By Jay Holmes
On October 20, 2011, the Libyan National Transition Council reported that Libya ended forty-two years of suffering under the heartless, egomaniacal Moammar Qaddafi.
The world was treated to a brief video showing a wounded, captured Qaddafi, pleading for the sort of mercy that he had so consistently denied his people. Fortunately, a young Libyan man in a Yankees cap came to his senses and ended the drama for the mercy of all concerned.
Certain human rights groups are supposedly questioning Qaddafi’s death in captivity. In theory, it’s a legitimate question, but to be relevant, questions have to be prioritized. If my house is on fire, before I worry about getting the drapes wet, I have to answer the question of putting out the fire.
Before I spend any restless nights wondering about the moral implications of Qaddafi being shot while in captivity, I would need first to have other questions answered. I would need explanations about the thousands of innocents who Qaddafi and his henchmen murdered during the last four decades. Also, in the present, I’m concerned with how efficiently we can secure all of the man-portable anti-aircraft missiles that are at large in Libya today, and how quickly can we dispose of Libya’s extensive stores of mustard gas.
Call me a judgmental bastard if you like. Except for the fact that my parents had been married over a decade before I was born, I’d say it’s fairly accurate. The notion that all men are created equal makes good sense to me. The idea that all men and women remain equal, no matter what they do after they are created, strikes me as extremely foolish.
Due to multiple urgent matters, I have not slept much this week. But not all of my sleep was surrendered in vain, and I have only lost a little sleep. How many have lost their lives or watched their children die? I can never know with certainty how many people Qaddafi and his thugs murdered, but two of their young faces came to me in my nap this morning and reminded this old man to get back up and do something besides wasting the world oxygen supply.
The battle with Qaddafi is over. The battle for the future of the people of Libya continues. Old enemies, Al-Qaeda and Iran, find themselves sharing the same fantasy this week. They would love to see an “Islamic” state in Libya led by some criminal posing as a religious leader. For them, the ideal leader in Libya would reject Modernism. Modernism, as in a philosophy or system that incorporates post-8th century thinking and discoveries.
For the comfortable Mullahs in Iran, their Hezbollah messenger boys, and the garden variety “Islamic” terrorist gangs that are all vying for attention today, dangerous new ideas such as religious freedom, universal suffrage, the right to (or even the need for) fair trial, and freedom of speech need to be kept out of Libya and everywhere else. Fortunately for the people of Libya and the rest of the world, not everyone in Libya agrees with that “fundamentalist” view. It appears (at least to me) that most Libyans recognize that the only thing “fundamental” about fundamentalism is that it is fundamentally asinine.
Does that matter? We don’t know yet. For the opinions of the majority to matter in Libya, the Libyans will need to create for themselves some sort of functioning government that takes into account the views of the masses. If they do it (and they may), it will be the first time that the voice of the Libyan people has mattered inside of Libya. I hope they pull it off. I think they have a reasonable chance to get it done.
So other than my very expensive habit of finding idealistic beliefs with which to view the world, why should I think that Libya will do anything other than create a new tyranny for itself? My hope is not based solely on my wide-eyed idealism.
The people of Libya are far more educated than they were when Qaddafi shoved a weak king out of the throne. There is much that we can blame Qaddafi for, and little that we can give him credit for, but we can, in fact, credit him with building a better education system in Libya. Reading broadly is good for kids, but it’s bad for the tyrants that rule the kids who read. Good education and tyranny just don’t play well together. In a sense, Qaddafi killed himself by buying too many books for children and teens.
The concept of death by book purchase appeals to me. The next time you’re at a school book sale, don’t think of it as cash lost, think of it as happy kids and dead dictators. Of course, the trick is that the books can’t just be bought, they have to be read. Those enterprising young Libyan kids read them.
Libya is a cosmopolitan place. The majority of Libyans have an idea of what the world outside of Libya looks like. They know enough about the world outside of the mid-east to know that life need not be all about poverty, oppression, and unending misery.
In a nation of starving masses, building a democracy is more difficult. Fortunately, there are no starving masses in Libya. Libya has already repaired and reopened its natural gas delivery line to Italy. That’s good news for those Italians who were hoping to not spend Christmas Eve sleeping in a goose down sleeping bag. And when Gas flows to Italy and the European Union, euros flow back to Libya.
Gasoline-hungry Europeans are looking toward the post-Qaddafi Libya with hopeful eyes. While I have yet to hear a reliable report on the precise measure of damage done to Libya’s petroleum production and export infrastructure, it is not as bad as what many had feared. Given the price of petroleum around the world, and the willingness of oil companies to show up and make a profit, I anticipate that Libya’s oil production infrastructure will be repaired in record-breaking time.
Naturally, oil companies will pretend that they are fighting a terrible but noble engineering war when faced with the challenge of extracting and marketing petroleum from Libya. I’m looking forward to those cutesy, heart warming, pro ecology ads that they will produce to explain to us why we should demand that they receive Presidential Medals of Freedom, lots of tax breaks, and sainthood for selling us oil. The ads will, no doubt, lovingly explain why we should all be so grateful for the gasoline price increases that will accompany the increased gasoline production.
