Posts Tagged ‘Arab Spring’

Ten years on from 9/11: Why can’t the west believe in itself?

06/09/2011, 09:06:13 AM

by Jonathan Todd

As the national transitional council’s (NCT) grip on Libya tightened, I wondered: What do the Muammar Gaddafi loyalists in their last redoubts want? Having refused the NCT’s generous reconciliation offer, do the Gaddafi loyalists really think that they can recover the whole of their country? As this is implausible, it must be that they remain loyal enough to their barbaric, ego-maniac, delusional leader that they’d rather die in his name than accept Libya’s new reality.

Belief held so absolutely has become alien to most westerners and, thus, inherently terrifying. Willingness to fight to the death is beyond the ken of people unwilling to fight for much besides the TV remote. That’s why it wasn’t just Tony Blair and George W Bush who were mortified by Al-Qaeda. We all were. These ingenuous people would go to any lengths, including sacrificing themselves, to destroy us. What wasn’t to be afraid of?

Well, much less than it seemed. We thought Al-Qaeda’s appalling idea could attract ever more active backers. We suspected that many people, possibly millions, absolutely believed things utterly out of kilter with what we believe fundamentally. And they believed these things with the passion of newlyweds, while the passion of western citizens for the defining values of their states is that of the long married. Not non-existent, but not obviously burning.

While the passionate beliefs of Gaddafi loyalists now bemuse western eyes as much as the passionate beliefs of Al-Qaeda have done, these passionate beliefs are very different, of course. Gaddafi comes from a tradition that starts with Gamal Nasser and hopefully ends with Bashar al-Assad. Upon these strong men Arab states were personalised. Gaddafi was Libya and Libya was Gaddafi. And that just seemed the way things were.


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