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An Open Letter to the Libyan Rebels: Don’t Copy Our Mistakes

Libyan rebels take heed.  Since relatively little remains left over from the Gaddafi regime, the transition process provides the first chance in the Arab Spring for national replanting in newly plowed soil.  Neither Egypt nor Tunisia enjoys such an opportunity.  Lest your opportune moment be let slip, cautions and recommendations carry more urgency.

Invariably the American model of organizing society will exert some influence, if only because the United States is a superpower, both militarily and culturally.  NATO proved very effective from the air in attacking Gaddafi’s military infrastructure in support of your rebellion.  But the fact that free Libya now owes France, the UK and the USA a particular debt of gratitude is no basis for blindly emulating Euro-American societies, anymore than the Ten Commandments require us to honor father and mother by imitating their faults.

Despite all their military might, the USA and the leading military powers in NATO are being sullied beyond description by abortions numbering in the millions annually.  More than all the other nations, America has been bloodstained by wars increasingly frequent and by the demands of global empire.  Economic evils emanating from America include rampant materialism and consumerism; also the multi-billion dollar U.S. arms industries, exporting death and destruction to Third World nations.  Culturally, American pornography and other licentious mutations of liberty are contaminating societies around the world.  The latest pollution emitted by the United States derives from a seemingly unquenchable compulsion to proselytize the whole planet about the necessity of equality in sexual orientation.

All these abominations and more have come to pass in my country through a top-down revolution, a postmodernist transmutation, forced upon us by oligarchs bedecked in the black robes of the Federal Judiciary.  Also complicit are politicians in the pay of corporate plutocrats who field armies of lobbyists — mercenaries analogous in some ways to the hired guns paid for by your accursed headman, Muammar Gaddafi.

Heed, therefore, a few flares sent by a Yankee privateer to the heretofore oppressed citizens of Libya.  First, know that as monotheists you have a lot more in common with the Judeo-Christian populace here, than with the pagan political class that governs the United States.  Do not be alienated from us by divisive exaggerations about crusades and jihads, or paranoia about Al Qaeda.  Imitate America’s worthy traditions, but spurn her postmodern forms of tyranny, and avoid her growing tendencies of late to impiety and immorality.

Pay no heed to the self-aggrandizing gibberish emerging from America’s governing class about our being “the greatest nation on God’s green earth.”  I refer here to the bipartisan political class, which cuts across all party affiliations.

Instead be aware that unlike our governing elites, most Americans see the nation as being off track.  I, as one citizen, still adhere to Alexis de Tocqueville’s maxim, paraphrased by the leader who presided over the 1950’s, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Said Eisenhower, “America is great because America is good; and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

Look, therefore, to the patterns and principles which made the USA great over many decades; but which are, by their omission and countermanding, corrupting our polity, economy and culture.

Let me propose three specific cautions, along with some recommendations on how to build up your country into a beautiful North African republic (or constitutional monarchy, if you prefer).  First, consider that the political class here likes to tout the merits of an independent judiciary, which is entrusted with protection of the Constitution.  Six years ago, US Secretary of State, Condolessa Rice, delivered a much publicized speech in Cairo[i] heralding the day “when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice.” On the contrary, however, America’s judiciary is very much about arbitrary rule, in that it has declared virtual independence from the written Constitution.  Our politburo of nine has in effect reduced the U.S. Constitution to wrapping paper for their preferred political agendas.

Do, therefore, keep your new judiciary within bounds.  Beware of some provisions in your Draft Constitution for the post-Gaddafi transitional stage in Libya.  Articles 31-32 include this:  “Judges shall be independent, subject to no other authority but the law and conscience.”  Please, I urge you, do not let your leaders repeat the mistakes of recent and ancient history.  Keeping a judicial branch of government confined by a system of checks and balances is a precarious feat requiring care and continuous vigilance.  Study, for example, Judge Robert Bork’s, Coercing Virtue, The Worldwide Rule of Judges.[ii]

Remember that some 300 miles from present-day Tripoli stood the capitol of the ancient Carthaginian republic.  Over it a judicial dictatorship presided, the council of 104.  Possessing life tenure (much like today’s U.S. federal judges), the 104 let the senate, the suffets and the popular assembly continue to deliberate, preside, and retain the trappings of government.  But “like a halter around their necks” the “irresponsible despotism” of the judges presided ultimately over the government.

