Fouad Ajami had a great piece earlier in the week about Libya, one that is worth posting even a few days late:
After years of fear and submission, the people had gone out in an assertion of their dignity. When it truly mattered, the foreign mercenaries, guns and killers for hire could not sustain the despot's power. To no great surprise they were not willing to die for the man in his fortified bunker. Nor would the Libyans come to his rescue. He had once described himself as a leader without a country. He had declared an open war on Libya's very own identity and past. He ruled six million people with a hallucinatory work, his "Green Book," a document, he said, which contained all the answers to the problems of human governance.But sadly the downfall of the Gaddafi regime is the death of the dream of Isratine. Yes, a one-state solution thought up by Brother Leader to satisfy all by combining Israel and Palestine. I can remember sitting at the coffee shop at Hotel Balima, facing the Moroccan Parliament. I was sipping milky sweet cafe (made so wonderful because the milk was first frothed then the shot pulled in) and reading in the International Herald Tribune about the Arab League Plan just announced at the Arab League Summit. The paper described the hysterical laughter of the Jordanian diplomats when the Libyan diplomats stopped the departing delegates to demand why Gaddafi's proposal had not been debated with the same earnestness. Isratine, please. I also remember the follow up letters years later when Gaddafi tried to reintroduce his plan. Someone wrote back and said, sure you go first: Libgypt.
Libya was a wealthy country, blessed with abundant oil, but the despot turned it into one of Africa's poorest populations. He robbed them of freedom and of economic initiative. The country was turned into a cruel tyranny, and what wealth existed was the prerogative of the man at the helm and his children. Retail trade was decimated. Meaningful work was denied the Libyans.
Four decades of a nation's life were squandered by this regime, the narcissism of the ruler all the more galling against the background of a sullen and humiliated population. Fear governed and paralyzed the land, the "revolutionary committees" of the despot had the run of the place. Always with Gadhafi, the buffoonery and the personal depravity—the outrageous costumes, the tent he carried with him to distant capitals, the rantings in international forums, the phalanx of female bodyguards in a conservative Muslim society, and the four "voluptuous" Ukrainian nurses who travelled with him everywhere—went hand in hand with official terror against dissidents who dared question his despotism.