Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Japanese tsunami stops Libyan revolution

A few weeks ago, Libyan rebels were portrayed as being on the cusp of ousting the tyrant, Muammar Gaddafi. With the western world having since gone Libya-gaga, rebel forces have now been portrayed as pegged-back into their Benghazi stronghold, and the portrayed prospect of a new regime appears to be deadening in the water.

All of which seems like an awfully inclement situation for the British government, who had hoped to sell military equipment to a new regime, the French government, who had hoped to find a new regime in Africa that might be encouraged to speak French and bolster France's long-dwindling portfolio of empire, and the US government, slowly coming-round to the idea of a Libyan no-fly zone, the implementation of which would require bombing Libyan airforce installations that could be rebuilt at a later date by Bechtel and Halliburton. Elsewhere, the passionate freedom fighters at the Arab League have denounced Gaddafi as an enemy of his people, and simultaneously sent Saudi Arabian forces to fight against Bahrainian people engaged in their own display of political agitation.

Meanwhile, out of the desert and into the western world, the liberal throng has continued recalibrating their conceptions of Arab states, updating the previous black-box understanding of politically neutral (plus camels) to politically angry (no camels after all) and repressed. With everybody so bored by online news pages that can't be updated frequently enough, and Facebook pages less fun than they used to be, the population at large has become excited about events in Libya, interpreting the present rush of blood as a concern that is deep-seated within our collective value systems.

Down in Westminster, the coalition government of David Cameron have also got pretty hot-under-the-collar about the injustices of the Gaddafi regime. After immediately mooting ideas to arm the opposition, Cameron and his foreign secretary, William Hague, are now throwing their weight behind the no-fly zone, and indeed seem to be doing everything in their power to agitate on behalf of a rebel movement that nobody knows anything about. Not that such is especially surprising, a mock-up of freedom in Libya is a better interest for whimsical liberals back home than his own government (yawn!), the effective privatisation of higher education (borring!), and coalition reluctance to pass the Bribery Act or regulate the fictions of the banking industry (enough!). Indeed, Britain's political left is perhaps only about another nine months from aspiring for no better than a Labour government (but they were so much better!) as the pinnacle of progressive politics. In such a context, political engagement becomes much easier when it involves only nominal support of a foreign man defending a town with a name you don't have to remember, and then voting for Ed Milliband four years down the line.

All of which is now old news anyway. Though derided at the time, Colonel Gadaffi has made-good on rambling promises to deliver an apocalypse should his overthrow be sought. After briefly removing himself from the media spotlight with an earthquake against Christchurch, Gadaffi finished the job on March 11, summoning a second earthquake off the north-eastern coast of Japan, and with a force of impact measuring an enormous 8.9 on the Richter scale. The ensuing tsunami has devastated lives and property all along the Japanese coast, with media retailers refusing to rule-out an eventual death toll in excess of 10,000 people, and journalists keeping their fingers crossed that the damaged Fukushima nuclear facility might yet go the way of Chernobyl and cause countless more miseries besides. All of which leaves perhaps another fortnight before events draw to their obvious conclusion ...

'Muammar who?'

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