Gadhafi’s true colors

CNN is now calling what’s happening in Libya a civil war.

With the airpower advantage that Moammar Gadhafi has over the rebel forces, “civil war” seems to suggest that it’s a fair fight, which doesn’t look very fair to me. Which has led to more and more suggestions of establishing a no-fly zone over Libya.

The conversation goes something like this:

Mo Gadhafi: I will fight to the death.

Libyan Rebels: We can arrange that.

MG: I bomb you from overhead. You can run but you can’t outrun my planes.

LR: Damn.

Except it’s not funny when an evil dictator rains death upon his own people. Some estimates say up to 2,000 Libyans have died in the uprising. They’re approaching Tiananmen Square numbers, which seems to be the gold standard for governments killing their own people. Gadhafi is showing his true colors after a few years of rehabilitating his world image and reputation. But once a mad dog, always a mad dog.

The sponsor of all sorts of ghastly terrorist acts, most notably the bombing over Lockerbie in 1988, a French airliner in 1989 and even the slaughter of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich in 1972 (my first memory of terrorism), Mo started to clean up his act about the time that Bush and the Associates of the Willing were restoring Iraq to its original pre-civilization condition. (They say Iraq was the cradle of civilization. So we rocked the cradle. Or reduced it to piles of rock and sand.)

What is it about these dictators that makes them cling desperately to power long after it’s obvious to everyone else that it’s over? Why not bolt with a suitcase of ill-begotten cash before the world forces and/or local contingents move in? After a few months of hunting, our boys smoked Saddam Hussein out of a “spider hole.” Mo could be comfortably hanging with a small group of hangers-on and maybe a bodyguard or two in some small Village for Deposed Despots. Rub elbows with other exiled tyrants.

MG: “Yo, Hosni, What up?”

Hosni Mubarak: “Hey, Mo! (Yuk, yuk, yuk)”

Watching from the comfort of our living rooms and dens we wonder, Why won’t we send in some jets and ground Gadhafi’s air force, give the rebels a fighting chance? After all, the enemy of Moammar Gadhafi must be a friend to us, no? Well, maybe no.

We made that mistake in Afghanistan some 30 years ago, aiding the Mujahedeen in their fight against the Soviet army, our common enemy. Trouble is, after driving out the Soviets the Mujahedeen gave rise to the Taliban, who turned Afghanistan into a nutso fundamentalist state (I know, kind of technical) that stopped girls from getting basic educations and decided to destroy ancient carvings they didn’t like. Things came back to bite us when the Taliban played host and camp counselor to al-Qaida, and you remember what those bastards did to us. Right? Twin Towers? Pentagon? Flight 93?

We’ve shown poor judgment in picking friends in that giant sandbox of the Middle East. Saddam Hussein was our boy when he was at war with Iran. The Saudis are on everybody’s hit list for Among Mostly Likely to Be Next to Topple.

Of course, Hosni and Mo and others despots hanging by a hangnail onto power argued all along that they’re the only force between world stability and fundamentalist islamist mad dogs.

Wouldn’t it suck if one of them turned out to be right? That’s why we need to be more careful about picking friends.

Hey, I didn’t say this was easy. Or simple.

If it was, don’t you think some smart guy would have figured it out already?


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