Dealing with The Jim Jones of the Arab World

If there is one thing that all Arab countries have in common it is their ‘indispensible’ leaders who govern their realms like private fiefdoms and very few of these charlatans are as indispensible as Gaddafi, the Jim Jones of the Arab world.

The thing that distinguishes Qaddafi is that he really is a true believer – a man deranged enough to imbibe his own Kool-Aid. He sees Libya and the six million Libyans as no more than a convenient stage to carry out his ‘vision.’

Qaddafi, a narcissist to the core, likes to speak of himself in the third person and is obviously quite taken with his own accomplishments. “Qaddafi the warrior, Qaddafi the eternal leader, Qaddafi the revolutionary, Qaddafi the resister, Qaddafi this and Qaddafi that.” And then again, there’s the Qaddafi who needs an oversized umbrella to avoid a few rain drops staining his gown. 

It was always a mistake to treat Qaddafi as a clown – a fashion queen more than anything else. He was always unpredictable. Would he show up in a purple or a green gown and would his head gear match? 

Like Jim Jones, the mad messiah, Qaddafi started out as quite the idealist and slowly descended into madness because absolute power has a way of inducing mental illness. Even as he makes his exit to the trash bin of history, Qaddafi will leave the stage as the most ardent believer in the cult of Qaddafi. If the Libyan people want to ditch him as their leader, he is just as willing to eradicate them for rejecting the best deal they ever had – Qaddafi.

What kind of a man hires foreign mercenaries to murder his own people and goes on TV and rants about drugged out alien intruders and greasy rats financed by Al Qaida, the CIA and the Egyptians? The same kind of man as Jim Jones, the San Francisco preacher who led 1000 of his followers Guyana and served them a generous portion of poison-laced Kool Aid. If Jim Jones was going to go, he wasn’t about to leave without taking his people with him. Qaddafi is irrational enough to follow down the same path. In that sense, Libya is nothing like Tunis or Egypt. The orgy of violence we see in the streets of Tripoli is not because Libyans are any different than Tunisians or Egyptians, but because Qaddafi is a carbon copy of Jim Jones.

Pity the Libyan people who have suffered four decades of his lunacy. They, more than anybody, know exactly the state of mind he’s in and it must be absolutely terrifying to conjure up the horrors Qaddafi is willing to resort to retain his absolute power. If their uprising fails, there will be hell to pay. Think Pol Pot – re-indoctrination camps – torture on a massive scale – North Korea without the perks.

Hopefully, it won’t come to that. The Libyan people have a grand history of resistance. To subdue them, the Italians had to wipe out half the population and put the other half in concentration camps and it took Italy’s army twenty years to put them down. Even if Qaddafi has the will to duplicate Mussolini’s ‘success,’ he doesn’t have the means. At some point, he will run out of mercenaries and ammo – assuming the merchants of death don’t resupply him.  

We can leave the Libyans to take Qaddafi out on their own or we can spare them a lot of grief and give Qaddafi a well-deserved shove into oblivion. If the international community gets its act together and intervenes, Qaddafi can be taken out in a week or two. To begin with, they can recognize a provisional Libyan government based in Benghazi, indict Qaddafi and his aides for crimes against humanity and impose a no-fly zone.  That’s the best way to deal with the Jim Jones of the Arab world.

I’ve always been against outside intervention in the Middle East but will make an exception for Qaddafi if only to prevent another Rwanda. All the condemnation and outrage against Qaddafi’s murderous spree is very well and fine. But cult leaders like Qaddafi have tin ears and his only response will be to engage in a verbal duel and return the insults with his trademark incoherent insolence.

The Arab League has put its weight behind the no-fly zone and France has already recognized the National Council in Benghazi. Ironically, it might be that the French have more freedom of action because they adamantly refused to join the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and maybe they want to make up for the folly of rooting for the wrong side in Tunisia.

For those of you keeping stats – Obama stood by the Tunisians after Ben Ali was on a plane to Saudi Arabia. Hillary, a self-confessed family friend of the Mubarak clan, decided that “Egypt had a stable government that was answering the needs of its people” after consulting with the Saudis and the Israelis who both had a deep and abiding affection for the Egyptian dictator. And now, the United States, has given the Libyan rebels verbal support but nothing else. It just might be that Obama and Hillary are once again deferring to Saudi Arabia, one of the few Arab countries that voted against the Arab League no-fly zone.

When it comes to Washington, there’s always the possibility that the United States will continue to do absolutely nothing and decide it can live with a failed Libyan uprising – if only to prevent the viral scent of freedom from sweeping across the Middle East and infecting Saudi Arabian nostrils. They’ve rehabilitated Qaddafi before and might do it again. Dealing with the Arab Jim Jones will all depends on how Saudi Arabia factors into the equation.