Unless you're new around here, you're probably aware that I have strong feelings about those among my fellow Muslims who choose the path of violence - usually for ambiguous, deluded or simply really, really bad goals. If you are new around here then let me put it simply: I'm a Muslim, and I think terrorists are retarded assholes. See? Italics and underlining. That's serious. If you are new to the world of The Linoleum Surfer, then you can catch up on this subject here, and even more here, which is also funnier.
Following on from the ridiculous incompetence of Muslims terrorists, I think it's only fair now to give equal billing to the other guys. The ones who are working hard, day and night as we sleep, to keep Beardy and his Betty Crocker bomb attempts out of our lives. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...the world of "counter-terrorism". Sadly, but for all their noble aims, there is increasing evidence that this group of brave men and women, might also be retarded assholes, with or without italics/underlining.
Firstly, they need to get their grammar sorted out. I think they meant to say "anti-terrorism". Meaning "something that is against terrorism". As opposed to the popular "counter-terrorism", which I think sounds more like "terrorism that is against terrorism" (like a counter-measure is a measure, a counter-punch is a punch - not the same as countering a punch with something else.) Quite a few years ago, a certain government decided to change its terminology from "anti-terrorism" to "counter-terrorism", in line with the originators of the latter term - the good old US of A. I'm told there was some debate at the time about choosing to label their operations against terrorism AS terrorism. But in the end the verdict seems to have been "f*** the grammar, it's American so it sounds cooler". Anyway, I'm starting to wonder, from 2001 onwards, if that alternative meaning was chosen out of foresight rather than stupidity.
The thing is, people are pretty clear usually that terrorists are the bad guys. Some of them, helpfully, have joined official syndicated terrorist groups so that you can tell who they are by their name badges or level of bearded weirdness. After all, we've known since the early nineties that the whole "pay the beardy weirdies to kill Russians" thing from 1980-ish onwards, had a sting in the tail: they liked it, and now they want to kill every damn thing. So the good ol' freedom-lovin' counter-terrorisin' West isn't going to get back into bed with those guys right?
Oops. Yeah they did. Now I'm very much against any kind of war, and have been for a long time - ever since I saw a bit of what one looks like. Just like I'm against terrorism, especially since I've seen that too. But seeking out a war that supports the terrorists you've been fighting since the ninties, against the guy you made peace with for the last eight years...that has to go down as one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.
OK, I'm talking about Libya again. No, I'm still not saying Baba Muammar is a good guy and I'd like him to be in charge of me. But I am saying that the alternatives are worse. And as foreshadowed a few months ago, the loonies are getting a boost from NATO. Yep, it's almost beyond satire now: having admitted publicly as early as April that "Al Qaida elements" were active and prominent in the Benghazi-based opposition, NATO have now handed over the country to a franchisee so well-known to them, and believe to be so dangerous, that they had previous had him arrested and tortured (by the guys they're now bombing out of power). A guy who friendly Mousa Kousa (great name btw non Arabic-speakers - literally "Moses Zucchini", or "Moses Courgette" in Euro-speak..) offered to torture to order, and save the room fees at Git'mo.
Back in February, when the US and EU were still holding back on supporting Mubarak's ouster in Egypt because they were scared he might be cross if he stayed, nobody cared too much about Libya. Just as it had been since the early eighties, Libya was facing some problems from ex-Afghan beardies coming back to Benghazi and trying to bring down the government (including on many occasions, by blowing shit up). You know, the kind of thing most people call "terrorism".
On top of that, like pretty much every country in the region (including Israel, where the proportion of the population currently demonstrating is equivalent to about three times those who protested in Egypt, not to mention the massive demos in the UK, France, Greece etc), some people in Libya protested for reform. As in all the countries I just mentioned, they were summarily ignored and dispersed. There were, as in several other countries, a couple of violent incidents, with conflicting stories as to who had escalated the trouble. So far so ordinary.
Unfortunately, the demonstrations that the Muslim Brotherhood had called for in December 2010 in Egypt had been adopted by the middle class Facebook kids of Cairo, and word had spread beyond the usual down-trodden poor. Camera-friendly English-speaking guys and girls in designer T-shirts were talking democracy, and nobody was supporting them. Finally, to the relief of the watching West, the Army removed Mubarak in a nice democratic coup - which is still in place by the way, whereas had Mubarak stayed he had promised an election this month under a new constitution, and without his participation - ironic that now there's a military junta and no election in sight. But he's gone, which is what the placards said.
Naturally, the US and friends were unwilling to see any actual democratic will expressed in e.g Bahrain or Yemen, where they knew full well that either a pro-Iranian or Salafi-extremist influence was likely to come to the fore in any popular government. But trying again to second guess the outcome of the "Arab Spring", having got it wrong in Egypt, they needed to be "on the side of democracy". But where? What the hell, how about Libya....so the rear-ending of former friend Qadhafi and co begins - swiftly followed by a group of countries, including Libya-bashers the UAE and Qatar, looking to expand and strengthen their kingdoms' club in case they're the next one to be sacrificed to a US election strategy....see GCC + Morocco + Jordan if you're not aware.
