This is a message to those advocates of Libyan freedom and democracy who
seek the help of foreign powers, particularly the US, rather than their own
people. In countries where successful transitions to democracy took place
with the help of US overt and covert planning, certain conditions were
prevalent. These conditions can be summarized in a single statement: the US
will only act in its own interests.
These Libyan opposition leaders that seek American or British support in the
overthrow of Gadaffi will be assessed on their pro-Western credentials. This
is not conspiracy theory; we find that Patricio Aylwin of Chile was singled
out as the leader of the center party, supported by the American
government-funded National Endowment for Democracy and other groups, while
the US simultaneously put pressure on the Pinochet regime by withholding
aid. Similar patterns were seen in Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Haiti
(see Promoting Polyarchy, William Robinson). The result in Chile was a cozy
relationship with the US, and a truncated, heavily resource-based export
Besides the woes of being supported by the US in a democratic coup, it is
highly unlikely in Libya's case. A compliant dictator like Gadaffi makes the
choice of supporting democracy impossible. The US and other western powers
are getting what they really want from Libya--lucrative oil contracts, and
the hydrocarbons that will follow. And by supporting democracy they might
get something they don't want--power in the hands of Muslim groups.
In my opinion, a democratic Libya is one that is not influenced by foreign
powers. In a democratic Libya, the Libyan people will call the shots, and
they will make their decisions based on the wants and needs of the Libyan
Libyans, exiles and nationals, can only get rid of Gadaffi and his crony
'democracy' if they breathe and bleed together. No exile movement; not the
Tibetan exile movement under the Dalai Lama, nor the Spanish Republican
exiles during the Franco era, nor Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia's roaming
exile monarchy were able to take hold of power in their respective
countries. The exile governments that were successful, such as the South
West African People's Organization and the Algerian exile government in
Tunisia during the push for independence, among others, had strong footholds
of support in their native countries.
It may sound polemic, but if we want to change things in Libya, we have to
stop talking about how Libya should look like without Gadaffi, and start
finding ways to empower Libyans.
The political attitude of Libyans is pathetically defeatist. Many Libyans
believe nothing will work, and very few make voluntary sacrifices. What's
worse, is that each Libyan thinks he or she has all the answers, and refuses
to act unless they are at the helm. Then we have our wasted youth in Libya,
who, thanks to the cowardice of their parents, do not comprehend the
pathetic state of their country.
So long as this attitude remains, Libyans deserve Gadaffi.
A. A. Omar