What's the Story In Libya?

You might be wondering how things are going in Libya.  Well, it’s not looking too good for the rebellion.  The Associated Press reports that “government forces on Tuesday unleashed a withering bombardment of the rebels outside a key oil town, pushing them back despite NATO reports that nearly a third of Muammar Qaddafi’s heavy weapons have been destroyed.”  Qaddafi’s thugs fired their cannon until the barrels melted down, then they grabbed an alligator to fire another round, filling his head with cannonballs and powdering his behind.

“The situation is very bad,” said a rebel soldier.  “We cannot match their weapons.”  CNN described the rebel response to these bombardments as “a panicked retreat.”

There’s no more talk about Qaddafi leaving power.  He’s even replaced Moussa Koussa, his defected foreign minister, with another Moussa: Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman who made it clear that “the leader has to lead this forward.”  He made a point of chastising foreign powers who “have a personal problem with the leader.”

CNN reports that NATO efforts to  prevent Qaddafi’s forces from attacking civilians “have been complicated by weather, and the regime’s decision to hide military equipment in populated areas and use human shields,” a decision that should have surprised no one.  Government forces also hit on the idea of “abandoning heavy military equipment in favor of the same kinds of cars and light trucks rebels travel in, making it even more difficult for pilots to distinguish rebel convoys from those carrying forces loyal to the regime.”

The city of Misrata (prewar population about 500,000) is under siege, with Voice of America reporting that Qaddafi’s forces are “preventing shipments of needed medical supplies, food, and fresh water from reaching residents.”  The sort of humanitarian crisis the U.N. declared it would not allow appears to be in progress there.

A dejected rebel leader summed up the situation by wailing, “Before we put our faith in God and we were winning.  Now we put our faith in NATO and we are losing.”  He’s really overstating the “before” case, but it does indeed appear they are losing now.

It’s funny that you’re not hearing much about these developments, isn’t it?  The news is out there, but there’s no media effort to put it all together into a Narrative.  President Obama declared our involvement in Libya to be complete at the beginning of the week, and the media focus instantly shifted away.  It was the biggest story in the world a week ago.  Now it’s as if we were never there.

Would they be so obliging with a President they liked less?  They certainly didn’t mind putting substantial effort into creating a Narrative about Iraq, and sustaining it for years, when Bush was in office.  That narrative ended abruptly with the election of Barack Obama.  We still get news out of Iraq, but no one’s trying to tell a story about it any longer. 

Likewise, the “story” in Libya seems to have ended at the precise moment Obama said it did.  We may yet hear another chapter, if Qaddafi does finally give up power, or meet his fate at the hands of a NATO pilot.  We probably won’t hear much about him if he’s still in office when Americans decide whether or not to let Barack Obama keep his job.