Middle East

The End of a Libyan Crime Family

They might hold out temporarily, but it's over for the Qaddafi clan.


As of this writing, it's reasonable to assume that the 42-year reign of Muammar Qaddafi, the craggy-faced lunatic who long ago stole Libya, is coming to an end, though not without an astounding level of brutality. Having retained power through coercion, terror, and violence, it was almost assured that Qaddafi's response to the uprising in Benghazi—which has now spread across the country—would draw upon the wrong lessons of history. As he is discovering, Green Square in 2011 isn't Tiananmen Square in 1989. The higher the corpses pile, the more likely the kleptocratic thugs in Tripoli will end up, if they are lucky, house guests of Hugo Chavez or Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Reports that Qaddafi fled the country he destroyed to the one Chavez is currently destroying have proven premature. Though we do know that members of the Libyan air force have absconded to Malta with two Mirage F-1 fighter jets, refusing to fly missions against their fellow citizens (while plenty of other pilots abrogated moral responsibility and carried out Qaddafi's orders). And we know that Libyan ambassadors in Sweden, the United States, and China, and representatives to the Arab League and United Nations, have either resigned in protest or demanded that Qaddafi stand down. The country's border with Egypt is now controlled by anti-government forces and reports suggest that the regime has completely lost control of Benghazi, the country's second-largest city.

In other words, the criminal enterprise controlling Libya could hold on a bit longer—to the "last bullet," as the fraudulent "reformer" Saif al-Islam Qaddafi warned protesters—but the game is up. Pity Saif al-Islam, whose promises of political change—interspersed with schizophrenic threats against regime critics—have been so effective in fooling credulous Western journalists but are powerless against Libyans, for whom the squalid reality of life in the Jamahiriya acts as a fact check against the dauphin's frequent promises. So now the face of modern Libya has morphed into a rambling Enoch Powell impersonator, promising that resistance to the dictatorship would result in "rivers of blood" flowing through the streets.

So in his discursive televised speech to the nation, Saif al-Islam dismissed the protesters as drug and drink-addled fanatics who would deliver the country to Islamist extremists, invoking the clichéd refrain of the Arab despot—demonstrators are being guided by perfidious "outsiders," though this time the enemy wasn't the puppet masters at the CIA but Arab-language news networks. And in some ways he's right: Al-Jazeera does cause problems for crooks like Qaddafi and many of the anti-regime protestors are rather more religious than the "Islamic socialists" of the current government. Indeed, protesters chant that Qaddafi, a longtime enemy of the United States, is, in fact, a stooge of the United States; after protesters captured a state-run radio station in Benghazi, an Arab journalist told me, it was "all God, all the time"; and the regime's last minute reprieve of the remaining jailed members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group was seen as a sop to fundamentalist protestors.

But watching low-resolution video images of the mangled, charred bodies of protesters, hearing the panicked calls of doctors and students to Western media outlets, in which we are told of military aircraft bombing demonstrators and of mercenary troops raining mortar shells upon civilians, should allay fears that a post-Qaddafi government could be worse, more destabilizing, and more morally corrupt than the one responsible for the Lockerbie bombing (and the often forgotten UTA Flight 772 bombing).

But as the death toll rises, the United Nations has predictably refused to sit in judgment of Qaddafi, only promising, as of this writing, to hold "informal consultations" on the situation in Libya. Indeed, there is probably no better demonstration of the uselessness of the UN than last year's election of Libya to the Human Rights Council (UNHRC), that rarified club of scumbags and halfwits, sinister monarchs and absurd military dictators, who monitor member states (i.e. Israel) for human rights violations. The Saudis, Libyans, Cubans, and Bahrainis are, according to the UN, "responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe."

If you still doubt that the UNHRC is worthless—after all, its members say all sorts of reasonable things—this very useful website run by Libyan dissidents, brimming with YouTube clips, tweets, digital photos, and eyewitness testimony, is all one needs to know about which countries the United Nations considers avatars of human rights.

An aside on the role of social media in the Libyan revolt: The once heterodox opinion that the value of social media in spreading revolution is overrated has hardened into orthodoxy. How did people revolt in 1789 or 1848 or 1989, the argument goes, without Twitter and Facebook? This is like denying that trains are helpful at ferrying people because, after all, in 1848 people managed to get between Paris and Berlin using other methods. The importance of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in a completely closed society like Libya—a country which, unlike Egypt and Bahrain, journalists generally cannot access—cannot be overstated.

