Robin Yassin-Kassab

Infantile Leftism

with 8 comments

picture by Ali Farzat

It certainly feels uncomfortable to watch American, British and French planes enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, bombing Libya’s anti-aircraft defences and destroying Libyan tanks. Certainly the hypocrisy of the West and the Arab dictators is as galling as ever. There’s no chance of a no-fly zone over Palestine and Lebanon, nor over Saudi-occupied Bahrain. I can understand very well the fears of some that the West will overstay its welcome – although I think this is very unlikely indeed.

I am pleased, however, that the joint British-French-Lebanese (with Hizbullah in government in Lebanon) resolution for the no-fly zone has been adopted by the United Nations, that the massacres of the Libyan people may be minimised or stopped, that liberated Benghazi will probably not now fall to the tyrant.

If Britain, France and others are seeking influence in post-Qaddafi Libya by pleasing the Libyan people, that’s fine by me. Perhaps they fear their companies being banned from Libya as a punishment for supporting the dictator, and they are taking this opportunity to make amends. Again, fine. This is how things are done between strong, free countries which respect each other. It’s not the same as, for instance, Western powers arming and politically supporting the Saud family in return for military bases which are hated by the Saudi Arabian population.

Europe also has legitimate reasons, beyond oil, to be worried about ongoing massacres in Libya. A quarter of a million (mainly non-Libyans) have fled the country so far. I’m not somebody who thinks there are too many immigrants in Europe, but if Qaddafi were to wrest back control, there could be hundreds of thousands pouring out all at once, many across the Mediterranean.

I’m sure the West, and the dictators of the Gulf, are trying to force promises from the transitional authorities. And it’s true that the transitional leadership is not particularly impressive, containing plenty of ex-regime people. The fact is that the Libyans have not had the leisure to discuss politics and choose good leaders – their priority now is to get rid of the tyrant and to simply stay alive. It goes without saying that the revolution must continue once Qaddafi has gone, that elected representatives of the people must decide on the nature of future relations with foreign powers. If Libyans end up handing over economic control to the West, it will be the fault of the Libyans, not of the no-fly zone resolution.

It’s interesting to observe, as the world abruptly changes, how many people are crippled in judgement by their ideology: leftists who think Qaddafi is an anti-imperialist hero, non-Arab soft Islamists who have a problem admitting the Arabs are connected to each other beyond the borders drawn by imperialists, Zionists who tell themselves the revolutions have nothing to do with Palestine, Americans who tell temselves that the invasion and destruction of Iraq started the democratic ball rolling…

It’s the stupid fringes of the left who have the most to answer for at the moment, as they not only express logical concerns about the extent of Western intervention but actively support Qaddafi. They say the UN ‘aggression’ is designed to ease Western access to Libyan oil, as if Western companies did not already exploit Libyan oil under Qaddafi’s regime. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘pan-Africanism’ as if his funneling of the Libyan people’s money to African dictators and militias were somehow beneficial to the African masses. They talk about Qaddafi’s ‘socialist’ credentials and completely ignore the expensive decadence of his sons and his own penchant for calling himself ‘King of Kings.’ They talk about Qaddafi’s great ‘victories’ against imperialism – here I can only guess they mean his squalid sponsorship of terrorist attacks against civilians, which serve to distract attention from the sufferings of occupied and oppressed peoples. Or perhaps they mean his murder of Lebanese revolutionary Musa Sadr. Or maybe his willingness to torture rendered suspects on behalf of the United States.

Talking to the Western media recently, Qaddafi excused his cold-blooded murder of thousands thus – “Even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists.” So he compares himself to Israel and the Libyan people to Palestinians, who are ‘extremists.’ Please explain that, O leftist followers of the Brother Leader.

These leftists are ignorant of the stagnation of Arab societies under dictatorial regimes and of the enormous suffering of those – often the very best and brightest – who have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered. If they are not ignorant, they simply do not care. They are the kind of people who supported Soviet interventions in eastern Europe in 1956 and 1968, who think the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was a liberation, that Mao’s cultural revolution was progressive, that Louis Farrakhan is a great historian. These people are posers, for whom ideas and facts are useless except as adornments for the sexy self. They are an insult to leftism and anti-imperialism. Fortunately, their residence in fantasy land makes them entirely irrelevant to the real world.

