The Death of a Colonel

 


9 Months, 23 Days, Still sober

Mobi Babble

Things have been pretty quiet on the Mobi home front. Noo’s son is still with us although he did spend a couple of days with his aunt in Samut Songkran.

I was a bit naughty on just a single  occasion, when I took Bob out for a tour of some of my favourite dens of ill repute, but apart from that, life has been pretty routine and I have spent much of my time at home with my family and dogs.

Pattaya has mercifully been spared the terrible floods that are devastating Thailand, but it has been no fun to follow the ever changing fortunes of the provinces and districts, including parts of Bangkok, as one by one, they succumb to rising waters.

My heart goes out to one and all who have been adversely affected.

The death of a tyrannical murderer.

The manner of Col. Gadhafi’s death has sparked much world-wide controversy.

I spent a year in Libya back in the mid- seventies, and although I did not personally witness any overt crimes against the people, it was clear, even in my relatively rarefied existence as an expat working for an oil company, that Libya was an authoritarian police state that brooked no dissent. The population lived  in constant fear of  a knock on the door and of doing or saying  something that might be disapproved of by Gadhafi’s all encompassing, totalitarian regime.

Through the years we have all become aware of Gadhafi’s penchant to sponsor terrorism in many parts of the world, including the IRA, and even as far away as the Muslim separatists in the Philippines. Then , there was the Yvonne Fletcher murder in London, the bombing of a night club in Berlin and the Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie, amongst many other atrocities attributed to the manic colonel.

I could go on and on, but frankly, to this writer, who has always taken an interest in Libya, given that I once spent a year there, I  remained in relative ignorance on just how much a monster Gadhafi was to his own people. It took the Arab spring and the popular uprising in Benghazi for the world to learn the true extent of this barbarous dictator’s  inhumanity to his own people. Stories emerged, (which have since been borne out by facts), of mass torture and killings and rapes  in prisons, where political prisoners were kept in appalling conditions, and often suffered terrible, agonising deaths.

Once civil war broke out, Gadhafi revealed his true colours to the world at large and it wasn’t long before the international criminal court announced that he was wanted for committing crimes against humanity. There is little doubt in my mind, that once the dust has settled and the history is written of this period, that Gadhafi will turn out to be one of the cruellest monsters the modern world has ever seen, on a par with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein.

I have great admiration for all the Arab people who have risen up against their despotic rulers, from Tunisia, to Yemen, to Egypt and Syria. Countless Arabs have paid the price with their lives, and nowhere was this more so than in Libya.

A rag-taggle, motley collection of young men, from all walks of life, put their lives at risk to over-throw a tyrant who had controlled their lives for more than four decades. A bitter, bloody war ensued and Gadhafi vowed to seek out every citizen who dared to defy him and kill them like rats. He hired mercenaries from neighbouring countries and sent his forces out armed with Viagra and orders to rape the women in any families in rebel held areas or that in any way opposed him.

The untrained, rebel forces, with virtually no heavy ammunition to hand, raged a war against the trained, well equipped, disciplined army of Gadhafi. It was hopelessly one-sided, but with the help of  NATO air power, the rebels eventually prevailed after many months of bloody carnage in which so many of Libya’s bravest young men were killed.

There is hardly a family in Libya who hasn’t suffered personal losses in this bloody conflict, in which so many people have also had their homes and possessions destroyed. Whole cities have been flattened and it will take many years to rebuild this nation.

This is the background in which the brave rebels unexpectedly come across their sworn and reviled enemy at first hand.

In similar circumstances, can we put our hands on our hearts and say that we, Brits, or we Americans would have done any different to what these desperate, frightened, ordinary civilians-turned soldiers did?

Maybe and maybe not, but frankly I doubt it. I also doubt that there is a single politician throughout the western world who isn’t secretly applauding the fact that Gadhafi was summarily killed, an act which has finally brought to an end his evil regime without the need for a long, drawn out trial and a possible rallying point for future insurrections.

But the hypocrisy of the outside world is mind boggling.

The United States has led the way in ‘calling Libya to account’ for the killing of Gadhafi, demanding that the interim government provide full details of how this terrible act came about.

