The L.A. Times ran a dismal report yesterday about the behavior of the Libyan opposition, which has been cracking down on Qaddafi loyalists, oppressing black immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and dishing out “revolutionary justice” to “enemies of the revolution.”
Well, at least they’re not actually goofball-popping janissaries of bin Laden, according to an article in the Denver Post, which says “the U.S. intelligence community has found no organized presence of al-Qaeda among the Libyan opposition.” I hope they keep looking for organized presences, and finding none.
The resistance has been widely criticized for its lack of organization and military skill. Some of the leadership does have combat experience. Unfortunately, they earned it by fighting us in Afghanistan. The guy running things in eastern Libya, Abdul Hakim al-Hasadi, admitted to an Italian newspaper that he was “captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan, where I fought against the foreign invasion.”
By “foreign” he means “American.” We had him in custody in Islamabad for a while (apparently not in Gitmo, as has been reported in some circles) but we eventually handed him over to Qaddafi, who kept him in stir until 2008.
We really don’t know a lot about the Libyan opposition. It was not necessary to know much, to oppose their brutal extermination, marked by the deaths of countless civilians roasted in the wreckage of burning cities. In the Middle East, it’s hard to find allies with clean hands. Any crackdown we happen to oppose is bound to have some unappealing people on both the giving and receiving ends. That doesn’t make it any less imperative to speak up on behalf of the oppressed.
By letting the rebellion get pushed all the way back into a few cities, then launching a massive operation at the eleventh hour, Obama has married us to the Libyan opposition. If we’re really going to push Operation Odyssey Dawn until Libyan dissidents are forever safe from Qaddafi’s murderous tyranny, we’re going to be working very closely with them, and expending much blood and treasure on their behalf, for some time to come. In the end, we’ll either be sponsoring them as the new rulers of Libya, or supporting them against Qaddafi and/or his sons, after they cut some kind of deal to stay in power… or leaving them to die after we cut and run. It would be nice to think someone in the White House has gamed all those scenarios out, and taken a long look at who our partners in that game will be.
We’ve already had some ugly surprises from our new spouses in Libya. I wonder how many of them came as a surprise to the Administration.