The “Liberation” of Libya

CNN reports that “A [U.S.-led] coalition … made good Saturday [March 19] on international warnings to Gadhafi, hammering Libyan military positions in the first phase of an operation that will include enforcement of a no-fly zone.” As reigning hegemon and maintainer of global political “stability” (the euphemistic justification given for its military empire) the United States, in the words of the President, “cannot stand idly by” while events in Libya unfold.

The story goes on to relay the administration’s assurance that United States military efforts in the country will “only last for a few days,” that the American role is supplementary and based in its “unique capabilities.” Certainly the U.S. military’s capacity for exacting death and destruction around the world — with the help of its lesser collaborators — is “unique,” extending into virtually every region of the globe.

On the other hand, as the most recent case of the United States’s signature interventionism, Libya is hardly “unique” or unexampled in the world, standing as a typical rather than aberrant sample of U.S. foreign policy. As a social theory that urges the replacement of the state with voluntary, consensual relationships between free individuals, free market anarchism calls for non-interventionism as a matter of course; as a logical implication of its more fundamental plea for the complete absence of violent, state interference in individuals’ lives, free market anarchism treats America’s busybody wars not as peacekeeping missions, but as maneuvers to promote the interests of a state capitalist elite.

Although, for the great majority of those whose lives it touches, the U.S. war machine is force for grisly devastation — indeed, for the “terror” it so devotedly fulminates against — it actually does represent a stabilizing force through its strafes of places like Libya. What it stabilizes, though, are the mechanisms of power through which the American economic and political ruling class exploits productive people both here and abroad.

Popularly-motivated unrest in places like Libya, a country that for years isolated itself from the global system imposed by the U.S., provides an auspicious entry point for “the American way.” But the American creed carried by the armed forces is not that of individual and community autonomy and the reward of labor. Instead, what policy elites like Hillary Clinton mean by “stop[ping] further violence against civilians” is no more than discontinuing Gadhafi’s oppression of civilians in favor of America’s (through, of course, the installment of a pliable puppet government).

The Newspeak variety of “stability” is therefore just an innocuous-sounding laminate for the overriding need to give economic bigwigs access to valuable resources such as, for instance, Libyan oil. That need, rather than just the fulfillment of some paternalistic but purportedly humanitarian desire to “protect” the Libyan people from tyrants, drives the American brand of imperialism.

A free and stateless society, formed of the elective associations of individuals, where no one could use the coercive power of the state to exploit anyone else, is antithetical to war in all of its forms. If, as free market anarchists prescribe, aggression could only be used in legitimate instances of self-defense, then the state and its wars would necessarily evaporate.

The principle of nonaggression, then, provides the basis both for market anarchism and for the broader anti-war attitude, the former representing the full culmination of the latter. True “liberation” and “stability” for Libya can grow only from that principle of nonviolence, with trade and cooperation to succeed theft and domination.

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