They said: “Libya’s post-Gadhafi leaders must furnish a detailed explanation of how he had died”.

I have heard countless hypocrites on American television pronounce that the Libyans are uncivilised and they are criminals for committing such barbarous acts.

I ask: By what right does America have to call Libya to account for anything that takes place in their country? It is their country and their interim government has been recognised by the United Nations – it is a legitimate government.

It is the Libyan government’s business and their business alone on how they deal with one of the vilest monsters in history, and quite frankly if they had hung drawn and quartered Gadhafi and dragged him from one end of Libya to the other at the back of a pick-up truck, I doubt whether it would have bothered 99.99% of the world’s population one iota.

And just what ‘account’ are they expecting? It is obvious what happened. He was either killed in cross fire, or, more likely, one of the rebels put in the fatal shot. Does it really matter? It was bound to happen; everyone knows that the chances of getting him alive to a hospital were zero – such was the height of loathing and revenge in the hearts of the fighters who had sacrificed so much and the lack of discipline amongst them to prevent such an eventuality.

So the Libyans are uncivilised are they?

During my own life-time Americans in white hoods were still summarily stringing up and murdering blacks in the southern states of America , and it wasn’t that long ago that the entire American mid -west was controlled by men with guns and where lynch mobs ruled. By what right do the Yanks, or indeed any western power, have the right to call Libyans uncivilised? Let them look at their own recent, often violent and cruel histories before casting the first stone.

And then we have these dire predictions from almost every quarter that Libya will descend into anarchy and tribalism and that Muslim fundamentalism will take hold and the whole country is headed for disaster.

Well maybe that is true, but for what its worth, as far as this humble commentator is concerned, having lived closely with the Libyan people for a while and having listened to many of them articulate their hopes and aspirations very eloquently during the course of this uprising, I actually believe that they will make a fair fist of it, and that a functioning, fledgling democracy will emerge from this tragedy.

Let us see who is correct.

America – The classless society

Well, we all know that never was a statement more untrue.

I have written about this before in my blog and have set out the case to assert that America today is an even more a class ridden society in today’s world than the UK.

In my previous piece, I quoted from a Forbes article, entitled:  ‘The American Dream  – America, The New Class-Society ‘, and I reprint this interesting piece below, for the benefit of those who missed it the first time around.

“Class in America is determined predominantly by wealth. And in an information-based capitalistic economy, wealth is largely determined by educational attainment. That is taken as a difference from European societies, where inherited privilege, and particularly noble birth, is seen as predetermining a person’s starting point in society.

That view is anachronistic. The European class system has been buffeted by centuries of social turmoil–the church lost its lands, industrial revolutions muscled in on the landed aristocracy, enfranchisement became widespread. It has adapted as best it could–in the 19th century the marriage of American heiresses to impoverished British peers became a U.S. export industry–but increasingly, class in Europe is more style than substance.

Class is changing yet again, and the new incarnation of the class-society is at its most advanced in the U.S. A good education is now the most important determinate of class, and in America, access to good schools–whether private or public -is increasingly reserved for the well-to-do.

Homes located in decent school districts are often dramatically more expensive than those near mediocre schools. And the very richest now almost exclusively opt to send their offspring to private prep schools at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars a year.

As a result, since the 1980s, the wealthy have been living increasingly segregated lives from the general population to secure those advantages. And it is paying off: The proportion of upper-middle-class students at top American universities is increasing, regardless of diversity programs.

Merit (ability plus hard work) was always meant to replace the inherited privilege of the Old World as the route to the top in America. But merit in modern America is at least partly class-based.

While a few high achievers scale the summits of wealth, the rest are finding it harder to move up from one economic class to another. One study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that fewer families moved from one quintile, or fifth, of the income ladder to another during the 1980s than during the 1970s, and that still fewer moved in the ’90s than in the ’80s.

In America, the problem is amplified by widening income inequalities. The rich are simply getting richer so much faster that social mobility can’t keep up.

