The body count from Moammar Qaddafi’s attempt to extend his rule into a fifth decade has risen to over 250, according to the United Nations. The bodies of dead protesters litter the streets. Qaddafi gunmen have fired on ambulances and people trying to pull bodies off the streets. Foreign mercenaries have reportedly been hired by the regime. Violent prisoners have been deliberately released to sow chaos, a move that appears to be high on the to-do list for imperiled dictators everywhere.
Libyan planes have attacked civilians from the air. Two Libyan pilots decided to ignore Qaddafi’s orders and defect to Malta instead. (They reportedly chose Malta because they were afraid of repatriation if they landed in Italy.) Incredibly, Qaddafi told his people this morning that the planes attacking them were American. He also blamed the unrest on “a small group of youth who have been given hallucination pills,” and promised to safeguard his peoples’ interests by brutally murdering them in the style of “Tienanman Square, Fallujah, and Waco, Texas.” It seems as if forty years of dictatorial power will drive a man crazy. Maybe Qaddafi could use a doctor’s note excusing him from work while he recovers from the stress.
CNN reports the dictator has lost control of the eastern half of the country, where opposition leaders “appeared to be in firm control.”
Qaddafi appears on the verge of blowing up the Libyan oil fields, in order to make himself appear more indispensable to his rebellious people. Time magazine’s Robert Baer says he has been told by sources the besieged dictator “has ordered security services to start sabotaging oil facilities. They will start by blowing up several oil pipelines, cutting off flow to Mediterranean ports.” Ominously, Qaddafi made a point of saying his opposition would attack the oil fields during his Looney Tunes speech today, which is strong evidence that he has a lit match in one hand.
Foreign oil companies have already started rolling up operations, and the price of oil surged by $5 per barrel just this morning. Libya provides a bit under 2% of the world’s oil supply. Good thing America has a vibrant offshore drilling industry, and a sensible energy policy that exploits our vast oil resources to insulate us from foreign unrest! We’d really be screwed if we had a major political party working tirelessly to block the rational development of domestic energy, and a President who pours half a billion dollars into “alternative energy” rat holes, while defying court orders to kill entire industries on a whim.
Speaking of the President, the White House remains oddly silent about the developing crisis in Libya. Reuters tells us that various Administration functionaries have been “sending signals” and “considering all appropriate actions,” but the President himself apparently has nothing to say. He’s not even scheduled to address the topic during a speech in Cleveland today.
Also according to Reuters, the optimistic fellows at the State Department are “analyzing the speech of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi to see what possibilities it contains for meaningful reform.” I performed my own analysis after Qaddafi’s son spoke yesterday, and I just can’t get past the part where he said he and his father would “fight to the last man, the last woman, the last bullet” to find any possibilities for meaningful reform. Well, he didn’t say he would fight to “the last child.” I guess that’s something.
In case you were thinking that what this bloody mess really needs is for the Muslim Brotherhood to weigh in, AFP reports that “Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa on Monday that any Libyan soldier who can shoot dead embattled leader Moammar Qaddafi should do so, ‘to rid Libya of him.’” If you wait long enough, sooner or later murderous fanatics will get around to issuing a death sentence against someone who really has it coming.