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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Libya Subsequently

Two weeks after I came out of left field and interrupted a comment thread in Dr. Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" to inject a slightly extended comment on an entirely different though not at all off-topic subject, namely how I thought Obama's helping the rebels to defeat Gaddafi in Libya was probably his best foreign policy accomplishment to date, after nothing much had been heard about Libya in weeks things suddenly started pop-pop-popping there in a big and very tragic way, and suddenly put Libya front and center not only in the news but also in the Presidential elections.

At the same time that something similar was happening in Egypt (and now, later, is being duplicated in Yemen), a small mob staged a demonstration at a building in Benghazi where an American consulate had temporarily been placed. They were making another of those protests that ever since the Rushdie days have become almost commonplace in the Islamic world, wherein groups of radical Islamists, upon the publication of a book or of some cartoons or, in this case, the showing of a movie that they consider to be disrespectful of the Islam religion, turn violent, sometimes focusing directly on the said offense while at other times they have other, more wide-ranging purposes in mind.

Here the movie has been described as looking like a sorry mishmash of scenes that may have been cribbed from other movies and hurriedly dubbed, and was said to have had a Jewish director and to have been distributed by Christian Copts, and -- most improbably of all -- to be playing in American theaters. (Maybe the protestors imagined that to draw a surefire audience, the film even featured Kim Kardashian sashaying through it with those amazing hips of hers.)

Unfortunately, in the mob there was a guy armed with a grenade-firing RPG, and he loosed one, and it hit the consulate building and set it on fire, and burned it to the ground, leaving among the casualties, four dead, including none other than the U.S. ambassador to Libya, a man of exceptional substance named Christopher Stevens.

Till that moment, I don't think M. Romney knew one single thing about Libya, except that he may have heard of Gaddafi. As far as I know, he hadn't brought up Libya and Obama's activities thereof in his campaign or anywhere else, and I guess none of his advisers thought to remind him on the off-chance that maybe Obama's "insolence" in having helped the Libyans unlock Gaddafi's longtime iron grip from around their necks without first seeking Congress's permission to do so might make a talking point of sorts.

But now, no sooner had the news of the consulate tragedy started squeezing out than Romney, behind in the polls and eager to snatch up any chance that offered itself, grabbed Libya and started running with it. before he knew what was really involved. He accused the Obama adminstration of badly mishandling the U.S. reaction, long before Obama and H. Clinton had said anything at all. As a result, all Romney got out of it was a lot of egg on his face, an unusual amount of it thrown by figures in his own party.

You would think that meanwhile I would be feeling self-satisfied and sentient, at least in the context of the "Informed Comment" world, by having brought Libya up when no one else had been thinking about it, but one of my many failings totally deprived my ego of any such lift.

By never having any desire to get into debates of any kind -- for one thing, I am much too slow-thinking for that -- I almost never go back to see the reactions to anything I've posted on any one else's site. Yes, not even on LeftLeaningLady's site, where for sure I never have anything to fear. But I did go back to see how many comments had been posted on that thread on Cole's site, and at that point there had been five more, and maybe still others later on. Call it cowardice, or what you will -- I still have no idea what reaction my post about Obama and Libya had there, if any at all.

It's really strange that I would feel that way. I have posted comments here and sometimes there over a long period of years now, and even in some very hostile environments, and on none of the several occasions when I have gone back to check on the reactions have people gotten on my case that bad. In fact, almost always they've been pretty benign, even though they might not buy my points.

Still I manage to justify my reticence and timidity by thinking that I still want to avoid seeing any clouds of ignorance that my notions may have caused to rise up from the dust on the barnyard floor.

Strangely, even now, few commentators are remembering what Obama did for Libya just a short while ago, and he and also his people keep refraining from bringing it up.

I wonder why I do. Maybe it's because, many years ago, when I was in the Air Force, I dreamed of being stationed at the big Wheelus Air Force Base that the U.S. used to have in Libya, before Gaddafi came in and told the U.S. to speak sayonara. I imagined wandering through some Roman constructions that were supposed to be in an unusually high state of preservation near that base, in the home country of maybe the greatest general of all time -- that Carthaginian who crossed the Alps in the snow and took it to the Romans on their own ground. The guy with the elephants, Hannibal.


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