Libyan Rebels Capture Parts of Tripoli
Albert Einstein once said that if you put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, it seems like an hour, but if you sit with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. That's relativity. This behavior in human feelings occurs in every subject and experience, and the influence of such feeling in public opinions on politics is one of the greatest forces in current affairs.
With the breaking news of the fall of parts of Tripoli to the Libyan rebels to an amazingly limited resistance, the effects of such relative contrasts will soon be seen amongst public opinions outside Libya. Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has been captured already, and “success” can be seen in the many pictures of flag waving in a Libyan version of La Liberté Guidant le Peuple.
The civil war has lasted about half a year, and when NATO decided to begin aerial bombardment of Qaddafi, public opinions against the decision was very high, and when it looked like Qaddafi might be regaining power and the resistance would be largely crushed back to something like the Emmanuel Goldstein proportions of Nineteen-Eighty-Four, many were condemning the cost of supporting those rebelling against a Tito who has repeatedly brutalized himself and his sycophantic or coerced supporters. But the scenes now coming from Tripoli and Libya will change that. Publics have always enjoyed a “good war”, one where the battle is won, quickly and with little cost. George E. W. Bush received the highest level of approval in those slippery presidential approval ratings that any president has ever received, due to the successful outcome of the first Gulf War. Of course, Saddam was not removed that time, and so “success” here is relative of viewpoint, and with the longer period of time taken to free Iraq from despotism and the public opinion towards that operation, it’s not difficult to see why politicians may have reached their decisions the first time around.
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In the years to come, this half a year of struggle against Qaddafi will fade like Bush’s approval ratings did. Once Qaddafi has finally gone a majority of the outside world will feel assured that there will be no chance of the resistance fading and the struggle against Qaddafi having been in vain. It will have been, from their point of view, a “good war”, let alone how it can be seen for Libyans. For most people outside of Libya, in particular NATO countries, what is desired is a good investment. This will have been a good investment, for possible months, if not years ahead of uncertainty over an outcome are now beginning to be seen as not just highly unlikely, but almost improbable.