The big news today, as far as Libya is concerned (from an American perspective), is president Obama’s comments. Frustrating as it may have been to get little more than silence from the White House for the past several days, the logic behind their actions was solid, and fairly evident to those familiar with State Department procedure. Despite the horrific nature of the events on the ground in Libya, the American president’s primary obligation is the safety of his own citizens, and in this case (given that he was dealing with an individual of obviously unsound mind), it was imperative that the American embassy staff be evacuated before any substantive action could be taken.
If the White House had come out strongly against Gaddafi earlier (while American embassy staff were still on the ground in Tripoli) there was a very real possibility that Gaddafi might retaliate, using State Department employees as leverage, or even as targets for violence. It is worthwhile to note that his comments on Libya came barely minutes after the last plane of Americans had taken off from Tripoli.
Obama’s comments today were probably the ones he wanted to make several days ago, and although they carried with them no overtures of force projection, the way things look on the ground that won’t be necessary anyway.
So, where do things stand?
At this point, it’s pretty obvious that the regime’s timeline is down to its last hours - maybe 24, possibly 48. The regime has been madly shedding diplomats and officials for several days now, and with the end in sight, even the most obstinate and myopic supporters of the regime are probably weighting their options (which, at this point probably aren’t much better than
2. Death at the hands of an angry mob
3. A public trial for their crimes against the Libyan people.
Frankly, I’d like to see a trial, but that raises an interesting point.
Two days ago I was on the phone with my saintly Quaker grandmother. Although she knew that there was something happening in Libya, she professed ignorance as to the specific details. Given my own compulsive inclination towards exposition and contextualization, I gave her a two-minute summary that covered the scope and scale of the protests, the horrific acts by mercenaries and military, and the inevitability of the regime’s demise.
“At this point,” I said, “Qaddafi will probably go out like Cheaucesceeu or Mussolini, but personally, I’d like to see him in front of an international Court of Justice.”
“Ehh...What good would that do?” She said In an offhand manner. “Maybe one of his soldiers will shoot him.”
Now...the vast majority of the people reading this probably don’t grasp the magnitude of that statement, but when my grandmother - one of the sweetest most peace-loving and nonviolent people I’ve ever known in my life - casually tosses out tacit approval of extrajudicial execution…well…there’s not much more that can be said.
Hey Qaddafi! Even pacifists think you need to be put down like the rabid badger that you are.
I’m trying to pull together two more solid and substantive blogs for this weekend, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll get both of them out before Monday. I should get at least one of them out tomorrow, and it’ll be a good one (I think).
I’ll say the same thing this week that I was saying last week...in the same way that Egypt was consuming all of the available “media oxygen” then, Libya is doing the same thing now. Very important things have been happening in many other countries, and they should certainly be addressed…I‘ll try to get there...
Just one interesting final point before I conclude this post - the situation in Libya has had a rather interesting and unexpected impact in Venezuela that is addressed here. I highly recommend that you read the article, but to sum up, Hugo Chavez’s state-run media mouthpiece sent a media team to Libya several days ago when the situation was beginning to crest. Because of Chavez’s fairly strong relationship with Qaddafi, the news network painted a picture that was entirely in line with Qaddafi’s personal perception of the situation, but so far detached from reality that it has made them the laughingstock of the Venezuelan population. Although Chavez has built his political career on the gullibility of a large portion of the Venezuelan community, the obvious disconnect between the messaging of the state TV and every other available information source has been comedic, dramatic, and unignorable.
Gaddafi has done us another favor - he has shown Venezuelan state television to be nothing more than government funded liars.
More to come tomorrow.
In the meantime, I just found out about Band of Skulls...aren’t they awesome?