Friday, October 21, 2011

The Meaning of Gadhafi's Death

My guess is that the fat bodyguard in the background was
not one of Gadhafi's first-stringers.
I did something similar to this when Osama bin Laden was whacked, and I think it's important that everyone contemplate the meaning of death, not just the deaths of well-known world political figures, but for everyone we know that dies in our lifetime.

Gadhafi's death probably doesn't mean as much to us as it does to the Libyans.  Yes, we no longer have to fear his "Line of Death," and it seems that he's paid the piper for all the terrorism he's sponsored in the last 40 years.  But for those who lived under his horrifying opression daily, this probably comes as a relief to those demanding he face justice for what he's done.

Perhaps it's only a small comfort.  It would probably have been better had he been captured alive and brought to trial, but I'm not so sure.  Gadhafi was definitely a bad guy, and there's no arguing that he was a vile man who probably didn't deserve a quick death considering all the suffering he has caused.  But what good would a trial have really served?

Sticking to our principles is a good thing most of the time, and we probably shouldn't get comfortable with executing villains on the spot without trial.  My question is, given a trial would the outcome have been any different?  We can't know for sure, but it's likely that he would have met the same end.  Gadhafi would have been found guilty of some of the most heinous crimes against humanity, executed, and probably still dragged through the streets of Tripoli.  With a trial, however, he would have been given one last chance to grand-stand in some silly purple outfit; he would go into the trial knowing he was a dead man; and his antics would have just made a mockery of the judicial process.

That's what happened at Saddam's trial, which in my mind was largely a symbolic three-ring circus.  Saddam was just as wacked out as Gadhafi, and there was no doubt that he had a one-way ticket to the gallows the moment he was caught and incarcerated.

It would have been nice had the rebels just thrown him in a prison, waited to establish a government and functioning courts, and then prosecuted Gadhafi with a fair trial.  Was that realistic, though?  When we caught Saddam the major part of the war was over.  And mind you, we caught Saddam.  American soliders, well disciplined and with orders to take him alive if they could, caught and detained Saddam.  In Gadhafi's case, he was caught by the very people he brutalized for 40 years, and asked them for the mercy that he never showed them and their loved ones.

Can you really blame them?

Some of you will say yes.  Some of you will say that a fair trial should always be held, and that the principles of fair justice should always be upheld.  Some of you will assert that the rebels are nothing but uncivilized barbarians who have no concept of justice, but before you pass judgment on them, perhaps you should first look deeply into your own soul.

I think that anyone in the same situation would have acted as they did.  They are rebels--a rag-tag collection of citizens fighting for freedom agains brutal opression--who are still in the midst of a war against Gadhafi's terror.  They could have been among the many who were personally affected by the sting of his reign.  How many of you would honestly grant him the mercy for which he begged?

My guess is that given the same circumstances any human would have likely acted the same way.  We like to think that we don't have it in us to kill another human being, but few of us have actually lived in a tyranny like his.  How many of you would have shot Hitler on site had you captured him?  Who would have let Stalin live if he begged for mercy?

I'm not justifying the acts of the rebels, but I understand why they did what they did.  We're no better than them, considering all the jubilation that was expressed when we found out Osama had been killed.  People still cheered knowing that he was defenseless when found.  Human beings everywhere, no matter how "civilized," they're supposed to be, are little different from each other.  It's easy for us to say that rule of law is important, and that everyone deserves a fair trial, but those are fairly hollow assertions in my opinion.

We're not living in a country in violent rebellion, and how many inmates of Guantanamo Bay have received a fair trial?  Humans are shit heads, no matter what flag you fly, what god you pray to, or what color your skin is.

36 comments:

Jersey McJones said...

I don't care about how Qaddafi died. He's dead. We helped the Libyans shed his despotic rule. Now we should help them get on their feet and join the world community.

I'm happy for the Libyan people.

I'm proud of our President, the military, and our allies at NATO.

I wonder how many conservatives will concur.

JMJ

Harrison said...

They put his body on display in a meat locker at a shopping mall.

So civilized.

They are a bunch of animals who treat others the same way.

And their ranks are filled with al Qaeda and Muammar's weapons' cache has gone missing.

Expect more killing to follow.

We never should have gone in there because we gave a bunch of savages the means to topple their government but they have none of the sophistication needed to build a new one.

Just look at Egypt... savages murdering Coptic Christians under the watchful eye of the military.

Hope and change didn't come for them.

Jersey McJones said...

"A bunch of savages"

Nice. Who else do you call savages?

JMJ

Harrison said...

Whomever fits the bill - or the freezer burn.

