I realize that you are making a sincere and determined effort to square an anti-imperialist orientation with the realities of armed intervention on the side of forces whose victory you also favor. And I respect your efforts. My point is you are trying to square the circle by reconciling means which are not suitable to the ends that you wish to attain.
"We are demanding mass solidarity and aid to Libya under the control of the workers' movement.
I suppose that the only way the dilemma would arise is if we had some kind of revolutionary socialist MPs and they held the balance in voting for or against war. Sadly we don't and parliament doesn't get to vote on war anywhere except retrospectively when it doesn't make too much difference anyway.
If the workers' movement was powerful enough to make a difference like that it would be powerful enough to demand massive assistance including military assistance to the rebels- but crucially under their control."
But then again, if my grandmother had wheels she would be a bus. You are amalgamating two different propositions. If the workers movement was powerful enough to make a difference, why would it demand anything from imperialists? It would simply authorize that assistance directly as a matter of international solidarity and place that aid, as you suggest,---under the control of Libyan workers.
The only thing that independent revolutionary socialists who simply held the balance of power could do is to withhold the credits needed to finance an imperialist intervention. They would hardly be in any position to also demand that the intervention be placed on a socialist footing. Rank and file socialists face an analogous dilemma. We are not in a position to impose socialist demands on an imperialist intervention, to transform an imperialist war into a socialist war. We do, on the other hand, have the ability to mobilize masses against that intervention and attempt to bring it to a halt.
When should we do this? To date, the Libyan opposition and the democratic movement throughout the Arab world haven't called for world-wide demonstrations against the NATO operation. I am simply suggesting that we defer to the tactical judgment of those actually engaged in the struggle, rather than lecturing them on the historical duplicity of imperialism. I think, in any case, we have little to teach them with regard to this subject. And it seems to me (and also from the evidence that you give regarding your contacts with Libyan oppositionists!) that democratic movements in Libya, Tunisa, Egypt and elsewhere have to date tolerated the air attacks on tactical grounds rather than as naive dupes of Western imperialism.
You imply that we nevertheless mobilize now to bring the intervention to an immediate halt.I realize that that does not exhaust your list of demands. Still it holds pride of place. And it stands independent of the impact that it may have on the outcome of that struggle you so ardently seek to advance, almost as a point of socialist honor.
I suggest, instead, that this demand be made when there are increasing calls from the Arab street for a ceasefire which NATO refuses to comply with. Then the appearance of mass demonstrations in the region should be joined by us. That would be a deliberative and meaningful act of solidarity. Let the Libyan freedom fighters take the lead; we don't need to politically colonize them.