'Any future defense secretary who advises the president to againsend a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East orAfrica should have
his head examined,' Robert Gates, US DefenseSecretary (and clearly from the Princess Bride school of geopolitics),February 2011.
Instead of a big land army, NATO sends in the drones and bombers tohelp a local uprising overthrow the world's bad guy de jour. And it looks pretty
much game over for both Gaddafi's career asBrother Leader, as well as the unique, bizarre political experimentthat was the Great Socialist People's
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (asLibya was/is officially known).
Having promised to fight to the last,it looks like the Lady Gaga of dictators snuck out by the back door ofhis presidential palace to beat a hasty
'tacticalwithdrawal' to the desert, where fighting still rages. Eventsare unfolding quickly (too quickly for a weekly newsletter to hope tokeep up
with) so perhaps its time to take a look back, at the highs,the lows, and the downright weird during the 42 years of Gaddafi's rule over Libya.
Unlike the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, material conditionsweren't such a major factor in the rebellion. Under Gaddafi,Libya enjoyed one of the
highest incomes-per-person in the whole ofAfrica. As a country with large reserves of high quality oilconveniently situated across the Med from major
European consumers,making money was never really difficult. But the big differencebetween Gaddafi and say, Equatorial Guinea or Nigeria, is that
Gaddafidid a fair bit of redistribution; funding education, health, roads andother mega projects.
The Colonel was never shy to wield a stick, butthere were quite a few carrots dangled under the citizens' nosesas well. And with only 6m inhabitants,
a little redistribution went a long way. Gaddafi has always been one of the world's more entertainingleaders (from afar; from within Libya his
'quirks'probably don't seem so funny).
When the Colonel first rose topower in a military coup he was young, semi-literate officer. Afterbeing taught to write, he penned his 'Green Book'- a
weirdfusion of Anarchism, Stalinism, Islam and Arab Nationalism. Gaddafi explained that representative democracy was a sham, and that partypolitics
and politicians seek only to further their power (sounds fine so far). His solution was to abolish all political parties, and doaway with formal
Because of this Gaddafi has neverheld any formal position in Libya. He just rules the country with aniron fist is all. Gaddafi tried his hand at pan
After the defeat ofEgypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur War, he boasted that if onlythey'd let him in on the invasion they'd have conqueredIsrael in a
day. Shunned a role in arab politics, he then decided torebrand himself as a world revolutionary, funding Basque separatists,Irish nationalists, and
pretty much anyone who claimedanti-imperialist credentials.
In his final years he metomorphasised into a Pan African. His maincontribution to African unity was to involve himself in most of thecontinent's
wars; from Liberia to Congo, Gaddafi usedconflicts abroad to sell weapons and increase his influence. Just likeus really.
However, just like merry old England, racism against black Africans'coming over here' is rife in much of Libya, and thishelped fan the rumours of
foreign mercenaries in Gaddafi's army.The black men that were paraded in front of tv cameras by the rebelslater turned out to be undocumented farm
labourers seeking work.
Todate no proof of Gaddafi's use of foreign mercs has surfaced.The same can't quite be said of the rebels- as well as US / UK /French spies active on
the ground, south african mercenaries have beenwitnessed by journalists. Of course, the rebels' air force is NATO, hardly a homegrown Libyan
Despite the enthusiasm and popular support for the rebels andrebellion, the chances of a NATO proxy war working out for the bestare still fairly slim.
If history is any guide theLibyans have several years of bloody chaos to look forward to, with noguarantee that their new government will be any freer
or moredemocratic than the last.
A weak and divided Libya could mean easypickings for Western oil companies to exploit. Or there's achance that the Islamist fighters NATO armed and
trained will attack the West.
edit on Sat Aug 27 2011 by DontTreadOnMe because: paragraphs