THOUGH THE Bible tells us "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth" (Proverbs 24:17), I could not help myself. I was happy.
Muammar al-Gaddafi was the enemy of every decent person in the world. He was one of the worst tyrants in recent memory.
This fact was hidden behind a faÃ§ade of clownishness. He liked to present himself as a philosopher (the "Green Book"), a visionary statesman (Israelis and Palestinians must unite in the "State of Isratine"), even as an immature teenager (his innumerable uniforms and costumes). But basically he was a ruthless dictator, surrounded by corrupt relatives and cronies, squandering the great wealth of Libya.
This was obvious to anyone who wanted to see. Unfortunately, there were quite a few who chose to close their eyes.
WHEN I expressed my support for the international intervention, I was expecting to be attacked by some well-meaning people. I was not disappointed.
How could I? How could I support the American imperialists and the abominable NATO? Didn't I realize that it was all about the oil?
I was not surprised. I have been through this before. When NATO started to bomb Serbian territory in order to put an end to Slobodan Milosevic's crimes in Kosovo, many of my political friends turned against me.
Didn't I realize that it was all an imperialist plot? That the devious Americans wanted to tear Yugoslavia (or Serbia) apart? That NATO was an evil organization? That Milosevic, though he may have some faults, was representing progressive humanity?
This was said when the evidence of the gruesome mass-murder in Bosnia was there for everyone to see, when Milosevic was already exposed as the cold-blooded monster he was. Ariel Sharon admired him.
So how could decent, well-meaning leftists, people of an unblemished humanist record, embrace such a person? My only explanation was that their hatred of the USA and of NATO was so strong, so fervent, that anyone attacked by them must surely be a benefactor of humanity, and all accusations against them pure fabrications. The same happened with Pol Pot.
Now it has happened again. I was bombarded with messages from well-meaning people who lauded Gaddafi for all his good deeds. One might get the impression that he was a second Nelson Mandela, if not a second Mahatma Gandhi.
While the rebels were already fighting their way into his huge personal compound, the socialist leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was praising him as a true model of upright humanity, a man who dared to stand up to the American aggressors.
Well, sorry, count me out. I have this irrational abhorrence of bloody dictators, of genocidal mass-murderers, of leaders who wage war on their own people. And at my advanced age, it is difficult for me to change.
I am ready to support even the devil, if that is necessary to put an end to this kind of atrocities. I won't even ask about his precise motives. Whatever one may think about the USA and/or NATO -- if they disarm a Milosevic or a Gaddafi, they have my blessing.
HOW LARGE a role did NATO play in the defeat of the Libyan dictator?
The rebels would not have reached Tripoli, and certainly not by now, if they had not enjoyed NATO's sustained air support. Libya is one big desert. The offensive had to rely on one long road. Without mastery of the skies, the rebels would have been massacred. Anyone who was alive during World War II and followed the campaigns of Rommel and Montgomery knows this.