August 30, 2011

Dead Enders

While this exploration of an abandoned Libyan state security station is overall as chilling as you'd expect, a surprising poignancy attaches to certain passages. In the maw of the beast, Walter Mitty daydreams:

Hidden away inside the door of a filing cabinet, in a spot where few eyes would see them, were pictures and postcards from places a Libyan security staffer might only dream about: England, Lebanon, the pastoral countryside of rural America.

Having boldly declared that I would be on the record as having supported the Western support campaign for the Libyan rebels if it turned out to have worked, I can now courageously declare myself to have been right all along.

The fighting's not over yet, unfortunately. Where in Iraq regime supporters melted away in the face of Western ground troops, Libya's civil war remains hot. At first the ferocity of the dead-enders seems inexplicable. Why not attempt an opportunistic last-minute pivot to the winning side? Presumably the guys who are still shooting know (or at least believe) that they were in so deep with the old regime that they're irreparably screwed in the new one. Resistance, no matter how desperate, seems the only good option. Or perhaps the dead-enders are simply as psychopathic as the man and regime they loyally followed until now. Certain last minute massacres may be exercises in killing the witnesses.

Iraqi resisters vanished to fight another day, knowing they'd have a foreign occupier to mount an insurgency against—and thus at least a plausible path back to power. This strategy ultimately failed, but wasn't crazy. Their Libyan counterparts know they'll only face the people they oppressed, and who despise them. As Irony and War are long-standing drinking buddies, it maybe shouldn't come as a surprise that an environment that starves a long term insurgency comes at the cost of near term savagery.