Obama’s smart diplomacy applauds the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, rather than trying to bring him to justice, gain information from him to close the book on crimes committed by him and his lackeys, and recover the money stolen by him from the Libyan people.
Now we have more smart diplomacy at work. On Let’s Make a Deal there were always three doors to choose from–one in which everything was known about the prize, another in which most things were known about but that might contain a few surprises, and yet another which was a complete surprise. In the same way, in Libya, there was Door Number One, which was to keep Gaddafi in power, keep him hamstrung, and accept the existence of a stable, non-democratic government in Libya. Door Number Two was to try to work in Libya to make sure that the country made a transition to some form of democracy and a government which was a stable partner for peace in the Arab world. Door Number Three was to disavow any attempt to have influence in Libya and just see what would happen.
Obama, being the smart diplomat, chose Door Number Three. Unfortunately, behind Door Number Three was al-Qaeda.
Shortly after Gaddafi’s murder, there were photos of the al-Qaeda flag flying from the Benghazi courthouse. As John Rosenthal reports on the National Review Online,
The emergence of images of a black al-Qaeda flag flying atop the Benghazi courthouse, the symbolic cradle of Libya’s anti-Qaddafi rebellion, has provoked hasty efforts at damage control by defenders of the rebellion and the new Libyan order. The latter, mostly operating under cover of anonymity in online comments sections, have suggested, among other things, that the images were photoshopped, that the flag is not in fact the al-Qaeda flag, and that the raising of the flag was an isolated incident: the work of, as one commentator here put it, a “small group of Islamists.” But pictorial evidence posted on an Arabic-language Islamic Internet forum reveals that the Benghazi waterfront was in fact covered by a veritable sea of al-Qaeda flags last week: both the “classic” black version and a more novel white one.
Large-format, high-resolution versions of the photos are available here on Muslm.net. The selection also includes a grainier video still. Smaller versions of the images are reproduced below.
Rosenthal elaborates on this matter further in his post. Anyone who doubts that these are in fact al-Qaeda flags should read his article in full.
While we cannot know what will happen in Libya in the future (this is, after all, Door Number Three), if al-Qaeda or affiliated groups like the Muslim Brotherhood succeed in taking over Libya, then certainly it would have been better for the Libyan people and for American policy to have left Gaddafi in charge rather than to allow for this outcome. Indeed, for all its evils (and there were many), the government of Gaddafi was more open and democratic than anything al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood has ever aspired to.
Of course, the best option was always Door Number Two, but that would have required a commitment to human rights, democracy, rule of law, and an open society–things that Obama appears to have no value for at home or abroad.
- Liberated Libya: Al Qaeda Flag Aloft Benghazi’s Courthouse (bigpeace.com)
- Al-Qaeda Flag Flies Over Libya (markamerica.com)
- The High Cost of Cheap Wars (commentarymagazine.com)
- Benghazi: A Sea of Al-Qaeda Flags (unityconquer.wordpress.com)
- Thanks To Obama, The Al-Qaeda Flag Is Now Flying High And Proud Over Libya (usapartisan.com)
- Anti-Qaddafi Forces Flew al-Qaeda Flag During Siege of Sirte (alfatah69.wordpress.com)
- Thanks Barack… Al-Qaeda Flag Flies Over Libyan Courthouse (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)