Behind the demonizing of Gadhafi
Mar 2, 2011
Africa continues to be the most underdeveloped continent, despite having the
world’s most abundant mineral wealth.
The United States in 1847 created Liberia as a place to send freed
African-American slaves. Eventually it became the biggest rubber plantation in
the world. In the late 19th century, most of the rest of Africa was carved up
by the European colonial powers, including Germany, Britian, Portugal, Spain,
Italy, France and Belgium. By the time of World War I, Africa was nothing more
than a gigantic plantation, with hundreds of millions of African peoples made
into virtual slaves and their resources ripped off to help enrich European and
After World War II, anti-colonial struggles spread like wildfire throughout
Africa, bringing forth dynamic African leaders at the head of campaigns for
independence and sovereignty from their former colonial oppressors. These
heroic leaders included Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel and
Libya had been an Italian colony until Italy’s defeat in World War II.
After the war, the U.S. and Britain set up a monarchy in Libya under King Idris
I. Moammar al-Gadhafi was a military officer when he led a coup in 1969 against
the monarchy. This led to the nationalization of Libya’s oil and social
gains for the Libyan people.
In recent years, however, U.S. sanctions and military aggression against the
Gadhafi regime led the government to make concessions and agree to austerity
measures demanded by imperialist banks, all of which fueled unrest in the
On top of this growing imperialist intervention and pressure, the capitalist
media are carrying out a vicious, vindictive campaign against Gadhafi,
characterizing him in demonizing, racist terms like “mad dog.” Such
terms are never used to describe former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak or
other U.S. puppets in the Arab world, from Saudi Arabia to Jordan to
The U.S. has imposed sanctions on President Gadhafi and his family’s
bank accounts; by contrast, the U.S. did not impose similar sanctions on
Mubarak and his reported $70 billion in bank accounts. While President Barack
Obama has publicly called for Gadhafi to step down from office, he treated
Mubarak with kid gloves before the resolve of the Egyptian masses forced
Mubarak to leave office.
The racist, hostile treatment of Gadhafi is not an isolated example. Another
African leader who has been demonized in a comparable manner is Robert Mugabe,
president of Zimbabwe. Unlike Gadhafi, Mugabe has been the leader of a national
liberation movement, ZANU-PF. Mugabe forced Britain, the colonial oppressor, to
the bargaining table in 1979 to work out an agreement in which Britain would
subsidize the giving back to African war veterans of millions of acres of land
stolen by white farmers. But Britain didn’t live up to the agreement.
When Mugabe kept his promise to these freedom fighters by seizing the land, the
U.S. and British governments in 2000 imposed genocidal sanctions on the
Zimbabwean economy and also sought to isolate Mugabe with a prolonged character
assassination. They called him a “tyrant” and “despot”
and accused him of starving his people — when the real culprits were
“structural adjustment” measures imposed by the IMF, along with
periods of severe drought.
The Western imperialists have also made every effort to demonize President
Omar al-Bashir of Sudan while funding secessionist movements in the oil-rich
South and West of the country, imposing sanctions and bringing criminal charges
against him in the International Criminal Court.
It is the right of any oppressed people to oppose and organize against their
leaders if basic needs and rights are not being met. It is not the right of
imperialist governments to manipulate, exploit and outright intervene in the
internal affairs of another country while personally and politically demonizing
their leaders. This is a violation of the basic right to
There have been reports from news sources, including Al Jazeera, that
low-waged migrants from Chad, Niger and other sub-Saharan African countries
working in Libya have been physically attacked and accused of being
“mercenaries” hired by Gadhafi. These attacks are being carried out
by anti-Gadhafi forces who are receiving backing from the West.
The imperialists don’t care about any suffering of the Libyan people
but will do what they deem in their interests to gain control of the oil that
Libya possesses. The people of Libya don’t need imperialist intervention;
they need and deserve reparations from imperialist banks and governments that
have held back real economic development and political independence on a
continent that has been severely abused for centuries, beginning with the
devastating slave trade.
It is imperative that the progressive movement in the U.S. take up the
clarion call of getting imperialism off the backs of the African people by
intensifying the class struggle here. This is what real solidarity is all