)

  7. DOHA: Qatar revealed for the first time Wednesday that hundreds of its soldiers had fought alongside Libyans in their battle to topple longtime despot Moammar Gadhafi.
    “We were among them and the numbers of Qataris on ground were hundreds in every region,” said Qatari chief of staff Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali al-Atiya.

    The announcement marks the first time that Qatar has acknowledged it had military boots on the ground in Libya.

  8. Why would the Socialist economy have been undermined by Kosygin’s reforms? Is the Red Flag still Flying by Albert Szymanski, written in the late 1970’s is a good study of the Soviet economy during that time. The author started out as a Maoist who thought the capitalism had been restored in the Soviet Union but then he studied the subject and concluded that the Soviet economy was still essentially Socialist. The books Socialism Betrayed by Roger Keeran and Heroic Struggle, Bitter Defeat by Bahman Azad also examine Socialism in the Soviet Union and the Stalin era. Gowan’s article, Socialism, Agenda Time has links to articles that discuss Socialism in the Soviet Union and Stalin.

  9. I agree with Stephen Gowans that Homer Simpson should substantiate his indictments against Khadafi and further implications concerning others. He demands an attitude of equidistance between the imperialist powers and the destitute people of the Third World and/or its nationalist/populist regimes, always weaker than their colonial counterparts. In his Matrix-connected mind, the victim and the butcher, the bomber and the bombed are equally responsible. Typical! It’s a “provocateur’s” behaviour. I suppose he votes for Obama.

  10. Stephen
    Do you have any info on the role if any played by the NED or other such group in Libya and any info regarding US, Canadian or European special forces (Navy Seals, Green Berets, Delta Force, SAS, JTF2, 1er RPIMa, etc.) in Libya?

  11. gowans said: “Also, it would be helpful, since you bring up the matter of Gaddafi’s bad behavior, to offer some specifics. Which behaviours did you have in mind?”

    Probably that bombing of his own people that RussiaToday showed to be false, or those bones of his victims found at Abu Salim prison that later turned out to be camel’s ones…

    Btw; I have read your articles extensively and I have nowhere found your opinion on Stalin and his period. As a Marxist-Leninist, what is your opinion about him and his period? You have writen in one of your last articles that the Soviet economy was socialist until Gorbachev reforms dismantled it. Do you believe that Soviet economy was socialist until that time, or was it already undermined by Kosygin reforms in 1965 and later? It would be nice if you could cover this topic in one of your future articles.

    Thank you and all the best

  12. The Saints/Savages divide – thank you Stephen.

    Whatever small blemish of the savage is a direct consequence of their murderous, iniquitous culture.

    A crime, no matter how barbarous, committed by a saint; is because of a momentary lapse of judgement, an exception to the rule.

    The Saint/Savages divide.

  13. It seems you’d be happiest if I spent my time carrying on at length about “the abusive practices” of regimes targeted by imperialists, and at precisely the moment they’re under siege, but I suspect you wouldn’t give a damn if I dwelled at length on the abusive practices of puppet regimes, and perhaps wouldn’t approve either. In your world, it is the ‘golden boys of revolution’ (which seems to be whichever economic nationalist the State Department has singled out for abuse) who are deserving of especial scorn. You may accuse me, in your formulaic way, of making friends of the enemies of my enemy, but I wonder if it would be more apt to say you’ve made enemies of the enemies of the State Department—which invites a question about who your friends are.

    As for binaries, if you mean to say, Manichean division of the world into saints and demons, I’ve encountered no group more committed to a Manichean worldview than you and your co-religionists. In your church, anyone who leads a government targeted for regime change happens to be an unrelieved devil, and every saint is on the payroll of the National Endowment for Democracy or getting guns from Qatar. The problem isn’t my silence on the abuses of targeted regimes, but yours on their accomplishments. For you one negates the other. For me, they coexist.

    At the moment of the Nazi invasion of Poland, I imagine you would have reproved me, had I condemned the Nazi aggression while remaining silent on the abuses of the Polish government. And you doubtlessly would have accused me of blatantly implicit binaries (or some such other pompous drivel.) And it would be clear what your agenda was—not balance, but to extenuate the Nazi aggression. There are times when pointing out the failings of the vicitm is appropriate, and times when it has clearly reactionary political purposes.

    Sure, the Gaddafi regime behaved at times in undesirable ways, and one could debate when the undesirable behavior was justified and when it wasn’t. But most of the people who talk of 42 years of brutal oppression never provide any specifics, and that they don’t invites the question of whether they have the slightest idea of what they’re talking about.

