Free Markets, Free People

Libya: ruthlessness winning while the world dithers and religion takes over the opposition

A week or so ago I wrote a post about ruthlessness and how that usually wins in contests like we see in Libya.  Of course, the fact that the opposition is amateurish in the field and remains unorganized hasn’t exactly helped their situation.  But Gadhafi has been and continues to be ruthless in his pursuit of maintaining his power.

Meanwhile, given the deteriorating situation for the opposition, the time for a “no-fly zone” appears to have passed.  When it might have had some effect was early on in this battle.  As the battle has matured, the advantage seems to be going to the Gadhafi forces.  Not only are they more brutal, they’re better organized (relatively speaking) and performing better in the fight (again, relatively speaking).  At some point, one has to expect Gadhafi’s forces to take control of key areas that will signal, for all intents and purposes, that the revolution has pretty much failed (that’s not to say the civil war won’t go on for some time, but at a much lower key than now).

But back to the opposition and an article in the NYT today.  It’s interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a discussion of why the opposition formed and what is happening  to it according to the NYT.

Nearly 70 percent of Libya’s population is under the age of 34, virtually identical to Egypt’s, and a refrain at the front or faraway in the mountain town of Bayda is that a country blessed with the largest oil reserves in Africa should have better schools, hospitals, roads and housing across a land dominated by Soviet-era monotony.

“People here didn’t revolt because they were hungry, because they wanted power or for religious reasons or something,” said Abdel-Rahman al-Dihami, a young man from Benghazi who had spent days at the front. “They revolted because they deserve better.”

So the argument can be made it was started by the youth and the aim is secular – they have the luxury of oil but they’ve not enjoyed the benefits of that vital commodity within their country as they think they should.  Got it.

But, do you remember this quote from the older post?  It’s a quote from David Warren:

As we should surely have observed by now, whether or not the Islamists command Arab "hearts and minds," they are not only the best organized force, but the most ruthless. They are also in possession of the simplest, most plausible, most easily communicated "vision."

Religion, speaking here of Islam, is ubiquitous in the Middle East.  It just is.  And those who live there, whatever their other desires, sift everything almost unconsciously through the filter of Islam.  That’s why it isn’t difficult for religious leaders or radical religious leaders to quickly gain a foothold they ruthlessly expand in any situation like this.   And that’s precisely what the NYT discovers:

The revolt remains amorphous, but already, religion has emerged as an axis around which to focus opposition to Colonel Qaddafi’s government, especially across a terrain where little unites it otherwise. The sermon at the front on Friday framed the revolt as a crusade against an infidel leader. “This guy is not a Muslim,” said Jawdeh al-Fakri, the prayer leader. “He has no faith.” [emphasis mine]

Other’s continue to fight against that trying to keep it (or change it into) a secular fight:

Dr. Langhi, the surgeon, said he scolded rebels who called themselves mujahedeen — a religious term for pious fighters. “This isn’t our situation,” he pleaded. “This is a revolution.”

But, it seems it is turning into their situation.  Again back to the Warren quote – what is ingrained in the opposition fighters no matter what their ostensible reason for fighting may be?  Their religion.  And what has the “simplest, most plausible, most easily communicated “vision.”?”  Their religion.  When viewed against the complicated process of democratic governance, religion as a one stop shop for both their spiritual needs and their political needs makes the former much more difficult to sell than the latter.  Religion, whether it is a fundamentalist brand, or a more moderate strain, is going to emerge as a huge force in all of the struggles in that part of the world.

Something else to note from the NYT article that is interesting:

Sitting on ammunition boxes, four young men from Benghazi debated the war, as they watched occasional volleys of antiaircraft guns fired at nothing. They promised victory but echoed the anger heard often these days at the United States and the West for failing to impose a no-flight zone, swelling a sense of abandonment.

Obviously their feelings for the US and the West aren’t particularly good these days.  One has to wonder if they ever were, but clearly, now that they’re starting to get rolled back they are complaining about the West’s dithering and lack of response.

I’ve said it before, I don’t support the US imposing a no-fly zone.  That’s not to say I’m necessarily averse to a NFZ if Europe wants to take that bull by the horns.  But I see this as Europe’s fight, not ours.

That said, any good will we in the West had prior to today with the Libyan rebels seems to have dissipated and may, in fact, be in the negative column now.  The outcome could be the beginning of an even bigger problem for the West:

None of the four men here wanted to stay in Libya. Mr. Mughrabi and a friend planned to go to America, another to Italy. The last said Afghanistan. Each described the litany of woes of their parents — 40 years of work and they were consigned to hovels.

Why Afghanistan?  Well not to fight on the side of the US, you can be sure.  As for the other two, disaffected and disenchanted immigrants provide a fertile hunting ground for Islamists.  Should the two get to where they want to go is there a possibility that they, at some future date, become radicalized?  Of course there is. 

Again, who has the “simplest, most plausible and easily communicated “vision”?”



16 Responses to Libya: ruthlessness winning while the world dithers and religion takes over the opposition

  • When Obama refused to do anything during the “Green Revolution” in Iran, we thought it was due to some kind of well thought out foreign policy objective (well, not all of us thought that).  But, now we know it is just Obama’s way of voting “present”.  There was no way he could leave foreign policy to Pelosi and Reid, so he just does nothing but talk about doing something.

