Saturday, March 12, 2011

Qaddafi pokes the hornet's nest

I am sick. Libyans, last week so full of hope, of the the joy of speaking freely are now being slaughtered. You can see the despair, the death of hope in their eyes. The raw fear. And it is in some measure our fault.

We encourage revolution. We say we support democracy. Then when the people go out and fight armed with their dreams and some captured weapons, we do nothing.

Qaddafi poked the hornet's nest. He waited to see what we would do. And when we did nothing he knew he could stomp on those people, on their women and children, on their dreams.We talk about UN Resolutions, a vote on Tuesday - so now Qaddafi knows he has to win by Tuesday. He stared us down and he won. We are weak; he is stronger.

I am amazed the Arab world doesn't hate us. They don't. I was there. They want what we have - the chance to make a better life, a life free from fear, from thugs who come in the night, take your children, torture your wife.

We promise great things and we leave them to bleed in the streets. We encourage them to take their fate into their own hands, and when they do we leave them to be slaughtered. What did we expect would happen?

We can't say we didn't see this one coming. The intoxication of finally being able to say what you think, of finally being able to disagree, to dissent - we take it for granted. In Libya it would get you killed. Just for a moment it was possible to speak your heart. Now if Qaddafi wins the killing will be horrific and no one will speak what is in their heart for a very long time. You will not trust your neighbor, or your cousin. You will live in terror. We say no more Kosovo, no more Rwanda, but we encouraged those brave naive souls and their deaths will be on our hands.

Not another Iraq, you say. Right. Libya gets 90% of its money from gas and oil. If we can embargo Iran we can embargo Libya. If a cel phone can't be used on take-off and landing you can't tell me we don't have some way to stop Qaddafi's planes with technology. We managed a no-fly zone over Iraq so don't tell me we could not do something here. We know where the money is. Freeze his assets, mess with his cel phone. Screw up their internal communications. Deny him hair dye.

Who do we expect will make the change?  Do we think the people will rise up again after this? After the horrific reprisals that are coming? We encouraged them and we are leaving them to be slaughtered. It makes me sick. We speak of lofty ideals, of self-determination and human rights and freedom and then we turn away, after we have encouraged them and we say"Not my problem." But it is our problem. Hemingway was right, no man is an island.

Libya is a tribal society. The tribal leaders have more courage than we do. They said Qaddafi must go. We wait to see who wins, then we will say "Oh yeah, we were for him all along." Makes me sick. I am ashamed.

Have you seen the supposed Qaddafi loyalists with their Somali and Yemeni passports? It's a tribal society - do these guys look anything like the other Libyans? They are mostly imported thugs. Have you seen the soldier in the hospital who lost his leg, a Libyan who was a supposed Qaddafi loyalist? He said he was told he was fighting American invaders. And if he'd said "No thanks, don't want to go out and shoot other Libyans" what do you think would have happened to his family?

The next time we urge people to take their destinies into their own hands what do you think they will say?

The guy is a whack job. Dr Lina Khatib thinks it may be the hair dye. Ben Ali, Mubarak, Qaddafi all use the same bad hair dye and she thinks it affects their brains.  Have you seen the way Qaddafi tosses his headscarf? He looks like a teen age girl...except for the snake eyes. He's learned we blink first. He's winning and we're not losing, the Libyans, the entire Arab world is losing.

There was a Libyan general who wrote a manifesto as the revolution started saying "I am on the side of the rebels and I urge all the military to join me." The reporter to whom he gave the letter refused to publish it until he knew the general's family was safe. They never got safe, the letter never got published. Guess which side the general is fighting on now? Guess where his heart is? 

Life in Libya was unbearable before. God only knows how awful it will be now, and it's partly our fault.

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