Cultural relativism holds little appeal.

Jersey McJones said...

What if I thought you weren't a civilized man, Harrison? What would you think of that?

JMJ

Harrison said...

Why would I care you don't even know me.

Silverfiddle said...

The world is a better place without him, even if the manner of his death was an affront to human dignity.

A trial? It would either have been a trial with a forgone conclusion like Saddam got, or a farcical European one.

Slobo turned the Hague into his own three ring circus, and the Euros, complete with powdered wigs, played the part of his chorus girls.

We haven't seen the worst of it yet in Liby, btw...

D Charles QC said...

I think the result was inevitable and excpected, to have him on trial simply opens a can of worms that is the result of 42 years of control. It is time to move on.

As for Harrison's comments, I believe they are simply a sad reflection of the gulf of knowledge of the realities this world faces and grossly simplistic. With all respect, I do not blame you, but your result.

His body was put in a meat freezer simply because there is 1. no place else that is safe to do so, 2. the obvious need to display and protect the corpse and 3. since 8 months of bitter civil war, there is not much choices.

What is installed for Libya, that is the question. We can argue that the tibalism is strong, the factions may attempt to assert their powers and that is possible. On the other hand, they simply may do the right thing, and prosper.

One must, however, ask the question how some can assume that they are "a bunch of animals" and based on what logic? Displaying the body of a hated, murderous dispotic dictator? Are Italians and Romanians also then "a bunch of animals"?

I think name calling is not the solution to any such situation but a bit of encouragement and a sit and watch.

Jack Camwell said...

I think most people have a pale view of what it means to be civilized.

The Conquistadors considered the Mezo-Americans to be savages. When you actually study the culture, however, you see that they had organized religion, an economy, government, art etc. They had all the things that Europe had at the time, merely expressed in a different way.

The people that you call uncivilized or barbarians look upon us the same way. I mean look at American culture. We're incredibly wasteful, greedy, and very little is sacred to us.

Many of you even supported waterboarding our prisoners. Explain to me how you are any better than them. Simply because you sit there and say "the rule of law must prevail," even though you haven't been anywhere close to the same circumstances as the Libyans? All societies are barbarous in some way.

We shouldn't be so quick to judge other cultures. I'm not trying to preach cultural reletivism, but rather you shouldn't be so quick to throw out the "savage" title/

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: One slight difference between the "Mezo-Americans," as you call them, and Europeans, is that Europeans didn't sacrifice and eat one another.

Jack Camwell said...

No, they just enslaved them, tortured them, and forced them to convert to Christianity.

They also killed all those who didn't comply.

Very civilized.

Harrison said...

Let's see about "savages" for a moment.

sav·age 
1. fierce, ferocious, or cruel; untamed: savage beasts.
2. uncivilized; barbarous: savage tribes.
3. enraged or furiously angry, as a person.
4. unpolished; rude: savage manners.

Gadhafi begged to surrender and be taken alive. He was beaten up then shot, then beaten up more. Then he was sodomized by a stick. Then his body was put on public display in a meat locker. Islamic law decrees the body should be buried by sundown the following day. This did not happen.

The the "rebels" have slaughtered unarmed civilians on purpose (not "friendly fire") including people in the hospital:

"Salma’s brother Sabri, a surgeon, has also fled the city. He says they have made three attempts on his life, but he only left when he saw a killing.

“They took him from the ICU and killed him in front of the ICU and hanged his body on the wall of the hospital,” he said, describing what happened to one of the patients."

http://rt.com/news/rebels-terrorists-civilian-casualties/

Or how about a soldier who surrendered then was beheaded?

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/207490.php

It's pretty sad to see so many apologists around.

These people are SAVAGES and there will be many, many more deaths of innocent people at their hands.

Jack Camwell said...

Apologist? Really?

You think that because I'm saying that we would probably not be any better than them in the same circumstances that I'm trying to defend their behavior?

You've misunderstod the entire point of this. Of course what they're doing is wrong and savage. But I guaran-damn-tee that Americans would be no better if we were in the throes of violent rebellion.

Give any group of humans the chance to be horrifying and they most certainly will.

Speaking of people who have slaughtered unarmed civilians, wasn't there a soldier recently sent to prison for slaughtering unamed Afghans?

Weren't there a bunch of people indicted for torturing the prisoners in Abu Ghraib?

I'm not saying that any of this is excusable. It's just annoying when people try to act as though we are all somehow morally superior. But when it all comes down to it, humans are horrifying no matter what culture they hail from.

Harrison said...

