How could it be possible to feel no interest in other people, and with a cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring to you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war– Pablo Picasso
So they captured Qaddafi and then, after executing him with gangland grace, they used his body as a prop in their death-dance parade, proclaiming a new Libya on the corpse of the bloodied tyrant, more ghastly in death than he was in life. What a spectacle for the evening news and the well-paid pundits who love nothing more than another big time bad guy gone to his grave in America’s just pursuit of freedom and eternal security.
While Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte was burning like a tiger in the night with unknown numbers of innocent men, women, and children trapped in the blaze of NATO bombs and rebel artillery, our Secretary of State was seen smiling and flashing a peace sign in Tripoli. When she learned of Qaddafi’s death, the erudite Hillary adroitly paraphrased a line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “We came, we saw, he died.” I can easily imagine her (and any of her equally bellicose colleagues) seated in the Roman Colosseum beside the Emperor and salivating with undisguised satisfaction as each new enemy of the state is mauled to death by lions or gutted by some sword-wielding gladiator.
The destruction of Sirte and other Libyan towns reminds me of Falluja, Iraq where US forces stormed the streets and mosques, shot on sight anything that moved, killed thousands including families trying to escape, and left entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and the stench of death. It also harkens back to Belgrade during the 1999 war with Serbia when Clinton and his NATO henchmen went in for the kill in a shining example of lifesaving war. And of course, returning to 1937, we find the Basque town of Guernica where Fascist warplanes delivered an unprecedented amount of “shock and awe” to innocent villagers.
Those who planned the attack on Guernica timed their bombing perfectly. It began on a Monday, market day, when the town would be filled with people. I can only surmise that the Israelis who organized Operation Cast Lead in 2008 must have learned a thing or two from the Germans about maximizing their capacity to kill: the Israelis launched their attack against Gaza when schools were letting out and children flooded the streets, unaware of what was coming, on an otherwise peaceful Saturday afternoon.
Recall Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech on February 5, 2003 when he assured the world that America’s preparation for war against Iraq was legitimate and based on solid, material evidence that Saddam was concealing weapons of mass destruction. We know now that the only thing concealed that day was the reproduction of Picasso’s painting, Guernica, a rendering in shades of black and white of what the German Luftwaffe had done for the sake of Generalissimo Franco, their Fascist brother-in-arms. Shortly before Powell’s speech before the UN Security Council, the painting was covered with a blue curtain. How unseemly it would have been for the world to see a preview of what Bush intended for the people of Iraq and had already delivered to the people of Afghanistan.
I don’t rejoice over the death of Qaddafi or the apparent victory of his killers, their compatriots, and the neo-colonial NATO powers that made the rebels’ success possible. Admittedly, I have never lived under a dictatorship and have not even an inkling of an idea of what it would be like to have an oppressive regime and a tyrannical ruler finally deposed. But like many other critics of our own government, I believe NATO used the uprising in Libya to further its own agenda, once again at the expense of the very people whose safety it claimed to be fighting for. How many thousands of innocent civilians will turn up in unmarked graves or under tons of rubble from NATO bombs and missiles now that Qaddafi is gone and the loyalists’ resistance may soon be ending?
I doubt very much that our leaders will lose much sleep over the loss of life in Libya, just as they are seemingly untroubled by the blood they have shed in other lands. Underlying and driving their endless “war on terror” is a fundamental belief in the righteousness of their cause. Obama, like his predecessors in the White House, is spreading the gospel of America’s right to invade and destroy without so much as a nod to international law, the US Constitution, universal human rights, or the most basic moral principles.
Now Osama bin Laden sleeps with the fishes and as of this writing Muammar Qaddafi’s partially naked corpse is on display in the frozen food locker of a shopping center in Misrata, Libya. According to one source, families line up to have their photos taken beside the body. Whatever one may think of Qaddafi and his four-decade reign, his use as a picture-worthy trophy brings to mind those photos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. American guards, smiling for all the world to see while giving a thumbs-up salute, posed for the camera beside deliberately humiliated Iraqi men or in one case, by the badly beaten corpse of a former captive.
Mainstream media and various heads of state would have us believe that the death of Qaddafi, like the death of bin Laden and before him of Saddam Hussein, signals yet another turning point in history’s march toward a more just and peaceful world where governments represent the will of the people and not the demands of powerful military and corporate interests or the arbitrary decisions of a tyrant. Of course this is all hogwash since the US, France, and UK — the NATO triumvirate that led the charge for regime change in Libya — are collectively responsible for more death and suffering than any combination of Middle Eastern countries.
As self-appointed defenders of humanity against the predations of corrupt rulers, they would do well to recall that Old Testament saying: As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
George Capaccio is an activist and freelance writer. He has made numerous trips to Iraq as a member of various humanitarian organizations. His email is: