The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, is on record saying that Moammar Qaddafi is “delusional” and “disconnected” from reality. One has to wonder whether this person knows much about the Arab world and whether she is fit to represent her country. Qaddafi has clearly been calculating only too rationally that the civil disturbances in Libya are not on a scale large enough to dispossess him, and he will be able to overcome them and stay in power.
His appearances on television and his speeches are calculated to show that he remains himself, doing exactly as he pleases, with flashes of anger interspersed with humor. His people could draw the conclusion that he was not giving up, but could deal out death all round. His son, Saif al-Islam, gave a long interview to Sky television yesterday. This too was cleverly calculated; he lied with a straight face that there was no uprising, just a few local grievances easily addressed. The Sky interviewer just nodded her head, asking anodyne questions that completely failed to pin down this false and slippery brute masquerading as a reformer and democrat.
Libyans can only conclude from the behavior of the Qaddafis that it is futile and dangerous to rebel. In an absolute society like Libya, a test of strength is the equivalent of a general election, and Libyans do not have the arms or the organization to win. Qaddafi has the planes and the tanks and the mercenaries, and a special militia under another of his repellent and murderous sons, and he will kill everyone who gets in his way. Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi politician, has just published an article with the reminder that Saddam Hussein killed over 300,000 of his people when he put down their insurrection, and over 300 mass graves have been found in Iraq. That’s how dictators like this do it.
And under the blather about Qaddafi’s delusion is the ease with which he bought the West. British politicians like Tony Blair and his sidekick Peter Mandelson hurried to befriend him and continue to try to put a brave face on it. Baroness Symons, a Labour peer and one time Foreign Office minister, only last month told the House of Lords that the Libyan people valued Qaddafi’s regime and his ideology was “sound.” The London School of Economics awarded a doctorate to Saif al-Islam and accepted £1.5 million from him. The LSE’s director, Sir Howard Davies, now admits to “embarrassment.” The board of the LSE Middle East Centre has two members, a Professor Martha Mundy and one John Chalcraft, whose initiative is not to criticize Libya but to support the boycotting of Israel. LSE invited Abdul Bari Atwan, editor of an Arabic paper, to speak on campus and he said he would dance in central London if Iran bombed Israel.
Plenty of other universities have sold themselves to oil-rich Arabs, of course. But LSE was first and foremost the greatest apologist for Soviet Communism; it was founded by the ludicrous fellow-travelling Sydney and Beatrice Webb and the even more abjectly Sovietized Harold Laski had a chair of politics there. This is where the moral rot is disseminated. Should Qaddafi win the test of strength and stay in power, it is a racing certainty that these creepy Middle East Centers will find excuses, invite Saif al-Islam and his like to make speeches about Libyan modernization and democracy, pocketing any envelope these types may care to leave while making no mention of the mass graves on which their power will then rest.