Look at our democracy, such a powerful enemy”
Paraphrasing Shakespeare, let’s be clear that I have come to bury Qaddafi, not to praise him. But please, a moment of silence is in order for our heathen nemesis, our swarthy enemy and ourselves.
When Qaddafi came to power in 1969 during the last three years of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, little did we know how long, treacherous and dangerously close our relationship would turn out to be. After forty years we came to know Qaddafi’s quirks very well, and he knew ours. The U.S. relationship with Libya was a stormy affair, a form of ‘satellite animosity’ that characterized American foreign policy during the Cold War with the then-Soviet Union. It began with years of intense and violent tits for tat in the 1980s between Libya and the U.S., starting with the Gulf of Sidra incident where the U.S. Navy responded aggressively to a surface to air missile attack by Libya. This lead to a retaliatory Libyan attack against American servicemen at a Berlin disco, followed by the climactic bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Everything changed with the fall of the Berlin Wall at the end of the 1980s. Libya re-aligned itself and began improving its image in the West, atoning for the Lockerbie bombings, working diligently to diplomatically remove the U.N. sanctions against Libya for their involvement in the killing of innocent civilians. During the 1990s, as oil flowed freely from underneath Libyan soil, there was never any doubt that Qaddafi would survive, or at least we never took him down directly. Crazy as Qaddafi was, and yes he was crazy, as Juan Cole notes, Qaddafi — like Mubarak in Egypt, Musharraf in Pakistan, and Ben Ali in Tunisia — became a useful tyrant to our allies in the west.
Yet, even beneficial relations deteriorate, and the world evolves. As Professor Cole says in his article linked to above, “The real lesson here is that there is a new wave of popular politics in the Arab world. … People are not in the mood to put up with semi-genocidal dictators.” Like any partnership, the relationship between our allies and antagonists is a two-way street — a dance. Your choice of friends and enemies defines you, and we both are defined by the times we live in. At this moment the west — so long in control of the puppet strings that strain the world — faces the same upheaval that began with the first wave of Arab Spring.
After Libya, after Egypt, after Tunisia and Iraq — after the killing of Usama Bin-Laden — what does losing our enemies/allies say about us now? Where do empires who have danced with lieutenant despots like Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein go from here? What do we do now that our former enemies say they no longer want to play our game?
As Eric pinpoints in the U.S. chart, there is some deep re-calibration that we have to do:
Mars emerges from the 12th house and Scorpio, that deep, unconscious place, and materializes face to face with us in the 7th house in Gemini. It’s as if everyone we look at is potentially our enemy. But the whole arrangement is in Gemini, suggesting that our friends are our enemies and vice versa. This would cover two men who were well-established CIA assets, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. … Perhaps it’s every country, but it seems that the United States is always gazing into the eyes of a supposed bogeyman who wants to hurt us because he doesn’t like our way of life. We would be wise to consider the psychological projection involved in having Mars being the effigy of this evil critter, be it kidnappers, Communism, queers, heathens, al Qaeda or our neighbors.
It’s always been the constant hum during the history of my lifetime. You can hear it in the sounds and messages and news broadcasts of our continued unconscious fears — particularly fear of ‘the others’, where we will continue to create and perceive each other according to our worst projections. Not to say we’ve not been alone in doing this. There are so many puppet strings pulled from various levels throughout the world, controlling what we think and how we perceive one another that it would take a gargantuan pair of shears to cut across all the lines to enable us to start over again. Yet, the awakening occurring across America and in partnership with the world is real enough to give one hope that at least our cynicism can take a break, maybe for a month or two. Perhaps then we can take time to reflect what is happening in every corner of our now-frail empire.
I don’t feel sad for the death of Muammar Qaddafi. His tyranny — with unlimited access to wealth that could have belonged to the Libyan people — came with a price. In order to feed and fuel our western allies and enrich ourselves, nations and people were sacrificed. Qaddafi was a useful enemy during the latter half of the 20th century. But times have changed in the 21st. Who is to say that the current leadership under the TNC — the new leadership in Libya, will do the same things Qaddafi did forty years from now?
But maybe this time, regime change on the scale caused by the momentous Arab Spring needs our thoughtful re-assessment: we’re no longer the western end of a two-superpower world poised to annihilate each other and the rest of us with the push of a button. We are all in this world morphing into something else that we’re trying to grasp the meaning of. We need that moment — a long moment of silence — to detect exactly what that is.