Empty Chairs and Empty Tables

11 March 2011

Seems like the old bastard still had a few tricks up his sleeve.

Like those annoying folks from CNN’s “Situation Room” on election night, even though just a fraction of the official returns are in, I’m ready to call this one for the Dictator.

As to the miniseries, I admit I was wrong on both counts. It won’t be “Khadaffi: The Last Days of the Tyrant” nor “The Enduring Dictator” that gets made, but a third one: “Les Miserable II”.

Many of those brave young Libyans who revolted against the Old Man will die at the barricades, while the UN and NATO try to persuade Egypt and Tunisia to open up their borders for a few miles to house the flood of refugees that will ensue when Khadaffi rides triumphantly into the formerly liberated cities. Other dictators in the region are taking heart. The Saudis quietly gunned down 3 protestors in a Shia city, and no one said a thing.

Even the earth is on the side of the dictators: the quake in Japan has the media obeying the “Law of the Bigger Disaster” and giving just a brief crawl mention to the turning of the tide against the rebels in Libya.

The future of Libya was written plainly on the confident, gloating face of Khaddafi’s son — such a contrast from the frightened manchild of a few weeks early — as he stood before the cameras, daring the U.S., Nato, and the UK to try to topple his Dad. He stopped short of saying “Bring it on!”, but we got his meaning. His gleaming eyes said “Forty more years of Dictatorship”.

I am going to make an admission here. Before Iraq, I was in favor of the West using its military might to overthrow murderous dictators. I cheered as the warplanes pummeled the Serbs in Kosovo. I was there, in the aftermath, with FINCA, to reap the Kosovar’s gratitude. To this day, when you leave the airport in Pristina, you will pass a giant billboard of Tony Blair, with the words “Thanks!”. Go into any restaurant (except in the Serbian enclaves) and you will find a big picture of Bill Clinton hanging on the wall.

What ruined it for me? First, were the multiple “justifications” that Bush and Cheney used to explain our misadventure in Iraq. First, we were going into find “weaponsamassdestrucshun”. Thanks for taking the fall for that one, Colin. Next it was “SaddamHusseinisabrutaldictator”. (Try it, still rolls off the tongue) Finally, it was….actually, we never heard the real justification: ‘all, as they call in Texas. Yeah, the black heroin that destorys our environment when the price is low, and our economy when the price is high.

They must be celebrating in Houston today at the footage of the Japanese reactor melting down, in what will certainly constitute the coup de gras to any future “nucular” energy may have had.

The Libyan rebels are not the first, nor will they be the last group to risk their lives for freedom and to be let down by those nations who espouse to be its defenders.

I know it’s not simple. We don’t know who the rebels are. Suppose we invaded and the result was another Iraq: a country closer to Tehran than to Bagdad. We are already stretched to the breaking point in Afghanistan. Libya is just the latest example of how we are, as all empires do, slowly losing our appetite for military adventures, regardless of how noble or ignoble the cause.

Then again, the real reason could be as simple and eloquently as John Boo Hoo Boehner put it:

“We’re broke”.

Rupert Scofield


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