When Gaddafi danced romantically with head of “rebels”

Bernard Avishai reminds us:

There are reports that Qaddafi and his sons are surrounded. I confess that I feel a certain sadness for Saif-al-Islam’s tragic fate. During the early 2000s he tried to lead his father, hence, his country, into something like a liberal and globalist reform, studying classical liberal texts at LSE, and hiring well-respected strategy consultants, including the Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter, to set up an economic planning commission: a kind of shadow prime minister’s office, that would slowly grow into a functioning state, and displace, or render redundant, the pervasive security apparatus. The current head of the rebel government, Mahmoud Jibril, was to be its first head.

The son failed to move things fast enough to preempt the counter-moves against reform by the security apparatus, or failed to move his father against others in the family, or was perhaps faking it from the start. If he was faking it, he was a very good actor. Actually, I suspect he was a kind of Michael Corleone character, eager to make his family “legitimate,” drawn to a kind of Western normal, but finally sucked into the regime’s violence and muck out of sheer love for his father, or at least his honorable sense of loyalty. As I write, he may well be contemplating his speech to the International Criminal Court or, indeed, his last hours on earth. To say that he deserves what he will get is true. It is also to want a prettier world than the one we have.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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