By Michael Collins
“It’s not acceptable to kill a person without trying him,” said Louay Hussein, a Syrian opposition figure in Damascus. “I prefer to see the tyrant behind bars.” New York Times, October 20
The New York Times reported that a NATO jet and drones disabled vehicles in a convoy carrying Muammar Gaddafi near the besieged town of Sirte on October 20. Loyalists in the remaining vehicles scattered becoming easy prey for the emboldened fighters of the new Libyan state.
Reuters expanded the narrative on the 21st by reporting that Gaddafi fled from his jeep, hid in a drainage pipe, and emerged with an automatic weapon and side arm. He was manhandled and slapped by the soldiers of the new Libya. He allegedly asked the crowd, “Don’t you know right from wrong?” They took exception to the question and shot him twice in the head. He was transported to Misurata, scene of one of the few decisive victories by the former rebels. Gaddafi’s corpse was placed on a bare mattress and put on display for the public on the 22nd. It remains there today, although it is now reportedly covered by a blanket (Reuters, October 23).
There’s a new sheriff in town, NATO.
On one level, the truth of this story matters a great deal. On another level, accuracy is not as important as the clear message to those who oppose United States, French, and British policy executed by NATO. Those who resist will be publicly humiliated in the most primitive way and then killed. The composite story indicates intent and intent reveals policy.
It’s not just leaders who will be punished
“You have won your revolution. And now, we will be a partner as you forge a future that provides dignity, freedom and opportunity.” President Barack Obama, White House, October 20, 2011
The citizens of Gaddafi’s home town, Sirte, were said to be special beneficiaries of the ruler’s largesse. The Mediterranean port was prosperous and productive amidst the strangeness and strictures of his arbitrary rule. Were citizens supposed to object on moral grounds because their benefactor favored them? What risk would they have incurred by doing so, even if they wanted to turn away special favors? They had no choice but they got the message from NATO. It’s your turn to die.
From Sirte, Libya: “Not one building is intact. Windows are shattered. Shops are shuttered and the city’s 120,000 residents are nowhere to be seen.” Mark Bastian, AFP, October 23 (Image: Libyan Free Press)
Hadn’t they heard the pronouncements from the United States, Great Britain, and France that Gaddafi was reformed and a member in good standing of the world community? Perhaps they missed President Barack Obama’s announced change in that assessment.
When the Libyan rebels and their NATO allies prevailed over Gaddafi’s forces, Sirte stood as the most prominent holdout against the government that denies that it is, in fact, a government, the National Transition Council (NTC). The citizens of Sirte didn’t attack any other city. They simply lived there.
In early September, the top commander of the RTC announced that Sirte would be taken by force if the town failed to surrender. There were pro Gaddafi forces in the city. But city officials, separate from those forces, tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the threatened siege. Unfortunately, the residents and their representatives lacked the power to do the one thing that was needed to save their lives, surrender Gaddafi. For this, the town was demolished by NATO bombings and many were injured or killed.
Civilization in the balance
The statement by Syrian opposition activist, Louay Hussein, supporting due process of law and basic human rights stands in stark contrast to the entirety of President Obama’s statement on the same day Gaddafi was murdered. Louvay’s long time opposition to violence as a means of change is not at all apparent by Obama’s behavior as a leader. Obama increased fighting in Afghanistan along with troops. Libya is the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s second major descent into violence, this time through the NATO proxy. In his October 20 statement from the White House, Obama said:
“So this is a momentous day in the history of Libya. The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted. And with this enormous promise, the Libyan people now have a great responsibility — to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Qaddafi’s dictatorship.” President Barack Obama, October 20
Obama pairs lifting the “dark shadow of tyranny” with the death of Gaddafi and then lectures the Libyan people about inclusivity and tolerance. What an odd world view this is. Libyan cities are in ruin, thousands are dead, many more injured, and the city where the dark shadow was lifted is devastated. Is it tolerant to blow a people and city to bits because they won’t surrender? Is it inclusive to kill off citizens simply because they’re in the former leader’s hometown?
Who would fail to get the message? When the president says your time is up, you’re in serious trouble. Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein were both cooperative members of the U.S.-NATO team at different points in their careers. Yet both Iraq and Libya were attacked, their population ravaged, and, after the destruction of people and infrastructure, the leaders were captured and killed.
Where will it end?
When will someone in leadership stand up and say that behaving in a brutish, violent, and uncivilized fashion is immoral, repulsive, and unacceptable. Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) have said just that, as have others. They’re ignored by their political peers and ridiculed by the corporate media. There is a deafening silence among those in the power structure and their patrons. They miss this simple point. This is not about who Gaddafi is. It’s about who we are and how our good name is hijacked by leaders who order violence without any restraint.
For decades, the strength and humanity of the nation has been siphoned off to support these overseas adventures concocted by presidents of limited vision and intellect, bereft of any fundamental notion of the value of human life, and unable to think beyond the next election or even the next meeting with a supporter from the defense-national security state industry.
The sleep of reason produces monsters.
And, they do all this in our name.
UPDATE: [transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil] laid out a vision for the post-Gaddafi future with an Islamist tint, saying Islamic Sharia law would be the “basic source” of legislation and existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified. Time, October 23
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N.B. Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama featured on the front page of the anti Gaddafi coalition, the National Transitional Council.