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The War Nerd April 5, 2004
Qadafi: Buckles, Size XXXL
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
Page 2 of 4
If there was anybody who was just begging to be slapped down, it was Qadafi. He declared an official "Line of Death" around the Gulf of Sidra, halfway out into the Mediterranean, and swore anybody who crossed that line was finito. So we sent a couple of fighters over it, and blew the Libyan MiGs that came to meet them right into the water. It was sweet. We did it again, and this time we blasted two of Libya's destroyers away when they steamed at us.

By this time even a sunshine soldier like Reagan was feeling pretty good about slapping Qadafi around. It was as safe as mouthing off to your own reflection in the mirror, Taxi-Driver style. So in April 1986, after the Libyans bombed a GI disco in West Berlin, Reagan sent the planes at last.

The raid was officially called Operation Eldorado Canyon. Don't ask me where they got that name. Sounds more like one of those subdivisions they're building on the dry riverbed outside Fresno.

The goal was to kill or at least scare the hell out of Qadafi. There was one complication: the Europeans, who were chickenshit as usual. Nobody but Thatcher would let their territory be used for bases or even  overflight. The one leader with balls on the whole continent, and it was a woman. How do you Europeans live with yourselves? You used to BE somebody. Now look at you. Can't breed, can't fight, won't stand up for yourselves...makes me sick.

Anyway, no overflight meant our planes had to take off from England, fly over the Atlantic, through the Straits of Gibraltar, and then turn right to hit Libya -- a 6,400-mile trip. The only plane we had that could handle a trip that long and deliver any significant ordnance in a night attack was the old F-111 "Aardvark." This was already an old, old aircraft. A big, fast, smooth piece of Detroit iron that flew, kind of like a 1961 Caddy with wings. Plenty of front-seat legroom, with pilot and co-pilot sitting side by side like they were cruising Main Street.

The Aardvark, I hate to say it, didn't exactly cover itself with glory in the raid. Out of 18 F-111s that fanned out over Libya to hit terrorist training camps, ministries and Qadafi's royal tent, only four actually dropped their bombload. Eight planes had technical problems and six couldn't be sure of their targets. To sum it up, the raid was a tactical failure.

But like a lot of tactical failures, it turned into something like a strategic success -- thanks to Qadafi, w ho instead of manning the barricades and daring the Yankees to try it again, bitched out totally and begged us not to hurt him anymore. He made us look good, and proved in the process what a total pussy he was, is, and always will be. So when Qadafi crawls around kissing our feet and begs us not to hurt him, it's just him doing what comes naturally.

Qadafi's such a wimp that he didn't just "buckle" to the US and Britain way back in the 80s, but he even "buckled" to Chad, the lowliest, most messed-up country in the world. What the hell does Libya have to do with Chad, you're wondering? Well, it was like the only date Qadafi could get to the prom -- the only country even more messed-up than Libya. Qadafi started out looking east, to Egypt and Israel. He tried to unite Libya with Egypt in one big happy Israel-fighting family. The Egyptians had a good line about that merger: "It is an excellent plan. Libya has the money and we have the brains." Libya had the money because it's got oil. That's the only reason Qadafi can afford to run around embracing causes and printing his book.

The money was the only thing Egypt wanted from Libya. Sadat was way too smart to let a big-mouth flake like Qadafi in on his real plans. When the Egyptians attacked in Sinai in '73, they made a point of not telling their Libyans pal about it. Qadafi was so offended he stomped off in his high heels and sulked. If his fellow Arabs were going to be all mean to him like that, he'd find new friends. So he decided Libya wasn't so much Arab as African. Instead of Pan-Arabism, he took up Pan-Africanism, started wearing those funky dashikis and playing those little hand-harp things, talking about his "brothers" down south, Across the Sahara.

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.

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