By Matthew Rothschild on October 20, 2011

I never mourn the death of a dictator.

Good riddance to Muammar Qaddafi, who terrorized his people for 42 years.

But neither do I cheer summary executions of anyone, no matter how brutal.

Just as the United States was wrong to rub out an unarmed Osama bin Laden, so, too, the Libyan rebels were wrong to murder the captured Qaddafi.

You can see the rebels parading Qaddafi around still alive.

You can see them bouncing his head up and down after he’s apparently dead.

The answer to barbarism is not more barbarism.

Amnesty International is right to ask for an investigation into Qaddafi’s death.

Nor do I applaud President Obama’s triumphalism.

“Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives,” he said. This may yet prove to be a precedent for future U.S. bombing wars, where a subsequent President will illegally attack another country with impunity, and will get away with it because he hasn’t put ground troops in harm’s way. During this Libya War , the Obama Administration used the lack of a threat to our service members as a justification for not invoking the War Powers Act.

President Obama crowed that the Libya War demonstrates “the strength of American leadership across the world.” Rather, it shows that might makes right.

And the hypocrisy of the U.S. position could hardly be greater. In 2003, the Bush Administration rehabilitated Qaddafi, who became an ally of the United States in the “war on terror.” In fact, the CIA used Qaddafi’s intelligence service to torture detainees that the U.S. sent over to Libya.

The CIA “rendered” eight or nine detainees to Qaddafi’s intelligence service, and sent questions along with for the torturers to ask, according to Human Rights Watch, in an interview with Democracy Now.

The CIA may even have had agents present during some of the questioning.

In 2008, Condoleezza Rice visited Qaddafi in Libya.

The next year, Obama shook his hand, and John McCain offered him arms.

When it was convenient for Washington to support Qaddafi, it did so.

When it was convenient to attack him, it did so.

But the Obama administration didn’t attack Bahrain when it cracked down on people fighting for democracy against that kingdom. No, Washington even let Saudi Arabia, another kingdom, invade Bahrain to help put down the nonviolent uprising.

For the people of Libya, long oppressed by Qaddafi, this is a day of liberation.

But it is no vindication of U.S. policy.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Bernie Sanders Denounces Free Trade Pacts."

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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