The good news about the “petro-corporate” invasion taking place this week in Libya (thanks to your car and my car) is that it will leave Libya with cash to spend. If it goes to support a filthy rich oligarchy or another family of jackals like the Qaddafi slime, then it won’t do much to help found a working government in Libya. If, on the other hand, enough of it is used to buy off all the major and minor Libyan tribes with agreements for reasonable development projects in irrigation, agriculture, transportation, housing, health care and education, then that black gold could help buy Libya a decent government. Oil money need not always do Satan’s work. Sometimes, it can help a nation, and the amount of oil in Libyan oil fields can translate to lots of help.
Time will tell. Now, support Libya by buying yourself a bumper sticker that reads, “Drive your car for peace.”
Any questions about Qaddafi or the present situation in Libya?
Beautiful update, Holmes. Your optimism is inspiring. I hope and pray for the Libyan people (and for the rest of us) that they get something that gives them a better life. After suffering under that monster, it’s a small compensation.
Hi Dave. Thanks for indulging my optimism.
I am embarrassed to say that because I entertained both Thursday and Saturday, I never looked at a newspaper or the TV. Not once was it brought up in social conversation. I just realized through your post that the evil dictator is dead. I will catch up by reading the Sunday paper!
Hi Susie, I see no need for you to be embarrassed. There must be something in life besides a geopolitical awareness. It makes sense for you to be aware of your friends and share some time together. I’m flattered that you found out here. Hopefully we were able to provide a bit a of a pleasant surprise.
I’d be interested if you know where I might find a place where justice and mercy intersect, where neither is abandoned for the sake of the other. Thoughts?
Much love, despite my aversion to this particular post. Did you think any more about San Diego? Know anyone who’s going?
Hi lance. Thank you for responding in spite of your aversion.
“…where I might find a place where justice and mercy intersect,”. That’s a question worth pondering, or at least to you and I it is”. The first place I would look would be my personal space. I try to be fair minded and compassionate.
“Mercy” seems simple enough but we would need to decide on a definition of “justice” to examine the question.
I believe that in the case of Qaddafi it would have been less merciful and less just to leave him alive. Uncle Momo’s remaining family and few loyal partners in crime have set up camp in Niger and Algeria. They have organized propaganda campaigns and It appears to me that his family and cohorts are attempting to organize terrorist activity from Niger and Algeria. They have lots of money to spend on whatever they choose to spend it on so they remain a threat to the Libyan people and possibly to other nations besides Libya. Qaddaffi remaining alive would have furthered their goals.
Ideal mercy and ideal justice may not always be available to us in any given moment. That doesn’t prevent me from making judgements and choices. It seems to me that failing to act because of a lack of perfect justice or perfect mercy would always be the easiest response but likely the least merciful and least just.
San Diego? I often think about San Diego and I travel there occasionally. It’s a rare week when I don’t know someone that is going to San Diego soon but I believe that that’s coincidental to your question. Can you give me a hint?
San Diego first – bahaha. I do that often – my bride hates it when I don’t give random questions context. No no, the writer’s conference. You going?
Interesting suggestion. My best response is probably not to respond, though I would say that “ideal mercy” and “ideal justice” seem to be the subjects of this post rather than “making judgements and choices.”
Perhaps I misread, though…
Justice and mercy met on a hill called Calvary a couple of millenia ago. We will see the fruit of it when He returns. Between now and then we’ll just muddle along.
Thanks for your suggestion, David, though it seems as if your conclusion does not follow your first two statements.
(Even though I love the way you wrote the last sentence).
“…happy kids and dead dictators,” may just be my new favorite quote. I wear a pin on my I.D. lanyard at work –“fight evil, read books” — almost as good.
I’m against dictators, still not sure how I feel about shooting someone who is injured. Do we act the way they did? Do we do to them what they surely would have done to us? Do they deserve mercy? Don’t we all? I don’t know. It’s easy for me to question this in the comfort of my own home. I am not that young Libyan man — I cannot question his motives. I haven’t lived his life. I’m rambling now. Thanks for the post.
Hi Amy. Feel free to quote me on that.
I see from your page that you hate American cheese. I have always wondered why American cheese and instant potatoes were each invented. I wonder if their grandchildren are now working on inventing tires that automatically go flat every thousand miles so that we can all replace those annoying modern tires that almost never go flat.
Rambling is fine. We charge by the word. 🙂
What I love about your posts is that they break down the politics into something relatable. It’s a shame that a man had to be killed, but perhaps this will give Libya a chance to become part of the world, not just the Middle East. I don’t like that we have labels and tags on certain countries, but understand why we do. All we can do is hope. Thanks for your post and continued optimism.
Hi Tameri. Millions of men and women have been killed. I find Qaddaffi’s death less shameful than most. When I consider that his death will likely decrease the death of innocents I don’t even see any shame in it at all. But even if I did what would it matter?
I wrote that wrong – it’s a shame anyone has to die and I am happy this man is no longer alive to harm people. I just meant, it’s a shame that there was the situation in the first place that would cause people to want to kill him. Is that coming out right?
