Not always pretty. (via)
Kind of disturbing video below, but since it’s the news of the day:
Something about this makes me squirm. It may be cosmically just on some level (though I hesitate to use the word justice here), but it’s really depressing, too.
Update for clarity, since this is sitting on the FP for the weekend: What’s “depressing” isn’t Gaddafi’s death as much as the fact that he was captured alive, likely tortured, and then executed. It’s also depressing that his body is on display for people to see. That kind of shit just depresses me, and if I need to explain it, you need to watch the video again. What the video shows is a scared old man who is about to be killed. It does not show a dictator at all. It shows the shell of our former selves we all become in our last moments of life. It is defeat and the fear of imminent destruction, and most of all, the surprise — the sheer surprise — that you are actually about to end, as if that had not really been possible prior to this moment. It’s all there as Gaddafi gets tossed and pulled and shoved around like a rag doll at the mercy of a group of teenage boys. Shock and awe and fear and looming death. And though I can understand the reasons behind wanting a man like Gaddafi brutally dead — and though I can understand why anyone who was ever under his rule might want to get a few knocks on him before he was killed — I can’t support the way it ended. I can’t join the victory lap, or the encores of “Oh good, we’ve helped to kill another dictator.”
Don’t get me wrong, Gaddafi was an asshole and the world is better off without him. Full stop. That’s just elementary utilitarian calculus right there. But that the end of this “humanitarian” intervention was marked with such revelry at the oppressor’s torture and subsequent execution doesn’t exactly give me the warm-and-fuzzies in a “We Did It, America” kind of way. It’s more like, “We did it, America. Now what?”
Fox News isn’t sure.
Either way, I think it’s time for one last reprise of my massively
ignored underappreciated music video, “Muammar Gaddafi — Time to Step Off.”
Note: Watching this again, I wish I had used dissolves rather than jump cuts between screenshots. Oh well.
(P.S. Lyrics, if you’re interested. I know, you’re not.)
UPDATE (by Tom): The Guardian has a live blog going if you want to obsess about this all morning.
A fully equipped gynecological operating theater has been discovered underneath Tripoli’s Fateh University
Highly disturbing news from BBC Africa:
A fully equipped gynaecological operating theatre, bedroom and jacuzzi have been discovered underneath Tripoli’s Fateh University.
The rooms were discovered beneath the Green Theatre which was used to teach about the revolution and the Green Book which contained Col Muammar Gaddafi’s thoughts and solutions to the country’s social, political and economic problems.
Libya is fighting a civil war that we injected ourselves into for no good reason, and the rebels’ military leader (our ostensible ally) just got assassinated.
The leader of the rebels’ provisional government, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, announced Thursday evening without providing details that unnamed assassins had killed the commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, and two other officers.
General Younes, a former officer and interior minister in the Qaddafi government, had long been a contentious figure among the rebels, some of whom doubted his loyalty. He had been summoned to Benghazi for questioning by a panel of judges, and members of his tribe — the Obeidi, one of the largest in the east — evidently blamed the rebel leadership for having some role in the general’s death.
But, you know, well-intentioned liberals like Ben think we should just keep right on dropping freedom bombs until the motherfucking Cows of Democracy come home. Hell, maybe this means we should be dropping more freedom bombs?
You’ll have to ask Ben. I’m sure that he’ll update this post.
Ben and I had a really, really long and self-indulgent debate back when the whole country of Libya exploded into violence. I said, essentially, that for the West to go in under the banner of promoting democracy and freedom was not only deeply cynical (realist political concerns likely dominated the behind-the-scenes debate, and realistically we simply do not give a fuck about burgeoning democracies), but also doomed to fail on the merits, as we in the North America and Europe basically had no idea who we were dealing with, who we were supporting, and what the end game was. (For the record, Ben’s response to this was to call me a poopy-head and go pout in his bedroom. That was his verbatim response, YouTube video of the pout-session and everything.)
Granted, I haven’t been keeping up with the situation as much as I should, but suffice it to say that things are not going well:
With Libya essentially divided in half by conflict, the U.S.- and NATO-backed rebels who control much of the east are carrying out what many view as a campaign of retaliation against those once aligned with Gaddafi, according to relatives and rebel commanders and officials. Such targeting raises questions about the character of the government taking shape in eastern Libyaand whether it will follow basic principles of democracy and human rights. Moreover, such acts could further deepen divisions in Libya’s tribal society and diminish the sort of reconciliation vital for stability in a post-Gaddafi era.
Both Egypt and Tunisia, where authoritarian leaders were ousted by popular uprisings, are striving to revise laws and struggling with how to deal with the former members of their regimes. Human rights activists note that Libya’s rebels have had to organize a state, including a new judicial system, in just three months during wartime.
But critics fear the Libyan rebels are going down the same path as Gaddafi — whose government is notorious for carrying out arbitrary arrests, torture and executions without trial — months after launching an uprising based in large part on their outrage over such injustices.
Some critics, including top officials working with the rebel council that runs eastern Libya, also point out that countless Libyans worked in Gaddafi’s government, many just for the paycheck. Those who committed serious crimes have probably fled rebel areas by now, they argue.
