Libya is Liberated; Would We, Could We Liberate Ourselves?

COMMENTARY | The last remaining pockets of resistance loyal to Muammar Gaddafi were no match for the Libyan rebels Monday as they stormed the capital in Tripoli. Three of Gaddafi’s sons were detained, all of whom played a role in Libya’s administration. Gaddafi’s whereabouts are not currently known, though world leaders and some important countries in the Middle East have already acknowledged the rebels as the new leaders, according to Reuters.

While the citizens of Libya overwhelmingly supported the revolutionary takeover and took to the streets in celebration as the rebel insurgency climaxed, the fractious rebels have created a high level of uncertainty over Libya’s political future. Gaddafi’s absence after 42 years as ruler has left a severe power vacuum that will not be filled easily. Libya, being an oil-rich nation, is a prime target for foreign interference in the transitional period.

The image of solitary citizens falling to sniper fire in a group of hundreds of advancing, unflinching rebels is one that will stick with me forever. I know there was a time in America when freedom was just as important to us, when warriors who were scarcely equipped charged headlong into oncoming volleys of British musket fire. While the citizens knew a comrade just fell a few feet away and their head could now be filling the scope of the shooter, they simply picked up the body and kept marching.

Does it take 40 years of oppression to incite revolutionary action? Will the result last longer than that of a peaceful resolution that would have stunted Gaddafi’s control before he consolidated his power? Countries in the Middle East seem to be on edge as it is, so why did it take so long for the citizens to revolt? When I think back to our own revolution, I wonder if we are capable of reproducing the event that defined us as a nation in the 21st century. While it seems unlikely, mounting debt and increased government interference makes some kind of action more inevitable every day.

Lacking political motivation, the one thing the United States has in place that is crucial to any revolution is the means to distribute information quickly over long distances. The role social media has played in the lead up to Libya’s upheaval was apparent. While it is nice to see revolutionaries opposed to a ruthless dictator organize and eventually overthrow said dictator, the method of organization is eerily similar to the flash mobs that celebrities spawn weekly via Twitter. China’s oppressive government is probably stepping up measures on its social networking ban as we speak.

A revolution in China would be hailed as a magnificent win for democracy, much as the revolutions in Libya and 1776 America were. When revolution challenges our ideas, it suddenly becomes a bad thing. So in the hope of keeping the tide of revolution on the heels of a successful overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, I say we send Chromebooks overseas and beam satellite Internet to China.

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