Friday, March 4, 2011

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

So, my morning paper devotes much of a page earlier this week to speculation that Moammar Khadafy is bats in the belfry, shithouse rat NUTS. Myriad analysts weighed in on this speculating he's lost the thread and that his speeches and rhetoric - not to mention actions -since the unrest in Libya broke out show he's divorced from reality, unable to process events around him and suffering from a variety of mental illnesses.

Quite frankly, I think they're full of crap. Moammar Khadafy is no crazier today than he was a month, a year, a decade, four decades ago. Which is to say, that if he was so acceptable to so much of the world over at least part of that time, he's done nothing to indicate he's any different a person today. He has been, for more than 40 years, a dictator, running his country as his personal fiefdom, promoting terror abroad, stealing from the nation's coffers and killing those who oppose his rule. There is nothing new in his bid to stay in power and nothing surprising about his "fight or flight" reaction to the challenge to his regime. He has nowhere to flee to and so he has done the one thing available to him - try to crush the rebellion. That's not crazy - had any of us done the same things Moammar Khadafy has done over the years, we'd be doing the same things now, fully aware that failure is almost certainly a death sentence.

He may very well succeed in hanging on to power. The longer the situation remains as is, the more likely it is the protesters will give up, run out of steam or just be killed in significant numbers so that they run away. We can look at what happened in Tiananmen Square, Zimbabwe and the Sudan as examples of how fickle the world is when it comes to holding other governments to account for their actions over the long term.

Let's look at who's really crazy here:

The UN: among other things, it put Libya on the UN Human Rights Council despite consistent evidence that the only rights a human has in Libya is the right to do exactly what Khadafy's regime tells them to.

England and Scotland: remember the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Magrahi, the Lockerbie bomber sent home on compassionate grounds to placate Khadafy and earn British Petroleum some extra oil contracts? al-Magrahi, supposedly suffering from advanced cancer and with less than three months to live continues to curse this planet with his presence two years later. Meanwhile the Scots and English have played an endless shell game of passing the blame around.

Russia and China: as all of this killing has gone on in Libya, they, as usual, have refused to act in concert with the US and the EU to rein Khadafy in or at least prevent the continued slaughter of innocent Libyans.

Venezuela: No doubt Hugo Chavez is just as "crazy" as Khadafy. He can't even bring himself to condemn the killings, saying the evidence he has doesn't support the contention that Khadafy is firing on his own citizens. My own personal hope is that the unrest in the Middle East eventually takes its toll in places like Venezuela which are also run by strongmen who crush dissent and curb any and all civil rights that could possibly threaten the regime.

Turkey: swerving his own country ever more into the dangerous territory of islamic shithole, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said moves such as no-fly zone over Libya (to prevent bombing of innocents and oil fields) were inconceivable. Dead muslim brethren aside, Erdogan doesn't mind cozying up to dictators and, Turkey, once one of the few reasonable secular muslim states, is becoming ever more radicalized and divorced from the western thinking it, at one time, was working hard to incorporate into its own society.

Most of the rest of the free world: sadly, our leaders embraced Khadafy after he "renounced" terrorism and gave up his nuclear program. This, by the ridiculous standards under which we now operate in the west, redeemed and legitimized Khadafy's rule, leading, in part to the situation there today.

The US administration: okay, maybe not crazy. But how is it that Obama threw Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak (a bastard but still "our" bastard) under the bus within days of the unrest there but waited two weeks to basically make any comment on Libya (a long-time American enemy) and when he did, did so with the most tepid of "demands" that violence stop? Another obvious case of recent American foreign policy being nothing but sound and fury signifying nothing. I'm not saying it's the US's responsibility to act in this instance (it's not) but, really, that's the best Obama and Secretary of State Clinton can come up with as people are gunned down in the streets?

The reality is that the last world leader who actually called out Khadafy for what he is was Ronald Reagan. Reagan, you remember, tried to off Khadafy, for which he received universal criticism and condemnation. While he didn't manage to kill him, he did manage to impress upon the Libyan leader that there were consequences for fucking with the US. Subsequent administrations backed off from isolating him and, thus, we have what we have.

Khadafy, rather than being crazy, has played the world for the suckers we are - pushing the limits and then drawing back when he crossed the line. And, doubtless, he would have continued down this path for an indeterminate future time period had the unrest elsewhere not spread to his own country. The one thing he couldn't account for was an uprising throughout the arab world - and no one else saw that coming either.

It would be very nice if someone stuck a bullet in Khadafy's head in the near future. But, people like him don't survive as long as he has by being crazy. Rather, he is cold and calculating with an overwhelming sense of self-preservation. To pretend otherwise is to vastly underestimate the continued danger he poses to Libyans, his neighbours and the free world.

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