Well if there's a violent rebellion in America we'll talk about it then. But, as you agreed, these people are savages.

Jack Camwell said...

As our brave men and women who tortured the Abu Ghraib prisoners, and the guy that slaughtered those Afghans all proved, we're savages, too.

Harrison said...

Embarrassing and dehumanizing photos? Yes. Sodomy, executions of hospital patients, beheadings?

No.

Jack Camwell said...

You seem to be skipping the whole murder thing. That guy was convicted I believe, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

And lets not pretend that that one soldier is the only one. There's some sick people serving.

But you're right. It's not like there's ever been mass murders of innocent people in America. And if there was, the people that comitted the mass murders were likely Muslim, right? Like those Columbine kids. Muslims? John Wayne Gasey. Jeffrey Dahmer. The BTK killer.

Because here in America, we don't have savages. We're all civilized people who get along with each other. We don't beat up fathers taking their kids to a baseball game, putting him in a coma for months.

We also don't bomb federal buildings, killing about 150 people and some of their young children. We don't send letter bombs and anthrax mail.

We don't rape and murder 70 year old women in their homes. In fact, we're so well behaved and civilized that I don't even know why we have police at all.

Harrison said...

Jack, my point was that the "rebels" are a bunch of savages - which they are - and I don't think it's necessary to list every example. As to your "examples" the difference is there are a handful of bad apples in a military of 1.4+ million.

You'll get no argument that people can be savages but that wasn't my point.

Jersey McJones said...

Harrison, do you really believe that you are some higher being, more advanced and civilized and intelligent than others? Do you believe you are exceptional?

Good for you.

Most people are more humble.

JMJ

Harrison said...

The ad hominem attack is the last refuge of the weak.

Congrads for employing it first!

D Charles QC said...

I think brandishing the name "savage" or "uncivilised" is a waste of time, in particular it is superficial and shallow. There are way to many factors that create the base in us all and it can happen in various degrees everywhere. If we have learned anything from history (even the very recent), one reaps what one sows. The killing of Gadhafi and those attached to him, though certainly "brutal" shows four decades of pent up frustration and anger and was a venting. As I asked before, are thus Italians "savage" for the similar treatment of Mussolini? What about Romanian responses to the President and his wife?

What we do know is that when opportunities and various stresses hit society, the worst can come out of all of us. I am a Brit, now tell me about the anger on the streets recently that instead of showing displeasure at a killing of one man resulted in the mindless looting of shops destroying the businesses and aspirations of so many? The burning down of a carpet store AND the 22 apartments above them? I did not even mentioned the deaths by beating, running over of cars and the robbing of those who happen to be walking by. Are we British thus savages?

The answer is not "savage" or to call one group above others "savage", but to simply understand that there is still a very ugly and "brutal" side in all of our world and for those of us who are religious - it is faith that teaches us to be above it.

Never confuse realism, comprehension and understanding with being an apologist, it smacks of being arrogant based on igorance and that is most certainly another humain base that we strive to raise above.

Jack Camwell said...

Thanks Damien. I think you very succinctly expressed what I was trying to say.

Harrison said...

Those Italians who stung up Mussolini by a wire were savages, yes as well as the ones who killed Ceausescu.

Depraved, debased savages.

Absolutely.

Especially ironic in Libya because these "freedom fighters" have been very selective in who deserves freedom. Did that guy in the hospital bed who was dragged outside and murdered deserve that? Or all of the other murders that have been going on their by the "resistance."

These things are not the actions of a few... they have been going on all across Libya and if Kadaffy's regime was so wrong in doing those things to his own people (why they revolted) then what does it say to the "freedom fighters" who do the very same thing to their people whom they claim to be liberating?

And you bring up being religious... might I point out the rebels in Libya are going to govern according to Islamic Sharia Law... one would presume them to be religious and they do these things?

Savages indeed.

And Jack, we DID have a Revolution... and do you know of Benedict Arnold who was a traitor? Was he shot and sodomized? No.

Savages vs. Civilized men.

Jack Camwell said...

Nope, but it was ordered that if he were caught he'd be hanged for treason.

Didn't you call the Italians savages for hanging Mussolini?

Also, the conditions that sparked our own revolution were nothing compared to what the Libyans had to endure for 40 years.

Had the American colonists been brutalized in the way Gadhafi brutalized his people, my guess is that the results would have likely been the same.

Harrison said...

Arnold may have been hanged - after a military tribunal.

Jack Camwell said...

Actually, Lafayette's orders were to summarily hang him upon capture. There would have been no trial.

