So Colonel Gaddafi say's he'll fight to the death? What might be noble for one man with a pistol, six bullets and a bottle of Johnny Walker is considered less courageous when you can use the wealth of the largest deposits of oil in the African continent to pay for foreign hired guns and MiG jet fighter planes to shoot down your own people.
In an additional fit of pique, he threatens to set fire to the nation's oil reserves rather than allowing the people, who plainly don't want him, to use it for their collective betterment. Of course, he may be anticipating another round of despots getting in and squandering the loot on luxuries for themselves, and the Americans are certainly circling like sharks to ensure one of their boys takes over all that black gold. But still.
C'mon, Muammar, your time is up. You gained a degree of sympathy when the Americans bombed your home and killed your young daughter. You kept us amused with your eccentricities, and had the lads enthralled with your Praetorian Guard of ass-kicking lovelies. But no-one wants you now. Having killed hundreds of protesters, I doubt even Chavez will welcome you going crackers in Caracas.
And don't bother invoking Tiananmen Square as a model, which you did in your weird speech today. When the People's Liberation Army fired on their own protesters, they won the battle but lost the war of hearts and minds and made the regime a byword for internal repression and brutality; a long way from its idealistic communistic beginnings even if it has doubled life-expectancy, raised 600 million out of absolute poverty, and is managing to feed more than a billion mouths.
Besides, despite attempts to shoot the same wave of protest eastwards towards the Gate of Heavenly Peace, China is much more stable, its economy is booming, wages are rising, trade unions are slowly winning rights, and great swathes of the populace have never had it so good. The best China's Western opponents can hope for is that the Uighurs and Tibetans will start to kick up.
You, Muammar, on the other hand, hold a busted flush. They want your oil and they will get it.
Meanwhile, David Cameron and a phalanx of Daddy Warbucks merchants of doom, tour the middle east, maintaining the UK's position as the second biggest arms selling nation in the world after the US.
Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at the charity War On Want, said: ‘As people in the Middle East risk their lives opposing authoritarian regimes, it is deplorable that David Cameron is seeking to exploit the crisis by promoting sales of weapons and torture equipment to the region. Cameron should cancel this tour immediately and ban all UK companies from weapons deals with regimes that deny human rights to their people.'
Channel 4 News said tonight, in the first nine months of last year we've already sold £6 million's worth to Kuwait (with a £70 billion budget over 4 years up for grabs), £33.9 million of arms to Libya — some of which is being used in the current conflict — and £64 million to that fragrant democracy Saudi Arabia, among others: £7 billion in global arms sales.
According to the Guardian, in the last year, Britain has exported the following materiel to the following countries: Bahrain - rifles, tear gas, ammunition; Egypt - bombs, missiles, body armour; Kuwait - riot shields, patrol boats, military software; Libya - ammunition, crowd control equipment, tear gas; Tunisia - gun parts, radar equipment.
Some American right-wingers have been cursing their government for not supporting the upstanding Hosni Mubarak, whose palaces will no more see Tony and Cherie Blair frolicking on holiday.
Massive solar flares from the sun; white wealthy Antipodeans ravaged by flood, fire and earthquake; dictators falling like nine-pins, and we may well see similar unrest in Britain. I've said it before and I'll say it again, we are in a science-fiction writer's dystopian fever dream and I wish someone would wake him up. After the despots have gone, that is. But I can do without the other stuff.
I wonder if the Mayans knew something we don't ...
UPDATE: Simon Jenkins in the Guardian
Britain can push democracy or weapons – but not both. David Cameron's arms-sale tour has mired him in typical liberal interventionist hypocrisy. ... Downing Street is clearly embarrassed by Egypt, Bahrain and Libya having had the impertinence to rebel just as David Cameron was embarking on an important arms-sales trip to the Gulf, not an area much addicted to democracy. Fifty British arms makers were present at last year's sickening Libyan arms fair, while the resulting weapons are reportedly prominent in gunning down this week's rioters. Cameron reads from the Foreign Office script, claiming that all guns, tanks, armoured vehicles, stun grenades, tear gas and riot-control equipment are "covered by assurances that they would not be used in human rights repression". He must know this is absurd.
UPDATE 2 Saturday 26th Feb 2011: Protests across the globe.
In Wisconsin the police join the protesters in the State Capitol.
And the Chinese get antsy as Tweets call for a Jasmine Revolution in Isabel Hinton's A Tweak of the Tiger's Tail.