Herb Boyd | 5/25/2011, 12:54 p.m.
Around 1,000 U.S. adults were recently polled by CNN and asked if they approved of the president's handling of the situation in Libya. Fifty percent said yes and 41 percent said no. With only half of respondents approving of the war measures, the number is decidedly lower by some 20 percent than the expected popular approval in the first days of a war or foreign excursion.
That 50 percent, according to the pollsters, breaks down in the following way: "Democrats approve 73 to 20 percent. Independents are exactly split, 44 to 44 percent, and Republicans disapprove 27 to 63 percent. And remember, 50 is probably his high point here. The American people are impatient, leery and above all adamant that no ground troops be involved. And they are more than a little worried about that."
When asked if they felt the U.S. would achieve its goals in Libya without introducing ground troops, the confident to non-confident score was only 55 to 42 percent; better than the obverse, but indicative of a fair degree of nervousness.
Americans have every reason to be nervous and a little apprehensive about the effectiveness of merely targeting Libya with missiles and bombs. Will this be enough to completely neutralize Gaddafi and his loyal supporters? National anxiety will not be allayed when the inevitable reports of American casualties begin, already only narrowly avoided on Monday when a Marine F-15E jet crashed as a result of a mechanical malfunction.
In his first appearance in public since March 15, Gaddafi told reporters in Tripoli, the nation's capital where his partially damaged compound is located, that "We will not surrender...We will defeat them any means.
"We are ready for the fight, whether it will be a short or a long one, we will be victorious in the end," he declared. "There are demonstrations everywhere against this unjustified assault, which breaches the United Nation's Charter. This assault...is by a bunch of fascists who will end up in the dustbin of history."
On more than one occasion since the turmoil began Gaddafi has asserted that he is willing to be a martyr, and people who know him and his fortitude believe he will not capitulate and is determined to die fighting.
Activist Gerald Perreira has lived in Libya for a number of years. He has some understanding of Gaddafi and the aims of the rebels. "The battle in Libya is not about peaceful protesters versus an armed and hostile state," he said in an email. "All sides are heavily armed and hostile. The battle being waged in Libya is essentially a battle between those who want to see a united and liberated Libya and Africa, free of neo-colonialism and neo-liberal capitalism.
"They want be free to construct their own system of governance compatible with African and Arab personalities and cultures," Perreira continued. "And both sides are willing to pay the ultimate price to defend their positions. Make no mistake about it, if Gaddafi and the Libyan revolution are defeated by this opportunistic conglomerate of reactionaries and racists, then progressive forces worldwide and the pan-African project will suffer a huge defeat and setback."