Most people in the US over the age of, say, 30, remember Moammar Gadhafi as an anti-US villain. Though the real split was over the nationalization of oil holdings of the Hunt brothers in Libya, the public rhetoric was of a terror supporting tyrant. In the early 1980s, when the US was cozying up to Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi was the anti-US bogeyman Hussein would later become.
There was a formal rapprochement in the waning days of the Bush Administration, but it is still extremely disconcerting to see the Obama Administration is openly fretting the possibility of a post-Gadhafi era.
Now the administration is expressing “fears” that there will be a civil war in Libya if the Gadhafi regime falls. With the dictator’s forces killing hundreds of protesters virtually every day now, it seems hard to believe he’s the preferred option of anyone.
And indeed, most of the world, including a good number of Libya’s overseas ambassadors, are heading for the hills, disavowing ties with Gadhafi and looking forward to a freer Libya which would eventually follow from his ouster.
For the US, however, the belief in the permanence of allied tyrants is only strengthening their resolve in expressing “concern” not so much at the massacres but at the protests themselves. The administration instead calls for “reforms,” as though in the wake of such brutality anything resembling a negotiated settlement is even possible anymore.
One might’ve excused the administration’s support for Egypt, beyond the cynical rhetoric of course, because the Mubarak regime really was a very close historical ally. Libya, by contrast, isn’t even that close to the US, and is just a few years removed from being a pariah state. There seems to be no justfication for the administration’s position on Gadhafi apart from a deeply held belief that genuine freedom in a Middle Eastern nation must inevitably be a national security threat to the US.