Beyond the Cusp

October 21, 2011

Muammar Qaddafi Executed, Mixed Emotions

Muammar Qaddafi was either executed or murdered by “rebel” forces depending on your expectations or definitions, but either way one more monstrous dictator is no more. Am I in some ways feeling that the passing of Muammar Qaddafi was, of itself free from any other considerations, a positive outcome, no matter the circumstances? Of course the answer is yes. Would I have preferred Muammar Qaddafi have stood before a proper court of law and been tried for his numerous acts of barbarism? Definitely. Has the death of Muammar Qaddafi filled me with hope of a promising future for Libya and the world without him? Unfortunately, not in the slightest. What is my fear? My fear is that his death is more a harbinger of even worse evils to rise in place of Muammar Qaddafi and these new horrors will portend a far larger threat than Muammar Qaddafi had come to represent towards the end of his reign before the uprising even started. The big question is whether or not the death of Muammar Qaddafi will play out as something we should be celebrating or will it turn into an even greater threat and nightmare than Libya had been before the revolution.

Let’s be optimistic and look at the plusses first. Removing Muammar Qaddafi from the world stage has removed any possibility that this maniacal megalomaniac would ever again haunt the world through his sponsoring of terrors similar in scale to the Lockerbie bombing. Due to his removal being done through force, we will no longer need to fear that any of his sons or protégés will ever come to power. Many people who had suffered loses either directly or indirectly now can have closure. With any luck, much of the hierarchy of terror, be it either external to Libya or internal contained within Libya, will be effectively leaderless and will dissolve or, at the very least, become far less effective with Muammar Qaddafi out of the picture. And lastly, with a great amount of fortuitous luck, Libya has at least a chance at a brighter future and the Libyan people will be free from at least one monster. So, we have some areas where we can look and see a brightness resulting from the long civil war which NATO forces had been assisting with air support and other tactical measures. And, best of all, with any luck the killing is over or shall be very shortly and both the Libyan people and the forces of NATO who assisted will be able to return to some semblance of normalcy.

But, let’s not kid ourselves. Not everything is going to be all roses and sunshine. There are serious doubts as to the intent of the rebel forces. There is also the fact that there are many diverse and competing factions within the rebel ranks which could extend the fighting as they compete for power and control of the new government. There have been some rumblings that many of those who will be responsible for forming the new governance in Libya fully intend to install a government based on Sharia Law. There is no guarantee that Libya’s new government will truly be of a democratic nature. Some of the leaders of certain factions among the rebel factions are known to have been part of terror organizations including al-Qaeda, among others. Reports have surfaced that large amounts of advanced weapon systems such as RPGs, anti-tank rockets, anti-aircraft rockets, and other weapon systems have disappeared and have been rumored to have ended up either in Gaza or in the Sinai Peninsula awaiting smugglers to transfer them to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda in Palestine, and other terror groups in Gaza. And, worst of all, it is entirely possible should the separate factions which comprised the rebel forces be unable to reach an accord on how to share power and what form the new government should take that Libya’s revolution that removed Muammar Qaddafi could end up with similar results as the French Revolution that removed Louis XVI leading to a Libyan Napoleon rising to power which would be no better and very possibly worse than the deposed Muammar Qaddafi.

The final results from the permanent removal of Muammar Qaddafi and even the smallest amount of his influence is something of a mystery with too many variables for anybody to say for certain what will be produced in the coming day, weeks, or however long it takes. I fully expect for the NATO leaders whose forces played a significant supporting role, including President Obama, to predict great results with unshakeable assurance. I wish I could be as sure as they will attempt to make things appear. My question will probably come in an article in six weeks when not only are things not falling into place with nice neat little slots and cubby holes, but things are flying apart and violence is again erupting with many of the different commanders and their groups gathering in their home areas preparing to take that which they feel they are being denied despite promises or expectations. We have witnessed similar reoccurrences of violence in Tunisia and Egypt and neither country had proved to be able to meet deadlines they had set for themselves and the interim governments are falling out of favor and have resorted to force to try and keep the peace, or at least some semblance of order. The tensions in Libya will very likely follow a similar line as the people’s expectations are not met and promises start breaking and everything starts to appear to be breaking at the seams, or even worse, completely shattering. I am not aware of what amounts of resources are going to be available for the import of food, payment of those government workers who will be needed to continue to have many necessary functions operate, and other necessities that will require funding to keep the people from hardship, suffering and causing general unrest. I am aware that in Egypt, if they do not find additional funds or receive an infusion of funds, within six months critical shortages in many items will start, the most serious being food as Egypt imports close to three-quarters of its required foodstuffs. A similar crisis in Libya might be even more imminent assuming that much of the funds were likely well hidden by Muammar Qaddafi, especially once the revolt started. This will be a challenge in every country facing such situations where the government has been overthrown and normalcy is still seemingly off in the distant future. Things may very well become very dicey before things can be returned to some form of routine familiarity. We should be prepared for the worst while hoping for the least hazardous.

