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Four Sides of the Libyan Situation

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Message Sam Hamod
Too often Westerners do not understand the cultures of other parts of the world, but act as if Western culture is the only way to see and think. The situation in Libya is a good case in point. One must see this from at least four points of view, not just the American "rah, rah, revolution," point of view.
1. In traditional patriarchal societies, the father is the leader of the household, regardless of his age and no matter what the younger generations believe. This is not to say the younger members are right or wrong, it's just the way the old men see it. This has been the case for centuries. That's why Hosni Mubarak of Egypt felt the way he did. In his own mind, he was the "father" of the country, since he had ruled Egypt for more than 30 years. Libya's Muammar Qaddafi feels the same way. I understand this, because I grew up in a traditional patriarchal Middle Eastern Muslim household.

In contrast, in the West, we are enamored with the culture of "youth." That's why we've elected three unqualified and unwise men as president: the liar and posturer, Bill Clinton; the immoral and dangerously idiotic George W. Bush; and the puppet for big business and war, Barack Obama. None of these men possess the courage or the wisdom to understand other cultures or to stand up for what is right at home or abroad. None did what is good for America but enjoyed their ego trips and the riches they gained, which resulted in less concern for the people of America and the world. More than 1-million people were killed in Rwanda and Clinton didn't lift a finger. Bush is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis -- most of them civilian -- and NATO troops. Obama is expanding Bush's wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. All have destroyed the American economy, not only with their wars, but with NAFTA, the WTO and corporate and bank tax breaks.

So, though we may criticize older men as they do in the West, China has done well with them as leaders, as has Russia. However, since going from the older leaders to younger, more "glamorous" leaders ala America, Japan has been unstable. With all this in mind, we must understand that the world of Qaddafi is not "delusional" as it is portrayed in the Western media, but that he is a product of his culture of over a thousand years. Again, I am not saying he is right or wrong, but it must be understood that others in the world have different views than those in the Western world. A serious weakness in the West is that we think our way is the only way. This ethno-centrism, and the greed of our government to control the resources of other countries, has hindered our ability to understand others and has led not only to a loss of American prestige and moral leadership in the world, but to fear of American neo-imperialism.

Incidentally, to show his desire to investigate this "revolution," Qaddafi has done something that Mubarak didn't do -- he has called for a UN investigation into what he says are foreign agents abetting this "revolt." He has also accepted the offer to mediate by President Chavez of Venezuela, but this is something the US and EU have opposed. Why not have a mediation and investigation? Let us see how fast-tracked this proposal gets at the UN; I doubt the US and the EU will want an investigation because it is too likely that our meddling fingers would be exposed. I could be wrong about this, but since I was a boy, I recall what America did in Iran when they overthrew the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh and replaced him with the American puppet "Shah" of Iran (whom we later betrayed and replaced with someone who outfoxed America, Imam Khomeni).  Our fingers have been in so many third world countries that it would take me an entire book to go over all of our "black ops" behavior that has destroyed leaders, economies and countries.

2. Those who want revolution have their side. They feel Qaddafi may have started out well with the Green Book and his governing by people's committees, parallel to democratic shuras in Islam, but that things have gone awry and corruption has set in. Some blame the Qaddafi regime and Qaddafi himself, and want things to go back to a purer form of democracy and the corrupt officials thrown out. They will not be satisfied until his regime is unseated. I am not saying they are right or wrong, but they have a zeal born of their perspective, just as Qaddafi has his perspective. But in both cases, these are indigenous developments. On the other hand, the revolutionaries may be purely Libyan, and like some of Qaddafi's allies in this fight, they may also be aided by outside forces from France, England and America -- remember that these countries called early for Qaddafi to step down, but had no concern for the chaos that would follow.

I'm sure in this group there are some who want power for themselves, as is always the case with revolutionaries -- it was so in the American, French and Russian revolutions, and so it is in this revolt as well.