The much narrower income gaps in European economies are one reason that, contrary to many Americans’ beliefs, there is more social mobility in Britain and other European countries these days than in the U.S. Take Britain, the original class-society in the minds of most Americans. The popular image of Britain remains one of a nation of landed aristocracy where class is the weft and warp of society. In fact, that started to change after World War II

Six years of the shared deprivations of war were a great social leveller. Allied to that was a strong desire to break with the past that had brought the war about. Winston Churchill’s reward for being Britain’s victorious wartime prime minister was to be thrown out of office. In the first general election after the war, Britons elected Labour’s Clement Attlee and a government that would usher in the welfare state. Americans elected Harry Truman, and moved on to their next wars, both hot and cold.

The pomp and ceremony of state occasions in Britain gives the impression of the persistence of a class-ridden society. After all, any class-run society needs history and tradition to validate itself.

Even here, appearance can be deceptive. While the Queen and Royal Family stand at the apex of a system of heredity and landed titles – every noble is a duke, marquis, earl, viscount or baron of somewhere, though most lost their right to sit in the House of Lords in 1999–it is easy to overlook that England is now on its eighth royal family since William the Conqueror arrived in 1066 to sort out some family business with his Norse cousins.

Not that class has completely disappeared in England. Close your eyes and listen to an English person speak, and you hear class regardless of the person’s ethnic background. In the U.S., by contrast, you hear education, the underpinning of the new class-society.


I was reminded of the above article when I saw a small news item the other day in which Hilary Clinton was chatting informally with President Karzai of Afghanistan, the US ambassador and other high dignitaries of the region. She was asked about one of the Republican presidential candidates – Herman Cain.

“He’s a former pizza company owner,” Clinton told Karzai of Cain.

“Is he that,” Karzai replied.

“Oh yeah, he started something called Godfather pizza,” Clinton said.

“Yes, I see, I see,” Karzai said.

Clinton then turned to U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker and mocked Cain.

“The president was saying he saw a news clip about how Mr. Cain had said, ‘I don’t even know the names of all these presidents of all these countries,’ you know, like, whatever,” she said, mimicking the candidate dismissively.

“That wasn’t right, but anyway, that’s how politics are,” Karzai said diplomatically…

Maybe we should give Madam Foreign Secretary a quick, impromptu test to see just how many Presidents’ names she can recall, without the aid of her myriad minions to feed her the information. Maybe Bill O’Reilly could invite her onto his Thursday night quiz segment.

I ask you? Just how patronising can you get?

Now I don’t know about you folks but I have never liked Princess Hilary. I have always held a soft spot for Billy, her wonderfully lecherous husband, but Hilary – well nobody deserved to be treated like she was – but let’s face it, she has always come over as a supercilious, patronising, hypocritical  lying piece of shite. (That’s it, Mobi – don’t hold back).

To me, Herman Cain and Hilary Clinton epitomise the American class system – the privileged, wealthy background of Hillary Clinton, versus the low class, poor background of dear old Herman. And just look how Hilary delights in trying to ridicule someone who dragged himself up from his boot straps to become a corporate billionaire and is currently so popular that he leads the poll of would-be American presidential candidates.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge fan of Cain’s politics – his 9-9-9 tax proposal sounds like it hasn’t been thought through properly and his stance on abortion is almost impossible to comprehend.

But wouldn’t it be just great if he were to become president and had the opportunity to put one in the eye to Princess Hilary? Maybe he should slap her down with a specially baked Pizza bearing the names of the entire world’s leaders….

On a lighter note: What is it with Obama’s modes of transport?

An egg-on-face moment for Obama, ahead of his visit to Virginia, when a Pentagon truck containing presidential seals, podiums and sound equipment was stolen from outside a suburban hotel Monday

Authorities found the truck later in the day at another hotel near the Richmond airport, according to the news reports. But no one would say whether the items inside had been located. No arrests were reported.

Whether the thieves knew what they were stealing – or whether they got that what-have-we-done-now feeling when they opened the unmarked box truck – is unclear as well.

The White House and police would not discuss details of the heist, such as whether the thieves hot-wired the truck or found the keys in the ignition. And the Secret Service said it’s not the agency’s problem. “Not our equipment, not our truck,” spokesman Ed Donovan said. “It’s not as though the nuclear codes are likely to be lost. And if they are lost, you change the codes.” 

