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The Butcher of Tripoli - The Massacre of the Innocent in a Bedouin Desert

Updated on March 23, 2011

NATO forces moved swiftly this weekend to enforce UN-authorized, Arab League-approved series of actions intended to end escalating hostilities between the resistance movement and forces loyal to embattled Libyan President Moammar Ghadafi, shield defenseless civilians caught in the crossfire, and head off a gathering humanitarian disaster.

After a column of French fighter jets destroyed pro-government Libyan tanks and armored vehicles massing up around the rebel stronghold city of Benghazi early Saturday, hundreds of Tomahawk missiles launched from more than 25 US and British warships and submarines stationed in the Mediterranean targeted Libyan air defenses and several strategic military installations and bases around the capital Tripoli and the city of Misrata to the west.

An expectedly defiant and indefatigable Gadhafi took to the airwaves accusing coalition forces of terrorism and vehemently calling on all Libyans, whom he had reportedly now fully armed, to rise, liberate and defend the country, and bring death to the invaders!

Earlier in the week, in a move heralded by some as being tantamount to too little too late and many as unprecedented in terms of its reach and the speed with which it was attained, the UN Security Council not only approved the institution of a no-fly zone across key areas of the conflict but also "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

It was felt in some quarters that the international community’s over-deliberation, analysis paralysis, or delayed action caused the Libyan opposition to lose crucial momentum at the same time that it afforded Gadhafi’s forces to re-group and launch a decisive offensive against Benghazi. And as a result, hundreds, if not thousands, more needlessly died.

That noted, however, the Obama administration’s UN team deserves some credit for skirting the ever-present threat of the veto from the five permanent member nations and shepherding this resolution through the Security Council relatively rapidly.

To put things in somewhat of a larger historical context, for weeks, the world was mesmerizingly transfixed with Gadhafi’s totally unintelligible rants and infinitely illogical, abysmally unseemly decision to make good on a threat to turn the streets of Tripoli into rivers of blood by turning his artilleries, helicopter gunships and fighter jets on defenseless protesters demanding his ouster.

Gadhafi repeatedly blamed the Libyan uprising on the followers of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden whom he, at one point claimed were brainwashing the youth with hallucinogenic drugs in “milk” and other “spiked drinks!” He then pleaded with the protesters’ mothers to rescue and bring their children home.

At 27, Gadhafi sailed into power in a bloodless coup d’etat on September 1st 1969 in Tripoli while the ruling monarch, King Idris, was away in Turkey for treatment. He subsequently, quickly and calculatingly sought to exert control domestically by funding a spate of infrastructural development projects while seeking to gain international respectability by, at different times throughout his reign, espousing a philosophy that vacillated between a fervent strand of Pan-Arabism and anything else that, to him, appeared uncompromisingly anti-western or sufficiently anti-imperialist.

Nearly 42 years since assuming the rudder ship of this oil rich nation, Gadhafi managed to eke out an international notoriety that leaves him distinguished even among an unflattering company of tyrants: amass a fortune worth an astounding 60 billion dollars along the way; finance numerous acts of state-sponsored terrorism in 1970s, 80s and early 90s; routinely muzzle, expel, assassinate and publicly execute political dissidents; and still cling to power!

But regardless of how Gadhafi and his demented circle of reverential supporters attempt to finesse this crisis, he has the vulgar distinction of decimating or devouring the very population that he portends to serve. All of their current pretenses, platitudes and props will, in the fullness of time, prove inadequate in concealing Gadhafi’s true intentions: to, at all costs, cling to and possibly die in power.

Some questions have been raised, and deservedly so perhaps, about what might be considered the end-game of the current internationalization of the Libyan conflict, especially given that the US military is still mired in two seemingly unending wars in the region; for, as is typically the case with these kinds of situations, no one clearly knows how things might play out.

Nonetheless, what is certain today is that there is nearly universal support for the international community to act in the manner that we witnessed this past week to save the Libyan citizenry; it is by most standards unquestionably a warranted and enforceable policy.

Granted that in the short-term, the UN no-fly zone against Libya's Gadhafi may cost more lives since it might most unfortunately cause a desperate and certifiably crazy man to take even more daring, illogical actions, standing idly by while the Butcher of Tripoli continues the indiscriminate slaughter of the innocent is a bankrupt and indefensible option.


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    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Thank you for writing about this...

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      7 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Great analysis Arum. It was a difficult choice for President Obama to join the coalition. But once the Arab League called for it, Ambassador Susan Rice went into action at the U.N. and obtained a resolution that would pass. We could not lead on this or go it alone. We also could not allow a genocide. We and our allies are doing the right thing. Hopefully it works and Qadaffi will leave. These uprisings in the Middle East will make it a more stable place in the long run.


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