Libyans have a blast, literally, at the West's expense and, by the way, where was Obama?
Friday, August 28, 2009 E-Mail this story Free Headline Alerts
UNITED NATIONS — The stunningly stupid move by Scotland’s Justice Secretary allowing the release on “compassionate grounds” of a Libyan terrorist convicted in the bombing Pan Am 103 with the loss of 270 lives, was supposed to go under the radar with barely a political blip. Instead, Kenny Mac Askill ignited a firestorm of global indignation which threatens British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s already embattled government, but is equally awkward for the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
Scotland’s increasingly feisty regional government figured it could probably get away with it; the terrorist bombing over Lockerbie was in 1988 after all. The Libyan bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was serving his sentence but has terminal cancer, so show some compassion, and allow his early release. But when the Boeing-bomber Megrahi returned home to Tripoli to a hero’s welcome, embarrassingly festooned with the proud blue and white Scottish flags, the entire spectacle evoked sordid political pornography. Both Edinburgh and London went into damage control but it was too late.
But the story broke at an inconvenient time too for Libya. Longtime dictator Colonel Mummar Gadhafi is about to celebrate the 40th anniversary of seizing power, through a military coup d’etat. But contrary to most such celebrations in varied and sundry authoritarian regimes, the 40th Anniversary bash lasting six days will be graced by sixty “world leaders” among such luminaries as the Russian President Dimitri Medvedev, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. British officials will be too red-faced to attend as was originally planned!
The saga of Colonel Gadhafi’s rule set among lavish banquets, parades and son et lumiere spectacles in magnificent ancient Roman ruins are worthy of a oil rich Arab despot who has reinvented himself and his once ostracized pariah state from a patron saint of state-sponsored terror to a patron of the arts.
Recall that not many years ago, the political tag team of Tony Blair and George Bush convinced Col. Gadhafi that his chemical weapons and nuclear program put his coastal country on the short list for a visit by the U.S. Marines. The mercurial Colonel seemed to have a Damascene conversion after seeing Saddam’s fate. Before long he “came clean” on the weapons, then courted the West whose oil companies courted him. Somehow oil has a way of lubricating friendship with the worst of places.
Diplomatically Libya hit home runs too. Libya leads the African Union (AU). Now Ali Treki a former Foreign Minister and UN delegate, is set to assume the Presidency of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly! Back in June, Treki was elected, unopposed even by the USA, to the one year post. So the representative of one of the world’s most repressive regimes will intone human rights, the rule of law, and no doubt offer a sage opinion or two on global warming and Guantanamo.
The Libyan diplomat, who replaces the profoundly embarrassing Miguel D’Escoto of Nicaragua, will preside over the speeches by over one hundred world leaders. Immediately following the speech of President Barack Obama, Col. Gadhafi himself will ascend the podium to address delegates in the cavernous General Assembly hall.
Gadhafi’s plan, in his typical Bedouin road show tradition, is to literally “pitch tent” in New York or at a Libyan-owned estate in nearby New Jersey. Needless to say the ruler of a country responsible for the deaths of 270 people on Pan Am #103, most of them Americans, is not exactly welcome in the Big Apple.
But Gadhafi’s visit to the UN in my opinion (recall that Iran’s Ahmadijad and Venezuela’s Chavez to name a few thugs have spoken there too) is less the issue, than the absurd and reckless release of terrorist Megrahi. Given the fact that an U.S. civil airliner, a Pan Am Boeing 747 was blasted out of the sky by the bomber, with the loss of mostly American lives, where was the White House on this one? If President Obama echoed more that mild concerns over the impending release, it probably could have been quietly stopped. I have no doubt that Washington has more than a little leverage in London to remind the British government that Megrahi stays in prison…period.
Instead, the denizens of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Colonel Gadhafi can have a good laugh, a splendid party, and revel in the art of political reinvention. The families of the doomed passengers on Pan Am flight 103 will share no such joy.