The Freedom Caravan has finally arrived in Tripoli after months of herky-jerky advances and setbacks in the military and political sand dunes of Libya. And it looks like Col. Crazy is toast. Hoo-ray!
Immediately following the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt at the beginning of the year, Libya, the oil-rich Mediterranean/North African sandtrap ruled for 42 years by the eccentric and outlandish Muammar Qaddafi, who dresses like Dennis Rodman and behaves like Dennis the Menace, appeared on the radar as the next wobbly tyrannical Arab regime.
After a month or so of noisy but aimless rebellion by young Libyans with no prospects, NATO decided to join the fray under the alibi that Muammar Qaddafi was about to commit crimes against humanity on his revolting population. Napoleon Sarkozy, British Prime Minister What'sHisName and our President Pipsqueak (who had until then for the most part been hiding behind a potted palm tree) declared Qaddafi the new Saddam Hussein (or the old Qaddafi), the devil incarnate. NATO and the rag-tag army of Libyan "rebels" then proceeded to bump into each other like Keystone Kops for the next 4 months as they tried to mount a coherent military campaign against the cartoon villain.
In the meantime, Tunisia's vanguard Revolution had largely dropped off the international radar. The criminal enterprise otherwise known as the Egyptian military, was busily trying to secure its bank accounts while offering up the pharaoh Mubarak, his lousy sons and his non-military cronies for show trials. Saudi Arabia, the world's most repressive regime, marched into Bahrain to prop up its fake monarch, who was seriously in the crosshairs of his own downtrodden and deprived population. At the same time, certified Syrian villain Bashar Al-Assad, son of his murderous father the late and unlamented Hafez Al-Assad, began to systematically kill thousands of Syrian freedom demonstrators without the Western "powers" even wagging a scolding finger at him.
It began to look like Freedom's Caravan had been detoured into quicksand by the defenders of the status quo.
But then, lo and behold! Newly armed by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and experiencing a sudden massive boost of testosterone and fearlessness, the rag-tag army of “rebels” in their knock-off designer jeans and t-shirts with baseball caps worn at cocky angles or backwards, set off in their battered pickup trucks, patched-up minivans and used cars in a Blitzkrieg that shocked and awed Qaddafi’s hapless army of mercenaries and opportunists into helter skelter retreat all the way to Tripoli.
In a matter of days, the rag-tag “rebels” had snatched “victory” from the jaws of “stalemate”. As they swept into Tripoli over the past weekend and the news went around that Qaddafi’s bodyguard of steel had melted away like the Iowa State Fair butter cow in a heat wave and that his obnoxious and arrogant son Seif Al-Islam had been captured and his other milder son Muhammad had been placed under house arrest, there was dancing in the streets from Tripoli to Benghazi. In a puzzlement, however, Seif the thug seems to have resurfaced and Muhammad is reported to have escaped house arrest. But Col. Crazy himself seems to have disappeared a step ahead of the hangman. Rumors have put him somewhere out in the Sahara in a Bedouin tent among one Libyan tribe or another. Or perhaps he has absconded to Zimbabwe or Tunisia to hang out with his millions in purloined gold bullion.
The dead-enders who have not gotten the memo that the jig is up are still fighting it out with the rag-tag "rebels" in some Tripoli neighborhoods, but this cake appears to be baked. Now NATO and the Transitional National Council, the official self-appointed political authority of the "rebels", are wondering what to do next.
So far this latest version of Middle Eastern regime change has worked out better than the monstrous obscenity that was the Bush-Cheney 8-years-long-and-still-counting war mongering and profiteering operation in Iraq. Four generations of Libyans have absolutely no experience of life without Qaddafi's boot on their neck. And for the moment they are rightly joyous at the arrival of Freedom's Caravan in their long-suffering country. But it is early days for the new Libya and things could always go wrong.
The TNC is made up largely of longtime exiles returning home for a portion of the spoils or ex-Qaddafi supporters turned traitor and likewise hoping for a portion of the spoils. Half of the rag-tag "rebel" army probably doesn't even know who the other half is. And the general Libyan population consists mostly of three large tribes who hate each other but have been bribed for decades by Qaddafi to refrain from killing him or each other.
Also, predictably, the various branches of Al-Qaeda of Wall Street, bellowing bond traders, hedge fund jackals, multi-national corporate vultures and the world's biggest banksters are already salivating to get in there to exploit Libya's twelve hundred miles of pristine Mediterranean coastline, suck up the huge oil reserves lying beneath the shifting Sahara sands, get their hot claws on the $30 billion in Libya's frozen financial assets and generally steal whatever is not tied down.
To turn a revolution into a republic is not a magic trick. Like riding a tiger it is very hard to steer in the direction you would like it to go. And there is always a good chance you will be thrown off and eaten alive. If you doubt it, ask the French. Ask the Iranians. Ask the Russians. Ask the Tunisians and the Egyptians. Ask our Founding Fathers. There is a story that Benjamin Franklin was asked by some fellow citizens as he walked out of the frequently turbulent Constitutional Convention one day, what sort of government had the delegates created. "A republic," Franklin responded, "if you can keep it."
Lotsa luck, Libya.