The world is a better place without Moammar Qaddafi. It’s a wish that most of the planet has wanted to have fulfilled for some time. The brutal dictator inflicted death and suffering not just on his own people but on several continents. His recent and very public demise after spending months on the run from rebels and NATO airstrikes has brought an end to one of the more bizarre despots in world history. Despite the fact that Qaddafi is dead and there is no one short of his family wishing he were still alive, there has been public debate about the manner of his demise.
What we know is this. He was captured by rebel forces after being pulled from a drainage pipe and subsequently beaten to a pulp by his captors. At one point following his being pummeled and taunted by rebels, he was leaned against the hood of a vehicle in what looked to me like an effort to turn him into a hood ornament that could be put on public display. Sometime after that, Qaddafi encountered a bullet to his head that subsequently led to his death. Whether it was from crossfire between rebel forces and Qaddafi’s bodyguards (as alleged by the interim Libyan government) or by some overzealous rebel who decided to act as judge and jury with one pull of a trigger, it does not change two facts: 1) He’s dead, and 2) The world (and certainly Libya) are better off without him.
Interestingly enough, the always headline-conscious New York Post alleged the dictator’s killer was a Yankees fan after a picture was taken of a Yankees ballcap-wearing rebel holding Qaddafi’s gold plated pistol. In another twist of the news cycle, another Libyan rebel claims he’s the man who put final shot into Qaddafi. Regardless of who pulled the trigger, the United Nations, members of the international community, and other human rights groups are calling for a full-fledged investigation into the circumstances of his death. Some parties have even alleged that Qaddafi’s death may in fact be “war crime.”
While I can respect and appreciate the morals of groups like these and what they stand for, and applaud their steadfastness to principle to be willing to defend the indefensible, I find it very hard to stomach the need to investigate Qaddafi’s death, let alone prosecute those potentially involved with making it happen.
For me, Qaddafi’s death certificate is fairly easy to fill out. Under “Cause of Death,” it should simply state, “His own people.” After 42 years of persecution that literally led to the deaths of thousands, as well as the stealing of billions of hard-earned dollars from the very people he led, I find the public debate over whether we need to investigate his death absolutely bewildering.
There are so many things to debate about the future of Libya, and this issue seems to be the least important. Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves what role Islamic/Sharia Law will play in Libya? What role and rights women and religious minorities will have in the new state? What about the oil leases in the abundantly rich oil state? What about all of the people held in jails without any sense of due process of law?
I can think of any number of more prudent questions to spend time on than whether Qaddafi died in alleged crossfire or behind the back bumper of a truck.
Maybe my callous disregard to the manner of Qaddafi’s death makes me a pretty cold human being. I’ve been called that before (as well as a lot worse), but I would rather know about the future of human rights and vision for the future of the Libyan state than spend time on a superlative paperwork exercise of how Qaddafi’s death occurred.
Critics of my position would undoubtedly say, “How can I care about human rights when I blatantly disregard what happened to Qaddafi. Every human being deserves human rights.”
Such a position may be morally right but in a war zone, which best describes the town of Misrata where Qaddafi was captured and killed, there was a deep fog of war where ugly things occur, and I’m willing to chalk up what occurred there to those facts and move on.
Thankfully, Qaddafi is now part of Libya’s past. It is its future that is far more important.