When Harrison Ford starred in The Fugitive, who would have thought subsequent adaptations of that motion picture would feature the likes of Sadaam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and now, the brother leader himself, Muammar Gadaffi? With each sequel, the plot thickens. On closer reflection however, it would appear that the ever elusive fugitive is not so much the oppressive tyrant or the fanatical terrorist leader but the ideals of true freedom and self determination.
As the net closes in on Gadaffi , we understand that the latest technology has been deployed to track him down. US Air Force’s RC 135 ‘Rivet Joint’ surveillance planes are reportedly eavesdropping on telephone calls and communications all across Libya in a bid to glean some useful intelligence on his whereabouts. For their part in the manhunt, Nato is using satellite imagery to pin-point Gadaffi’s exact location. So far, all the technology at the disposal of the US and Nato has come up short. The eccentric brother leader continues to evade his captors. He is on the run but can he hide? And if so, for how long?
Whilst the fugitive flees, one can’t help but think that we have been here before. The downtrodden of a resource rich third world nation muster enough resolve to ouster a despot with the support of foreign super powers. Or should we say a coterie of foreign super powers seize the opportunity of a revolt in a resource rich third world country in order to consolidate their interests?
Once again, we have a civil war which is stark reminder that the pursuit of genuine political and economic freedom in the third world continues to elude all and sundry, from the strong to the weak, the rulers and the ruled. We have seen it all before. Firebrands like Gadaffi who at some golden age in their careers dedicated their energies to fighting western imperialism end up as despots, perhaps not out of ambition but certainly driven by egocentrism and the fear of losing the ideological battle to the West they seek to thwart. This is why in Africa, we have time and again travelled to hell and back on a road paved with good intentions. No sooner than we hail the liberators do we curse them as oppressors when the freedoms they fought for are negated by the exercise of despotic power.
On the other side of the spectrum, in a never ending game of smoke and mirrors, Western capitalists advance democracy as a means to gain access to and control resources they don’t have; resources they desperately need in order to wield total financial domination over the nations of the world. In the case of Libya, the resource in question is oil. Another war has been unashamedly been sponsored by those who I am loathe to say, seek not the freedom of Libyans but her oil and the profits therefrom. Democracy was their rallying cry but it belies the greed which motivated them to send in their special forces in support of the rebel insurrection.
Today Gadaffi is a fugitive not so much because was a dictator who oppressed his people but because he failed in creating a better system of domination than capitalism. He failed in creating a system that is more potent and less subtle in its oppression than Western capitalism. He failed in the art of sophisticating the domination of hearts and minds because he took far too much and gave away far too little if any at all when it came to spreading Libya’s wealth among its people.
His opponents led by America, champion a far more compelling model. It is a model which promises the fruits of democracy – jobs, prosperity, human rights and all manner of economic freedoms. But nothing could be further from the truth. Capitalism and not democracy is the goal. Democracy and solidarity with those like the National Transitional Council of Libya who fight for it, is only a means to that goal; a smokescreen at best.
One cannot help but think that here we are yet again, lost in the swirling haze of another civil war where the painful reality awaits Libyans who over the last six months have fought heroically against tyranny. It is a reality that says the more things change the more they remain the same. Like in Iraq, as soon as the dust of war settles, the corporations of the west will move in and Libyan economic landscape and society will be reordered but not necessarily for the better. There may be new masters in Tripoli but behind the scenes, the rules of the game remain the same. At some point, Gadaffi the fugitive is sure to be found, but for as long as democracy is collateral to capitalism, the economic freedom Libyans and indeed all oppressed peoples everywhere seek will for a long time to come, remain elusive.