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Destroy and Balkanize: the imperialists are doing to Libya what they did to Yugoslavia

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Sometimes when the imperialists seek to conquer a territory, rather than trying to set up a single puppet government to rule all the land within its original borders they break the territory up into multiple pieces. This can work better than an Iraq-type regime-change war, which has obviously been prone to result in costly blunders and unforeseen obstacles. With a war of Balkanization, the "divide and conquer" strategy can apply, and thus can make the process easier.

Look at how well it worked in Yugoslavia, where the U.S. and NATO used repeated bombing campaigns and economic-isolation tactics throughout the 1990s to break up the country. With the goal of destroying the last bastion of socialism in Europe, they did these things to the effect that by 2006 Yugoslavia had been thoroughly Balkanized. That same year, the country's socialist former president Slobodan Milosevic died in his cell after being sentenced in a bogus war-crimes trial. Milosevic died because he was denied heart surgery, and 500 civilians were killed in the Yugoslavia war, making the pitch about this war having been a "humanitarian intervention" horribly ironic.

In 2011, the imperialists began a process for Libya that has now been shown to be a repeat of what they did to Yugoslavia. The differences are that for Libya, the destruction and human-rights abuses resulting from the "humanitarian" intervention have been far worse, and the Balkanization of the country has been decided upon many years after the invasion happened rather than beforehand. The initial plan for Libya somewhat resembled the invasion of Iraq, where the U.S. installed a puppet regime so that American corporations could profit from the invaded country's resources. This was made apparent in the email that Hillary Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal sent to his boss in 2011, which discussed a desire to gain access to Libya's oil and a need by France to maintain economic supremacy in the region.

However, Iraq's current government situation after the 2003 invasion is more stable than what's followed Gaddafi's ouster. Libya quickly became a failed state, one that's since been engaged in a civil war that's still getting more intense. After the brutal murder of Gaddafi by a terrorist group, Libya got to the point where a slave trades arose in the lawless areas and militants were able to torture with impunity. Unlike in Iraq, Libya's prevailing political system is still uncertain, with the differing factions struggling for domination and whatever puppet Libyan officials the U.S. has been able to install therefore being relatively ineffectual. It was for this reason that Obama considered the aftermath of the Libyan invasion the "worst mistake" of his presidency.

Amid this new Libyan paradigm of extreme chaos, the main thing the U.S. has been able to do in the country for the last eight years is try to fight off terrorist factions with drone strikes (which has mainly perpetuated the cycle of violence). So while the U.S. has been able to use post-Gaddafi Libya as a resource for the military-industrial complex, imperialists like Hillary Clinton have no regrets about ousting Gaddafi, and Libya's oil has been able to be plundered by European oil companies, what's left of the country's state apparatus hasn't been able to serve as much of a tool for exerting geopolitical power.

But the U.S.-U.K.-E.U. bloc has formulated a plan for ensuring that the Russia-backed faction doesn't edge them out as their competition in the region continues: Balkanization. Turkey's fascist president Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan declared this week that he's reached an agreement with Trump on sharing control over Libya. While the plan's details are secret, it's certainly an agreement that involves carving up Libya in the same fashion as the NATO carve-up of the former Yugoslavian territories. And it will no doubt be a continuation of Trump's recent trend of no longer opposing any of ErdoÄŸan's military actions in Libya.

This strengthened alliance between these two formerly antagonistic far-right leaders, prompted by instability for their international control amid the coronavirus, is resulting in a plan for Libya that repeats the recent history of Yugoslavia. Trump, who wants to maintain oil production in the territories controlled by the Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, and ErdoÄŸan, who wants to create an exclusive Libyan economic zone for Turkey in partnership with the government that opposes Haftar, have decided that their interests will best be advanced through reaching a compromise on who gets what land.

In the next decade, this arrangement may prove to be sustainable; something similar to it certainly worked in the Balkans. But if it isn't thrown off by some unforeseen obstacle (as has been increasingly happening to U.S. foreign-policy plans lately), it will be an isolated example of Washington successfully using diplomacy to increase its global influence in the present era. The American empire is in decline, with U.S. military primacy disappearing in the Indo-Pacific, U.S. influence shrinking in the Middle East, and China overtaking the U.S. economically. This move is an attempt to salvage the chaotic situation that the U.S. created in Libya after an ill-planned regime-change war.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here:

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