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Submitted by edwardm on Sun, 20/03/2011 - 23:02

David,

So, buried at the end of a paragraph halfway through your second post on the subject, you reveal your position. It turns out that you actually do think that socialists should oppose the intervention. Why?

You think it is 'likely' that the intervention will create a pro-Gadaffi backlash.
You think it is 'likely' that, in a general sense, the doctrine of humanitarian intervention will get a boost.

The thing about the pro-Gadaffi backlash is far from certain. We haven't seen it yet; we have only really seen paid militias fighting for Gadaffi so far; basically, you are speculating about something which *could* happen.

The massacre of the revolutionaries in Benghazi, up until the Western intervention, was much more certain. It was the most likely outcome of there being no intervention. If the no-fly-zone/bombing stopped tomorrow (as NATO buckled under the hammer blows of the CPGB-ML and the Commune), the massacre would almost certainly resume.

Not only is the massacre much more certain than the pro-Gadaffi backlash, the massacre of all the leading cadre of the rebels in Benghazi would be much, much worse for the revolution than would a pro-Gadaffi backlash appearing in certain quarters - even if the latter happened, which I doubt.

The thing about the doctrine of humanitarian intervention getting a political boost is more of a likely prospect. But what does that mean? It is a general political development, which will bode ill for the future, generally. In situations which do not exist, which we cannot guess at, it will make it easier for the US to bomb people. It does not mean imminent mass death of revolutionary cadre and civilians, in Benghazi, tomorrow. It is not as immediate, certain, or bad for the Middle Eastern/North African revolution as the massacre.

David Broder's general political method is to pop up and
1) say things which are self-consciously awfully clever and
2) pose somewhat to the left of the naughty, naughty AWL on questions of imperialism, in order to score points

So, we get
1) instead of actually saying what he thinks, we get rather a lot of waffle along the lines of "do not chide me, you sophist" and "we must ask the bigger political questions..."
2) an obviously cooked-up reason to oppose the intervention, which is so thin that David can't even bring himself to spell out its consequences.

Why won't you say that you think it would be no bad thing if Gadaffi killed all the revolutionaries in Benghazi? Because at least then we would be spared the "potential consequences" of a revival of liberal interventionism and the support for Gadaffi that the intervention "may galvanise". You can't take it seriously! You admit in spelling out the arguments to call for an end to the intervention that all the bad stuff is only potential, only maybe.

The reason you won't come out and say that you're with the CPGB-ML in calling for an immediate end to the intervention is because you can't possibly think it, you can't possibly with a straight face defend Gadaffi's right to kill all the rebels. You've just come on here to continue your long-term political project of saying things for effect, to attract attention, sound more leftwing than the nasty old AWL, and generally play silly buggers. Get serious or go and do it somewhere bloody else.

And what does "the political consequences of the intervention may be self-defeating" mean? That NATO forces "may" defeat themselves accidentally? Wouldn't that be a good thing though? What kind of a sentence even is that?

But seriously, folks. There is an argument doing the rounds (in an oblique, knowing way from David Broder, and in a straightforward, openly boneheaded way from the SWP) that if the rebels in Benghazi won but only with the backing of NATO forces then the nature of their victory would be compromised - that a victory for the people in Benghazi, if backed openly by imperialism, would be reduced to a NATO proxy-conquest of Libya, not a proper revolution. What's implied there is that it would be really great if the rebels won without any help from NATO. We've never thought it would be a socialist revolution if the Benghazi forces overthrew Gadaffi. It would not be less socialist if they won on the back of a NATO bombing campaign. The rebels are being led and have always been led by renegade Gadaffi generals and ministers.

But what a rebel victory would *necessarily* mean is greater breathing-space for working-class organisation and self-assertion.

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