It’s becoming a custom among Arab commentators, especially the Libyan ones, to give the benefit of the doubt to any initiative carried out by a regime or its minions. Particularly when the ‘visit’ was needed and deemed a success. Regardless of the modalities and details of such an exchange the mere fact that the mighty West has accepted to receive ‘one of us,’ and to sit down with him, not to mention admitting him to the holy of holies, the sacred sanctuary of the White House, was deemed a sign of being accepted as a ‘partner!’ Take for example, the latest round of Qaddafi Junior in the international arena: his tour in the USA. This trip has been hawked -and still looked to- as the final stroke that hacked what remained of the Gordian Knot in the bilateral, and multilateral, relations between the two former nemeses. Saif, came flying to the USA, on a magic carpet, to fill that ditch, which has remained open like a sore wound, and to bury the hatchet which has kept Libya smarting, from its humiliation, all this time. A sign, as some will see, more of the resignation and acceptance of the status handed down to her than a sign of growth and maturity from a state which has still to stand on its feet? The jury is still out!
Depending on the angle, from which one looks at this unbalanced encounter, one can come up with all kinds of interpretations. The more immediate, and least complicated, is the one bandied around, for a long time now, the conspiratorial one: Qaddafi Senior had struck a Faustian deal with Uncle Sam -in exchange for his neck and his regime’s continuance, he’s to behave and show the new behavior in deeds and not just words -and now the time has come for paying back. The other, more farfetched, is that Libya has come to its senses and figured out the bitter fact, it’s no other alternative except to accept what was allotted to her. That’s, accepting the inevitable, not like a sore looser but like a sporty one, forgetting about the whole fuss of the past. Another is what many wishful-thinking Libyans would like to believe, and hope to see realized, is the idea of reform. Junior, as the errant knight, who descends, from nowhere, on the ragged and strapped village, to clean the mess and saves the day. These folks daydream of the day in which Libya hits the road, trodden already by its sisters and neighbors: to become another pawn in the long arm of the West. They argue, not without merit, Libya had bet on the wrong horse and has lost. Reform entails a cooling off of so much heat generated out of fake and stupid frictions. It involves also -among many other things- the spanking all doors open for the masters of the universe and their multinationals to enter again, as winners to collect the spoils. They add, reform starts from doing exactly what the others, our patrons, the West, has long advocated and wanted us to do, and in fact, have expected us to heed, that’s, accepting their model as a fait accompli, if we ever have a chance to go somewhere.
But this involves another form of humiliation, particularly for Qaddafi senior! Since he’d made a career out of sparring with the West. To now come around, in a volte-face sort of way, without prologues or preliminaries, to say we must accept the fact of defeat is another of those steps that will be problematic to say the least. A country, after all, is what myths it lives by. The unspoken theme of itself and the idea of where it stands in this world. Thus the kowtowing, politically and psychologically, will put a damp on any effort to get out of the historical cul-de-sac in which Libya and its sister states have dug themselves in. For any kind of reform involves a consciousness of one’s status and realization of one’s options. But above all a spirit of can-do type of attitude. A position of strength of one’s abilities to overcome the historical barriers and handicaps. It entails, in others words, an exchange made out of strength, or at least an encounter made from a position of counter-power, not the foot-kissing, arse-licking, servitude the Junior and his sidekicks have been doing. The neo-colonial attitude of the hosts and the consumer mentality of the guests will only put a bump on the final reconciliation, and thus on road ahead of reform.
At the cost of sounding redundant, I’ve many times in the past, made it clear that to reform involves, the notion of there’s something there to start with, worthy of toying with. Since, Libya, has not yet entered the modern age and has yet to accept modernity and all what it entails, there’s no reason to believe that we can reform a non-existing entity, like the state. It behooves the pundits of the stratosphere and blogosphere, to step down from their fake horses, and stop electioneering -by descending to the minimum denominator to meet the expectations of the crowd, in matters of faith and other weary-torn myths- and face the harsh realities of modernization through secularization. No modern state is possible having without the clause of free choice without conditions. The individual, not God, not real or phoney long dead prophets, not holy-than-thou parasites of hear-what-we-say, not see-what-we-do types, in here and now, and not in some unknown Other-wordily tomorrows, is the center of the universe and thus the ultimate agent of history. To be in that position he/she has to be unshackled from what, history, culture and religion, have chained him/her for so long in the godforsaken deserts of this globe. The desert, both of mind and landscape, doesn’t die, doesn’t change, it merely exists. Thus, with good faith, from which, the constancy, the permanency and the always as it’s, of the area have originated.
The experiences of others in the context, of development, were more original than the wishy-washy of Arab states. The other countries had started by putting their houses in order and getting a consensus of which road(s) to take. They labored for decades in silence changing themselves, wiping their history clean, rejuvenating their cultures, and building their infrastructures. Once the toiling have been successful, or at least half-way to that, they started, or more factually, the others have started courting them. The Arab states, and Libya among them, want to eat their cakes and have them in the same. No hard work, no self-doubt and self-criticism, and they expect the rest of humanity to take them seriously and to accepting them at the table, as contributors to the current civilization. Like all smart aleckes Arabs’ ambitions are far from their will, or abilities, to put themselves down and work to realize their dreams. They’re a victim of their own making, a cultural laziness, which has put them at the tail of the human crowd and has relegated them to the lowest rungs of the civilizational ladder. Once again worth repeating it their laziness has left them with no other way than to accept a lower status and non-existing presence in world affairs. To boot, and to be satisfied with handed-me-down solutions: the crumps of human march.