Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bombs Away

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a long talk with President Obama about the situation in Libya. Obama, who had until this point been against any direct military involvement, was told by Clinton that if Colonel Qaddafi were to win the war {which was indeed swinging decisively in his favor} there might be a massacre and tribal war on an unprecedented scale, perhaps comparable to Rwanda. There was talk of mass torture and rape already. It was enough. On Thursday, Obama relented and, with US pressure, the UN Security Council approved a measure for a "No Fly Zone" in the skies above Libya, with the added stipulations that Qaddafi's forces retreat from a number of cities he had just recently took, and that he provide food and medicine to all Libyans. It was known that Qaddafi could not possibly comply with these dictats, nevermind his willingness to do so.

Colonel Muammar Qaddafi had always been crazy. He exudes it; even embraces it. When he goes travelling to foreign nations, he arrives with a bodyguard unit made up of young virgins toting automatic rifles. Some of his dresses would make Elton John jealous. Worse, he's as brutal and greedy as he is crazy: it's estimated that in the forty or so year's he's ruled Libya, he has amassed a fortune {in foreign banks of course}in the neighborhood of $20 billion. His children travel the world like playboys, spending lavishly on anything they want-- one son even hired Beyonce to perform a few songs for his birthday for a cool $1 million. He has a few extremely nice looking Ukrainian nurses attending to his every need. When he travels to African nations, he lets it be known that he's to be addressed as the "King of Kings". Any opposition to this mass squandering of a nation's wealth is immediately dealt with by a particularly vicious police force he maintains. He keeps a paramilitary force, some of which are under the personal command of his sons, which is actually stronger than the country's army.

Unfortunately for the King of Kings, the world's financial crisis has come home to bite him. Once the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia were successful, and because the vast majority of Libyans are destitute, bereft of hope and completely disenfranchised, it was a given that the revolutionary fever sweeping the Islamic World would come to Libya. It was also a given that Qaddafi would use his police and militia forces to suppress this. What was different here is that the crazy Colonel did'nt recognize when his time had come. He was offered by the West multiple times the opportunity to simply walk away; there was talk of him moving to France only a week or so ago. With some fast military help from friends abroad-- Syria primarily-- the Colonel began to turn the tide back into his favor. Al-Zawiya in the Western part of the nation and then Brega and Ras-Lanuf in the east fell back under Qaddafi's paramilitaries. By Thursday, the situation had essentially become hopeless for the rebels, who begged and pleaded with western journalists for air intervention. Without this aid, there is little doubt that Qaddafi's forces would've prevailed.

In the end, my guess is that many Qaddafi loyalists will simply melt away and the rebels will begin to advance yet again. There was a French airstrike on a column of pro-Qaddafi militia on a road near the western city of Benghazi; it was later discovered that many of these soldiers were attempting to throw away their uniforms and simply melt away. This will be over in two weeks is my guess. As for the King of Kings, he will meet the same fate as Romania's late dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu, who was executed by firing squad after he lost power. Some have opined that one of his own children will do the deed in order to secure their own safety abroad.

For forty years, Qaddafi essentially looted the country six ways from sunday, leaving the people destitute. The people of Libya were never given a chance to enjoy the wealth that should've been rightfully theirs and were denied any form of expression. The West, including the US, recognized Qaddafi's regime no strings attached, so long as the oil flowed and as long as western oil companies profited from exploration and production. Italy under PM Berlusconi was particularly guilty here. Libya is not the only dictator we support; Saudi Arabia is the primary one, and they too are brutal and corrupt-- but at this time they have enough wealth to spread around to make the pain of no democracy somewhat bearable.

My question is-- when do we as a nation actually begin to stand by our own principles and support the people's right to democracy and freedom ? Had we done this with Iran in the 1970s, Iran might not be our enemy. Al-Qaida might not exist. We are still making the same mistake as we speak. It's high time we espouse democracy and send the Sheiks and Kings of these corrupt nations down the river. What are we afraid of ? Ultimately, any new regime in these nations will have to sell the oil; it's not like we will do without. Obama took a big step forward in this direction when he failed to support Mubarak, much to the anger of the Saudi King. This week's intervention on behalf of the Libyan rebels is another step forward in this direction. Doing it without putting troops on the ground is another good idea. It's high time we as a nation put democracy first, even if this means the fall of the Saud dynasty and expulsion of our base in Bahrain. In the long run, the good will engendered by these actions will be far more beneficial for us-- and it's the right thing to do.

1 comment:

  1. At the risk of offending the 'mean one'..this is total drivel. We as a country have no right to be in anyones business. Little document called 'The Constitution'..maybe you've heard of it?

    We as a nation would be alot better off, and not light blood and treasure had we never gotten involved in the Middle East. Its called 'avoiding foreign entanglements' Someone WAY smarter than you thought of it...T Jefferson...

    Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none, I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801.