Gadaffi: Crazy Like A Fox

After Nasser’s untimely death in 1970 Gadaffi was never the same . He grew eccentric, then very odd. He styled himself a revolutionary leader, not  a head of state. Libya was to be in permanent semi anarchy, without any real government. As the craziness spread, oil billions poured in, allowing Gadaffi to romance foreign heads of state and influence Africa. Yet Italy, Libya’s former brutal colonial ruler, and now main oil customer, may be eager to get involved against Gaddafi. So, too, Egypt, France, and, of course, the US and Britain because oil remains the ultimate geopolitical aphrodisiac.



by Eric  Margolis


Events in Libya are moving very fast, and their outcome is uncertain. “Leader” Muammar Gadaffi is hunkered down in Tripoli, defended by army units from his tribe and mercenaries from black Africa.

Watching Col. Muammar Gadaffi deliver a bombastic, defiant speech last week from the ruins of Tripoli’s Bab al-Azizia barracks brought me back to 1987 when Libya’s leader led me by the hand through the wreckage of his former residence.

On 14 April, 1986, US aircraft attacked Libya after a Berlin disco frequented by US soldiers was bombed. US President Ronald Reagan blamed Libya and denounced Gadaffi as the “mad dog of the Middle East.”

But a defector from Israel’s Mossad later claimed the US had been duped by a false flag operation into believing Libya was behind the attack.

A 2,000 lb US bomb crashed through the ceiling of Gadaffi’s private quarters. He was outside in his trademark tent. But his 2-year old adopted daughter was killed.  Some 87 other civilians and a few French diplomats were also killed. Americans thought this raid was dandy.

“Why, Mr Eric,” a clearly confused Gadaffi plaintively asked me, “why are the Americans trying to kill me?”

“Because they think you are funding every kind of anti-western group,” I replied. “And they will never forgive you for provoking the rise in Arab oil prices.”

In those long ago days, Gadaffi, who considered himself a passionate revolutionary, supported every militant group that asked for Libyan help, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, various Palestinian groups fighting Israeli occupation, Basque separatists battling Madrid, and the Irish Republican Army.   To Washington, Gadaffi was the world’s arch “terrorist.”

After we spent the evening in his colorful Bedouin tent, I had some fun with Gadaffi. “We may bomb you, Leader, but we also think you are the best-dressed Arab leader.”   Gadaffi, dressed in a custom made, silk Italian jump suit and zippered boots, beamed with pleasure. He asked me where he could get the Ralph Lauren safari jacket I was wearing, adding,   “you look very militant, Mr. Eric.”

I could never get a good fix on Muammar Gadaffi. When he seized power way back in 1969, he was young and very handsome, with movie-star good looks, and an ardent reformist. Gadaffi’s hero and father figure was Egypt’s charismatic Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Gadaffi was never the same after Nasser’s untimely death in 1970. He grew eccentric, then very odd. He styled himself a revolutionary leader, not a head of state. Libya was to be in permanent semi anarchy, without any real government.   As the craziness spread, oil billions poured in, allowing Gadaffi to romance foreign heads of state and influence Africa.

Watching Italy’s PM Silvio Berlusconi, France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy and other world leaders squirm with embarrassment next to Gadaffi decked out in flamboyant, clownish uniforms straight from an Italian “opera buffo” was always amusing.  Everyone mocked Libya’s madcap “Leader,” but loved his money even more.

However zany and bizarre, Gadaffi was clever as a fox and had more lives than a cat.   He survived many attempts on his life mounted by US, British, French and Egyptian intelligence.

In a brilliant ploy, Gadaffi bought a pile of nuclear junk on the black market, then told Washington he was giving up his nuclear weapons program. The naïve Bush administration fell for this ruse and ended its punishing boycott of Libya.

He bought peace with the western powers by allowing them into Libya’s rich oil fields, investing billions in Europe, and joining Bush’s “war on terror.”

But now that Libya is convulsed by revolution, Gadaffi seems to have used up all his nine lives.   He remains hunkered down in Tripoli, defended by army units from his tribe and mercenaries from black Africa who have no problem shooting down demonstrators.

While Libya burns, there are serious discussions afoot in Washington and Europe about imposing an Iraq-style “no fly zone” in Libya, followed by possibly western military intervention. Libya would be “stabilized,” a client regime made up of CIA-organized exiles installed, and Libya’s oil fields made safe for western companies.

Libya would return to pre-Gadaffi days when it was ruled by a British-managed figurehead king, the doddering Ibn Idris. That is, if Libya does not dissolve into tribal and clan warfare, or break up into western and eastern parts.

