Why is the international media so captivated by events in the Middle East? The various countries’ efforts to overthrow their governments (read: “autocratic dictators surrounded with friends with official titles”) are certainly compelling narratives. But you can log this under la plus ca change, la plus la meme chose (a.k.a., same old, same old). The coverage has reached such obsessive levels that the “Arab Spring” is starting to sound like Springtime for Hitler. Not that I’d want that to happen. My heart beats a little faster for the Libyan rebels, who seem close to winning freedom from decades of ruthless dictatorship. Before we begin congratulating them, though, NPR reveals that the new government may be taking steps to eliminate any possibility of the kind of resistance that brought them to power in the first place . . .
Even though Gaddafi and Friends are still on the loose and calling for loyalists to keep fighting, the transitional government is already stating that “those [rebel] youth must assure the world that they will lay down their arms as soon as the conflict ends.”
The chief spokesman for the rebel transitional council goes on to ask what use anyone would have with automatic weapons. Apparently, private gun ownership is not, historically, a traditional Libyan cultural value.
And so The New Boss will offer cash incentives to convince “rebels” to turn in their arms voluntarily. Ultimately, unsurprisingly, the anti-Gaddafi forces will use “the full force of the law” to forcibly disarm Libyans who resist.
The new Libya are sending the clear message that the right of self preservation belongs to the people in power. Again. Still. It’s a tragedy in the making; the chances that the new Libyan leaders will benevolently dispense law and order to an unarmed populace are almost as great as they were under Gaddafi. Very, very low.
In the U.S. we have political leaders who, by and large, don’t want to enslave the American people. Yet we wouldn’t dream of entrusting our pols with un-checked power. I’m amazed that people would willingly bounce from one oppressive regime to another. Are they willing? Is Libyan culture so different to ours that they can’t see that the wisdom of Wayne LaPierre’s warning that “whoever holds the guns makes the rules”?
If the proposed disarmament laws go into effect, we’ll see the answers soon enough. Or, perhaps, too soon.