The end of Khadafy
So good riddance to Moammar Khadafy, the man President Ronald Reagan once labeled “the mad dog of the Middle East.”
There can’t be anyone—except maybe Hugo Chavez or Louis Farrakhan—who didn’t take some satisfaction from the gruesome photos that marked the Libyan butcher’s violent end.
Fact is, after 42 brutal years at Libya’s helm, Moammar Khadafy was a man who just needed killing.
Under Khadafy, Libya was a principal state sponsor of global terror. He bankrolled terrorist groups and staged attacks himself—most infamously, the Pan Am 103 bombing and the 1984 Berlin disco bombing that targeted US troops.
Yesterday he died at the hands of his countrymen—with a critical assist from NATO, whose airstrikes and intelligence-gathering turned what had devolved into a stalemate into unconditional victory.
That’s a big, well-earned win for President Obama, given the significant role the US played in the NATO assault.
Yes, the mission took eight months, when Obama had promised that it would last “days, not weeks.”
And, yes, the campaign underscored the alliance’s limitations. “The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country,” then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said way back in June—adding that “many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the US once more to make up the difference.”
Now, it’s certainly to be hoped that NATO’s leaders draw the necessary lessons from the campaign.
But it also must be noted that no other coalition of countries, anywhere on the planet, could or would spend so much time, talent and treasure lifting the yoke of oppression from a beleaguered people far from their borders.
Western values do count for a lot.
So what comes next?
Benjamin Franklin, famously asked at the Constitutional Convention what kind of government America had just adopted, replied, “A republic—if you can keep it.”
For now, Libyans have a revolution.
If they can keep it.
The Transitional National Council says it wants to form a constitutional democracy.
Easier said than done in a country still wracked by mobs, with a growing Islamist presence freshly armed from Khadafy’s looted arsenals.
Indeed, US-educated interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril says he plans to resign, noting that “the political struggle requires finances, organization, arms and ideologies” and “I don’t have any of this.”
Khadafy’s death marks a turning point.
In which direction, remains to be seen.