Periscope Depth

this is your mission; pretend it’s television

NATO bombs Tripoli

NATO warplanes launched air strikes on the Libyan capital Tripoli on Thursday and state-run Al-Libiya TV channel [Yes, I know, not the most pristine source – Ed.] reported that there were casualties.

“Tripoli is now subjected to air strikes. There are civilian casualties,” a presenter said.

Reuters correspondents [is this better? – Ed.] reported hearing four blasts and saw plumes of smoke rising from the southeast of the city.

Let’s set aside for the moment the legalities of this war, the U.S.’s bipolar attitude toward Qaddafi over the last decade, the probable efficacy of a purely aerial campaign at ousting an entrenched dictator, the U.S.’s abysmal track record at picking sides in an African coup, the tremendous expense on an already debt-withered America, etc. All the trivial shit. Put that to the side for now.

I’m going to ask something purely tactical.

Let’s say I’m a resident of Al Jabal al Gharbi, one of the provinces between Misrata and Tripoli. I’m in my fifties. I’ve got a wife, three kids and a couple grandkids. I did some fairly undemanding maintenace work for Waha Oil Company, one of Libya’s nationalized oil producers – it paid well enough for me to retire. Like 90% of humanity, I’ve never been very political. Qaddafi gets on the TV and says some radical shit sometimes, and I hate having to pay off NOC officials just to get my reports approved, but it’s a living. So this is me: just a regular guy living between the site of a rebel uprising and the nation’s capital with no stake either way.

How do I avoid getting killed?

I have no desire to take up arms and join the rebellion. While it’d be nice to see Qaddafi go, I have my doubts that al-Hasidi is the kind of man I want to replace him. Plus, I’m over fifty. But I’m not going to put on a uniform and enlist in Qaddafi’s army, either (see the above).

If I’m driving to visit my sister in Tripoli, how do I avoid getting blown up by a NATO airstrike? If I hunker down in my house in Gharyan, how do I avoid rebels fighting the pro-Qaddafi forces in my neighborhood? If the rebels accuse me of loyalty to Qaddafi, how do I avoid being shot? If the loyalists accuse me of aiding the enemy, how do I avoid getting executed?

All I want to do is stay alive. How do I do that? And how do NATO airstrikes assist in that end?

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One thought on “this is your mission; pretend it’s television

  1. Hernando Hernandadando

    This is a really great post, for bunches of reasons, not least that it demonstrates the extent to which actual Libyans are just ciphers to Americans on all sides of the question.

    One of the best comments I’ve read.