Don’t you just love it?☺

ON a presidential trip to Ireland last May, The US Presidential Cadillac, nicknamed “The Beast” for its bombproof features, failed to make it out of the US embassy in Dublin as it became stuck on a ramp.

Barack Obama and his wife, en route to his ancestral home in County Offaly, had to abandon the car after the collision in front of waving crowds in Dublin.

Specially built for Obama, the General Motors vehicle boasts its own oxygen supply in case of chemical attack and armour-plated doors, but was no match for an Irish ‘Sleeping Policeman’….

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!


5 thoughts on “The Death of a Colonel”

  1. No – I’m not brainwashed in the least Mobi, I’ve had ove 30 years experience working in a good number of countries of all religions and ethnic backgrounds and found that all people want the same basics in life. However, the pisser is that we feel free to mess around with those countries in our own interests and to even consider that we get involved to free their people’s from tyrants and despots would be a naive assumption.

    Look at the propaganda that is spread around to garner public support – in WW1 it was the Germans bayoneting babies, in Kuwait we had the Iraqi army throwing babies in incubators out of second floor windows (Shown to an utter lie subsequently) and now Gaddafi’s troops dosed up on viagra out raping the population. Has there been any independent proof of those actions? What about the Libyan non combatants that were killed by NATO ‘smart bombs’ or shot down in the saturation shelling of urban areas by ‘our freedom fighters’?. Freedom fighters with an allegiance to Al Queda and presumably being paid to do the job. Ergo, mercenaries.

    You really cannot think that the current situation had anything to do with freeing a people from oppression, that was just the press release. And if in a year the women have been shunted back 200 years then that will not be because the people chose to have that form of government, when the Mullahs get involved voting trends tend to be altered via persuasion by Kalashnikov. Maybe I’m just stupid in thinking that some moral compass is pointing in the wrong direction when our erstwhile leaders declare radical Islam to be the enemy of freedom etc, then we promptly hire a bunch of them to achieve our ends and that makes it all O.K.. Kafka – where are you?.

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  2. Hi Mobi,
    It is rare that I disagree with anything you say, but your words on Libya there sound like some David Cameron press release. It is us who hired the gunmen to fight the war – errrrr……factions of Al Queda if you’d have look at the press. Their massacres are now coming to light as are questions on the amount of civilian causalties created by their habit of standing off from built up areas and blasting away blindly. And the whole UN mandate of protecting the population? Dropping bombs on urban areas would achieve that I am sure.
    And the raggle taggle army of ‘freedom fighters’ that you speak of ; Did you note the hardware that these ‘freedom fighters’ were armed with? Wonder who supplied that then? And how is it to be paid for? Hmmm.

    And of course the latest footage of Gaddafi’s demise is nothing like the original story, or the next story, or the one after that. He was sodomised with a bayonet after being brutalised. With friends like that do we need enemies?.
    Whatever you choose to believe of the propaganda, Libya had women’s rights, it had a good state medical system (Medical tourism being a money earner there), and a good educational system. I have known many guys in the oil industry who’ve worked there so can only base my opinions on what they have told me and of what I have read.

    In all reality, can you assure me that our ‘freedom fighter’s will still be allowing women to walk around in Libya unmasked in one year’s time?. I’ve got a fiver says ‘No’.
    As for the knock at the door – you do remember what country you live in?. In Libya it might have been political, in Thailand it is normally financial. Same, same, but different.
    Cheers,
    TT.

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    1. Honestly, TT, it almost sounds as though you have been brain washed by some fringe conspiracy theory hand out.

      As I wrote in my piece, I actually lived for a year in Libya, albeit many years ago, but long after Gadhafi was well entrenched as the nation’s feared dictator. I lived there and worked there, never leaving the country until the day I climbed on a plane to leave for good – unlike a vast majority of oilfield workers , who only go into a country to do their tour of duty on an oil rig, and then leave immediately afterwards for their ‘R & R’

      As a young man I worked for more than 8 years in the oil industry in all manner of third world countries, but everywhere I worked, I actually lived there, with the local communities, unlike most of my colleagues who were flown out of the country as soon as their tour of duty was over.

