Monday, February 21, 2011

To the Shores of Tripoli: Libya and the changing world

What a crazy, busy day in Libya. Update: the U.K. have sent a warship there to negotiate safe passage for their citizens. Eastern Libya has fallen, and is no longer under central gov't control. Soldiers are turning in their weapons to join "the people."
There's no indication this autocracy will end without the Colonel's death, as he surrounds himself with tribesmen. His ego will not let him back down. His ego is worth more than thousands of human lives. This is not news. The rest of my original column follows.

Any other time, I'd be trying here to hash out the situation in Wisconsin---at this point, I think I could explain it, and almost explain it well enough for anyone. United States Politics, as a discussion in the public, is often a series of metaphors, rather than details, i.e., Walker = Mubarak vs. Workers' Rights are Not Budget Items. I want to talk about a place with literal, lethal details and consequences. But Governor Walker hasn't started bombing protesters from the sky---like in Tripoli.

On the American Spectator blog (thank you P. Link), the suggestion has gone out that America should announce and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, to keep their newly-threatened dictator of forty years, whose name is spelled about five different ways, not including misspellings, Col. Quaddafi. There is nothing wacky about the estimated minimum 285 casualties, apparently inflicted, according to eyewitnesses, by the military, or counter-protesters. In fact, it makes me quite angry. Why should they die for his un-elected rule to maintain? Why should they not taste freedom? It is a question that is fire in the minds of people all over the world.

Ghaddafi's Air Force bombed people, destroying the runways at Benghazzi, second largest city in Libya, while British Foreign Minister Hague passed word that the Colonel himself is meant to be fled to Venezeula, denied by their president Hugo Chavez. But Libyan border guards have abandoned their posts; two high ranking officers, and a few jet fighters flown to Malta in surrender, mark the turning of many from their orders, while Libya's own international ambassadors have called for the no-fly zone, as pressure builds within.

So, like Louis Phillipe, the eccentric leader who has declared, "I am in Tripoli, I am not in Venezuela" has released a statement from beneath his umbrella, sitting in a van with hat ---well, forget the joke. The protesters have taken over towns, like Benghazzi, and two state tv stations.

What I am sharing here is, we are about to discover the faces of our ideological brethren and sister in liberty. It is their job to come up with a democracy---a process we've seen hijacked by money here so many times as to tempt one to a jaded ignorance of its mechanics. But for now, it is up to them to survive. Everyone that's bought oil from Libya has helped provide those planes. There are many "practical" alliances created on the free market that empower regimes they cannot ennoble.

How many people are going to die, and how many soldiers will have to rely on their conscience and walk away? While U.N. foot soldiers amidst the battling factions would be premature, if at all wise, our jet fighters could uphold a no-fly zone. Ghaddafi's son has made a statement, rambling about the fault of "drug addicts" that he will "fight to the last bullet" and conduct civil war to keep Libya under his family's control. Will we leave them to it? If the Egyptian army had fired on their people, what difference would that have made to us? Is it time to contact your U.S. congressperson?

Now, there are consequences. This action, to me, would symbolically and practically place America on the side of freedom, and the oppressed--where we belong. There are forces inside the State Department that would be loathe to be seen this way, as it will without doubt incite further protests to greater strength, a betrayal of alliances made with monarchies and oligarchies throughout the world. But which word, my friends, will we choose to keep?

P.S. May Starla Kirby stay safe and well in Tripoli.

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