Monday, January 26, 2009

Kaddafi’s “Performative Act” in the NY Times

By Bachir Habib

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, right, meets with US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, in Tripoli, Libya, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, AP/Nasser Nasser

Only last week, The New York Times featured the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Kaddafi as an opinion writer. We are used to such credible newspapers publishing articles by prominent diplomats, political advisors, and occasionally former or actual heads of State. We have read for example in the New York Times and other newspapers, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Bill Clinton and many others, expressing their views on controversial issues.
The article written by the Libyan leader is somewhat ambiguous and raises many questions regarding its timing and its intention. It is equally clear that Kaddafi’s piece entitled “The One State Solution” is less a “way out” of the Middle Eastern crisis than it is a political statement reminding President Obama’s new Administration of Libya’s “achievements’ with George W Bush. Hence, the idea of writing an article in the NY Times is loaded with symbols and messages that can be summarized in three headlines:

The first one is the ability of Libya to propose a peaceful solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The second is the adhesion of “the new” Kaddafi to a version of History when he writes: “The basis for the modern State of Israel is the persecution of the Jewish people, which is undeniable. The Jews have been held captive, massacred, disadvantaged in every possible fashion by the Egyptians, the Romans, the English, the Russians, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and, most recently, the Germans under Hitler. The Jewish people want and deserve their homeland”. Finally, the third strong message Kaddafi sends is through denouncing religious extremists that he accuses of “feeding on the conflict as an excuse to advance their own causes”.

The Libyan leader is determined to get these three main messages across to the new American president. And to make sure nothing is lost in translation, he has chosen the NY Times as a reliable mailbox.
However, the Kaddafi who wrote the very conciliatory article a few days ago is the same one who requested “an open door for voluntary participation of Arabs to fight beside the Palestinians in Gaza” and urged “Arab countries to reactivate their common defense treaty to face the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip”.
I am not surprised to see an Arab Leader, formerly a “champion” of Pan Arabism making such a call to fight Israel and defend the Arab cause. It is not surprising either to see that our cherished leader is insulting Arab minds by presuming our ignorance and our illiteracy.
From an American point of view, Kaddafi’s well written article can be considered a gesture of goodwill and a sign of moderation. But placing his words in the context of his recent declarations on the matter shows how disrespectful and inconsistent our leaders can be when they use one discourse to ease tensions “at home” and another one to satisfy Washington.
One last word to the Colonel: While it is usually considered prestigious to be featured in the NY Times, on this occasion it smacks of insolence.

Related links:
Kaddafi's article in the NY Times
Kaddafi's declarations during the war on Gaza


Ali Dahmash said...

He is such a wacho then when youi listen to him for the first time you think he makes sense. I read the one on the war on gaza

Anonymous said...

If you read the two articles carefully you notice Mr. Kadafi took time in carving his opinions in the two articles in a manner that would not come accross as inconsistent.

On the one hand he believes residents of arab nations should come to defend Gazans in light of the Israeli attack,and on the other he talks about the need for a "one state solution" when the time is ripe for peace talks.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is how I believe the two articles should be interpreted.

Marwan -

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?