How do you solve a problem called Libya?
When the President of Tunisia toppled Tyson Gaye’s record as the fastest man to flee his country in the face of an uprising, it set the wheels in motion for what is seemingly becoming a new World Order; not the red neck version of George Bush though. Mubarak was next to follow, albeit with some resistance, but these two scenarios have a lot in common. They had enthusiastic people, who, after being reduced to serfdom and gripped with fear, their regular diets of iron rule and total disregard for human life and rights were set to crash. This was primarily because, the people were ready to let go of fear itself in the first place. It is unquestionable that all tyrants are propped by their overwhelming support from the armies they control. Although, many factors have been attributed to the fall of these despots, the overriding ingredient may have been, in addition to others, the lack of support from the same armies that once provided the oxygen for these demagogues. In Egypt, we saw the army stand by and declare that they will protect the populace. Mubarak lost his weapon of fear when his army deserted him. That marked the death knell of his grip on power. (Photo: Abdulai Mansaray, author)
Fast forward to Libya and you get a different picture. Like I mentioned in my last article, though an uprising, the situation in Libya has been called a civil war, a rebel uprising etc. In Egypt and Tunisia, diplomacy was conducted behind closed doors; with some political arm twisting. It is plausible that the same has been applied to Gaddaffi, but with his penchant for recalcitrance, it is little wonder that the United Nations got involved. But its involvement has left little to be desired. Notwithstanding the delay in its response, the United Nations has been exposed as fast becoming a talking shop.
Resolution 1973 has been doled out to us with so many versions that make it laughable. The crux of the resolution appears to be: to protect innocent civilians. With the tragedy of the Hutu-Tutsi massacre fresh in living memory, it was unthinkable to see the UN stand idly by, while Gaddaffi unleashed more suffering on his people. President Obama was quick to let the world know that America will lead the way to bombard Gaddaffi’s armaments. Like the other members of the Coalition of the Willing, Obama ruled out any American boots on Libyan soil. That is understandable; considering that America and its allies are militarily constipated.
The irony is that even within the Coalition, there are significant differences. The rebels have been involved in a ding dong battle with Gaddaffi’s forces for some time now; with no apparent end game in sight. The only thing that the rebels, a rag tag assembly of men have in their arsenal is raw courage; which in itself raises the blood of life to crimson splendour. They live bravely and present a brave front to adversity. Their courage, which borders on the Kamikaze, is nothing short of suicidal. The towns and cities in Libya have changed hands between the rebels and Gaddafi’s forces so many times that, if the war was a tennis match and one was sitting in centre court, one would suffer from neck pains; just following the ping pong nature of them wresting towns between them. Military power wins battles but spiritual power wins wars. To the rebels, it sounds like military operation is not victory but persistence.
The tree of liberty has been sown, largely by recent events in Tunisia and Egypt. Sadly, this tree is being refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants; its natural manure. With no significant military figure at the helm, you wonder how long before the rebels realise that it is better to have a lion at the head of an army of sheep, than a sheep at the head of an army of lions. The rebels would like you to believe that it is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, but its size of the fight in the dog. Sadly, military glory can be an attractive rainbow that rises in the showers of blood as Libya is finding out with costly consequences.
Gaddaffi’s forces have been on the wrong end of Coalition bombardment but he has continued to defy the odds; to a point. This is an indication that he had continued, year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programs of social uplift; and his country is now approaching a spiritual death. It is said that if you make men large and strong, tyranny will bankrupt itself in making shackles for them. Gaddaffi’s belligerence is borne of his belief that he is a necessity to Libya and his people; and necessity as we know, is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the favoured argument of tyrants and the creed of slaves. This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; and when he first appears he is a protector.
The Libyan question has left the Coalition of the willing with more questions than answers. It is unquestionable that if the rebels are to stand any chance against Gaddaffi’s soldiers, they would need some more sophisticated ammunition. Their request for military aid from the West has presented serious moral questions. The dilemma is palpable. America has categorically ruled out arming the rebels while the UK and France, among others say that under the terms of the UN Resolution, arming them is an option; unity in diversity. The moral dilemma is how do you supply weapons to a people to engage in a war when these are the same people you are there to protect from the perils of war? How do you give sophisticated weapons to a man who cannot tell the difference between a Kalashnikov and a rocket propelled grenade? Sounds simplistic but you get my drift? The price of freedom is vigilance and it is moral to be on the side of the defenceless, but arming the rebels will deprive the whole exercise of any integrity. The way to win a war is to make sure that it never starts in the first place; too late for that I know.
It will be preposterous to say it loud but there are some schools of thought that may harbour the elimination of Gaddaffi, by any means possible, as the solution to the Libyan crisis. Some will have no aversion to this notion as long as it is from within, like a coup d’états. Others may feel that the right of a nation to kill a tyrant, in cases of necessity, can no more be doubted, than to hang a robber or kill a flea. But killing one tyrant may only make way for worse, unless the people have sense, spirit and honesty enough to establish and support a constitution guarded at all points against the tyranny of the one, the few, and the many (John Adams).
As the war rages on, other elements like Al-Qaeda have been mentioned in the bargain. This is yet to be verified but as we know, Al-Qaeda will gleefully accept responsibility for anything akin to atrocities, as long as they know that it wills p….off the West. If it was not for the laws of nature, they will gladly claim responsibility for the recent Tsunami in Japan, if anyone would care to attribute it to them. As mentioned earlier, events in Tunisia and Egypt were, in comparison, quickly resolved because the armies changed sides. Gaddaffi is still hanging on, safe in the knowledge that the army is still loyal to him. So when the Foreign Minister, Moussa Koussa, recently defected to Britain, you would be forgiven to think that it was a diplomatic and political manna from heaven. The blow to Gaddaffi could not be overemphasised. This was seen as the shape of things to come and with time, the hope was that Gaddafi’s enclave will come crashing.
Sadly or not, the British Government, together with its Allies wasted no time to read the riot act to Moussa. The legal ligatures and diplomatic noose were out in no time to redress the issue of the Lockerbie bombing. America has, rightly so, been spitting feathers since the release of Abdelbaset-al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing, from a Scottish prison in 2009. With Moussa facing grilling from the authorities, and with six Libyan spies to face potential charges, you wonder how many, if any, defectors would be queuing to follow suit. If the authorities had waited a little bit longer before prosecuting or questioning, may be, just maybe, more would have come ashore and Gaddaffi’s prop may have just collapsed around him.
This own goal would have been better handled with more diplomacy. Diplomacy is a disguised war, and there are few ironclad rules of diplomacy. It is an art by which states seek to gain by barter, intrigue, and cleverness of arts, the objectives which they would otherwise, have to gain more clumsily by means of war. Moussa would have hoped for some diplomatic insulation, but must have realised too late that, diplomats are useful only in fair weather. As soon as it rains they drown in every drop. It is the art of letting other people achieve your ends. With Libya slowly slipping away from the front page news, you wonder how long the rebels will run on adrenaline.
With Gaddaffi having superior firepower and a real army, the west having no plans to put foreign boots on Libyan soil, and arming the rebels a question of morality, you wonder how this impasse can be solved. Indications are that some high level diplomatic acrobatics have been taking place between Libyan and Western representatives. Diplomats are just as essential to starting a war as soldiers are for finishing it. You take diplomacy out of war, and the whole thing would fall flat in a week. Now you know that military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
A toast to weapons of war: May they RUST in peace.
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