Since its 2003 rapprochement with the Leader and Guide of the Revolution. Muammar al-Qaddafi, when Libya agreed to abandon its WMD program, some Western leaders have been made to look either very compromised or very ridiculous in their dealings with the tyrant of Tripoli.
It does not get any more compromised than Gordon Brownâ€™s release of the Lockerbie, al-Megrahi, bomber to return to Tripoli.
And it certainly does not get any more ridiculous, even grotesque, than ladies man Silvio Berlusconiâ€™s ring-kissing of the dictator in April last year. We doubt even he has put his mouth in worse places.
At least gaffe-prone V-POTUS, Joe Biden, got Qaddafi right in an frank encounter when the Libyan dictator asked Biden why their bilateral relations were so poor:
â€œAnd I said, â€˜Thatâ€™s easy. Youâ€™re a terrorist. You killed people we like. And I said, â€˜For example thereâ€™s 35 kids in the school I went to [Syracuse University in New York] you blew up over Lockerbie.â€™ And he looked at me and he said, quote, â€˜Thatâ€™s logical.â€
It was not just heads of government that got the optics wrong.
In 2009, Human Rights Watch Middle East Director, Sarah Leah Whitson, declared a â€˜Tripoli Springâ€™ was underway after she enjoyed a state tour of Libya hosted by Saif Qaddafi and his â€˜quasi-governmentalâ€™ Qaddafi Foundation for International Charities and Development.
Whitsonâ€™s apologia for Libyaâ€™s golden boy â€“ the same one who threatened his own people with military attacks on state TV a few nights ago â€“ outraged the family of Fathi al-Jahmi, the democratic activist who died in 2009 from a long period of incarceration by Qaddafi. It has been widely noted by NGO-watchers that both Amnesty International and HRW did very little about out the death by torture of al-Jahmi, but were quick to stand on his shoulders.
TURNING LIBYA WESTWARDS WAS A GOOD IDEA
Yes, bringing Libya out of isolation, normalising diplomatic relations and encouraging investment has been unedifying. It was also strategically correct.
First, it halted nuclear proliferation, allowed for an increase in inspections and helped stabilise the southern Mediterranean region.
Secondly the rapprochement led to greater diplomatic recognition and Western investment. Libya is a large resource rich nation with just six million people clinging to the coastal fringe living in isolation and fear. Investment laid the groundwork for the regimeâ€™s demise. Since 2003, Europe has soaked up most of Libyaâ€™s petroleum, ensuring it diversified its energy sources and risks. While generating the petrodollars, Qaddafi seemed to find new ways to humiliate Western hosts and visiting dignitaries. My favourite was Qaddifiâ€™s invitation to a party with 500 hundred bunga-bunga girls in Rome. He proceeded to lecture them on the virtues of Koranic exegesis and hand out copies of his manifesto.
Qaddafi did not understand â€“ it seems â€“ that openness towards the West would introduce foreign skilled workers and professionals which in turn brought with them new technological platforms supporting new underground ideas and activities. Tripoliâ€™s 1970s totalitarian regime simply could not withstand 21st century communications. Death by Facebook.
Third, if an open consensual government follows the fall of the al-Qaddafi family then Western realpolitik has just paid big dividends.
Fourth, we should be thinking about what kind of Libya might have been if it had a WMD program today. Could the UN Security Council even contemplate no-fly zones over Libyan airspace to stop an air force loyal to Qaddafi bombing civilians a la Guernica if the regime threatened to use WMDs against its neighbours or its own people?
EXTREME LEFT IN AUSTRALIA WERE QADDAFIâ€™S POODLES
What should not be forgotten is the Australian leftâ€™s Berlusconi-esque buffoonery towards and ring-kissing of Qaddafi.
We ought not forget Michael Mansell, the Tasmanian Aboriginal activist, who, in the 1980s, attended the repulsive 1987 Conference on Peace and Revolution in the Pacific and attempted to join the Al Mathaba group – a network of Libyan funded militas and insurgency groups.
(At the 2000 Al Mathaba conference, attendees included Robert Mugabe and Raul Reyes, a Colombian FARC leader)
At a high moral price, in 1988, Mansell sought and captured international recognition for the cause of Aboriginal Tasmanians, with his alternative Aboriginal passport. It was only valid for travel to and from Libya, an apparent socialist utopia for the Libyaâ€™s indigenous tribes.
