Out of a Military Strike a Humanitarian Gesture

By Dallas Darling

As reporters walked through pools of blood and decapitated body parts on marble floors, they found the remains of an elderly merchant still in his nightclothes. Children, buried in rubble and crushed by "guided" missiles and bombs, were frantically being pulled from what used to be a two-story villa. Back in the U.S., the Pentagon’s Messengers – CNN and the New York Times – were reporting that thirty U.S. Navy and Air Force bombers had just shelled Tripoli and Benghazi, killing Muammar Gaddafi’s adopted daughter and several other civilians. President Reagan announced the brutal raid against Libya was in "self defense against future attacks."(1)

This fatal military strike came to mind when it was announced that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (son of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi) and his Tripoli-based Gaddafi International Charity and Development Association were sending a humanitarian ship to Gaza. The Moldova flagged cargo ship, renamed Hope, is loaded with 2,000 tons of food supplies, medicines, and building materials, to assist the people of Gaza. While children in Gaza are suffering from malnutrition, (The UN has deemed it a tragic humanitarian crisis.) others live under constant threat of Israeli strikes and military incursions. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi says Hope is purely for humanitarian reasons and wants to avoid any kind of hostilities.

The 1986 U.S.-Libyan War started when Washington blamed Muammar Gaddafi for the attack on U.S. soldiers in a Berlin discotheque. President Ronald Reagan "retaliated" by bombing Tripoli and Benghazi, two of Libya’s largest cities. Clashes between U.S. naval forces and several Libyan ships occurred off the coast too. President Reagan denounced Gaddafi as a "mad dog." Media commentators applauded the effort to "take out" Gaddafi. Still, others advocated "nuking him."(2) A New York Times editorial even asserted that it was perfectly appropriate to "kill innocent civilians, or murderous states would never fear retribution." (3)

In 2002, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said, "One of the worst times in my family’s life together was the United States bombing raid on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986." He further relates how he was only 14 at the time and without warning, U.S. bombers rained down rockets. According to Gaddafi, "I was woken up by loud crashing sounds and explosions, it was terrifying. Our house had been directly hit. Sadly, some of my brothers and sisters were too young to know what to do, and they became trapped in one part of the house when a corridor collapsed. When we dug them out we found that Hannah, my youngest sister, had died. She was just four years old." (4)

While several volunteers from Libya, Nigeria and Morocco, who will be participating in the relief efforts, believe it is time to test Israel’s military siege and blockade around Gaza, Gaddafi believes the people of Libya should demonstrate responsibility and compassion towards the people of Gaza. He also acknowledges that a Turkish humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza was just raided by Israeli naval and military forces, killing nine Turkish volunteers. Still, Gaddafi believes the humanitarian gesture will win-out over military strikes and raids. If only Israel and the United States would do the same.

– Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.


(1) Smith, Michael K. Portraits Of Empire: Unmasking Imperial Illusions From The ‘American Century’ To The ‘War On Terror’. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2003., p. 250.
(2) Ibid., p. 251.
(3) Ibid., p. 251.
(4) Saif al-Islam Muammar Al-Gaddafi, from Wikipedia. "Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi v. The Daily Telegraph". 2002-08-21. Retrieved 2008-08-09.

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