In the early hours of 11 September 2023, a cataclysmic dam failure occurred in the Libyan city of Derna. Following a major storm, two separate dams collapsed in quick succession. This effectively created a tsunami that swept through the city, dragging much of the city into the Mediterranean Sea and drowning anyone in its path.
Well over 10,000 people are believed to have been killed in the disaster according to the Libyan Red Crescent, likely making this the deadliest dam collapse event ever.
Given that Libya is effectively a failed state, mired in civil war and with at least two separate (malfunctioning) governments competing for power and international recognition, the fact that the country’s basic infrastructure has fallen into a woeful state of disrepair is hardly surprising.
Even western corporate media acknowledge this obvious fact, wringing their hands about how the dams’ maintenance was neglected in the chaos of the fighting that was sparked by Nato’s bloody invasion in 2011, which overthrew the stable government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and brutally murdered Colonel Gaddafi himself.
Well, they leave out that last part, naturally.
Ramifications of the war continue to unfold
The reality is that Libya has never recovered from the bloodthirsty war waged against it by the imperialist US-led Nato alliance in 2011. The death of every one of the tens of thousands of casualties in the 12 years of internal conflict that has followed is effectively attributable to this Nato attack.
Before 2011, Libya had for 40 years been one of the most stable countries in the region, with the highest standard of living in Africa.
The US Marxist scholar Michael Parenti made a viral social media post 12 years ago, shortly after Colonel Gaddafi had been murdered by Nato-backed rebels, listing many of the incredible achievements of 42 years of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya: a patriotic anti-imperialist rule in the country with the largest proven oil reserves in Africa. These included free electricity, free education and free medical care, zero external debt and famously even a $50,000 one-off payment to all newly-married couples with which to kickstart their marital life.
Needless to say, all of this died with the erstwhile former leader. Following Nato’s ‘humanitarian intervention’, which destroyed the Jamahiriya and replaced it with a series of corrupt warlords, the country’s oil output collapsed, the standard of living for Libya’s people has plummeted, crime has skyrocketed, and the country has become a conduit for millions of desperate refugees trying to get to Europe, thousands of whom have drowned on the way.
In addition, the weapons stocks of the army fell into the hands of various west-backed extreme salafi jihadist and other mafiosi, destabilising and sparking wars across the Sahel.
The above truths are all off-limits to respectable pro-imperialist journalism, of course. Western corporate media has tried to reconcile the obvious neglect of the dams by the post-Gaddafi warlord regimes with the need to deny the catastrophic role played by the 2011 invasion, claiming that the dams had been neglected even during the Jamahiriya period.
Even if this claim were to be true up to a point (and it must not be forgotten that anti-imperialist Libya was under a heavy sanctions regime long before Nato launched its blitzkrieg), it is obviously blatantly dishonest to talk as if the total collapse of the state had no effect on the extent of neglect and decay of the national infrastructure.
Cowardice and evasions of corporate media
Indeed, when one considers the scale of the devastation wrought on Libya and the wider region by the 2011 Nato onslaught, of which the Derna dam disaster is only the latest tragedy in an unrelenting 12-year saga, it seems incredible that no one ever dares to suggest in the imperialist media that the invasion of Libya was even a ‘mistake’, let alone a barbaric criminal act.
The western imperialist system relies on constant wars of aggression to smash independent countries outside of their control and seize new markets, raw materials and avenues of investment. If the US and European imperialist nations did not wage such wars, the grip of the ruling classes in their home nations would be destabilised by the inherent contradictions of the capitalist system much more rapidly.
In other words, wars of aggression provide a temporary reprieve for the parasitic ruling classes of the imperialist nations, delaying their inevitable conflict with the working class.
In order to be able to keep waging such wars whilst keeping domestic opposition to a minimum, it is necessary to silence anyone telling truths that might reveal the awful consequences these wars have brought.
When the US and its Nato allies wish to commit aggression against a country X, to simply say “I am against war. I support peace,” as our friends in Stop the War Coalition do is one thing. To actually challenge the uniform media narrative that the ‘regime’ of country X is murdering puppy dogs and eating them for breakfast; to point out with solid facts that puppy dogs aren’t being murdered, or even hurt at all; to suggest that – horror of horrors – the people of country X actually might be better off sticking with their current government than having their entire state infrastructure bombed to smithereens; at this point you have made yourself into the principle enemy of the entire imperialist machine, which will stop at nothing to silence you and destroy your reputation.
The punishment meted out to such individual truth-tellers as Julian Assange and Graham Philips illustrate this well – and these are two independent journalists who are not trying to bring down the edifice of capitalism, only to expose some of the more heinous crimes of US and British imperialism and the lies of the corporate media.
There are very few people in the west today who are brave enough to bear such a target on their backs, and those who do are generally of a liberal/libertarian rather than a Marxist persuasion. Those of us who are serious about helping to bring about revolutionary change in Britain must be prepared to face the wrath of the ruling class, secure in the knowledge that the more of us who stand up against the imperialists, the harder it will become for them to control and punish us all.
This mindset is crucial to cultivate if we do not wish to follow in the footsteps of generations of revisionists and social-chauvinists who cowed before the media machine of the imperialist paper tiger. For in doing so, they not only prolonged the life of the system but with it, the misery of the oppressed.