There is good news, better news and even better news in Libya. The good news: rebel forces appear to have retaken and secured Misurata, the first major town in the western half of the country, after international forces disabled the pro-Gaddafi forces that were pounding the city.

Though pro-Gaddafi snipers remain, the town is no longer a sitting duck for prolonged shelling.

The better news is that the Libyan air force no longer exists as a fighting entity. Though this claim, by British forces, needs to be taken under advisement, such a situation would allow for a further push to the west, and a recommencement of protests within western cities.

The best news is that, in having become the de facto air force of the rebels, the international forces are now hopelessly confused and can’t even begin to organise themselves.

There is disorder under heaven, as the chairman said, and the situation is excellent.

By now, most of what the rebels wanted from the West has been delivered. Benghazi saved from being overrun — and the decapitation of the revolution — and Gaddafi’s air advantage is gone.

Meanwhile, the dominant theory of the anti-involvement group — that imperialism is some smooth monolithic force remorselessly applying its will, is looking pretty shaky.

It’s clear by now that actual material interests of most participants would be served by getting out of the front line as soon as possible — as the US is now trying to do.

That has thrown the command structure into chaos since Turkey, a NATO member, wants the operation to continue, but does not want to be seen to be running it — although ostensibly it does not want civilian casualties.

This seems to me to unquestionably strengthen the idea that the whole process is not a single monolithic imperialist process, but a product of shifting ideologies and ensembles.

Obama appears to have been heavily influenced by Samantha Power and Susan Rice, and their notion of a “responsibility to protect”. It is propagandistic nonsense, of course, as any number of examples could be adduced to show, as is Sarkozy’s grand adventure to try and recover his historical bearing and minimal credibility, with the ridiculous pseudo-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy riding him like a seaside pony.

The process should be obvious — as chaotic as the Libyan revolution is, it is more organised than the raddled, confused, purposeless nations of the West. One could call that a win-win, especially as those who supported the Iraq war are trying to piggyback their own arguments on this quite different event.

Of course, it could all go horribly wrong. Very horribly. But it seems a risk the Libyan people by and large wanted to take, and any later chaos and bloodshed has to be set off against Gaddafi’s apparently hair-raising plans for the re-occupation of Benghazi. People talking about “liberal intervention retrieved” are talking too early and through their a-se. What has been achieved was solidarity with a revolution, the only possible choice for those who believe that such activity is the purest expression of human freedom. Vitai lampada*, and the rest is noise.

*et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt — “like runners they pass on the torch of life”. Lucretius reference, not Sir Henry Newbolt.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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