Judging by this ABC Stateline edition from Tasmania, he is still unapologetic.
If I were an enterprising journalist in Launceston or Hobart, I would be phoning Mansell to comment about his vile trip to a totalitarian regime that is now crumbling. I would also ask about any lingering pride in his passport stunt and then demand an apology for bringing Indigenous movements into such ill repute through his self-indulgent grandstanding.
QADDAFIâ€™S AUSTRALIAN VOICE â€“ GREEN LEFT WEEKLY
Green Left Weekly, the pulsating organ of an extreme left wing Trotskyite outfit calling itself the Democratic Socialist Perspective, has been conspicuously active on pro-Libyan issues since 1990s. Not once has it hesitated to defend the despicable regime against any perceived acts of American aggression while praising Libya for its anti-imperialist resistance. The DSP incorporates some of the nutbags of the defunct but violent International Socialist Organisation and â€˜Resistanceâ€™ from the eighties and is endorsed by leftwing â€˜journalist and broadcasterâ€™ and Julian Assange spruiker, John Pilger.
Examples of pro-Libyan fawning include Green Left Weekly correspondent, Lisa MacDonald, reporting from Tripoli in 1997 where she attended the Libyan Government sponsored conference, the International Spring Festival for Peace and Freedom. She predictably called for the end of UN sanctions against Libya and for international solidarity against UN sanctions against Libya.Â Never mind the terrorism!
According to a 2003 Green Left Weekly edition by Norm Dixon wrote of a United States cruelly victimising revolutionary Libya:
The Qadhafi regime nationalised foreign banks and oil companies. Libya’s nationalised oil wealth funded an impressive range of welfare provisions for Libya’s citizens, including free health care and education.
This attempt at independent political and economic development incensed Washington, especially as it coincided with a wave of similar attempts in Third World countries in the 1970s and 1980s. The Qadhafi regime made links with a diverse range of anti-imperialist and national liberation movements throughout the world.
Only a deluded idiot would think that the American industrial complex would find provocative a minute public health and education system somewhere in the Sahara. Libya as a kind of Cuba in the Maghreb over which to coo softly is as risible as it is pathetic. The Qaddafi klepto-family ransacked their nation of its natural wealth and left public infrastructure to corrode (not unlike the real Cuba).
What was provocative about Qaddafi was his lethal adventurism throughout Africa and the Middle East and his backing of international terrorists, which apparently passes for â€˜a diverse range of anti-imperialist and national liberation movementsâ€™ among the nutty extreme left.
Qaddafi helped train the Provisional IRA and Basque separatists; he gave refuge to Palestine terrorist organisations; he incited the Toyota wars with Chad in a land grab for its uranium enriched soils; he fought a war with Nasserite Egypt in the seventies; his diplomatic missions committed outrages in Europe, including the Lockerbie and flew troops into the Congo to collaborate with rebels in blood mining.
He was a â€˜neither Washington, nor Moscowâ€™ kind of contrarian predating the Islamic Republic of Iranâ€™s rejection of Cold War alliances that entangled Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the House of Saud. Little wonder Libya was the only Arab League nation to side with Iran during the bloody Iran-Iraq War.
If there was ever a rogue, totalitarian state running amok in other countriesâ€™ affairs, it was Qaddafiâ€™s Libya.
Certainly this editorial consistency invites the question: was the DSP members and Green Left Weekly recipients of Qaddafiâ€™s blood money?
HAVE YOU NO SHAME?
Some on the left are rattling with excitement because of the 2011 North African revolutions. These events are portrayed as youth revolutions or social media revolutions or radically secular revolutions or more quaintly, general-strikes-by-workers revolutions, as the unreconstructed Trotskyite, John Passant, has revisionised.
My guess is these revolutions are modestly modernist and tentatively democratic, but as any good commie knows from reading The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, revolutions can turn reactionary.
Pitifully, the Australian left are now organising rallies in various capital in support of the Libyan revolution. They think weâ€™ll forget quickly about their pro-Qaddafi enthusiasm that lasted decades. They should think again.
Many old lefties will be standing beneath the official flags of Libyaâ€™s constitutional monarchy held high by proud Libyan refugees persecuted by a regime clapped-out lefties once exalted as revolutionary or visit for â€˜conferencesâ€™ â€¦ and without any hint of irony.
Long Live King Idris and Queen Fatima!!