Published On: Tue, Aug 23rd, 2011

Counting Chickens in Libya

The media seems to be in full congratulatory mode.

Joel Rubin of the Huffington Post trumpets “Obama’s Libya Leadership Vindicated” and gushes that “President Obama’s critics are on the verge of witnessing a third major Obama success in the Arab world in 2011.”  The three triumphs he refers to are the glorious events surrounding our support condemnation of Mubarak, the demise of Bin Laden, and now the supposed end of Gaddafi.

Over at Politico, Alexander Burns has an article critical of the Republicans for not pushing to the front of the line to praise the President, and Ben Smith reports with great solemnity in his article “Libya Revolution: How “leading from behind” can work” that “The fall of Tripoli is a foreign policy triumph for which President Barack Obama won’t hold a ticker-tape parade: no flight suit, no chest-thumping, no “Mission Accomplished” banner.”

Colonel Gadaffi in Uniform

Colonel Gaddafi in Uniform

Why would he need to, when he’s got the likes of Ben, Joel and Alex to wave the banner for him?

By Tuesday, there will be dozens of such congratulatory articles and posts, and maybe they will all be deserved. Maybe it will be shown that the administration’s steely resolve has rid the middle east of what everyone agrees was an evil mad hatter, and the Libyan people can emerge into the sunshine of a better life. One would hope so.

Couple of troubling issues, however.  As this is written, Gaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown. It had been reported on Saturday night that three of his sons had been captured by the rebels, but Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, made what seemed like a campaign victory appearance at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, and his brother Mohammed Gaddafi was reported to have escaped Monday, according to the Libyan ambassador to the United States.

But let’s assume all this is just Baghdad Bob style propaganda, and the Gaddafii boys really will be introduced to their just rewards soon. Is this good news?

Maybe, maybe not.

There was a time when most observers applauded the fall of the Shah of Iran, who was another bad guy, but at least he was our bad guy.  The Shah was preferable to the rule and reign of Khomeini and the mullahs that followed and who will have to be taken down sooner or later.

Who are the Libyan rebels? Just as in Egypt, a country with far more structure and at least some experience with democratic tradition, there are reports that some are calling for an Islamic society based on Sharia law.  If that’s the end result, it might not lead to the best of all possible world.

Odds are, things could go either way.  Maybe the Arab spring will turn out to have been a good things and an important step towards a more tranquil Middle Eastern community.  Maybe it will turn out to to be the calm before the storm, and a new landscape of pain, threat and danger.

It might just be prudent to keep the champagne on ice, at least for awhile.

Gadaffi Speaks

Gaddafi Speaks


About the Author

- Russell Halley is a lifelong political voyeur. Halley started writing for weekly newspapers in the early 70's, and advanced to a successful career as a freelancer, having been published in several national magazines. Eventually, however, the call of commerce lured him away and he switched to circulation, working with many of the largest publishers around the world to increase readership. As an avocation, Russell has always followed and participated in the minutia of the political world, and migrated from a severe left wing point of view to conservatism. He was flattered when the San Jose Mercury News once described his style as “Republican Punk”, and prides himself on a certain expertise in this arena, with a perspective that he hopes sheds light on the issues of the day. Read more of Halley's clips here.

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  1. Kcabral says:

    Good food for thought, but I can’t help feeling that in the long run democracy will prevail. The Arab Spring in my opinion is a move against dictatorship in all it’s forms and although there are bound to be proponents of Sharia law and its horrible manifestations in any part of the Muslim dominated countries the movement seems to heading toward a more secular society as in Turkey. In a recent visit to Turkey I was pleased to be interviewed by some young students and I was very impressed with how in touch they were with the world, Turkey is a thriving and vibrant country where tolerance is the rule not the exception. I think that global communications, the internet and social networking are cutiing through the fundalmentalist propaganda and that reason will eventually prevail. Even in Iran the youth have made it clear that they are ready for a change of government and as they are already dominated by Islamist fundalmentalists the only way to go is toward a more secular society. Unfortunatly a brutal and corrupt government has stifled progress. It is however possible that it could go the other direction in Libiya, so the democratic nations must be vigilant in there support for a secular and democratic enviornment.
    The Shaw of Iran might have been our guy, true. But let’s not forget the image we have just seen of a clenched fist holding a doomed jetliner, Gahdafi was never our guy. What should be learned from this is that our image across the globe suffers when we support dictatorship or totalitarianism in any of it’s manifestations. We are doing just that in Saudi Arabia for political and economic reasons. It’s pure hipocracy.
    What really impresses me about the Libiyans is that the people themselves took the initiative and put there lives on the line with a little help from the outside. Do you see any similarities to there fight and and the our American Revolution. It’s been said that the people get the government they deserve. If that true then the fighters in Libiya have proven they deserve better.

    Kevin Cabral

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