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 of nations.
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 Gaddafi’s ouster.
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.