Monthly Archives: September 2011

While Workers Lack Leadership and 50,000 Die: Battle for Libya’s Oil Heats Up Inter-Imperialist Rivalry

The Libyan civil war has heated up the rivalry among the world’s imperialists, as U.S., British, French, Italian, Russian, and Chinese rulers jockey for access to the country’s oil and gas riches. What Obama hails as Libya’s “liberation” from dictator Muammar Qaddafi is in fact a bid to recolonize it into a Western protectorate. And if Libya unravels, U.S. rulers are preparing for an invasion.

Rebel Racism Rampant

Obama called Libya’s NATO-backed rebels “courageous.” For our class, however, there are no heroes in this civil war. Nobody is fighting for workers. All sides represent oil-thirsty capitalists and stand guilty of atrocities.

Both Qaddafi’s forces and the rebels have executed handcuffed prisoners. Racist rebels massacred scores of black migrant workers and recently jailed hundreds more as alleged Qaddafi mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa. NATO bombers under overall U.S. command wiped out 85 civilians in one August raid. “An estimated 50,000 people have been killed in Libya since the start of the uprising, according to the rebels’ military leadership” (Independent, London, 8/31).

Libya’s Den-of-Thieves ‘Saviors’ Include Anti-U.S. al Qaeda Allies

But while the triumphant U.S., British, and French imperialists vie for Libya’s energy riches, they’re having trouble patching together a viable local government. Tribes and regions within Libya are also competing for their own shares of the oil profits, thus weakening the new, supposedly ruling National Transitional Council (NTC). “Already council members have fallen into dispute over the $65 billion Libyan Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund” (Bloomberg News, 9/1).

In addition, Obama & Co.’s opportunistic reliance on radical Islamists to do their dirty work poses still worse threats to the U.S. ruling class. The London Independent noted (8/28): “The rebel military commander behind the successful assault on Tripoli had fought in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban and was an Islamist terror suspect interrogated by the CIA. Abdelhakim Belhadj, the newly appointed commander of the Tripoli Military Council, is a former emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) — banned by Britain and the U.S. as a terrorist organisation after the 9/11 attacks.” In power, radical Islamists could steer Libya closer to an anti-U.S. Iran or help destabilize Saudi Arabia (the cornerstone of oil-based U.S. imperialism), a long-time goal of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

Stratfor, a Texas think-tank named for the “strategic forecasting” it sells to U.S. businesses, thinks Libya could soon tear wide open. “This jihadist element of the rebel coalition appears to have reared its head recently with the assassination of former NTC military head Abdel Fattah Younis in late July….Between the seizure of former Qaddafi arms depots and the arms provided to the rebels by outside powers, Libya is awash with weapons. If the NTC fractures like past rebel coalitions, it could set the stage for a long and bloody civil war — and provide an excellent opportunity to jihadist elements” (Stratfor, 8/24).

With Eyes on Libya’s Oil Prize, U.S. Rulers Have Invasion Plan

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the U.S. rulers’ leading foreign policy factory, foresees GIs in Libya: “Obama may need to reconsider his assertion that there would not be any American boots on the ground” (London Financial Times, 8/22). The CFR’s “Contingency Planning Memorandum No.12: Post-Qaddafi Instability in Libya,” released in August and bankrolled by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, gave more specifics:

“If initial efforts to avert violent instability in Libya fail, the international community would have three broad response options: humanitarian relief…limited military intervention…full-scale occupation. Various operational configurations for armed intervention are conceivable — including unilateral U.S. action (our emphasis, Ed.) a coalition of the willing without UN mandate, and a fully sanctioned international force led by NATO.”

Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron bombarded Libya and sent in special forces assassins, invoking a “responsibility to protect” Libyan citizens. But the civilian casualties resulting from 8,000 NATO airstrikes and the disgusting scramble for war spoils prove the humanitarian motive false.

On September 1, Sarkozy and Cameron chaired a 60-nation “Friends of Libya” gathering in Paris. Hillary Clinton stood in for Obama. Everyone knew the agenda. “The glittering prize is Libya’s 1.6 million barrels per day output of high quality crude….Projecting into the future, analysts believe that has reserves to sustain its previous level of production for 80 years”  (OilPrice.com, 8/24).

Obama’s ‘Coalition of the Drilling’

“Who will eventually control this asset, with oil prices currently at roughly $84 a barrel, generating an income of more than $12.6 million per day? Italy’s ENI? France’s Total? Britain’s BP? U.S. companies?” (OilPrice.com). That’s the 4.6-billion-dollar-a-year question.

Obama and his murderous coalition of the drilling imagine that they’ve scored a major coup against imperialist rivals China and Russia. Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libya’s “rebel” Arabian Gulf Oil Company, proclaimed in gratitude for NATO’s slaughter: “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and U.K. companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil [which took no military or diplomatic action against Qaddafi]” Asia Times, 8/25). And Business Week (8/24) predicts triple profits for Western firms under Libya’s new management, “a split of 70 percent of revenue for the government and 30 percent for oil companies, as opposed to the current 90-10 ratio.”

