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Stop Whining

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 economy.

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 people.

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


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