Category: Gadhafi

Thoughts on Irene

Hurricane Irene
Irene as seen from space

I’ve had the TV on all day, tuned to CNN, watching the news and worrying about everyone on the East Coast. Specifically, I worry about those few individuals I know there. I keep reminding myself that these folks will undoubtedly be listening to their local officials, not CNN news hounds, and will have the best, most up-to-date information for their locales.

One man was grumbling over on Huffington Post about government officials forcing him to evacuate. How dare they! He was staying put. Okay, I thought, just don’t ask those same officials to come rescue you if you get into trouble. And don’t expect me, a taxpayer, to pay them to come get you (as if I had a choice).

REFUSING TO LEAVE

I worry about those 90 NY seniors who are refusing to evacuate. One of them cited health reasons and the care they couldn’t get in an evacuation center. It would be a nightmare, she said. So their caregivers are staying with them in their high rise? The reporter didn’t ask that. They all sat around smiling and defiant while they sucked oxygen from their tanks. Good. I’m glad they have each other. Because before the weekend is out, they may find they are in desperate need and don’t have anyone else.

I sympathize with those who don’t want to leave their homes, who think it will be inconvenient, or worse. And I’m certainly in no position to speak to the dangers of high water and flooding. Wind I’m more familiar with. A lifetime of tornadoes in Oklahoma. Ninety-mile-per-hour chinook winds roaring off the foothills here. You don’t want hours of sustained 90 mph winds, I can tell you that. And the power outages. You ever been through a long power outage? I lived through a surprise ice storm in Atlanta back in the ’70s that knocked out the power for three days. You don’t want to go through that either. With any advance warning, we’d have left. But we had no warning and believe me, that was not a fun three days.

A FEW LAUGHS

I got a good laugh from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who got frustrated with people not obeying evacuation advice and said: “I saw some of these news feeds that I’ve been watching upstairs of people sitting on the beach in Asbury Park. Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You’re done. It’s 4:30. You’ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach. Get in your cars and get out of those areas.” Not always fun being a governor.

A hurricane expert on a New York beach, in an interview, was worried about New Yorkers not heeding the warnings: “You can always tell a New Yorker … but you can’t tell him much.”

So yes, I’m worried about those people on the East Coast, especially farther north where they don’t have hurricanes very often. But it could be I’m worried for no reason. After all, the way CNN is hyping the story, there’s no way of knowing what the reality is.

FOCUSED OR FIXATED?

It occurs to me, as CNN fixates on Hurricane Irene, that a good two-thirds or three-fourths of the country is not being affected by it. Surely there is some news happening in the rest of the country. Live storm shots from the beaches of North Carolina are so much more interesting than yet another story about the heat in Oklahoma or the latest haboob in Phoenix. But come on. Couldn’t we have a 5-minute update on the rest of the world, say, every hour or two?

So great is CNN’s disconnect (or focus, if you prefer), I’ve even had mental pictures of a soccer referee in Tripoli running down the street blowing his whistle and calling a time-out in the action while CNN focuses on the hurricane. When the hurricane passes, he’ll blow his whistle again and signal “play on” and everyone will start shooting again (bullets, not soccer balls). Gadhafi has probably enjoyed the time-out, gotten a good night’s sleep, ordered in some kusksi and tea, and just generally relaxed for a while. I can’t think of any other explanation for there being no mention of Libya all day, not even in the smallest scrolling type at the bottom of the screen.

Run, Gadhafi, run

Gadhafi
Gadhafi in better days

Moammar Gadhafi is probably not a happy camper today. Nobody seems to know where he is, but we know for sure he’s on the run, hiding, probably trying to get out of Libya.

It’s one thing, when you’re in power and in control, to announce to the world that you will never leave your country, that you’d rather fight to the end and die there. It’s quite another to keep saying it when armed rebels are at the door, when they’ve overrun your compound, when they are hot on your heels and leaving no stone unturned to find you. (Under rocks is the first place anyone looks for people like you.)

It’s too late to negotiate that exile on the tranquil beaches of Tunisia, with your family all around you, and maybe those Amazonian bodyguards as well. Probably even that air-conditioned tent you’re so fond of.  Nope. You were determined to stay in Libya, remember?

I’ll bet you’re not so determined now. I’ll bet you’re wishing you’d taken that chance when you had it. Because, after all, you never really wanted to die, did you?

It’s funny how people like you, whether running for your lives or hiding in caves, still get on the radio or phone and exhort your remaining followers to fight to the death, to drive the “rats” out of Tripoli or kill them where they stand — while you cower under your rock, pray they don’t find you, and look for a way out. Because we all know the chances those rats will settle for capturing you and turning you over to the proper authorities for trial is extremely small.

I’m not betting on those rats being that dispassionate. They are hyped up young men flexing their muscles — and guns — for perhaps the first time in their lives. You’ve probably seen the one who stole your gold-trimmed hat and mace from your bedroom and paraded proudly before his comrades and the press. Imagine being the rat who actually kills you.

War is not healthy for children

Lorriane Schneider’s famous 1967 Vietnam protest poster

I’m usually insulated from the news on weekends because there’s always something else going on. So I was caught completely off guard when I clicked on the MSNBC website a short time ago and saw this headline:

Gadhafi’s youngest son, grandkids killed in NATO attack

Gadhafi’s name scarcely registered as I saw “son, grandkids killed.” It didn’t really matter at that moment who the father and grandfather was. Someone, in a horrible split second, in the middle of a family gathering, had seen a beloved son and three grandchildren blown to pieces. I don’t have words for the sorrow I felt or the emptiness inside. You’d have to be a parent and grandparent to even begin to understand.

No doubt a lot of people are thinking that with Gadhafi right there in the same room, it was just bad luck he wasn’t killed. And many more are probably hoping the loss of so many family members will finally convince him to leave Libya. And maybe I will too, tomorrow, or next week.

Today a NATO pilot pushed a button and almost killed Gadhafi. Almost. Instead, a son and three grandchildren died. It’s time to get out of Libya. And out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Before we and our allies kill any more sons or grandchildren. Before any more grandparents have to mourn.