reasoned thought for an age of uncertainty
United Nations security forces have escalated the battle against Libyan dicatator Muammar Gaddafi, with air strikes launched against loyalist targets, including Gaddafi’s personal compound. Having engaged this battle, there is no stopping now until Gaddafi is either captured or killed. The reasoning is clear: with connections to some of the 20th century’s most atrocious human rights violators, Gaddafi is a brutal dictator with an unapologetic history of funding terrorists, hijacking airplanes and bombing civilian targets.
Muammar Gaddafi’s rise to power came in the late 1960s, after a coup d’etat against the Libyan monarchy. Since then, Gaddafi has engaged in brutal power politics and genocidal ventures, seeking to impose Arab-supremacist views and unite the African continent under his rule in a way similar to how Hitler sought to dominate Europe. In Libya, Gaddafi has installed am oppressive police state, in which one in five Libyans is employed by the security apparatus (something akin to North Korea), foreign languages have been outlawed, dissidents are hunted down and murdered (globally), and executions are publicly televised. Beyond this domestic reign of terror, Gaddafi has engaged in various terrorist ventures on the international stage and supported such terrorist organizations as the PLO, IRA and Abu Sayyaf, and maintained connections to some of the world’s most brutal dictators. In fact, when his former friend and Prime Minister of Egypt, Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981, leading to the rise of Hosni Mubarak, Gaddafi stated that, from a political standpoint, he was “quite happy” with the assassination.
On the international stage, Muammar Gaddafi is most notoriously known for ordering the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing of Pan Am Flight 203, in which 270 civilians perished, including all of the plane’s passengers and crew and 16 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland.
In 2003, Libya formally accepted responsibility for the bombing, but never offered any apology or showed any remorse for the terrorist attack. (In fact, the Libyan government purportedly required foreign oil companies to pay the fine for them in order to continue to do business in Libya). It is believed that Gaddafi ordered the Lockerbie bombing in retaliation for military airstrikes against Libyan bases. Ronald Regan had ordered those attacks, which killed many of Libya’s military officers, two years earlier in response to Libya’s 1986 bombing of the West German nightclub La Belle, in which three were killed and dozens injured, including 2 American servicemen.
But Gaddafi’s most brutal and devastating actions have come on the African continent in his pursuit of establishing a pan-African Islamic state under his control. In order to extend his military reach, Gaddafi formed the Islamic Legion–a paramilitary force composed of immigrants from various African countries, many of whom were tricked into military service with promises of employment. Gaddafi employed this paramilitary force in service of his Arab-supremacist views, launching a war against Chad in the 1980s, largely on account of the fact that Chad’s President François Tombalbaye was both African and Christian, and thus stood in the way of the establishment of Gaddafi’s dream: a pan-African Arab state. The U.S. ultimately backed Chad in the war, leading to Gaddafi’s defeat. But the militantly racist and heavily armed Arab nationalists that Gaddafi had cultivated would remain. This force melded into the Janjaweed of Darfur, Sudan, the violent group responsible for the genocide carried out there against non-Arab Africans, estimated to have killed up to half a million civilians.
Equally frightening are Gaddafi’s connections to some of the world’s most brutal dictators and human rights violators. Notably, Gaddafi was a close supporter of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (the self-proclaimed “uncrowned King of Scotland”), who overthrew the Ugandan government via coup in 1971 and imposed a brutal police state. During the ensuing reign of terror, Amin engaged in unchecked atrocities against his own and other peoples, with estimates placing the number of dead at 300,000 to 500,000.
The danger of Gaddafi and Amin’s relationship was exposed when an offshoot of the PLO highjacked an Air France flight leaving Athens and heading for Paris (it had originated in Tel Aviv, Israel) in 1976. The Palestinian terrorists, including two left-wing German terrorists, directed the plane to Benghazi, Libya, where it refueled, and then flew to Entebbe Airport, Uganda. The terrorists then released all non-Jewish passengers and held the remaining 85 Jewish passengers plus the crew, who refused to abandon them, demanding the release of Palestinian militants and others in exchange for the hostages.
The crisis culminated when Israel launched a brazen rescue effort led by some 300 IDF special forces. In the span of 53 minutes, the Israelis took control of the hostage compound, killed 7 of the 10 terrorists and some 20 Ugandan military forces, rescued the hostages, who suffered three deaths and 10 injuries during the raid, destroyed all 11 of the Ugandan military’s Soviet MiG fighters, and departed via their Hercules transport planes to safety. The only member of the IDF killed during the raid was the commander of the special forces unit, Yonatan Netanyahu–the older brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After the attack, one elderly passenger who had been taken to the Entebbe hospital for treatment, was butchered by Amin’s forces in reprisal for the rescue.
It is reported that Amin’s erratic and brutal behavior may have been aggravated by the onset of syphilis, which might lead one to speculate whether Gaddafi’s increasingly erratic behavior–and the perpetual presence of the “Ukranian nurse” by his side–might be in part explained by the same illness.
It is no wonder then that Hillary Clinton is claiming, “We have every reason to fear that, left unchecked, Gaddafi will commit unspeakable atrocities.” Given Gaddafi’s brutal attacks against civilians in the past, his flaunting of international law and connections to genocide, it is likely that Gaddafi, if left unchecked, will butcher his own people by resorting to the use of African paramilitary forces, much as he has done in the past. What is equally concerning is that, if Gaddafi is not overthrown, he might engage in future terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies by funding terrorist organizations and planning bombings and airplane attacks as he has done in the past. Having engaged Libya militarily, there is only one way to resolve this battle: Muammar Gaddafi and his family must be brought to justice, or else get their wish to “live and die in Libya.”