“There have been a lot of mistakes, even though the intentions are good,” said Jamal Benour, a judge who is in charge of justice issues for the rebel transitional council. “We need to have a proper judicial process, to build trust in law and order. Now, maybe we’ve lost part of the credibility of the revolution. . . . Some might say that what Gaddafi did in his regime is happening now under the revolution.”
Well, the road to hell is paved with… something, something. As TNC said at his spot (hat-tip to you, sir, btw):
The point here is not a reflexive isolationism. The point is that having a boot on your neck, while deeply tragic, is not an ennobling experience.
(Oh, and before I go: $20 says Ben updates this post within an hour to call me a poopy-head. TWENTY BUCKS!)
I feel obligated to point out that, one month after Tom finally gave in to my undeniable skillz, “Muammar Gaddafi — Time to Step Off” is as painfully relevant today as it was when we first posted it.
Simply use your imagination to add another month’s worth of headlines and photos detailing the continued salvos between the rebels/NATO and Gaddafi and badda-bing: you’ve got yourself an up-to-date time line.
Remember when we were just going to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya? Those were the days:
Advocates of a short-term bombing campaign were wrong. Civilians are not being protected as envisioned, Colonel Qaddafi isn’t folding, and as tribes threaten to enter the fray, Libya may be nearing collapse. Washington now has three options — none of them ideal.
America could pull out, making a tacit admission that the intervention was a strategic mistake. But a resurgent Colonel Qaddafi would likely seek revenge against the rebels and those who helped them. Moreover, NATO’s resolve would be called into question, as would America’s. Whatever influence Washington might have in the region would evaporate andAl Qaeda would waste no time pointing out that the United States had abandoned Muslims on the battlefield.
Or we could continue doing the minimum necessary to avoid losing. But even if Colonel Qaddafi were to eventually fall, we’d still face the significant and unknown consequences of a postwar Libya. The United States and NATO would not be able to simply leave. We tried this in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it got us an insurgency.
Finally, the United States and its allies could commit the military resources required to genuinely protect Libyan civilians and oust Colonel Qaddafi.
Ooh, ooh! Guess which one the retired lieutenant general picks!
Watching This Will Make You More Informed About the Situation in Libya. But Then You’ll Forget. But Maybe You Won’t. So You Should Probably Watch It, Just To Be Safe. And, Oh Yeah. It’s Long. (UPDATED BY BEN, FUCKER!)
Ben and I had a long debate a couple of days ago about the US intervention in Libya. I am against and Ben is for, basically, and we both made our cases there (Warning if you click on the link: it is very long!). I left his last response unanswered mostly because I’m lazy, but also because I don’t think anyone is reading anymore (that was two days ago) except Ben. And I like Ben, but I don’t want to talk to him all the time, you know? Sometimes I want to talk to you and Ben at the same time. So, uh, Hey there, Ben. Wink. I’m back on the front page, motherfucker!
No I’m not. I’m letting this video speak for itself. Take Ben to be Juan Cole and me to be Vijay Prashad, if you wish. Alternatively, take it to be two people who are smarter than Ben and me, and watch them have a lefty vs. lefty debate. To the death!
Here’s Part Two:
UPDATE BY BEN!: Frontpage! Okay, so this isn’t directly a reply to your post, but it’s related to our previous discussion and you’ve convinced me that that’s done now and best left sliding into the archives. What I wanted to write was this:
I’ve been trying to think about worst-case scenarios in a wider frame, and it struck me that what is obviously the worst-case scenario from the American FP perspective is that Obama’s decision to basically ignore Congress at the beginning of this whole thing, now, and, apparently, in the months to come, is setting an easily exploitable precedent for any future presidents that might want to go even rogue-er. What’s striking to me, though, is how un-phased I am by that probability. I guess my thinking is that – who are we kidding? – there’s only one party interested in negotiating with precedent to justify its active erosion of democracy in America and the world. The Republicans put on a show of being interested, but it’s transparently phony, and frankly, since McCain’s simultaneous election loss and fall into complete nihilism I’ve been convinced — whereas before I was only inclined to believe – that whatever Republican is next elected to the office (barring some kind of radical, society redefining change — come on guys! Wisconsin can be everywhere!) was always going to do whatever catastrophic thing he or she wanted to outside America’s borders (and in). Obama being the Obama of the campaign wasn’t going to change that. His adherence to the law would have been twisted just as easily into a legitimation of doubling-down-on-Bush illegality (all we’d hear about is any bad thing that might possibly be claimed could have been prevented by some kind of extra-judicial executive superheroing). The only thing that might have limited them was an aggressive, DOJ-led effort like two years ago to expose and respond to the Bush administration’s lawlessness, but did we ever really think that was going to happen?
But what about the next Democrat? If things go badly in Libya she or he’ll go extreme protectionist. The worst outcome, I predict, from the standpoint of what the next Democratic president will do in the world, would be Libya going well. And frankly, I’ll agree to that Faustian bargain, and take the Democrat when he or she comes.
But in general, I guess what I’m saying is that my lack of hope for America is why I feel so strongly about the democratic movement in the Middle East, and why I’ll take what I can get from America to serve that movement as much as possible. Convince me that the intervention is likely to be more counter the revolution than non-intervention would have been and you’ll have won this debate.