Friday, October 21, 2011

Gadhafi's fall has no whiff of Arab Spring: Libyan despot's death had more to do with NATO muscle than popular uprising

The simple, tempting reaction to news of Moammar Gadhafi's death and the ignominious exhibition of his corpse is that he was a creep, and the world is better off without him.

What makes it all the richer is the ridiculous cult of personality he built around himself, like so many other Arab dictators of his generation.

His "green book" of wild political musings that was forced down Libyans' throats, his King Canute-like efforts to contain the expansion of the Sahara Desert, his Praetorian guard of uniformed Amazons, the bad plastic surgery and hair transplants, his laughable insistence that he was not a leader but a beloved first among equals – all a narcissistic membrane easily pierced by missiles.

Certainly, Gadhafi could be entertaining. His rambling speeches at the UN, and his insistence that he be able to set up his Bedouin tent in New York City were great comic relief.

I covered a meeting of the Arab League in Jordan back in the 1990s when he announced the whole exercise was pointless because none of the other leaders in attendance actually had any backbone, then decamped to the desert, where he set up his tent and flamboyantly consorted with his fellow Bedouins for the rest of the day.

But his crazy viciousness trumped all that. This was a man whose agents downed a civilian jetliner, bombed a discotheque in Berlin and gave aid and succor to some of the most violent extremists on earth. He ran a dark police state, crushed internal dissent, persecuted the Berber people, used his oil money to prop up equally vicious African leaders and collected weapons of mass destruction.

In the end, he sent foreign mercenaries against his own people, reportedly supplied with Viagra, the better to rape when they weren't marauding and killing. more