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

March 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Libya

8 Responses

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  1. you took the words out of my mouth

    Mary Rizzo

    March 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

  2. over at PULSE, Marcus said this –

    I recognise that there has been a number of comments on the last couple of articles that ably represent this ‘idiot fringe’ that has heralded Gadaffi as ‘my enemies enemy, therefore my friend’. However, this site would really benefit from a longer article that did take those difficult and thorny questions of Western military intervention in Libya seriously. It was only a week or so ago that this very site was showing photos and articles that were of Libyans demanding precisely no intervention by the West. I think that it is already clear that Western military intervention has gone beyond what the Arab league were prepared to certify. Some of the questions that need to answered are to what extent are those in Benghazi actually representative of ‘the Libyan people’ as some other authors on this site seem to apply. It strikes me (as no expert whatsoever) that things are a lot more complicated than that. Of course, I’m not advocating that they should be slaughtered, on the contrary, just that it would be useful to have some clear analysis of the possible futures of Libya in the present conjuncture. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated, much more so than fairly redundant critiques of a bunch of fringe lunatics.

    and I said this –

    Marcus – I agree this needs longer treatment, indeed a good deal of research. Unfortunately I can’t do it as I’m off to Egypt tomorrow.

    As for Libyans demanding no intervention – they said specifically that they wanted a no-fly zone but not ‘boots on the ground.’ This is what they’ve continued to say. Reports from all over Libya, not only Benghazi, say that the revolutionaries are very pleased indeed with the action so far. Misurata in particular, where a terrible massacre was ongoing today, expressed joy. Qaddafi armaments outside the city were hit, at which point most of the Qaddafi forces withdrew from the field of slaughter.

    Nato and US officials had made very clear that a no-fly zone would require bombing of air defence systems on the ground – days before the arab league call for a no-fly zone. and now the arab league say they arent happy. Here’s the situation – a bunch of dictators want to respond to the section of public opinion (I’d say the majority) that wants Qaddafi’s rampage stopped immediately. At the same time they are terrified of the precedent, that foreign intervention would come to the aid of revolutionaries, perhaps in their countries tomorrow. So they are in a terrible dither.

    It is true that the action has already gone beyond a no-fly zone. Qaddafi’s tanks have also been hit. So far, I am happy with this. Yesterday, before the tanks were hit, at least 94 people were killed by tank fire in south Benghazi.

    Robin Yassin-Kassab

    March 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm

  3. […] Infantile Leftism RT @SultanAlQassemi: Al Arabiya: Medical sources: More than 90 people were killed during the […]

  4. Do you have any examples of leftists supporting Qaddafi as a socialist anti-imperialist hero?

    The only ones I have come across so far are the WRP.


    March 21, 2011 at 8:22 pm

  5. “It’s the stupid fringes of the left who have the most to answer for at the moment, as they not only express logical concerns about the extent of Western intervention but actively support Qaddafi.”

    I think there are many principled objections to the United States’ intervention in Libya that have nothing to do with support of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s government, his alleged “Pan-Africanism” or his fake “anti-imperialism.”

    If you argue that “principled objections” are outweighed by the reality of saving Libyan lives, as you seem to do in your Mar 20 11:15 comment (https://qunfuz.com/2011/03/20/infantile-leftism/#comment-1990), then I hope the next year of your blog entries will be devoted to the need for military intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Myanmar, etc.

    Is it “infantile leftism” to believe that ceasing arms exports, nuclear disarmament, ceasing active support of dictatorships and the long list of other non-violent measures the United States could do are more effective than another military intervention?

    Is it “infantile leftism” to argue, as a US citizen and taxpayer, that domestic priorities are more important than military expenditures?

    We’ll see how this ends up. I hope my fears are wrong and the Libyan government will be removed with as little loss of life as possible. I hope that the Benghazi revolutionaries represent the best interests of Libya.

    Ayman Fadel

    March 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm

  6. If you do want to hear some people who tend to support the Libyan government, there was a 2-hour program on Atlanta, GA, USA’s WRFG radio station on March 7, 2011. Again, I don’t agree with everything said on this show, but at least people can hear “infantile leftism” straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.


    I think a lot of “infantile leftism” is a result of the serial assaults of the United States on human dignity domestically and internationally. These leave scars on people.

    Ayman Fadel

    March 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm

  7. I obviously haven’t made myself clear. In this article I tried to say 2 things. First that I think intervention may be the best option at this point, but that it is logical for people to worry about the intentions, outcomes and extent of intervention. Second, I go on to attack the “stupid fringes of the left who actively support Qaddafi.” In my dictionary, “fringes” does not mean the majority. It means fringes, that is a very small minority. Of course I recognise that you can oppose intervention and at the same time oppose Qaddafi.

    But I’m off to Cairo. I will respond to further comments when I can.

    Robin Yassin-Kassab

    March 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

  8. Here is a similar article I wrote:


    “The only possible anti-intervention argument that I think makes any sense at all is the following one:

    ‘Less people will hypothetically die if we allow Ghadaffi to massacre his people now, and then stay in power, than will die if we support the rebels with our Airpower, which runs the risk of dragging the revolution out into a protracted civil war. Therefore we should pull back, tell the people of Benghazi and Misrata and everywhere else that for the sake our analysis of their country’s long term future we have decided to do nothing and let them die.’

    I personally am not prepared to make such a statement and until non-interventionists come out and say that clearly and honestly I am not going to be able to take seriously their opposition to the bombing…”


    March 28, 2011 at 7:18 am

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