After Gaddafi

By Vandewalle, Dirk | Newsweek, March 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

After Gaddafi


Vandewalle, Dirk, Newsweek


Byline: Dirk Vandewalle

How does a country recover from 40 years of destruction by an unchallenged tyrant?

Libya was on the brink of tectonic change as NEWSWEEK went to press, with the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in a state of dramatic fulmination and ruin. As we watch that country become a patchwork of liberated zones and violently defended redoubts of the regime, we should be concerned about what a post-Gaddafi transition will mean, given the fact that the man has hollowed out the Libyan state, eviscerated all opposition in Libyan society, and, in effect, created a political tabula rasa on which a newly free people will now have to scratch out a future.

Libya will begin afresh after Gaddafi, in a comprehensive reconstruction of everything civic, political, legal, and moral that makes up a society and its government. But it remains dauntingly unclear where new leadership will come from. Perhaps some of the tribal chieftains will unite behind one of their own; perhaps some of the regime's overseas opposition figures will return, not so much as saviors but as masons who might lay a new foundation over the rubble. Or perhaps some younger Libyans, with overseas degrees under their belt, or young entrepreneurs, will rise to the occasion. There are even rumors that the heir to the country's monarchy may want to throw his hat in the ring.

Events in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the local population has spontaneously started to clean up the debris left by recent battles, give one hope that this traumatized country can still pull together while avoiding worse bloodshed. Getting Libya back on its feet will be an unwieldy, and probably fractious, process in which many scores are settled against those who once supported the Gaddafi regime. But the problem is, of course, that much like in the former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe, virtually everyone at one point or another had to deal with the regime to survive. Unless political authority can be restored quickly, the sorting out of claims will undoubtedly be a bloody affair in light of the pent-up frustration that is now being released. Libya has no fireproof options, and comparisons with Tunisia and Egypt--whose uprisings so energized the Libyan people--offer no road map to a Libyan civic reconstruction. Libya is truly a case apart. But how did Libya get to this state? How did its people come to be so shorn of political structure and experience? All answers, it would seem, begin and end with Gaddafi.

There was, for all the usual showmanship, something touching about Gaddafi's last visit to Italy a few months ago. Dressed in his singular combination of Arab cloak and Western-style white business suit, he had pinned a grainy black-and-white picture to his lapel--which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi studiously avoided looking at. The picture was of a shackled Omar al-Mukhtar, a Cyrenaican tribal leader and Libya's national hero, who was taken prisoner in 1931 after resisting the Italian colonial invasion for several years. He was hanged by the Italians before an assembly of Libyan prisoners--his cloak and glasses remain a central exhibit in Libya's national museum on Green Square in Tripoli.

It was Gaddafi's way of paying homage to a man he believed represents the ideal of a true Libyan: a tribal warrior, brave, uncompromising, willing to take on insurmountable odds. Gaddafi wanted to remind Berlusconi of the horrors of the Italian occupation--during which as much as half the population of Cyrenaica, Libya's eastern province, may have died. It was no surprise that Gaddafi, in his first speech after the uprising against him spread across Libya, invoked these same qualities to explain that he would fight to the end and was willing to die as a (self-proclaimed) martyr.

History, particularly the disastrous Italian legacy in Libya, has been a constant element in Gaddafi's speeches since he took power in a bloodless coup in 1969. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

After Gaddafi
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.