Remember the closing scene in Scarface? After killing his best friend, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) retreats back to his gratuitously gaudy mansion and desperately shoves his face into a mountain of cocaine. He watches in utter disbelief while his little sister is killed before his eyes by one of his enemy’s armed henchmen. And while Montana clearly knows that his own death is imminent – most of his friends have either defected or been killed, and the ones that remain will only be able to protect him for so long – Montana still refuses to accept his mortality. Picking up his fully-equipped M16 assault rifle, Montana boldly confronts dozens of Latin American assassins. Frenzied, stoned, and totally delusional, Tony Montana turns his foyer into a pool of blood, until he is finally killed by a single shotgun shot to the back.
After having remained conspicuously quiet since protests against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year-long rein began in Benghazi, Libya a little more than a week ago, Barack Obama finally commented on Gaddafi’s madness. Although Obama towed a more balanced line when he publicly discussed Egypt’s revolution against Hosni Mubarak, Obama described Gaddafi’s brutal repression of largely peaceful demonstrations as “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” He even said that violence perpetrated at the hands of Gaddafi’s loyalists violated “every standard of common decency.”
While we certainly don’t need Obama – who has a questionable moral compass of his own – to help us understand that Gaddafi is a pathetic excuse for a human being, we don’t often hear such strong language from the US Army’s commander-in-chief. Although foreign news correspondents have had to overcome serious obstacles in order to report on Libya’s revolution, millions of people have been aware of Gaddafi’s wanton disregard for protesters’ lives since the uprising began. What, then, was so special about Tuesday that compelled Obama to vociferously condemn Gaddafi on Wednesday?
In my post yesterday, I briefly discussed the speech Gaddafi gave Tuesday evening, highlighting several quotes that unequivocally illustrate Gaddafi’s insanity. However, after watching the televised broadcast of his speech again, I noticed certain subtleties that further betray how demented Gaddafi actually is.
Gaddafi appeared to record his speech in isolation. Having spoken from inside a dilapidated army barracks – the building remains in disrepair after the US shelled the compound in 1986 in reaction to Libya’s alleged involvement in the bombing of a German discoteque and features a bizarre statue of an iron fist crushing a US fighter jet in its courtyard – Gaddafi’s voice conveyed a peculiar sense of urgency, as if he was intentionally trying to come off as isolated, haphazard, and persecuted. Then, when Gaddafi stated that he is not Libya’s “president”, that there is no “post” from which he can be overthrown, and that he is the only person that can “rule” Libya, I could only think of one thing.
The same way that Tony Montana tried to make himself look like the victim in his famous “Say goodnight to the bad guy” speech, Gaddafi showed the world that he also sees himself as a victim. Like Montana, Gaddafi feels persecuted because the only cause he ever really cared about was himself. For the two of them, anybody that impedes their ability to accumulate wealth, power and status is infringing on their natural right to freely enjoy all three. In Montana’s words, “I want what’s coming to me…the world and everything in it.”
For those of us that are sane and enjoy a functioning conscience, Gaddafi’s message on Tuesday was nothing short of ominous, foreshadowing a bloody curtain call by a man who truly believes that the world belongs to him. Is it possible that Obama’s comments were triggered because he could no longer pretend to be ignorant of how fucked up Gaddafi really is? Is it possible that Obama became legitimately concerned with the safety of hundreds of thousands of Libyans?
Maybe. What’s more likely to have happened, however, is that Obama listened to Gaddafi’s speech and became increasingly worried about the long-term consequences Libya’s uprising will have on the region, and how Gaddafi’s psychopathy will surely make the situation worse. Either way, whether he’s concerned with Libya’s safety, rising oil prices, or Iran’s regional repositioning, Obama realized that he must try to prevent Gaddafi from realizing his genocidal ideations.
As Gaddafi’s government continues to crumble around him, he has hunkered down in Tripoli surrounded by an “irregular” military force composed of ruthless foreign mercenaries. Over the years, Gaddafi grew increasingly distrustful of the army and fellow governmental officials, and quietly prepared a personal militia loyal to nothing but dollar bills. Now, Tripoli is at the mercy of a deranged despot and his bloodthirsty minions.
Nevertheless, protesters remain committed, vigilant, and hopeful, as their efforts have brought independence to Libyans all across the country. Gaddafi has lost Eastern Libya, and people, like Benghazi’s inhabitants, are beginning to put the pieces of their lives back together following 42 years under the Arab world’s most notorious dictator.
The international community must meaningfully support protesters’ efforts. Libya’s borders must be monitored and protected so as to prevent more foreign mercenaries from entering the country. At the same time, Libyan refugees must be absorbed by neighboring countries with the help of the United Nations. They must also be treated with respect and dignity. This is not the time to confront Libya with sanctions; there is no longer a government for the United Nations Security Council to hold accountable. All that is left is an evil tyrant that cares about nothing except himself.
Gaddafi’s presence in Tripoli is more than just an obstacle to Libya’s democratization; he puts all Libyans at risk. Gaddafi has made his intentions clear, and we should not doubt his desire to massacre protesters until he has exhausted all available resources. While there are obvious limits to the parallels that exist between psychopaths Tony Montana and Muammar Gaddafi, Montana’s enemies realized the same thing that we all must realize about Gaddafi: he will not stop until he is dead.Filed Under andrew, Gaddafi, Libya, obama, protests