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Where are the Libyans going?

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No comprehensive details on the human and material losses have yet been known in Libya since February this year--the point from where Libyans rose up massively chanting anti-Gaddaffi slogans, seeking democracy and freedom.

The initial civilian demonstrations against which the Libyan President Colonel Muhammar Gaddaffi is said to have militarily suppressed have been globally reported as converted into mass armed rebellion overtly backed up by the NATO forces that have labeled their military actions as purely humanitarian. The US Administration, though wholeheartedly with the NATO forces, has hesitated to take the vanguard role as it used to do in the near past, the reason possibly being its financial dizziness as well as its blood-stained image in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While the global mass media have worked hard day and night to bring battle-field information to the world community, they have not been successful in digging out information about the effects of armed conflicts. Most of the information they have brought about is based on the sources close either to the Libyan establishments or the rebel forces. Surprisingly, most of the war reporting has revolved around how the NATO forces have been supporting the rebel forces, what the rebel forces have claimed and what the pro-establishment sources have claimed. Though the audio-visual reports have been constantly played and replayed, information about the exact humanitarian plight has been scanty. Due to scanty objective information about humanitarian crises and human losses, international agencies do not yet appear to have taken a proactive position in this regard.    

Equally worth considering is the fact that reporting from the battlefields is an extremely risky and complicated job and that objective details are not easily available.

The non-availability of objective details implies much seriousness of the existing situation. While the situation remains unclear, various speculations and analyses asked on previous consequences of conflicts in other countries take place. For Indian magazine Frontline writes, "THE "fall' of the Libyan capital Tripoli to the rebel forces fighting under the cover of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombs and missiles has signaled the disintegration of yet another sovereign country (Frontline: Vol28; Issue 19, September 10-23, 2011]. This analysis found in the Indian magazine results from the experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. To support this statement, the Frontline further writes, "If the mayhem and butchery currently being witnessed in Tripoli are any indication, then Libya is all set to follow Afghanistan and Iraq into chaos and anarchy. Tripoli has been experiencing a wave of looting and destruction similar to the one witnessed in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, after its occupation by the United States" (ibid).

The seriousness of the situation in Libya also implies the possibility of protracted civil war, which definitely is not beneficial for the interdependent world--also referred to as the global village from media perspectives. The fact that the Libyan NATO-propelled rebel forces were forced to retreat from the Gaddaffi strongholds in Bani Walid [(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14955463) accessed on 17 September 2011] suggests that guerrilla-styled resistance from the ousted Gaddffi regime may through Libya into an indefinite civil war. The existence of the resistance capacity on the side of the ousted ruler as pointed out   by the BBC is enough to exacerbate the confli c ts there. As the United Nations, in a nonverbally communicative manner, has shown its interest in its future involvement though peacekeeping forces, the possibility of patriotic resistance and the protracted civil war remains there. One strong catalyst for the continuation of such resistance is the issue of nations' sovereignty and independent. Despite the truth that everybody must support people's democratic struggles in any country, the issue of nations' sovereignty and independence becomes unbelievably developed their military strength enough to uproot out the deep rooted military power of the Gaddaffi regime.  

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The question how the Libyan rebels obtained the current level of military capability within a few months is not easy to answer. The current international journalistic practices have not tried to address this particular question. Nor have they revealed any details about the nature and source of military training that the Libyan rebel forces have obtained. But overt actions by the NATO forces have facilitated our general understanding over the inner strength of the ongoing civil war in Libya. The BBC online [( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15095594 ) accessed on 01 October 2011] further clarifies, " N ATO planes have bombed targets in one of the last pro-Gaddafi strongholds, Sirte, as government forces continue their assault on the city ." Humanitarian crises seem to have multiplied in Sirte as water, food and medicine run low--as the BBC online reports. Cruelties on both sides--the NATO and the Gaddaffi forces--appear to have over-ruled the Libyan civilian lives.

