Moussa Koussa: it sounds like a tastily-hot Maghreb dish. Hot it might prove to be, Maghreb it is, but a dish? That is somewhat farfetched. Actually, even though couscous sounds somewhat alike, Moussa Koussa is the (just now) ex-foreign minister of Libya. He is, let us mention it just in passing, also the ex-longtime-confident of Khadafy, the ex-chief of the intelligence services and, it is rumored, that he may have had some links with the Lockerbie bombing.

This morning the gray eminence came looking for food in London, and all “coalition members” (in reality only France, England and the USA) jumped with joy: the castle around Khadafy was now visibly crumbling, they claimed. Perhaps it was, but I was wondering what hand this man had in killings during the past decades , and in Khadafy’s stated aims to get rid of the (so-called) vermin in Benghazi, just one month ago. Why did he not, for instance, resign and flee together with other early defectors at the outbreak of the revolt?

Hague and Clinton, in particular, must be very desperate for good news if they embrace the flight of a brother-in-arms of the “Ole Colonel” with such enthusiasm. True to form for contemporary politicians – who unscrupulously explain any event as a proof of their self-proclaimed righteousness and their spirited insightfulness – they did not waste time wondering about Moussa’s past. They probably figured that they could not know about it until their own intelligence agents had fully debriefed the fugitive. Of course, someone at of the Foreign Office was also quick to declare that Moussa had not been offered asylum or shelter of any kind in Britain, keeping all options open to backtrack (and save political lives in England) if events warrant it.

And events may warrant it, for indeed the BBC reported a couple of hours into this twisty saga, that Moussa actually had had a fall-out with one of Khadafy’s sons not so long ago. All politicians know, especially those that are operating in less democratic settings (such as in dictatorships and within most political parties) that serious disagreements with the top-brass almost invariably end in the proverbial dungeons. In the case of Libya this may be literally true, if one is lucky enough to escape decapitation!

So then, why exactly did Moussa flee? Because he disagreed with Khadafy on how to maintain the sovereignty of their country? Because he was afraid that one or more tentacles of the regime would neck him anyway? Or, because of all of the above, augmented by the fact that he wanted to come clean in a democratic setting about the policies and actions that he has supported and undertaken over the last forty years?

If Moussa is your average politician (and, by the way, the variance around the mean in this profession is extremely small – therefore most of them are very average in this day and age), he has calculated that his best and perhaps only chance of personal survival was to flee, to escape in fact. The average politicians that awaited him on the other side, calculated that in their cards he fitted best as a prize ace of a crumbling regime. And, as the media in general seem to support this war, the actors were allowed to stage their show as they saw fit, without too much question or interference: the script is written as we speak and the choirs are singing in synchrony.

The marketing of the shady sides of this ill-prepared intervention is unsettling. Unfortunately though, President Obama is still on a different sheet, a couple of lengths ahead of the already misguided pack. For starters, he has said repeatedly that he (supported by his hotheaded French counterpart) is seriously considering arming the rebels. But there is worse, as last night there surfaced credible reports that Obama had already signed a “finding”.

A finding is Washington Newspeak, or code language, for allowing CIA to support to the rebels, including providing them with arms. Echoes of Nicaragua in the eighties and imperialist visions? Obama also seems to believe that the UN resolution 1973 allows the delivery of weapons to the rebel forces. Oddly enough, everyone – that is politicians and commentators – keeps talking about the Libyan opposition as rebels or rebel forces. Even though that may be semantically defensible, marketing wise it does not sound “very right”. Language has many faces.

It is no secret that all international organizations together spent billions a year translating thousands of texts, be they laws, resolutions, reports and the like. As a matter of fact, batteries of interpreters make sure that even the spoken word is translated on the spot, to avoid lapses of early, initial misunderstanding, no doubt. With these latest declarations of the US Commander-in-Chief we are left to wonder whether the UN resolutions ought to be translated into American such that President Obama (and his advisors) would also unequivocally understand at least the exact meaning of what has been agreed.

Surely, if Obama does not understand the word “embargo” he would do well not to stand for re-election because chances are that, unbeknownst to the voters, there are most certainly many other common words that he does not understand, or that he unintentionally misinterprets. And that is bad news for the country, and for the world. On the other hand, if Obama does understand the meaning of “arms embargo”, and yet maintains that has been empowered to arm the Libyan rebels, then he ought to be removed from office, on the devil. Indeed, if even the President of the United States, acts, knowingly, willingly and defiantly, against the resolutions of the UN, the world and the USA are entitled to another head of state in Washington.

Grimburger, 31st of March 2011