Libya and the Arab Uprisings

Against the Current, No. 152, May/June 2011

The Editors

THE SWEEPING UPHEAVALS in Arab countries and North Africa continue to unfold. Among these events, the uprising in Libya and the subsequent United Nations/NATO intervention have provoked intense controversy within the international left and antiwar movement. The debate is an inevitable and necessary one — given both the imminent massacre that appeared likely to occur if the Qaddafi regime recaptured Benghazi and other opposition population centers, and what we well know to be the far-from-humanitarian motives of the imperialist intervening powers.

We will not attempt here to develop a full position, but we consider several points to be of critical importance:

People everywhere have a right to overthrow dictatorships. In the Libyan context, the forces called the rebels deserve our support; the Qaddafi regime does not.

The rebels have the right to demand aid from whatever sources they wish. At the same time, revolutionary internationalists have the right to raise questions and criticisms about the sources and forms of such support and its consequences.

We do not see the United States, NATO or “the West” providing a solution to the crisis. Based on history, these powers are overwhelmingly likely to make things worse and they have no right whatsoever to choose or “approve” the leaders of a post-Qaddafi Libya.

Strategically, organizations and individuals disagree on whether to oppose the UN Resolution and the “no-fly zone,” arming the rebels, etc. These are areas of debate and discussion. It is not surprising that differences exist even among the most principled and committed antiwar fighters and internationalists.

The socialist organization Solidarity, which publishes Against the Current, has posted on its website two statements, each expressing the views of some members of the National Committee, respectively titled “Statement in Support of the Libyan Uprising, In Opposition to U.S.-NATO Airstrikes in Libya” and “The Right to Demand Assistance.” Other material appears in the “Solidarity Webzine” on the same website, and readers are invited to post their own comments.

We will continue our discussion of the world-changing struggles in the Middle East and North Africa in subsequent issues of the magazine.

ATC 152, May-June 2011