Reading Qaddafi

ID_IC_MEIS_GREEN_AP_001 Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

He can be very funny. Sometimes intentionally so, other times not. He once said, “I cannot recognize either the Palestinian state or the Israeli state. The Palestinians are idiots and the Israelis are idiots.” His sense of fashion is completely his own. He'll wear a pure white suit one day and then robes and animal skins the next. His military outfits sometimes seem like an outright parody of the military, as if he may, even, be trying out for the Village People. But one can never be sure how to take Colonel Muammar Qaddafi when it comes to clothing, or anything else.

The laughter sticks in the throat though when one thinks of the suffering. Qaddafi has been a dictator for a long time — 42 years, ever since he led a coup against King Idris in 1969. During that time, he was never shy about cracking down on any possible opposition. He was directly responsible for some of the more senseless acts of international terrorism in recent history (see the Lockerbie bombing of 1988). He has lorded over the corrupt economy of a country that sits on massive oil reserves but has done little to raise the general standard of living in Libya. His crimes are extensive and well documented. At the time of this writing, Qaddafi still holds power in Libya and seems resolved to drag his country into civil war and the massive violence of a “last stand.” It looks as if Qaddafi's final end will be pathetic and tragic at once.

And yet, there is a way that he may get the last laugh. I say this because of a book Qaddafi published in 1975. It is called The Green Book. When we are all dead and gone, when the literary and political documents we find important have long since been forgotten, I suspect that The Green Book will still be around, still studied by the future historians of present times.