    I suspected that you are among this group and so I asked you to specify the bad behavior you were thinking of. That you tried to breezily avoid the question with a “certainly the people I spoke with in Liberia didn’t have him on their Christmas card list!” and then turned the discussion to Zimbabwe, confirmed my suspicion: You really haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, do you?

    By the way, your resort to the same obvious rhetorical tricks that Patrick Bond has a fondness for makes me wonder whether you’re modeling your debating techniques on his, or whether you’ve both arrived at the same grab bag of wearying tricks independently. Whatever the case, one Patrick Bond in the world is more than enough. Try finding your own voice.

  14. i thought the implications of MQ’s adventurism in West Africa, and elsewhere on the continent, were pretty well known … certainly the people i spoke with in Liberia didn’t have him on their Christmas card list!
    As for the binaries, perhaps what appear blatantly implicit to me and others i know who read your blog, are simply unintended and misinterpreted … but it seems to me there is a clear pattern in a lot of your writing that supports a version of the old adage that my enemies enemy is my friend .. i’m not talking about the politics of equitable responsibility here, but rather a tactical approach that seems to me to undermine your strategic goal … your silence on abusive practices by regimes such a Mugabe for instance, provides unnecessary divisive cannon fodder for those who would deny much of the legitimate critique of western agendas you put out on the blog .. (the implicit justification of Mukoko’s torture for example, because she’s funded by imperialist agents is way off beam .. you’d be better off engaging the faulty modus operandi of the ZPP and ZESN .. the point i’m making is that the impression you leave in that instance was that you didn’t have a problem about what they did to her, or do you simply think she made it up? And what of other violations under Mugabe’s watch .. collateral damage in defence of the revolution, as some have claimed .. … Gukurahndi … is that justifable counterinsurgency in the face of apartheid destabilisation? if so, it’s pretty threadbare stuff ……
    So yes, i think you often raise extremely important issues and then lose it by presenting these guys as golden boys of the revolution … I wonder, have you ever met anyone who has been tortured by Mugabe’s regime ..i have met many .. are they all just surrogates and proxies of imperialist agendas? Have you ever been to Zimbabwe and done your own empirical fieldwork or anywhere else for that matter? It would be very helpful to know if your analysis is rooted in anything more than musings from your desktop ….. it’s a serious concern, that some elements of what’s left of the left seek refuge in the barren wasteland of redundant outfits like ZANU-PF and SWAPO, whose leaderships long ago abandoned to spirit and ethos of their revolutionary agendas …
    The offer is on the table for you to come to Southern Africa and debate these issues in an open forum … please come!

  15. I wonder if, perhaps, you’ve constructed a straw man. Where, for example, did I say or imply that imperialist agendas justify MQ’s legacy of bad behaviour? And where are the binaries, false or otherwise?

    Also, it would be helpful, since you bring up the matter of Gaddafi’s bad behavior, to offer some specifics. Which behaviours did you have in mind?

  16. All good points, but the exposure of imperialist agendas in no way justifies MQ’s legacy of bad behaviour .. this is not a game of comparisons, but the reductionism of SG and his band of acolytes continues to undermine the central tenets of the important issues being raised. It’s a shame it gets reduced to these false binaries

  17. On sunday the 23rd,the leader of the NTC,Mustafa Abdul-Jalil announced to a cermoney in Libya that sharia law would be the basic source of legislation in Libya and that any current laws that contradict the teachings of islam would be nulified.I bet the people of Libya,particulary the women,can hardly wait to be thrust back 500 years and be ruled over by fanatical monchists backed up by islamic fundmentalists.Add to this the exploitation by finance capital interested in cheap labour and oil profits and only dark clouds can be seen for the people of Libya.Imperialism has a lot to answer for.Thanks for the poignant post Stephen

  18. re: Jon Stewart

    In general, American progressives and Leftists are imperialists, despite their “antiwar” mask. They like to present themselves as more benevolent than Right Wingers, but this is a deception.

    And the American antiwar movement is largely a disguised imperialist movement, which is primarily concerned about the negative consequences of war for the USA–and not the criminal nature of these wars.

    For instance, ask any US peace activist, progressive, or Leftist if they support compelling the United States to pay war reparations to those countries it has attacked like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, et al.–as Nazi Germany was forced to do after World War 2.

    I suspect the vast majority of them will be hostile to this idea. For all their antiwar rhetoric, Americans realize that such reparations would tally in the trillions of dollars, and there’s no way in hell they would agree to this.

    Political “differences” in the USA are thus a smokescreen, when it comes to imperialist Americanism.

    When push comes to shove, Americans will never give up their jealously guarded dominance, power, or wealth willingly. After all, Americans stole, raped, and pillage this wealth fair and square.

    As US rulers like George Bush Sr. and Dick Cheney have stated, the American way of life is non-negotiable.

