Imperialist Aggression in Libya

Libya – Imperialist Aggression by cherokeetears


Libya is the victim of unrelenting imperialist aggression. The message from Washington to the Third World is clear: “Do what we say, or we’ll destroy you.” Imperialists have set up a fabricated “revolution” to oppose Gaddafi’s regime. With UN backing, the imperialists have spent billions of dollars setting up a mercenary army backed by the CIA and NATO air power. Yet even so, they cannot dislodge Gaddafi. Gaddafi has put his foot down to resist American imperialism and defend his country.

It is first important to ask the question: “Why is the US seeking to eliminate Gaddafi now?”  Is it because of the “war crimes” as the US claims?  No. After all, Gaddafi has been in power since the late 1960s. His reorganization of Libyan society began in the 1970s. And the US has claimed that Gaddafi has supported and sponsored “terrorist” groups in since the 1980s. (1) (2) “War crimes” are simply slanderous words that imperialists reserve for leaders and regimes that they see as vulnerable and resistant to imperialist control.  Those who don’t go along with imperialism get accused of “crimes against humanity” and similar flashes of rhetoric even though the real war criminals are the imperialists themselves. The US itself is a country founded on the principles of genocide and slavery; and in the modern era, the US funds and operates alongside paramilitaries and tyrants in the Third World to ensure the smooth functioning of Empire. (3) Charges of “crimes against humanity” are both unreasonable and unbelievable when they come from the imperialists themselves.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently switched sides in the struggle.  While previously condemning Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad recently joined in discussions with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez about opposing imperialist aggression in Libya and assessing the role of OPEC in the conflict. (11)(12) The opposition against the insurrection in Libya is attracting widespread criticism from the anti-imperialist movement.

The invasion and attempts to remove Gaddafi from power violate the self-determination and sovereignty of the Libyan, Arab and African peoples. International law, as practiced by the UN, is a façade for imperialist aggression. (4) The International Criminal Court acts as a US lackey, and though the US has rhetorically committed to “trying all parties” in the conflict, the reality is that, together with NATO, the US only seeks to remove Gaddafi from the equation. (5) The US and NATO are violating sovereignty and even their own purported international law. These events demonstrate the ideological component of international law. Bourgeois law merely masks underlying power relations.

As they often do, the Western media and the US government are shaping this conflict to appear as one of “Western democracy” against “totalitarian dictatorship.” (6) The reality is that this conflict is a manifestation of the principal contradiction: the First World, with its imperialism and petrol-based consumerism, against the Third World. In 2009, Gaddafi made movements to further nationalize oil in Libya. (7) The country’s largest export was made to serve Libyan development, not imperialism. This would take the largest deposits of oil in Africa (roughly 41.5 billion barrels) away from the hands of 10 foreign owned oil companies. (8) This is one of the main reasons behind the imperialist-backed so-called rebellion. The situation in Libya mirrors that of Venezuela to an extent, which is one reason Hugo Chavez has expressed his support for Gaddafi. The president of Venezuela has also nationalized oil and placed it toward the development of his country. As with Libya, the US reacted with severe measures against Chavez, including a coup d’état attempt in 2002. Imperialism is not waging war for the Libyan people, it is waging war for the First World against the Libyan people. The US and NATO are seeking to commodify the Libyan people, take the capital from their country, and create a dependency on the markets of the First World.  The US consumes 25% of the world’s oil, over 19 million barrels per day, and 30.8 million barrels are imported to the US from Libya every year. (9) (10) First world consumption is fueling Third World poverty and instability.  Imperialist aggression is directly tied to corporate interests and unsustainable consumption of First World populations.

The removal of Gaddafi will also increase imperialist military hegemony in the region. Gaddafi has historically supported many anti-imperialist movements, including the Palestinian struggle against genocide committed by Israel. In the past, he was a thorn in the side of the US and other imperialists. He has historically opposed US control in the Middle East and elsewhere. He has supported pan-Arab movements and pan-African movements.