How many military tribunals can you show me that were held for spies during the American revolution? If you were found and proved to be a spy, you were hanged. The British did they same thing, and they were supposed to be the pinnacle of civilized conduct.

Harrison said...

Actually General Washington sought to have Arnold exchanged with Major André but this offer was refused. Major André was hanged (after a trial) and Arnold was tried in absentia and found guilty of two charges.

Rule of law = civilized behavior.

Anonymous said...

Trail shmial! Who cares as long as the evil bastards of this world DIE, right?

"Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword."

Wold anyone have liked it any better if they'd put him on trial, found him guilty and then had his naked body strung up and then lowered slowly feet first into a man-sized cauldron of boiling oil?

How about having him buried alive in container filled with bacon grease?

How about having his naked body pierced through with a meat hook and then hoisted up to be displayed above the city gates so all the people could see him flailing away in desperate agony till he finally died two or three days later? the Arabs know exactly how to do just that?

Or they could have thrown him alive down a deep well and pissed on him at regular intervals after throwing rotted garbage on his head.

Of they could have fed him to a giant monitor lizard while everyone watched jerking off for sheer joy in an arena.

OR he could have been publicly disemboweled with a red poker.

Like Hitler, Khadaffi got off easy.

So many any terrible things they COULD have done! And don;t think they haven't done all of them -- and worse -- at one time or another.

And that, my friends, is why the world needs Jesus Christ more than ever. Too bad most people who call themselves Christian haven't the faintest idea who and what He really is. The Conquistadors certainly had no clue. They were no more Christian than Montezuma with his love for roasted human hearts freshly torn from the bodies of dozens of sacrificial victims each and every day.

Without the Love that is Jesus Christ we are less moral than the wildest of wild beasts.

~ FreeThinke

Jack Camwell said...

But why Jesus Christ? There are people in this world that are loving and compassionate without believing in Jesus.

Look at some of the most devoted Buddhists for example. The Dahlai Lama doesn't believe in Jesus, but he's a symbol for what it means to be a peaceful, compassionate human being.

Or how about Jews? Are all Jews callous savages because they don't believe in Jesus?

Jesus' message of compassion, justice, and inclusion was not unique even in his time. Most, if not all, of the major world religions preach the same general message that humans should treat each other with respect and dignity, and that if we stop focusing on our own greed and desires, then our lives will be much more fulfilling.

And we have to keep in mind that religions such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism etc, existed quite some time before Christianity.

Jack Camwell said...

And so what you're saying Harrison, that so long as the law is used as the measuring stick, anything is permissible and "civilized"?

It was civilized to hang Arnold should he be caught simply because some men in a tribunal came to the conclusion that he was, in fact, guilty of espionage?

There was no doubt whatsoever that Gadhafi did all those things everyone knew he did. Had he been tried, he would have faced the same fate. I'm sorry, but the formality of a "trial" doesn't make one's behavior afterward civilized.

And since we're talking about rule of law, what if the laws they follow don't demand that trials be held?

Jack Camwell said...

Furthermore,
The UCMJ still says that a service member who deserts, disobeys a lawful order, or is found guilty of espionage during a time of war can be shot, on site, without a tribunal.

That's the letter of the law. Civilized or uncivilized?

Harrison said...

"Had he been tried, he would have faced the same fate."

Really? Beaten up, a stick shoved up his ass, and dumped in a shopping mall freezer?

Really the same fate?

Jack Camwell said...

Uhh, yeah, probably. He would likely have been beaten and worse in prison, and he would have been executed.

Harrison said...

Gee Jack... I give up you win you're 100% correct street justice is the way to go!

Jack Camwell said...

I'm fairly certain that in no way did I condone what they did to him. I agreed that what they did was wrong and horrifying.

Where I disagree with you is this notion that somehow we're inherently more civilized than they. We have laws that tell us we can kill a human being. We've also waterboarded people. How civilized is that?

What if their rule of law called for all the treatment he received? Would they then be more civilized just because the law said it's okay?

The entire point of this was to illuminate the fact that all humans, everywhere, have darkness in them. For that darkness to come out, all it takes is the right conditions.

Jack Camwell said...

I'm fairly certain that in no way did I condone what they did to him. I agreed that what they did was wrong and horrifying.

Where I disagree with you is this notion that somehow we're inherently more civilized than they. We have laws that tell us we can kill a human being. We've also waterboarded people. How civilized is that?

What if their rule of law called for all the treatment he received? Would they then be more civilized just because the law said it's okay?

The entire point of this was to illuminate the fact that all humans, everywhere, have darkness in them. For that darkness to come out, all it takes is the right conditions.