    • But remember Honduras.  Obama’s default position is AGAINST freedom and liberal democracy.  It has been proven time and again.

  • And the guy who said “Ghadafi will win” has people calling for his resignation because he dared to say that if we don’t do anything, the side with more and better weapons will win the day.
    These people really don’t have a grasp of reality, do they…

  • Not a biggie, Kaddafi is already unfriendly with the US it wasn’t urgent to have him replaced.

  • Interesting that two of these guys want to come to the U.S. and another to Italy.  When people vote with their feet, for whom do they vote?
    This is driven home today by a letter from Sen. Rubio, castigating Obama for his naivete on Castro’s Cuba.  I think that too polite.  Obama loves the Castros.  They are all of a kind.  And what is the gradient for immigration between Cuba and the U.S….?  Or anywhere else?

  • Sitting on ammunition boxes, four young men from Benghazi debated the war, as they watched occasional volleys of antiaircraft guns fired at nothing. They promised victory but echoed the anger heard often these days at the United States and the West for failing to impose a no-flight zone, swelling a sense of abandonment

    >>>  Eh.  They’ll find reasons to be angry at us  regardless of how much help we do or do not provide.

    • I think the US is in a “damned if we do; damned if we don’t” type of situation.  If we help the Libyan rebels, we’re called unilateralist, war-mongers, imperialists, etc.  If we don’t, we’re called ignorant, selfish, lazy, etc.  Remember, a lot of liberal americans who were very vocal against invading Iraq called for us to invade Sudan just a short while later.  I’m sure Europeans and Middle Easterners are similar in their feelings.

  • The U.S. media and politicians have often gotten suckered into enthusiasm for replacing bad dictators with worse dictators.

    Indeed, even fifty years of Castro’s repressive totalitarian communist dictatorship in Cuba is “still better than Batista” in the minds of some fools, who never think to consult with the Cubans in South Florida who count themselves lucky to have escaped the Cuban prison-state and would happily feed Castro to Mr. Wu’s pigs.

    Then there was much joy about the Sandinistas after they overthrew Somoza. Remember how all the cool kids learned to say Nee-ha-rah-waa? (I always wondered why they didn’t say Pah-ree, too.) Those Ortega boys had some big plans, along with Fidel, for Latin America, but then the Soviets fell over and died and took the IV with them.

    Great joy on the Left accompanied the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the result was Khoemeni, followed by thirty years of outsourced terrorism. (But don’t worry, the Left learned to hate Israel, so balance has been restored.)

    Then came the wonderful “democratic youth movement” that led the Egyptian military to depose its own front man and replace him with themselves. Egypt is a socialist country in failure mode and the youth want more mother’s milk from an already petrified bosom. Sounds like a good time for sharia; that will cull those disordered Western cravings for more.

    Now the Libyan rebels want a change in who swings the riding crop. Best of luck to them.

    • When I made my statement above, it wasn’t entirely facetious.  Ruthless dictators that oppose the US are better than Moderate or even Relatively Benign dictators that are friendly with the US.
      That was the message 30 years ago from the Kremlin and its propagandizing sympathizers here.  And no new orders have come out from the Kremlin so they are operating on the same orders pushing the same message fighting the Cold War for the Soviet side.  Its sort of like the equivalent of those movie cliche WWII Japanese soldiers stranded on Islands still fighting the war 30 years later.

  • But… but… demographics… too many young people… Twitter… new era dawning… reverse tea party… LOL… Islam is not a threat… tiny minority of extremists… you guys are too pessimistic… wave of new thinking… 21st century… Obama has great temperament… world class intelligence… will almost certainly be reelected… my advanced degree… {chuckle}… should never use military… just makes things worse… Iraq biggest foreign policy disaster in history… {eyes rolling}… I decree it… having fun… not sick, not sick, not sick, not sick… advanced degree, degree, degree, degree, degree, degree, degree…………..


  • I could care less what liberals think on this issue.   We need to get out of the Middle East, and do it now, before we lose more life and more money.

  • “the anger heard often these days at the United States and the West for failing to impose a no-flight zone”

    Another idea which is ubiquitous in the middle east (and elsewhere)– it’s the US’s fault. No matter what,k as long as it’s bad, the US is to blame. I’ll bet that the Jews are also somehow  involved in their predicament. And yet two of them want to come to the US. Sorry, we have enough anti-American Americans already.

    • If we had put in place a no-fly zone, I am sure the complaints would be coming about dying children in Tripoli who could not get their meds because of us.

      • Who cares what the far left think?
        Obama is only concerned about pandering to dictators and terrorists while the brave rebels and civilians in Libya are slaughtered by Gaddafis forces.

  • There is basically only one coast road from Tripoli to Benghazi, and the fighting is somewhere in the middle of that road. Instead of a no-fly zone, we should have announced a “no drive” zone, which would have kept Qadafi’s forces without logistical support. Its probably within one carrier’s power to interdict a section of highway rather than trying to stop every plane in the country from flying.