"Gaddafi is dead", it is the newstory of the week. From a small uprising demanding democracy in the Mediterranean nation, Gaddafi efficiently fanned the flames with his brutal rhetoric and actions. As the tide began to turn even China and Russia backed away from their usual veto power against western interventions and abstained in a UN Security Council vote, allowing NATO to take the reigns of the UN's "Responsibility to Protect".
Despite Arab League and Sino-Russian protestations as what was an enforced no-fly zone became effectively the heavy firepower of the suddently steamrolling revolution, the NATO partners turned a blind eye to the nations so terrified of their own separatist movements that such a revolution was a threat to their national stability. But what was most striking about the involvement of NATO was not that they were involved at all, but who it was that was involved.
Launching attacks on the Tripoli compounds and wiping the Libyan army's armoured divisions from existence was not a single US aircraft. French and British UAVs patrolled the skies; Turkish, Norwegian and Italian bombers turned vengeful mercenary divisions into fleeing streams of deserters. When the campaign stalled near Sirte, news broke through that the French had grown tired of the brutality of another dictator further west. Gbagbo, dictator of the Ivory Coast, was rooted out from his hole in the ex-colony by French special forces, bringing to an end another, less newsworthy civil war. As the campaign stalled a second time in September, NTC forces drew back to permit a devastating NATO bombing campaign which turned heavy-weapons units to craters and left pro-Gaddafi forces' last hopes in Columbian FARC and Ukrainian snipers imported months before.
The US sat back and watched, and suddenly became aware of what they missed. The first major war the west has joined in nine years has proved a resounding success, with relations between western Europe and the Arab world at an all-time high. As Europe acts to unite it's fiscal policy in the wake of the Eurozone crisis, the US is becoming a stranger in the world it has dominated for half a century.
Gaddafi is dead, Libya celebrates, Europe congratulates, the US chastises. How dare they shoot dead the leader who had oppressed them for decades after his capture. How could the NTC possibly have permitted frustrated amateur fighters who have had their lives threatened for eight months by a ruthless dictator to have put his life to an end when they finally dug his pathetic self from an underground pipe. As Libya prepares to enter the twenty-first century with new partners in it's similarly free neighbour states and Western Europe, the US lays down their condemnation for the new state. War Crimes! False Democracy! Islamification!
The moderate, morally-progressive and democratic parties of the new Libya ought to turn to the power that lifted not a finger to help them in their plight and tell them where to go. In a political atmosphere which has republican candidates crying out for repayments from Iraq for the expense of freeing them in a unilateral invasion, the US has to be put in its place. Where Canada and Germany both dedicate far more forces to international peacekeeping missions than the nation with the most powerful military in the world, maybe it is time for the US to step back and take a look at itself. What is the role of the US in the new political climate? There is no red-scourge to confine, no great terrorist leader to hunt.
Either the US takes on a role of moral authority, and acts to protect the people of Uganda, Yemen, Somalia, Tibet, Kurdistan and Darfur; or they focus on their national interest and stop passing out proclamations of the lack of integrity of the nations they so readily condemn.
Congratulations to Libya, and welcome to a world of greater freedom.