Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, right, hugs his brother Mohammed during the the funeral of Gaddafi's youngest son Saif Al-Arab, in Tripoli Antiwar.com, May 2, 2011
Flying unopposed over Libyan airspace, NATO’s fighter planes bombed the residence of the Gadhafi family, killing his youngest son and three grandchildren. What a glorious victory for the defenders of innocent civilians! The NATO-crats, of course, deny targeting either Gadhafi or his family members: those much-touted high-tech weapons, with their "precision" targeting capabilities, seem to have had a very convenient breakdown. But at least one Republican Senator wasn’t fooled. Lindsey Graham had this to say:
"I support what NATO did. I thought this was a good use of the mandate. This is the way to end this [conflict]. Thousands of people are subject to dying, the longer this takes. No one in the world is going to regret Gadhafi being replaced, however you do it. I want to thank NATO for expanding the scope of these operations."
"A good use of the mandate" – killing three grandsons of the Libyan dictator, all under the age of 12? And what about that "mandate," which was proclaimed in the name of preventing civilian deaths in Libya’s civil war? In the Orwellian logic of "humanitarian" interventionism, raining death on 12-year-olds is an act of love. Welcome to Bizarro World: we hope you enjoy your stay.
Because it looks like we’re going to be trapped in this alternate dimension – where up is down and truth is lies – for quite a long time to come. Instead of crumbling like all the other Arab despots who face their day of reckoning, Gadhafi has survived – in some measure, I would argue, because of UN intervention. Without that, it’s likely the eccentric tyrant – although he might have temporarily retaken Benghazi – would’ve fallen victim to the same seismic forces that toppled his neighbors: Ben Ali, in Tunisia, and Egypt’s Mubarak. His regime was saved by the cavalry – the NATO bombers that are daily wreaking devastation on the Libyan people.
A thoroughly despicable – and, within the wider Arab world, hugely unpopular – tinpot dictator is fighting NATO to a draw. That has to earn him some credit on the Arab street – and in his own country, where the much-vaunted "tribes" show no signs of abandoning him.
As I predicted from the outset, the rebellion is a regionalist phenomenon, roughly centered in – but not confined to – Benghazi and the eastern part of the country. Libya was never a real country anyway, and so the rapid reversion to the ancient borders of Tripolitania (in the West) and Cyrenaica (in the East) is hardly surprising.
Yet the rebels – and their Western backers – are hardly content with half the pie. They want the whole thing, and that’s what this war is really about – it is a war of aggression by the de facto government of eastern Libya against the pro-Gadhafi Western half. Actually, the Gadhafi forces enjoy the support of two-thirds of the country if we include the Fezzan region, the source of many of the black African "mercenaries" Gadhafi is accused of importing.
This is why the Gadhafi regime has repeatedly called for a truce. Upon announcing the death of Gadhafi’s son, Seif, and the three grandchildren, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim put it this way:
"This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country. This is not permitted by international law. It is not permitted by any moral code or principle. If people claim they want to protect civilians, we have again and again declared, we are ready for negotiation, ready for road maps for peace; ready for political transitional periods; ready for elections; ready for referendum.
"NATO does not care to test our promises. The West does not care to test our statements. They only care to rob us of our freedom, our wealth, which is oil, and our right to decide our future as Libyans."
This isn’t just a desperate ploy to buy time – Gadhafi really thinks he can win a national election, even one scrutinized in every detail by the UN. That’s a true megalomaniac for you. Well, then, why not take him up on his offer? After all, if Gadhafi is really the monster he’s now portrayed as being – as opposed to the rather rosy portrait of a "reformed" terrorist which took hold after he came in from the cold – then he’ll lose, big time, and the problem is solved without further loss of life.