By Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, March 2, 2011
Over his 42-year rule, Gadhafi has supported terrorist groups ranging from the Irish Republican Army to the Italian Red Brigades to the Palestinian Abu Nidal faction.
He has also engaged in terrorism of his own, famously sending agents abroad to assassinate political opponents.
In 1984, Libyan diplomats shot and killed a British police officer monitoring a peaceful demonstration outside Gadhafi’s London embassy.
In 1986, terrorists using Libyan-supplied explosives blew up a disco in Berlin. Two years later, Libyan agents blew up an airplane over Scotland.
Still, no one is perfect. And there was all that oil. Although Libya accounts for only 3 per cent of global reserves, its low-sulphur crude is in high demand for diesel and jet fuel
So, eventually, everyone made up. Gadhafi handed over his airline bomber for trial, paid compensation to some victims and promised to do better.
He even pledged to give up weapons of mass destruction that he may or may not have possessed.
In return, Western leaders flocked to Libya looking for deals. Britain’s Tony Blair snagged concessions for BP and Shell. Paul Martin, then prime minister, made a pilgrimage to plead for Canadian firms.
Alas, the ever-unreliable Gadhafi remained just so. In 2009, he abruptly nationalized the Libyan operations of Canadian oil company Verenex. That same year — angered by Ottawa’s threat to rebuke him publicly during a planned stopover in Newfoundland — he cut Suncor’s production quota by 50 per cent.
When the wave of Arab unrest hit Libya this year, Gadhafi — unlike Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak — didn’t have many friends.
The fact that Libyan rebels have taken over the oil-rich eastern part of the country (and resumed exports) has made the West’s shunning of Gadhafi easier.
British and German military transports have already flown missions into some of Libya’s oil fields. The French have promised to use their military to deliver humanitarian aid to rebels. Britain’s prime minister says he may give them arms. Italy has abrogated its non-aggression pact with Libya. The U.S. Mediterranean fleet is steaming toward Tripoli. Canadian transport planes are standing by in Malta and a Canadian frigate is on the way from Halifax.
All are claiming to act on behalf of democracy and human rights. But if that were true, no country — including Canada — would ever have had anything to do with Gadhafi.
The real reason is oil and the money oil brings. When he controlled Libya’s oil, Gadhafi was the man. Now that he no longer does, he is expendable.
Thank you, Mr. Walkom, for giving us a little clarity on some of the only vaguely recalled details and on the insatiable appetite for oil that drives the west, still virtually unconscious about our addiction.
Isn't it one of the primary symptoms of the alcoholic that he denies his addiction?
Isn't is one of the primary symptoms of the west that we deny our addiction to oil? Judging from the very few mostly token moves away from such a deep dependence, over the last forty years at least, (Carter was president in the 70's and made some bold statements about getting off our oil addiction, but was ridiculed), we remain permanently adhered to the spigot that reads "OIL" on its label.
And behind our addiction, feeding our addiction, are those mega-corporations like Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell and multiple smaller firms, linked co-dependently to the auto manufacturers whose resistance to change has resulted, not only in world gone askew with climate change from carbon dioxide emissions (much of it industrial and certainly much of it also from auto's) but also a tsunami of dollars spent on lobbying that far exceeds most other industries except perhaps insurance and pharmaceuticals.
And the culture of addiction/dependence continues to prop up the Canadian "commodities-based" dollar, itself now the cork in the cauldron of the oil-based economies, with the tar-sands project conducted virtually without environmental oversight by the Canadian government.
And we are years away from a completed transition to electric or hydrogen-fired vehicles, when we could have been there, given the existence of the technology, decades ago. Only for the lack of political will, or put another way, only because the politicians were unwilling to remove their lips from the tap of the big oil companies and their lobby, are we now in this place.
And there is little, if any, political will in many western countries to tackle effectively the symptoms of global warming and climate change.
So we stumble on, like a drunken derelict, reeling from crisis to crisis, like some uneducated, unenlightened and unconscious and addicted social system that refuses to acknowledge just how desperate we are, and thereby rejects the kind of political help/will/courage/consciousness/wake-up call...that is needed to grow up to maturity, responsibility and full political health.