Sunday, 6 March 2011

If Gadaffi wins, does that make him OK again?

For a few short days, the mainstream media in this country have been treating Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi as a pariah — an oppressive dictator who deserves to be toppled.
Now, the news coming out of Libya suggests that he may, after all, survive the uprising that threatened his regime.
If he does (God forbid), will things return to normal — that is to say, to treating Gadaffi as ‘eccentric’ rather than reprehensible, as a bit of a political ‘wild child’, rather than someone who supported terrorism, as someone to be ignored by the media, except when good for a whacky ‘news story’, rather than exposed, and as someone from whom it is acceptable for our institutions to receive grants, rather than someone to be ostracised at all costs?
The answers matter, because if Gadaffi wins there is surely going to be a day of vengeance against those who rose up against him. Let us hope the world is still watching when that happens and that all the indignation about him and his regime remains firmly in place.
It sometimes seems as if the media and the politicians only have certain favourite political targets for their righteous anger whilst others, literally, get away with murder. I have a horrible feeling that when the spotlight of media attention moves on, it will be ‘business as usual’ in Gadaffi’s home town.
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  1. What is the alternative? Do we treat Gaddafi as a pariah like Saddam Hussein? Probably. Do we then invade Libya as we did Iraq and end up with the same kind of mess, and play into the hands of forces which might be even worse than Gaddafi? I hope not.

    Now from Warrington, Cheshire

  2. Anyway, John, I still think Gaddafi is unlikely to survive. The BBC currently reports that

    the government's claims [of significant gains] go against all the evidence on the ground, unless there has been a sudden and dramatic swing overnight - of which there is no sign.

  3. The media and political irony has not been lost on me.

  4. It is patromisinglgy assumed that the general public has a 'goldfish' attention span, which is why we are only treated to 2 or 3 days' worth of any political situation, wherever located.
    Any more and our poor muddled little heads would be unable to cope.
    I believe that this time, (at last) Gaddafi will be deposed but what one wonders will take his place?
    Any absolute dictator who remains in power as long as he has will have effectively destroyed any other structure than his own. We will see!

  5. Treating Gadaffi as an 'eccentric' was more a habit of the left than the right, since the left always sympathised with him as their champion against Reagan and Bush, and he was the main conduit of weapons for the IRA. The Idol of the Left, Nelson Mandela, was also all touchy feely over dear Brother Leader, and so bestowed the stamp of approval on a murderous dictator and kleptocrat that he disdaiend to give to western democrats.
    The irony of course is that it was Bush who brought Gaddafi to heel, after toppling Saddam, which gave Gadaffi the patina of respectability in the west. Yet the centre and right have always known that Gadaffi was and is an unhinged dictator with blood on his hands.

    Mark B.

  6. John, you have never struck me as naive but this is a remarkably naive comment:-
    "It sometimes seems as if the media and the politicians only have certain favourite political targets for their righteous anger whilst others, literally, get away with murder."

    Gadaffi is what he has always been, a dictator who does not run a particularly cruel or vicious regime. In his neck of the woods, there are and have been far worse. What determines whether Gadaffi and is ilk become media and political targets is the extent to which their regime is deemed to be supportive of western interests. Why else has the ghastly House of Saud been treated as 'our' friend and ally? What's happening to pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain, such a good friend of the West? No interst in war crimes prosecutions there. Gaddafi's problem is that he was never pro-Western and so always a pariah. Fern Winter, London

  7. I can see David Cameron already lining up a visit with British arms manufacturers in tow :)

  8. John,
    Sometimes I wonder about the relevance of preaching on Old Testament themes, especially when many of the audience will be unchurched Scouts and Guides and possibly some of their unchurched parents as well. People to whom last year is old and irrelevant, let alone 2500 years ago.
    On Sunday, my theme is introduced by Nehemiah chapter 1. The beginning of the restoration of Israel to its land and its capital city - the fulfilment of a great deal of OT prophecy. The recovery of a nation that had started to realise where it had gone wrong and was going to do something about it.
    Can Nehemiah offer any comfort to other nations that need to be rebuilt? Libya? Egypt? Somalia? Our own nation?

  9. Fern, forgive me but I think your own post smacks of its own naivety.

    I hardly think that the policy of the BBC, the Guardian or the Independent is driven by being "supportive of Western [by which I take it you mean governmental] interests".

    On the contrary, there is a strong tradition of attacking Western policies, especially when deemed to be of 'the right'.

    However, my post was motivated by a sense of real depression that Gadaffi might well survive through force of arms, and a sense that the media woke up to him being a dictator only when his own people rose up against him.

    Where, prior to that, was any real recent criticism from the media 'left' (or right)?

    I am sure there is a 'media agenda'. I am equally sure it is largely to do with 'excitement' (often violence) and which often ignores general violations of human rights in 'Third World' nations in a kind of unacknowledged racism which refuses to hold them to account in the same way as applies to 'the West'.

    Could I commend for your reading The Man of Lawlessness: The Media, Violence and Prophecy, by Tom Davies? He's a bit mad, but after reading the book years ago I have long felt he'd got a point.

  10. And could I commend for YOUR reading pretty much anything by Noam Chomsky or the work of Medialens for analysis of how corporate media (including so-called 'rebel' voices like The Guardian) actually works. Fern Winter, London

  11. Fern, I read Chomsky when I was at University, but only his work on linguistics, which was then his academic field.

    Thanks for your commendation. I think we are both agreed that the media work to an agenda - in my case I think it is more of a broad left secularist political sympathy accompanied by an obsession for what is negative and violent.

    I would agree with Medialens that "news and commentary are ‘filtered’ by the media’s profit-orientation, by its dependence on advertisers, parent companies, wealthy owners and official news sources". The "news" is a commodity and I think we all ought to bear that in mind.

    However, everyone has an 'agenda' - even you and I - and the great contribution of post-modernism is to alert us to the fact. There is no 'dispassionate' position. The problem is trying to identify which agendas are reflections of the truth and which are the lie.