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Serious Stuff

What to Make of Qaddafi?

by Somebody Else
May 6, 2010

Up to this point, the American media, whether liberal or conservative, has pretty much been one voice with regard to Muammar Qaddafi -- they have been almost entirely unanimous in condemning him as an evil madman who ought to be removed from power.

So, in this country there has never been a serious debate about the Qaddafi issue, except perhaps to consider the relative pros and cons of not getting involved in the present conflict or of putting an end to his rule through military force. Although this is admittedly a topic of crucial importance, it should not begin by axiomatically assuming that Qaddafi is an utterly vile dictator. This would be inconsistent with the core principles of fair and balanced reporting.

In the interest of offering our website viewers a more informed and nuanced perspective, we at Somebody's Webpage have chosen to make available some of the key counter-arguments and rebuttals to the usual Western media criticisms of the Libyan leader.

However, this should not be understood as an implicit endorsement of Qaddafi, but rather as an effort to let the public know that the picture may be a bit more complicated than our media and leadership might have us believe.

Thus, instead of stating my personal views, I'm just going to give you a general summary of the differing perspectives that have emerged these days with relation to recent events in that North African nation. Much more emphasis will be given to pro-Qaddafi views, since all of us have already been inundated by a tidal wave of anti-Qaddafi reporting in our media -- we are already thoroughly informed in that regard.

You are of course free to draw your own conclusions from the information presented. We at the webpage like to believe that our readers are independent-minded enough to think for themselves.

In power since 1969, and widely considered to be the longest continually-serving active statesman since Fidel Castro of Cuba stepped down from power a few years ago, Muammar Qaddafi has provoked a wide range of responses throughout the world, from disgust and contempt to adulation and admiration. Is he a villain or a hero?

Those who say he is a villain point out what they consider to be his abuse of human rights.

Defenders say that Qaddafi has enemies on all sides -- people who are determined to overthrow his socialist government so that they can ruthlessly exploit the people as did the government that ran the country before Qaddafi took over. So, they argue, he has just done what has been necessary to protect the people's own system of self-administration.

Detractors mention that Qaddafi lives like a rajah at the expense of the hardworking people of Libya.

Supporters note that Libya's standard of living has experienced a steady rise since Qaddafi has been in charge. Perhaps he lives well, but thanks to him, so the argument goes, so do the rest of the Libyan people.

The opposition paints Qaddafi as a dictator who has imposed his leadership and system of government upon the nation against its will.

Pro-Qaddafi people explain that the Libyan revolution has given power back to the people. They argue that Qaddafi's principles of socialist government with a Muslim foundation are expressly democratic.

Contra: Qaddafi has been accused of sponsoring terrorism against his political enemies.

Pro: It is known that enemy nations such as the United States have over the years sought to assassinate Qaddafi and have launched military actions against him. So, he has at times retaliated in turn. Since he of course does not benefit from the kind of military prowess possessed by many of his enemies, he has had to resort to countermeasures according to his more limited capacities. It is quite convenient for powerful nations to label Qaddafi's attacks as terrorism, while characterizing their own strikes against the Libyan leader as military actions. Both are acts of war, plain and simple.

Contra: Qaddafi has declared war against his own people, that is, those Libyans who want him removed from power and, in keeping with the spirit of the so-called Arab Spring, are dedicated to the kind of free, democratic society common to Western nations.

Pro: Qaddafi has long been a thorn in the side of the United States and other nations that have aligned themselves with American interests. The chief reasons for this opposition have nothing to do with his system of government or his supposed treatment of his people -- the United States has a long history of supporting inhumane dictators throughout the world -- but rather with Libya's preferential treatment of nations that compete with America for cheap access to oil, such as China and Russia. As for the Libyan opposition, it is rather disingenuous for the American media to suppose that those fighting against Qaddafi are dedicated to Western ideals of democracy, much less to assume that they are pro-American. On the contrary, many of the Libyan rebels have shown an even greater degree of contempt for the United States and its key ally Israel than Qaddafi himself has. The revolt against the Libyan leader is nothing more than a CIA-provoked uprising whose aim is to reverse Qaddafi's decades of social and economic reforms, return to exploiting the masses just as the leadership of that nation had done prior to Qaddafi, and reestablish America's preferential access to Libyan oil.

Contra: Qaddafi is a menace to his region and to the world at large.

Pro: Qaddafi has striven to maintain good relationships with antagonistic nations, and in recent memory, had demonstrated notable progress in that regard. However, the so-called Arab Spring, which has been nothing more than an elaborately-staged CIA-sponsored revolt disguised as a supposedly popular uprising, has demonstrated that no amount of goodwill shown by Qaddafi will ever satisfy his relentless enemies. He has been forced to defend himself against his will.

There are of course other arguments and counter-arguments, but in our view these are the main ones.

Returning to the issue of UN-sponsored military action against Qaddafi, some might argue that regardless of whether or not we might agree with the Libyan leader, America should step in and put an end to the civil war before more lives are lost.

Although in principle it makes sense to accept such a line of reasoning, the picture becomes more complicated when we take into consideration the fact that the United States has quite often chosen to look the other way when civil war has erupted in nations where quick and cheap access to non-renewable energy resources has not been an issue, for example, such as in the Darfur region of Sudan. In other words, so the argument goes, if we choose to promote military intervention under the pretence of defending human rights, we have an ethical obligation to be consistent about it.

At this time, Qaddafi seems to be beating the odds and is steadily reclaiming lost territory in spite of the Libyan opposition and UN-sponsored airstrikes. We leave it up to you, dear reader, to determine whether or not this is ultimately a beneficial development.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...