FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The End of Muammar Gaddafi

The words of the human rights lawyer and spokesman for the National Transitional Council, Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, were stated with chilling effect and certainty.  ‘Our revolutionaries managed to get the head of the tyrant, who has met his fate and destiny like all dictators and tyrants.’   In the end, any talk about human rights or preserving the life of a leader wanted by the International Criminal Court, was just that.  Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is, at least from what can be gathered, dead. He was found in a drain pipe and, after pleading for mercy, shot. There was no grand theatrical exit from one of the modern world’s great thespian dictators.

The colonel was the son of a Bedouin farmer, born in a tent near Sirte, and becoming a firebrand who soon began plotting the overthrow of King Idris I.  Islam tempered by socialism – his ‘third universal theory’ – was ushered in from 1974, as detailed in The Green Book, seeing mass nationalisation of industries and the entrenchment of labour councils.

The West, broadly speaking, has seen in Gaddafi varying degrees of orientalised fear and admiration.  He has been deemed everything from being a ‘mad dog’ to being wily, a cunning leader who knew the pulse of his people.  The words of US Senator Lindsey Graham on Gaddafi’s demise, recorded on his website, provide an extreme variant of it.  ‘The Mad Dog of the Middle East is dead and the Libyan people can breathe a sigh of relief.’

The remarkable ‘mad dog’ also, it seemed, induced madness in other countries, notably the United States.  An idea was spread in the early 1980s that Libyan crack forces would infiltrate the United States to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, naturally filtered through that unreliable ‘friend’ to the north, Canada.

Press outlets such as Al-Jazeera have reported an incessant stream of celebratory scenes.  Catharsis has followed in the wake of brutality.  But these are celebrations that are marked by trauma and merely create a false unity in a country that is deeply divided.  There are also broader regional implications.  As Mahmood Mamdani, director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University at Kampala, Uganda, the demise of Gaddafi and the manner of his ousting will usher in a period of greater interventions.

The sovereignty of African states, eliminated altogether during the age of imperialism in the nineteenth century, mediated, controlled and modified during the twentieth, will further be circumvented during the twenty first.  Vast economic interests are being carved up by such emerging powers as China and India.  The focus of Western interests has also been intense, though very much a military one.

The Arab Spring, given the Libyan example, is not without its external, Western driven motor, and this is where citizens in the Middle East and parts of Africa have reason to worry.  ‘Whereas the fall of Mubarak and Ben Ali directed our attention to internal social forces,’ writes Mamdani, ‘the fall of Gaddafi has brought a new equation to the forefront: the connection between internal opposition and external governments’ (Al-Jazeera, Aug 30).

Gaddafi’s death will provide the litmus test for the NTC. The militias that roam Tripoli have loyalties to specific towns and areas, a situation that will become more acute now that the target of their vengeance is dead.  The Tripoli Military Council, which controls the city, is said to be backed by Qatar and factions loyal to the interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril.  As has been evidenced recently in Egypt, a spring can reverse as quickly as it came.  The voice of revolution in such countries remains very much the voice of the man in uniform.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail