A Guernica of our time

Hope not, but the historical parallel between the germinal civil war in the desert of Libya and the attack on Guernica during the Spanish Civil War is beginning to seem eerily more relevant every day.

It’s true that  Gaddafi has used his own planes so far to strafe his own people unlike Franco who had to seek the support of his German and Italian allies, and the Nazi Luftwaffe obliged by reducing the Basque market town to rubble. Gaddafi’s  well-equipped and modern air force is more than a match for the hapless rebels. But Gaddafi was compelled  to bring in foreign mercenaries to help in the ground war. The balance of power there is not so  one-sided; nonetheless, the parallel is obvious.

Invoking the bogey of Al Quaeda is not new; this could be a genuine concern (the reason why the west supported and enriched Gaddafi at first) or a clever ploy. Neither is  the conspiracy theory that the colonialists and other countries in the west, in cohort with terrorists, are set on  attacking Libya to seize the oil wells; hence Gaddafi’s war on his own people whom he accuses of treason. There’s an uncanny similarity with Franco’s attempt to hide the truth about the tragedies of Guernica by spreading the lie about the retreating “Reds” burning and razing the Basque cities to the ground ahead of the advancing Nationalists.

Franco’s long campaign of lies somehow didn’t succeed. Yet, in spite of all that, in spite of the universal condemnation, in spite of Picasso’s silent  j’accuse so eloquent in the eponymous  painting,  Franco ruled for about thirty odd years after Guernica, and long after the other fascists fell. Hope the historical parallel doesn’t extend that far.

Gaddafi’s Libya is not Guernica yet. Guernica lite perhaps?

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