I think from the start of the intervention, the military attack, the outcome in Libya has depended on removing Qaddafi from power. If he stays, he will crush his Libyan opponents at a future time and place. If he stays after the intervention, he will sponsor or cooperate with folks who will launch bombings and attacks against Western civilian targets. He’s a murderous, vindictive thug.
Justice would be nice for a guy like this, but if that means a public hanging like Saddam Hussein got, I would rather see Qaddafi retire to a villa somewhere like Idi Amin did when he was forced out of Uganda (I think Amin’s obit at the Guardian is comprehensive and accurate).
The Guardian is also reporting today that Italy is working to arrange a villa somewhere in Africa where Qaddafi can retire. Frankly, I would rather see the guy moved into Amin’s villa in Saudi Arabia, but I don’t think that is likely to happen.
Obama comes out of this looking pretty good if Italy can persuade Qaddafi to leave Tripoli and Libya. Maybe he should be promoted to General as part of the retirement process?
Libya and the prospects for a “democratic” uprising remain wildly uncertain even if Qaddafi declares victory, accepts a promotion and retires to an Unlibyan villa. Like the other Middle East uprising in Tunisia and Egypt, the prospects for a Libyan democratic awakening are fragile. A military strongman or a Iranian style theocracy are possible to arise from the chaos and struggle, and then these countries are likely to follow the Animal Farm model and we will all see again that the flaw in revolution is corrupt leadership. The instances where an incorruptible leader like Nelson Mandela or Lech Walesa arises to help a revolution in a country develop a democracy with structure and electoral accountability are rare. The long term or episodic outcomes even in these instances do not rule out regression. Look at the election of Hamas in Gaza. How the US and its allies and proxies did not understand that a free election in Gaza would elevate Hamas is a marvel.
Democracies can elect the wrong people. The US might even have some history of that sort. But what is going on in the Middle East is a popular uprising. The masses are tired of living on almost nothing while the rulers of the countries feed steaks to their pet tigers. Real Politiks – the politics of cronyism and temporal security, economic stability create some unfortunate alliances where industrial nations forge bonds with despotic rulers and fail to comprehend the fundamental instability of the countries under despotic rule. Idi Amin is not a good trade partner. Some animals are more equal than others.
On a parallel track, I noticed this morning on the wires that Egypt’s military has decided that Mubarak may not travel out of Egypt. I don’t think this is good news for Mubarak. He should have taken my advice and gone to check on his real estate in London when he had the opportunity.