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Libyan Writer Ghoma

Thursday, 23 February, 2006

Is There a Choice?

By: Ghoma

        Once the storm calms down and the excitements cool off there comes a time when the cheerleading ends and the serious head-scratching starts: the political assessments. What was all about? Who did what? And who's lost and who's benefitted?

        Certainly Libya has lost both dear lives and treasures. Did it gain anything? Only history will answer such a question. What about the regime? The regime has gained and lost in the same time. The dictatorship has proved, once more, to whoever has thought of its weakness, that it's still in control and can act with impunity, or in any case without much ado or damage to its stability. It's lost, somehow, in reputation and international standing, though the regime has very little capital in those stocks anyway. However, given the ongoing efforts to burnish its image by paying its dues for long being the pied noir and enfant terrible of the international pariah club, the Benghazi Massacre has wiped some of those efforts out the door. Not many corporations would want to hang their shingles there in the near future after they've seen what happened to some of the outposts of the global marketeers, nor would investors want to try their luck in a desert Banana Republic run by a "Mad Dog" battling a bunch of fanatics!

        For Libyans all but particularly the eclectic hodge-podge who run under the banner(s) of opposition, after the spontaneous reactions and formulaic condemnations, these events and times are, or at least should be, moments if not of great reflections, certainly of soul searching and choice making. For, in the struggle of any group, there comes the moment of truth when least expected, though this is not in the case of Libyan opposition, when the traveled road suddenly runs into a bend and a forking, while may be not immediate, is certainly lurking somewhere on the horizon. The moral imperatives say that an opposition is as good as, of not only what it proposes but above all how it negotiates its way to reach those goals. Political opportunism is the bread and butter of any opposition but only few would eschew the overuse of its currency and avoid the luring bad smells it certainly leaves behind. For the simple fact that an opposition worthy of its name is never a Faustian compact where the end justifies the means. An opposition is first and foremost is moral and second is a vision of a better way, a better life for all.

        In the cultural lores of many society there's plenty of sayings that go along the title cliche. For instance, "out the frying pan and into the fire," or the Libyan saying: "to escape from the ghoul only to fall in the hands of the heart-gouger," etc. All these indicate the dilemma of having to face two equally bad choices. The difficulty resides in the fact that any choice carries with it grave historical consequences that will plunge the country into another period of turmoil and instability. But bad choices are here. Rather than an optional matter which can be foregone easily they impose themselves and society is forced to face them and deal with them in the best possible way under the circumstances. As in the case of Benghazi's "uprisings" and the implicit political message they send as well as the underlying ideology they contain. So what's to be done? How reasonable people supposed to react? Who to support and to what end?

        If it's true what ignited the protest was the silly acts of an outrageous minister in the Italian government, then the problem is even worse. What kind of people, particularly young people, who would put their lives in jeopardy just because a bigoted and almost deranged individual who's put on a T-shirt carrying some caricatures which have been swirling on all the means of communications on this earth for quite some time now and the mob goes berserk? Only a bunch of fools would take seriously a fool and put up with him! Why make a mountain out of a molehill? Roberto Calderoli's obnoxious provocations to Muslims and immigrants were not new nor should have been taken with such serious consequences, except perhaps by the Italian Muslims and immigrants. The acts of Benghazi added fuel to an already burning fire. It confirms, once again, to those reasonable people in Europe and the good circles in the rest of the world what they've already been saying all along, perhaps sometimes sotto voce, that Muslims are a bunch of hoeys, deranged fanatics living in some kooksville, no different from some of their own country men and women who keep on provoking them! Is the world taken over by fanatics on both sides of the barricade? If yes, what reasonable people, wherever they may be, must do to counteract such reckless behaviors and return the world to some steady and sane mode for dealing with many of the problems still facing it?

        Are we only going to sit around and cheer, whichever side we're on, or say enough blabbering, we've had it with this nonsense sparrings and let's return to what we were talking about before the Cold War turned into Hot war: how can we make the world a safer place for our progeny before everything gets blown up in pieces? Are we willing to return to the Middle Ages and start religious wars, all over again? If no, then instead of being soaked to saturations by the continuous drivel of 24 hrs. talking-heads, called news! to concentrate on reading and refreshing our memories about what the old wars looked like, were about, and how they'd started and how they'd ended? Et cetera, etc. For the Crusaders, the Inquisitions, and all other wars fought after them seem, these days, to have been resurrected once again. They're being invoked, quoted, and made use of their comparisons, only to say at the end that we're smarter and better informed not to repeat the fiasco again. Truth be told, all those wars had ended in fiasco as they'd started. Nothing of significance had changed except few millions moved from one spot to another, or others who perished anonymously and forgotten, just so the "balance of power" was to return to where it was.

        Who's behind stoking the fire and to what end? Certainly the imperialist circles in the West are no innocents in the present foray. Likewise the Fundamentalists and fanatics were lured into the lost cause like literally moths to fire. The self-aggrandizement of the one is matched only by the self-delusion, naivete, and gullibility of the second.

        Which brings us back to Libya and Benghazi again. Given the fact, as it appears from afar, that the main protagonists of the recent fiasco, on both sides, are the panicked dictatorial regime and its nemesis, the fanatics, the question is, beyond condemning the atrocity, who's more worthy to side with? When both are bad for the health, both are bad choices. Perhaps we should apply that old Libya saw: "whoever perishes from the devils is less burden for the angels!" assuming there're any angles left! Cruel? Yes! But in these troubled times there's always room for magnanimity without necessarily equal room for sentimentalities and touchy feelings. Only reasonable people out of the of klachnikovs' firing range and an opposition so far away from the battle fields can afford to be cool-headed and reason-bound to say it as it's. Both are on the wrong side of history Neither of them fulfills the dream of many Libyans nor where Libya wants to go!


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