Friday, February 25, 2011

Libya and Anarchy

Watching what is happening in Libya and well, many countries in the Middle East, I can’t help but think of something my dad reported 30 years ago. I’ll get to that in a minute.

My dad was quite knowledgeable about a lot of things and since his naval days at the end of World War 2, he was particularly “up” on the Middle East and Europe. He has worked there also, as a Pipe Super for Brown and Root.

Around 1980, Gaddafi ordered the Gulf of Sidra closed to international traffic - a clear violation of an international agreement and then ordered his military to shoot down a US Boeing EC-135. Be it far from President Jimmy Carter to respond militarily, so Gaddafi became bolder.

In mid 1981, Col. Gaddafi became increasingly hostile towards the United States and this prompted a mass exodus of American workers from the country, my dad included. I remember the incident and the anxiety it caused my family.

It wasn’t long after Ronald Reagan became president that he decided it was time to challenge Gaddafi and this resulted in our navy shooting down 2 Russian made, but Libyan flown Migs over the Gulf of Sidra. We also lost 2 F-111’s over the ocean making their long way back to England, as the French would not let our military fly over their country. I guess it was okay 30+ years earlier for Americans to die on French soil to liberate them though – just stay out now.

Upon returning from Libyan soil, my Dad brought each of us souvenirs, but none of it was made in Libya. The reason for this as he explained, was that no one works in Libya – at least not Libyan citizens. Each citizen gets a cut from the oil profits, so there are no longer Libyan artisans and the country is rich in foreign workers from Sri Lanka, China, The Philippines, etc.

Now, due to the attempted eviction of Muammar al-Gaddafi, there is a mass exodus of foreign workers and when I say mass, I mean tens of thousands. My question is this: Who will do the work, since as my dad told me back in 1981 “When the oil is gone, there will be no one with remembered or learned skills and the foreign workers will all leave”.

I'm wondering if Libya will recover from this disruption even if they succeed in ousting their tyrant.

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