* “As one looked at the photographs and videos of Gaddafi’s capture that went so quickly around the world, it was hard to feel quite as overjoyed as his captors evidently were. For any civilized person the images of the former dictator wounded, beaten, bloodied and begging for his life were disturbing.”
* “The clownishness and the comic-opera costumes in particular made it harder to see him as a tyrant every bit as savage and cruel as more conventional third world dictators. We Westerners from countries with genuine elections tend to put too much faith in appearances.”
* Will the disgraceful UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay now apologize for having supported Gaddafi by granting him key posts on the UN Human Rights Council?
This dispatch contains items relating to Libya.
There is also another dispatch today, which can be read here:
Erdogan would rather see Turks die than have them rescued by Israelis
1. Will the UN apologize for legitimizing Gaddafi with key human rights posts?
2. A video worth watching again
3. Condi admits to Gaddafi video: “It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy”
4. “A clownish killer” (By Jonathan Foreman, Frum Forum, Oct. 21, 2011)
5. “Libya’s interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law” (By Richard Spencer, Daily Telegraph, Oct. 23, 2011)
6. “What Gaddafi’s death teaches the Middle East… and should teach the West” (By Barry Rubin, Pajamas Media, Oct. 20, 2011)
WILL THE UN APOLOGIZE FOR LEGITIMIZING GADDAFI WITH KEY HUMAN RIGHTS POSTS?
[Note by Tom Gross]
45 NGOs have issued a joint statement urging the UN Human Rights Council’s Jean Ziegler, who founded the “Muammar Gaddafi Human Rights Prize,” to resign following the Libyan dictator’s downfall.
They also called on UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay to apologize for having supported Gaddafi by granting him key posts on the UN’s most influential bodies, including the Human Rights Council (as reported previously on this website).
According to (genuine) human rights groups, for over three decades, Ziegler has helped shield Gaddafi from scrutiny of his regime’s gross violations of human rights.
If the corrupt people who run the UN had any self-respect they might also now apologize for appointing the Gaddafi regime to head the planning of their 2009 Durban II world conference on racism.
A VIDEO WORTH WATCHING AGAIN
I have posted the video below before, but it is worth watching again.
A representative of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi – Mrs. Najjat al-Hajjaji, who chaired the Durban II Preparatory Committee, and was elected chair of the Durban II Main Committee – silences the Palestinian medical intern who (together with five Bulgarian nurses) was tortured by Libya in order to confess to trumped up charges of spreading the AIDS virus in Libya.
CONDI ADMITS TO GADDAFI VIDEO: “IT WAS WEIRD, BUT AT LEAST IT WASN’T RAUNCHY”
In her new memoir just published, the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice writes of Col. Gaddafi’s well-known “eerie fascination with me.”
She admits that he made a video showing pictures of her while a song called “Black Flower in the White House” played. “It was weird,” she writes, “but at least it wasn’t raunchy.”
Daniel Freedman also reported in Forbes magazine in August that on a 2008 trip to Libya Gaddafi “tried to seduce Rice with a specially made music video, before trying to drag her into his private quarters – apparently thinking the video had sufficiently impressed. State Department officials thought otherwise and grabbed her other hand – and (much to her relief) eventually won the ensuing tug-of-war.”
I attach three articles below. I particularly recommend reading the first piece. (Jonathan Foreman, Daniel Freedman and Barry Rubin are all subscribers to this list.)
Among other previous recent dispatches on Libya, which including a number of interesting videos:
* Will Libya’s $1000 an hour U.S. and British lobbyists stop their heinous work? (Feb. 22, 2011)
* Israeli song becomes accidental theme tune of Libyan rebels (March 1, 2011)
-- Tom Gross
A CLOWNISH KILLER
A clownish killer
By Jonathan Foreman
October 21, 2011
It is perhaps a shame that no one will have a chance to interrogate Gaddafi and find out the details of his regime’s involvement in crimes like the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103, the equally appalling but less cited bringing down of UTA Flight 772 in 1989, the bombing of the Berlin discothèque that led to Ronald Reagan’s air-strike on Tripoli, or his support for various terrorist groups.
On the other hand, it is far from sure that had he been tried in a court of law that Gaddafi would have given his enemies the satisfaction of hearing the truth. It is not clear that the trial of Saddam Hussein really did much psychological or political good or that it would not have been better for Iraq if he too had been dispatched near his hiding place.
As one looked at the photographs and videos of Gaddafi’s capture that went so quickly around the world, it was hard to feel quite as overjoyed as his captors evidently were. For any civilized person the images of the former dictator wounded, beaten, bloodied and begging for his life were disturbing. I had to remind myself of the thousands of terrified, bloodied people stripped of their dignity, who must have begged for their lives in his dreadful prisons before they were murdered. (Apparently Gaddafi liked to broadcast videos of victims of his show trials urinating on themselves in fear before they were tortured or executed.)
Then there were the mass executions, the purges that followed the many attempted coups and revolts against him, the wars he fostered in Chad and elsewhere, the bloody but little-reported anti-African campaigns conducted by his Islamic Legion mercenaries.
Gaddafi was a genuine monster and mass murderer, of foreigners as well as of his own people. Unfortunately some of the aspects of his personality and dictatorial style that helped him retain power for all those decades also served to obscure just how vicious he was.
The clownishness and the comic-opera costumes in particular made it harder to see him as a tyrant every bit as savage and cruel as more conventional third world dictators. We Westerners from countries with genuine elections tend to put too much faith in appearances. (It is why so many people wrongly assume that Syria’s Assads are not as cruel or dangerous as dictators sporting military fatigues and sunglasses, or wearing an animal pelt across their shoulders.) Gaddafi was indeed a clown but he was of the evil, John Wayne Gacy kind that inhabit nightmares.
It is worth examining further why Gaddafi seemed less horrible than he really was, and how he managed to gull informed foreigners who should have known better. Partly this was because he may have been a clown but was far from a fool. But it was also a function of the way greedy, cynical or bigoted foreigners chose to see and present him.
One thinks especially of LSE director Howard Davies, and his staff who only decided that it was wrong to take Gaddafi’s money after the killing of protesters this February; the thousands who had already been killed or tortured in the Abu Salim prison were beneath their notice. Or Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, who was seduced by Gaddafi and his slick international socialite son Saif al-Islam (apparently still alive and at large) into heralding a “Tripoli Spring” when the regime was actually happily murdering dissidents like Fathi Eljahmi.
Presumably Whitson’s head was too stuffed with Zionist and American crimes, real or imagined, for her to see what was really going on in Tripoli, though it would be a mistake to underestimate the charm that Gaddafi could deploy when necessary. In recent years his efforts to maintain an image as a Ladies man – including the female bodyguard corps and his troop of East European nurses – seemed sad and ridiculous. He began his rule as a handsome, dashing young officer and soon found that he had a genuine knack for seducing earnest foreign women. Indeed, one of the reasons why the coverage of Ronald Reagan’s bombing of Tripoli tended to be so hostile and so credulous of Gaddafi’s claims about civilian casualties was because a key BBC correspondent on the ground fell under his romantic spell.
It may also be that Western leaders and their publics generally misunderstand and underestimate third world dictators. If a dictator rules a notoriously underdeveloped country or, like Gaddafi, dresses like Michael Jackson, takes a tent to foreign capitals, and pursues strange, egotistical hobbies like novel-writing, then foreign interlocutors assume that he (in the modern era it is always a he) is a kind of joke figure, brittle and easy to overthrow given a modicum of effort.
The truth is that anyone who can hold onto violently seized power for more than a year or two is probably a person of impressive unpleasant abilities, especially if they are ruling over a compulsively conspiratorial society accustomed to political violence. Tyranny is not easy. To do what Gaddafi did and remain in power for four decades required remarkable cunning, psychological acuity, political skill, emotional intelligence and cleverly applied ruthlessness. (It is why dictators like him sometimes find it laughably easy to manipulate or outmaneuver the heads of state of more powerful democratic countries: our elected politicians have not been schooled in an academy where failure means the firing squad or the gallows. )
Arguably Gaddafi was even cleverer than that murderous survivor Saddam Hussein: unlike the Iraqi he usually knew when to stop supporting terrorists, working on weapons of mass destruction and irritating American presidents into taking military action.
Of course in the end, both he and Saddam made fatal errors, and in the end it was Western military force that brought about their downfall and death. Moreover it is almost certain that Gaddafi would never have met his end near a storm drain in Sirte if Saddam had not first been overthrown by the US-led coalition. When I was at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May, I was told in no uncertain terms by several of the young leaders of the “Arab Spring” that the toppling of the Iraqi dictator had changed their mental landscape: the overthrow of their longtime overlords no longer seemed impossible.
Whether something or someone better will replace him is impossible to tell at this early juncture. It is just possible that when Gaddafi’s henchmen claimed to skeptical foreign journalists that the army was battling “al Qaeda” fighters, that they were not always lying. And it is all too likely that (as was the case in Iraq) the tyrant long ago killed, crippled or drove into exile every person or party capable of forming a liberal, decent, moderate, efficient government, and that almost everyone who remained has literally been brutalized by the experience of living under his tyranny. Hence the brutality of his own end.
LIBYA’S INTERIM RULER UNVEILS MORE RADICAL THAN EXPECTED PLANS FOR ISLAMIC LAW
Libya’s liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law
By Richard Spencer
Daily Telegraph (London)
Oct. 23, 2011
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its “basic source”.
But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways – it was also the basis of Egypt’s largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.
Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.
In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. “Interest creates disease and hatred among people,” he said.
Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, and other Muslim countries, have pioneered the development of Sharia-compliant banks which charge fees rather than interest for loans but they normally run alongside western-style banks.
