The forces of the Libyan "revolution". Will you tell him or shall I?
There was a time, in a previous life, when I was happy to sing the praises of the almost-but-not-completely-deposed Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
It was a time, after all, when I dealt solely in absolutes and, having read the Green Book and marvelled at its convoluted strategy for total democracy, I would hear nothing that suggested revolutionary Libya was any less a paradise on Earth in practice than it was in theory. The Third Universal Theory, to lend it its correct title.
Of course in truth Gaddafi's Libya was anything but a paradise. Power games, between tribes as well as politicians and army generals, and some simple realities about human nature and the personal ambitions, and innate corruptability, of some ensured that not everybody stuck to the manual. Clearly it became a dictatorship with an idea, and one which wasn't too fussy about some of the friends it made around the world in its efforts to carve for itself an ideological niche that would challenge the twin evils of capitalism and communism for the hearts of minds of the people of the world.
But the diet of lies, so barely concealed as to be insulting to the intelligence, that has been fed to the British public in respect of the current NATO campaign has led me instinctively to sympathise with the pro-Gaddafi elements as they continue their desperate, impossible fight against hopeless odds in those few isolated Libyan cities that remain outside of "rebel" (i.e. NATO) control.
From the moment the United Nations gave them the green light for intervention the NATO bombing campaign has quite obviously had nothing whatsoever to do with "protecting civilians" and everything to do with regime change. The fact that there remain up to 10,000 civilians holed up in Sirte, and that NATO is bombing their city relentlessly whilst turning a blind eye to the completely indiscriminate rocket attacks being made upon them by the inexpert and untrained "rebels" provides us with indisputable evidence of this.
Yes Gaddafi was a dictator, a murderous one to boot, but considerably less so than many of the rulers in the region whom the West is actually arming as well as doing regular business with. The difference is of course that Gaddafi was a dictator with a political ideology that, in times of real economic strife such as those we would seem to be heading into, presented a real danger of being taken seriously. After all, who wants a Third World leader who, unlike us it would seem, was able to provide an efficient free healthcare service and universal access to education without increasingly prohibitive tuition fees?
How embarrassing was it for our political establishment to see Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and released on compassionate grounds two years ago due to his terminal cancer, still alive after all this time thanks to a drug that is freely available in Third World Libya but had been kept quiet about and withheld from British cancer sufferers because it is too expensive to issue?
Who wants a Third World dictator who, in his own small way, had begun to build his own political power base in Africa to rival those of the US superpower or the almost-super powers of Russia and China? Not much we can do about the global machinations of such giants on the world stage, after all. But Libya?
Most of all, who wants a Third World dictator who threatened to trade his people's own oil in "African dinars", based upon gold reserves, as opposed to US dollars?
Understand this and you will understand how a man who was a political pariah in the 1980s and 1990s became cuddly Uncle Muammar in 2003, and how his elite forces became worthy of SAS training little more than a year ago, only for his "dictatorness" to be suddenly rediscovered earlier this year.
We are told the ground forces that are currently struggling to overwhelm Sirte in spite of their massive numerical superiority and unanswered NATO air support are "revolutionaries". But revolutions come from the people, they are not imposed by foreign powers. What has happened in Libya has not been a revolution, but an invasion.
Even now, after having taken Tripoli, the "revolutionaries" have been entirely dependent upon NATO air power in order to take a small city from the scattered remnants of an already defeated army. These guys may believe they are fighting for freedom, and their grudges against the old regime may be well-founded and very real, but they will discover before very long that they have in fact been the foot soldiers of a far more subtle and sinister dictatorship than their eccentric ex-Brother Leader could ever have imposed upon them.