Last week, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain badly stumbled at an editorial meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, displaying his limited knowledge of the current situation in Libya. His campaign blamed the gaffe on 4 hours of sleep and an ambiguous question from reporters. A few days later, Cain asked the media in a rhetorical manner, “Do I agree with saying that Gadhafi should go, do I agree that they now have a country where you’ve got Taliban and Al Qaeda that’s going to be a part of the government?” For the record, the Taliban has never been associated with Gadhafi or Libya.
The revolts in Libya, the most recent in a series of uprisings that has swept the Middle East, began days after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11th. Inspired by the successful movements in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans have taken to the streets to call for Muammar al-Qaddafi, the leader since 1969, to step down. Protesters have been met with violent retaliation from government forces, with estimates of the death toll around 2000.
The forces behind the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts were widespread, coming from the religious and secular spheres, the intellectuals, and the working, middle, and upper classes. Millions called for justice and regime change and were victorious in achieving significant steps toward more democratic societies.