Feb. 23rd, 2011

David Mack

Feb. 23rd, 2011 10:53 am
purejuice: (girlfriends are forever)
Former U.S. ambassador David Mack was just interviewed on the Beeb about Qaddafi. As an Arabist, he recalled listening to speeches by Qaddafi in 1969, when both men were young. Qaddafi's recent speech, said Mack, who has been listening to the colonel for 40 years, was very disjointed and far less compelling, in Libyan terms, than those of the young Qaddafi.

He said further something I've been thinking about for a long time, that unilateral action on the part of the U.S. does not change internal politics. Neither bombing nor sanctions changed Qaddafi's position on terrorism. The U.N. sanctions -- termed by Mack as carefully crafted and multilateral -- did change Qaddafi's internal logic. Nothing short of war, said Mack, which effects regime change, can work and our incursion into Iraq, he said, diplomatically, has rendered future such endeavors unlikely.

He said he thought Qaddafi would, as he promised to do, die on Libyan soil, not least because nobody else wants an exiled Qaddafi.

The notion that economic sanctions do not work except to torment the common people, and to form not just strange but unholy trade partnerships among sanction outlaws like (as I recall) the fortress of apartheid South Africa and genocidal Likud Israel (as opposed to the Promised Land, which I also believe in) is something I have been thinking about for a long time.

My father, who spent his working life abroad, as a biologist and (occasionally) a spy, hated diplomats. He called them the stripey-pants boys. And they can, mostly when they're political appointees, be assholes on wheels, truly damaging in every way. But guys like Mack -- listening to Qaddafi's speeches in his own language for 40 years -- are the very best government service can offer. Institutional memory with eyewitness accountability. Certainly Mack will have craftily ridden the political winds to continue to rise in the service for 40 years, but his experience and assiduity is something we should all be grateful for.

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