There were 3 major objectives the West pursued from the war on Libya: 1) to gain control of its vast oil reserves for Western companies, 2) to take control of and manipulate the democracy movement to direct it towards meeting their own strategic interests rather than the movement’s, by arming, financing, supporting and finally putting in power their own loyalists (when the regime was forecasted to fall soon, US and European officials met with their "rebels" whom they had selected among the opposition to arm and finance, to form the replacement government), and 3) to undermine and thwart Gaddafi’s efforts at unifying the African nations with anti-colonial predisposition which tended to put regional differences aside and put Africa first. This was analogous to what Chavez has done in Latin America.
Gaddafi might have been many things: narcissistic, egomaniac, dictator and maybe even as crazy and out of control as the media made him out to be, as the Pentagon was preparing for military attack on his country, but what bothered imperialist policy makers in US and their allies in Europe the most was that he refused to take orders from them or put the interests of imperialism above those of African people, and more significantly, as reported in June 14, 2012 issue of The Guardian, he tried to unite the continent to form a "United States of Africa", with a single currency, military, and economy to stand up to colonial powers which plundered the continent for hundreds of years and left it impoverished. And it should be noted that the proposition for unifying the continent was not from a resource-poor country trying to share in others’ resources - Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, which surely was not lost on imperialism. Uniting the continent, or even working and taking steps towards it, would have enormous and far reaching consequences for Africans, and especially imperialists, as it would take away the latter’s ability to divide, conquer and rule, and that had to be in the minds of Western policy makers as they pondered his faith. The imperialists’ play book must have in big bold letters the simple lesson: "unity is bad, division is good". This is especially pertinent in Africa where there are Arab nations in the North and non-Arab blacks in the South. This distinction came to fore after the fall of the Gaddafi regime when US-backed rebels began targeting and persecuting the nation’s blacks.
And Gaddafi was not just words when it came to developing the continent and fostering unity. As was reported in the above-mentioned issue of The Guardian, he was instrumental in creating the African Union in 2002 and was its biggest financial contributor. He also made investments in infrastructure and other projects within a variety of poor African countries to the tune of over $150 billon.
A figure such as him, regardless of what one might think of him as a person or ruler, does not fit in imperialists’ plans for dominating and plundering the continent. The US and its European allies want the continent’s vast supply of cheap labor and natural resources, most notably oil, which is possible through pro-West puppets easily manipulated into division and fighting their brethren rather than standing up to foreign corporations and their governments.
As the Guardian observed: the significance of the war on Libya was not so much in overthrowing Gaddafi, as was in eliminating "the fiercest adversary" of US plans for future military operations in the continent which we began to see shortly after his murder in the hands of pro-US "rebels". The Guardian adds:
"It is no coincidence that within months of the fall of Tripoli – and in the same month as Gaddafi's execution – President Obama announced the deployment of 100 US special forces to four different African countries, including Uganda" and Somalia.
"Fourteen major joint military exercises between Africom [Africa Command of US military] and African states are also due to take place this year; and a recent press release from the Africa Partnership Station – Africom's naval training programme – explained that 2013's operations will be moving ’away from a training-intensive program’ and into the field of ’real-world operations’. This is a far cry from the Africa of 2007, which refused to allow Africom a base on African soil".
Thus, Gaddafi’s overthrow eliminated an adversary to imperialists’ plans in Africa and opened the continent to more military interventions for control of resources, cheap labor, markets and an opportunity for further military operations for total hegemony over the continent.
It is with such a critical eye that we must view the motives and agenda the West pursues in other places as well, such as Syria and Iran - not concern for people getting killed and not for Iran’s UN-sanctioned and monitored nuclear program.
The plan is rather clear here: do regime change in Syria, bringing it into the US-Israel-Saudi sphere which would eliminate not only an ally of Iran in the region, but also an adversary of Israel, while opening up its cheap labor and markets to American and European corporations. In the mean time, the harsh sanctions and economic and financial embargo bankrupts Iran, paving the way for an eventual military intervention and regime change there, too.
Though very few regimes in developing countries are democratic and popular - often as a result of no other than US intervention itself - including not only Syria and Iran, but also and especially those imposed or backed by the US and its allies, such as in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen and others, the character of a government should never be an excuse for military intervention by the West which, after all, is only after securing their own corporate interests, which invariably entails installing an unpopular brutal dictatorship to keep labor and nation’s resources cheap and easy to take and exploit, at the expense of the poor locals. Not only do the US and its allies not implement democracy in countries they control, despite the absurd claim of "taking democracy" to them, they actually oppose and sabotage it in any way they can for reasons I mentioned. The US-supported monarchies in Bahrain and Yemen not only are brutal dictatorships, but are actually aided by the US, as they crack down on their pro-democracy protesters on the streets. In Syria’s case, there is no doubt that the Assad regime began brutally cracking down on the protesters, but the US and Saudi intervention soon turned a pro-democracy movement into a civil war for the purpose of overthrowing the regime, as was done in Libya, only to bring to power pro-West thugs, not a democratic government. The religious and autocratic regime in Iran is no better and possibly even worse than in Syria, but not any worse than the Saudi kingdom which enjoys good relations with the US or the racist and apartheid Israel which is committing genocide against the Palestinian people with the full support of the US. The US never was for democracy in Iran, either, as it overthrew the democratically elected secular government of Dr. Mossadegh in 1953 and put the Shah on the throne who ruled with an iron fist for the next 25 years, enjoying full US support. And as for Iran’s nuclear program, that's just another pretext for pursuing regime change.
So, where are we now? The US and its allies devastated Iraq and Afghanistan, have been killing their adversaries in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere on the mere suspicion that they are Al Qaeda supporters (who wouldn't be after the kind of violence unleashed on them?), have been helping to crack down pro-democracy movements in Bahrain and Yemen, have toppled Gaddafi’s regime opening their way back into the continent and are now doggedly pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. Their only real opponents are people - both within imperialist countries and in Middle East, Asia and Africa. Only a people’s movement can reverse this dangerous trend. The US ruling class has been quite mindful of this, as they have, with the help of the Democrats, smartly preempted such a movement by first throwing their support behind an eloquent and affable African American Democrat as president, thereby co-opting and neutralizing any potential anti-war movement that would have the support of the minorities, secondly by quietly tightening the noose around people’s neck through an unprecedented level of spying, eavesdropping, warrantless wiretapping, punishing of whistle blowers and passing laws that curtail civil liberties, in order to always stay one step ahead of such a movement, and thirdly, by opting for weapons - drones - as much as possible, that keep US casualties low. The one-two combination of a likable president with whom many of the minorities - especially blacks - can identify with and preparing the groundwork to crackdown on any dissent without engendering a potent anti-war movement, has proven quite effective. This, if nothing else, should reveal the true nature and historical role and place of the Democrats in the class struggle within the US. Any future anti-war, anti-imperialist movement would have to preempt the preemptors of the Democratic Party.