(FinalCall.com) – With an address to the United Nations and the 40th anniversary of his revolution, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi has reached new major milestones. The longtime revolutionary has lent his wealth and his influence to causes that may have been unpopular to the West, but causes that allowed the oppressed of the world to try to breathe free.
His visit to America and planned Sept. 22 address at the United Nations has once again placed the Arab leader on the world stage. It’s too bad the American people don’t know more about a man who enjoys widespread respect and admiration in his country and other nations. Brother Gadhafi has been a friend to revolutionary causes. He has improved the plight of the Libyan people, invested in business in Africa and championed the cause of a United Africa.
Sanctions against Libya have ended and Westerners are flocking to the North African nation, eager to do business.
With a possible change in relations on the horizon, media reports turned ugly and even insulting as the arrival of the Libyan head of state and head of the African Union drew closer. In an unsurprising but disgusting article, the New York Post led the way with a story about a dog relieving itself on the red carpet outside the Libyan Mission, where Mr. Gahdafi is expected to visit and be welcomed. The article applauded the animal’s act, revived the caricature of Col. Gadhafi as an evil Arab and ridiculed his all-female security force, referring to the women as “Gun Girls” and the “Amazon Guard.”
With the outrage expressed by Americans at the sight of President Obama greeting Saudi Arabia’s king in what was called a bow by anti-Obamaites, imagine the bluster that would accompany similar disrespect if directed at the president of the United States. There would likely be howls about national honor and prestige and calls for the president to not participate in a gathering where he was disrespected.
Detractors would like to attack Mr. Gadhafi for supporting liberation movements, but Western support for brutal regimes and corrupt dictators is forgotten and the suffering of millions as a result of U.S. foreign policy is conveniently omitted.
The list of individuals, groups and nations lambasted by the West also conveniently changes as Western interests change.
Though they love to repeat slogans about moral imperatives, the U.S., U.K. and Western governments are driven by their desires for military security and supremacy, access to oil and mineral resources, opportunities for businesses to earn millions and expansion into new markets as their economies falter.
Nelson Mandela, highly respected as a moral authority today, was labeled a terrorist and his African National Congress was derided as a terrorist group during the fight against apartheid. Last year American officials shared their embarrassment that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was still flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needed a special waiver to visit the United States.
The late Yassar Arafat and his Fatah Movement were once “terrorists.” UN Ambassador Andrew Young was forced to leave that position after meeting with a PLO representative in 1979. Fatah is now called the “responsible” Palestinian movement by the United States and Hamas is labeled a terrorist group. China was once the “Red Menace” and Russia was the leader of the “Evil Empire.” Osama Bin Laden and Afghan warriors now called terrorists and insurgents were called freedom fighters when they fought the former Soviet Union with U.S. backing in the 1980s. The terror label drops once U.S. interests dictate a change in relationship.
While the media in the United Kingdom and the United States have railed against humanitarian release of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, who is suffering with the final stages of prostate cancer and was the lone man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, there have always been questions about whether Al Megrahi was actually guilty. There are questions about whether the witness who identified Mr. Megrahi had seen his photo in a magazine about the bombing–that testimony was critical to the conviction of the Libyan national. There are questions about whether so-called physical evidence connecting Libya to the bombing was fabricated. The owner of a company that produced the timer allegedly used in the bombing said the FBI offered him $4 million to say the fragment was from a type of timer supplied to Libya. There were other unresolved questions as well.
Libya has always insisted that Mr. Al-Megrahi was innocent, which accounts for the welcome accorded him once released from prison and flown home. Just as earlier this year, Korean American journalists detained and tried in North Korea were welcomed home and a journalist of Iranian descent was welcomed home from Iran following charges of wrongdoing there, Mr. Al-Megrahi was welcomed home. He was not seen as a terrorist, but was welcomed by countrymen who saw his incarceration as unjust.
In July 2007, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were released from Libya and received a hero’s welcome in their Eastern European country. Newspapers heralded their arrival and relatives and well wishers greeted the group on an airplane tarmac. They were met by an official from the European Union and French first lady Cecilia Sarkozy. The medics had been accused and convicted of purposely infecting more than 400 Libyan children with the AIDS virus. The medics, like Mr. Al Megrahi, insisted they were innocent. So if the Lockerbie families felt understandable pain at the thought the man they believed guilty of murder was released, did not the parents of these Libyan children also feel pain?
In 1986, days after President Reagan charged that Libya was connected to the deaths of two U.S. servicemen in a Berlin disco, more than 40 Libyans–including Col. Gadhafi’s adopted daughter–died in a U.S. bombing raid on Tripoli and military bases. Did the Libyans weep for their loved ones who died in the most expensive assassination attempt in U.S. history?
Since the worst days of the Libya-U.S. relationship, there are signs a new era may be possible. With a new administration and a hunger worldwide for a new relationship with the United States, perhaps improved relations with America can inspire additional hope that the wounds of the past can heal and a new beginning can be forged.
Welcome to America: Gadhafi at United Nations (FCN, 09-22-2009)
The Nation of Islam Welcomes Muammar Gadhafi (FCN, 09-22-2009)