Thursday, 20 October 2011

No I Won't Celebrate Gadaffi's Death - Bring on Armed Neutrality

It is of course possible that the star of videos that are readily available online is a double, that Colonel Gadaffi is alive and well having fled Libya several weeks ago and everyone involved has essentially got what they wanted. However, for the sake of conversation, we'll make the (often unwise) decision to take this 'breaking news' at face value.

The natural comparison is with the hanging of Saddam Hussein in December 2006. As with today's developments, there were three notable and striking aspects - first up, this is one of those few occasions on which people are permitted, in fact they're positively encouraged, to celebrate the death of another human being. Regardless of the evil that has been perpetrated by someone, anyone, this bunny has never found that particularly easy - with sympathy not exactly on the radar, a sort of emptiness takes over on occasions like this. Joining the ranks of the lynch mob is a function carried out with much greater enthusiasm by some than others and having members of the government egging people on in this regard appears to be in desperately poor taste.

Like Saddam, Colonel Gadaffi reigned by terror, oppressed and brutalised his enemies (whether real or imagined) and in short, was a horrible, wicked bastard. Some like to reel off the crime-sheet as their principle means of implementing regime change, as if 1) we didn't already know about the police state, censorship and casual disregard for the rights of individuals, 2) their case is somehow unique or at least worse than any other such abuse taking place at the time and 3) we have never done a deal with this particular devil, remaining ethically consistent in our opposition to this regime over a prolonged period of time.

None of these were true of Hussein, a tired old tyrant on his last legs, no longer a man of menace or ambition (that's why we went after him, right?) and such an analysis would fall down in equal measure were it applied to Gadaffi. Meanwhile, the Americans should have known how well armed (or otherwise) the Iraqi regime was since they supplied most of the weapons - as for our 'business' in Libya, this video says pretty much anything. Perhaps this really is the most shameful moment of the Blair years, a subject this bunny will gladly put to some sort of poll.

Considering his hot and cold relationship with the truth, love of the super-rich but slightly dodgy, and famously supercilious grin, the 'pretty straight kinda guy' no doubt felt seriously comfortable in such company. A penny for his thoughts right now may represent money seriously well spent.

The second observation worth making is how news of the man's death has immediately been siezed upon as an opportunity for Libya to 'move forward', whatever that means. Apparently, the death of a deposed dictator will result in a peaceful, prosperous democracy spontaneously flowering up, people will hold hands and dance in meadows amid scenes of blossoming flowers and rabbits hurtling around in freedom - please, please do me a favour. One of the more interesting elements of the recent civil war was how the tide was partially turned by the return of Jihadist guerillas from Afghanistan - this bunny did wonder how and why the pendulum swung overnight after the rebels looked set to be counted out earlier in the year. Having helped to remove the old regime, they're going to be looking for a slice of the pie themselves, and are already making noises to that effect after seizing weapons from the old regime. Last time I checked, the spirit of liberal democracy did not run freely through the veins of such people.

Without an obvious figure to replace the deposed, a vacuum emerges in which the most well-organised, ruthless and usually the most extreme can thrive. Should a full-scale civil war kick off at some point in the near future and the 'wrong' side emerge victorious, then we will come to see British and American meddling abroad in an altogether less positive light. Will anyone learn? Well, if Iraq didn't serve as a shock to the system, to at least sit out the next potential foreign adventure, then this bunny is not holding out much hope. Even the reality of spending cuts at the MoD does not appear to have jolted our political class and their inbuilt tendency to poke their noses in other people's business.

This brings us neatly onto the third and final point. Displaying an admittedly evil man (mind you he was our evil man when it suited) fighting for his life and reporting his failure to do so serves as an advertisement of this 'pro-active' foreign policy. To the doubters at home, the death of someone you could not defend serves as the 'one useful thing' that came out of the conflict - in their attempt to re-write history, Blair and his dossier-doctors did this with Saddam and now seek to repeat the trick with Gaddafi. For the wider world, and those who might be on the wrong side of the 'special relationship' as it stands, there is a clear message not to mess with people who will always, eventually, get their man.

Armed neutrality can never be an absolute position, for the logical conclusion of such a move would have been to cut a deal with the likes of Hitler, but as a starting point, it's a damn sight better than the war-mongering chaos we have. Rather than attempting to police the world, it would surely be wise to understand that freedom is not something that another can give to you, but the precious result of struggle and sacrifice - no revolution in history has been without the cost of human lives. This bunny supports all those who are fighting tyranny and oppression across the globe in their pursuit of freedom, but the struggle to rebuild their nations in a more desirable image for themselves is theirs, not ours, and the passing of a despot dinosaur does not alter that fact. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

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