Italy, Libya’s former brutal colonial ruler, and now main oil customer, may be eager to get involved. So, too, Egypt, France, and, of course, the US and Britain. Oil remains the ultimate geopolitical aphrodisiac.

If driven from Tripoli, Gadaffi will take refuge in his tribe’s territory, in Italy or Venezuela. His five spoiled, feuding sons are unlikely to emerge as Libya’s new rulers. All dictators seem to have terrible problems with their out-of-control sons.

Gadaffi is a sad example of the maxim about absolute power corrupting absolutely. People like me who relish political theater of the absurd will miss the “Leader;” but most of his people, I suspect, will not.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2011

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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Uncertanity is the fate of Libiya in the years to come .Its soil will remain wet with blood till there will be uncertainity elsewhere like in Afghanistan, Pakistan ,Kashmir and Israil .Oil is no more a geopolitical aphrodasiac .In fact it is a out dated culture which is bound to collied with the natural process of globalization .Shariya led people now can not breath peacefuly in a dominating umbrella of international laws . The war against terrorism will intensify which is bound to engulf some more muslim ( ISLAMIC ?) nations and finalky the rectified Islam will prevail which will be acceptable to the ciizens of the global village

    • @ Dr. AKT,
      Situation in Libya has nothing 2 do with the 1 prevailing in Pakistan. There the people r fighting against the tyranny of their own man who has clutched ON TO the absolute power 4 his own self since last 40 years. In Afghanistan it’s the people who r fighting against foreign occupation. Pakistan is a country which through is in clutches of the United States, yet, Alhamdo Lillah v hv independent judiciary & a highly vocal media. Here the people though hve succeeded in making the usurper dictator P. Musharraf run away fm the country, their struggle 2 bring in a truly democratic set up in the country is still on.
      As far Kashmir, a people led Intifada is still going on there in Kashmir and its again an indigenous uprising against Indian state terrorism being leashed on the people of Kashmir.
      The culture that u term as outdated is million times more progressive, egalitarian and humanist than your outdated, morbid Hindu culture which even today allows caste distinctions. The Dalits, Muslims, the Sikhs and the Christians even today are treated like animals in your country, merely because they do not belong to the majority Hindu community.
      As far globalization & u being a henchman of US globalization (which is a synonym 4the US imperialism), Allah apko globalization mubarik kre, ham Pakistani aisi globalization se door hi bhalle.

  2. An elaburapted well thought opposit prediction in respon se is required.

  3. Gadaffi has gone completely mad. The protesters have control on several areas now and the time is about to come when Gadaffi has to step out one way or other.

  4. The question is who will lead the country ,Islamic fundamentalists or the librals having genuine and practical approach to have a good relation with west and rest of the world .

    • Whether Libyans follow a path of Islamic revivalism, or whether they wish to run their country on liberal lines, this is for the people of Libya to decide. Dr. Sahib you better not take pains 4Libyans. They very well know what’s good or what’s not good for them

  5. @ Mr.Wasi , …..The time has gone when there has been given sovreignity to the members of UN .Now the out dated laws have no meaning in the globalized era of economics and environment. How can you ignore the affairs that is going to change the destiny of mankind .I am on the blogosphere to expose the reality which really can not be ignored

  6. Revolution and HALLA BOL is the charecterstic feature of muslim mentality .They believe in Kurbani and that is why a peaceful change is not possible in any muslim country .If the change will be against the international law then even after the popular revolution the peace in the concerned country will remain a distant reality.

  7. […] Related Post: 1. Gadaffi: Crazy Like A Fox […]

    • The half of the Libiya have been sold to western copanies as half of the Baluchistan and Afghanistan has been sold to them .Now they are entitled to reap the profit of their capital investment .The existing international trade agrement and provisions of WTO .also authorise them to protect their interests,and hence the popular revolt in Labiya will lead to a change which can fulfil the aspirations of its people to some extent through strict adherence with its international commitments especially with their trade partners in the west . The objective other than it of the present revolution will lead to blood shed in days to come ,as then there will be enough scope for the present set up to crush the emerging revolt by force .

  8. […] Straw to break the camel’s back 10. Libya: How Gaddafi became a Western-backed dictator 11. Gadaffi: Crazy Like A Fox 12. Mr. Qadhafi’s […]

  9. […] Gadaffi: Crazy Like A Fox […]

  10. […] to break the camel’s back 15. Libya: How Gaddafi became a Western-backed dictator 16. Gadaffi: Crazy Like A Fox 17. Mr. Qadhafi’s […]

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