Enthusiastic media fabrication from Qatar followed (we know how Qadhafi LOVED the Amir of Qatar!), so making up air strikes on civilians in Benghazi, massacres at demonstrations etc, was just too tempting. By the time the corrections had come out later on other channels, the message was well-enough sold. Even now, there are ridiculous stories of "snipers shooting children in the head": even a normal 7.62mm round from the ubiquitous AK-47 would pretty much remove a child's head - whereas falling bullets from thousands of idiots firing them into the air make exactly the same nasty but usually non-fatal wounds in the top of the head or neck that you see on the TV reports.
Of course the Government were doing all sorts of nasty things by that point, as were the insurgents, and it's often impossible to tell which. But bear in mind that only insurgents were allowed by NATO to fire rockets and artillery at civilians - Government armour was being hit by air strikes, not them. Pity too the desperate migrant workers. Hundreds of thousands fled, but for those that remained, the rumours of mercenaries meant they were being robbed, raped and killed all over just for being black. Human Rights Watch and various others made creditable reporting on this - but it didn't catch the news like the mythical child-killing snipers do.
Sometimes the on-message Western broadcasters just make it up too: the other day I was watching one that claimed to be quoting an Arabic language report on Qadhafi's whereabouts. The report in the background was actually saying in Arabic that since the fall of Tripoli, there was a massive increase in rape incidents...One more of many was that "Qadhafi has cut off the electricity and water in Tripoli". Except that the same news channel the day before had shown one rebel group cutting off the refinery that supplied the electricity, that in turn powered the water supply. Maybe not deliberately lying, but ridiculously pejorative anti-Government reporting nonetheless.
Anyway, we are adult enough to know how this happened. We know why Libya was the easiest Arab "ally" to sell down the river. And we understand that the UN resolutions "protecting civilians" weren't, they were allowing the bombing of the Libyan Government while insurgents can do what they like. And we also know that the UN arms embargo only meant an embargo on the Government, not on any old hairy dude who wanted to shell Bin Jawad or Brega while college was still out and was prepared to wave the right flag on CNN.
All this, in some ugly way, makes some sort of grim sense. No, it's not about the oil any more than Iraq was (much cheaper to just be big buddies with the crazy dude in charge and get a special deal than to go to war - cf. pretty much every other major producer on the planet). I like conspiracy theorists only slightly more than I like terrorists, and they're equally dumb. The real reasons are much, much sadder: just as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were both based genuinely on the fears and miscalculations of a tiny number of politicians, the proxy invasion of Libya and potential destabilisation of the whole region, are the product of a small group of men messing up. They were being criticised for not acting elsewhere. They talked a good game but where was the walk? They had to sacrifice an "Arab dictator", and here was the softest choice. Being seen to do something is everything - that's the real meaning of a free press and parliamentary democracy.
So here we are. Several rival factions are now in control of Libya. First, the Berber (Amazigh) nationalists rolled into Tripoli, flying their own flags (if you don't remember, you'll recognise it here) along with the old Libyan one. Then the Misrata guys arrived by sea, because they couldn't actually get in through Eastern Tripoli that was held by someone else, then occupied the port and eventually (around twelve hours after it was reported), occupied the main square (and got rid of those Berber flags in the most part). And now, the ex-Afghan ex-rendition victim beardy is the official, NATO-blessed commander of all the guns of Libya. His boys have come to take their seats in politics, next to the fresh-faced Benghazi human rights lawyers and other such idealists who are about to be shunted back into oblivion. But not next to the ex-Government generals etc. in this so called "national" council., because Mr Ex-Afghan and his friends have already assassinated them.
It took a special kind of shock for NATO to dive into Afghanistan, and ten years on, the operation there has outlived the Russian one from twenty years earlier. It then took a special kind of incompetence to overthrow the Government of Iraq without better planning and resources for its aftermath, especially so soon after Afghanistan's lessons were already becoming apparent. But most of all, it takes a really special kind of stupid to overthrow a friendly co-operative government even if their leader is a lunatic, and put the guys you've been fighting together in charge, right on the shores of Europe. The strategy in every other country in the region is to develop participatory politics in a considered, iterative, evolution of government culture. Where that's been ignored and a rushed solution sought, we have Lebanon and Iraq. Just like Iraq, the American flags will wave in the street for a short while. The Ex-Afghan now in control of Libya said he "only hates America about 50% now" - let's see how that lasts.
I have no doubt that an awful lot of people are happy that Qadhafi is out of his chair (almost). But plenty are already unhappy with the way this is going - and just like the residents of Brega and Bin Jawad until NATO bombed them; they don't really want to be ruled by the mob, let alone by the re-branded Taliban-a-likes. Truly, I hope I'm wrong and that Libya ends up being the third-time-lucky external regime change in the region. But I doubt it very much. So far it's all going according to the darkest and most obvious predictions. And for that reason, USA, NATO, and the pathetically duplicitous supporters elsewhere, you get the award: the World's Dumbest Counter-Terrorists.