Although Gaddafi did make overtures to imperialism in recent decades, he has been the first modern leader of Libya not completely controlled by imperialists. Italian colonization of Libya began in 1912 out of territory taken from the Ottoman Empire after the Italo-Turkish War. Native Libyans actively and militarily opposed this occupation until 1931, a period that consisted of intense subjugation of the Libyan native population including forced migration to Italian concentration camps, where up to one third of the Cyrenaican and half of the Bedouin population were killed or starved to death. (13) When Benito Mussolini came to power in the 1930s, he began a violent military campaign against Libyan nationals for their opposition to fascist occupation.  Libyan service to the Italians during World War II did not bring the indigenous populations first class citizenship, but only “limited” citizenship in instances of great heroism.  Italian settlers during the years of Italian fascism made up nearly 12% of the population of Libya, and through their desire for Italian luxury, put the Libyans to work building railroads, agricultural villages, and industry for their European settler populations. (14)

Under the Kingdom of Libya, established by the UN in 1952, Italian settlers remained and continued to exploit the native populations, as did new English settlers that were only completely expelled in 1970 after the emergence of Muammar al-Gaddafi.  The country’s prior ruler, King Idris, showed Western sympathies and a favoritism towards the Cyrenaican tribe to which he was born.  This tribal alignment and Western favoritism did not appeal to the Libyan people, who did not want the continuation of Western imperialism. Libya was one of the poorest countries in Africa, and Idris was only allowing the continuation of institutionalized poverty by allowing the continuation of imperialism even after the defeat of the fascists in World War II.  Idris’ alienation from the Libyan masses only continued as he began spending more time near the British military base located near his palace in Tobruk, a sign of imperialist alignment after years of imperialist aggression under the Italians. The 1969 revolution of Gaddafi was the first example of the overthrow of imperialism in Libya. Gaddafi took a country destroyed by imperialism and world war and made it one of the wealthiest countries in Africa with the highest Human Development Index (comparison of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standards of living for countries worldwide) in Africa. This increase in the standard of living is due to the social programs put in place by the Libyan government under Gaddafi. (15)

Gaddafi is not a Leading Light Communist. We have seen his past attempts in recent decades to appease the imperialists; however, Gaddafi, in light of recent events, has been pushed back to a position of anti-imperialism. He is once again defending Libya from the imperialists. The so-called rebels who oppose Gaddafi oppose the Libyan people because they support the foreign invasion and occupation of Libya. They are agents of imperialism. Whatever their rhetoric, they objectively support further imperialist control of their country.  The US recognition of the rebel forces as the “official government of Libya” effectively allies the rebels with US imperialism. Underdevelopment and exploitation are very real consequences of imperialism, and by acknowledging and accepting this alternative, the Libyan rebels are acting against the interests of the Libyan people.  They are acting against the Third World.

Opposing imperialism means supporting the struggle of the Third World peoples for liberation from tyranny in its worst and most advanced form today: imperialism. It is important for Leading Lights and any allies of the Third World to work for the self-determination of all Third World peoples. Gaddafi’s regime is far from ideal, but it is putting boots on the ground against imperialism. We must support the broad united front against imperialism. At the moment, this means supporting those fighting against the imperialist destruction of Libya. At the same time, we need to emphasize that, in the long term, only the reconstitution of the global communist movement led by the most advanced scientific line can defeat imperialism. Support the broad united front, hold the red flag high, follow the Leading Light to genuine communism and total liberation.


  1. Middle Eastern Quarterly 
  2. Libyan terrorism: the case against Gaddafi. 
  3. Military Veterans Fighting For Justice 
  4. The Telegraph
  5. “On the Situation in Libya” by the Leading Light Communist Organization 
  6. ibid.
  8. Libya Energy Information
  9. Oil Consumption in North America
  10. Where is Our Oil Coming From?
  11. Chavez, Ahmadinejad blast “aggression” in Libya, Syria 
  12. “Libya: Ahmadinejad slams repression in Libya as Iranian authorities confiscate satellite dishes” 
  13. Ilan Pappé, The Modern Middle East.Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0415214092, p. 26
  14. New villages in coastal Libya (in Italian)
  15. Human Development Index Trends