Who Are the Rebels?

March 21, 2011 1:08 p.m.

I’m listening to Chris Matthews interviewing NBC’s great war correspondent Richard Engel. And they’re discusing, who are the Libyan rebels exactly? From what Engel is saying it seems like the rebels are made up of all people who said F- You to Qaddafi in late February or early March, grabbed and gun and took things over. Them and the regular military officers who defected and joined these rebels. I think I heard Engel say that one of the highest ranking generals who’d defected had taken the day off today. Which leaves me thinking, who are the rebels exactly?

This isn’t to dismiss the immense bravery of many of these people, who rebelled against a harsh dictatorship and now stand a decent chance of paying for that move with their lives. But Engel’s comments do give me the sense that what you have are ‘rebels’ in the incredibly inchoate sense of a bunch of people thinking and acting somewhat in unison as sometimes happens when a government seems on the verge of collapsing. Take away that momentum and you have a lot of people afraid for their lives.

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