The US military said the coalition campaign, called Operation Odyssey Dawn in the United States, had succeeded in “severely degrading” Gaddafi”s air defenses, but Gaddafi is not the main target of the operation, they are focusing on weakening his military forces, and will only become a target if the safety of civilians could not be guaranteed.
This is a game plan that I highly disagree with and do not understand on any level. Why would we not just get to the heart of the problem and take out a man who has stated “we will fight for every square in our land. We will die as martyrs” and that the international community, including the United States on multiple occasions, has ruled to have no legitimate authority to lead his country. When something was finally done about the complete terror taking place in Libya, demands for an immediate cease-fire from the UN only produced dozens of news reports filled with more pleas for help from the people, providing evidence that a cease-fire for Gaddafi meant setting Misratah on fire and torturing more innocent citizens. British Prime Minister David Cameron even acknowledged that “If [Gaddafi] does hold on, he will seek the most terrible revenge against his own people, and against us”.
Can we please remember that Gaddafi has never had legitimate rule of Libya and after growing up in a lower class family, he started to conspire against the monarchy of Libya during his years of training in military college. He was planning to over throw a monarchy with a constitution that “set out rights such as equality before the law as well as equal civil and political rights, equal opportunities, and an equal responsibility for public duties and obligations, “without distinction of religion, belief, race, language, wealth, kinship or political or social opinions” (Article 11).” However, this constitution was easily overlooked by Gaddafi who probably just wanted to get his hands on the oil reserves found in 1959 that brought great wealth to the country since like Libya, Gaddafi used to be quite poor, but was looking to get his hands on some fast cash. (Don’t worry the previous social unrest in Libya will be discussed later, but it does not appear that Gaddafi made the situation much better.)
Gaddafi even could have been over thrown shortly after taking power, but the United States found him to be “sufficiently anti-Marxist to be worth protecting” and rejected helping a British Colonel named David Stirling in a plan to release 150 political prisoners to start a political uprising like the ones we are seeing take place today. Gaddafi’s “Five-Point Address” which included suspension of all existing laws, purging (aka murdering or expelling) all politically sick people, creating a military to protect the revolution, and a complete administrative and cultural revolution, was seen as completely acceptable to his global audience and not the necessary steps to the complete dictatorship that would soon take place.
This is the where the difficult debate does take place and I do not really know what side to take on the issue, but how can we now take such drastic military action to help these people when we just stood by and watched what we knew to be a dictator overthrow a entire monarchy, even though it was known for being incredibly corrupt with a failing economy suffering from joblessness and social tensions. Is the UN supposed to monitor all countries and political uprisings in order to make sure no more reign of terrors can precede because we have learned from Hitler and from what our sources seem to believe Saddam Hussein or are we to sit back until political suppression leads to extreme levels of social unrest and anger that cause hundreds of thousands of people to stop their every day routine and risk their lives to protest the government hoping that they may see a better more free life, or at least their children will not live the fearful repressed life they did.
It is not like the problems in the Middle East and North Africa were a secret. Gaddafi has been known to assassinate political dissidents publically, employ up to 20% of his people in surveillance of government, factory and educational sectors of the country and operate “the most censored country in the Middle East and North Africa” Not only was Gaddafi known to be an unfit ruler, but in 2002 the world had yet another chance to stand with the opposition in Libya and reform the government when a popular democratic oppositionist, Fathi el-Jahmi, was arrested when “he called for free speech and political reforms during a conference in Tripoli” , but the world community pretty much just stood by as el-Jahmi was convicted of “‘providing information to employees of a foreign state causing harm to the interest of the country’ and with contacting foreign authorities”.
If the UN would have taken a stronger stance in 2002 the situation in Libya may never have become the incredibly violent scene that we see ever hour on the news today, but that is all hindsight now. With all this background information, we return to the question, why are we not simply seeking out Gaddafi’s whereabouts and attacking him to kill him? It does seem that he is the brains and total control of this operation. Without him everything would most likely collapse and it would be much easier to implement a democratic, or whatever type of government the majority of the Libyan people desire. His second in command has even tried to over throw him in 1993, so that is saying a lot about who is surrounding Gaddafi. Technically those closest to him could be the most dangerous to him at this point and with one trigger pull execute the man they are supposed to be supporting at such an extreme level.
The answer is most likely that the UN is afraid of what will come next in Libya. For the United States there is worry of having to step in as the mentor for yet another government reform when we already pretty much did a fairly poor job of doing this in Iraq and Afghanistan and upsetting their ally, Saudi Arabia who is already making it clear that they are against the opposition forces in the Middle East by supporting Bahrain in their violent silencing of protestors. Additionally, many people are questioning who the opposition forces really are and what they will do once Gaddafi and his regime are defeated. It may be in the United States best interest at this point to step in with the force they are using, possibly stronger, to protect an uprising from the thousands of Libyans Gaddafi encouraged “to join the jihad in Afghanistan, as part of his desire to emerge as a leader of the Islamic world.” These men not only were trained, but returned to Libya with different interests in mind than Gaddafi had, which may not be such a bad thing or could actually be very dangerous if they are aligned with the terrorists the United States is so committed to defeating across the globe.
Since every development in this story and possible turning point leads to yet another fork in the road, the only clear thing coming out of this is that there are lots of difficult decisions to make and each choice plays a crucial role in creating world history. If the UN loses this battle and Gaddafi is able to take over Libya the possible consequences are enormous and an alliance could form between Libya and the Gulf Cooperation Council, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, solidifying the Axis of World War III, while the United States, France and British forces scramble to convince the rest of the world to join them on the side of the Allies. The unfolding events are so critical and each move is so hard to predict, it is becoming difficult to sit back as a member of the general public and watch it happen and its no wonder that Hilary Clinton does not want to continue as Secretary of State if Barack Obama wins the 2012 presidential election.