There's something about Gadhafi that has caught my imagination since my youth: his flamboyant good looks (well, in his youth), his charisma, his refusal to be cowed by either the military or media (read 'propaganda') might of his enemies, primarily the US. I have the same sneaking admiration for Chavez of Venezuela, and open admiration for Cuba's Castro. (I've learned from my time spent in South Florida that if I stood in the middle of Miami and shouted the latter I'd be dispatched to the hereafter in short thrift.) Crunch the numbers and you might well find that far, far more innocent civilians have been murdered by the soi-disant protectors of 'freedom' and 'democracy' than by the aforementioned allegedly heinous dictators/leaders.
So, I've been refreshing my memory of the convoluted, violent relationship between Libya and the US and the Internet obligingly puts it all at my fingertips - the history, the facts, the conspiracy theories. The 1986 US attack on this sovereign state and attempted murder of Gadhafi, Operation El Dorado Canyon, interested me in particular; it was so controversial that Spain, France and Italy all denied the US overflight rights and use of their continental bases for the attack.
That time, Gadhafi and his family rushed out of their residence moments before the bombs dropped. What saved them? A telephone call from Malta's prime minister about unauthorized aircraft flying over Maltese airspace heading south towards Tripoli. I know Gadhafi isn't a saint - but then, neither are the powers that have wanted him dead for so long. Murder is murder, no matter what the perpetrators, state or individual, want to call it.
This isn't supposed to be a political diatribe. My point is that the more I read, see and learn, the more disgusted and horrified I am at the powers that run this world, that spout ideological rhetoric but which are really motivated by economics and power-lust. It's a process I've been through again and again. For awhile, I'm fascinated and can't turn away; before long I'm overwhelmed and depressed by people's gullibility, including my own, by the change that never comes, by all the hypocrisy, aggression and spilt blood.
This state of mind is not healthy for me and sooner of later I find, to paraphrase the poet William Wordsworth, that the world is too much with me. It is then that I feel the need to tear myself away from the danse macabre and return to a psychic space where goodness, justice and fair play win the day, and where I control all the outcomes.
That's why I write.
Normally reliable sources from the Library of Congress to Time, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and New York Review of Books (among others) can't seem to agree on the spelling of the colonel's name. Take your pick: Qaddhafi, Qaddafi, Gaddafi, Kaddafi, Khadafy, Qadhafi, Qadaffi, Gadaffi, Qathafi, Gadaafi or Qadhdhafi.
For a different perspective on the Libya situation, here's an insightful commentary from Countercurrents.org: Bombing Libya: 1986 - 2011