Previous international experiences of democratic movements have clearly taught us that concerned nat i ons often get drowned into uncertainty and glamour-minded thoughtless political gambles following the seizure of power from the former rulers. W orld precedents of democratic movements have equally established the truth that most of the new forces that overtake their former rulers often replace faces rather than thoughts and intentions. In other words, it is rarely seen that so-called revolutionary forces replace wrong thoughts, intentions and deeds with the right ones. C ontrarily one wrong intention has replaced the other wrong intentio n though the masses that participate in bigger political movements strongly desire for political and socio-economic transformation in their countries. But the world experiences in the recent decades prove that their aspirations and motivations do not match those of their leaders, whose mindset gets remolded to fit the status quo.

Moreover, the existing political and socio-economic consciousness levels of the change-seeking masses self-generate barriers. The latest instances can be traced to the Nerpalis, who expected the total transformation of their country following the deletion of monarchy in May 2008 but have succumbed to their existing culture of nepotism-favoritism, ill-governance and backbitism. There is a cemented partisan ceiling of their political consciousness. Such self-generated barriers to overall transformation will result in Libya as well because the global schooling in the name of democracy debauched by the vulpine desires of money, media and muscle is basically similar, especially in the context of the developing countries.

Bigger democracies more starkly supply evidences of how much the ordinary masses, i.e., the gullible voters suffer due to personalized politics that is not replaced by collectivized democratic politics. America and India are two of the bigger democracies, which have more personalized culture of thinking and behaving. Out of personalized culture result the privatized crime industries with crime-politics nexus like in Mexico, Columbia, India and Nepal (however, it's a global problem).

Misperceptions of democracy get culturally transmitted through media replications on a global scale with the possibility of betrayal against people by their glamorous leaders, too ambitious to heed public interests and grassroots democracy. This is more likely to repeat in Libya. While the Libyan National Transition Council (NTC), internationally recognized and legitimized, has recently replaced the Gaddaffi regimes, there is much uncertainty regarding the libyans' future path. Founded on NATO forces' military aid marked by the 3-M characteristics (money, media and muscle), the Libyan rebels, whom the BBC has termed as the anti-Gaddafi forces'. Will doubtlessly promise to follow the universal principles of democracy and free market economy. Will it be enough for the Libyans to find a definite track?   Nepal's experiences since the 1950s teach us a bitter truth that the Libyans must originally define themselves if they want to stable peace through justice. The Nepalis have suffered a lot because they have been betrayed time and again by their leaders.

Libya, Nepal and the whole world require progressive peace (a political atmosphere where collective conscience and social justice prevail). Genuine political stability comprises an ever-going process of change in every sector in every way logical as well as the process of de-elitizing democracy and dismantling oligarchic supremacism. The ruling classes of the world have so far misperceived political stability as majority silence marked by non-criticism and absence of protests. This deep-rooted conservatism is a psychological barrier to progressive peace. As soon as establishments, whatever ideologies they belong to, see a threat to their oligarchic supremacism, they demand silence, which they believe is peace. After the Libyans get the first post-Gaddaffi government, the new regime will demand for peace. Paper changes, like in Nepal, will be declared voluminously there, with no implementation at grassroots level--a situation acutely experienced in Nepal. As trends in one country often get transmitted to other countries, precautionary thoughts and actions are important while replacing a totalitarian regime. Since the 1950s, the Nepali political forces have always lacked homework and consensus; they have blatantly betrayed the masses that made them bigwigs through historical sacrifices. After political achievements in the form of signed documents, they have always remained extremely divided over their petty interests, mostly affected by their own regressive psychology. The information warfare among them has always kept the people in a confused state; the people, pre-occupied with their urgent mission of food hunting, get tired to think of what the political forces would do. If this situation is repeated in Libya, it should be considered very unfortunate. But Nepal will have to learn from the Libyans if they are well-guided by their political and socio-economic visions and homework for adopting democratic changes. However, they may have to cling to status quo and regressive circumlocutions, like in Nepal, if they fail to prepare sufficiently right now. The most important thing is to thwart strategic manipulations from external forces that influence the transition or the process of change.

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Mass Communication and Journalism Lecturer, Kathmandu

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