By Michael C. Moynihan
The blogosphere is in a lather after the White House's rebuke of the Israeli government (see here and here, for a general idea of what the two sides are arguing). But while alternately praised and reviled for "standing up" to the Netanyahu government, the Obama administration, in a little commented upon bout of grovelling in the Maghreb, offered a shameful volte face for supposedly insulting Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Asked to respond to Qaddafi's call for "jihad" against Switzerland, Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley commented, "I saw that report and it just brought me back to a day in September, one of the more memorable sessions of the UN General Assembly that I can recall. Lots of words and lots of papers flying all over the place, not necessarily a lot of sense."
If you cannot spare the 100 minutes required to watch, Qaddafi's paranoid rant, which would have embarrassed Alex Jones, is an exegesis of Israeli responsibility for the JFK assassination, the swine flu conspiracy, and the ravages of Western colonialism. In other words, Crowley was rather understating matters. But after complaints from Tripoli, the Obama administration forced Crowley to apologize for his hurtful words.
Western governments, desperate for "normalized relations" with the oil-rich Jamahiriya, have forbidden their representatives from saying anything that might hurt the feelings of the Qaddafi family or its captive population. So when police in Switzerland arrested the Libyan dictator's son Hannibal (for abusing the hired help), Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz flew to Tripoli, did a little soft shoe for the regime, and apologized for distress caused. Or, in a related case, when a Saudi lawyer, representing 97,000 relatives of a long-dead "prophet," demanded an apology from the Danish daily Politiken for reprinting the Mohammad cartoons, the newspaper's editor capitulated, offering a front page retraction.
Now that the mealy-mouthed, weak-kneed, striped-pant brigade in Foggy Bottom has clarified, has told Qaddafi that there was nothing insane or "offensive" (to use the favorite new word of Islamic theocrats) about his speech defending the Taliban and accusing the CIA of killing Martin Luther King, perhaps they can inquire about Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber once described as "terminally ill," but now, after being released into Libyan custody, feeling rather sprightly, having recently found a five year life extension after relocating from Scotland.
I wrote about my recent trip to Libya here.