Second, be vigilant lest a political class of incumbent politicians — backed by big money so as to virtually guarantee reelection — dominates your legislative branch of government.  You will then fall into a sophisticated form of despotism masquerading as democracy.  The best antidote to the ascendancy of postmodern forms of tyranny is a rapid rotation in office.  It was no mere coincidence in my country that, in 1995, a convergence of the officeholder class and the unelected, practically irremovable, life-tenured U.S. Supreme Court crushed the populist term limits movement.  (U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton)

Your Draft Constitution, article 28, excludes members of the Transitional National Council from serving on the constitutional convention slated to be elected “after the lapse of one month of liberation.”  This self-denying ordinance hints at rotation in office.  Let your lobbying and your demonstrations bring pressure upon the TNC to conduct free and fair elections to such a convention; and then elect delegates pledged to institute meaningful term limits.

Rotation, or term-limits, is an inspiration dating from antiquity.  Originating in the Greek city-states, a mandatory rotation of officeholders was soon applied to the Roman republic, with a mandatory ten year interval before a citizen could serve again in the same political office.  When Rome abandoned term limits in the highest magistracies, it was not long before the republic gave way to the dictatorship of warlords styling themselves Caesars.

Many centuries later rotation in office was reborn in the American Revolution.  Among the Founding Fathers of the United States, imposing term-limits was an important consideration.  The principle of rotation in office was enshrined in some state constitutions of that time, notably Pennsylvania where Benjamin Franklin’s influence was evident; and most prominently in our first national constitution, the Articles of Confederation (articles 5 and 9).  Had 20th century Americans not neglected this old democratic principle, the USA might still be a genuine republic, instead of a plutocratic oligarchy.  Under the cleansing influence of rotation in office, the first three words of the U.S. Constitution, “we the people,” might still be operative – rather than serving as democratic pretense.

Third, look askance at agendas labeled as “secular.”  This term is a euphemism in the postmodernist West for ghettoizing religion, and for various degrees of persecution against faith-based institutions.  Although there is a considerable gulf between our Judeo-Christian tradition and your Islamic tradition, at least both belief systems are monotheistic.  We do share the Ten Commandments and other moral precepts: “enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works (Koran 3:114).  But there is a vast chasm, a cultural Grand Canyon, between our respective religious traditions on the one hand, and the practical atheism pushed in the West under the title of secularism.

A glance at U.S. currency will reveal the motto, “In God We Trust.”  Our official flag pledge includes the phrase, “one nation under God.”  Alas, these maxims have been reduced to hypocritical mush.  They are grand forms from our illustrious past, but they exercise little sway upon the sordid postmodern regime that governs the current era.

Note, however, that dissidents here are trying to revive the principles that made our country great.  Similarly, you rebels are fighting for national renewal.  In both America and Libya may Divine Providence prosper our best efforts!  God is great.

 ______

[i] Condoleezza Rice, “democracy speech,” June 2005, American University of Cairo.

“The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees, and when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice.”  Feb. 2005: Rice similarly preached in Russia about “strengthening the role of an independent judiciary.”  July 2008, Tbilisi: Rice proselytized for an independent judiciary in the Republic of Georgia.

[ii] Robert H. Bork, Coercing Virtue, The Worldwide Rule of Judges (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute Press, 2003).


Bob Struble is a retired history teacher, and a writer of books, articles and poems. He is Lecturer for the Knights of Columbus in Bremerton WA, and is an associate editor at Catholic Lane.
  • Here is a pertinent excerpt from PM David Cameron’s speech today in the British House of Commons:

    “Next, political transition. Some people warned – as Gaddafi himself did – that the Libyan people could not be trusted with freedom; that without Gaddafi there would be chaos.

    “What is emerging now, despite years of repression, and the trauma of recent months, is immensely impressive. Enormous difficulties lie ahead but the Libyan people are showing the world their resilience and spirit.”