As armed rebellions go, the enthusiastic revolutionaries here in Libya’s western mountains are amateurs, many schooled in battle from playing video games. They confess they sometimes fire their rifles over the heads of their enemies because they don’t like the sight of blood.The fundamental problem with armed revolutions is that they breed leaders who are good at fighting nasty civil wars. To overthrow an established and powerful government has generally required years or decades of tough guerrilla fighting and the willingness to sacrifice almost everything else to achieve the goal, including the lives of whoever gets in the way. Successful rebels tend, therefore, to be very hard men: Lenin, Mao, Franco, Fidel Castro, and so on. When they get into power they continue to act in the way that made them successful before, that is, mobilizing supporters through propaganda campaigns, crushing opposition, and shooting opponents.
In Libya Booth found a very different sort of rebel, men who are so soft-hearted that they don't like to carry their weapons in public for fear of scaring children. So far they have proved to be almost completely incompetent at fighting, which is why NATO had to save them with a bombing campaign. But Booth believes, as a lot of European and American politicians seem to believe, that if we can somehow help them to win they will prove to be as un-militant in power as they have been on the battlefield.
Despite the fears of some friends of Israel, nobody has found much sign of Muslim radicalism among the rebels:
“We are good Muslims, not crazy Muslims,” said Muhammad Ali, who spent his college years in Edinburgh, Scotland.Instead of Koranic history or revolutionary cant they speak the language that has made the Arab Spring such an appealing movement all across the Middle East, the language of people who want the freedom to lead normal lives:
Asked what kind of government they would like to see if Gaddafi surrenders power, a member of the Jadu transitional government, the animated Salem Badrini, said, “First, we want a country of love, where all are equal, all the same. We all say these things: We want justice, democracy and freedom, no arguments, no problems, okay?”The schoolteachers, engineers, accountants, and other ordinary men who have volunteered to fight for Libyan freedom represent something rather remarkable in history, a revolution of civilians. I hope the Gaddafi regime collapses quickly and gives them their victory, for their sake, for the sake of Libya, and for the sake of a world that could use more soft-hearted heroes.