I wish there weren’t tyrants and dictators in the world. Killing thousands of innocents for any reason is disgusting and Qaddaffi certainly didn’t deserve mercy. I just hope there won’t be another ruler like him taking over.
I’m not sure if you are saying what you wish to but I assume so. In any event even if we happen to take differing stances it’s OK. Neither of us is like Qaddafi so we get to have different ideas and still be friends. 🙂
“I just hope there won’t be another ruler like him taking over.” Good point. That’s what really matters.
I’m glad to hear about this from your perspective. I really hope that Libya’s government will be overtaken by the book readers and not the slimy jackals.
And Gadhafi…he got his just desserts.
Hi Ellie, The educated people of Libya deserve to control their own destiny. Let’s hope they get to do that.
Certain human rights groups are questioning Qaddafi’s death?
I’ve never been involved in a revolution, but standing up to an organized army and a dictator that has been in power for 40 years, must take a lot of courage and involve a lot of sacrifice. When people are driven to that, why does what happens to the dictator matter more than what drove the people to such action in the first place? I’m all for maintaining the moral high ground, but don’t start a fire then complain if you get burnt.
Libya has made encouraging statements about interim government leading to elections in a year. They’ve also grasped the idea of controlling the weapons loose in their country. Both great goals, let’s hope the people who were brave enough to stand up to Qaddafi can carry their goals through.
I loved the line “Qaddafi killed himself by buying too many books for children and teens” … yep, evidence once again that the pen is mightier than the sword!
Hi Nigel. Yes some “rights” groups are questioning Qaddafi’s death. Of course any troupe of clowns can hang their shingle and call themselves a “Human Rights group”. Savvy wholesale human rights violators now find it convenient to own a few human rights groups. How tough do you suppose it is to get a couple of unemployed “activists” to accept a “grant” from distant benefactors?
I like going to your page but I have now developed a fear that you will run out of strange vehicles to report on. I think I picked a more reliable source of topics (trouble on earth). Even the remarkable minds in Detroit can only make so many crazy cars. While your supply lasts I am getting a kick reading about them.
When will you be publishing a coffee table book with some of those crazy cars? There are all sorts of books, calenders, wall paper and t-shirts dedicated to the popular cool looking cars but the white elephants need a home as well. I am wanting to purchase the first autographed copy for my dad and he’s not a young man so please stop dilly dallying about and get to work.
You’re too polite Holmes! Yes, crap concept cars is running on a bit long. Up soon (ish) are x-planes (probably stinkers and otherwise), rockets, satellites, trains, tunnels, bridges, engines, and so on.
Then when all that runs out, I’ll have to turn to my prize collection of hex head bolts from 3/16ths to 27/32nds. Bet you can’t wait for that series!
Well said Holmes…
Thank you Emily
Great post, Holmes. It’s funny, however, how in our euphoria over getting rid of the monster we forget to mention that the oilfields actually belong to people like Bunker Hunt who developed them. The government of Libya – along with all the other OPEC members – deserves a fair royalty on the oil and gas produced, just like owners of mineral rights in the Permian Basin, the Bakken Shale and other such areas. They DON’T deserve ownership of the production, though.
Hi David. I’m not too worried about the property owners and license owners involved. It would be a huge mistake for any new Libyan government to pull the old Fidel Castro/Hugo Chavez trick.
Right now the Libyan government needs the oil corporations more than the oil corporations need Libyan oil.
The term “belong” in refrence to ownership is a topic for a whole other series of blogs. Someone at Harvad Law school is probably churning out their version of it as we blog. In any given moment “belong” and “enforce” might or might not coincide.
Great update, Holmes! My favorite line: “The next time you’re at a school book sale, don’t think of it as cash lost, think of it as happy kids and dead dictators.” Amen.
Thank You Jenny. The terms “happy kids and dead dictators” might serve as a new relaxation mantra for me to chant while riding on crowded elevators. I’ll try to remember to chant silently.
As Jews, we are taught that it is never proper to celebrate or glorify someone’s death; however, there is no question that MoMo was evil, has done terrible things, has hired people to do terrible things for him and has been up to no good for long time.
That said, the Libyan people have been living under his reign of terror for so long, I hope they don’t behave like mice with a bad case of learned helplessness, simply waiting for the next person to come along to tell them what to do.
THIS is pretty much what I meant to say earlier, but it was three in the morning and my brain cells weren’t functioning yet. I’ve learned not to comment on important topics if I can’t think straight.
You and I are in total agreement. I’m just sort of a sleep deprived idiot.
Three in the morning eh? Hmmm, sounds like Piper and I will have to send your husband some Love Doctor suggestions for remedial action.
Hi Renee. We will soon see how well the rebels make their transition from theatrical battle scene behavior to the hopefully less hysteric business of government.
(This was previously posted in the wrong place. The redundant copy will remain there like a confusing road sign until Piper erases it which will no doubt lead to another of her generous suggestions that she will show me how to run the page. I don’t want to abuse her generosity. I’ll let her fix it)
A bit random, yet related: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/20/gaddafis-death-predicted-second-chance_n_1022696.html
Thank you Amber. That video is pretty hilarious.
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