The extraordinary, unexpected popular uprisings across North Africa and into the Middle East are a heartening reminder of the aspirations of people everywhere to breathe free.  This cliché of both Bush and Obama finally finds expression, with no help from either the American government or the oil companies who have trickled off some money to these governments as they siphoned off the yolk of this planet for themselves and our comfort.  (See Syriana, where an oil official insists: “It’s corruption that keeps us warm!”)

Try if you will to portray these movements as pro- or anti-West – and both have been done in our auto-centric media – but they really have nothing to do with us.  These uprisings have come against our staunch allies like Mubarak and Bahrain, our ‘enemies’ like Gaddafi and Iran, and several in between we’ve never heard of.  It is not because of the war in Iraq and our policies, but despite them.  It is not against the oil companies, though they have maintained the dictators.  This is simple, endemic, essentially non-violent revolution.

Although a dictator can maintain control for some time through intimidation and pitting one part of a people against another, in the end the strong yang revolves into the yin, as the Taoist I Ching teaches us.  This is what we are seeing.

The rebels are certainly making use of the new technologies, but is this the Facebook revolution? While we cannot ignore traditional issues like unemployment and high food prices (and if we could look more closely, we would probably find venal power-grabs at the inside top of some of these movements) as motivators, cell phones and the internet certainly gave the ‘people power’ a different set of tools and options and sources to get information in and out.  But it was still real people, soft, warm animal bodies in the streets.

This was such a joy to watch in Egypt, and so painful now in Libya.  News coverage and internet is limited in my Melbourne hotel, but as I write, Gaddafi tanks and planes are rolling over the rebels who took Zawiyah.  Gaddafi has probably always been crazy, though he got a few props from me for thumbing his nose at the West back in the day.  Blowing innocents out of the sky over Lockerbie – however he was involved – was a bad move. To come in from that cold, Gaddafi had to knuckle under to the oil interests and be a good boy to keep the money flowing his way, however much he tried to maintain the image of terrorist-in-chief.

But in turning his armaments on his own people, he has totally lost what little legitimacy he could claim in any arena.  We cannot know how this will turn out.  The rebels are unorganized, chaotic, and don’t know which end of the surface-to-air missiles to point at the marauding jets.  The bombs themselves are not accurate, as the pilots are probably inexperienced.  On TV, it plays as the Keystone cops on both sides, but the Libyan people underneath are dying or being destroyed, and Gaddafi and his family are clearly delusional as well as corrupt.

What is the reason that our governments are so paralyzed?  Do neither Bush nor Obama nor the UN have any integrity behind their fine words? Can we not issue and enforce a no-fly zone?  Why is this not the time to give democracy a level playing field and declare our interests to be with the people of Libya?


One Response to “Libya-rté”

  1. Shelly Stephenson Says:

    I agree. All this yak yak, someone needs to take his crazy arse down.

    I had the rare pleasusre of visiting my second favorite insane dictators land a few years ago. Never seen such a waste. Of people. resources, history. Everything.
    We went because my husband got a gig to write about it. This was very shortly after americans could go again.

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