Beyond the Cusp

September 5, 2011

Libya’s Next Governance

There has been some optimistic talk about the plans for a new constitution for the newly liberated Libya that was released late last week. There is mention of the rights of women to participate in all things political, economic and social, so very quaint. They also made sure to make guarantees of religious rights and the rights of minorities to exist in the great harmonious society in the making, how precious. The one overreaching problem in believing any of these high sounding promises is found in a mere two words hidden amongst all the flowery wonderful sounding promises, Islamic Jurisprudence, more aptly called Sharia. Many will hold out hope that there may be a balance found and that Libya will not go the way of Saudi Arabian society where women are not allowed to drive or vote and being Jewish will get you executed, or even worse, like Iran where even Muslims are targeted by the government and nobody can consider themselves as safe.

Despite all the promises from President Obama that he knew who the people were that we were backing with our bombs, money, and other forms of support, things may not be the nice package he was trying to sell. American and their European allies whose countries joined in what I like to call Obama’s folly now get to wait and see how badly we were misled about the end results in Libya. Were those like myself who questioned the intentions of the Libyan rebels fearing the worst in that they would turn out to be strict Islamists or did President Obama and the Europeans who joined in this effort correct that democracy was on the way with liberty and justice for all in Libya if only we gave the rebels a little assistance. Well, its reckoning time and it is still not looking very promising from where I’m sitting, but we will see. We still have the small matter of Gadhafi and his sons loose and still capable of causing more mayhem and casualties. Hopefully, the fighting in Libya will soon be over, but that also may be a matter for debate.

There is another front that causes me some degree of concern about the National Transition Council (NTC), the name for our presumed friendly rebels. The NTC is anything but a nice homogenous group with shared ideas, ideals, principles and goals. That is part of the reason for the contradictory items in the rough draft of a proposed constitution. This may turn out similarly to a very famous revolution that became famous for its dueling factions which led to a second revolution where virtually everything gained initially ended up being lost. It is quite possible that the revolution to oust Gadhafi will not end well even after the mad Colonel and his sons have been complete defeated. There is, as with the French Revolution, that distinct possibility that a second revolution will break out between those who want a true liberation and those who insist on the imposition of Sharia with all its ramifications. Right now, the future in Libya is anything but resolved and peace may be as far away now as it was at the outbreak of the revolution no matter what anybody says or what most Libyans desire. Libya is still a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a war zone, and that does not bode well quite yet.

Beyond the Cusp

June 26, 2011

What the World Should Have Learned From the French Revolution

The World, truth be told, had far more than simply the French Revolution from which to learn, we can also include the Russian Revolution, The European Year of Revolutions 1948, and lastly, the long series of revolutions throughout the Americas south of the United States over the years since they attained freedom from their European colonial powers. In virtually every case, the new government was in some ways more violent, more restrictive of freedoms, ended up becoming far more authoritarian and, more often than not, dictatorial. This begs the question of why we expect an area of the world that has only experienced dictators or monarchs since the end of European Rule which replaced Ottoman rule which was preceded by Islamic rule from about year 1000 forward and before that they lived through varying rule by whichever empire held dominance of the period back all the way before the Bronze Age is going to match the miracle of the American Revolution which is most usually related to 1776 though it started a decade and a half earlier. It is even overly optimistic to even expect similar results to the revolutionary political changes in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The main difference between the American Revolution and all of the others boils down to two main factors. First, the political philosophical debates of the period which included choice ancient philosophies and texts and luminaries as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Aristotle, Plato (especially his work called “The Republic”), Greek Democracy, the Old Testament about the limits that G-d told the Israelites must be placed on any King (ruling body), Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington (whose description of government as fire is one of the best descriptors of governance I have ever heard) and even Abigail Adams who saw opportunity for women to gain equal rights should the revolution succeed. Second, the individuals who made up the heart of our founders who wrote the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights were men who, at best, could be called reluctant leaders. Almost all of them had little desire to rule but saw public office as a divine opportunity to serve the people, not lord over them. George Washington wished to go home after the Revolution; instead he chaired the constitutional Conventions in Philadelphia, far from his beloved Mt. Vernon. Washington figured he had done more than should be required of any man after the Constitutional Convention, yet he bent to the insistence that he alone was the sole person who could give the new country and its government the validity and acceptance that was so desperately needed. After two terms, George Washington could have continued as President for the rest of his life, but finally insisted he would do something for George Washington, and he retired to Mt. Vernon which had fallen to disrepair and Washington was close to broke, but he was home and at peace at last. Almost every other revolution has had leaders who wished power and glorification for themselves. This holds true all the way back to when Korach and the 250 other rebellious souls challenged the leadership of Moses in the Book of Numbers.

