The real question

By Mel Wilde

The situation in North Africa and across the Arab States has somehow wobbled out of control   No one knows who the battling groups really are and no one can, at the moment, predict what the outcome will be. Stability is a thing of the past.

Many of us hope that these demonstrations are a sign that democracy is just around the corner for the millions of people in the area.  The truth is, there isn’t a single group involved anywhere in the area that understands and accepts democratic principles of governance.

Moammar Gadhafi came to power in Libya as a zealous revolutionary committed to the Soviet Union.  After more than forty years in power he has been transformed into a power-mad rich despot who is guilty of mass killings.

He has been supported in that career by the Europeans who have funneled over $100 million dollars a day to him in oil money, by the Russians who have supplied him with weapons and by the United Nations who placed him on their Human Rights Council.

He has gotten away with having his agents kill his opponents, bomb nightclubs in Europe, blow up a 747 airliner over Scotland, and in general terrify scores of individuals. The only person in the last forty years who dared threaten him was President Ronald Reagan, who ordered Libya bombed.

Our problem is that when we see uprising in the streets we want to believe that it’s only the “good guys” in action and that somehow the revolts will have a positive ending.

Sadly, no one knows what the end of all this will look like.

We know that the average Libyan deserves a peaceful, prosperous country to call home. We hope that the current insurrection will result in a better and more stable Libya. The world has a history of powerful dictatorships and revolts.  Not very many have ended in a democratic peaceful way of life.

Look around today and see how independence and revolts have ended. Hideous leaders now run Iran and if one dares to protest, then executions follow quickly. Lebanon has had some high profile assassinations of people who wanted freedom and democracy, but now the people have voted in a government of terrorists. Try protesting in China or writing an anti-government article in Russia. The record shows that jail or death with follow.

We live in a world that has some terrible problems and how we react to those problems will determine our own peace, prosperity and stability.

Some think we should butt out and let killers and tyrants reign.  I remind us all that when we pay too much for energy it’s because a dictator wants his pocket lined first.

Energy isn’t the only way we are hurt.  As the world continues to lose more and more respect for the Obama administration, the tilting or movement of supremacy in our world picks up pace. The United States dollar is precariously close to losing out to the Chinese and Russian currencies.  Certainly many world travelers now see the presence of China almost in every place in the world.

Another clear sign of weakness is the inability of the United States and Europe to have a common position with regard to Gadhafi.  President Obama doesn’t appear to have any will or passion for stopping the killing.

If one watches the rhetoric from Washington there is a lot of words but very little substance.  Next time you watch President Obama on television; watch how he follows a teleprompter so he can speak from a speech or lines someone else wrote for them.  We seldom will see him speak from the heart.

The upheavals in North Africa and in other spots in the Arab world have much wider implications.  For us the real question is not why these events are taking place, but who will take advantage of them.

I have no doubt that Islamic extremists would like to take advantage of the situation and thus gain control.  There is nothing to suggest they will, and nothing to suggest that any of these revolts will succeed.  We need to be cautious about how we read events and understand who will gain the ultimate advantage.

History shows that it is not the most popular group that wins, but rather who is the best organized and sometimes that can’t be known until after the fact.

We can begin to accept that the repercussions from all these events will profoundly affect us all.  Perhaps the wisest position for our government and ourselves should be quiet observance and careful rhetoric.