Qaddafi plays al-Qaeda card; neocons assuaged?

In a televised speech from an undisclosed location Feb. 24, embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi addressed the elders of a town west of the capital, where he said a drug-crazed mob of youth spurred on by al-Qaeda had killed four police officers. He urged the elders of az-Zawiyah to bring their youth under control. As a popular uprising seizes control of ever more of the country, leaving Qaddafi-loyal forces in only a shrinking ring around Tripoli, the dictator portrays the revolution as an insidious design by the international terrorist network:

It is obvious now that this issue is run by al-Qaeda. Those armed youngsters, our children, are incited by people who are wanted by America and the Western world. Those inciting are very few in numbers and we have to capture them. Others have to stay at home. They have guns, they feel trigger happy and they shoot especially when they are stoned on drugs… They have been brainwashing the kids in this area and telling them to misbehave. These are the one who are under bin Laden’s influence and authority, under the influence of drugs.

He went on to say that the

situation is different from Egypt or Tunisia… Here the authority is in your hands, the people’s hands. You can change authority any way you wish. It’s your call. You are the elderly, the head of the tribes, the professors… I’ve given the power to you; you should take responsibility for your country… Please do not disappoint me.

He repeated what he often says, that he relinquished power to his “People’s Committees” in 1977, and “since then I only have moral authority.” At the end of the address, he offered his condolences to the kin of the four killed in az-Zawiyah, adding sarcastically: “I wonder if bin Laden is going to help compensate the families.” (Middle East Online, Feb. 24)

Now, isn’t this deliciously ironic? First, now that Qaddafi is revealed to be the most sinister, ruthless and totalitarian as well as the wackiest of all the Arab dictators (and maybe of all the African dictators too, though Mugabe is a tough act to beat), he continues to perpetrate the bizarre fiction that he isn’t in charge—that he’s just a retired colonel who provides “moral” guidance but doesn’t actually rule! We especially love that “Please do not disappoint me” (with its implied “or else…”).

But even better is to see the man whose name is instantly associated with the Lockerbie bombing for most Americans resorting shamelessly to the al-Qaeda card. For longtime Qaddafi-watchers this doesn’t come as a surprise, however. Since his “rehabilitation” by the Western powers a few years back, Qaddafi has actually been working overtime to reassure Washington that he is on board with the GWOT agenda. We had a good laugh a few months ago when he ran a New York Times op-ed piece pushing his wacky “Isratine” portmanteau peace plan, in which he blatantly embraced Zionist revisionism (italics added):

It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.” Yet only the full territories of Isratine can accommodate all the refugees and bring about the justice that is key to peace.

Sic(k)! Now Laura Rozen notes on

As several Libyan diplomats Monday denounced their country’s four-decade ruler Col. Muammar Qadhafi for unleashing the army against anti-government protesters, U.S. consultancies that have worked to burnish Libya’s and Qadhafi’s US image were laying low.

Several consulting, law and lobbying firms have moved in to advise the Libyan government and energy interests since U.S. sanctions were lifted on Libya in 2004, some of which have since canceled their contracts, according to Justice Department records…

One of the more unlikely figures to have advised a firm which has worked to burnish Libya’s image and grow its economy is not registered with the Justice Department. Prominent neoconservative Richard Perle, the former Reagan-era Defense Department official and George W. Bush-era chairman of the Defense Policy Board, traveled to Libya twice in 2006 to meet with Qadhafi, and afterward briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on his visits, according to documents released by a Libyan opposition group in 2009.

Perle traveled to Libya as a paid adviser to the Monitor Group, a prestigious Boston-based consulting firm with close ties to leading professors at the Harvard Business School. The firm named Perle a senior adviser in 2006.

The Monitor Group described Perle’s travel to Libya and the recruitment of several other prominent thinkers and former officials to burnish Libya’s and Qadhafi’s image in a series of documents obtained and released by a Libyan opposition group, the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition, in 2009.

Yes, Richard Perle! None other than the “Prince of Darkness” himself, a key architect of the Iraq war and aggressive advocate of war on Iran. Whatever their differences of style, it is now clear that the neocon warmonger and the Libyan dictator are roughly equivalent as world-class moral monsters.

All this goes to show how empty all the relentless neocon prattle about “freedom” and “democracy” really is. It is due to dumb luck that there aren’t hundreds dead in loyal US client state Bahrain (home of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet), where the security forces have repeatedly fired on peaceful protesters in recent days. Reuters informed us Feb. 19 that President Obama is “deeply concerned” about the violence in Bahrain—rather mild terminology, especially when compared with the verbal opprobrium now being unleashed on Qaddafi. Not that, despite Fidel Castro’s fears, the US is likely to do more than remonstrate.

The critical issue for Washington has never been whether a local leader is a son of bitch, but whether he is (as FDR is supposed to have said of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza) “our son of a bitch.” The obfuscation of this reality by neocon rhetoric has had a hugely toxic effect in American politics in recent years. It has bought acquiescence in war drives and “regime change” intrigues among well-meaning but naive Americans. Meanwhile, America’s idiot left has come to regard the notions of “freedom” and “democracy” with suspicion if not outright hostility, and has repeatedly rallied around dictators. It’ll be fun to watch ’em squirm trying to figure out which side they are on this time, though…

See our last posts on Libya, the new Arab revolutions and the neocons.

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