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2) The anti-interventionists believed that NATO would be compelled to send ground troops by the logic of “regime change,” by the inability of forces loyal to the NTC to make significant headway against Ghadafi’s forces.
They seized on the presence of small numbers of NATO military advisers and special forces in Libya as a vindication of their prediction and as proof that the West put “boots on the ground.” In reality, NATO boots played a secondary role; Libyans did the fighting and the dying, not Westerners.
Events shortly after Ghadafi was toppled provide even more evidence that the revolution was not hijacked by NATO.
Anti-imperialists were so focused on the NTC’s cooperation with NATO, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and repressive Arab governments that they were as blindsided as Ghadafi was when forces independent of NTC control – Berber militias in Western Libya and underground networks in Tripoli – overthrew his regime in a surprise move on August 20.
Instead of substantiating this claim with that NATO successfully pushed the Libyans aside and seized control of their war against Ghadafi, the Western left instead 1) focused on the alleged misdeeds of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and 2) hid behind phrases such as “Libyan Winter” and “civil war,” implying that the Arab Spring in Libya froze the instant NATO jumped in and that neither the rebels nor Ghadafi deserved anyone’s support.
Both evasions of the central issue – that NATO’s air campaign had mass support among revolutionary Libyans which was faithfully reflected by the NTC’s stand against foreign invasion and for foreign airstrikes – were very serious methodological mistakes that only a handful of commentators managed to avoid, Clay Claiborne of Occupy LA being the most prominent.
The anti-interventionists did their best to substitute weak suppositions, NATO’s bald hypocrisy, and guilt by association for the evidence they lacked to support their hijacking story.
For them, the Libyan revolution’s constituent elements lost their political independence, initiative, and lifeblood the instant NATO fired its first cruise missile.