Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From Kabul to Tripoli, It is the same war

Tonight I am in Caracas and watching the news with my old Dad.  TVE of Spain translates live the Obama speech about why the US had to get into the Libya potential mess.  I am trying to explain him that Republicans are unfairly attacking Obama, and that many in the US think that two wars are enough.  My Dad easily and convincingly dismiss the whole thing with a handful of words: "They shouldn't.  It is the same war".

Indeed, I cannot argue with him even if it is not politically correct to suggest such an opinion, redolent of "clash of civilization".  But truly, is there any major difference between Al Qaeda, The Taliban, and Qaddafi?  Without bringing in Shia Islam.....

Are they not all the product of complacent dictatorships from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, only too happy to force the West into accepting their nasty rule because they were a barrier of sorts to further fundamentalism while guaranteeing oil supply?

Well, it was not......

Whether we like it is irrelevant: we are confronted with the necessary fight for freedom and democracy against obscurantism.  True, in Benghazi they might be ready to burn US flag as soon as they are done with the French ones, but what other options do we have?  Keep Qaddafi in office?

We have been complaining in the West that secular Islam was not taking a stand against Al Qaeda and assorted creeps, and thus indirectly (unwillingly?) allowed for them to survive and even prosper.  Now it is time to support their primal efforts while demanding some type of accounting from them as to their potential democratic values even though for a while they might be quite tainted by religious sentience.  We are going to have to live with this.

Again, as already written here, we are in 1848.  Many of the Arabic countries "revolutions" might end up stolen but we need to manage to have at least one succeed, and help it as much as we can to make it a beacon of hope.  Tunisia maybe?  They did not have such a chance in 1848....  they had to wait for 1861 and 1870 to see the first glimmers of real results.  I do not think we have the luxury to wait for even half a decade..........


  1. 1979 Boat People4:21 AM


    Israel angered by Argentine 'deal' to stop Iran terrorist inquiry


  2. Roger4:44 AM

    Call it what you want, but, if Qaddafi can machine gun and bomb his political opposition without consequence, so can every dictator on the planet including Chavez. So we bombed and machine gunned him and his supporters back.

  3. Charly5:43 AM

    These countries are no countries such as the European nation state but rather dribs and drabs that fell off the Ottoman Empire. What keeps the people together? Islam, so let us forget it about Western style democracy.

  4. Daniel,

    A Tunisian wrote me recently to ask some questions about Venezuela. It was quite an informative conversation for both of us, I think.

    Here you have his blog:
    <a href="http://tnkhanouff.hautetfort.com/>Tnkhanouff</a>

  5. Democracy must have a suitable environment to flourish.Democracy is not just a government, but it is a pattern of behavior and way of life.

    In the time of globalization we begin to need more democracy in the world however what is the feasibility of this happening? Not much when democracy does not flow from within, but rather imposed from without, or just a matter of copying off something without having struggled for it, without having developed the proper characteristics for it to last.

    In a democracy Individuals have to direct their own conduct to social ends.They have to have self discipline and great tolerance.

    To have a democracy we must have political tolerance-not the hateful polarization of ideas-nor the one sided view that we are victims of our own fate.

    I for one have never seen these characteristics on a large scale in the Arab world.On the contrary I see great intolerance and feeling of victimization.

    If the young people are ready for change, so be it.Let them change, but going to great lengths to help will only hinder in the long run.People need to learn their own lessons.

    As for Obama he is being criticized not only by Republicans but also by the left wing of the Democratic party.

  6. Daniel,

    Your dad had a point, in the same sense that, that the American and French Revolutions were the same war. They were both born of the social and political movements ideas of the time. They were both part of the first wave of democracy you spoke of in another post.

    However, every location and place has it's own unique circumstances. Certainly, the Libyans don't see it in any greater context. They are up to their ass in alligators and having trouble remembering they set out to drain the swamp. Considerations of historical context are a luxury way beyond their means at this point.

    Even the U.S. is held hostage to events. Obama's decision to engage in Libya was inevitable. The same decision would have been made by any U.S. president confronted with the same circumstances and pressures. Obama explained as well as possible why, but the fact is the U.S. is not in control, nor is anyone else. At the moment, the best analogy I can think of is white water rafting. We are shooting the rapids, and the best we can do is try to avoid hitting the big rocks or capsizing. We have no power to change the course of the river or get out, until such time as we leave the rapids and enter the calm once again.

  7. Anonymous6:08 AM

    A couple of points.
    We didn't invade Afghanistan for its oil.
    We don't need friendly regimes to get to the oil. They have to sell it, they need the money. Look at Iran, or ask Chávez.
    We liberated Iraq. With its semblance of democracy (free speech, free press, free elections, one free religion) it has become a catalyst for change throughout the Arab world.

    Bad ideas, like sharia or chavizmo, can spread. It's hard to believe now, but ordinary people actually fought and died for communism. A retarded culture is all it takes and the Arabian one is plenty retarded.
    I see a refugee mess in Europe's future.

  8. yngvar, but friendly regimes sell more cheaply than unfriendly.

    Oh wait, that's just Hugo who does that, at the expense of all Venezuela. Never mind.

  9. The USA was not founded as a democracy, but rather a republic, and a republic it remained until the US Civil War; some aspects held on until the time of Teddy Roosevelt.

    Up until the 1930s American children still learned the difference between a democracy and a republic in school, and that the USA was (supposed to be) a republic.

    I've always liked this definition:
    "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep discussing what's for dinner."

  10. "We liberated Iraq. With its semblance of democracy (free speech, free press, free elections, one free religion) it has become a catalyst for change throughout the Arab world."
    You invaded Iraq for 1) oil and 2) (and that is the most important) for the contracts for defence and reconstruction that went to very close friends of Dick Chiney et alia.

    Iraq was a horrible dictatorship with a man that was to a great great extent made powerful through USA meddling in the region many years before. Now it is just a mess in a big very bloody chaos, which will perhaps be an improvement in the years to come.
    Improvement? Probably.
    Still, hundreds of people get killed every month from the chaos.

    What it is not is a 'catalyst' for freedom. It certainly is NOT that.
    If it were, no matter how unthankful you always call Arabs, you would be able to talk to Arabs all over the place and hear it.
    That is NOT the case. Man: have you ever talked to an Arab, perhaps other than a Christian maronite from very conservative extraction? Have you?
    What has been a catalyst is the spread of media such as al Jazeera in Qatar (not a democratic country, but I have to own up Al Jazeera, with all its bias, does seem to be more professional
    than quite a lot of media in some countries)
    and simply the societal and economic realities of Tunisia.

    The US was providing technology while Saddam was murdering the hundreds of thousands. Only after the case with the Kurds came up did they change strategy.

    I know plenty of Iraqis who have fled because of the terror that has ensued. More than a hundred thousand people by the most conservative accounts have died since "freedom" came.

    The US army could not even organize the protection of the archaeological treasures, even if archaeologists warned well in advance.

    Iraq has been the first cause of resentment in the Middle East towards the USA and you do not get it because you do not want to hear anyone but yourself.

    yngvar, go to Iraq and try to tell people there you liberated them and see how they receive you.
    Perhaps someone will tell me here: "oh, those Arabs are just soooo unthankful".

  11. Your father has a worldly prespective that hit a grand chord with me. Living in Europe and Middle East as a teenager in the 70' and 80's it was clear that these two worlds had been and were still in an endless struggle. Ther are many " Battles: underway -interconnected on all levels - but the "War" is far from over.


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