But meanwhile, rising imperialists are joining together to challenge the traditional capitalist powers centered in NATO: the U.S., Britain, France and Germany. BRIC — Brazil, Russia, India and China — represents a coalition seeking a larger portion of the world capitalist pie, which can only come from taking resources and exploitable workers away from the more established powers. This growing inter-imperialist rivalry will inevitably lead to regional and eventually world war.

China’s Bosses May Trump Obama’s Bombing Coalition in Libya Oil Grab

 “But it is too early to count China out from the race….The crystal ball is murky indeed, but when the uprising against Qaddafi began six months ago, about 36,000 Chinese were in Libya working on 50 projects” (OilPrice.com). And Chinese rulers have “deeper pockets than all their competitors.”

Suppose China does win energy concessions in Libya. The range of its potential military confrontations with its chief imperialist rival, the U.S., will then stretch from the Mediterranean through Suez to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea and Taiwan, all the way to the mid-Pacific. The U.S. Navy is pointedly expanding its already massive base on Guam.

China’s rulers, who already field the world’s largest land army, have been building up their blue water navy and their stockpile of non-nuclear ballistic missiles, threatening U.S. domination of the Pacific and Indian oceans (see article, page 5). China recently launched its first aircraft carrier, with more to come. The New York Times Op-Ed page (9/5) warned that planned Pentagon spending cuts — a reflection of divisions in the U.S. ruling class — could give China the ability to deal “a knockout blow to [U.S.] forward forces” and to erode U.S. security guarantees to China’s neighbors.

Many working-class Libyans sincerely believed they were combatting Qaddafi’s tyranny. But because they lacked communist leadership and goals, the struggle long ago became a classic inter-imperialist battle for territory and resources. Instead of Qaddafi’s brutal reign, Libya’s workers will be suffering the so-called Western “democracy” which exploits their labor and rains bombs down on them to guarantee ruling-class profits.

The end of oil wars like Libya’s can come only after the working class seizes power in a revolution that destroys the profit system. This will be a true, lasting, fundamental change in class rule. It constitutes the Progressive Labor Party’s ultimate aim.

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Angry Strikers Storm Hearing on City’s $100 Million Verizon Rip-off

NEW YORK, August 17 — Thousands of striking Verizon workers, wearing red shirts and full of working-class rage, descended on Murray Bergtraum High School to protest a new $120 million contract for phone and Internet services between Verizon and New York City’s Department of Education. The deal was up for approval by the Panel for Education Policy (PEP), the rubber stamp for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-student policies.

A little earlier and a few blocks away, the leadership of the strikers’ unions, the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, had tried to make this protest as symbolic as possible. They began their rally with the Pledge of Allegiance and a big “thank you” to the New York Police Department for allowing the protest. But the servile union leadership could not contain the workers, who marched to the PEP meeting and filled the chairs. After schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott directed his cronies to pass the massive budget cuts coming to the city’s schools, they approved the Verizon contract by an 8-4 vote. Since Bloomberg appoints a majority of the PEP’s members, this was hardly a surprise.

Still, the striking workers dominated that meeting. They showed no fear for the thugs in blue and in suits that were protecting the stage. The workers’ chanting and shouting down the PEP shook the room with a palpable energy. They were pissed off because the DOE was helping to strengthen Verizon and therefore attacking the striking workers.

The state (the police and the courts) is the organized force by which the ruling class dominates the working class. When fear fully gives way to rage, the working class will rise up and destroy the state. The uprising by youth in England, after the cops killed a young black man, clearly illustrates this. But only communist leadership can lead the workers’ rage into an egalitarian society that will provide for their needs.

The militant speeches and loud chanting drowned out at least two votes that the PEP tried to take. Over a dozen unions were represented by their rank and file, as none of the union misleaders were present. The workers present — teachers, janitors, college professors, electricians — all expressed solidarity with the striking workers. This display of anti-racist, anti-sexist unity amongst workers shows us that the bosses’ racist and sexist ideology can be broken when workers realize their enemy is not each other, but the rulers and union sellouts who oppress us all.

A worker who discussed the meeting with a PL’er was correct when he said that what they witnessed was not a democracy. The PEP had already made up their minds to pass the contract and nothing that was said or done there would have made a difference. The U.S. ruling class has to abandon the veneer of democracy as the economic crisis sharpens and they continue to lose political power as the top imperialist. To keep itself disciplined and the workers fearful, it builds fascism at home. The worker went on to point out that the cops were threatening the workers who rushed the stage to get back. The state rules through direct and indirect force. If warnings don’t work, then they have no problem arresting or shooting workers. Because of the racist nature of this system, that is twice as true for black and Latino workers.

It is no surprise that one day after this militant action, Verizon agreed to get back to negotiating with the union and preserve some façade of democracy. For the company’s workers, this is a losing tactic. (Since then, they have gone back to work under the old contract.) Even so, their militancy represented an important step forward. The PEP meeting got significant media coverage, and many thousands of viewers saw that the workers were unafraid to challenge the bosses.

In another stage of history, communists led by PLP, will lead thousands of striking workers to occupy the factories and the schools. With a bigger force, we could have easily overwhelmed the few cops protecting their social order and routed the PEP. Instead, the workers watched the bosses pass a vote to attack them. One day, workers worldwide will lead a communist revolution where we will make all the decisions based only on our needs.

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