Libya and hypocrisy of the West
This week saw Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi reaching the end of the road after 42 long
years in power at the helm of affairs in the oil
rich Arab nation, his removal from office being
brought about by ‘rebels’ within that country,
assisted by the military muscle of the Western bloc
In the weeks to come, Gaddafi’s many misdeeds will
no doubt be remembered in great detail and paraded
before a worldwide audience. That in turn will serve
the purpose of justifying the actions that led to
Already, there are recollections of Gaddafi’s
actions such as the infamous Lockerbie bombing and
ordering the shooting of Libyan refugees in London
in the eighties. These will be enumerated endlessly
to label Gaddafi as a terrorist and a psychopath.
We are not disputing that Muammar
Gaddafi was a dictator. The fact that a single
person has remained in power for as long as 42 years
is itself an indication that democracy may not have
been working at full throttle. In that sense, Libya
is probably better off without Gaddafi at the top.
What however merits closer scrutiny is the manner in
which Gaddafi was ousted. There was certainly a
groundswell of opinion rising against Gaddafi in
Libya. Yet, it would never have reached the
proportions it did, if not for the support of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces.
Not only did NATO forces supply Libyan rebels with
intelligence, it also assisted them with air
strikes, attacks which pro-Gaddafi officials said
claimed the lives of hundreds of Libyan civilians,
an assertion which has not been disputed by NATO.
Today, NATO, the Western bloc of nations led by the
likes of the United States, the United Kingdom and
France and even the United Nations justify these
actions on the basis that Gaddafi killed Libyan
civilians who dissented against him.
However, what is curious about all
this is that it is as if the West suddenly woke up
one day in mid-2011 and discovered that Muammar
Gaddafi was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and then
decided that he must go.
For the last four decades and more, it was no secret
that Gaddafi was not an apostle of democracy. His
actions in fomenting terrorism are well documented
and researched. Yet, for the most part of forty two
years, Gaddafi was tolerated and sometimes treated
with respect until a few weeks ago.
Many years after the Lockerbie bombings and the
shootings in London, the West was in liaison with
the Libyan Leader. Strangely enough none of the
western leaders, who dealt with Gaddafi, wined and
dined with him and enjoyed his lavish hospitality,
dared to call him a terrorist.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was
instrumental in normalising Libya’s relations with
Britain. The Bush administration removed Libya from
a list of nations that sponsored terrorism. Even
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President
Barack Obama dealt with Gaddafi cordially.
Even if this is odd, it does follow a pattern. Three
Arab leaders who have been overthrown in recent
years in western backed revolts – Saddam Hussein in
Iraq, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and now Gaddafi – were
all friends of the West at one time or another.
It also follows that during the
periods when these leaders were considered allies of
the West, they were no darlings of democracy. They
still ruled their respective countries with an iron
fist and engaged in whatever atrocities against
their own peoples as they saw fit.
If the West turned a blind eye then, it has suddenly
decided to act against a few chosen nations now. Of
course, there are still dictatorships which commit
human rights abuses against their own people which
are still great allies of the West, the NATO and the
United Nations and they are untouched.
The moral of the story seems to be that if a leader
toes the line dictated to by the West, then it does
not matter whether he is a tyrant or a terrorist; he
is left to his own devices. The day he defies the
West however, he is in peril and will be pursued and
persecuted until he is thrown out of office.
We believe this is of relevance to
us because at this point in time Sri Lanka is
considered to have defied the West. Of course we
must hasten to add that Sri Lanka is no
dictatorship; it is still a democracy and a vibrant
one at that and that is perhaps why the West hasn’t
been able to intervene.
Nevertheless, it hasn’t stopped the West from
vilifying our leaders and persisting with war crimes
allegations. If it hasn’t been able to effect a
regime change, it hasn’t been for the lack of
trying. That is a lesson that our own political
leadership must bear in mind.
That does not and should not mean that Sri Lanka
should meekly adhere to the dictates of West.
However, it must necessarily follow that if we as a
nation decide to defy the West, we must take the
rest of the world to our confidence and ensure that
no hidden agendas are played out in our land.