A Needed Consideration of the Gaddafi Case
Rivers of blood are flowing in Libya in a civil war inflamed by the repression that nation’s ruler unleashed. And rivers of words are flowing in the world’s media, analyzing that country’s past, present and future.
From Nicaragua, whose government insists on blind, unconditional solidarity with Gaddafi through speeches and demonstrations
in the streets and even schools, come these simple, apt and needed lines.
In its day, Gaddafi’s regime represented an important bastion of support for world revolution, whether through genuine revolutionary movements like the FSLN, fighting for democracy and social change against brutal military dictatorships, or organizations that choose terrorism as a method of struggle. Terrorism is always abominable, not to mention illegal and illegitimate, whether by regimes utilizing it as government policy against its people, or by organiza¬tions claiming to act in the name of the masses.
The terrible error of the “King of kings of Africa” Following the collapse of socialism, with the strategic unipolar and economic multipolar changes operating in the world, Gaddafi invited many revolutionary leaders to think or rethink world revolution in the light of an emerging new world with a new correlation of forces.
It was also a time for intimate, personal reflection about the imprint on history he would leave as a leader of the Libyan people. Over time, we saw Gaddafi making, or trying to make, peace with the West, with the colonial and neo-colonial powers. He renounced terrorism, handing over Libyan citizens who had blown up a civilian plane over the skies of Scotland, and began moderating his direct confrontation with global hegemonic power. And he joined in applying measures to restrict migration from the Maghreb region to Europe.
Not without misgivings, the West was taking note of this change in behavior; always fixated on Libya’s resources, now more important than ever given the multiplicity of factors exacerbating the energy crisis. But history is full of surprises and political errors exact a high and sometimes tragic price. The recent uprising in the Arab world, with its generational and technological characteristics, its socioe¬conomic contents and its values, but above all its peaceful nature, reached the “king of kings of Africa,” as he referred to himself at the 2009 Arab League Summit. His reaction to all this was his gravest error and will undoubtedly cost him power. Libya will never be the same.
Gaddafi responded to the massive and peaceful questioning of his regime with the most brutal repression. Nobody can say that the massive, peaceful questioning of this genuinely national movement was the work of imperialism or that it only exists in an imaginary virtual world without risking falling into despicable disrespect for the depth of feelings behind it. Gaddafi hired mercenaries (US $2,000 a day) so they would have no scruples whatever about murdering passers-by in the streets with impunity.
Failure to observe an The questioning was, and is, of a 42-year-old regime. While this regime has certainly significantly advanced Libya’s development, it’s also showing the same signs of enthroning itself as all powers with dynastic pretensions: growing corruption (Libyan overseas deposits are estimated at US$22 billion, of which it’s hard to differentiate those actually belonging to the ruling family) and a progressive restriction of democratic rights and freedoms.
elementary golden rule
The brutal and cowardly repression began to take its toll, shaking the regime and triggering a process of attrition in the government and the break-up of the armed forces. Whole contingents, with all their military resources, defected to the rebel side, escalating the nature of the struggle to violence and civil war.
A statesman of Gaddafi’s experience and stature knows, or should know, a basic golden rule: political problems should be responded to politically. That was the point at which he should have opened up to political dialogue, national negotiation, to respond, in his words, to “the Libyan people’s demands” and seek a peaceful solution, one from which he could perhaps have emerged with greater legitimacy.
A multinational force, approved by the UN Security Council—including socialist China and Russia, whose interests are so close to the Middle East yet who gave up their veto rights—and supported by the Arab League, enforced the interventionist euphemism of a no-fly zone, which, added to all the destruction and death, finally achieved a dialogue with the opposition that would ensure a “peaceful transition to democracy,” as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) declaration puts it, which the Arab League also now supports.
It’s logical to focus on the world powers’ predatory goals, but this would not have happened if Gaddafi’s government had listened to its people when he still had the chance. A statesman has the duty to govern by listening to his people and knowing when to put the interests of the nation and country above those of government or party.
The same is true in NicaraguaThe Nicaraguan people’s national uprising against Somoza, led by the FSLN and supported by the international community, was basically due to the regime’s dictatorial and dynastic nature, the systemic violation of our people’s rights and freedoms, corruption and the absence of any sign of equity in the distribution of wealth.
Therefore, the most important legacy of the Sandinista popular revolution was that we inherited a country without a dictatorship. It would seem that the same yearnings for justice and freedom that have accompanied humankind still flourish in the 21st-century revolutions. They arise out of the peoples’ very core with no need for the now wilted, grand, goal-oriented discourses.
Latin America has not known how to articulate any creative, viable and legitimate alternative peace proposal for the Libyan crisis, much less for the general crisis in the Arab world. It should thus support and actively promote the OAU proposal, now also supported by the Arab League, for a “ceasefire, dialogue, negotiation and peaceful transition to democracy.”
Supporting this is the way to fight to end the bloodshed, and to achieve peace, a new national unity and a government by all and for all.
Denis Torres is the director of the Martin Luther King Institute of Managua’s Polytechnic University (UPOLI).