      It is dangerous to generalise but I have heard more stuff and nonsense perpetrated by often ill-educated oil field hands, clearly ignorant in world affairs and history, who claim that they ‘know’ a country when all that they have done is work on one of the country’s oil rigs. Their only interaction with locals is on the rig and getting to and from their place of work so as a consequence, their views are extremely blinkered, and dare I suggest, somewhat self-serving.

      I dare say many feel very aggrieved at having their generous, tax free income being cut off by a ‘pesky civil war’, started by Cameron.

      Don’t’ get me wrong – I too do not claim to be an expert; I did write that when I was there, I lived a relatively rarefied, expat lifestyle in Libya.
      Oil is the life blood of Libya, and the very best educated, (often overseas), and ablest Libyans work in that sector. Many of them were Gadhafi supporters because they came from that elite segment – mostly from Gadhafi’s own tribe – who were looked after and fostered by the ruling regime.

      But even amongst those, there was a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing – and yes – getting a dreaded knock on the door. So any intercourse with such people might lead you to believe that Libya was indeed a well-run civilised society – but the whole world, (except it would seem, the likes of TT), knows very different.

      I admit that I am becoming increasingly disaffected with Cameron as I feel his judgement on many issues has been shown to be flawed, but on the Libya issue, he and Sarkosy got it 100% right.

      It took longer than most of us would have liked, and there a lot more deaths than any of us are comfortable with. But war is war and the rebels were determined to bring down a very brutal regime and if they hadn’t succeeded, then the slaughter in the streets could well have matched what transpired in Ruanda. Even the UN recognised this as a fact.

      Of course, war crimes and unnecessary deaths and torture were carried out by both sides. Name me a war where this didn’t happen.
      And quite frankly, I and a vast majority of the world couldn’t care two hoots if Gadhafi’s body was violated with a sabre up his backside – he perpetrated the most barbarous suffering and cruelty on his people and he deserved nothing less. Few will grieve his passing, or the manner of his death.

      As for your bet as to whether all the women will be wearing veils in 6 months’ time – well I ask you ? Is this the acid test of what constitutes a fair and just society?

      Sure it offends our western senses of what is right and how we should treat our women; but isn’t it time that we abandoned this idea that every country’s culture should be a carbon copy of our flawed western model, and when are we going to learn that any attempts to force our beliefs and principles on alien cultures and religions only leads to conflict?

      When the Arab Spring has reached its zenith, there will be any number of Moslem states where the basis of their rule will be Sharia Law and where most, if not all women will have to wear the veil in public. If this is what the people of those countries, voting in free and fair elections desire, then who are we to gainsay them?

      Surely all the rest of the world should try to do is to create a climate under which the people have the opportunity to elect their chosen government. As I wrote the other day in relation to The USA: “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.”

      Of course it remains to be seen if such countries will be more democratic than they used to be and if their people are treated any better.
      But we have to give them the chance, and maybe – just maybe – we will be surprised by the results.

      BTW, please don’t fall into the ‘Big Skippy trap’ of trying to justify your point by bringing another country into the debate. We are talking Libya – not Thailand.

      Thailand is a totally different kettle of fish….☺

      Take care,

      Mobi

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  3. Concur with your thoughts on H.C.
    I recall reading a comment about her made by a contemporary university student:
    “She was a bitch back then in college, and she ain’t changed a bit”

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    1. Hi Elijah,

      Yes, I’m afraid she has never come across as the caring liberal that she purports to be. Even as Foreign Secretary she has given out some public announcements to which have been tantamount to barefaced lies, and she knows it. Most of us did as well.

      It is an interesting dichotomy, as, I actually believe that Obama, deep down, is a principled individual and really believes that what he is trying to do is best for the American people. Unfortunately, his ideology is fatally flawed and on top of that he has shown himself to be an incompetent leader; a great orator, a great ideas man, but hopeless in leading and in execution.

      On the other hand, Princess Hilary is a lying, scheming, wily politician, and who knows – possibly an effective leader. Maybe she would have achieved more than Obama if she had been elected President? What say you?

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