At the beginning of this conflict Gaddafi had mentioned that he had something of a rat problem, so I can only assume that was what he was up to when he was captured in a sewer pipe :). It is to say the least an inglorious end, but then again it generally is for dictators who hang on for too long. Look at the fate of Mussolini, strung up by his ankles in a Milan street, or Hitler his body burnt in a shell crater in Berlin (as his thousand Reich fell apart around him).
Of course it would have been better if hed gone on trail in the Hague. But, as with Bin Laden, there are a variety of very good reasons why he never was going to make it that appointment in the Hague. Many of the NTC were former members of the Gaddafi regime and would rather not have him fingering them as accomplices. Also Gaddafis biggest accomplice in recent years was the West itself. As I mentioned in a past post it is clear that his intelligence agency was on first names basis with MI6 and the CIA and directly co-operating with the so-called Extraordinary Rendition policy of Bush. The west also sold him weapons, including ironically enough the very tanks and SPCs he was sending towards Benghazi, that the French airforce destroyed in the opening air strike (further irony, Gaddafi had been negotiating at the time to purchase those very same Rafale jets for his airforce!).
So did he die of his wounds as is the official story? Was he lynched by rebel fighters? Did the CIA/MI6 do him in? Indeed it seems a bit coincidental that his convoy would be disabled like that by a random airstrike . Did the NTC have him killed, as one of there own generals was killed a few weeks back? Well probably never know. Suffice to say theres enough material here to keep the conspiracy theorist going for quite sometime.
What is important is the message that this sends to other tyrants worldwide. I suspect many of them will have been shaken by pictures of Gaddafi being dragged through the streets of Misrata and will wonder whether they are next. As Kennedy put it:
Those regimes that make democratic change impossible, merely make will make violent revolution inevitable”
Hopefully this thought will make some of them, notably the regimes in Syria, Yemen or Bahrain think twice now. How do they want to exit the stage, exile in Saudi Arabia with a big slush fund, on trial on a hospital bed like Pinochet or Mubarak, tossed into a bottomless pit by your former intern, or left dangling from a lamp post in Misrata with ghoulish pictures or videos of youre demise rendered instant Youtube hits. The choice is yours!
As for Libya maybe it is for the best, distasteful as this whole episode is (and the circumstances surrounding his death), to simply move on. As Ive mentioned before the country needs to get back on its feet. The guns need to be given up, the police put on the street, hospitals and schools need to reopen, the people need to return home and get back to work. In short the shutters need to go up on the country as a whole and the open for business under new management sign needs to be put outside.
What we dont want to see happening is an extension of this civil war with one faction or tribe fighting another or a breakup of the country altogether. Libya now has a brief window of opportunity to consolidate on Gaddafis downfall and build a democratic and very prosperous nation. In addition to its oil wealth the country is ideally placed to take advantage of future advances in solar energy technology. If Libya can succeed in this task thus, the implications for Europe, Africa and the Muslim world will be hugely significant. But this window of opportunity is brief and will not last for long. If elections arent held, and if things cannot be normalised (hospitals opened, power turned back on, schools opened) before the euphoria of victory passes, there is a danger of renewed conflict firing up again. So its essential the Libyans now focus on turning things around quickly and working together.
Significantly the Libyans might well achieve what the Bush administration failed to do, win the peace. Indeed Id advice them to hire Bush or Cheney as an advisor and do exactly the opposite of everything they said!
I have to finish by saying its perhaps a good time to be hearing this song again: