Dostoevsky, I believe, who said, happy families are all the same, miserable families each in its own way. To paraphrase him: Clumsy people do things in their own unique (clumsy) ways. Take, for instance, Libya's Colonel ongoing camping schlepp in northwestern Europe! Not in Summer time, mind you, but, from all seasons, in the middle of December. What kind of a mens sana will play such a prank and who's in his widest dreams will entertain such a folly: to pitch a tent in the late Fall and early Winter from all places on earth, in Portugal, France, or even in southern Spain? Must be, indeed, a acuite mental case, a nut hard to crack!
The jaunt Qaddafi is making, these days, in Europe, if not completely new in the annals of relations between nations and states, perhaps only a little awkward, not to say mucho bizarre. If there's anything new at all, in the sense it's unusual for someone who's no official titles, roles, or positions in his state's government,(except being 'the leader of the revolution' whatever that means!), to make "state visits," here and there, with all the hooplas these entail and to sign deals worth billions upon billions of euros/dollars and all the other hard or soft cash. But most of all, it's also unusual, when he's concluding such deals not to avail himself with whatever the hosts have to offer and accommodate himself as guests usually do in such situations, rather than to fly his own 'Bedouin gear,' tent and all! Such flamboyant theatrics have only given the tour the atmosphere of a theme park extravaganza, way far from serious and somber official working visits by a long maligned head of a state of as well long besmirched and pariah-ed country.
Nut-cases always in their own ways indeed! Qaddafi's tour, unlike what other heads of states, usually in the habit of making, this time the Colonel's witticism has, in fact, uncovered and made plain clear the new realpolitik of Europe. The granmammy of the world had finally got it together and wizened up. Europe's adopting of the Chinese approach to foreign relations! Finally the gand dame is adjusting to the new geopolitical architecture of the globe. The puff of the dragon has got finally felt and heard in the long deafened ears of the old continent. The impact and the effects of the still emerging power, China, and its sui generis, way of handling foreign policy issues started making their inroads into the old citadels and their recalcitrant centaurs. If it's true that the Sinification of Europe's foreign policies was fermenting for awhile, since the end of the Cold War, the post-industrial economics and their New Wars have accelerated its brewing. Be it what it may, because of Europeans' fast learning curve, gotten wiser, or out of scare of losing their grip on what they still consider their backyard and historical turf, North Africa! no more of talking with forked tongues. No more of the usual hypocrisy and cheap talking from both sides of the mouth -about business and human rights issues in the same breath- the talk has turned into business and only business pure and simple! If you've the cash, we've the goods, Hasta la vista baby! Europe has finally learned one or two pages of China's book: business and arrogance (of grandeur) don't go together very well. Members of the European Community may still, from time to time, pay lip-service to some of the traditional banes: human rights, good governance, transparency, rule of law, etc., but unlike Uncle Sam, they're more concerned about counting the beans and about their share of the petro-dollars' pie regardless of who's baking it and what the baker's doing in his own kitchen.
The irony, if not the trick, of the whole deal was how to keep some continuity and resemblance of yonderyears, a fig leaf, so to speak, and in the same time keep moving on with the new acquired pragmatism. If European leaders appear, at times, a bit stiff and awkward , they did in fact. Its's because of not so easy nor is professionally prone to mix attitudes of arrogance with a bit of salesman's humility. Sarkozy's salesman's pitching sounded fake and a bit hollow, when, after receiving the Bedouin in his long robes declared the deals were a "reward" to his good behaviors. Perhaps M. Sarkozy has to ask himself, since when letting someone to buy what he wanted badly to sell has become a favor. Or just one of those holy molly to the Frogs' guacamole! The twitchy nose of Sarkozy reminds one of what old folks, back home, used to recount about the Turkish beggars' arrogant bumming, during the Ottomans's rule. The turned-down-on-their-luck, pedigreed Turkish beggars went around on horseback panhandling with the palms of their hands held flat up and barking at people to "Give your master some alms"! Who has said beggars cannot choose? Mr. Sarkozy has just considered the close to $15 billion deals with Qaddafi as favors to Libya's behaviors. Old 'Gallism,' rude and raw, was thrown in the face, or perhaps behind! of the Libyan hen?
In this attitude Sarkozy was helped by the eccentric and bizarre behaviors of the phoney Bedouin-of-Libya! His not-so-usual pranks, if they've any effect, would have only reinforced many of the already ugly stereotypes the Europeans and others still pigeonholing Arabs in. The 'native, indigenous, etc.' epithets are well-known to have reduced entire cultures to their few superficial elements. Pitching a Tent in the City-of-Lights would have meant different things to different people. Out of all meanings and interpretations, two will be relevant and not necessarily the same, what the guest has intended and what the host has understood. If the bet was on both understandings to coincide, all indications have pointed in the opposite direction. The dis-synchrony was evidently loud and clear all over the trip: the dissonant noises of Qaddafi didn't resonate as a soothing music and pleasant symphonic in French ears. In fact they breathed a bit easier when he cleared their space. They must all have shouted: Good Riddance!
The cultural codes of non-resonance. Bedouinism has still hard time understanding modernity, that's, civilization! What the guest has intended was seen merely as self-serving handspringing. For exchanges between states were never dissociated from their relative balance of power. How the mouse can measure up with the elephant? What Qaddafi has, beside oil and its dollars, to be taken seriously for what he says? The stupidity of Qaddafi consisted of not understanding the limits of his own charms! The putting up with his theatrics and shenanigans was no more than mis-en-scene fakes to justify the milking of him once more! Perhaps both knew, but certainly it's a little secret no one wanted to mention that neither the old deal of 100 Mirages nor the new deals of Rafael Jets and nuclear Reactors would do any good to Libya nor will affect the balance of power both locally and internationally. This mutual feelings of deceptions still constitute the juice, if not the fuel, which propels the relations between France and Libya. If there's any winner, must be French interests which have still justified putting up with such unusual schmo. For jobs and their business, no matter how outlandish or freakish some of the requests and behaviors of the buyers, as long as the deals were deemed worth the troubles then closing the eyes for few days is part of the costs of doing business and wouldn't be regarded as excessive.
A Bedouin in Paris! would be, indeed, a memorable scene? Parisians will find it hard to forget. Mind you not only in his little nuisances as the strolling through the Champs Elysees, Versailles, etc., but by his other fancies as stretching his legs, or was it his soul? By stalking in the dirty waters of the Seine River [perhaps to quash his curiosity of what made the two banks -Left and Right- so special to adopted universally as ideological epithets] which made life a bit harder for some folks who have to cross bridges as part of their daily chores. Such outrageous exhibitionism wouldn't escape the notice of the Parisians was registered in their minds as when the Colonel of Libya came to town.. According to a public poll 81%+ of them were not very happy with this guy was moseying around in their city! Mon Dieu, these Frogs, want their cake and eat it in the same! Or just plain French je ne sais quoi?
If the Frogs and their cousins will only be all frank with themselves and the rest to say it loud that we need some of your business for our own economic well-being and for that we're willing to put up with few of what we deem inconveniences, many will understand. But the problem with Europeans they cannot forgo that fake 'Holy than Thou' attitude and keep mouthing what's by now mere hackneyed noises about Human Rights and suchlike when these countries' both past history and present conditions are in flagrant contractions to what they claim to hold as sacrosanct principles. On hearing the French and the rest of them ululating about their states' luminous history in this regard one cannot help but squeeze his brains to wrenched of the old stuff out. What happened and where did it go all those agonies and savagery behaviors the French had inflicted on good part of the humans. "Liberte', Equalite', et Fratenite'" have had the same lot and lock as the other, " We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men were created equal..." Only more pains will be caused by such flagrant lies. Are these people serious or just playing on people's short memory! What France had done in Indochina, Africa, but above all Algeria will take eons of cosmic eras to cancel and forget, not to say forgive. Not many countries have done such damages to the rights and dignities of humans than the nation whose Revolution had ushered the Declaration of the Rights of man back in 1789. Not long after France went on its campaigns of pillaging and plundering others peoples and their lands. As they're determined, it seems, to continue doing the same yesteryears practices through the neo-colonial shticks particularly in Africa and the Middle Eat.
What's not clear yet what has changed dramatically to justify such "warming" of relations between France and Libya or between Libya and any other state. Qaddafi is still the same guy of 38 years ago. Little has changed in Libya since he plundered power. As an eternal Bedouin, never tired of driveling the same puke nor chewing on the same cud! What has changed are the conditions within which the world operates today. Once again the West 's fortunes have worked their magic, by default, and turned them into the only dominant block on the planet. The USA and its allies have assumed the role, on behalf of the other energy users, as the keeper and guardian of this vital resource and their supplies, Oil. However, this new exclusive status, the unipolar arrangement, didn't come without some concerns. It's being disturbed and kept on itchy nerves by the tighting of existing and current energy supplies. The fuel that revs the industrialized world's engines of success, energy, is so indispensable to its well-being more than anything else. Thus the newly emboldened West, instead of enjoying the fruits of post-Cold War lull, again has to wage all these wars around the energy belt of the earth to control directly, not only the present energy sources, but most importantly of all to monopolize and guarantee its future supplies too. However, perhaps due to Murphy Laws, or the simply the law of unintended consequences, these wars have also wracked havoc with the oil supplies and markets. In knocking out first Iraqi's supplies and then by wagging the fingers at Iran, made the oil markets even more nervous. Since present oil supplies and their future availability were deemed crucial to the survival of civilization as we know it, the issues of oil became a matter of national security to the leaders of the Western alliance.
Here where the fortunes of Libya have turned its status upside down over night. Forget about the old blames and mutual rants. If Libya once was put on the back burner, in the freezer, so to speak, back then during the Cold War, now is back again rehabilitated in full gear to assume its role as the safety-valve to the oil supplies of the world. Libya's potential supplies of 3-million/bpd are badly needed to offset Iraq's and others' losses. If it can be jacked up to produce more than that it'll be only a boon and perhaps will nock Iran out of the equation.
But the camping-athon of the Colonel has also showed the approach, if it can be called as such, of Libya's to its new status: you need oil and businesses and we need, mind you not respect or dignity, only the green light to buy what we want! Thus the Colonel was running around, not signing agreements and strategic treaties, but merely peddling hard beans for baubles and trifles, what Sarkozy's called "Rewards". These "favors"were not cheap either. When you count $15 billion here and $17 billion there, the total comes quite good money. The not discrete message: From now on when the Bedouin goes shopping, the world, or at least those who's something to sell, should hark and listen carefully. And maybe that's all what the jaunt was about! To send direct messages to both the USA and Italy, the one for forget-ness, if not total forgiveness, if they want good deals, and the other for coming to terms with the reckoning of history. Perhaps, the loudest message was to Italy: Look what you're missing!
Called it the petro-dollars' foreign policy! That's all what Qaddafi has and he's using it to its full extent. Buying graces where he couldn't get them by otherwise. With the end of ideology and global competition, the Colonel has chosen right. After all, he's proven, once again, he's no fool. Finally, he's leant the languages of his hosts, the business of EU is business! "Lee-kullon maqaamon maqaallen," when hawking needs peddling. And thus we come to the mother of all questions, is: Has Qaddafi bought what Libya needs, or only what he and his regime needed?