BY RICH GALEN
Reprinted from mullings.com
You have to hand it to Moammar Gadhafi. When many leaders of Islamic and/or Arabic nations are are struggling to find a way to calm down protesters by offering to do things like sitting down and talking with the opposition, he sends his son out to declare, according to NBC News, that the Gadhafi regime will “fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet” to keep itself in power.
Gadhafi’s son, Seif, went on to say that the demonstrations could trigger a civil war during which ” Libya ‘s oil wealth ‘will be burned.'”
As a data point, Libya is not among the 15 largest exporters of oil to the U.S. but it has the largest reserves of all African oil producing nations.
MSNBC, perhaps with its Comcast tongue-in-cheek, pointed out in its story on Seif’s TV appearance that Moammar’s “son has often been put forward as the regime’s face of reform.”
If Seif Gadhafi is the “face of reform” in Libya , then I’m the “face of young, liberal blogging” in the U.S.
According to the New York Times, two of the reforms Seif offered were, “a new flag, a new national anthem.”
Maybe the new anthem can be to the tune made famous by Groucho Marx in the 1939 film, “At the Circus” which begins: Lydia , oh Lydia …
The title of the song is ” Lydia , the Tattooed Lady, but I’m not sure how that translates into Arabic.
On April 15, 1986, the U.S. launched an air attack against Libya in retaliation for, according to the BBC, “terrorism aimed at America , such as the bombing of La Belle discotheque in West Berlin 10 days [previous].”
Two hours after the attack, President Ronald Reagan went on TV to say:
“When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I’m in this office.”
Still sounds like a pretty good operating theory for an American President.
Apparently in retaliation for that attack, on December 21, 1988, Libyans planted a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded over Scotland , killing all 259 on board the flight and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie , Scotland .
All this to say there has not been much love lost between the U.S. and Libya going all the way back to 1805 when the U.S. Marines captured the port of Derna in Tripoli hence the line in the Marine Corps Hymn, “to the shores of Tripoli .”
With all this unease in Africa and the Middle East it is no surprise that oil futures are back on the rise. In addition to Libya’s 1.6 million barrels per day (just under eight percent of the U.S. daily needs) there are growing fears that civil unrest will spread to Iran which is second, according to Bloomberg News, only to Saudi Arabia among OPEC nations in the amount of oil produced.
Iran produces about 3.7 million barrels per day (about 23 percent of our daily consumption) and any civil disobedience which materially interrupts that flow will have a dramatic impact on world oil supplies and, therefore, world oil prices.
I am not suggesting the U.S. – or any civilized nation – support brutal regimes like Tunisia , Egypt , Libya or Iran , but the apparently growing number of demonstrations will not come without a price.
If this spreads to Saudi Arabia , which pumps about 12.5 million barrels per day, we may long for the good old days of August 2008 when crude spiked to $148 per barrel and gasoline at the pump jumped to $4 per gallon.
The militia loyal to the Gadhafis have reportedly killed more than 230 protesters and if Seif’s threat is real, that number could grow quickly and dramatically.
The Iranians have already shown that brutal counter-attacks can have the desired effect of breaking the back of demonstrations; Gadhafi appears to be ready to apply that technique as the unrest spreads to the capitol of Tripoli .
The unrest in Bahrain , on the other hand, appears to be diminishing as the government there – after one day of military intervention – appears to have reversed course and is reaching out to the demonstrators to address their grievances.
As the Voice of America reported on its website:
“Opposition leaders in Bahrain say they are finalizing a list of demands that they will present to the country’s leaders after Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa called for a national dialogue to help diffuse ongoing political unrest in the Persian Gulf nation.”
Libya, oh Libya …
Editor’s Note: Rich Galen publishes at mullings.com to which you can subscribe. He is a former aide to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a long-time public affairs and political professional who has had several tours of duty in Iraq working with the U.S. military’s public affairs operations.