Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Elephant in the tent

I was as amused, as much as Mrs Hogday was infuriated,  as we listened last night to the politicians and generals ducking and diving from the questions about whether Gaddafi (or Gaffa`, as I expect the Sun to dub him anytime soon, if they haven't already) is a legitimate target. It reminded me of the questions I would occasionally be asked to field on behalf of my old force, whenever there had been the fatal shooting of someone in an armed police operation. Thankfully, my old force hadn't experienced one of these, albeit they had shot someone during my tenure (he survived) but of course every day that passes when there isn't a fatal shooting by a police force is a day nearer the one they will eventually get. The questions from the press were  as searching (quite rightly) as they were blunt (a few were just plain crass) and my ACPO group seemed very keen and eager to pass them on to me to answer as, `you're the chap who is in charge of such matters, you understand, don't you, Mr Hogday`? But I'm not going to trip out my answers here.

What I have noticed over the years, is the interesting take on leadership and control that `the Colonel` has   incrementally developed into his own doctrine. He says that he is not in command and control and he is not `the leader`, but that the power is very much in the hands of the people through the various `peoples committees` that he has established. He sees his personality as his greatest strength and has indeed developed the `great leader, great man` mannerisms. He referred to Obama as `my son` in a recent diatribe. How stately and worldly wise of him to broadcast that fatherly self-image. His long speeches on state TV will occasionally show his eyes glazing over and staring into the great beyond to give his people the idea of his honorable intentions.

This has similarities elsewhere, where the `symbolic` leader was, similarly, not swamped with the burden of decision making or of administration. Elswhere, that same symbolic leader was not burdened with the task of appointing other leaders within his developing organisation, but said that the most appropriate person for the job would rise up to that position by his own achievements, winning the respect of the people by demonstrating his value and, ultimately, his strength to beat others into submission to secure his position - how very Darwinian was this `survival of the fittest` doctrine. The symbolic head of state would simply arbitrate and give direction as to the desired state and direction of the nation.

Recently `the colonel` has been heard saying, to those of his people who want change, `there will be no mercy shown`. In that other time and place, the words, "Close your hearts to pity. Act brutally" were the clarion call. And at the end, when it all unravelled, when all was eventually lost, the symbolic leader looked to `his people` and decided that they obviously just weren't worthy of him and were unfit for his leadership. He turned on his own people and wreaked a hideous revenge enshrined in what was known as "The Nero Order" or, as it appeared at the time, "Nero Befehl". He didn't hang around very long after that.

14 comments:

allcoppedout said...

One tilt on Gaddafi takes the stance that he is at least an honest barking raving loony. Have a good time. I'm hoping my trip proves entirely dull and unadventurous. I have forgotten why I'm being sent, and with luck no one will remember until I've eaten the food, paddled in the sea and made my way home. It's only ten years since Arab colleagues were telling me life was safer for decent people from Bahrain to Casablanca than in London. Never understood much about the issues, other than large numbers of people kept poor with no real jobs, while vapid rich jerks did their thing. Colonel G would be some way down my hit list, after the smug banker section.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Don't disagree there. I just could never forgive or forget over Yvonne Fletcher, Pan Am 103 or the tons of semtex and AK's he supplied the PIRA, gratis.
PS. Has that terminally ill Al Magrahi bloke died yet?

sparkflash said...

I can't help but feel that if you're unwilling to kill the man who orders out the soldiers that you are currently dropping ordnance upon, then you need to take a look at your priorities and ask what it is you're actually doing.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Spark: Spoken like a true non-politician. We are clearly targetting his command and control hardwear in order to safeguard our aircraft. If he happens to cop a piece of shrapnel, c`est la vie. But you won't hear a `manager` say anything more specific. I can live with that.

Blue Eyes said...

Magrahi doesn't seem to have even been that sick. I don't know whether that reflects badly on the NHS or well on his legal advocates. Maybe New Labour were just a bunch of corrupt bastards. Who knows?

It is an interesting question: what exaclty *are* we doing? Are we somehow demilitarising Libya so that dissenters can be oppressed peacefully or are we forcing Libya to take a more open and tolerant approach to political discussion by knocking out the regime?

The answer is a bit too complicated for my tiny mind, but I think we would have been on stronger moral ground if we had bombed the country to smithereens decades ago.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Blue: We're maintaining a relative profile :-/

JuliaM said...

" Has that terminally ill Al Magrahi bloke died yet?"

No, but the USAF is working on it, one civilian at a time..

JuliaM said...

"... I think we would have been on stronger moral ground if we had bombed the country to smithereens decades ago."

Spot on!

Hogdayafternoon said...

JuliaM: Re the USAF comments, I think that was either a case of jolly good luck, or warning shots that were a tad on the wrong side of accurate. Judging from other pics, the poor buggers are in as much danger from themselves and their `celebratory` gunfire as they are from our military. They obviously haven't seen "Black Hawk Down" ;)

Hogdayafternoon said...

JuliaM: Incidentally, we never did `warning shots` in the police. Warning Shot Def: `A shot in your general direction, which may do more than warn`. `One persons sniper fire is anothers warning shot` (it all depends on how well he squeezes the trigger and which eye he looks through`....I've lots more of these.

JuliaM said...

"JuliaM: Incidentally, we never did `warning shots` in the police. "

Heh" I did once read (can't remember which police blog) of an enterprising cop engaged in a foot chase doing a very credible dog impression after shouting 'Stop or I let the police dog go!'... ;)

TonyF said...

The difference between a Marksman and a constipated owl?

One shoots to hit.....

Hogdayafternoon said...

JuliaM: :D A mate of mine tried that once, in a ploughed field in the sticks. The reply from the wily villain drifted back across the dark, "Bollocks, you haven't got a f`ing dog" ;)

Tony: :)) and the difference between a police truncheon and a magicians wand..

One is for cunning stunts...

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

The interesting thing with the Libyan rebellion is not what is happening, but what isn't happening. There're quite a few tribesmen in the west of Libya who don't have much cause to love Gadaffi, but who thus far haven't done a blessed thing save sit around and watch the Easterners clown around. In fact, apart from a rag-tag collection of nitwits, malcontents and assorted loons, there doesn't seem to be all that much of a popular rebellion in Libya at all.

The fact that there is a rebellion in the east of the country suggests that Gadaffi deserves the tag of "mad dictator"; any third-world dictator worth his salt fears rebellion all the damn time, and does his level best to keep tabs on the would-be rebels in his country with a view to disappearing any which seem dangerously competent, and scaring the fools into piping down.

Gadaffi seems to have culled the clever rebels alright, but hasn't supressed the idiots well enough, and it is idiots who make up the rebels now.

The response of the Western governments has been a series of discoveries based on poor intelligence. Initially, the rebellion was dismissed as minor unrest. Then, when it looked like they might be competent enough to see off a deranged dictator, they got help. Now it is becoming painfully clear that the rebellion is composed of utter gibbering idiots so demented and militarily useless that even Gadaffi's remaining ground troops will be enough to eventually finish them off.

I therefore predict that the Western nations will likely sit back and just wait to see what happens. The likeliest outcome is a lot of dead rebels, and Gadaffi staying in power for some years to come.