The bloody horror being visited on his own country by Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi keeps getting more and more surreal as the days pass and the body count mounts. The dictator’s actions in so brutally cracking down on challenges to his 41-year rule have drawn the condemnation of almost the entire planet. Even President Obama finally bestirred himself to criticize the massacre of protesters. But there are those who just can’t bring themselves to side with unarmed demonstrators being mowed down by helicopter gunships and bombed into oblivion by modern jet fighters. While the rest of the civilized world are gagging at Qaddafi’s bloodlust, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega telephoned the Libyan leader to “express his solidarity” as this Washington Post article states.
The reason for the calls? Ortega says that Qadaffi, ‘“is again waging a great battle’ to defend the unity of his nation” and that ‘“it’s at difficult times that loyalty and resolve are put to the test.”’ Ortega shouldn’t really worry about Qaddafi’s “resolve.” The despot’s thugs and mercenaries are demonstrating that quality every day when they break into homes armed with swords and hammers, hacking and bludgeoning people to death. And how much of a “battle” can it be if Qaddafi’s air force is bombing civilians in the streets? Ortega is unconcerned; he blames the Libyan people getting shot down in cold blood for their own predicament, saying “There is looting of businesses now, there is destruction. That is terrible.”
One can only marvel at Ortega’s train of logic that shows concern for looted businesses and destruction – caused at least partly by Libya’s own air force – but not for women and children jumping off of bridges to avoid African mercenaries who are massacring everyone in sight.
Ortega is not the only leftist Latin leader who has expressed, if not solidarity, then at least understanding of Qaddafi’s actions. The mummified Fidel Castro is taking a “wait and see” attitude toward events in Libya. In a column published Tuesday, Castro wrote, “You can agree or not with Gadhafi. The world has been invaded by all sorts of news … We have to wait the necessary time to know with rigor how much is fact or lie.”
Good advice from the master of propaganda and deceit. It appears that Castro is perfectly willing to wait and see if reports of mercenaries from Chad and Nigeria roaming the streets of Benghazi shooting unarmed people in the head are true or not. Evidently, video evidence is just not good enough.
Castro also warned of an imminent invasion of Libya by US-led NATO forces. The dictator’s conspiracy-addled brain was working overtime when he wrote, “The government of the United States is not concerned at all about peace in Libya and it will not hesitate to give NATO the order to invade that rich country, perhaps in a question of hours or very short days.”
Castro’s problem is that while he sympathizes with Qaddafi’s world revolutionary rhetoric and hatred for anything and everything from the United States, the Cuban people would probably not accept an outright declaration of support like Ortega’s from their leader. He might have his own Tahrir Square on his hands if he gave in to his inclinations and expressed his own solidarity with the Crazy Colonel in Libya. That’s why he stopped just short of outright support when he wrote, “An honest person will always be against any injustice committed against any people in the world. And the worst of those at this instant would be to keep silent before the crime that NATO is preparing to commit against the Libyan people.”
Note that Castro believes a NATO invasion to stop the slaughter of innocents would be worse than the pogrom itself.
Only one of Qaddafi’s leftist allies in Latin America even made an effort to criticize his brutality. President Eva Morales of Bolivia issued a statement mildly remonstrating against the Libyan crackdown, bemoaning “the regrettable loss of many lives” and urging a negotiated solution.
As weirdly unrealistic as that forlorn hope for negotiations while the Libyan dictator is filling the streets with blood might sound to normal ears, the statement from Morales represented the strongest language used against Qaddafi by his most loyal Latin American allies.
What of Hugo Chavez? The man who can’t seem to keep his mouth shut about anything has been stone cold silent about the Libyan upheaval. As late as Monday there were rumors that Qaddafi was either planning to flee to Venezuela or was actually on the way. The Venezuelan government has denied these rumors, but Fausta Wertz, who follows the Latin American Spanish language newspapers very closely, told me that news reports had Qaddafi actually calling Hugo Chavez last week seeking asylum, but his Venezuelan friend turned him down – for the moment. Don’t be surprised to see Qaddafi change his mind about fighting to the last drop of blood and end up in Caracas.
If Chavez has muzzled himself, the state run media outlet Telesur is playing the role of Qaddafi apologist. Their reports about the massacres have been non-existent while giving “glowingly positive coverage” of Qaddafi. Perhaps Chavez is realistic enough to see that standing up for his Libyan revolutionary brother would isolate Venezuela at a time when he needs international investment to keep the economy afloat, but wishes to signal his support for his Libyan friend through his state-owned media.
What is it about these radical Marxist-leftists that attracts them to Qaddafi in the first place? And what possesses them to excuse, support, or remain silent in the face of the worst mass murder of civilians by a government since Tiananmen Square in 1989?
For 40 years, Muammar Qaddafi has raised the standard of revolution. For most of that time, he has advocated a kind of pan-Arab revolt, more secular than religious, but having an Islamist component that would unite the tribal Arabs under one banner. His is a mix of Islam and revolutionary Marxism – a heady combination for the thick-skulled children of the west who find the vagaries and pleasant Utopian fantasies of Marx to be preferred to the way the world actually works.
Qaddafi is no Islamist, but uses Islam to command obedience for the “Revolutionary Committees” who act as enforcers in tribal councils and communities. While he supposedly no longer backs terrorist groups, his support for terrorism is purely political; he wishes to harm the west in any way possible and he finds Islamic terror groups to be the most convenient instruments to carry out these designs. By using proxies, he avoids the kind of trouble that Ronald Reagan visited upon him in 1986 with the bombing of some army barracks. That attack was in response to a Libyan terrorist operation carried out against a club in Berlin that killed a dozen Americans and was traced directly to his “People’s Bureau,” or embassy, in East Germany.
His supportive rhetoric, as well as his financial gifts to dozens of Latin American revolutionary groups, including large aid packages to Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Peru has made these Latin American socialists and Marxists beholden to the Libyan dictator. But by far and away, the one quality possessed by Qaddafi that is most admired and emulated by his Latin American allies is his pathological hatred for the United States. In this, he has buttressed a grievance culture in Latin America that blames any and all shortcomings of their own governments on machinations by Yankee imperialists. With America as scapegoat, their own mismanagement and brutal repression of the people can be justified.
Psychologically, it is more than this. What allows these Latin American radicals to endorse or, at least, understand, Qaddafi’s crackdown is the belief that the end will always justify the means. If it takes killing 10,000 Libyans to remain in office, it might be regrettable but it is accepted because the “greater good” is served if Qaddafi remains in power. This is the universal belief of the left, from America’s radicals demonstrating in Wisconsin to British hooligans rioting in the streets demonstrating against having to pay a few bob more for tuition. The moral framework of any action is not whether it is right or wrong, but whether it works.
Qaddafi may not last much longer. But his own fight for power presages the possibility that his leftist Latin American allies may have to face the same decisions that confronted Qaddafi when the revolt began. A strong response from the rest of the world now would send an unequivocal message that governments that carry out such barbarity against their own citizens will suffer real and harsh consequences for their actions. That might forestall a repeat of what is happening in Libya in countries like Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela where restless citizens wait with growing impatience for the revolutionary wave to wash on to their shores.
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