I've been watching the BBC and Aljazeera a lot since the first days of the demonstrations in Egypt.
I thought Tunisia was a fluke; surely such demonstrations would not affect neighboring countries. As the crowds grew in Cairo, I was astonished, then fascinated, then amazed. I sincerely hope that the Egyptians are able to form a new government that takes into account the desires and needs of its people.
Like many, then, I wondered if people in other countries would realize how strong they could be if they simply pulled together and said, "This must change." Yeah, right. Like that could happen in Iran, or Syria, or Libya.
Now Libyans are trying for something similar, or at least they were; Muammar Gaddafi's response was to treat the demonstrations as a civil war, and shed so much blood that war is what it seems to have become.
In spite of my best wishes for the people who are trying to change their lives for the better, I have been struck by the difference in the Egyptian protesters' interviews and those in Libya. Protesters in Egypt spoke of their pride in their people for making a stand, for enduring the hardship of the protest, for being willing to make it clear that they wanted change. However, for the last three days, I've been listening to Libyans bitterly complaining about the US not storming in with a military presence to stop the government's bloody reaction.
What if we had? Why, simply this: Gaddafi would have seen an invasion of his country by foreign dogs as something that justified all-out retaliation. Out-gunned? Yes. Out-manned? Yes. Willing to refrain from using biological warfare? NO. Had we gone in, the people would have borne the horrific wrath of a madman. We would have been branded as the fools and criminals who brought Hell to the land.
And having not forged in, waving flags and automatic weapons, now we're "weak" and "heartless" and "hoping that Gaddafi wins."
I sat on the patio yesterday, watching the breeze and the sunlight in the eucalyptus, wishing that all strife could be resolved peacefully, and very, very glad that I live where I do. Truly a blessed place. But I could not help but wonder that if we, as a nation, had stayed the hell out of Iraq, that by now, Iraqis might have taken to their streets, and of themselves, changed the regime to one that suited them better.