Note from Libya: Under New Management!
Nearly 42 years ago on September 1, 1969 a group of young officers acted out a bloodless coup d’état against the monarchy of Libya, long-hated for its oil wealth in the hands of the few. The young colonel Muammar Gadhafi soon pushed in his unique ideology of “Islamic Socialism,” a mix between Islamic religious law and socialist economic policies, as the new national value.
Yet despite early signs of spreading the wealth and developing Libya, Gadhafi soon used his role as permanent “Leader of the Revolution” to deprive rival tribes of their share of the oil wealth and to crush opposition parties. Not to mention the primitive and abusive injunctions of Islamic Sharia, whereby the state enforces all doctrines of the Quran (and the Hadith) including punishments against homosexuals, adulterers, and many stringent restraints on women.
Anti-Western from the start, Colonel Gadhafi directed much of his nation’s resources and intelligence to influence events ranging from supplying arms to the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland to funding Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization and ceaselessly supporting dictators in many African nations, especially in Sudan and Uganda.
Gadhafi’s numerous involvements in international terrorism have included the 1972 Munich Olympics massacres, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines (which uses violence to obtain a separate Islamic state), the drug warlords in Colombia, and of course the infamous bombing of PAN AM Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
By the 1990s it was then agreed that Gadhafi, called the “mad dog of the Middle East” by President Reagan, was one of the most dangerous men in the world, joining the ranks of leaders such as Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-Il, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Robert Mugabe.
It has been said of Saddam Hussein that he was as mad as Hitler, and Gadhafi is no exception to that. One of his visions of greatness, his “Great Islamic State of the Sahel,” was to be the uniting of all the Arab nations of North Africa into a single Muslim state (a throwback to the Caliphate, or Muslim Empire), accused as Arab-supremacist and racist by Western observers.
Like Hussein’s mad attempt to destroy Iran, Gadhafi launched a war with neighboring Chad with the assumption that victory would be easy. After occupying northern Chad in 1983, Gadhafi led a full invasion in 1987 only to lose humiliatingly in what was called the Toyota War. (This war was labeled as such due to the enormous number of Toyota pickup trucks used by the Chadian forces for battle and travel.)
But he had some remaining sense, because in 2003, after the US finally overthrew Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi surprised the world by offering to Britain and America his stash of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear program (a stash that was much larger than previously thought).
Now finally he’s gone, and the Libyan people have much to be happy about. But once the party is over the people must ask themselves what comes next. Do they want to risk another demagogue and religious fanatic? How will they ensure civil and political liberty? I’ve read the provisional Libyan constitution, and it is very progressive.
A blogger from the Heritage Foundation noticed that unlike in secular Muslim-majority countries like Turkey or Albania, the new constitution states, “Sharia is the Principle Source of Legislation.” Senator John McCain recently said on Fox News that this is not uncommon, as it is similar to many constitutions in western nations that have themes of law deriving “from the Almighty” or “by the Grace of God,” thus doesn’t imply Sharia rule.
What may concern observers is the fact that in countries that depend on a single export, such as oil, corruption and despotism are ripe for the picking. After all, he who controls the sole resource controls the country, and we need only look to Venezuela and Iran to see just how it could result.
In the meantime, now that Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have changed keep your eyes on Syria and Yemen. After that maybe the icing on the cake, Saudi Arabia, will be ripe for change and it will be achieved by the people themselves.