A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Like many of you I'm sure, I'm following hour-by-hour the rapidly unfolding events in Libya with a mixture of horror and hope. (Incidentally, the best and most detailed coverage out of all the TV channels is from Al Jazeera.) Like all bullying and blustering dictators, Gaddafi is weak and cowardly at heart, propped up by a might of military personnel who, as I speak, are gradually turning against him.
The people have spoken - in Tunisia, in Egypt, now in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. It's time for all Western leaders to come out more forcibly against Libya's brutal, repressive and corrupt dictatorship - if only to atone for past moral mistakes (eg cosying up to Gaddafi, selling him arms etc). The people have spoken. They have acted. We should support them. We do support them. Long live the people.


Dan Gurney said...

I'm a media hermit. But through blogs I'm getting the strong impression that the people across the Arab world are getting tired of their dictators and rising up against them nonviolently. As a longtime fan of Gandhi and the methods for change he advocated, I find these developments most encouraging indeed. May nonviolent direct action against oppression spread more widely!

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Right on, Robert. Though what lies ahead is unclear and not without worries, we are seeing the closest thing to democratic uprising than we have ever seen in our lifetimes in some of those countries. Something as simple as millions of people taking to the streets to say enough is enough. I almost fell into an old habit of saying "the masses" taking to the streets, but quickly reminded myself of a profound point that the historian Raymond Williams once made: "There are no masses, only ways of seeing people as masses".

Just this morning I learned that a good friend of mine arrived in Paris safely, having managed to get out of Libya after a harrowing 40 hours in the airport in Tripoli.

Luiza said...

Robert, thank you for your Blog on the protests in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen. I cannot express myself as you do and you are so on point.

A good friend died this past weekend and your words from the previous Blog have comforted me, thank you.

Vivien said...

I hope the military aren't turning against Gaddafi because they don't want to be on the losing side and are hoping to get power. But anyway - a good thing geriatric dictators are being deposed.

Ruth said...

It is breathtakingly thrilling and frightening. I agree completely about Al Jazeera. Would you believe (maybe you've read) that it is now the trusted news source for all things Middle East in the U.S.? This is one of the brilliant results of these uprisings for me!

I read an excellent article at their online site the other day, by an Arab (and another by a Westerner actually), about how the U.S. has to shift its stance over there, hedging its bets (of course), and anticipating how very different my country's foreign policy will be, post-Royals, with governments of the people.

Driving home yesterday I had a blissful moment imagining a world where the balance of power is spread among good people in North Africa, Africa, the Middle East, Indo-China, Europe, the U.S., Central and South America, Australia . . . imagine! A world economy where "interests" are really about the people, and not Business-States.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Agree totally Robert. Revolutions are so exciting viewed from television or from the distance of time - but how appalling to live in any of those Middle Eastern countries as the events unfold.
It also appals me that Gadaffi has been reinstituted as our "friend" over the last few years.

Of course our attitude to the whole area can be summed up in one word OIL>

The Solitary Walker said...

Dan - there's a book about non-violent revolution (following Gandhi's example) by Dr Gene Sharp which is supposed to have been influential on the present scenarios. I saw an interview with him on Aljazeera.

Lorenzo - ah, Raymond Williams! I have his book 'Culture & Society' on the shelf right above me! Long live the revolution, and I'm glad your friend got away safely.

Luiza - my heart goes out to you about the loss of your friend. If my post comforted you in any way, I'm so pleased - it just shows how this blogging thing can send out sympathetic vibrations across the world.

Vivien - indeed! Thanks for visiting ...

Ruth - great to hear this idealism! Wouldn't it be good? Nice to have this as a goal, though we're a long way off ...

... the stance of both Britain and the US has been disappointingly lukewarm, hedging and dithering to me re. the North African situation. I don't think I'd make a good diplomat ...

Pat - I agree with you. The libyams have been so brave and fearless ... the pent-up frustration of over 40 years ...

George said...

I'm with you, Robert, and all others who advocate and fight for the freedom and dignity of all people. Long live the people, indeed! In time, once the most heinous forms of tyranny are eradicated, maybe the western "democracies" will reclaim their birthrights from the corporate profiteers, manipulators, and puppetmeisters.

Friko said...

I only just read this post, so sorry I'm late.

May I be cynical and say, we are all for democracy and the people speaking up for themselves, so long as they don't cut off the oil supply while they're doing so.

Anonymous said...

The problem is these are Muslim people - very different from us.

In every one of those countries women are treated like cattle and they would react hysterically, violently, if not murderously if you had a book by Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Robert Spencer, or perhaps a Danish cartoon.

These Muslims are not overthrowing dictators to realise freedom, but to practice totalitarian control on their own misogynist terms - and invevitably, those with rifles and bombs and a hatred of the West will step in and take advantage of this instability.

As with removing Saddam Hussein and what then happened and its tremendous cost, I'm not sure these events are a good thing at all.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks George & Friko.

Anonymous - I agree with you, of course, about the treatment of women in some Moslem countries, and I agree with you that some radicalized and extremist Moslem groups are horrifyingly barbaric, and a threat to the Arab League countries themselves, as well as to the rest of the world.

But we can't counter this by denying the grassroots of a country the chance and the willingness for democracy.

Equally there are some fairly horrendous, unelected, West-supported dictatorships or quasi-dictatorships out there.

As it happens, I have never agreed with involving ourselves in Iraq in the way we did.

I understand what happened in Iran after the fall of the Shah - but does that mean all revolutions in the Arab World will go the same way, into the hands of the extreme Islamicists? No.

In the end I think we must have faith in a people's desire for change, and for democracy, and to end decades of corrupt, self-serving and repressive rule.