Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Positive History in the Making in Libya

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Positive History in the Making in Libya

Article excerpt

Moammar Gadhafi has been overthrown as dictator of Libya.

Or maybe he hasn't.

Yes, rebels appeared to have control of Tripoli on Monday, and they claimed to have captured his son.

Gadhafi himself, according to published reports, was about to be flown out of the country for a life of quiet exile, probably in either Cuba or Venezuela.

News from war zones, however, often isn't very accurate.

Within 24 hours, Gadhafi's troops had taken the central square.

And his "captured" son showed up at a hotel, taunting the rebels and offering to take reporters on a tour of the city.

This we can say, for a certainty: With rebel troops inside Tripoli, Gadhafi is in serious trouble.

TWO TYRANTS

And if he is overthrown, it will be of historical significance - if for no other reason, simply because it will end an extremely long period of tyranny in Libya.

Until now, Libya has had only two rulers.

King Idris reigned from the time Libya got its independence from Italy in 1951 until 1969.

Gadhafi, architect of the bloodless coup that overthrew Idris, has been dictator since that time.

President Barack Obama already has recognized the Transitional National Council as "the legitimate governing authority."

That makes sense. This nation will never have a warm relationship with Gadhafi - and it needs to start making overtures with the rebels, in case they win control.

The outcome of this war could have an impact on the war on terror.

Gadhafi once was the world's most notorious terrorist. Few would be sorry to see him go, particularly those whose relatives were among the 270 people killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in late 1988.

But he has adopted moderate rhetoric more recently and attempted to portray himself as a regional statesman.

Little is known, for a certainty, about the rebels. They may be peaceful reformers, seeking political freedom and economic prosperity for their countrymen. Or they could be terrorists themselves.

Time will tell whether regime change, if it happens, will be a step forward or a step backward in the fight against terrorism. …

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