It’s amazing the things people know. I was listening to the radio this morning and Marian Finucane was on RTÉ asking some reporter on the spot if Colonel Gaddafi’s "42-year reign of terror' was definitely about to end. How did she know that, I wonder? Maybe Marian is right, and from the moment he took power Gaddafi made the lives of all Libyans hell. Or maybe he made some of their lives hell. Or maybe he improved some or all of their lives. I just don’t know. Do you? And if you do, will you tell me your sources?
My caution is built less on cynicsm and more on experience. Take my blog the other day about QE2’s visit yielding huge tourism benefits for Ireland. Nobody at the time, as far as I know, stood up and said “Bollocks, it'll do nothing of the sort”. But it now seems that’s just what claims of boosted tourism were: Grade A bollocks. Re Libya, I do know that the media report of the struggle in Libya has presented it as Rebels (good) vs Gaddafi (bad). Which may in fact be the case. But then I think: why the Western interest in Libya? And the answer of course is oil. And then I see reports that say NATO bombing of Gaddafi’s forces were what made the difference so it actually wasn’t just Rebels (good) vs Gaddafi (bad), it was Rebels + NATO (good) vs Gaddafi (bad). And then I see shots of the rebel forces with huge automatic weapons and large tanks, and I wonder where those came from. And then I remember a clip of the American Secretary of State standing up at a press conference and announcing “Gaddafi must go”, ’and I wonder again why is the Secretary of State of a country thousands of miles from Libya so firm in announcing what should or should not happen there. And the little word "oil" pings on like a light-bulb in my head.
The reporting over the next few days will build to a crescendo, with much interest centring on the whereabouts of the arch-villain Muammar Gaddafi, and whether he’s been captured or killed. Me, I’m wondering why we’ve all decided it’s OK to invade other countries (didn’t WW2 start because Hitler invaded Poland?) and whether regime change in a country is or is not OK, depending on what the US says. And/Or whether there's oil involved.