Libya without Moammar Gadhafi

A world in which Col. Moammar Gadhafi is anything but a head of state has to be a vast improvement over the one in which Gadhafi has ruled Libya since September 1969.

It seems that world is now upon us.

Gadhafi is incognito and in one of the more Kafkaesque moments in modern history, one of his sons was taken into custody while speaking on Libyan television.

All this as rebels are prevailing in Tripoli.

Perhaps before we learn that Gadhafi has fled Libya for Venezuela, a quick review of the high point of Gadhafi’s foray into international terrorism is in order, beginning with his participation in the 1988 bombing of a jetliner that disintegrated over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people aboard the plane. Eleven residents of Lockerbie also died when debris plummeted to the ground.

Gadhafi in 2004 began paying $2.7 billion to victims of the Lockerbie bombing and soon afterwards renounced his nuclear-weapons program.

Gadhafi also took under his protection Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was convicted in the United Kingdom of the bombing. Al-Megrahi got a hero’s welcome after the Scots released him on compassionate grounds.

Al-Megrahi, far from dying, seems to have recovered remarkably in Libya.

We mention him as a possibly useful marker in measuring the kind of government that will emerge in Libya. Whether he is treated as a hero, as was the case under Gadhafi, or social outcast, as we hope will be the case under the new management of the Transitional National Council, will signal much about the course of the Arab spring in Libya.

In any case, though, the fate of Gadhafi is a warning to others like him (Bashar Assad, call your Damascus office) and a sign that tyranny cannot stand against popular will.

For Libya and the Middle East, that’s a far cry from the recent past.


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