When I was in Tripoli last year, as a guest of Saif al-Islam's Qaddafi Foundation, a journalist from a major American newspaper told me that he accepted the Qaddafi-sponsored junket (though paying his own way) because, after six years of trying, he could find no other way of getting into the country. It was only after the revolutionaries seized control of the Eastern part of Libya that a handful of Western journalists managed to cross the border.

And with the United Nations twiddling its thumbs, the Security Council failing to rebuke the Libyan government, the Obama administration finding that it has little leverage to affect the violence, let's hope that more journalists manage access to (and provide more images of) the ongoing military crackdown and help hasten the end of the Qaddafi crime family.

Michael C. Moynihan is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. the wisconson teachers are worse murdering brutal union thuggs!

    1. Re: OhioOrrin,

      the wisconson teachers are worse murdering brutal union thuggs!

      Don’t forget: Thieving.

      1. Mex…I know you “cut and pasted” but Ohio Anal should complain to those educators about the poor spelling habits he acquired while in the upper midwest!

        1. If we only paid those teachers more…

    2. What the fuck is wrong with you?

  2. “So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people – greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are.”

    -T.E. Lawrence

    1. Is that actually a quote from him, or is it just a quote from the movie?

      1. That was one of his real pickup lines.

    2. TE uttered that while the turks boned him out.

  3. I was told by the work place know it all that Libyan citizens are allowed to own firearms and have been using them. If true it would be worth noting, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this. Anybody?

      1. The rate of private gun ownership in Libya is 15.52 firearms per 100 people

        The rate of private gun ownership in Yemen is 54.83 firearms per 100 people

        The rate of private gun ownership in the United States is 88.82 firearms per 100 people

        All figures from public health Nazi/gungrabbers


        1. Um, this is the 3rd World we’re talking about. How can those gun ownership numbers be accurate to within a factor of ten either way? The 100ths significant figure is a nice bullshit touch too.

          1. They are not 3rd any more, they are Emerging.

        2. God I love this country!

        3. “The rate of private gun ownership in the United States is 88.82 firearms per 100 people.”

          I’m comfortable with that figure.

    1. It’s irrelevant. I have it on very, very good authority (ahh joe, how we miss ya) that private gun ownership cannot, under any circumstances, help you fight a tyrannical g’ment. The g’ment is the All-Father and anyone standing against it with a rifle or shotgun is just a ridiculous, deluded fool who will be crushed.

      1. DOOM cock!

      2. Huh, what?

      3. I would vomit.

  4. I think the viral video thing is what is proving his undoing here. Previously, totalitarian goons could murder citizens without witnesses, as it were.

    Today, though, every atrocity comes with its own publicist.

    Although this is no guarantee, of course. The murder of Iranians a few years ago was widely publicized, but the collective shrugs from the bien pensants was enough to keep them in power.

    As near as I can tell, anti-American regimes have a certain immunity from “world opinion”. Mubarak = pro-American = gone. Iranian mullahs = anti-American = still around, even though their abuses were far worse.

    Gaddafi is in sort of a limbo, here. His history of anti-American antics is, well, history; recently, he has been “rehabilitated”. It would be ironic indeed if his rapprochement with the civilized world proved his undoing by undermining his anti-American street cred.

    1. As near as I can tell, anti-American regimes have a certain immunity from “world opinion”. Mubarak = pro-American = gone. Iranian mullahs = anti-American = still around, even though their abuses were far worse.

      The problem in Iran is that a certain non-negligible percentage of the population still believes in their revolution.

      Mubarak had no remaining constituency other than his corrupt inner circle.

      The Iranian regime has a ferociously loyal core.

      If Mubarak had had 30% of the population still prepared to kill or die for him, he’d still be in power.

    2. Arthur C. Clarke predicted that eventually, the use of communications technology at the personal level would put an end to violence by states against their citizens by showing the world their atrocities. I’d believe it if North Koreans could come up with a way to connect to the real outside world. Some day, maybe.

      1. Can’t afford a cell phone. Gotta eat.

    3. I think the viral video thing is what is proving his undoing here. Previously, totalitarian goons could murder citizens without witnesses, as it were.

      Today, though, every atrocity comes with its own publicist.

      Until the Government controls the narrative. Granted, that was tried in Egypt and it failed. But never, ever lose sight that Government will never fail to keep trying.

      1. We should really let the FCC start regulating the internet more.

    4. As near as I can tell, anti-American regimes have a certain immunity from “world opinion”. Mubarak = pro-American = gone. Iranian mullahs = anti-American = still around, even though their abuses were far worse.

      Since 2008, they have had immunity from the US government too. Obama did a big shoulder shrug twice over Iranian uprisings, one before and one after his demand that Egypt’s Mubarak step down. He is still working up the energy for a shoulder shrug on Libya.

      There is a pattern. Old Soviet client states are immune from Obama’s wrath, as are states that turned against the US, like Iran. States allied or leaning to the US get extra wrath.

      1. Obama has no influence on what Iran does. He does have influence on what Egypt does.

        1. I love that copout. If he has no “influence” on what they do he should keep his mouth shut about them? Just like his lack of “control” over what Libya does. No “tear down this wall” moments from Obama, that would just be stupid, right?

        2. Actually, he did have influence when Mubarak was calling the shots. He refrained from using that influence until it mostly vanished.

    5. Rehabiliatated? To me it’s just a made-up word. A politician’s word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did?

  5. I’m a little afraid that Q makes it here.

    The chances of foreign intervention are next to nil. The only country in a position to move is Italy, and they ain’t gonna.

    The armed forces appear to be obeying his orders. He is probably helped in this by his mercenary policy.

    He probably thinks that if he just kills enough people, he’ll stay on top. The problem is that he might be right.

    Libya may be a shadow of itself by the time this is done – but Q may prefer ruling over ruins to exile.

    1. There are a few cracks in the regime, though. Two fighter jet pilots landed in Malta after refusing to fire on civilians. The military are also reported to be destroying their uniforms in the eastern part of the country and joining protesters.

    2. but Q may prefer ruling over ruins to exile.

      I think it is important to keep in mind that Qaddafi is utterly and totally insane (as though we needed the umbrella thing to remind us). A guy like Mubarak was smart enough to see what was happening, and get out of town. Qaddafi may actually believe all that shit about himself.

      1. I thought he would have a cooler car. What happened to his hot Italian guards?

    3. If the US still has just one carrier group left in the Med we could knock down every aircraft Libya has. You do have a point that with the current administration in Washington, Italy will move before we do.

      1. The USS Enterprise (CVN 65) went through the Suez recently. Their family Facebook page notes:

        “Good afternoon everyone! We wanted to let you all know that the ship is able to receive emails, however, they can not send any out. So please, keep sending your sailor your love!!”

        Sounds a bit curious, don’t you think?

        1. Were they headed toward the Iranian ships headed toward the Suez or toward the Med?

  6. The crazy man is speaking right now.

    1. Blaming Islamists, the US, Arab TV.

      1. Tea Pary radicals.
        Rat fuckers.

        1. “You want to be like Somalia?”


      2. Did he leave out the Jews on purpose or did the teleprompter crash?

    2. Calling your enemys rats is expected. Dogs would be normal in the Muslim world, too. But cats? What have cats ever done to Ghadaffi?

      1. Codeword for his Italian guard? They turned on him already?

    3. Gadaffi calling the protestors mercenaries. The irony.

      1. Not when you discover that Obama is his speech writer.

  7. Agree with you on the viral video, R.C. My question to Moynihan is, who’s going to stop Qaddafi? Who’s going to force him out? We aren’t sending in the Marines to remove him/kill him. The U.N. sure as hell isn’t going to do it. The Egyptian Army has other things on its mind at the moment. And there isn’t a significant internal armed force that can stand up against the Libyan Army, is there? If Qaddafi turns up the repression to 11 (and having jets strafe your own civilians seems to qualify) who exactly is going to turn him out of office? Now if his army abandons ship, then his ass is grass, but two fighter pilots defecting don’t count. Mubarak’s army abandoned him; the Mullah’s didn’t. And I don’t see in Moynihan’s post clues as to which way Qadaffi’s army will go.

    One thing that seems apparent by all of the foreign Libyan diplomatic staff speaking out of turn is that Qadaffi’s lost most of his international terror links. That, and most of the diplomats’ families must be out of Qadaffi’s control.

    I think a much more serious thing for Qaddafi are the multinational oil companies starting to pull out of Libya. http://fuelfix.com/blog/2011/0…..eni-drops/ No oil money, no money to pay the troops. On the flip side, rising oil prices are making it easier for every other OPEC member to balance their books…

    1. We aren’t sending in the Marines to remove him/kill him. The U.N. sure as hell isn’t going to do it.

      Because no Lybian who was interviewd anwhere supported a foreign invastion. Another eternal war is not a smart strategy.

      1. I can’t read I thought you wrote Why aren’t we sending in the Marines to remove him/kill him?

        1. I read it the same way, and derped when I saw your comment.

    2. Which way the army will go seems to be the key. However, according to Wikipedia, the Libyan army is 50,000, half volunteer, half conscripts. That could be overwhelmed by a well-armed populace.

      1. “That could be overwhelmed by a well-armed populace.”

        No. It can’t. Sorry. I know this is a popular 2nd Amendment theme, and I am a big 2nd Amendment supporter, but this isn’t 1776. Look up the idea of force multipliers.

        Unless the army/internal police defects in part—see SugarFree‘s comment above—your populace with AK-47s and, I’ll be generous, 100 rounds each, is not going to be significant opposition to tanks/APCs/artillery/crew-served automatic weapons. Contrast the 2nd time the Russians went into Grozny with the 1st time. They leveled the place with artillery and air strikes, killing God knows how many Chechen men, women, and children. If an army is concerned about minimizing civilian casualties, then an armed populace can be a large pain in the ass to that advancing army. Especially if the army is from the region it’s advancing on. But when the army doesn’t give a shit who it kills, or where they can kill them, then what that armed populace can do is die in large numbers on video. By itself, for the reasons previously listed, dying won’t matter.

  8. Should I be paying attention to this? Or is it a sand-nigger thing?

    1. A tyrannical leader who clings to power by reidtributing oil wealth and blaming the Yankee imperialist for hs problems and is prone to incoherent tirades?

      You’re nothing like him, Hugo!

  9. I doubt Zhirinovsky would take him, considering he hates everyone who’s not Russian.

    And Chavez probably wouldn’t take him either, considering he just might be next to go.

    1. What have you heard?

    2. I doubt Zhirinovsky would take him, considering he hates everyone who’s not Russian.

      Zhirinovsky is not in a position to decide on taking him anyway. Besides that, Zhirinovsky would talk any BS just to whore attention ? tomorrow he could as well suggest assassinating Qaddafi.

    3. He will be watching the kids when Michelle and Barry want to take a weekend away from the White House.

      1. Uncle Quadaffi indeed.

  10. I think Moynihan’s discourse on the failure of Libyan socialism is important for one additional reason:

    Always remember that the Middle East experience of “westernism” and “modernity” is filtered through their proximity to Europe and their history with Europe.

    We think that “the West” and “modernity” is synonymous with “American capitalism and liberty”, but it really isn’t. The European experience of “modernity” is heavily salted with nationalism and socialism.

    Libya has experimented for decades with nationalism and socialism, and they have every reason to believe [confronted as they are by the continual example of Europe] that this experiment represents modernity.

    So to me it’s perfectly natural that Islam would appeal to the Benghazi protestors. If my experience of “modernity” was the same as theirs, I would probably also say “Fuck this shit, had me that holy book over there”.

    1. Did you just call the Europeans Nazis?

      1. I think he did and it was elegant.

        1. Whenever we’re at the negotiation table with the EU, we should have a guy who stands behind our esteemed EU colleagues who says, “Remember that thou art Nazis.”

  11. The Iranian regime has a ferociously loyal core.

    Good point.

    The armed forces appear to be obeying his orders.

    There are reports of defections, and of fighters attacking army bases. If the army splits, Gaddafi is a goner.

    1. He still has mercenaries.

      1. Yeah, but they care about themselves & their cash more than they care about him. They’ll be fighting with one eye on their escape route…

    2. Our own army has defections even when there is nothing much going on. Even with the lack of ‘honest’ reporting, I am a bit surprised at the few reports of Libyan defections.

  12. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vows to fight protesters demanding his ouster and to die a “martyr,” shouting and pounding his fist in a furious speech on state TV.

    Insha’Allah, he will get his wish.

  13. Scene: An opulent palace in Tripoli:
    Qaddafi (Gadaffi, Ghadafi, whatevah), nervous and angry, looks around his lushly decorated office for something to calm his nerves. The Nobel prize on the mantle catches his eye. Walking quickly to it, he breathes heavily on the metal surface and proceeds to polish it with his shirt sleeve. No, it was not a real Nobel. That fucker Arafat had a ‘real’ Nobel. Obama had a ‘real’ Nobel. Had he not done more for peace, sacrificed more, than either of those two? ‘Yes’, he says to himself. ‘I am a man of peace. and sometimes peace has a cost.’ Turning to the general waiting patiently for his order, Qaddafi says “yes, guns, planes, tanks. We must make them understand peace has a price, and the dissenters will pay that price with their blood.”

  14. Gaddafi right now in his speech: You want to become like Somalia?


    1. “The unity of China was more important than these people in the square.”

      Statist thinking exemplified. he’s also using the destruction of Fallujah as justification of his own crimes.

    2. I’m his head speechwriter.

      1. I’m his head speechwriter giver.

  15. The End of a Libyan Crime Family

    Next: The end of the American Crime Families.

    1. Nevah!

  16. Hey, Muammar great Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band costume!

    1. Hey, Muammar great Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band costume!

      It looks more he bid on the late Michael Jackson’s wardrobe.

      1. Actually, I had a similar thought. I had not seen a picture of the rat bastard in a few years. Boy, has HE gone downhill. And I immediatley thought of MJ.

        1. I was killed by a black man. Where is Jesse? Where is Jesse???

  17. Q talks about himself in the 3rd person.

    What a dick.

    Muammar Gaddafi is not the president, he is the leader of the revolution. He has nothing to lose. Revolution means sacrifice until the very end of your life…

    Muammar Gaddafi is not a normal person that you can poison…or lead a revolution against…

    1. “I AM IRONMANNNN…..”

    2. Now he’s comparing his massacre of the protestors to the US governments’ massacre at Waco. His whole point seems to be that other governments are murderous scumbags, too. Not exactly news.

    3. “I haven’t even started giving the orders to use bullets!”

      This guy thinks he’s in the fucking NBA. This isn’t a speech, this is a trash talking exercise.

      1. This guy thinks he’s in the fucking NBA

        Makes sense, since he looks like Scottie Pippen.

  18. People of Libya, “What’s the rush”?

  19. Al Jazeera has changed translators now. This speech is Castroian.

    1. With no teleprompter, either, biotches!

  20. Sure would be nice if the Obama would come out in favor of an “orderly transition” instead of, well, nothing.

    Just a quick little “the Libyan people have lived under a non-representative government for too long, and their voices cannot be silenced, blahblahblah” might do wonders to tip this whole thing over.

    I realize that this is just wishful thinking though.

  21. Colonel Crazy is headed for a Shakespearean end, methinks.

    “Tis now the very witching time of night,
    When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
    Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
    And do such bitter business, as the day
    Would quake to look on. ”

    Hamlet, scene ii

    1. You never hear that soliloquy–it even gets edited out in shortened versions of the play. I memorized that for a high school English class, which is why I care.

      Not that I can remember it all today.

      1. Those five lines are worth whole books of contemporary literature and remind those of us who don’t hate Shakespeare because he’s a “dead white guy” of what greatness looks like.

        1. Shakespeare is great, not just deemed great.

          1. That guy knew a thing or two.

            1. Among other things, he was a phrase-coiner par excellence.

    2. “Git-R-Done”

      — Larry the Cable Guy.

  22. This “revolution” thing is getting way too easy. I urge restraint.

  23. Indeed, protesters chant that Qaddafi, a longtime enemy of the United States, is, in fact, a stooge of the United States; after protesters captured a state-run radio station in Benghazi, an Arab journalist told me, it was “all God, all the time”

    Phew, I know I feel better. It must be like the Reverend Phelps leading a popular revolution.

    1. These protesters are fags!

  24. The only thing I’m wondering is what’s gonna happen to Q’s amazon bodyguard babes! We should bring them here, do a reality series or action show produced by Joss Whedon or Steven Soderbergh!

  25. Maybe I missed it, but why isn’t anyone pointing out that open commerce and communications with countries has done more for world peace than military might?

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