Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If only George W. Bush's middle name were Qaddafi

So apparently the war in Libya isn't quite over yet.

But predictably, the gnashing of teeth has begun. I'm going to start calling it PISD, for Post Iraq Stress Disorder: panic, unease, and irrationality among foreign policy pundits, when confronted with any situation that even slightly resembles Iraq in 2003. The archetypal case is this New York Times article from earlier today: Wars Against Qaddafi and Saddam Show Parallels.

Many of the "parallels" cited would be more at home on a Lincoln/Kennedy Coincidences Commemorative Plate than in the Grey Lady. For instance, Qaddafi and Hussein both lived in cities with gates:
Like the Iraqi leader in 2003, [Qaddafi] had vowed to defeat the enemy at the gates of his capital, only to find his outer defenses, including his son Khamis’s widely-feared paramilitary unit, the 32nd Brigade, crumbling under rebel assault and NATO bombs.
And both built bunkers:
Rebel commanders on the ground appeared to have concluded that Colonel Qaddafi, after months of NATO bombing that had obliterated almost everything above ground in the compound, had retreated into a vast underground complex beneath the ruins — a last-ditch refuge similar to those that Mr. Hussein had underneath several of his Baghdad palaces.
Their respective disappearances were tangentially connected to household pests.
[Hussein] then disappeared for eight months until he surfaced again, literally, into the custody of American troops standing over his spider hole. In Colonel Qaddafi’s last radio address, he dismissed the Libyan rebels as “rats,” before he, too, vanished.
They even both had two sons!
In 2003, two of Mr. Hussein’s sons, including his likely heir, fled Baghdad without firing a shot; on Sunday, two other sons of Colonel Qaddafi, including his chosen heir, Seif al-Islam, surrendered quickly to the rebels.

Anyway, through some careful investigative work, I've managed to identify at least one slight difference between the wars in Iraq and Libya.
In another respect, too, Colonel Qaddafi appeared to have emulated the former Iraqi leader. As tumult gripped his capital, he disappeared. As American tanks seized the center of Baghdad, Mr. Hussein stood atop a Volkswagen Passat outside one of Baghdad’s main Sunni mosques and promised to stand with his people.
Seems like this might be important... but... oh wait! Did you realize that the names Qaddafi and Hussein each have seven letters? What have we done?!

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