There has been much discussion this last couple of days following remarks made by various senior western politicians and military spokesmen about the idea of eliminating Gaddafi.
The majority of questions have involved issues of legality and the interpretation of the United Nations resolution authorizing the current strikes and no-fly zone. These are important questions, of course, but what of the actual idea itself? Is it a good idea or a bad idea?
My heart says that I wouldn’t lose a millisecond’s sleep if he was eliminated, expended with, stiffed, offed, blown away, whatever one may like to call it. Good riddance to bad rubbish. After all, this person openly paid for state-sponsored terrorism in the 70’s and ‘80s which killed hundreds of innocent civilians and political opponents all over the world, he paid for IRA arms and said so on TV, he has murdered many thousands of people in his own country, he is a nepotist with a multi-billion dollar fortune, he was behind the Lockerbie bombing, and his friends have included Bokassa, Idi Amin and other such fascists. So yes, if he is killed by the coalition, he will not be missed.
But my head tells me something different. The West’s objectives here are to stop his armed forces killing civilians in random and indiscriminate air attacks as well as ground-based missile and shelling bombardments of cities full of civilians. It is to be hoped that this action will deter him from continuing his policy. It is also to be hoped that this protection – supported by almost all Mideast countries moreover, with those who do not agree saying nothing or almost – will give the Libyan people confidence that they can demand change and get it.
If this means that they will march on Tripoli and force Gaddafi and his demoralized support to relinquish power by sheer weight of numbers so much the better. If they fail, at least the West will have given them the chance to change things without the fear of being massacred.
But – and this is crucial – killing Gadaffi would quite rightly outrage the many Mideast and African countries which for once support western action in that part of the world. That in turn would mean that the West would once again be seen as the bad guy and Islamic extremists would see a red carpet rolled out for them.
The West has an excellent chance for once of convincing the world that a military intervention – executed legally this time at the request of the Libyan rebels and all those who want Gaddafi out – can be fair and equitable. This is a rare occasion that the West must seize.
The future of Libya and western interests is much more important than that of Muammar Gaddafi, a common murderer and psychopath who doesn’t deserve the honor of being killed in combat. If anyone should string him up from a lamppost it’s the Libyan people, not the West...