Of course, we must also look at those who want the cheap "sweet crude" (the purest and best oil in the world, especially needed in the EU countries), and would like to control it either by force or by installing puppets in place of Qaddafi. Today's movement by the US, UK and France reinforces this point -- they have sent in troops to aid the "rebels." Such interference shows their hand more clearly; however, those of us who have followed the West's "black ops" behavior and studied the way it has been used for centuries in the Middle East and Africa, are aware that they probably have been in this situation longer than the media has known or spoken of.

Then there is the problem of the refugees, which I will discuss below, but if this was such a popular revolution, why did so many people flee and not join the revolt as they did in Egypt and Tunisia -- where no one fled, and the general population supported the demonstrations? This is a big question that must be in the minds of both Qaddafi and honest observers. Perhaps this is not a true Libyan revolt, but something with outside manipulation.

3. There is an important third group, the tribes and their relationships to one another and to Qaddafi. Qaddafi himself is from a mountain tribe named "Qaddafi." There are other tribes, too numerous to mention here, but Qaddafi has always had a good relationship with them on various fronts: he allows them their autonomy; he is unified with them in his projects that have benefited the lands on which they live; he and they are Muslims, but not Wahabi- or Al Qaeda-types who are too fundamentalist for the Libyans. Even though the population of Libya has grown, the tribal relationships are still important. If there is an Al Qaeda movement, it would have to be with foreign assistance or fanaticism at its base, and I frankly think the older tribal leaders would oppose this.

On the other hand, the youth of Libya, who have had an easy life because of the money being shared with the people of the country may have become spoiled and want more. They may feel "entitled," just as many Western youths feel. It may also be that they want to be a bigger part of the government, because at times, those who are entrenched in any government, including in America (where the party of the incumbency as we call it, that is those who already hold national office have a retention rate of over 80%), want to keep their seats and their power. Thus, many of the bright and ambitious among the young are held back. This social phenomenon is taking place all over Europe, Africa, Asia and even in the US -- youth wanting to have their chance at governance.

4. There is a fourth group, and that is the "people" -- those who just want the peace they had and don't care who is in charge so long as there is stability. It appears that these are large numbers who don't support the revolt or Qaddafi, but at least did not flee when Qaddafi was in charge. This is a mixed group of tribal and city folk. Thus, while some support this revolt, it is clear that many Libyans have fled to nearby Tunisia and Egypt. Obviously, they fled out of fear of the new group because they did not flee when Qaddafi was in charge. This creates many new questions about the real truth about who is in charge of what in Libya. People do not flee the safety of their homes, farms, jobs or whatever unless they fear the new situation. Thus, this must be examined more closely before we make easy Western judgments about the situation in Libya.  

Once again, this article is to help clarify some of the culture and psychology of the situation in Libya and what also may be the influence of outsiders as well as insiders. We shall see how it plays out, but it is time for Americans such as hypocrites such as Hillary Clinton and warmongers Joe Lieberman, John McCain, and others to be silenced in the media because they speak from ignorance, self-gain or, in the case of Lieberman, whose cover as an Israeli citizen has been blown, who speaks for Israel more than for America. 

As an American, I want what is best, not only for our people but for people of other lands. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates recently said, "Whoever wants to put America into another war should have his head examined," and Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mullen agreed, "We should not get involved in Libya." It is time that our political hacks kept their mouths shut, along with such warmongers as CNN's Wolf Blitzer, and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Alan Colmes, Sean Hannity, Mike Wallace, and Glenn Beck. Not to mention the obese Rush Limbaugh of radio lies, and other pro-Israeli and chickenhawk senators and congresspeople.   

Let's examine things from more than one perspective in order to get to the truth of situations and cultures. If we cannot do this, then we will continue making mistakes that will cost the lives of others in the world and Americans abroad and at home.


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Sam Hamod, Ph.D. is a graduate professor; he has taught courses in creative writing, politics, religion, mass media and intercultural relations. He has one of the very few PhDs awarded by The Writers Workshop of The Univ. of Iowa, has published 12 (more...)
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