  19. bravo, great job, and on point.
    i felt a tear roll down my cheek when I saw Ghadaffi’s body strewn across the papers in Britain. Bleak and depressing news which we must combat with relentless actions to expose imperialism.
    well done stephen

  20. whiet europeans thru NATO have used imported arab mercenaries(from africs qatar etc) to kill arab and black libyans..then they just step in and clean up..This is to be the new method of waging war.US will now ask Libyans to pay for the war NATO/US waged on them.

  21. The Rendon PR group who stagemanaged “news” in Iraq and helped form the national Iraqi council, are on Nato’s payroll again in Libya this year. They received $100,000 a month in Iraq, their founder in 1996 told army cadets “I am an information warrior and a perception manager.” Rendon earns its money still. Eight months of single-sided anti-Gaddafi propaganda 24 x 7 we have had, Benghazi swollen with “journalists” feeding out the hogwash as if “from the front line”; the embedded corporates following along with the Mad Max guntotin clusters on openback cars racing about way back of the falling 9,600 Nato bombs, the UK Apache helicopters, the tomahawk missiles. None of the bombs shown. That’s “the people” we’re supposed to be seeing, shouting with glee beside the embedded—and directed—cameras.
    And Al Jazeera going from what Angry Arab called the new Nasser to being the Nato Broadcasting Company, with Quatari boots on the ground to join the special forces from Saudi, and the SAS. And all the lies day after day and still going on. Gaddafi’s supposed planned genocide by viagra(nothing was too absurd), supposed bombing of residential areas when RT showed no planes in the sky; and Press TV, useful for showing oppression in Gaza, riding here along with the Nato bombing, all for its own so-called “Islamic Revolution”. His death was stagemanaged. Clinton in for protocol to announce it was starting, France and Nato claiming to have been involved, then handing the wounded body over as a tribal trophy for the guntoters in the rear’s last staged triumph. So there can be a staged proxy butchering of the West’s old enemy in North Africa, with responsibility attributed to the zeal of those long-oppressed Libyans.
    And yet for all this people see through it, a lot of us. And we need to share our information. Thanks Stephen.

  22. So that’s the way it is: When a republican president starts an illegal war, Jon Steward and Co. ridicule him. When a democratic president starts a war, Jon Stewart and company praise and excuse him. Now that is true American journalistic integrity and sense of fairness.
    I am not watching this clown anymore. Where the hell does he get his information from? That’s the problem with these so-called “liberals” and “democrats.” They are one-sided. They are a cruel joke. They are great at pointing out the evil and absurdities of the republicans but total ignoramuses when their favored US government democratic monsters do the same!
    These idiots would probably commit collective harakiri if their precious icon Barry or Dubya would end up being dragged through the street all bloody and shot-up. Between 2003-2008 they cried and whined whenever Bush and Co. violated international law and applied the law of the jungle to Saddam Hussein and others, but when Barry does the same, they praise and excuse it. They are hypocrites.

  23. Succinctly put. What has happened to make the Western left, which unanimously rejected the invasion of Iraq only eight years ago, now go a-whoopin’ and a’hollerin’ in support of the invasion of Libya by a faction of NATO members? (Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO by numbers, did not participate; many other countries were lukewarm at best.)

    I placed a bet with a friend back when this squalid war started that the USAAF would be back in the Wheelus Air Base within the year. Looks like I wasn’t far wrong.

  24. As an example of how the corporate media instill imperialism among U.S. “liberals” through brainwashing, the following segment of Jon Stewart’s television show is instructive. Note the techniques he uses to personally belittle the late President Qaddhafi, to justify his murder, to dismiss criticism from both anti-imperialist governments as well as domestic opportunists, and to rally viewers to sympathize with the U.S. President as the victim of hypocrisy on the part of the other wing of the U.S. Republicratic Party of capitalist governance.

    It’s worth reminding people open to questioning the corporate system that “entertaining” public affairs analysis via the corporate media is first and foremost there to brainwash people into supporting the capitalist political line of one wing or the other.

    Reaction to Gaddafi Killing
    Jon Stewart looks at what Republicans said after former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed.

    Here’s the video:

  25. The German newspaper DIE ZEIT put it rather precisely when it reported that Ghaddafi’s fatal mistake was underestimating the cynicism of the West esp. NATO, whose mission was justified with “protecting human rights”.

    (For those who can read German:

    All of Ghaddafi’s attempts to pacify the supposed Western “interest in human rights” played right into the militarists’ hands.

    The end effect of this wondrous “humanitarian intervention” will be a world much more inhumane than before. Like the bumper sticker says “Be nice to the USA or we will bring democracy to your country”.

    The question is: when will there ever be light at the end of this dark military hellhole? This has got to stop.

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