Gaddafi Dead

Gaddafi is dead. That news is everywhere.

Ever since the uprising started I have been following it avidly not only because it involves a horrid dictator being taken down by his own people under NATO air cover but also because of past military historical knowledge of the region from following the Eighth Army vs. the Afrika Korps from the time I was a little kid. Most of that war was fought on Libyan soil (some in Egypt, and the end came in Tunisia).

There is footage of Gaddafi being captured alive. The scene is chaotic but Gaddafi is clearly alive. It is unknown how Gaddafi thought this was going to end, but he seems surprised. For a man who attempted to radiate manliness and strength you’d have thought he’d have died under his own hand rather than being captured alive.

He was holed up in Sirte for weeks, holding off the forces of the NTC, which mainly consisted of militias from Misrata and Benghazi. After fruitless attempts at negotiations, the militias moved up and back over a period of weeks, gaining ground over time but facing fanatical resistance. It is unknown what those resisting so fiercely thought they’d accomplish; there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do but surrender or die. It is ironic that Gaddafi’s forces fought so hard with little thought of their own survival while Gaddafi himself hid in a stinking drain pipe and awaited capture. I am only speculating but his hold on his bodyguards and remaining fighters must have been due to delusions of retaking the country or from fear of offending their leader, whom had run the country with an iron fist for over 40 years. Perhaps this is similar to German delusions of using “wonder weapons” like V2’s to turn the tide against the advancing allies in 1944-5 which helped to buoy morale when the end game was clear. Or perhaps it was a fear of violent reprisals at the hands of the Misrata militias, who had seen their city destroyed by pro-Gaddafi forces and suffered brutal atrocities. Only speculating but likely the latter.

Rommel was famously quoted saying something along the lines of

He who fights without command of the air fights like a savage

Per the BBC Gaddafi’s bodyguards attempted to break out this morning and their convoy of armed jeeps was struck by either a jet or predator drone and suffered severe damage. Just as NATO played a critical role in turning the tide as Gaddafi’s forces neared Benghazi, they apparently played a pivotal role in shooting up this convoy and allowing NTC forces to close in while Gaddafi hid.

There is a lot of discussion in certain parts of the media about darker skinned Libyans being targeted as mercenaries and allies of the regime; it likely won’t be helped that per the BBC in the end his remaining bodyguards (whose mauled and decapitated bodies were found near Gaddafi) were all black.

Exactly how he died is under dispute and perhaps we will never know. All that is documented is that he was captured alive and in a crowd of NTC fighters and wound up dead. Given the violence that he unleashed and the nature of the militias fighting him (not professional soldiers) it seems inevitable that it would end up this way. This wasn’t a “formal” war; it was a civil war, brother against brother, and unlike the US civil war those types of conflict often end up with bloody frontier style justice. So it happened here, as well.

10 thoughts on “Gaddafi Dead”

  1. Carl – if you want to know what war in Libya was like with Rommel, the book Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield is a must-read. It’s a historical novel where the background is factual (history of the SAS, al Alamein, The Long Range Desert Group, etc) – the main characters – other than Rommel, are of course fictional.

    Pressfield’s description of the Libya campaign was akin to a sea battle – hundreds of miles of ocean and if you lost you retreated hundreds of miles. Armies rolled forwards and backward for 100s of miles with a battle’s outcome. And it happened quickly.

    Kaddafi supposedly had at least a few billion stashed away; one wonders why he didn’t flee and live well for awhile.

    I suspect he died like the Romanian despot Ceaușescu.

  2. Dollars to donuts, if he was alive when they found him, he was given his passage to the next world by the rebel who found him.

  3. Polltics is the perfect playground for criminals-how often do these people get justice? For every Mussolini, Ceausescu or Hussein there are hundreds who live big while they pillage and wreck their country.

  4. I can’t cheer for this. He was a secular ruler who will probably be succeeded by Islamists. We know nothing about these new guys snd have no basis to believe they will be less hostile or oppressive than Khadafy was. We know Khadafy gave up his nukes, but we killed him anyway. This creates bad incentives for other dictators. We should have stayed out of this one. Just like in Egypt, we were probably on the wrong side. In that case the fantasy of an “Arab Spring” is giving way to the ethnic cleansing of millions of Copts. Nothing favorable to the USA will come of that one, either.

  5. As a neighbour to Egypt I can make sure that the ethnic genocide of Copts was already taking place during the Mubarak presidency, and none was concerned about them apart from a useless Italian foreign minister and the Holy See. As a neighbour to Libya too, I cannot express my full, intimate joy for the end of a regime who expelled century-old Italian and Jewish communities from their Mediterranean cities – as also the Egyptians did before in Alexandria and Cairo – and financed, supported terrorism in my country.

    All the regimes grow old and die. Dictatorships, being based upon an individual, usually faster than democracies.

    I can’t see where a national-socialist regime is better than a fundamentalist one. Islamists will come next in Tripoli or Cairo? Perhaps. There’s a large chance for this. Then Europe and the West will have to deal with it. But standing still while unarmed people were air bombed was morally unacceptable. As in Bosnia and Kosovo, where the Nato wars gave way to the penetration of radical Islamists organizations in mainland Europe.

    No action comes without consequences. We can only hope to do the most moral and fortunate thing in a given situation.

  6. I disagree. The US foreign policy should be to support the free will of the peoples and to work against dictators. It is nothing but unalloyed joy for me to see him fall.

    I realize that there are tactical situations that call for us to support a “sonofabitch” but if the sum of those tactics becomes the totality of our policies then we are no better than the damn Russians.

    As far as Islam, the corollary can’t be that it is better for US interests to have these nations governed by dictators than representative governments. That may buy us short term time and may allow for alliances that wouldn’t ordinarily form but in the long term dealing with dictators like Gadaffi erodes our moral capital and they can’t be controlled, anyways.

    Just as in the European debt situation, things work a certain way until they don’t. In Libya and the Arab countries their dictators misjudged the fury of their youth; while dictators talk about Israel and the US and colonialism their high birthrates and low average annual age means that the average age is low and the majority of the people don’t remember eras that used to give these rulers (some) legitimacy.

  7. Good riddance, but we should have gone after Assad or the Iranians — hostile dictators who never tried to cooperate with us and who directly threaten our interests — first. As Lex wrote, we muddy the incentives by emphasizing Kaddafi.

    Who knows what happens next. Whoever is controlling Egypt is going to be strongly tempted to invade and take the oil.

    It’s not obvious how much differently events in Egypt and Libya would have run without our inept involvement. Mubarak and Kaddafi were old and would have been out sooner or later in any event, and then what?

  8. A brief note on the Civil War reference (uh, oh, here we go….)

    I have always felt that, division of families non-withstanding, the US Civil War was well and truly a war between two nations, definingly geographically distinct, each having grown culturally distinct and separate, each with it’s own historical narratives and economic paradigms, and uniformed armies. (How many revolutionary movements have a Secretary of the Navy, with full administrative staff and an actual….. Navy?) In 1865, the stronger side overwhelmed and destroyed the weaker, replacing it with itself. (Justifiably, since slavery was an abomination, but we’ll leave it at that.)

    But where it well and truly was a ‘Civil War’ was in Kansas and Missouri, where geography did not define the two sides, and the opposing sides shared communities shoulder to shoulder. And there we saw the exact same sort of blood-chilling murderous mayhem of and by civilians and combatants alike, and the triumph of literal demonic cutthroats like William Quantrill, “Bloody” Bill Anderson, and the James and Younger brothers. Missouri in fact very much resembled Bosnia in the 1990’s, and the bitterness lingered for decades.

    Just pointing out that Americans are just as capable of the “bloody frontier style justice” you write of here, when the civilizing influence of government authority (even a secessionist one) is removed, and armed warfighting men are stripped to their primeval cores.

  9. I second the endorsement of Killing Rommel.

    Gaddafi’s partisans were bitter-enders because the rebellion against Gaddafi, like his mad tyranny, had a tribal and regional foundation. Gaddafi’s tribesmen and Subsaharan Africans were going to suffer if the Eastern rebels prevailed, so their choice was to fight, flee or hope for the best (not much hope either). Liking Gaddafi or probability of victory had nothing to do with it. Gaddafi was probably manhandled less in his last hour than his followers by the angry mob because the rebels were divided over what to do with him, while it was open season on the nobodies.

    I am glad Gaddafi met a just end but we had no business at this point in time going back on a deal to topple him. The time to ice Gaddafi was in ’86 or after Lockerbie. After Gaddafi, what dictator will give up hs WMDs peacefully?

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