In the first instance, interest on low-value loans would be waived altogether, he said.
Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.
WHAT GADDAFI’S DEATH TEACHES THE MIDDLE EAST… AND SHOULD TEACH THE WEST
What Gaddafi’s death teaches the Middle East… and should teach the West
By Barry Rubin
October 20, 2011
What can we learn from the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Qadhafi? First, we should note that he is the second Arab dictator to die in the last decade, the first being the Iraqi Saddam Hussein. Both met their demise due to direct Western intervention.
There are three lessons for the region:
1. To get rid of a dictator, you need either Western intervention or the support of the armed forces.
Consider this simple list:
* Dictatorships overthrown with Western forces taking the lead: Iraq, Libya.
* Dictatorships overthrown with the backing of the army: Egypt, Tunisia.
* Failed revolutions when these two factors are lacking: Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen.
That shows that it is not popular revolt that changes things in the region.
Dictators must fight or die and concessions don’t help.
The Western view is that revolutions are prevented by moderation and compromise, steps that please the masses and thus discourage them from revolting. This is so deeply ingrained that Western observers simply cannot conceive that approach as anything but a natural law. In contrast, in the Middle East, the political philosophy has been based on the idea that force and intimidation prevail.
With one notable exception, where brilliant maneuvering and concessions (albeit often illusory ones) worked – Morocco – the Middle East has shown that its approach works locally. Even in Turkey, where democratic norms are observed, once in power the Islamist regime has gained ground through toughness and not through concessions. The prisons are full of its opponents.
The event in Eastern Europe that most impressed Arab governments was the assassination in Romania of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena. They knew that this could happen to them. When combined with the lesson from the USSR – how Mikhail Gorbachev’s engagement in reforms brought him down – these events played a central role in destroying the 1990s era of toying with possible moderation. The “old-time religion” of toughness and repression was reaffirmed.
Nowhere has this proven to be truer than in Syria. Despite Western fantasies of moderation and reform from dictator Bashar al-Assad, there has never been the slightest chance of this happening. The whole Obama foreign policy toward Syria was demonstrably foolish.
2. The events of the last year have reinforced this worldview – repress or die. Have no illusions.
An interesting case study of how this works is offered by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi in a superb short article, “Assessing Bahrain.” The strength of al-Tamimi’s analysis is that he points out both the real threat (Iranian-backed, radical Islamist Shia opposition) and the tragedy (the regime’s failure to deal with a more moderate Shia faction that wants a constitutional monarchy and isn’t Islamist).
But would it have been possible to work with the latter without ending up having the hardliners triumph? Impossible to say for sure, of course, but the hardline ruling faction in the monarchy wasn’t interested in finding out, and the Saudis certainly didn’t want to take any chances. Hence, they turned to pure repression and are still in power.
3. (Ironically) You can’t trust the West, so be tough and defend yourself
Remember a peculiar fact: even though Gaddafi was generally a horribly repressive anti-American dictator, in his final years he tried making a deal with the Americans. Gaddafi was frightened by the U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003 and didn’t want to be next on the list. So he cooperated, gave up his nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction programs, and reduced his foreign subversive efforts.
That did not save him from being overthrown by the United States, just as it did not save a genuine American ally, President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. On this point, I’m not advocating anything about what the United States should have done in Libya but just observing how it will be received in the region.
Bashing the West in the current era brings little cost. Here’s a partial list:
Egypt: Obama courts Muslim Brotherhood and is indifferent to anti-Americanism of the newly empowered political forces
Gaza Strip: Terrorist Hamas gets Western support to stay in power, including bashing of Israel’s military operation and pressure on Israel to minimize sanctions.
Lebanon: No opposition to Syria-Iran sponsored forces and Hizballah; readiness to deal with the government they now control; no enforcement of 2006 UN resolution to stop arms smuggling and Hizballah’s return to the south. Incidentally, on the same day Gaddafi dies the first Hizballah delegation is officially received in Moscow.
Palestinian Authority: Refuses negotiations with Israel; refuses compromise; ignores U.S. requests but gets rewarded by the whole world while its enemy Israel is reviled.
Syria: Courted by the Obama administration; protected at the UN by a Russia-China veto, facing only very limited pressure despite massive repression.
Turkey: No punishment for regime’s sabotage of 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, sabotage of sanctions on Iran, alliance with radical Islamist forces. In fact, Obama administration rewards.
In contrast, allies – Bahrain, Mubarak’s Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the moderate oppositions in Iran, Lebanon, and Turkey – are not helped or are even punished by the West and especially the U.S. government.
Thus, the region will note that when Gaddafi was a leading sponsor of terrorism, subversion, and anti-Americanism, he got away with it. When he was on “good terms” with the United States, he lost power. That might not be fair, but it seems to make sense in terms of Middle Eastern political philosophy.
Remember the wisdom of Joseph Heller’s great novel Catch-22 on that point:
Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: “But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way.”
“Then,” said Yossarian, “I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn’t I?”