The recent changes that occurred in Eastern Europe were milder revolutions which sort of resembled evolutions. Of course, it was necessary to remove the ruling communists, which was much aided by the loss of their supporting patron and the troops of the Soviet Union. These revolutions had the history of the rest of the Western World to support their instillation of parliamentary governments tailored to their specific needs. These countries had highly literate populations which the Arab regimes have assured are not the case in their countries. It is much easier to rule over people who are incapable of reading and thus learning knowledge on their own. So, the expectations of having successful transformations from the monarchial or dictatorial governance in the Arab World to some form of Republic, Parliamentary, or other representative governance is just so much fantastical wishful thinking. Once again, I will call this presumed Arab Spring what it will evolve into, the coming Arab Winter where Islamist governments form new Sharia based constitutions. Once in power, they will assign a clerical committee which will be empowered for solely one purpose, to make determinations on which candidates are suitably Islamic enough to be allowed to run for public office. As we all know, when the government can make determinations on who is and is not allowed to run for office, there is no freedom “and their vote becomes a meaningless joke.” (Quoting Steppenwolf’s song Monster) But are we near the end of the uprisings or should we expect more?

Checking my Ouija Board, my bones, and my Magic Eight Ball, my conclusion were, in reverse order, “Cannot predict now”, “Not yet, still one more surprise”, and “After Yemen falls and Syria is calm then all will become eerily silent”. So, as you can see, somewhat inconclusive, but I would say that Yemen and Syria are probably the end unless Iran and Turkey get into a power struggle for supremacy, but that is a more normal Middle East event than an actual revolution. Yemen is not looking optimistic at the moment, but should Yemen explode violently and start to threaten the peace in southern Saudi Arabia, then Yemen will end quickly, violently, and however Saudi Arabia decides after they assure quiet on their southern borders. As for Syria, if it is left simply to Syria, then Bashar al-Assad will simply continue murdering as many as it take even if the result is his ruling a kingdom of a few thousand loyalists, he does not care and will do whatever it takes to remain in power. Assad is fully aware that should he lose, it will now cost him his life, so fight on he must. And for those who find his brutality too severe, let me remind you of what happened in Saudi Arabia and you might realize that Assad was simply not brutal enough the first day. In Saudi Arabia, as I predicted in Next Challenge Saudi Arabia and Where Will Muslim Unrest End?, I put forth that the Saudi Royals with their close ties through donations of millions of their petro-dollars with the Wahhabis could control almost all the Sunni Muslims and would engage overwhelming force to cut short, actually abort as it turned out, any attempt of an uprising by their Shiite minority. When the first planned Day of Rage arrived on Friday March 11, 2011, the Saudi Arabian Security Police, backed up by Military personnel in case such became necessary, were out in force and placed outside every Shiite Mosque in the whole of Saudi Arabia. When, at the few Mosques where the Imam instigated revolt, the Shiite Muslims came into the streets, they found both ends of the street blocked and themselves outnumbered often by ten-to one by the Security Forces. And before it could even start, the Day of Rage was over. It was one of those nonevents that received scant, if any, coverage by the media. It was literally a blink and you missed it moment. Soon after the Saudi Royals were assured they had kept complete order in their country, they established relatively complete order in Bahrain. For the future, there has been an arrangement between the Saudi Royal Family and the Royals of Bahrain to assure no chance of any violence in the future. Bahrain’s Sheik Khalid bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa signed a marriage contract with the daughter of Saudi King Abdullah. So, that takes care of Bahrain and the GCC, with reliance on Saudi military power, is safe from unrest as they have a mutual support agreement which will keep things in the Gulf oil nations just the way they are for the foreseeable future.

In conclusion, the unrest will continue until each country either establishes a new government, as is already in progress in Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia, or the current leader fights on refusing to surrender his position, as is happening in Libya, Syria, and to a lesser extent, off and on in Iran. If the contested countries remain in the clutches of their current leaders, it should be expected that the near future will hold purges and mass killings of those thought to be behind the attempted revolts. The countries that will end up with new governments will see one of two likely outcomes. Egypt and very likely Tunisia will form governments that will either immediately, as in Egypt, or eventually, as in Tunisia, be Islamist in nature. This also applies to both Syria and Libya should their revolts succeed. Yemen is probably looking at the worst case should al-Qaeda turn out to be the winner of the three way struggle. The three forces in Yemen are, in the central part of the country and controlling the capital is President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his existing government, the rebels, who are supported by a number of political leaders who have made good faith offers only to have President Saleh break them subsequently, are also in the capital and to the north, and in the south, gaining control of more and more land as the unrest continues, is al-Qaeda. Many of the rest of the North African states which include Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan, Morocco, as well as Jordan and Oman have had their governments offer concessions and the verdict is uncertain as to how effective these offers will turn out, but one can be hopeful.

Lastly, there is Lebanon, probably the original revolution back in 2005 when they threw out their Syrian occupiers, which has lost its attempt for freedom and is now under the crippling rule of Hezballah which takes their orders mainly from Iran and occasionally Syria. This is why it is quite possible that an attack from Lebanon against Israel is a definite possibility should the violent uprisings continuing in Syria. The object would be to refocus the world’s and the media’s attention away from Syria and on the Hezballah war with Israel. The difference this time is that Hezballah is now the Lebanese government for all practical measure and Israel has already threatened to treat a Hezballah attack as an invasion by the whole of Lebanon should this occur.

Beyond the Cusp

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