Gaddafi: Deluded Until the End

Deposed Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Photo:Mr_CRO/flickr

The Rebels are almost victorious, but Darth Gaddafi has missed his chance at a final-scene reconciliation

The world media is abuzz: the Libyan conflict is almost over.   And the international community hasn’t been so united behind a ‘rebel’ victory since the fall of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi.  Nevertheless, while fireworks will surely rain over Tripoli this week, much like the final scenes of the classic 1980 film, Libyan citizens are unlikely to receive the same sense of closure as Han, Luke and Leia.

As the conclusion to the ordeal plays itself out, Darth Gaddafi has failed to demonstrate to the audience that there was a little ‘good’ in him after all. It appears that there will be no final conciliation scene where he poetically realizes the error of his ways and cleanses his tortured soul. Faced with defeat and presumably hidden somewhere in Tripoli, he has remained  defiant. He has refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and their arrest warrant against him for crimes against humanity. He has continued to categorically deny the atrocities committed by the armed forces under his command.  And he has consistently remained deluded as to the will of the Libyan people.

Rather than admit the evil of his ways, he has retained an Idi Amin-like stubbornness to the bitter end – announcing once again last night that he will fight until ‘martyrdom or victory’. While he remains hidden, he remains free. And therefore closure will not be possible for the Libyan people just yet – at least not until he is captured and forced to accept the consequences of his crimes.

Altruism: Chimpanzees 1, President Assad 0

Bananas and Bullets (Photos: Fernando Stankuns/flickr, left, Rudy Lara/flickr, right)

In a news report yesterday, the International Business Times outlined that an Emory University study has found that chimpanzees are actually “genuinely altruistic animals that can show unselfish concern for the welfare of others”. The experiment, in which chimpanzees had to decide whether or not to share banana slices with their neighbours in adjoining cages, observed that if given the opportunity, a chimpanzee will usually choose to act in a way that aids its fellow chimpanzees, rather than choose to act selfishly to receive an exclusive personal gain.

In another unrelated report yesterday, the BBC announced that the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, had ordered tanks to attack the north-western Syrian towns of Taftanaz, Sermin, and Binnish, with several citizens reportedly killed in the attacks. In addition, the report estimated that more than 1700 Syrians had been killed since the uprisings began in mid-March, and over 10,000 people had been arrested. It further outlined that in a statement addressing the current situation in his country, President Assad stipulated he would not relent in pursuing “terrorist groups”.

Consequently, when reading these two reports in succession, one cannot help but ask: if even a modest chimpanzee can act altruistically towards his fellow species,  how come Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to choose a course of action that focuses solely on his political self-preservation,  rather than the communal preservation of the people he governs?


A Reading List on: Military Intervention

Books in perspective: Flickr/darren 131

While the merits of intervention on humanitarian grounds can be debated, the capacity of states to wage war is not limited to those occasions where it can be justified, on that basis or any.  According to some observers, the first decade of the 21st century witnessed a reassertion — in places like Georgia and Lebanon — of this more old-fashioned form of intervention.  This syllabus on military intervention more broadly will help keep you abreast of these less sanguine developments.